Over the past several months, I have been traveling to events around the country to promote my book, Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative To Ignite Change.
What began as a book promotion tour has transitioned into being a listening tour. You would have to be with me to understand the extent of insight that I’m gaining from talking to people on this tour.
In these moments, I say the book is about:
- Personal Leadership, and,
- How we are all in Transition, personally, socially and organizationally.
When I say these very words, people look me squarely in the eye, and step closer towards me. They want to know more. After some amazing conversations, most walk away with a signed copy of my book.
Here are three things that I am seeing from this experience.
Impact is the Word
In one store, I watched two young women enter and I knew they’d come over and talk. But they didn’t. They were immersed in a conversation of their own. Later, the two women sought me out because they heard the word “impact” over the public address system. They had to see what this all about. Impact is their word. It forms their perception of who they are and what they seek to create in their business.
I see this often. Once being a person of impact becomes a driving force in one’s life, doing business as usual will never be as satisfying.
If your work is not satisfying, it may be because the company you work for is doing things the same way they have always done it.
There is a recurring conversation that I am having with business people. If you have not changed significantly how you do business in the last ten years, then you are behind the curve, playing catch up, because the world is not the same as it was when you first found success.
I saw this in what a man whom I met at one of my book signings told me. He is a welder for a mining company. He has worked for the company a long time. He wants to do more than just welding work. He asks and they say no. This situation is not limited to welders. It is true in the vast majority of companies of the people with whom I’ve talked over the past twenty five years.
This guy wants to be a person of impact, but his company’s structure doesn’t allow it. This is why I wrote Circle of Impact. To help organizational leaders change their companies from leadership-starved to leader-rich.
I told my welder friend as I’ve told other people. Look outside your work for ways to be a person of impact. Go take a course at the local community college. Learn a new skill that you can practice in your personal time. Don’t let the inflexibility of your work place define who you are.
Impact is the word that should guide our transitions.
Transition is a universal experience
By far, it is the experience of being in transition that produces the most intense response. It is taking place on a personal level because it is happening on a social and organizational level.
Many of the women with whom I have spoken at these events have experienced the transition of divorce. They are learning how to think differently about themselves. Some are happy with their new situations, while others are devastated.
One woman, probably in her fifties, told me about her husband abandoning her two years ago. He left without a word. He’s living with a woman a thousand miles away. When she started to tear up, I had her sit with me while I talked to other people interested in me and my book. Eventually she stopped crying. I said to her? “You are not the person you were two years ago when he left. And, you will not be the same person you are now in two years. What you need is a framework for seeing how your life can be different. My book can help you do that.” Within minutes, her composure returned, took her signed copy of Circle of Impact, and off she went to discover what it means to start your life over.
Transitions are the norm. They can be painful or a fresh start. Regardless, they require us to be clear about who we are and the contributions we can make in the world.
The Hidden Persons of Impact
I have also discovered that almost everyone that I am meeting at these events would never cross my path in any other way than me sitting for hours in a book store.
Recently, I was at my book signing table in a large chain bookstore in a large city. I look over and young girl about seven years old is staring at me. She touches her mother’s arm, and points at me. Her mother nodded, and they came over to see what I was all about.
I told her mother that the book is about personal leadership, especially for people in transition. Then I look at the girl and ask if she ever does things for other people that make a difference that matters. She said yes. We talked more. I signed a book for her and her sister.
The following week, a different store, same city, a young boy, eight years old, and his mother came over to my table. I had a similar conversation with him. After telling his mother, a school teacher, about the book, I turn to him and asked him if there was a Circle of Impact book for kids, what kind would he like. He said he’d like a chapter book that combines writing and pictures. He wants to be a person of impact.
Children are often hidden from view in an adult world. We don’t see them as persons of impact. My experience with the youth social entrepreneur organization, RandomKid, has convinced me otherwise.
How do we help children to learn to take initiative?
I am having numerous conversations with primary school teachers. One of them told me that her school has begun to teach their children entrepreneurial skills. They want to teach their kids not just how to be persons of impact, but also how to be resilient when things don’t go according to plan. In other words, teach kids how live in transition.
This is how we build a generation of person who are creating impact in their communities.
The listening tour continues on through the spring and summer. In future posts, I will have more to say about what I am hearing.
If you are interested in me coming to your community, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk about what we can do together to help your town can become a Circle of Impact community.