The Ripple Effect

As a recovering engineer and physicist I often regress or consider issues from a scientific point of view.  It seems strange that someone who runs an Executive Search and Leadership Consulting firm would do this, but I often believe that my original training and knowledge only helps me consider new analogies that apply to working with and leading others in the workplace.  Today is no exception.

I remember well when I was young the joy I would have when I would skip rocks across the lake or some other body of water.  Seeing something defy gravity for a short period of time was a little exhilarating for me, but what is even more interesting is to watch what happens when something enters a body of water.

The photo below shows what I suspect all of you have seen when a rock, or some other item, penetrates the surface of a body of water.  Nothing new, you say, and I would agree.  But lets go a little further with this.  The waves that are generated go out in a symmetrical pattern for a long period of time.  How long, you ask?  That depends on several things, the weight and surface area of the penetrating body would be one limiting criteria and the viscosity of the water, liquid would be another.  The waves will go on and on and the entry of the body will affect other areas adjacent to it.

So what’s the point?  Consider this: when you enter a situation in the workplace, at home, or with some organization, you have a similar effect on those around you.  Your entry, the penetration of this media, will impact all of those around you.  In a sense, you make waves that impact and touch all of those in the same general area.

Why is this important?  Here is why.  How you enter and why you enter will make an impact on each of these people.  Consider the impact of touch in a physical sense and then consider that your entry into a situation or a project will be impactful, positively or negatively, on everyone you touch.

I remember when I used to practice my diving into the water.  It was always my goal to minimize my splash, to reduce the impact, especially the negative impact when I penetrated the water.  Depending upon the situation you enter you will need to take the same into consideration.  Will your entry into a situation be smooth with minimal impact to others around you or will you do a “belly flop” and make a splash that aggravates all around you?

Entering a new situation takes decorum and tact.  In many cases you will want to “dive in” such that the impact is not negative to those around you.  In some cases the “belly flop” will be necessary to gain the attention of all involved.  In matters where change needs to take place, a good wave might just get things moving in the right direction.

Your entry into any situation, any conversation, will affect all of those close by.  Do not underestimate the effect you will have.  Make sure you dive when needed, but don’t be afraid to make a wave when needed.

I just hope you don’t think I am all wet with my thinking…

Have a great day and a great weekend!