How To Make An Impact Series #1

I work with student leaders.

Let me state that another way: I work with students who are in the process of developing their leadership knowledge, leadership skills, and leadership perspective.

In the course of this type of work, I find it helpful to provide students with various pictures and tools that help them identify where they are and where they’re headed. The Impact Graph is one of those tools.

The Impact Graph

The Impact Graph (click on image to see full size)

I designed this graph because students are curious about the path to leadership. They not only want to know how to lead…they want to lead.

I’d like to use some of my future posts to break down this simple graph. Yup, that’s right…this is going to be a series. You probably knew that since the title had a “#1” on it. Fortunately, this will be a short series on what it takes to move from “spectator” to “revolutionary” (or somewhere in between).

Let’s start with the “Spectators” (lower right hand quadrant)…

Every student body has it’s share of spectators. These are the folks who aren’t really involved. They like to sit on the sidelines and watch. Unfortunately, the spectators are limited on the type of impact they can make. A spectator tends to be…

  • A person who keeps his or her options open all the time – unwilling to commit.
  • A person who rarely gets involved.
  • A person who shows up but isn’t fully present in what’s going on.
  • A person with an “entertain me” mindset – always looking for what he or she can get from it.
  • A person who is more apt to point out problems than offer up solutions (which may require getting involved).

I realize I’ve cast the spectators in a pretty negative light. The truth is we’re all spectators in some aspects of our lives. Just keep in mind that this graph is describing the path one can take toward making an impact (as both a leader and a follower). If you think about it, there is a level (that didn’t make the graph) below the spectator. It would be the person who is completely absent and apathetic. The good news is at least the spectator shows up.

As I described what a spectator looks like, did some people come to mind? Here’s some good questions I like to ask the spectators I encounter when it comes to making an impact:

  1. If you could change something about what’s going on around you, what would you change?
  2. What are you passionate about? What kinds of things keep you up at night or get you out of bed in the morning?
  3. Why are you sitting on the sidelines?

In the next post in this series, we’ll take a look at the “figureheads.”

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