Sometimes we have to wait until our funeral to find out if we have positively affected someone else’s life.
We like to think we have an influence on others but usually all we can hope for is a chance to submit input. I once heard someone say, “My authority ends at the tip of my nose”. I took that to mean he did not seek influence over others. I believe he was afraid that he might be perceived as manipulating. I can see that because I never wish to be coerced. I am often on my guard when it seems someone wants to sell me on their particular way of living. However, while we may not seek to be influenced or influential, it happens nonetheless. We reveal our desire to have input when we recommend a book, film or play. It’s not pushing your agenda when you offer a suggestion or preference. Our friends, family and fellow citizens take note of how we are in the community. Our behaviour can have a huge impact on their lives. We don’t have to be a person of high profile to recognize and value our own potential for influence.
Fictional characters can be influential. I find myself relating to the behaviours exhibited by Data and Spock in the Star Trek films. Which came first I wonder; me wanting to be like them or seeing myself in them? Our local library holds an annual Free Comic Book Day where young ones are invited to stop by the main branch where they can, among other things, get an autograph from one of several costumed superheroes. Influence is at work here as well as decisions regarding what to wear when Halloween rolls around.
A teacher colleague who had risen to become a Superintendent of Schools was asked if she thought anything had changed with her promotion. She said, “I have to be careful what I say now because everyone is listening.” This statement made me feel happy for her but at the same time sad for all those who have had an opinion, on anything, but did not get an audience for their view.
Sports figures are often quoted as saying they want to be a positive role model. I trust their intent, but some of that motivation may be due to keeping their eye on product endorsement contracts. Other brave souls who have stepped forward to bring awareness to a cause proclaim they can now be the voice for those who are disregarded. We live in community and that requires a recognition that others may have a different world view. We all have a voice that needs exposure. Waiting for the right opportunity can help. Having the courage and confidence to believe you have a part in this play of life, like none other, is a responsibility.
When I recognize that another has helped me see things differently I find a way to acknowledge that fact. That they had an influence on my life is something I need to reveal before they can no longer hear me.