Have you ever been sitting at a café and overheard an errant conversation from a neighbouring table – then been unable to quell your own feelings of inspiration? Or chatted with a mentor whose words stay with you for years and years after the initial conversation?
These small micro-influences in our day can, I believe, have a huge impact on our long-term personal growth and career.
What it means to be micro
It’s likely that we each individually carry hundreds of thousands of micro-influences accruing over the course of our lifetimes. These micro-moments can be comprised of conversations, physical sensations, intuitions, or so-called ‘lightbulb’ moments.
In my own memory, I recall a hot and sticky summer day with my elbows planted on the sturdy kitchen table in my grandmother’s kitchen. She told me then that I, in all my 12 or so years, should dare to be different than the norm.
That credo stuck with me and still gives me confidence to this day. That confidence says: we can all benefit from hanging our little quirks and oddities out for the world to see. They make us who we are.
In our adult lives, we often seek out micro-influences subconsciously. Entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other solo workers will join co-working spaces to fulfill a consuming need to get outside of their own heads. According to an investigation by the Harvard Business Review, co-working spaces allow us to branch beyond the confines of our daily work in a non-competitive space.
We seek open and transparent communication in these spaces, stripped of the usual office politics and power struggles.
We are also increasingly seeking out micro-influence(r)s to receive cues on brands and behaviours, and marketers are taking notice. Micro-influencers have 30,000 or fewer followers and offer that transparent, real insight we all crave. We are increasingly giving the cold-shoulder to expensive, showboat antics from big brands. HelloSociety, an influencer network recently acquired by the New York Times, found that micro-influencers are comprehensively more beneficial for marketers to work with for this reason.
How to get more micro
You can foster more opportunity for micro-influences in your life in many ways.
I would suggest beginning by truly turning your consciousness to the world around you. Here are a few ideas for doing so:
- Listen to what others have to say with an open heart, free of judgement. Ask many care-focused questions. Turn towards their bids for affection.
- Visit spaces and places you wouldn’t ordinarily go. What is happening there? Listen carefully. Write down your thoughts and reflect.
- If you seek solace in a bubble of silence away from people, keep it temporary. Try instead to attend events or go to restaurants alone – you never know what you might see, hear, or experience when the shield of another person is lifted from these spaces.
If you encounter a stressful conversation or moment in this journey, stop and find something positive to reward yourself with.
Reflect on the experience after taking the time to do something positive for yourself. Ask where the miscommunication, stress, or tension first occurred. This will help you lean into new and sometimes scary micro-experiences more often.
Why micro-influences are good for your career
I feel quite right in saying that, in the current landscape of our lives, we are not seeking out big, one-size-fits all solutions. We are instead pursuing a goal of more authenticity, engagement, and connection to our communities.
In the context of your career, you are likely to shift your job titles and professional priorities many times. You will wear many hats within a single day, and across months. Your personality will shift, and who you are today won’t be true of you in five years from now. Personally, the pivots in the trajectory of my career have always occurred in ways which thrill and inspire me. This is thanks to the micro-moments that I have with precious mentors, friends, and colleagues.
Micro-influences force us to reflect on ourselves. When we truly open ourselves to the world and conversations around us, we can receive fantastic insight and learn much beyond our current worldview.
Micro-influences are continually appearing in our peripheral vision. We can either busy ourselves and ignore them or lean into the possible opportunities they offer.
I hope that you find joy in many of your micro-moments, and with time see how they help you to grow exponentially in your creative endeavours, personal life, and career.