Got Influence?

We all do. The question is if we know how much, and if we take complete responsibility for the effects of the influence we have, and choose to wield. When we use it, influence gives us leverage.

When do you choose to deliberately use the influence you are aware you have, and when do you choose not to? What criteria goes into your decision? How important does an issue have to be to you? How much risk will you incur?

I’ve been thinking about influence ever since listening to General Colin Powell’s endorsement of Senator Barack Obama today. Here is a man who has influence and knows it, and he chose to use it less than three weeks before the vast majority of Americans case their final ballots for President of the United States.

We use our influence when we feel strongly about something; that’s pretty obvious.

However most of the time our influence is largely wasted; it’s an asset that we leave locked up inside us.

We needn’t have a world stage like General Colin Powell to use our influence; we get plenty of opportunities every day, even without a Tom Brokaw knocking on our door offering to interview us on Meet the Press.

Talking story with each other is one way. It’s a damn good way. Influence is so much more effective when it’s personal, and when you feel you know the other person, and when there’s mutual care, aloha and respect.

Update: 10/21/08:
How much will General Colin Powell influence you? I read an article this morning by a respected Democrat which may prove counterpoint for you: Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights? By Orson Scott Card.

We are now exactly two weeks from the November 4th elections. Some can’t believe there are still people undecided on who to vote for. Methinks it’s because its so so tough to discern fact from fiction. We do get to the point where our decisions may finally be made as a result of others influence. Do the homework required for your own vote so that you can feel good about those votes you finally cast — in all races, not just the presidential one.


  1. says

    using my influence? Good question. Where is the difference between using one’s influence and teaching someone? I think using one’s influence without teaching someone is a great thing – pointing out things, asking essential questions, informing people, helping other people to learn and to develop.

  2. says

    There can be a connection Ulla, and a strong one, but I don’t think that teaching others always goes with using our influence.
    I think of influence more so as effecting someone’s choices and decisions in some way, and those decisions can be purposely made to rebel against our influence too! (Though of course that usually will not be the result we are hoping for.)
    Another way to think about this is in considering just how much influence others have on us, and how much we allow their influence to sway us. Whose word and opinion will we near-blindly accept as is, and whose will we always question. Why?
    When we can answer that for ourselves, we groom more understanding with when we can be influential with others (as we may desire to), and when our efforts fall short.