You Have More Influence Than You Think

Last Saturday my husband and I ventured out into 11 degree cold to attend an event that turned out to be canceled. Leaving the venue, my husband paused on the sidewalk to track down the email that confirmed the cancelation (it was in junk mail). As I stood shivering, I half noticed a classic sad New York scene — a blue plastic tarpaulin covering someone who had settled for the night over a heating grate, steam rising around the edges of the tarp.

The street was quiet and as I heard voices, a face popped out to check out what my husband and I were doing. In the lack of light, I could only see the eyes. And just as I was absorbing the idea that there were several people together under the tarp, I heard a child’s voice.

There were children spending the night in 11 degree cold. In one of the richest places in the world.

It’s been overwhelming me ever since. What do you do when something feels so insurmountable compared to your ability to influence the outcome?

Feeling a lack of control can leave you in a funk. 

And it happens at work all the time. 

Stephen Covey famously wrote about the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern — the idea that if you focus on things beyond your control, you actually shrink your influence. And, if you focus on what you can influence, you expand that circle.

It’s an important idea — spend less energy on complaining about what’s wrong, and more on what you can do.

But I’d like to add an important tweak to that last bit: Focus on what you CAN do.

Most of us gloss over the areas where we have the most influence and impact. 

It’s counterintuitive but the things that feel the least like work are the areas where you add the most value.

And even if you do know, social training tells you not to be showy.

So you spend a lot of time trying to fix what you don’t do well, and don’t, or won’t, realize the positive impact of your unique abilities.

So what do you do?

First, get to know yourself and what you’re good at. Then, embrace it. Don’t apologize for it.

Next, understand how your strengths impact and influence those around you.

According to my Strengths Finder 2.0, some of my top strengths are WOO (win others over), Strategic, Communication and Activator.  That means I’m most energized when I’m connecting with people to help them get going on things that matter to them.

So my challenge to you is to dust off your skills reports or take one if you haven’t.  And make connections to how your natural strengths show up. You will accelerate how quickly you expand your circle of influence. 

You’ll improve relationships, feel more effective, and even start to tackle issues that you know your department or company needs to be looking at.

This week I shared my discouragement about the homeless family with my daughter. She said, “Mom, you have to write to our city council people to find out how to help and put pressure on the city.” Wow. She’s only 15, but one of her superpowers is advocacy.

Talk about expanding our circle of influence.

Don’t underestimate the beautiful powers you have. They are an infinite source that can increase your well-being, effectiveness, balance and joy.

My best,
Claire

Tifin Dillon - Use Astrology for Your Leadership Style

Isabelle Steichen - Millennial Free Agent

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