What is your opportunity to influence?
B. Keith Chapman, President & CEO
By its very definition, “influence” causes change. It could be a change in decision, belief, attitude, or action. Influence is unbiased in its application. Meaning, it can cause a positive or negative effect. This is why our parents told us not to hang out with the wrong crowd. Our parents did not want us to be influenced in a negative way, rather they wanted us to make responsible decisions. Opportunities to influence people, positively or negatively, occur naturally every day. Recognizing when opportunities exist, capitalizing on the opportunity and having a positive impact, is important to our individual growth and development as a leader.
As we go about our daily routines and business, we interact with people on several different levels. Whether it’s a quick stop to grab a cup of coffee on the way to work or speaking to a large group of people, these activities create opportunities for interaction. As we communicate and interact with people, the opportunity to influence people is naturally created. While influence can certainly be intentional, I think we often underestimate the number of times we have the opportunity to influence. Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “no matter how old we become, we can acquire knowledge and use it. We can gather wisdom and profit from it. We can grow and progress and improve and, in the process, strengthen the lives of those within our circle of influence.” Most believe in the concept of continuous learning and improvement. In the journey of life, we should be getting better and wiser along the way. What is interesting about Mr. Hinckley’s quote is, he doesn’t stop his thought on self-improvement. Rather, he highlights the opportunity for us to strengthen the lives of those around us. Many consider influence a foundational principle of leadership. As such, it would make sense for us to be sensitive to opportunities presented to us, even if they seem insignificant. I have learned that some of the most influential things I have done or said come at times when I had no idea that I was really influencing anyone. They were casual conversations or interactions where someone was watching and listening. Remember, on good days and on bad ones, people are watching our actions and listening to our comments.
There are many passages of scripture that address our responsibility to others. For example, Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” This passage suggests we should look for ways to encourage and influence people in a positive way. It also points out that meeting together or interacting with each other is the mechanism for this to occur. Life organically creates opportunities each and every day to connect with people. Whether it be family, friends, coworkers, or someone you have met for the first time, remember that your actions and comments can make a difference. It is your choice whether the impact to those around you will be positive or negative.
Challenge: Don’t underestimate the power of influence in your life and in others. Remember that life inherently creates opportunities to influence. Encourage and motivate people through your actions and comments. Remember that the moments of the most significant influence can occur at the most informal and seemingly insignificant times.
Published: September 1, 2019