Everyone has influence. From a newborn to the oldest person alive (and everyone in-between), we all have levels of influence. Influence is defined as,
“the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself” or “to affect or change someone or something in an indirect but usually important way.”
This includes people with a leadership title and without one. Most people have no official leadership position or authoritative power though they still have influence. You directly or indirectly influence the people around you on a daily basis through your words, actions, and behaviors. Several simple examples of influencing include:
- Babies influence their care providers by crying to get their basic needs.
- Parents influence their children through potential rewards and consequences as a result of their actions and attitude.
- Children influence their parents by having good behavior (and a little smooth talk) to obtain what they want, like an extra desert or the car keys.
- Employees work hard to influence their boss to reward them.
- Bosses offer incentives to influence their staff to produce results.
On a larger scale, look at any major business or industry. In fact, in John C. Maxwell and Rob Hoskins book Change Your World they shared 8 main streams of influence which include: “Government, Education, Business, Religion, Media, Arts, Sports, and Health Care.” You can see people in each of these main streams who have influence, from the front line to the executive suites.
I would go one step further and add your home and community. The first people you influence are those closest to you which are those in your home and community. You do and can increase your level of influence with those you encounter in every area of your life, from home to work and everyone else you meet throughout the day.
While everyone influences, I’ve learned not all influence is the same. There are four main types of influence a person can possess. A person often falls into one of these four areas. They can also move from one of the areas to a different area. Let’s discuss the four main areas of influence:
Negative influence- Negative influence can be the most destructive. These are the people who are typically prideful, bitter, narcissistic, and/or egocentric. The people around them and the environment are worse when they are around due to their negative or crucial attitude and actions. We all have seen people whose actions and/or words have negatively impacted us or those around them.
Neutral influence- These are the people who remain neutral in what they do or say. They often sit back and allow things to happen. They are not proactive and go with the flow of what is happening. Neutral people don’t necessarily want the spotlight on them or want to take charge of things. These are not bad aspects of a person and their personality traits can contribute to being neutral. These people still have influence. Neutral people still influence other people with their words (or lake of words) and action (or inaction). Neutral people typically influence people close to them, like at home or with friends, more than in public or at work.
Positive influence- These are the people who positively impact and add value to others through their words and actions. Simply put, these are the people who are nice, kind, respectful, and courteous to others whether they need to be or not. They encourage and set a good example for others to follow. I’ve encountered plenty of people, who I knew or did not know, whose actions and/or words positively impacted my life. I’m sure you can say the same. These are the type of people who positively influence.
Life changing influence- Life changing influence is about impacting someone in a way where their life is permanently changed in a positive way because of what they have done and said or through their example. This type of influence often requires a combination of time and intentionality. People who have created life changing influence typically start or build something that adds value and impacts people. Though, even a person working within a business or organization can impact people in a life changing way.
History and current events have shown people who have been in each of these main areas. I hope you can see you influence others and chose to have positive and life changing influence with those around you.
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