Lately, people, places and things have been reminding me of my friend and coaching colleague, Susan Race, who died suddenly in 2008. She was one of the first coaches I met when I entered coaching in 2001. She offered a bright smile, was always supportive, loving, energetic, and generous with her time and talents. She left a mark on my life and on many others.

What is a life? It is moments of time. All we take with us when we leave this life is our experiences, our love, and our lessons. And what we leave behind is the impact we make on the lives of others. We have a choice about how we experience our life in any given moment AND we choose the impact we wish to have on others.

Everyday, as you go about your day-to-day activities, whether you are at work or with family and friends, you have an impact on people’s lives. Do you know what this impact is? And are you happy with the impact your life is having on the lives of the people around you?

Time and time again I hear complaints about “management” from staff. They don’t want to point fingers so it tends to be general statements about leadership such as “They don’t care. They don’t listen.” This leads to poor morale and can impact the bottom line in the form of turnover and the use of sick time. Do you know how your staff feels about you? What are they saying? It does not matter whether they are right or wrong; their perception is their truth.

Your impact is about you and the experience others have with you. It’s important not to pawn your power off on others by believing that you have no control over what other people think of you. Your actions lead to the impact you have in the minds of other people. In other words, you are the cause; their perception is the effect.

It’s not just your behavior that’s impactful, but also your energy, emotions, mood, words, and body language. It’s what you don’t do as much as what you do. People may not remember what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel. And, as a leader or business owner, or even a parent, your impact has a reach that extends far and wide. It takes on a life of its own as people share their experiences of you with others. In addition, people have their own moods and priorities at the time they experience you or your message. This influences their perception.

For example, at work, you may be a people-pleaser or perhaps you fear not being liked. These concerns cause you to not speak up, to tolerate problems longer than you should or need to; you avoid conflict or minimize difficult personalities or negativity in the workplace. This in turn, influences your self-esteem and your ability to lead. The environment you create in the workplace reflects your actions. At home, if you are concerned about being liked, this will be reflected in how you parent and how you treat your spouse. You are less likely to ask for help or for your needs to be met, causing resentment and anger to build, much like it does at work. This discontent festers and affects the most important relationships in your life. You risk alienating your spouse and children. And your children are learning from you that people-pleasing is important, that you should sacrifice yourself to please others and avoid conflict at any cost, even to the detriment of yourself and your happiness.

So what’s the answer? How do you learn to create the kind of impact that you want people to have of you? Here are three steps – simple, not easy. As with anything important, it takes consistent effort over time to create change. Be patient with yourself and focus on being persistent.

Step One: Choose to Be Your Best
From the moment you get up in the morning to the moment you go to bed, you are being watched. Your kids, your spouse, the neighbors, your parents, your boss, your employees – everyone – is watching you. Employees and children in particular are especially good at watching every move. And most importantly, YOU are watching you! I call this being on Permanent Video. You may not like this concept but that does not make it less true. It is what it is.

People watch you and they make impressions about how they think of you and what they feel about you. Even you have impressions about you.

In reality, it doesn’t matter that you are being watched. You can choose to go about your life without concerning yourself about what others think. People always have an opinion. However, as a leader, what matters is that you care about what people see and experience when they are in your presence. This means choosing to be a role model, knowing that people are watching you and learning from you, and simply caring about how you show up as you go navigate through your day-to-day. It’s a choice to be your best. It’s a choice to be the leader in your life in every area of your life. Keep learning and developing yourself; continue to stretch your leadership muscles. The highest level of maturity is when you are able to be real, genuine, and authentic.

Step Two: Take Charge of Your Impact
Decide how you would like people to feel in your presence. How do you want people to feel about themselves after having spent time with you?

Choose three or four attributes to describe you – characteristics you want to be known for. If people were asked to describe you, you would want them to use these or similar words. Choose these attributes, and then live them. Each day in every way possible, you must espouse these qualities in all areas of your life. Your actions and your words must be congruent with these attributes. Regardless of how you are known right now, you can change people’s perceptions but it takes time and consistent effort. People have an impression of you now; this is called your personal brand. Unless you are changing jobs, being promoted, or starting business – excellent times to change your brand – recreating yourself with a new brand can be challenging. People expect you to behave a certain way; they will need to experience the new you often enough and long enough for their perception to be altered. And even then, you might have to point out to them that you have become different so they start looking for these new characteristics through your new behaviors.

Step Three: Obtain Feedback
How will you know that you are making the impact you want? You must observe yourself, observe others’ reactions to you, and ask people directly for feedback. As a leader, it is often difficult to obtain good feedback from others especially if those around you are people pleasers. This is where good coaching can help. Other ways to learn how others feel about you include noticing how people respond to your presence in a room, whether people openly share ideas or if they stay silent, or how people respond to direct questioning about issues. These techniques will give you much feedback about how comfortable people feel around you.

The only thing you can control is you. By consciously choosing how you want others to feel when they are with you, you can start to create the kind of impact you want to have in this lifetime. What do you want people to say about you when you leave the room or when your name comes up in conversation? It’s not too late! Begin right now to make the impact you want in the lives of those you meet along your journey.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN, CSAC is dedicated to helping you break through the barriers to your happiness and success. She is a masterful coach, a motivational speaker and world-renowned writer and author. For additional resources and to sign up for her inspiring e-newsletter, visit NurturingYourSuccess.com or email Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com.