Making an IMPACT in the world, in your community, in a business and on a person is one of the most exhilarating feelings you will ever have. You want to consistently have that feeling of being impactful.  When you look around, there are certain people that have a knack for making an impact, they have a way about them.  They join a group at the office, and almost instantly the team starts to get traction.  They join a committee for a non-profit, and the committee accelerates. Fearless Leaders are consistent.  Fearless Leaders advance any cause.  Fearless Leaders bring the 8 attributes we discussed in the last section of b MADE along with their core values in b GOOD and they institute the four principles of b IMPACTFUL for consistent performance.

Consistent performance comes from a consistent approach.  Approach a challenge or opportunity differently every time and you will be successful some of the time.  Approach the same challenge and opportunity with a SYSTEMS builder mentality, and you will yield a much greater success rate.  Why?  Because you will learn from each experience and apply a higher level of thinking as you weave through life’s challenges and opportunities. As you become more experienced, you will develop your systems approach to solving challenges and exploiting opportunities.

When I was in elementary school, I played CYO basketball for St. Chris School.  I was an average player, but I was way below average at free throw shots.  I liked to drive to the hoop and make contact, so I found myself at the free throw line a lot. I wanted to improve, but I had too much doubt in my head when I would go to the line.  Then one day, I was watching a Boston Celtics game, and the great Larry Bird was draining every single free throw attempt.  I watched in awe, and wished I could shoot like Bird, but what kid didn’t want that.  And then one day in an interview, Bird talked about how he took 100 free throw attempts after practice every day, after everybody else had left.  In essence, Larry shared his system with me.  Starting the next day, I followed Larry’s system, and within a month my free throw percentage had climbed to over 80%.  Larry’s system had given me the physical skills to consistently succeed, but equally important, the system had removed my self-talk of doubt and replaced it with confidence.  I actually began to enjoy going to the free throw line because I knew I would consistently drain my shot, just like the great Larry Bird.  This made such an impression on me that if you come to my office nearly 40 years later, I will show you an autographed Larry Bird basketball on my bookshelf.

The next aspect of making an impact is keeping it SIMPLE. That’s it – simple.  As humans with really powerful brains, we tend to overthink, overdesign and overdo things – probably not surprised to hear that.  Think about the free throw system Larry taught me – take 100 shots a day after practice, that’s it. There was no discussion of spin on the ball, hand placement, shooting with your legs, focusing on the back of the rim, none of that at all. It was simple – his system was repetition on a daily basis to build memory muscle and instill confidence.

The third aspect of making the biggest impact you can on this planet is BELIEF.  You must believe in yourself and believe in others.  Fearless Leaders project an aura of what is possible. When a truly Fearless Leader enters a room, it fills with positive energy.  Believing a positive outcome is possible, is half the battle to overcoming an obstacle. As a Fearless Leader, you are planting the seeds of success with your mental approach. Sending good vibes of kinetic energy to your friends, family, colleagues and community will always result in a higher level of achievement. Positivity and self-belief are contagious.  Spread your belief to one, and watch that belief infuse in your friend, family, colleagues and community.  Belief is one of the most powerful tools you can deploy as a Fearless Leader.

The fourth component of the Fearless Leadership system is learning how to CULTIVATE leadership in others.  Cultivating leadership is much like a farmer cultivating their crops.  It takes a consistent approach; it takes a daily work ethos; it takes nurturing and watering; it takes sunshine from the sun and rain from the skies; it takes time and investment; and it takes a positive outlook that with all this hard work put in, a wonderful crop will follow.  So, in essence, you are cultivating and growing leaders in your crops, you are investing time and energy into people, you are watering their minds, and breathing positivity into their beliefs.

When you instill a simple systems approach and cultivate a belief in others, you will make an EXPONENTIAL impact on the world. Leadership is tough to quantify – I wonder if it can even be measured.  In my opinion, the best way to measure it is simple, ask yourself: how many people have you influenced to become leaders and improve their leadership.  How many people have you cultivated?  When you have taught people to believe in themselves, you have made an impact on a much larger community.  You have impacted the person directly, but you have exponentially impacted the friends, family, colleagues and community of that individual.  And that extends your Fearless Leadership exponentially.

