“Each of us is surrounded by people who look to us, count on us, and depend on us to make a difference.” – Blaine Lee
It’s like breathing air. It’s the most personal and the most universal human experience. What am I talking about? Influence.
Every day we’re surrounded by forces trying to influence us. We breathe it in (Marketing, Media, TV, Radio, Friends, Books, Magazines, Tablets, Smartphones ), opening ourselves up to be influenced by others; and then we exhale it out (Parenting, Leading, Managing, Socializing), attempting to wield our own influence-powers. Push, pull. In, out. Give and take. We influence others and are influenced by others.
When measuring our own influence, I’ve found that most people fall into 1 of 3 categories:
1. MANY PEOPLE UNDER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.
We see it in others. It glares at us. We recognize influence in others, but do we see it in ourselves? John Maxwell relates that according to some sociologists, even the most introverted person will influence 10,000 people in their lifetime.
All day today, you’re carrying around two kinds of influence: Active and Potential. Typically, people who underestimate their own influence do not value their own potential. They doubt their ability to make a difference. So, they hold back, stay in the shadows, sell themselves short. They don’t flex their influence muscles.
2. SOME PEOPLE OVER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.
David and Heather Kopp, along with Larry Wilson, define an influencer as “a living person whose life and work has far-reaching impact–whether for good or ill–in today’s world”. We also refer to these people as “World-Changers”. And who doesn’t want to be considered a world-changer?
Sadly, this desire to be thought of as important and powerful leads some people to over-reach in their attempts to exert influence on others. They’re not so much confident as arrogant. They reek of ambition and sweat forcefulness out of every pore. Unfortunately, they tend to rub their nasty sweat all over everyone else around them. And it stinks!
We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps, at times, we have been people like this. I know I have. One of the best ways to discover if you’re behaving this way is simply to ask your family, friends and co-workers for feedback. Ask them:
- Am I overbearing?
- Do I give advice when you don’t really want me to?
- Do I come across as too forceful?
- Am I tactful or too direct?
- Do you feel respected by me?
- How do I make you feel?
Takes courage…but it’s the quickest way to learn whether you’re overestimating your own influence.
3. A FEW PEOPLE RIGHTLY ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.
The Apostle Paul taught, “…I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.”
What’s he saying? He’s saying properly estimate your own influence. Don’t over-reach and don’t under-reach. When you stand in front of the mirror, don’t ask it, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Just go to the mirror and be honest; be willing to see yourself as objectively as you can. Warts and all!
Then go out and activate your properly estimated influence to change the world!