Recently I’ve been co-facilitating a program at the studio where I teach called 40 Days to Personal Revolution. It’s a transformational program that’s run at Power Yoga Canada. The first night I met with my co-facilitator and assistant to discuss how we wanted to engage students in the program. The intention was to make sure the students understood the need for them to commit to the process to get the most out of it. While we were talking I thought about the impact of students showing up in the practice, in the meetings, in the sharing and what it means to the group.
To be honest, impact, meaning how I impact others, is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I think about how I impact other people. And how other people impact me. How some people have no idea what they do every day makes a difference to someone else and how some people are totally oblivious to how their actions affect others.
When I worked in corporate I commuted. 4-5 days a week I would get in my car and drive into the city to go to my job. Traffic was insane. Perfect example of impact, if one car was pulled over and was blocking a lane, traffic would be backed up for miles. By one person! I would think “Good lord, if anyone ever thought that one person doesn’t make a difference, then they have never had to sit in city traffic behind a stalled car.”
As a teacher, I have students come to me and say how what I said in the moment made them feel better, inspired them or lightened them up from a crummy day. It feels great when these moments happen. As a student, I’ve been super inspired and lit up by leaders in the community and loved every moment. I think about the times when someone has said something to me or shared something so profound about themselves that it’s actually shifted my perspective on life. And then I wonder….what would have happened if that person decided they didn’t want to share that about themselves? What if I decided to stay home that day, not go to that class, that seminar, that movie? How would I be going forward? Even deeper, I thought, what if I didn’t share stuff about myself that may have helped someone through their own struggle?
My Uncle Tom killed himself over 10 years ago. He was a kind hearted soul who was afraid of his own vulnerability and either hid it behind a mask of strength or drowned it in a sea of booze. We had a very powerful connection that changed when I got in a serious relationship. When he died, I spent a lot of time being angry at him and at myself. At him for not thinking about us, the folks he left behind. And at myself, for not being there for him because I was selfish. My impact in that moment may not have changed his mind about what he wanted to do, but it certainly got me to think about the power of expressing compassion and love for someone. To embrace vulnerability as a powerful way to share my gifts with others. His impact on me was that I need to ask for help, need to show my love for people, need to be compassionate for others struggles. That I can embrace my vulnerability or I can be consumed by it.
So I will finish with this. You have an impact. You may not be aware of it. What you say, how you show up, what you post on social media. It influences the people around you. If you think people aren’t listening or watching, think again. We are. Want to get clear on your impact? Stop dead in the middle of a busy mall, see what people around you do. Tell a person you love them, look them in the eye and say the words. Watch what happens. Share your thoughts with a coworker, even if it’s a little controversial. Say the word poop and see what people do. They’ll probably giggle. And it may have been a needed giggle. You may be surprised how big your influence actually is.