Everyone talks about impact. Social impact. The impact they have on others. What is impact, and how does it work? Impact is the energy received. “A strong effect on someone.” In physics, impact is the force that is applied when an object comes into contact with another object. Impact then is the shift of energy from one object to another. Impact requires energy coming in, a transformation of that energy, and that energy being released to or received by another (depending on your vantage-point). Most people seems to minimize their impact–the energy they engage, transform, and transmit to another–by keeping these required energy forms locked away.
When people are disengaged, they do not connect to the energy, the creativity available within themselves. When our agreements are weak, we transform and scale very little of the creativity and energy engaged. When we don’t actively know or engage the people we intend to impact, we transfer very little of the energy that we transformed. Along the way, of all the energy and creativity that was available, little was engaged, less was transformed, and even less was transferred. Not very efficient or effective. Why do we do this? Is it hard to do otherwise, to engage, transform, and transfer high energy?
3 keys can unlock this energy. Over the past two dozen years, my colleagues and our networks of colleagues around the globe have found very straightforward, intuitively-obvious and seldom-used-in-coherent-ways tools for unlocking this energy for far greater impact. We have found it in groups around the world, and we have learned how to see it, understand it, and develop it. We found that the doors–the floodgates for this energy flow–have specific keyholes, requiring specific keys. That’s part of the problem–the wrong key cannot open the door. And, the doors all need to be opened together, with the right keys. What are the 3 keys? One key for unlocking the energy of engagement. A second key for unlocking the energy of transformation. A third key for unlocking the door to the energy of transfer, of impact.
1 — Key to Energy of Engagement. This key has three prongs. A prong of purpose. A prong of unique contribution. A prong of trust. This key is the quest, “To what purpose do we invite your specific contribution, in a vibrant space of trust?
2 — Key to Energy of Transformation. This key has three prongs. A prong of tangibilization. A prong of leverage. A prong of resilience. This key faces the inquiry of, “How do we integrate and leverage this energy engaged efficiently with resilience into impactful products and services, into relevant forms of energy?
3 — Key to Energy of Transfer. This key has three prongs. A prong of acceptance. A prong of intention. A prong of inclusion. This key addresses the exploration, “Do the intended recipients want this transformed energy, and can they receive it?
Imagine the impact when not unlocked. When these 3 doors–to energy engaged, transformed, and transferred–remain closed. Not engaged, not transformed, not wanted or received. You have probably experienced many situations like this, or at least on this end of the continuum.
In combination, these 3 keys unlock far greater impact, engaging and transforming purposeful energy that others want and are ready to receive. Those who are engaging, transforming, and receiving the energy resonate with it.
Where have we seen this work? The people of Vermont have taken on a radical shift, from complete dependence on external sources of energy for electricity, heating, and transportation to complete autonomy in their energy future. Through a state-wide process over the past 10 years, people from many different vantage points (utilities, businesses, local and national government, communities, networks) have come together, each bringing their unique gifts to shift their whole energy system. You can see what is happening in this work in Vermont by clicking here. The people of THORLO work towards the preventive foot health of everyone, bringing more life to your everyday interactions. Through decades of work on their culture, structures, and processes, they have found ways of interacting with each other and with their communities to bring greater creativity and vitality to everything they do. You can see them tell their story by clicking here. In New England town meetings, the people of each town meet annually to discuss and decide on their budget, together. Their local governance structures bring the information needed to decide, the people are informed, and come together to decide. This model has existed for centuries. You can see more about town meetings, as they are evolving and still practiced through New England, by clicking here. Three examples, from civil society, business, and government, of how people use all 3 keys simultaneously to unlock the purposeful energy of impact.
While few people see and use these 3 keys, everyone has them. They are right there, and there are many examples, in all walks of life, of how to use them, and how to measure them. You have them. You can use them, if you so choose.