"I really hope to make an impact," a new friend said to me last week on our intro call.
Then he caught himself in his excitement, took a breath in, hesitated. You could see all the air go out of his tires.
"Oh, that probably sounds arrogant."
That conversation about making an impact, which I had just before leaving for Thinkers50 in London, stayed with me on the plane. It made me think about the power of intention and the importance of surrounding ourselves with those who dare to dream big and aim high.
There is more to say about why we hold ourselves back but what I learned in London is the power of surrounding yourself with people who are hell bent on playing at the highest level.
Marshall Goldsmith, coaching legend, pictured here with me and Thinkers50 guru and past Future Proof Masterclass guest, Whitney Johnson, taught me something valuable in a conversation after the event - the concept of referent groups, explained in an extract from his book, The Earned Life:
“If you know a person’s referent group—-to whom or what they feel deeply connected to, whom they want to impress, whose respect they crave-—you can understand why they talk and think and behave the way they do. You don’t have to agree with them, but you are less likely to dismiss them as brainwashed or uninformed. At the same time, you realize that your views may appear equally incomprehensible to them. It made me more tolerant, almost empathic.”
Understanding this can be a wonderful way of understanding people and also a great way of leveling up your own game. If you are in a company where people expect you just to keep your head down, toe the line, not reach too far, that will shape you.
Being around people (your referent group) who expect you to change the world and think so big you can barely see the perimeter of their burning ambition was life changing, energizing and catalyzing. Even if I try and fail, the opportunity to intelligently fail at a bigger game is exactly in line with what I want to achieve in my life right now.
How about you?
Sitting there, with the hum of the engine in the background, I found myself reflecting on the journey – not just the flight I was on, but the journey we all undertake in life. How often do we question our impact, or downplay our ambitions for fear of sounding arrogant?
The event at Thinkers50 was an eye-opener. It was a reminder that it's not just okay to want to make an impact – it's commendable. Being in a space where everyone was not just allowed, but encouraged, to pursue impactful work with zeal and passion was invigorating.
Reflecting on the conversations, the ideas shared, and the sheer energy of the event, I came away with a renewed sense of purpose. It's gatherings like these that fuel our passion and remind us that making a difference isn't a solitary journey. It's a collective endeavor, one where we lift each other up, celebrate each other's successes, and forge ahead together.
So here's to the dreamers, the thinkers, and everyone who believes in the power of impact. Let’s continue to envision and work towards those preferred futures, where connection, possibility, and collective ambition aren't just ideals, but realities we actively shape.
I’m thinking deeply about how to replicate that sense of possibility I experienced at the event and connect people to each other to realize their dreams.
What possibilities are you creating?