By teaching your simple systems, sharing beliefs, and cultivating the seeds of leadership in others, a Fearless Leader creates an EXPONENTIAL impact—creating a legacy of leaders leading others.

Fearless Leaders, consciously and subconsciously, have built SYSTEMS and frameworks for their success.  Remember when we talked about productivity in the b MADE section, we said Fearless Leaders Get Stuff Done!  To GSD, you most definitely have a simple system – think about your daily actions.  Each of us may have a different system for doing this – from creating a list, to using an app, to possibly even using stickies of all colors.  I’ve seen so many different systems work for people, and that’s because there are over 7.3 billion people that GSD differently.

Now, let’s jump into being a leader of a team – your team wants to understand how to GSD in a consistent and repeatable manner without being in crisis-mode every day.  The more you can build a system for your team with whatever function or activity you lead, the more likely your team will be successful.  This is a fact I’m sure can be quantified.

And here is the part that matters most, when your family, friends, colleagues, and community understand what is expected of them, and you have created a framework for them to be successful within, you have fundamentally removed their fear of failure, their uncertainty of what to do, and their doubt of how to do it.

Systems illuminate the pathway to success, they serve as guardrails for your team to play and work within, they create a structure for success.  Now let’s think back to the basketball example from my elementary school days.  What I really needed was the structure and direction to take one hundred free throws a day, then the rest was up to me.  And this structure provided me a framework to explore new options of playing the game like changing my pre-shot ritual, using more backspin, and so on.  The system Larry had given me was a repeatable system that allowed me to consistently succeed.

Complex is easy, SIMPLE is hard.  It seems that year-by-year, the world and the world of business become a more complicated place. With this complexity, it just seems prudent to stir people with a simple message.  But simple can be really, really hard. The best example of simple that I can think of is our online friends at Amazon.  The eCommerce giant that has made it so easy to buy “stuff”; from one-click checkout, to buttons in your pantry, to subscription services, to next day delivery.  And how have we reacted to Amazon’s simplistic ways – by making them one of the most valued companies and brands in the world.

So why is it so hard for other companies to follow their blueprint for success?  That’s simple to answer – ease of use and simplicity are built into the DNA of Amazon, whereas competitors may copy a new convenient feature, but then fall back to their complex ways.

So, let me make a simple translation from Amazon to Fearless Leadership.  Make it simple to follow you, to understand you, to communicate with you, to be your friend, to be your neighbor, to work for you or alongside you.  At the core of being simple are three things: a vision or purpose people can relate to, a repeatable and consistent system and a relentless attitude of keeping it simple.

Fundamentally people are motivated by the why not the what.  When you tell someone what to do, they might do it.  If you help someone understand the why, they might do it and they also might do it differently and better than you had told them.  That is the value of why. People across all walks of life perform better when given some type of roadmap.  But the key to your system is that it must be useable by others, and not a mastermind Rubik’s cube that only you can decipher. And as a Fearless Leader, you must constantly instill a simplistic approach to overcoming fear, uncertainty and doubt.  When fear strikes, many people freeze, and that is when simple is even more important. When doubt comes knocking, brain cells slow down (not literally) and that is when simple is crucial.  And when uncertainty paralyzes someone, something as simple as 1-2-3 can be complex.  Simple bolsters certainty.  Lastly, we have all heard of the KISS Principle, and there is a lot to be said for the fact that we have all heard of it.  It works – Keep It Simple Stupid.

BELIEVING in someone or something else, starts with believing in yourself.  Fearless Leaders believe in themselves first, which allows others to believe in them.  Now believing in yourself doesn’t mean you think you have the answers to life’s mysteries, challenges, and obstacles.  It simply means you believe the answers exist. Finding the answers is the fun part; this is where the relationships you have built with family, friends, colleagues, and your larger community pays great dividends.

