On Creating Impact at Work
“There are two wolves,
and they are always fighting.
One is darkness and despair,
the other light and hope.
Which one wins?
The one you feed.”
I’ve always been obsessed with creativity, imagination and spark. I was a rascal at school, full of curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for adventure. Nothing whatsoever could stop me in my drive to achieve absolutely anything I wanted. I dreamed high-voltage ideas and was permanently poised to ignite them.
Then I “grew up”.
Higher education and beyond were a more solemn affair. Like most, I was pushed to hyper focus on results and being “correct”. Child-like curiosity, daring and discovery were no longer welcome in a world where only test results mattered and fitting-in was now the suffocating norm. I became anxious, hyper-vigilant and afraid of failure as I tried to cut myself to fit the pre-prescribed academic cloth. I tried to please; my parents, teachers, friends. And when I quickly realised this would never get me what I needed — I went AWOL …from school, from dreams, from life.
But not anymore.
Having worked with countless individuals, both privately and in groups, I know now that I’m not alone in this experience. Perhaps most people have not endured suffocation to the same extremes, but I still witness first-hand how many of us have been conditioned out of our authentic voice in favour of conformity. We hold back, mute our expression and firmly sit on our creative responses for fear of disapproval. We may not even be conscious of this terrible self-imposed tyranny. It’s common for us to think the problem is “out there” when all we’ve really done is internalised a harsh judgment system that bullies us into being a certain way rather than becoming who we are.
We’ve been taught to feed the wrong wolf; to focus on mediocrity, darkness and calamity.
To truly develop an exciting winning presence, in both business and in life, you have to start feeding the right wolf; the wolf that encourages you to act, speak, challenge and dare — when all other voices scream “but what if you fail? What if you get it “wrong”? And what will people think?
We always have a choice.
We can choose possibility as we ignite our inner spark and do the very thing that scares us. We can seize the stage, create a new idea and assertively challenge a status quo. We can think crazy big and know our ideas count so we keep going no matter what. And we create impact because our convictions are so luminous that we shine a light on all those with whom we connect.
The alternative is to choose passivity as we hold ourselves back, speak in monotone, never question, dull our edges and squash our burgeoning ideas. We may not even know what we want to say because we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to clarify our own feelings and thoughts. So we come to business conversations, or indeed any conversation that matters, with a broken sense of self not realising how much potential, presence and impact we already have.
It’s simple, yet incredibly tough to choose aliveness in a world that seems set on keeping you down.
Of course, the moment you dare is the moment all the critics pipe up incensed at your audacity. These could be internal voices or external voices. Regardless of who says what, if we listen — if we let them shame us into being small — we lose.
But what if we stop feeding them? As challenging as it is, we have to feed them no attention whatsoever, not even a shred of our precious time, and leave them flailing in the background as we keep moving forward to a possibility they themselves dare not imagine.
As Oscar Wilde puts it:
“we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”
It takes enormous courage and strength to reach for your impact. You’ll need a fighting spirit. And you have to take it on — whatever “it” is. No matter your background or disadvantage, you have to reconnect to your inner fire. And, as you let your ideas clash and collide, you’ll come alive.
So feed the right wolf. Become luminous in a sea of mediocrity. Grow something truly special; be it a business, new project, collaboration or even mini kingdom! We alone take responsibility for our journey and have to root out anything inside that keeps derailing our adventure. So we find strong mentors and positive friends who believe in our growth and we also help others up along the way. And most crucially, we banish the corrosive acidity of resentment as we stop listening to all the negativity and instead build build build….. because taking risks is so much more fulfilling than living the same reality day-in-day-out like some dystopian nightmare.
In a world full of absurdity, one without any inherent meaning, we have an incredible freedom — if we notice it. We are free to find and become our most exciting, dynamic self and to make meaning in whatever tiny corner of the world we chose to carve it.
Something so simple as the determined belief in a brilliant future and then taking the steps to make it happen — that’s true impact.
Amy Tez is founder of Radical Collective Ltd, a coaching and consultancy practice that delivers masterclasses on executive presence, pitching, negotiations and effective communication skills. She is passionate about inspiring leaders and shares leadership insights at www.amytez.com/blog