Thanks to social media, the idea of “being an influencer” has an uncomfortable energy around it these days. I want to start off right away saying that the fifth High Performance Habit, developing influence, is far from being manipulative or getting people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Let’s dive into what developing influence really is, along with three simple and powerful ways you can create it in your own life.
A Reminder to Learn Your Habits in Order
If you haven’t read about the first four High Performance Habits (or listened to the podcast), stop here and go back. This is because you need to fully understand the personal habits (seeking clarity, generating energy, and raising necessity) before you can move on to the social habits, like this one.
In his book, High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard broadly defines "having influence' as the ability to shape other people's beliefs and behaviors. It means you can get people to believe in you or your ideas, buy from you, follow you, or take actions that you request of them." Yes, there are people out there that use influence to manipulate others, and sadly probably always will be, but most of us have good intentions.
I’m going to guess that if you’re reading this that you have good intentions, too. So consider this: With every interaction we have, there is the opportunity for influence from both sides, whether it is intentional or not. Your tone of voice with the grocery cashier may influence how they respond. Another driver allowing you to merge when others did not may shift your frustration to gratitude. There is a constant give and take of energy between us, so why not use that energy in a positive way to help us achieve more of what we want in life?
Influence is important to all of us, and can be a powerful tool in helping us not only achieve our own goals in life, but support others at the same time.
To illustrate why developing influence is so important, I’m going to use some examples from my own life. Starting from those closest to me, I’ll work my way outward through my sphere of influence. I’ll start with my husband.
My husband is very generous and giving, and has been doing the editing and mixing of the audio for my podcast. He puts others before himself, and I’ve noticed that he often doesn’t pursue his own interests or passions because he worries that he’ll be taking away time or resources from the rest of the family.
I often try to influence my husband to share his dreams with us and to follow them. Many of his dreams have to do with making music. By influencing him to spend time doing what he loves, he feels supported by me and gets joy in doing what he loves. He also is putting his music out there to make others feel good, and is acting as a good role model for our children.
Speaking of children, parents are the biggest influence on their children up until a certain age. Even as they start to look to friends for support, parents continue to be a role model in less obvious ways. Of course, I try to influence them to follow their dreams by supporting them, but I also try to influence them to do things like clean up after themselves, eat well, do their homework, etc. Yes, influencing their beliefs and behaviors in these ways benefits me, but it will also benefit them and set them up for success when they are out on their own.
Finally, moving further outward in my sphere of influence to my community, clients, and even you, I get deeper into my purpose. I want to influence you to take the principles I share to create your own extraordinary life. I want to influence you to seek clarity so you can envision what your extraordinary life looks like, to take care of yourself so you have the energy to pursue your goals and dreams, and to raise your necessity to prioritize them.
These are ways that I am influencing others and encouraging them to live better, more fulfilled lives. This is my own passion, and I’m using it to help others. But how does developing influence help you to achieve your own goals in life? It’s about making your own path easier.
When you have increased influence, things become easier for you in an honest, positive way. People are more willing to help you, and more of what you want comes to you. Here are three simple and effective ways to develop your own influence within your own sphere.
This seems simple, but as Brendon Burchard says, common sense isn’t always common practice. Previously, I talked about How to Create Better Relationships, and how I had a bad habit of being passive aggressive with my husband instead of asking for what I wanted. I worked on that, and eventually realized that he is a good person who wants to help me; but it’s unreasonable for me to expect him to read my mind. Asking for what you want is an important part of developing influence, because when you ask for help you’re more likely to be successful in accomplishing your goal.
Let’s take the goal of having the dishes done every night after dinner. One option is to make a nutritious dinner for your family every night and clean up afterward, because you want the kitchen to be tidy. Yes, the goal is accomplished, but you’re spending more time in the kitchen, and after a long day you might not want to be there. Thus, the dishes go left undone or you don’t have the energy to make the healthy meals you want to.
If you ask for help, the task of getting dinner on the table and the dishes done will be easier and faster. If you have teenagers, you may be rolling your eyes at me. But most people do naturally want to help others, even if they are fourteen years old. Who knows? You may even find an opportunity to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
You can use the same principle at work and in other areas of your life. If you are working on a big project and take it all on yourself, it likely will take longer and certain areas may end up simplified. Ask for help, and if they can’t for whatever reason, circle back and ask again another time. I know I’m grateful for all the help with getting my podcast up and running. I could have done it all on my own, but it would have taken me ages and not been as good. Now, I have a professional intro/outro, podcast cover, and an expert doing the audio editing. Thank goodness!
The second simple but powerful action to increase your influence is to give to others without expectation of return. People are more likely to help you if you've helped them. I know I just said, don't expect a return, making this sound contradictory; but the adage give and you shall receive is true.
In order to create influence in this way, you don’t need to over-give or spend immense amounts of time in service to others. It’s more about approaching situations with a giving mindset, and looking for ways you can make the lives of others easier without over-burdening yourself. It could be as simple as offering a resource or making connections to a colleague who is struggling with a project.
This is even easier to see on a personal level. Say my husband is frustrated with something he is working on. I can ask if there’s anything I can do to help. If there isn’t, I can make another area of his life easier so he feels more supported.
Now think about how it feels for you when you are stuck or struggling, and someone offers support in some way. Like when you can’t reach the top shelf at the grocery store, and someone grabs the items for you, or when you spill something and a person nearby appears with paper towels.
Can you see how by giving without expecting anything in return, you increase your chances of getting help from that person later? You may not even receive from the person you gave to, you’re just creating a giving mindset and energy around you. When you give, you shall receive. Especially when you remember to ask for help!
The third simple way to develop influence is to appreciate and be grateful for people. When you express your appreciation for others, it increases your chances of being helped in the future. I have a terrific example for this one.
My daughter's friend is a very talented equestrian, and she has her eye on competing in the Olympics some day. I’ve noticed that she is very driven, and expresses a lot of the High Performance Habits.
First, she's very clear about her goals and dreams. As far as the energy goes, she's learning to take care of herself and her physical, mental, and emotional energy. I’ve also seen her raise her necessity; she knows that she must be working with her horse and increasing her skill level consistently if she's going to achieve her dream of competing at the Olympics.
She’s also productive in that she knows riding and school are her most important activities each week, even if it irritates her friends sometimes. All of these things are impressive on their own.
But what I really admire about her is that after every competition she does, she makes a point to publicly think everyone involved in her competition.
She thanks the event organizers for putting on the event. She thanks her coaches and her teammates for their support while training for the events. And she thanks her parents for everything that they do in order to make her riding and her competitions possible. Even when she doesn't do as well as she had hoped, she shares her appreciation.
Imagine how this will increase her influence and chances of success as she continues her riding career. How much more willing will those people be to help her when she needs it, because they feel appreciated? And when it comes to choosing a team for competition, who would you rather have on your team? I know that I’d rather have someone who is grateful for those who have helped along the way.
These actions of asking for help, helping others, and expressing gratitude are simple and easy. They are also very powerful in helping you develop influence with those around you. When you are clear with what you want and create a supportive environment, you are more likely to succeed; and influence is an important part of that environment.
As you go about the rest of your day and week, give all three of these actions a try, and let me know if you notice a shift in your degree of influence with the people in your life.
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