I’ve been looking at performance and promotion criteria and metrics lately, and a word that comes up over and over and over again is IMPACT.

I hate the word impact in this context. In physics impact means “the forcible contact of one object on another” – it is a word used to describe the violent transfer of momentum: the crashing of cars, the destruction of flesh by bullets… you get the idea – it’s a violent word. If I gave you two word lists: [punch, attack, bam, pow] and [support, nurture, hug, nourish] – which list would you put “impact” in? hmmm? And if you had to assign it a gender, as nouns have in some languages, would it be masculine or feminine?  

Impact comes from the Latin impingere, meaning to thrust or drive into. It always makes me picture that giant phallus in Canberra. So why exactly should we be aspiring to “impact” other people? Maybe they’re okay as they are and don’t want me thrusting something into them. 

Anyway, rather than working on a promotion application, I wrote a poem instead:


This is how to measure success:

“the forcible contact
of one object on another”

Success is the thrusting, pounding
of jack-hammers,
battering rams
impact drills

evidence of leadership:
remaking the world
in your own image.

Pound it flat,
to uniform hard bare earth
then adorn it
with phallic monuments.

Measure your impact:
give it a number,
so you can tell whose is bigger

Use this ruler:
metrics, criteria, point systems:
how long?
how hard?
how costly?

I am simply not equipped
for this pissing contest
a wo(mb)man, I am built wrong –
inadequate, too soft.

Besides, there is no such thing
as big enough,
because the game is
“mine’s bigger than yours”
and we are not grown up enough
to stop playing.


Filed under poem, rants

9 responses to ““Impact”

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  4. elena

    These are great words “the game is “mine’s bigger than yours” and we are not grown up enough to stop playing” that reminds me Gogol’s The Government Inspector where they say: “And who’s the judge here?” http://taylorlhs.weebly.com/uploads/2/9/4/8/29480235/tgi_script.pdf
    Until others stop playing, one is always forced to play too….

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  6. Thanks Elena for the very kind comment and the link! I’ve downloaded “the government inspector” and will read it when I’ve finished Torgny Lindgren’s “Light”. What if we did stop playing….? I guess we’d be looking for new jobs.

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