When I look around our society, entertainment and political arenas today, I wish there were more people who reflect the kind of positive influence that inspires, motivates and encourages others to live a successful life. In order to cultivate great marriages, families, businesses or communities we need to look for people who are willing to effectively and positively influence those around them.
If you can’t find one, BE one! If you want to be a person of positive influence, consider integrating the tips outlined below into your daily life.
1. Close the gap between your walk and your talk. One interesting question to ask yourself is, “If I were accused of living my life according to a strong set of values and integrity, would there be enough evidence to convict? Or would they find proof that I say one thing and do another?”
We’ve all heard it said that talk is cheap. That’s because positive action can require hard work and sacrifice and, frankly, most people don’t want to make that kind of effort. The degree to which your influence positively impacts others is in direct proportion to how consistently your actions reflect your words.
So, what does that look like? Know what you value and live it out day to day.
If you value generosity – never stop giving.
If you value education – never stop learning.
If you value honesty – always tell the truth.
If you value family – consistently spend time with them and build them up.
If you value compassion – always help others in need.
People will not remember what you say nearly as much as what they see you do. St Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Albert Einstein said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”
At the end of each day honestly respond to this question: “Have I closed the gap between my walk and my talk?” If not, why not? If so, commit to doing it again tomorrow.
2. Take advantage of the teachable moments. This is especially true for parents, grandparents and others who are in positions of authority. My father would often take time to explain simple truths to me through stories about honesty, hard work, responsibility, etc.
I’ll never forget the day my dad received too much change from the grocery clerk. As we drove back to the store to return the change my father told me that a man will never be a real success if he takes what does not rightfully belong to him. Thanks to my dad being willing to take advantage of a teachable moment, I was given a priceless lesson for only twenty-five cents!
3. Tell your story. Everyone has a story. What’s yours? How did you get where you are today? What have you learned through your experience? What worked and what didn’t? Don’t shy away from sharing about a failure because failure is often a better teacher than success. Don’t be afraid to admit you goofed. Your influence will grow stronger if others can relate to you. They will be encouraged to learn that failure wasn’t the end for you, but it was a valuable lesson learned that moved you toward improvement and success.
4. Build people up. Words can be a powerful and wonderful way of building others up. It’s not difficult to find something that stands out in a person’s character, actions and attitude when you look for it. When you find it, sincerely acknowledge it. Even a simple compliment on someone’s sense of humor, thoughtfulness, their outfit or their willingness to help can build their confidence and character. You can also build people up by sending them written notes and giving thoughtful gifts. When you come in contact with people make it your responsibility to counteract all the negativity they may have experienced before their encounter with you.
I once talked to a university professor from Israel about how powerful words can be. She told me that they have a phrase in Hebrew that translates to, “Words can bring you to death or life.” Choose to speak words that give life.
5. Freely give of your time and resources. When you stretch yourself in an effort to meet the needs of others something happens along the way in that your own needs are met. Think of all the times you heard about a need and passed it off thinking someone else would address it. Next time, be the one who steps up and meets the need. It’s not too late to become a person of influence to someone!
We would like to hear from you about these five tips. Have you tried these strategies? What happened as a result?
I will share five more tips on how to be a person of influence next time.
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Recommended Resource: Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.