Reconnecting to our North Star: A Letter from our Founder
The last few years have been pivotal for me and for Impact, as they’ve been for most of our clients. Living with the global pandemic and its new ways of working, like so many of the organizations we work with, Impact experimented with innovative approaches to grow and develop our business. We took on new people and tried different strategies. It was one of our busiest and most successful few years, in many ways.
And while we learned and grew a lot as a business, we were also stretched thin. Sometimes doing work that was interesting, but outside our core passions. And working with many more clients, which presented unique opportunities, and made it difficult to focus on building strong, trusted relationships with our people and our clients. This is especially important to me.
As leaders, we are underestimating the “hangover” from the past three years. Many of our clients are dealing with stress-related personality conflicts in their teams. As leaders we sometimes need to step back and observe our own behaviour. We have been under a great deal of strain for a long period of time.
Work for me has almost always been something I enjoyed. I love helping people and leaders, and learning about their businesses. I love watching our staff grow and learn. During the pandemic, however, I wasn’t having as much fun. It felt more like a grind. I was trying to keep everything afloat.
The pandemic has been long and the path out of it continues to be fraught with uncertainty. Will there be a recession? How will work be reinvented? Will people still need what we do? It has felt like the longest marathon of my career. And it isn’t over.
To complicate the work challenges, like many people, I experienced more personal issues than I’ve ever had. We lost our father who was my mentor and our whole family reeled from his illness and the loss. My sister and I deepened our bond, but had become caregivers. One of my closest friends and colleagues at Impact was diagnosed with cancer and has retired. While still in touch, I miss her daily.
I believe leaders are so important to businesses. The good ones mobilize large groups of people to do amazing things. And expectations for leaders are so high. These expectations are mostly unachievable.
Leaders are imperfect. And like everyone, when under stress, become more imperfect. The leaders we work with have been under a greater level of stress than I have seen in my thirty-five years of work.
As leaders, we know we need to honour ourselves and take the time to refresh and heal so we can be at our best. Part of that healing is forgiving yourself when you make mistakes. But it can be tough. Time is the enemy. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it all. Your own personal wellness often takes a back seat.
So, choices matter. If feels like now is the time for leaders to focus on their needs and to help their people focus. It is important to work with the right team. And make big strategic choices.
As Impact’s Founder, I knew we needed to come back to our purpose. To our North Star. We excel at deep coaching work. Both with individuals and across groups. We help with both the people and the context they operate in (at work and elsewhere).
We love the challenge of helping clients solve their toughest people issues and tackle their most important talent opportunities. There’s deep trust when we do our best work. We work as a well-curated coach and project team. We challenge each other and our clients – and it’s magic.
Growth, while nice, and even intoxicating, isn’t meaning. Purpose and impact are meaning. Working with people you love is meaning. I wanted to get back to enjoying it again. And I wanted that for our people.
Over the last few months, we’ve reorganized and reprioritized our business to focus on what we love to do and what we do best.
2023 marks 20 years for Impact Coaches. (It was the year our daughter, Brooke, was born, so I always remember exactly when Impact was birthed, too.) Over the last two decades, I’ve been incredibly grateful to see our remarkable coaches and home team members have dynamic impacts on our clients. And I’ve been equally grateful that we’ve been able to grow deep, profound, and far-reaching relationships with individuals and organizations across North America, and frequently, the globe.
In the first few weeks of 2023, a valued client gifted me a beautiful compass pendant I deeply appreciate for its beauty and for what it symbolizes for me and for Impact. I wear it often and think of her words. In a note, she thanked me for being her “North Star”. In fact, she has become my North Star and Impact’s North Star.
Coaching works that way and that’s why I love it so much. Receiving the pendant was a poignant reminder that while veering away from your core direction can bring new opportunities, staying true to your internal compass as an organization and as an individual, is the true path to success and fulfilment. It’s what helps you build your brand, attract talented people who share your vision and values, meet the individuals and organizations you want to work with, and fuel the important work you want to do in the world. And it makes work more fun.
As we move forward with Impact Coaches into 2023 and beyond, I’m proud that we’ve taken the time to think about where we want to go and how we want to get there. That we’ve reconnected with what’s most important to us and how we can best partner with individuals and organizations to help them solve the issues that matter most to them. I believe it’s what will help us continue to grow, evolve, and thrive over the next 20 years.