As a Fearless Leader presented with a great opportunity or a unique challenge, you can channel your belief of a positive outcome across your network.  In turn, your network of relationships will meet you with ideas, solutions, and possibilities because you offer them hope.  Consider the opposite, if you believe you will fail and begin to doubt a positive outcome is possible, you will attract naysayers, party-poopers and negativity.  Remember, the source of many of those doubters and haters is fear and uncertainty.

Step 1 is believing in yourself.  Step 2 is believing in a positive outcome.  Step 3 is attracting like-minded people across your network.  Step 4 involves influencing the naysayers to join the solution train.

A Fearless Leader has the ability to infuse and change the belief system of a naysayer or a doubter because they’ve encountered them before; you know the ones who are not on board with your idea yet.  Remember, you have a big vision, which requires lots of people supporting you along the way accomplishing a number of goals.  The more people you have believing in you and your something, the faster you will get there.  And here is the best gem of belief – there is virtually no better feeling in life as when you take-on the party-poopers and the negative-Nelly’s. so that days, weeks, months, or even years later you see them barreling down the tracks on the solution train yelling and screaming about all the positive possibilities.  In that moment, reflect on how you have helped to transform their belief system and how you have removed their fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

If you believe leaders are made, as I do, then we both have a real responsibility to develop and CULTIVATE leaders throughout our life’s journey.  Earlier, I leveraged the analogy of a farmer planting seeds, watering their crop, and tending to their fields on a daily basis.  That’s a good start, but the incredible aspect of cultivating leaders vs. corn or potatoes is that your leadership fields are endless.  As a farmer, you are limited to farm your own land.  As a leader, you are unlimited at who you cultivate.

We all have cultivation opportunities every single day across many walks of life.  Let’s start with family; you can sow the seeds of leadership with your kids, your siblings, your nieces and nephews, your parents, your uncles and aunts, every person in your family has the chance to develop and grow richer from interacting with you, even your in-laws and your friends.  We have such a blessed opportunity to help our friends grow, and in turn we grow from our healthy interactions with them as well.

Jumping into the business world, we have clear and present opportunities each day in virtually any meeting or interaction to inspire leadership simply by letting a colleague know they have the opportunity to lead. And in the communities in which we live – our neighbors, our kids, our social circles, our places of faith, our gyms, our coffee houses, our sorta-kinda-know-that- person types, and really anyone we meet- is an opportunity to begin to light the fuse of leadership for another person.  So many people in life have never been told they too can be a leader, let alone have another person invest in them.  You have the chance today to do just that, become a leadership farmer sowing the seeds of Fearless Leadership.

As a Fearless Leader who has devised a system rooted in simplicity and built on a belief in cultivating leaders, you have positioned yourself to create an EXPONENTIAL impact on the world. Let’s pause for a minute… you came into this world alone, inherited a family immediately, accumulated friends over time and have interacted with thousands upon thousands of people in your lifetime, and you have the opportunity to make a limitless impact on all of those people.  An impact that will travel to places you will never see, to grow people you will never meet, to impact lives you will never know you impacted.  Exponential sounds out of this world, and that is because it is.  So many people limit themselves to an incremental impact during their life – they build a good family, they have good friends, they have nice co-workers and nice neighbors, and they settle.  Who wants to settle for good and nice – that’s incremental living.  I want to inspire my family.  I want awesome friends.  I want to support my co-workers.  And I want to know my neighbors…I want to do more.  But in the microwave world we live in, that often rewards instant gratification and impulsivity, we settle for incremental, we live with good and we accept nice.

Fearless Leaders think much bigger and lean-in to make an exponential impact. Fearless Leaders live their core values and demonstrate what that means to others.  Fearless Leaders build others up through developing the eight attributes we discussed. Fearless Leaders inspire co-workers with a vision, by investing in their relationship, by being productive, by communicating often, by being empathetic and through achieving goals. Fearless Leaders are sought out in their communities to serve, to lead, to coach, to mentor and to give back. I dare say that Fearless Leaders make the world sleep better at night. Fearless Leaders inject energy and positivity into the world when it wakes up in the morning.  Likewise, Fearless Leaders help others overcome their innate fears, their self-doubt and their personal uncertainty. Fearless Leaders impact the world in exponential ways that go far beyond normal expectations.