Tag Archives: Example

Influence and Impression

30 Dec

There is a constant myth that Napoleon Bonaparte had a chip on his shoulder because he was very short, and today people sometimes refer to shorter men who are disagreeable as having a “Napoleon Complex.” However, historians say Napoleon was actually taller than the average male for his time and seemed short because he was surrounded by body guards who were much taller. If they are right, his short stature was just an interpretation of how he compared to those around him, and not a true reflection of who he was. When we think about that, it changes the entire picture. If he wasn’t short and didn’t have a complex about his height, the reputation associated with him is unwarranted. We, too, may be considered to be something we really aren’t simply because of where we are or with whom we are associating. It may be assumed that we have specific qualities because they are the attributes of those around us. We can seem to be very different than we really are because of situations we place ourselves in. They say perception is reality, and that’s often true. If we think something is happening a certain way, we believe it’s fact. But we can be wrong. And others can be wrong about us.

There is an old saying that “birds of a feather flock together.” That means we tend to spend time with others who are like us. We may feel more comfortable around others who share our perceptions and beliefs. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have friends and acquaintances we enjoy or with whom we spend time that are very different than we are. We all know all kinds of people, and sometimes our differences are very pronounced. If those differences are things that others find disagreeable or uncomfortable, they may be concerned that we share them. And like Napoleon, we may find we gain a reputation for being something we really aren’t. When that happens it can be complicated, especially if it impacts relationships close to us. Even though it’s just a perception and not reality, those we care about may confuse the two and we may find ourselves in a difficult state of affairs.

There is nothing wrong with having all sorts of friends around us. But if we notice their choices are damaging or hurtful in some way, we may want to re-evaluate our time with them. For instance, if we have a friend who deceives and struggles with the truth, our association with them may lead others to believe we share the same characteristics. Or if we have an acquaintance that has been in trouble for breaking the law, there may be some carryover of influence. This doesn’t mean we should only have people close to us who share our values and standards, however we should be aware of the influence of association. But there is a flip side to all of this. We have the power to influence as well. If we are strong in our beliefs and personal choices, if we set an example for a higher standard, we can be a positive force to those near us. And if we are, we may well impact them for good. And then our association with them will change, and others will see their growth and instead of worrying about us will be happy we were there for them.

Today if you’re concerned about an association or friendship you have because of differences in your personal choices, be the one who sets the example. Display behaviors that are positive and helpful. Others will be influenced by your good works and may be impressed to make a positive change in their lives. You can set a great example and be the light that leads the way.  We are all influenced by those around us. Today let your influence be excellent.


19 Dec

We have a choice every day to decide how we will act and what we will do. We all do some things well, and some things not as well, but as we make our decisions we can decide that no matter what, we’ll be the best we can be. It’s easy to go through the motions, and just take things as they come, but if we want to get the most from every moment we have to do a little more. At every turn, we can decide not to make just a good decision, but to make the best decision. We can choose not to do just enough, but to do the best we can. If we consciously decide to try our best to be our best, our lives will be more rewarding and more fulfilling, and we’ll inspire those around us.

We’ve all heard of the bell curve. When I was a child and got frustrated over some decision someone had made that impacted me, my father would say, “You’ve got to remember the bell curve.” I never really understood what he meant until I got older. As you might recall from school, the bell curve represents our performance with the majority of us landing smack in the middle in the land of mediocrity. If we want to just get by in our lives and do the least amount needed to move forward, we’ll have lots of company. But if we want to live closer to the edge, where we have to try harder, where we have to think a little longer before we act, and where every decision is measured well, we’ll have the best company. We design our lives the way we want them. If we want mediocrity we can surely have it. But if we want something more, and want to see what we’re really capable of, we need to focus and stretch. The choice is ours alone to make.

When we’re reaching for something better and trying to become more than what we are now, it takes personal effort. We can’t afford the luxury of complacency. We have to be engaged all the time. Each opportunity brings many choices. Paying attention to each option, looking at it objectively and seeing where it will lead doesn’t always take a lot of time. But it does take our attention. If we want to live an extraordinary life, if we want to do more than the minimum, if we want to be our best, we can. Once I heard two pianists perform the same piece within days of each other. Each was performed technically perfectly. Each was done well, but there was no comparison between the two. The first artist played perfectly without a single mistake. Her timing was exact and she was proficient. But the second artist played as though every emotion she possessed came out onto the keys. She felt the music, and she expressed it in a way that made the listener part of it. It was a breathtaking performance and many were brought to tears by the end. Both pianists were excellent, but one chose to put everything she had into the music and it made all the difference. If we lived our lives like that, if we put everything into each decision, we would be a positive influence. We would be inspiring. We can choose to be our best, and when we do our lives will be better. We’ll be stronger, more confident, and an example to those around us.

