Volume 2 of 5 in the “Change” Series
What is “influence?” For this blog’s purpose our definition will be:
“-the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.”
I view influence with just a little more depth when I consider the best way to understand, and use it, to create change.
When someone gets described as being influential, he or she is usually quoted as stating some mind-blowing truth. The reason we allow a person to have “influence” in our life is we believe and trust what they say. For example, Benjamin Franklin is undoubtedly a person of influence, even today.
“Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
The reason Franklin was a man of influence was the truths and principles he taught were proven correct. He spoke the truth. If someone wanted to question his methods, then all they would have to do is look at his success in life as a means to test the results.
His “influence” can still be felt to this day, making it even more powerful. The measure of true influence is whether or not it stands the test of time.
So, how does influence work? We give influence to those who have shared their ideas or concepts which have been proven to be effective and trustworthy based on the results they bring. If what someone teaches does not work, then people will not listen, and if people do not listen to them, then trust fails to get established. Influence requires both proven results and trust, and each feed the other.
If you are seeking to increase your influence, then you must acknowledge everything you say will come under scrutiny. So, how do you prove your methods work, and thereby become more trustworthy? Simple, you must live the same principles. As you live out what you endorse the results they bring become your justification and proof of concept.
The more trust people give you, the more they will begin to live out the ideals you share. As they live out those ideals, then they will see similar results in their life. As they live out those concepts, they will look to see if the results line up with what you said they would be. When those are proven correct, then the person who is testing your principles in their life will spread the word and your influence will grow.
Influence is something given or granted, never acquired. As more people begin trusting your principles, then your influence grows. The more people begin trusting you, the more influence you hold. As each new person hears and learns of your message, they then share it with their friends and family. Then, each of them hears the truth you share; he or she also tells his or her friends and family. The cycle continues and your influence increases, both with an individual an in growing your sphere of trusted influence. Through this means of continual growth, Influence can spread like wildfire. With modern social media platforms, this entire process might happen in just a few hours when something “goes viral.”
Many people feel they have no influence with others. The truth is anyone and everyone you come in contact with is partially, if not completely, effected by your influence.
So, why would someone want to be influential? The truth is many people think they want to be influential, but do not fully understand what influence is and how it works. As such, if they do achieve a small level of influence then they begin to resent when others look to them for answers. As your influence grows you must embrace you’re capable of opening your mouth and creating either inspiration or devestation.
People seeking influence are usually trying to create a change to their society or a group with whom they are affiliated. If your aim is to inspire a very specific change among a large group then influence is almost a necessity.
However, with influence comes some problems. For example, if and when you make a mistake it will be publicly ridiculed. People who feel threatened by your influence will seek to use it as the means to destroy it. For example, if you speak out against how detrimental drinking can be to someone’s life, and then you have a lapse of judgment and get drunk, you may cause a great deal of damage to those who have learned to trust your words against drinking. If you fail, then you may lose the trust they have given, and you may even begin an effect where they will question a great many other things in their lives (even things which are right and good). The curse of influence is people allow it in their life when you were only trying to help with one topic. So, you must remain very selective about which topics you choose to speak for or against. Remember, there is no “off the record” for someone who has achieved influence.
The purpose of influence is to be able to inspire others to create a change or produce an effect on a grander scale, but this comes with limitations. Usually, influence creates a very specific or targeted type of change to a larger or broader group of people. If a person of influence says purple is their favorite color, it is amazing how many other people will suddenly begin wearing and incorporating purple into their lives.
Think of influence as a tool which can be used to help one or a thousand people change one thing, the same thing, in each of their lives. So, if you wanted to be able to convince a thousand people to read for fifteen minutes a day, then you will need to become a person of influence for all of those people by displaying the positive effect so doing so in your own life.
A great many people believe they need to be influential to create change, but in reality, influence is the hardest element to achieve, and the least effective at initiating meaningful change. While influence can be used to spark inspiration in many, it has very little effect by itself. Influence is a means to convey a message and to ensure it reaches many ears. If you are the kind of person who enjoys more intimate relationships and being able to have the most effect on change, then you do NOT need influence. You are looking to become a person who has “impact.” Influence is not required to create change, but those who are called to become influential have the ability to spark a fire in many people (that fire is known as inspiration; which will be discussed later) for them to take action. Their actions are what have “impact,” which we will go into next.
In the next few blogs, I will go into more detail about Impact, Inspiration, and how all of these elements are used together to create change.
For more on each of the other topics in this “Change” series review their respective blogs listed below:
3 “I’s” of Change (1 of 5)
Change is Impact (3 of 5)
Change is Inspiration (4 of 5)
Change the World (5 of 5)