“Becoming a Person of Influence”By Jeff Earlywine
Over twenty years ago a book was authored that seemed to fall through the cracks of greatness. The book was co-authored by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan and was titled Becoming A Person Of Influence. Both of these men know very well the definition of the word influence and live it in both their personal and professional lives. This article is not meant to rewrite the book but to revisit how important it is to be a person of influence. Like their book, this article will attempt to break apart the word INFLUENCE, and give a brief explanation of how you can become a person of influence.
First, a few thoughts about influence. One, John C. Maxwell is perhaps best known for saying, “Leadership is influence.” Second, your influence is not equal with all people. Thirdly, when people feel good about you and themselves during the times they’re with you, then your level of influence increases significantly. Lastly, the only inheritance that a man (woman) will leave that has eternal value is his (her) influence.
A person of influence has... Integrity with people
What is integrity? Integrity is about the small things. It is what you are doing when no one is watching. Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary describes integrity as, “adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character; honesty.” The first step to becoming a person of influence is to have integrity. The more integrity you have the more people will trust you, which will in turn allow you to influence them more. It is integrity that will determine your success as a leader.
Integrity is like trust; it can be lost in a wink of an eye. Just ask the last politician caught in a scandal. A good analogy of how hard it is to build integrity and how easy it is to lose it is the blowing up of a hot water bottle. You may have seen muscle men traveling around the country performing incredible acts of strength. One of them is blowing air into a hot water bottle, with the goal of blowing so much air in that it pops like a balloon. However, with just one slip and that bottle moves from the person’s mouth, air will come rushing out. This is just how fast integrity can be lost.
The question you need to ask yourself is, “If a spotlight were shined on my life, what would people see?”
A person of influence... Nurtures other people
The very heart of the nurturing process is the genuine concern for other people. People in your life (family, employees, and best friends) have a need to be encouraged, recognized and challenged. Successful leaders have discovered how to nurture others. They do it by focusing on giving rather than getting.
Giving must start in the following three areas. The first is love - without love, there can be no connection, no future, and no success together. Love is spelled TIME, and can be shown as simply as sending cards or giving public recognition. Next is respect - most people will do nearly anything for you if you treat them with respect. And lastly, caring - interacting with people. I often show how much I care by the “walk slowly through the crowd” principle. This is simply getting up from my desk and walking through the office talking to others about their day. This is not only good for my mind, but shows I care to those around me.
A person of influence has... Faith in People
People need hope, and faith gives people hope. It’s been said that a person can live forty days without food, four days without water, four minutes without air, but only four seconds without hope. I have been a student of people my entire career. You might say that people fascinate me. One common thing that I have found is that most don’t have faith in themselves.
In John and Jim’s book they tell a story about a man that spent many years walking a tight rope across Niagara Falls. He walked across the rope while pushing a wheel barrel, blindfolded, and even on stilts! Just one slip and he would have fallen to his certain death. However, what might be the most amazing trip across the falls was with a man on his back. While this is incredible what is more amazing to me is how he persuaded the person to climb on his back. That is a great example of faith and belief in someone.
If you want to influence the people around you you must become a BELIEVER in people
B-Believe in them before they succeed
E-Emphasize their strengths
L-List their past successes
I-Instill confidence when they fail
E-Experience some wins together
V-Visualize their future successes
E-Expect a new level of living
A person of influence... Listens to People
There are many funny stories about people that say they listen to their spouses. Below is a story of a wife trying to communicate her feelings to her husband.
Wife: Dear, the plumber didn’t make it in time to fix the leak by the hot water heater today.
Wife: So the pipe burst and flooded the basement.
Husband: Quiet. It’s third down and goal to go.
Wife: Some of the wiring got wet and almost electrocuted Fluffy.
Husband: Oh, no, they’ve got a man open. Shoot! Touchdown.
Wife: The vet says he’ll be better in a week.
Husband: Can you get me something to eat?
Wife: The plumber finally came and said that he was happy our pipe broke because now he can afford to go on vacation.
Husband: Aren’t you listening? I said I’m hungry!
