Mar 122010
 

In-flu-ence* – [IN-floo-uhns] – verb – To quietly affect the nature, development, or condition of a person or course of events in a way that operates without any direct or apparent effort, to MODIFY.

To have world-changing influence, we must be willing to give something up in order to get something better.

We tend to think that we have the greatest influence on those who are the closest to us. And yet, the truth is that most of the people who I allow in my inner circle of friends are very much LIKE ME. They think like me, they talk like me, they agree with me (well, mostly). If influence has to do with MODIFYING an outcome, then what exactly is it that I think I can accomplish?

Instead, I think that influence is most effective when we are able to reach across the space between our comfortable circles and into spaces where people are NOT like us, where we do not have automatic credibility, where we have to earn respect and aren’t given it because of our credentials or title.

To have world-changing influence, I must be willing to put down my prestige. My power. My desire to always be the boss. The part if me that wants to get credit for every win but deflect the losses – to be recognized as the hero. Please don’t misunderstand -I leverage every resource I have on behalf of foster kids. If my degree or title gets me invited to the table, you can bet I’m taking advantage. If I can use my experiences to start a conversation, I am going for it.

Somewhere in the process, though, there comes a critical moment when I have to remember that life is not all about me. That changing the outcomes of foster kids matters more than being right. Matters more than winning the argument. Or making the news. Or getting the award.

To have world-changing influence, we must be willing to give something up in order to get something better. What do you need to give up?

Mar 112010
 

In-flu-ence* – [IN-floo-uhns] – verb – To quietly affect the nature, development, or condition of a person or course of events in a way that operates without any direct or apparent effort, to MODIFY.

Do you think the world needs to be changed?  Not everyone does, or at least most people don’t live like it does.  Most of us seem to wander through life without much lasting impact on those around us.  Think about it – if you moved today, how long would it be before those left behind would replace you?  Before the presence you had in the community began to fade? 

If we can agree that the world of foster kids does, in fact, need to look different, then we can begin to have a conversation about just exactly how to do that.  Certainly a great deal of change comes as the result of influence.  So for the next few days, I want to pass along some lessons I have learned about how to have world-changing influence.

To have world-changing influence, we must be in proximity to whatever we want to change.

The Mississipi River is a powerful force of nature, but it has no influence whatsoever on the Pacific Ocean.**  If we are going to enact change, we must be right in the middle of the problem.  For me, that meant learning more about foster kids.  Spending time at the shelter.  Hanging out with case workers.  Sitting through court cases.  Listening to difficult stories. 

When we are in proximity to the thing we want to change, we can see clearly what the problems are.  But we can also see the dirt.  And the trash.  And the ugliness.  And if we stay in proximity long enough, we are guaranteed to get dirty too. 

Still, it is in quiet space close to the chaos of a broken world that we have the opportunity to modify the nature and condition of a human being. 

Are you willing to get dirty?

 

*Webster’s dictionary     **Erwin McManus