Many people believe that they’re not very influential.
When you think of people who are influential who do you think of?
Some people think of inspiring people like Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama or Oprah Winfrey.
Some people think of pop stars and movie stars like Lady Gaga, Bono or Sting.
Some people think of religious leaders like the Pope, others of political figures like a President of Prime Minister.
The funny thing about asking this question is that hardly anyone says ‘me’.
What’s interesting about this is that we are ALL influential.
It is physically impossible not to influence other people…whether through behaviours, or inactions, words spoken or not spoken, through your presence or absence…everything you say and do will have an influence on the people around you to a greater or lesser extent….whether you intend them to or not.
You see we are all taking in information all the time…and the behaviours of the people around us are what make up our perception of what is ‘normal’, ‘average’, ‘acceptable’ or ‘expected’. They give us ideas, suggested ways of thinking and behaving…even new language patterns.
Have you noticed how people who spend a lot of time together often seem to use the same words and phrases?
Last week when out having dinner with my parents I realised that I’ve been influencing them without even being aware of it.
We were about half way through our meal when I suddenly noticed something about the group of people who were eating at the table behind ours. One of the party was taking a picture of everyone else at the table.
Without a second thought, I jumped up from our table, went over to her and offered to take the picture for her so that she could get in the picture with the rest of her friends. She gratefully accepted and jumped into the picture with the others….and a couple of her friends asked if I would also take the photo with their cameras and phones, which I was more than happy to do.
If you know me well, then this behaviour will come as no surprise at all….I do things like that all the time…as do a lot of the people who I spend time with.
People who don’t know me well sometimes see this as a little strange. I’ve had people say to me “You mean you just go up to complete strangers and take photos of them?? Why?!” The answer to the question is simple…if I were in their position it’s what I would like someone else to do for me (and if you’re anywhere nearby when I’m out with a group of friends and a camera…be fully prepared to be asked to take on photographer duty!!)
So when I got back to the table, my Mum was smiling at me. She and my Dad had just got back from a weekend away with two of their closest friends (I was going to say oldest friends then…but realised that might get me in trouble…! 😉 ) and we’d been catching up on what they’d been doing while they were away.
What was interesting was that Mum shared with me that while they had been out for dinner the night before, she’d done exactly what I’d just done. She noticed a party at a nearby table taking photos and gone over to offer to take one for them.
When she got back to her table, the friends who they were with had very different reactions. One of them said that they wouldn’t have felt that they could have gone over to a table of strangers like she had. The other said that they wouldn’t even have noticed that the people had been taking photos of each other.
What she said next really surprised me…and made me smile.
She told them that years ago she wouldn’t have done it either….it’s only because she has seen me do it so many times when we are out and about that she’s started doing it too. She liked the idea…so she began to offer to take photos for other people as well.
Knowing that by seeing me doing something nice for other people my Mum has decided to do the same really made me feel good.
…and it made me realise that we even influence the people who we are inspired by and look to for guidance in life.
The thing with influence, is that the influence can be both positive and negative…who hasn’t seen a child repeat a rude word or gesture when someone accidently blurted it out in front of them?
So every day we get to make a choice…do we want to be a positive influence, or a negative one?
It’s one or the other.
So which will you choose?
It is said that you become a reflection of the 5 people who you choose to spend the majority of your time with, because as you are always influencing them, they are also always influencing you.
So choose wisely.
Who do you want to become?
…and if you are a parent…remember to always stay open to what your children say and do…you don’t know what they might teach you one day… 🙂