Today if you’ve been doing well but not giving all you can, rethink your plan. You have so many wonderful things to share. Open yourself up to being more, to thinking a bit more deeply, and to letting your very best self shine forward. You have the power to inspire those around you. Be your best. Reach further. You can change your world.

Taking Our Turn

20 Oct

In every group situation, in order to get things accomplished, there must be some sort of order, and leadership. If there was no plan and no leader, chances are nothing would get done. Leading requires responsibility and thought, and when opportunities to lead come up, if we want to, we can keep a low profile and not get involved. We can keep our heads down and study our shoes, but we can learn a lot more if we step up and take a turn in leadership. When geese migrate south for the winter, their “V” formation always has one bird at the very front leading the way. The primary responsibility of that position is to reduce air drag for the flock so they can fly as far as possible before needing to rest. The leader flies in the first position until they are tired, at which time they fall back into formation with the other birds. Immediately, another bird flies up to take the lead. This exchange happens many times throughout the flight, each one taking a turn at the front. Like geese, when we take on a leadership role, our responsibility is to reduce the stress of the project by showing the way for success. If we take our turn at the front, and do our part, we will enable goals to be accomplished, and we’ll learn a lot in the process.

When leading others, the first step is to understand the objective. Where is the group going? What are we trying to accomplish? Once we know that, we can make plans for successfully completing the task. We don’t have to do all the work ourselves, but may involve everyone on the team by delegating tasks to them. If everyone completes one small part of the project, no matter how great the job is, it will be accomplished. Being a leader doesn’t mean being the boss, and we can’t force anyone to do anything. But we can encourage them, and show the way. If we trust others to get things done, they will respond more positively than if we try to manage them. There is a saying that you can’t push a string. And you can’t. If you try, it will just bend and go nowhere. But you can pull a string and it will go wherever you take it. If we pull others along with the goal in mind, they will follow our lead.

Setting the example for leadership, whether the task is great or small, will help others learn to become leaders as well. If we lead with kindness, support, and patience, when we’re on the other side of the team as a participant, chances are we’ll get the same treatment in return from those in charge. If we are respectful and fair, we can be excellent leaders no matter what our current skills are. When we’re taking our turn at the front, and we need to reduce drag and show the way, if we include everyone in the plan and treat them well, we’ll accomplish the task, and be the example we want to be. We have everything we need to be great leaders. We just have to step up and take our turn.

Today if you have the opportunity to be a leader, take it. You can step up and be the one to show the way. Be kind and patient, and trust others with what needs to be done. They will respond positively and before you know it, the job will be accomplished. You have greatness in you, and the potential to be a great leader. Pull from that knowledge, and show the world what you can do. Take your turn, step up to the front, and be the best you can be. The experience will teach you more than you can imagine.

My Hero

4 Jul

When we’re young, we are often fascinated by comic book heroes. They have magical, impressive powers, and we love the way they always save the day. There is no end to their bravery, and they always, always do the right thing. As we get older, we may lose our fascination with the comic book hero, but we still want heroes in our lives. We admire people who are brave, who stand up for what’s right in the face of danger, and who risk themselves to protect others. Those qualities are so impressive, and when we see them, it reminds us that we can be heroes even if we aren’t Superman, or Spiderman, or any of the others we used to read about.

We can all be heroes in our lives. We can make choices every day to stand up for what we believe is right. We don’t have to leap tall buildings, or be faster than a speeding bullet. Sometimes all we have to do is speak up when someone is being hurt. Sometimes all we have to do is say no when we’re asked to do something we feel is wrong. And sometimes, we may get the opportunity to do something really impressive – save a life, stop an injustice, or protect someone we love. But those extreme opportunities don’t come along often, so the small decisions we make every day prove who we are.

There have been people in all of our lives who have impressed us. They’ve done things that were noble and inspired, and things that were heroic. I have a friend who works a full time job but finds time every week to volunteer to help the poor and needy. He gives his time at the local food bank, and he and his family regularly help out at the local shelters. No matter how busy he is, he makes the time to help others. He’s a hero to those he helps, and an inspiration to everyone. I have another friend who struggles with a learning problem. It’s hard for her to communicate, it’s hard for her to read, and it’s hard for her to understand complex ideas. But she is always cheerful, always helpful, and always sets an amazing example. She’s loved by everyone who knows her.

In this day and age, where everything is blown out of proportion, where we’re often expected to be perfect, we can feel like our lives are small, and don’t really count. But when we stand up for what’s right, we are noble. When we defend the downtrodden, we are courageous. When we push forward, despite heavy obstacles, we are brave. All of these characteristics make us heroes. We are heroic because we choose what’s best.

Today if you think your life is small, if you think your contributions are minimal, stop, and think again. Think about the times you’ve spoken out for what was right, and helped those around you. You are more courageous than you think you are. You have goodness in you, and when you choose to show it to others, you are a hero. Be the very best you can be. Be an example for the world. You have that in you. Let it shine.