“You two have totally shaped the course of my life,” I said with deep awe. “I am so moved to be in the same room with both of you.”
That’s what I wish I said at a recent reunion with two extraordinary life-influencers. Actually, I was enjoying the moment so much I didn’t even think to put my feelings in words.
Selma, (now 91 and sharper than some 30-year-olds), was my college professor. She was the only educator I can recall, that saw my talents and encouraged me. She introduced me to my school district (at the time, the most innovative child-centered around) where I would impact at least a thousand students and form most of my lifelong friendships.
Jamie (who I met through Selma) was the door-opener to my two careers. It was she who recommended me for the interview in that school district, where I would nurture the talents of my students for 38 years. And it was she, who when I was ready to publish my book, The Affirming Way of Life: See the Good, Speak the Good, Spread the Good, who generously guided and inspired me in my second career as a writer-publisher, speaker and coach.
How grateful I am for Selma and Jamie’s profound influence on the unfolding of my life. How about you. Who’s deeply affected your life for the better?
You are an Influence
We all influence and are influenced every day of our lives. Some influences are momentary, some last the day, and some last a lifetime. Influences can be positive or at times devastatingly destructive. But how often do we even think of how we influence?
Yet influence others we do. With our words, our actions, our habits, our ideas.
A smile, a helpful idea, a truly listening ear, encouragement, a ride to the doctor’s office, a kind affirming word…we influence.
I think of Mary Oliver’s beautiful last line of the poem, “The Summer’s Day” with influence in mind:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
To me, to be a positive influence is to make the most of our one precious life.
Here’s What Influence Looks Like
When I was writing my book, there was a time I felt like I was scaling a mountain and I didn’t have the stamina to keep going. That peak was way too far out of sight. But then unaware of my discouragement, my son, Theo says, “Mom, seeing your determination in fulfilling your goal, makes me believe I too can accomplish my goals.” Wow! Knowing I was his influence, no matter how much effort it took I had to publish my book. Mutual influence.
A letter I received from a parent at the end of a school year, confirmed I was fulfilling my mission as a teacher. Karen said, “You have seen Johnny’s uniqueness and talents and have helped him see them too. And the amazing thing about you is that you do that with every student. We are eternally grateful.” Her letter about my influence inspired me at a time when I was having doubts. Hearing I was indeed making a difference made a difference to me and all the students whose lives I touched. Mutual influence.
The one positive person my brother-in-law had in his life growing up was his grandpa. Every weekend Gramps would take George fishing. When George married my sister, Gramps would rent a house on a lake for a family fishing week. Now George and Lois have their own lake house and boat. George’s joy and peace and happiest moments are at the lake, fishing with his own grandkids. Mutual Influence.
Share Your Gifts
Each of us has many gifts to share. Whatever they are they matter. My niece’s husband influenced by his dad is big-hearted and handy at building things. His gifts bring much joy to the family. A friend, committed to recovery for over 30 years, inspires countless others through his leadership in Alcoholics Anonymous.
I discovered my outstanding gift in an epiphany on my 50th birthday. I realized my best trait is that I look with eyes to see the best in others and generously tell them. I learned my gift from my mother’s example. Seeing the warm effect affirming has on each and every relationship, I wrote my book to share my gift far and wide.
Choosing to be a positive influence with our unique gifts gives our life meaning.
We get to see that our life here on Earth matters.
What talents or natural capabilities can you share to support others and be a positive influence?
Become an influence observer. How are others impacting you? If it’s positive affirm them for it. How are you influencing others? Are you comfortable with your impact?
Choose to be a positive influence with your closest people and everyone you come in contact with.
NOW MORE THAT EVER THE WORLD NEEDS YOUR POSITIVE INFLUENCE AND GOOD ENERGY. SPREAD THE GOOD!