Discover Your Influence

There is no better time than now to discover your influence. Your influence is your single greatest responsibility as a human being. How you decide to influence others has a ripple effect on those around you. So, what does influence mean? Influence is the indirect and direct impact you make on those around you. It’s how you move others with emotions, words, and actions.

Your influence is the perception that others have of you. How you choose to make others see you and what you do with your influence can dramatically alter the outcome of things you may never even know occurs. Our goal is to make as many people aware that we have an opportunity to influence others. We owe it to ourselves and those we influence to ensure that our influence is positive.

Positive vs Negative Influence

While the differences between positive and negative influence may seem obvious, they aren’t always. What determines positive and negative influence isn’t necessarily the act itself; sometimes it is determined by the perception of the person being influenced. There are certainly some examples of positive influence (which we cover below) where we can all agree that they are perceived as being positive no matter the perception.

Let’s define what a positive or a negative influence is. A positive influence is when one contributes to a project, moment, situation, event, or other in a positive way. It’s when we act in the best interest of ourselves and others without being selfish. When we spread positive, happy, light energy, we are using our positive influence to make the moment better.

A negative influence is the opposite; when one contributes to a project, moment, situation, event, or other in a negative way. It’s when we act selfishly, emotionally, or egotistically by spreading negative, hurtful, dark energy. We know when we have spread negative influence because we may feel remorse afterwards. Negative influence may selfishly serve us in the moment, but it doesn’t make us feel good in the long term.

How do we ensure that our positive influence is perceived positively?

When we intend to have a positive influence, it can be difficult to understand or even notice if others perceive our intentions as negative. One of the best ways to recognize if others have perceived our positive influence as negative is to observe. Observing someone’s immediate reaction can tell us much about how they are feeling in that moment. Have open communication if you think your positive influence is being perceived as negative.

Examples of Positive Influence

Personal Influence

  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Let someone merge into traffic
  • Pick up trash on the sidewalk
  • Compliment someone
  • Buy someone coffee
  • Be kind and humble
  • Practice patience when feeling negative
  • Volunteer doing something you’re passionate about
  • Say please and thank you
  • Take care of your mental and physical needs

Professional Influence

  • Leave a kind note at a co-worker’s desk
  • Congratulate someone for a job well done on a project
  • Spend quality time with each team member and get to know them
  • Learn the names of everyone you work with, including janitors and security
  • Respect others’ time
  • Acknowledge co-workers’ strengths and capitalize on them
  • Understand Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and where each person falls
  • Bring in donuts and coffee for someone’s birthday
  • Help co-workers set goals and achieve them
  • Keep an open-door policy when possible

Children’s Influence

  • Call a family member to ask about their day
  • Feed ducks or birds with old bread and crackers
  • Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits
  • Treat all classmates equally with kindness
  • Help tutor friends who are struggling
  • Leave pennies heads up on the sidewalk
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth
  • Give a “thank you bag” to your bus driver and teacher
  • Clean up toys without being asked
  • Smile at everyone—it’s contagious!

Tips for Living A Positively Influential Life

  • Slow Down: Going too fast can become cyclical, causing us and those we influence to speed up our lives in all aspects. Going too fast can make us anxious or forget that we have influence to be mindful of.
  • Be Honest: Being honest with ourselves and others is how we can build positive, trustworthy relationships. Sometimes being honest is scary, but it’s the only way to grow productively, remain proactive, and correctly fix mistakes.
  • Be Self-Aware: When you realize what your best is and are able to achieve that, you will fully understand what it means to influence others positively.
  • Enjoy the Present Moment: Too often do we forget about the present moment we find ourselves in; we become swept away by our world’s need for immediate gratification. Find time each day to enjoy the present.
  • Be Accountable: If you say you are going to do something, then do it. Hold yourself accountable to follow your words through with promised action.
  • Learn From Mistakes: We all make mistakes; some are big and others are small, but in all mistakes there is a path to learn. We grow and become better humans from the mistakes we make.
  • Keep Learning: Learning can come from a multitude of things: reading books/articles/blogs, taking classes online or in a classroom, having discussions with peers, listening to podcasts/audiobooks, watching videos, and more.
  • Be S.M.A.R.T.: Set personal and professional goals to continue growing. Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
  • Be Your Best: You need to go out and focus on being the best you you can be so that those you influence can benefit.
  • Show Gratitude: It can be easy to take for granted the things and people we are lucky to have in our lives, so be mindful and show gratitude.