Everyone loved him.
He had been impressive all week. Every girl wanted to date him and all the dudes wanted to be like him. Some of us in leadership were already making arrangements to book him for the same event next year.
But then, on his last day, his attitude and actions brought everything crashing down. He meant it to be funny, but it came across as crass and cruel. Even worse was the fact that he was unapologetic about it. It certainly caused a few people to wonder about the authenticity of everything he had spent the whole week selling us on.
At the end of it all, as he drove away, I recall thinking, “That is NOT how to leave a lasting impression.” Having reflected on it some more, I would more concisely state that thought as an axiom, a leadership proverb:
ALWAYS LEAVE A GREAT LAST IMPRESSION.
In other words, let people remember you when you leave the room. This is not simply accomplished in the last few moments of your time with any group of people, but rather, it is achieved over the course of your stay with said-group. (It won’t work if you’re a jerk all week but act super nice on Friday when it’s time to leave).
Yet, those last few moments matter.
It’s the last picture people will have in their minds when they tell their friends how great their time with you was.
A few guys in the Bible prove this.
The prophet Elijah shows up out of nowhere in the O.T to challenge the sitting king, Ahab (1 Kings 17:1). We’re impressed with his boldness, but it’s the way he leaves the scene at the end of his life that many of us recall with awe (2 Kings 2), “As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.” (Okay, so that was mostly God’s doing, but still…..)
Jesus Christ entered the world in a pretty dramatic fashion, but His exit was even greater. People often think of his death on the cross as His final exit, but His last great impression takes place some 50 days later when in the middle of a conversation, He starts to ascend (in their presence) into heaven until the clouds hid Him from their sight!
Now, that’s how you leave a room!
It’s not always about how you start the race, but how you finish. But since neither you nor I have the ability to conjure up a whirlwind or command the clouds to pick us up at a moments notice, here are some very practical human ways to impress pretty much anyone you meet.
So, if you’ve had the privilege of doing life with a group of people (or person), and say you’ve been averagely awesome in your time with them and you’re getting ready to part ways, here are three simple tips to help you make a great last impression.
TELL A SHORT STORY.
Tell the person a story about the first time you met them and your first positive impression you had of them. They probably won't even remember but will be blown away (impressed) that you actually remembered what you felt when you met them.
If you're looking to impress a large group, tell a story about the first person you met when you arrived (and who was especially helpful). Go into great detail about how they helped you settle in and how much you appreciate all they did. No one expects you to remember this part of your week, so it shows that you are attentive and thoughtful.
This goes without saying, but when telling your story, use their names. In fact, any reference to any person and anything helpful they did should include the use of their name. You’ll score some extra points if you remember nicknames (this works for individuals and groups). Names are hard to remember and people won't expect you to remember theirs, so feel free to cheat a little by carrying a notepad and secretly making notes to yourself about who's who. They'll be impressed when you actually call them by name and it will show that you are caring.
THANK THE LITTLE PEOPLE.
If you're looking to impress a group, Gg out of your way to say thank you to people who wouldn’t expect to be thanked. Let them know that you saw them going out of their way to make the week more enjoyable (even though they weren’t aware anyone saw them serving). If you can’t go around thanking people or aren’t comfortable verbalizing it, then write a ton of detailed thank-you notes and hand it to all of them, but slip away quickly so that by the time they are done reading, you’re gone. This shows that there is a whole other compassionate side to you no one knows.
If you're looking to impress an individual, write a kind note about something nice you saw them doing for someone else.
These three tips aren’t magic, they’re common sense, yet, they'll go a long way to communicate great things about you! The fact is, you know your situation better than I do and you’re in a better position than I am to discern what “impressive” looks like to your particular group.
Whatever it is, finish well!
In the words of a guy in the Bible who left a great last impression, “Fight the good fight! Finish the race! Keep the faith!”
They won’t soon forget you!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.