What Is Your Unintended Impact?

I used to think being a ‘reader’ meant you always had your nose in a book. When asked, I’d always reply that I wasn’t a reader. That’s just how I viewed myself. Now, as I think back to my childhood, I realize I was actually quite an avid reader, just not in a way I thought I was supposed to be. I used to love getting the newspaper, after my dad had the first look of course. The first part I’d turn to was the sports section to glance at the headlines, and from there I’d dive into the statistics. I loved to look at the standings, scores and leaders from the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and the Canadian Football League. I’d study the names and numbers, everything from who the stars were to what the attendance was. After that, it would be straight to the comic section for the latest adventures of Charlie Brown, Hi and Lois, Blondie, and Hagar the Horrible. I also recall my regular Monday visits to the local doctor for my weekly allergy shot. In the waiting room were plenty of magazines, my favorite was The Reader’s Digest. I always enjoyed Laughter, The Best Medicine and Drama in Real Life.

Who’d a thunk it, I was a reader! Today, my reading for pleasure is usually restricted to blogs and magazines and revolves mostly around sports, professional wrestling, and anything to do with cosmology. I also do quite a bit of professional reading, currently I’m into Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics by Peter Liljedahl, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and am waiting for my copy of Innovate Inside the Box by George Couros.

I’ve been thinking a lot about reading lately as I’ve been seeing a very interesting trend with my own kids. They are developing a real love of reading. My 10-year old, Eva, has been gobbling up books at an incredible pace, currently she is working her way through book five of the Harry Potter series. What I’ve noticed is that the 7-year old twins, Charlie and Maggie are now wanting books of their own. Maggie is reading the Magic Treehouse series of books, while Charlie had to spend his Christmas money on Dogman books. It is pretty obvious that Eva’s love of reading has prompted Maggie and Charlie to read as well. Eva didn’t set out to accomplish this, she just loves reading. I think it’s the way she talks about her books with such passion that has sparked Maggie and Charlie’s curiosity. Regardless of how the seed was planted, it was, and it is awesome to see.

This unplanned impact that Eva had on her siblings makes me think about the unplanned impact we have on those around us. It makes me think of a Tweet my uncle posted recently:

Or this quote:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Jim Rohn

Or this one:

According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.

Darren Hardy – the compound effect

Which leads me to wonder about the impact I’ve had on others. We need to understand that while we become the product of those we surround ourselves with, we too have an impact on those who choose to walk with us. This is powerful stuff, and it reminds me of the importance of our unspoken message, or another quote, this one from one of my mentors:

You cannot not model.

As a father, I see it everyday. The impact I have on my children, and to be very honest, there are things I’m not proud of, things I know I can improve upon. As a leader, it’s not so clear what my impact has been or continues to be. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve had an impact on those who I get to work and learn with, but I’m sure I have.

I think it behooves us to take a moment and think about the people we surround ourselves with and to think about the impact we have on them.

How would you answer these questions:

  • who do you surround yourself with?
  • how are you the average of those with whom you are the closest?
  • how do you impact those people who have invited you into their circle?
  • what impact would you like to have on those around you, and how are you making that happen?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

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