Will you Choose to Matter?

By Cheryl Viola, Executive Director, MBA

Many people think that being busy means that we matter. We rush from task to task filling our days with a menu of items. The greater the checklist the more successful we feel. I am just as guilty as the next, that at the end of the day the more things I checked off the more accomplished I felt. Recently faced with a big decision I stopped and pondered what was the motivation behind my choice. I am not driven by title or professional recognition and accolades which left me, soul, searching as to how would my decisions help better me in my job and make me a better human being. Ultimately the question is how do I want to be remembered.

In a Ted Talk, Seth Godin with clarinet in hand shared that nothing matters if you can’t play a single note that people actually want to hear. We learn at a young age that teachers, parents, coaches, and bosses always ask for a little bit more. And we find it safer to hold a little back.  We try to protect ourselves by adding more things to our list, instead of making one thing impact. As human beings and leaders do, we have people listening and following?

Seth’s message is that for success in life, the accolades, the title, and position don’t matter. He councils the audience to Care Enough to connect.

Care enough to put ourselves at risk. To touch other people. To be brave enough to leap before we are ready. Will you choose to matter?

Juli Foudy, a two times Women’s World cup champion discusses leadership and what matters is personal. Too often we think of leaders as individuals of power, a president, a CEO, or a celebrity that makes millions of dollars. We do not see ourselves as fitting in the stereotype. “Leadership is personal, not positional”.

We have a rich history of great leaders. We hear their stories, we share quotes they have said, true leadership that matters is individual. When you are asked who has inspired you, you think of people who have touched your life, and who have influenced and inspired you. This is often a teacher, a loving relative, a mentor, or a boss. When you think about leaders who have impacted our life, look at their characteristics. What is it about them that made them great in your eyes?

What were their greatest skills?

  • Empathy
  • Listening
  • Creativity
  • Vision
  • Empowering
  • Self-Leadership
  • Team building

When I was in grade 11, I had a new art teacher, her name was Mrs. Ratray. On the first day of class, she said “There are no rules to art, and if there are you can break them.” She had a profound influence on my life. Through the mentoring of Mrs. Ratray, I had developed my style and learned that I could bend the rules. Fast forward a few years, I am now a college freshman and I had a first-semester drawing instructor, at the end of the semester critique, she told me that I was too young at 17 to have developed my style and was frustrated because she didn’t think she could teach me. How narrow-sighted of her to think that she could not influence me. In the end, she did have an impact on me, however, it was not a positive impact.

In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, we think that good results are not good enough. We think that we need to produce extraordinary results.  No matter the situation, no matter your position you have the power to inspire others who will achieve extraordinary results

Ronald Regan said, “We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.”

Back to the original question will you choose to matter? Will you choose to be kinder, to lend a helping hand? Like the lollipop story from a few weeks ago, we do not always know whose lives we will touch and how we can impact another.  Inspiring leadership is the single biggest factor in achieving extraordinary results. Ultimately how do you want to be remembered?