I bet I can make a few assumptions about you:
- You want your work to matter
- You want to make a difference
- You want those who work with you to be better because of your presence
- You want to get better along the way
Essentially, you want to make a dent in the universe (or at least your little corner of it).
I’m on a similar mission and I’ve learned five things along the way about standing out and making a difference in a noisy world.
Thinking is arguably the most undervalued skill in organizations. We put tremendous value on actions and far less on thinking.
Don’t believe me? Consider this scenario.
A boss walks by an employee who is sitting at his desk with his feet up. The employee is staring off into space.
The boss asks, “What are you doing?”
The startled employee responds, “I’m thinking.”
The boss barks, “Get back to work!”
Don’t be this boss. Embrace the value of thinking. It’s through thinking that we find meaning, construct solutions, consider options, and accomplish a range of other valuable outcomes.
Make thinking part of your daily ritual and let others do the same.
To solve problems that we have never encountered before, we need to create solutions that we have yet to invent. It’s critical that you couple thinking with creation.
Surround yourself with people, objects, and experiences that inspire you, and then put that inspiration to work.
Those who are making a dent in the universe are constantly creating: Writers write. Inventors invent. Builders build.
It doesn’t matter if you are writing computer code or writing a sonnet, you need to make creating a habit.
If you create something amazing and never share it with the world you may very well miss your chance to make a dent in the universe.
True, there is a possibility that a feature archeologist might uncover your creation and bring it to light, but why take that chance? And, why let some yet-to-be-born explorer get all of the credit for your hard work?
Be bold, take a risk, and share your creations with others. Yes, there will be critics. There are always critics. Welcome the criticism, consider its value, and allow valuable feedback to spur you to create something even better.
Plus, what if the feedback is overwhelming good? That could be life-changing.
There is one thing to be careful of when it comes to sharing your creations. Those in your network can be tremendously helpful in getting the word out but don’t overburden them. If you do, a willing fan can become a nonresponsive and distant connection.
As you share with the world, ensure you know who it is that you ultimately want your work to impact. Get to know them. Understand their problems. See them putting to use what you are creating.
Understand their needs so clearly that they clamor for what you create.
When you get this right, you will not only see positive outcomes but it will also solidify why you are doing what you are doing. Your purpose will be crystallized.
5. Engage Others and the World Around You
Throughout the entire process, ensure that you stay connected with people and the world around you. Doing so will ensure that you don’t create something in a vacuum that is unneeded, but something that arrives right when people need it.
This week’s video and tool are designed to help you to remember these action steps. Watch the video to learn a bit more about How to Make a Dent in the Universe and to understand how best to use the tool.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.