From birth the human inner-self seeks to impress.  Those first steps looking for welcoming approval from parents, the success in academic achievement and later in life the favorable approval from bosses and colleagues.  Are we impressing or simply looking for an absence of condemnation?

Impressing is a key element in transitioning, it’s the lubricant that provides for fluid movement towards achieving goals.  There is less proving and more permissiveness, and to a large extent being giving the privilege of accountability/responsibility is heavily influenced by the impression we have made.

Are We Playing to the Right Audience

As we mature our independence moves us away from those are strong supporters to those that are more in keeping with our peer status.  In those teen years expending effort on our peers (to impress and set forth a position in the peer group) we often foresake our parents being impressed.  Seems a bit ironic that we would give up what is a sound and dependable source of impressing for the simple feel good independence of peer approval.  If we look at this further we will often give up personal beliefs and norms in order to impress during those teen and early adult hood years.  Often, later in life, we find ourselves lamenting about this act of impression seeking rebellion and the abandonment of solid support.  From cradle to grave we stress to impress…. we seek endorsement often from those who can’t effect value for us and even if they can they aren’t a lifetime reliable source.  So who can we impress… the search starts with self.

Unfortunately the seeking to impress in our later professional, and to some extent our personal life, continues in this distorted path.  We seek solace in groups, support is sought in being a part.  We maintain a very convoluted belief that our strength will be seen in the group (by standing out) when in fact organizations look for those who are not a pact but the mobilizers of pacts.   Over the course of my work with companies I have found those who impress are those who understand that its an outcome and not a pursuit.  Meaning that a focus on self abilities and habits far out weighs ‘fitting in’.  It however also seems that the guides, the coaches and the educators are still operating from the position of ‘group’.  You will see papers, courses and even conferences that are heavily dedicated to group dynamics.   There are external events that are weighted with team building even when the work that is being undertaken is not a group exercise.  So as it tries to encapsulate the people in a spirit of community it ends up having to focus on ‘proper behavior’.

Back on Point

The dynamics of impressing, and in subsequent impact on transitioning has to be based on value delivery.  I once told a colleague that, “you should never go into a sales meeting with the belief that you need the sale”.  After getting some very confused looks I went on to explain that the drive for a goal creates a carnival atmosphere that borders on graveling.  Claims are made, truths are stretched and even our animated behavior becomes more comedic then valuable.   The customer knows the end game and so do you, so why not focus on relationship building and value based sharing than creating extra ‘must get sale’ window dressing that only creates more risk of failing.   Impressing, I contend, starts from within.  We need to look within ourselves and understand our limitations and not just our strengths.  We need to understand our value to the business and to ourselves, and in doing so create a valued asset and not just another operational liability for the business.   Yes, people are the backbone of a company.  However, that backbone must be viewed as to the value it presents.   It’s for these reasons that spending time on impressing should be the result of value and not based upon a position of popularity.

If you are popular and people around you move on you will face a new audience that may not necessarily be that impressed.  But also this new audience is most likely looking to impress as well, and this dynamic places a challenge on those who impressed based on popularity and not based on outcome.  Those in the technical and administrative communities realize that those that are among their ranks in value are not easily displaced by new entrants who wish to make their mark.  The old saying that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ supports this notion.


So what have we learned?

  1. Impressing is a key component in the transitioning equation.  It removes risk and creates a dependable basis for success.
  2. Impressing is a natural human condition.  However, impression through focus on value is more sustainable than impressing on a social level.
  3. Value is the key to all that we do.  To produce value it requires us to be impressed with ourselves.  But to be impressed with ourselves we must honestly understand our strengths and our weaknesses.
  4. The dynamics of group makes it difficult to create an ‘impression’ level that extends beyond the team.  Even in team sports a star player is only as good as the team he/she is a star within, and that is based upon self-impressed responsibility.
  5. Leaders are also subject to impressions created for both internal to the company but also to the external world.  Impressing that has gone bad is the result of a loss of focus in producing value and the entering into a search for impressing others.  (old habits die hard)
  6. Finally, impressions rely upon your crafted persona.  Truth, honesty, forthright, topical expertise and openness are some of the virtues we may use to impress and create adoration.