Ask nearly any successful person the key to their success and they will most assuredly mention a person who has had an incredible influence on their life. Behind every success story is a person of powerful influence.
Take a moment to reflect on your life. Who has helped make you who you are today? These are people who, either by word or deed, made a difference in your life. Without their influence you would be a different person on a different track in a different time and place in life. These are people that for whatever reason decided to invest a part of who they are in you. They used the power of personal influence to impact your life.
I think back to my 6th grade math teacher who pulled my mom aside one day and said, “Your son will be a leader someday.” I was never prouder than the day my mom shared the news.
I remember my 9th grade basketball coach who saw in me something no one else had ever discovered. As we left the gym together one night he said, “Sanders, you keep your work ethic and you are going to do great things.” He saw past a boy with average athletic skills from a single-parent home where the boys worked to help mom out. Rather, he saw the potential of a person to grow beyond their circumstances and make a difference in the world.
I think about the influence of a youth minister who was willing to take time to invest in a young man whose family was known for alcohol abuse and violence. This was a man who taught him about peace, unconditional love and the keys to a fulfilling life.
I think all the way back to a pregnant 15 year old girl who despite the shame of being kicked out of high school her freshman year, because she was with child, made the brave decision to deliver her baby and give him the opportunity of life, a wonderful wife and a family with six fantastic kids.
The same boy now asks, “What kind of difference are you making in the lives of those you meet? No doubt there are those who have influenced you, but how are you influencing others? Have you been awakened to the power of personal influence, the power each of us has to make a difference in the lives of others?
Sometimes it is something small. Sometimes it is something big. Sometimes it means noticing someone without a smile and giving him or her one of your own. Sometimes it means simply listening. At other times it means having the courage to speak the truth in love. Sometimes it means giving of ourselves or giving of our resources. Whatever the case, something happens when we give our lives for others. We tend to gain much more than we give.
Each of us is given a sphere of influence. There are different groups of people in our lives that we touch in many different ways. Our sphere of influence begins with family and friends but goes far beyond those closest to us. It includes our neighbors, co-workers, customers, culture and nation. It may not seem possible but each of us in one way or another is making a difference in the world either by doing nothing or doing something of significance.
Many are getting to the point in their life where they are asking, “Is this all there is? I have earned the degree, I drive the car, I live in the house and make the six-figure income but there has to be more to this life than personal success.” I propose to you today that the inquirers are correct. There is more to life than this. We can have success and significance in life but not until we discover the power of personal influence, the power to make a difference in the lives of others.
True happiness comes when we give our lives away. When we hold what we’ve been given with a loose hand and invest back into the lives of others just as others invested in us.
It has been said, “Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple but no one can count the number of apples in a seed.” How many lives will your life impact? No one may ever know but what a tragedy to never discover the power of personal influence.
You were created for a purpose. To use the time, talent and treasure you have been given to go, give and grow the seeds of influence in the lives of others. You can make a difference. Oh the joys of being awakened to the power of personal influence. Your life matters. You can have success and significance when you give what you’ve got to others who don’t have a lot, the power of personal influence.