O ur world is full of so-called “influencers” vying for our attention. You can’t miss them: They create tons of noise and are always in the spotlight. Charismatic online personalities use their influence to sway audiences. And while these larger-than-life figures may dominate our headlines and social media feeds – they don’t fill our yearning for authentic, heart-driven leadership.
Paying too much attention to this style of influencer leads us down a path of unhappiness. The good news is more and more people are realizing this. They are ready for a new kind of influencer, one who creates good for themselves and for everyone else. Best of all, anyone can become this type of influencer—including you.
You may not think of yourself this way, but the truth is you influence people all the time. Everyone does, whether they’re an “official” leader or not. Here’s the question: Is your influence driven by fear, or greed, or the desire to manipulate others, or the need for recognition — or by a deep longing to create a better world for everyone?
This is a hard question. We all want to think we have selfless or at least benevolent motives, but when we look within – with a sincere desire to know ourselves – we may find a different truth. Once we do, though, we can begin to influence others for the collective good.
There are three stages of influence that people move through in their lives. The first stage is self-centered; it’s all about attempting to get something we want. The second stage happens when we seek out win-wins; our goal is for everyone involved in a decision or action to benefit. In the third stage of influence, we work toward a powerful outcome for all — for the planet, the community, and the evolution of humanity.
A few tips to help you get started:
Words are powerful. They can lift our spirits, or they can drag us down in an instant—and others with us. When your mind spins its story about what’s wrong with your world over what’s right, notice the words you say and find better words to use in their place. For example, instead of using the word “busy” to describe your life, say that it is “wonderfully full.” Instead of saying, “I’m tired,” say, “I’m going to have a nap, and when I wake up, I’ll feel refreshed, energized, and ready to work or play.”
Focus on gratitude. This helps supplant old power patterns you’ve relied on for years and years. If you are angry with someone or arguing endlessly, remove yourself and ask, What is the gift in this moment? Without blaming or shaming anyone, feel into your heart and ask, What am I grateful for? Try to reframe challenging circumstances as opportunities and practice appreciating them. This is a form of gratitude: to be able to see the good that is present in every situation.
Don’t’ always be right. This very common “ego need” diminishes your power and weakens your ability to influence. It also takes the life out of creativity and destroys new solutions to old problems before they see the light of day. The key to stopping this behavior is to recognize where it comes from.
Resist the urge to label everything. We use words to label people, events, and experiences as good or bad. As soon as we label something, our mind creates the opposite. If we label someone as a rational person, we will judge others to be irrational. If we label someone as smart, we will find others to judge as stupid. Catch yourself labeling, which serves only to separate “us” from “them” and choose to stop. As we release the language of duality and refuse to describe people according to our preferences, we relax and surrender into acceptance without trying to change them or defend ourselves.