Scientists have long been enamored with the concept of chain reactions. A chemical change, for example, triggers a change in a nearby chemical, which in turn triggers change in other surrounding forms. In the case of a drop of water radiating out to impact an entire still lake, a single action can create far-reaching impact.
The concept of chain reactions expands beyond science and applies directly to your relationships and career.
If you lash out with anger at an employee, your rage doesn’t terminate in that moment. Instead, the beaten-down team member leaves your office full of negative energy that must be purged. She lays into her colleagues, creating poor morale. Her next three customer calls are ineffective because she’s abrasive and short. She then burns a vendor relationship, botches a media interview and goes home to berate her 10-year-old daughter for getting a Bminus on a math test.
In this case, the initial wrath you delivered set a negative chain reaction into the world that may continue for days and leave a dark wake in its path.
Luckily, chain reactions work in the positive format just as well. What if you replaced your smack-down meeting with one of encouragement, empathy and support? As your employee springs out of your office with confidence, she energizes her colleagues, delights customers, inspires her vendor, crushes her media interview and encourages her daughter with helpful support. As the waves radiate outward, positive change ripples through her community.
Even the most innocuous interactions can spark chain reactions. A small bit of help and support can inspire a student to stay in school, start a business, create jobs and live a productive life. Alternatively, each time you negatively impact others you are setting in motion a dose of poison into society.
Our lives are the summation of the thousands of choices we make each day. Make sure you understand that each choice not only impacts your own destiny, but also can spark a chain reaction leaving your fingerprints on the world. You get to choose what type of imprint you’ll make. Will you energize or deplete? Empower or discourage? Contribute or take? Build or burden? Help or hurt?
When that drop of water hits the edge of the still lake, the ripples turn around and head right back toward the source. The same is true with your own chain reactions. The positive ones you set in motion will come back to help you, while the negative ones will end up biting you.
To feel better, achieve more and make a bigger difference, spread your best self into the world. If each of us followed this approach, just imagine how sunny things would become for us all.