Several years ago, I was challenged to create a Wall of Influence – basically a list of people who influenced my life in a positive way. Who made me who I am? Who do I value and respect? Who do I want to emulate? Whose advice will I always treasure?
Influence is defined – loosely – as the capacity of one person to produce effects in another; to sway, impress, or persuade.
Our long-held behaviors, opinions, and actions are usually attributed to our earliest influencers; parents and family members who taught us right from wrong, good manners, and how to be a friend. Believe me, I recognize that not all influencers are good but for this challenge, I was asked to focus only on the positive ones. Thankfully, most of my influencers were positive.
As youngsters, other adults became influencers – teachers, coaches, and leaders – as we are involved in school, church, scouts, 4-H, and sports. Our friends, classmates, and teammates also became influencers. Some, better than others. As adults, our list may grow more slowly but might include co-workers, employers, authors, podcasters, speakers, and pastors.
While I was working on my Wall of Influence, my brain took a detour. It does that from time to time! I think outside the box more than I do inside…and that’s okay! I began to consider the influence I may have on those around me. That can be humbling. Am I a good influence? Do others respect and admire me? Does anyone want to emulate me? What advice have I given that influenced someone? Did my encouragement come at the right time to help another? Is my name on someone’s Wall of Influence? Perhaps? I hope so. The thought of it makes me more responsible. May I always be a positive influencer.
I recognize patterns on my list; people I want to be like: Believers. Prayer Warriors. Bible Scholars. Gifted Writers. Servant Leaders. Overcomers. Risk-Takers. And traits I want to possess: Supportive. Authentic. Motivated. Resilient. Encouraging. Brave. Enthusiastic. Faithful. Humble. Strong. Compassionate. Wise. Creative. Empathetic.
Constructing your Wall of Influence can be time-consuming and cause much self-reflection, but I challenge you to do it. And…don’t let your Wall become stagnant. Revisit it from time to time as I do. You may recognize your influencers in yourself.
My influencers came at various stages of my life. Some helped me set boundaries for my own good. Others helped me become a better spouse or parent. Some encouraged me to be more compassionate. Many influenced my professional life. Others, my spiritual life.
One dear friend forever influenced my prayer life. As a young woman, I listened as she prayed; as she ALWAYS thanked God for things I thought unworthy of thanks! (Blame my immaturity!) Her prayers got my attention as she thanked God for things like broken water pipes and dented fenders! I learned from her to be thankful for everything God allows to come my way. Such a gift she gave!
Hmmmm? I wonder if I ever said thank you to her? I don’t know.
If I were to challenge someone today to build a Wall of Influence (which is exactly what I’m doing) I would add a final step.
Share with those on your list about the impact they’ve had on your life. Your call, card, or email might just brighten their day! Never do I want to be complacent about encouraging others. Are you willing to take the challenge? Start today! Build your Wall of Influence! Become an influencer! Then, thank your influencers before it’s too late!
[And…note to self…because I don’t remember I will thank Shirley McKinney posthumously for the impact she made on my life! Shirley is gone now, but not forgotten. Today, I’ll share this with her family members. My guess is she is on their Walls of Influence, too!]
(c) Elaine McAllister 2022