A Few Thoughts on Influence
It seems as though I hear more and more these days about the notion of "influence", both from sites like Klout and from various industry lists (Most Influential, etc.). My intent with this post is not to discount or disavow any such influence, but to provide some food for thought.
There are plenty of people I can point to throughout the course of my life who have served as good influences on me and my character. Of course, I also had a few that were...less than helpful.
When it comes to my own personal influence, there aren't that many areas that concern me. Here's a sample:
Am I influencing my wife and kids in a positive way? As a father of four, there are few things more important than the mental and physical well-being of my children. I love them all dearly, and I am fascinated to watch them grow and develop into really interesting people. I teach them about our faith, our love for one another, and how to relate to the world at large. I am incredibly thankful that I've been blessed with a wife who does a stellar job as my partner in this regard. I tell each of them that I love them...daily (yes, even my teenage son). I want them to know that I am always available to talk, and my love is unconditional.
Am I influencing my friends to trust me? I sure hope so. I like to think of myself as a very loyal friend, although I'm certainly not perfect. The people that I see on a regular basis are important to me, and I care about how they view me.
Am I influencing my clients to remain loyal, and to send their friends and family to me? Without this particular influence, I wouldn't make a living selling homes. I've been doing this for 15 years now, and 2011 was my best income year since 2006. Why is that? Well, part of the reason is that I focused on my clients and on providing the best possible service that I could muster for them. This has always been important to me, but I was more intentional about it this year.
Am I influencing the world? This is a tough question. I've seen examples of small actions that have long-lasting effects. Like the "butterfly effect" or the tried-and-trite ripples in a pond, we often don't really know what kind of impact we have on the lives of those around us. I've also had more obvious influence on three of my friends who credit me with saving their lives. Since I can't leave that last sentence hanging with no explanation, I will say that I talked two of them out of suicide (one on multiple occasions). The other told me that he was inspired by my 2010 weight loss and changed his lifestyle dramatically.
The bottom line is this: All I can do is try to be obedient to God and attempt to provide a good example for my friends and my family. THAT is the influence that matters to me.
Thanks for reading!
Photo credit: raspberreh via Flickr.com