The 6 Invitations of Expansive Impact
Sarah Young gives an overview of her brand new book.
by Sarah Young | June 1, 2022
Hello, AG Collaborative Community!
I’m Sarah Young, founder of Zing Collaborative and author of Expansive Impact: An Invitation to Lead in Everyday Moments. It is a pleasure to join you here on the AG Collaborative blog.
Today, I wanted to offer you a few reflections and invitations to use on your own leadership journey as you work to expand your impact and, as the AG Collaborative Team would say, lead from the inside out.
The Six Invitations of Expansive Impact are:
- Be Compassionate: Lead with Love
- Be Conscious: Lead from Within
- Be Clear: Lead in Relationship to Reality
- Be Curious: Lead by Looking for Clues
- Be Courageous: Lead with Truth from the Heart
- Be Creative: Lead with Agility
Below, we’ll take a look at each of these invitations, and consider small but impactful ways that we can implement them in our everyday leadership, and lives.
The 6 Invitations of Expansive Impact: An Overview
Be Compassionate: Lead with Love
Research has found that employees who feel they work in a loving, caring workplace feel more satisfied at work. This doesn’t mean romantic love, but rather, it means that we feel a sense of connection at work, and that we feel as though the people we work with care about us as human beings.
We can create this sense of care through small gestures such as saying good morning; acknowledging our team members when we pass them in the hallway; making a point to have conversations rather than relying exclusively on slack; or incorporating five minutes of personal check-ins into our team meetings.
You might consider:
- Is there someone on your team who you haven’t talked with in awhile? If so, what could it look like to reach out to connect?
- Who is someone in your life you’re grateful for? Take a moment, think of this person, and then consider sending them a text or a piece of snail mail.
Be Conscious: Lead from Within
Leadership is not just something we do. It is an expression of who we are. We can look inward to consider:
- What matters to me most?
- What type of leader am I, and what type of leader do I want to be?
One pathway to self-discovery is through our values. Values are the things that matter most. In short, values are our choices and our actions.
As leaders we can consider:
- What are my values?
- What do these things look like in action?
- And, am I doing them? Are they present?
We can perform a quick values check-in by making a list of our values, writing down what they look like in action, and then taking a look at our calendar, our task list, and the way we are currently spending our time, energy, and money. From there, we can consider:
- Are my values aligned with my actions?
- Are there any values that are missing from my current rhythms?
- And, are there any actions or commitments that are currently misaligned with—or even in conflict with—the things that matter most?
If so, we can consider small shifts to create harmony between what we value and what we do.
Be Clear: Lead in Relationship to Reality
This invitation encourages us to be in relationship with reality, rather than a version of reality that we have created in our heads.
The reality that we’ve created in our heads could show up in the form of storytelling, judgments, assumptions, or catastrophizing or worrying about something that hasn’t happened.
We might think of a time recently when we’ve received an email or slack message that didn’t sit well with us. Perhaps our heart started beating more rapidly, maybe we became short of breath, or we even muttered a few select words under our breath (or out loud in the privacy of our basement home office).
In moments such as these, we can consider:
- What story am I telling myself?
- What assumptions am I holding?
- And how am I behaving based on these stories and assumptions, rather than the reality that is unfolding before me?
Let’s say that in the moment above, we become heated, we determine that the person who sent the message is a @$$@, and we decide to fire off a short, angry response as a result. We triumphantly hit send and feel triumphant.
A moment later, we receive another message from the sender, “Just following up on that message – realized I needed to provide a bit more context since upon re-reading it, it sounded shorter than I intended it to–that’s what I get for trying to get through my task list, send slack messages, watch Karate practice and talk on the phone simultaneously! #oops.”
Oh crap. Our colleague wasn’t trying to be a @#$% at all. They were just moving too quickly, trying to do too many things at once—a feeling that we can likely all relate to. Perhaps that short, angry response we fired off in return wasn’t necessary after all.
In moments such as these, we can pause to consider what is actually true before we react or respond. We can take a page from Byron Katie’s book to consider:
- What is true?
- And, can I be absolutely certain?
If we practice these two brief questions regularly, we will likely find that what appears to be true at first glance often isn’t if we look just a bit deeper.
Be Curious: Lead by Looking for Clues
Simply put, understanding is not the same as agreement.
In our world today, we can see the following play out in life, and online:
- Do I agree with you? If so: I’ll happily talk with you, have you in my life, follow you on social media, and repost the things you share online.
- Do I disagree with you? If not: I am not interested in talking with you further, I’ve unfollowed you on social media, I have distanced myself from you, and perhaps I’ve even removed you from my life.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the following play out regularly not only on the internet, but within communities, friend groups, and even families. Polarization, based on a difference in opinion or perspective, has trickled down to our most intimate circles.
We can take a stand for something different by embracing a perspective of curiosity.
Rather than trying to be right, we can try to be curious. And even if we don’t agree, we can seek to understand.
We can do this by asking curiosity-based questions which are open-ended and begin with what or how. The next time you’re in a conversation with someone you don’t agree with, you might stretch yourself to stay present, remain curious, and ask a few of these questions:
- What leads you to feel that way?
- How did you come to think about things that way?
- What resources would you recommend if I’d like to learn more?
Can you imagine a world in which one day, presidential debates are restructured from yelling matches and soundbites, to be curiosity-based conversations that work to cultivate understanding? This is a dream that I hold for the future…
Be Courageous: Lead with Truth from the Heart
Here, we can seek to tell the truth, be direct, and say what we mean while also being kind, compassionate, and practicing empathy. In order to do so, we need to do our own work first (which is why we’ve started from within).
A possible practice here is to consider which end of the spectrum you fall on:
- Do you lean more toward truth–where you are incredibly direct bordering, at times, on being harsh?
- Or do you lean more toward heart—where you are incredibly kind, bordering, at times, on being unclear?
There is no right or wrong answer. Our opportunity is simply to notice our natural tendency, and then consider what it can look like to stand in the middle and hold both: truth and heart.
Be Creative: Lead with Agility
This practice involves being grounded in our core why, while also being agile and responsive to the reality that is unfolding before us. It also invites us to take concrete action on things that we care about, rather than being swept away by the current or spraying the firehose.
Being swept away by the current means we are so overwhelmed by issues, obligations, or the news of the world that we feel there is simply nothing we can do.
Spraying the firehose, on the other hand, means that we are trying to tackle all of the issues and perhaps trying to solve all of the problems of the world. We are spraying the firehose in all directions, with little impact in any of them.
Our opportunity is to consider what it can look like to step into the middle: the place of conscious action. We can do so by considering:
- What is one thing that I care about deeply?
- And what is the smallest possible action I can take to create some sort of positive impact?
The Six Invitations of Expansive Impact invite us to look inside ourselves, and they empower us to create positive change through small actions, regardless of whether our outside circumstances change or not.
I hope that this post provides you with a few useful reflections to consider on your journey. If you’d like to stay connected, you may enjoy signing up for Friday Favorites, which is a weekly curation of reflections, resources, and inquiries to support you on your journey of leadership and life. For more on all of the concepts above and many others, please feel free to check out Expansive Impact: An Invitation to Lead in Everyday Moments.
Thanks so much for reading, and to the AG Collaborative Team for inviting me over to your little corner of the internet!