Ever feel like you’re being watched? I’m writing this in late October and Halloween decorations are out in full force. It’s the time of year everything gets just a bit spookier. But this isn’t a blog about ghosts and goblins; this is a blog about influence.
When we hear the word “influence,” we might think of a social media account with millions of followers, or maybe a great mentor we’ve had, or perhaps a high-profile leader of an organization.
But the reality is that we all carry some level of influence on the people around us.
If you lead a team, you have influence.
If you’re a parent, you have influence.
If you interact with coworkers, you have influence.
If you come into contact with other human beings, you have influence!
So often we underestimate the impact we have on other people. We think that if we don’t have a formal leadership role, or maybe if we’re not high enough on the totem pole, that our words and actions don’t matter. But we all have people who look up to us – friends, family, coworkers - whether we realize it or not.
I recently came across this analogy: When a little kid falls down, they immediately look to their parents to gauge their reaction. If the parents stay calm, odds are the child will stay calm. But if the parents start to panic, the child will likely panic and cry as well.
Even as adults, we never fully grow out of this dynamic. During times of turmoil or stress, we often look to others to see how we should react. If we see that others are calm, positive, and collaborative in the face of turmoil, we are more likely to assume the same outlook. If others are panicked, chaotic, and negative, odds are that we will follow suit.
What’s The Risk?
Emotions are contagious. We can either be beacons of hope, confidence, and support, or we can breed negativity, chaos, and stress. Only when we start to realize how much impact we truly have can we understand how much our words and actions matter. We all have people who are following our lead and we have a responsibility to lead them well because they are watching, whether we realize it or not.