A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. – Greek proverb
As leaders, it is nearly impossible to know the extent of the impact and influence you are having day in and day out, which can be really disheartening. We live in a world where we are checking Facebook every other hour or so to see how many likes we got on our posts – and I’m as guilty of it as anybody. I want to know if people are reading the blog or resonating with the daily quotes I share. I look forward to seeing if my Klout score went up in the last week, and if it goes down, it is discouraging. I think, “How could people not enjoy what I’m sharing? Is it worth it to continue to share?”
It is really easy to think those kinds of things – social media likes, comments and retweets – are good measures of success. But, in truth, they are not. As leaders, we have to get comfortable with the fact that we may never actually know about all of the little things we do that have had a huge impact on others.
A great example that I’ve shared before is the simple can of mandarin oranges that changed my life as a child. The men that delivered that basket of food to our poor, little family on Christmas many years ago have no idea about the impact they had on me – but that small act of kindness changed the entire trajectory of my life.
Think about your own life. How many teachers, friends, mentors or coworkers have made an impact on your life in a profound way and you’ve never shared that with them? Now if you add in the books, movies, quotes and blogs that have impacted you too, it is probably immeasurable – and that same is likely true for the impact you’ve had on others.
As leaders, we want to have long-term legacy, but yet we plant short-term crops. We plant radishes. We want to harvest them three weeks later and count it a success. But, if we are truly after legacy, we have to plant oak trees. We have to continue planting seeds even though we may never see the harvested crop. And we have to trust that we are adding long-term value to those we serve in ways that we may never know.
So stop checking to see how many retweets you got today. Make a plan and build a strategy to reenergize your leadership on a daily basis to ensure you have a lifetime of influence in whatever you are called to do.
Question: Have you acknowledged the impact someone else has had on your life lately?