Making a Difference: Can You See the Impact that You Have?

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

image of Sarah's husband MarkLast year, my hub Mark called me while I was on the road. “The 5-year countdown is on!”

What countdown? I must be jet-lagged.

“Babe, what 5 years?”

“Until retirement!”

“Oh no, that means you only have five years left! Over twenty are gone, and now you’re on a ticking clock! Oh no!”

This likely wasn’t the reaction he was expecting. Should I not be thrilled that he’ll soon be available to travel with me, not have to fight through gruelling traffic, and, dare I imagine it, make me lunch?

No! My hub is a darn good teacher, and the world needs his greatness.

We need great teachers!

“Mark, every day, given you don’t have much time left, so starting today, I will ask you at the end of each day what impact you had. Tonight, when we talk, I look forward to hearing about the impact you had today.”

Do you think Mark wanted to play along? Was he thrilled at that moment that he was married to a professional coach and motivational speaker? I don’t think so (but to be fair, I was on the other side of the country and madly getting ready for a tech check, so I might have made a few assumptions.)

That first night, it was like pulling inspiration teeth. The next night, it was not much better. By the third, he had resigned himself to not getting off the phone until he told me.

And then it all changed.

He started to come home with an experience he couldn’t wait to tell me about, and not just like a checklist item but a story—a teacher, a student, a project, a former pupil. Suddenly, when he looked around, he saw just how many people depended on him daily, not just to teach a class but to be their person.

  • image of Sarah's husband Mark wearing funny glasses, which helps him to make an impact with his studentsStudents who were so bogged down in high expectations that they were a ball of self-doubt.
  • Students who didn’t find school easy but loved Mark cracking jokes to ease their anxiety.
  • Students who came for the free gumballs but stayed for the lessons.
  • Students who just wanted to be in a cool classroom with a teacher that respected them.

And the other teachers needed him too.

  • A listening ear.
  • A neutral confidant.
  • A humourous support.

He used to be surprised when former students would drop by. Now, he knows that his impact lives on.

He used to think he needed to be stern the first few weeks so the kids would take him seriously. Now he knows classroom management comes from his kids loving being in his class.

He used to be shocked when students would give him a gift or bring him a coffee or, most recently, a few athletes who “miss being in your class” brought Mark flowers.

Our impact is easy to miss. We need to catch it before we write it off (if we even notice it at all) as just another thing we do in our busy days.

Having an Impact

Impact is the extraordinary things you do in your ordinary day. They’re visible to everyone but you unless you start to look for them and their reactions.

And then you do it more with even greater intention. And that’s when impact grows momentum and energy.

Do you practice asking yourself daily, “What impact did I have today?” Do you ask that of a friend who’s struggling? An unsure partner? A child that’s figuring out their way? Everyone has an impact, and it’s never too early to start a practice of reflecting on the impact we had that day. Can you imagine if that started in kindergarten? We’d be perspective savants by the time we hit adulthood!

This was one of 9 things I taught impact personified professionals in childcare in a webinar. Feel free to share the recording and tools if you or someone you know is in this field.

May you never doubt your impact and your value for one second. The world needs your greatness. You Are Already Greatness™!

And hey, why not share this with someone that you know has a huge impact and tell them why you thought of them when you read this? Inspire them to notice their own greatness and spread it with even greater intention and confidence!

Check out these past delectable tidbits to learn how you can have an impact on others:

Disclaimer/Humble Brag Moment: 100% of this content was human-generated (by us folks here at Greatness Magnified). We are committed to authorship integrity and will inform you what percent, if any, is AI-generated.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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