Wife: And, Stanley, I’m leaving you. The plumber and I are flying to Acapulco in the morning.
Husband: Can’t you please stop all that yakking and get me something to eat? The trouble around here is that nobody ever listens to me.
Hearing is natural, however, listening (to our friends, our spouse, or those we work with) is learned. Listening also shows you care. People don’t care what you know, until they know you care. Listening can also pay off significantly. It did for one college graduate. This graduate went to the company that made the Bon Ami product and told them that he could increase their profits. His only request was a small percentage of the increase. His advice to them was to drill larger holes in the top of the product cans. This college graduate retired shortly thereafter a millionaire. It’s a good thing for both of them that the act of listening was displayed this time.
A person of influence... Understands people
One of the main keys to success is understanding people. Understanding those around you will allow you to make an impact on their lives; find out what people want and then help them get it. I have found two helpful ways to understand why people do the things they do. The first is to understand their past - childhood, education, or even previous circumstances that day.
The second is to understand their personality - this is how God made them. As I stated earlier I love to study people, and I have found some very funny things within the four main personality types. Popular people are usually the last one to arrive at the party, and the last to leave; and usually involves the wearing of a lampshade somewhere in between. Peaceful people are the ones at the party getting told everyone’s problems. Perfect people are the types that will search for hours to find that missing $.13 cents from the checkbook. And lastly, the powerful people live by the philosophy: “Ready, set, ‘Shoot’, Aim.”
To influence and lead people you must understand: Where they have been, where they are now, where they want to go, and how you can help get them there.
A person of influence... Enlarges People
Enlarging people makes them see themselves, their situation and their future differently. They see it with much more potential.
Several years ago, an experiment was performed in a school in the San Francisco Bay area. The principal called in three teachers and said, “Because you three teachers are the finest in the system and you have the greatest expertise, we’re going to give you ninety selected high-IQ students. We’re going to let you move these students through this next year at their pace and see how much they can learn.”
The three faculty members, the students, and the students’ parents thought it was a great idea. And they all especially enjoyed the school year. By the time school ended, the students had achieved from 20 to 30 percent more than the other students in the entire San Francisco Bay area.
At the end of the year, the principal called in the three teachers and told them, “I have a confession to make. You did not have ninety of the most intellectually prominent students. They were run-of-the-mill students. We took ninety students at random from the system and gave them to you.” The teachers naturally concluded that their exceptional teaching skills must have been responsible for the students’ great progress. “I have another confession,” said the principal. “You’re not the brightest of the school’s teachers. Your names were the first three drawn out of a hat.”
Enlarging the people on your team challenges them to conquer the impossible. It challenges them to do what they have never done before, and as Casey Casum would say, “Keeps their feet on the ground, while reaching for the stars.”
A person of influence... Navigates for other people
Navigating other people is nothing more than leading people through the challenges of life and helping them see life’s pot-holes. An important job of a navigator is to navigate people through problems and help them overcome obstacles. A good navigator helps people look past their obstacles and focus on their destination.
You as a navigator must know where your people want to go and have the ability to get them there. In other words, you know where they need to go, what they need to know, and how they need to grow.
A person of influence... Connects with people
Connecting with people will possibly allow you more influence than anything else. Connecting with others allows them to see you care. This is called the making of a team. Teams that connect with one another will find themselves winning together.
Connecting with others is like walking arm-in-arm with them, helping them each step of the way. A team with no connection is like a telephone with no dial tone or a car without gasoline. Connection is necessary to build a successful team.
A person of influence... Empowers people
Empowering someone (very simply put) is equipping them to reach their potential. Timing is very important in empowering people. If you empower to fast then the person could fall on his face and fail, and if you empower to slow and then the person could become frustrated.
If it seems so easy to empower people then why isn’t it done in every organization in every city? The reason is that many so called leaders are full of insecurity. And if insecurity is not the issue then it could be ignorance; ignorant to the benefits of empowering those around them. When leaders do empower their team members then potential is reached and the organization’s vision is accomplished.
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