You probably clicked this link thinking I was going to give you advice on to do lists or email sorting to help you be effective. If you’ve been following our blog for a while you won’t be surprised when I say I want to look at this word a little differently.
Let’s start with a definition
To do that, let’s take a step back to look at the meaning of effect. As a verb it means to “cause (something) to happen; to bring about”. Let’s also remember this is the opposite of affect which means “to produce an effect upon (someone or something).” Even with the definitions in front of us, the differences can remain subtle. What the definitions show us is who (or what) is the cause. YOU create an effect and you can be affected BY something.
So why am I digging into this? Why do I want us to be effective? When we are effective, we are in control. We are making things happen. We are causing change. Our emotions follow this change and energy.
Again, this is the opposite of being affective. In this case we are under someone, or something, else’s control. We are being changed. Our emotions follow someone else’s lead and energy.
Affect vs Effect in action
It’s impossible to never be affected. The world, our family, our experiences affect us. Sometimes these affects are positive, but they can be negative. The trick here is to know when you are being affected and what response this elicits.
An easy example of this is anger. We often hear from children “she made me mad.” It’s important to remind them that being mad is our response and it is in our control. It rarely feels like that when our heart rate spikes and our blood boils, but we really do control that response. Even when we lose control of it, we can decide how long it lasts and when we let the feeling go. Understanding, managing, and controlling our affect take a lifetime of practice.
While we work on managing our affect, let’s also increase our effect. Take one small step to enact a positive effect on the world. It can be as simple as an extra hug, a wave, a compliment, or a thank you that changes someone’s day. Choose your affections wisely, and in turn your effect will follow.