The Power of Influence

“There are two parts of influence: First, influence is powerful. Second, influence is subtle. You wouldn’t let someone push you off course, but you might let someone nudge you off course and not even realize it…” — Jim Rohn

Everyone is influenced by those around them in one way or another. Unfortunately, few are conscious of the bad or good effects of this influence until shocked into recognizing it through a damaged reputation or discovering through some traumatic event they are way off track. In order to keep this from happening, it is important to ask yourself if the influence of those around you is a help or a hindrance to where you are going, to what you want to become, and to achieving your goals. If we don’t take or make the time to examine who we are around and the influence they are having on us, the damage can cause us to become discouraged and despondent.

Along with this outside influence hindering our ability to become all we can be as well as keep us from achieving that for which we are capable, there is also the fear of not being able to get back that which has been lost. For those who through discipline do get back on track, although it is an uphill climb, the reward is worth the effort. Few however, are able to overcome the negative influence let alone be strong enough to cut these negative ties and move on.

I find it odd how human beings can be so unaware of the way negative influence can sabotage goals, undermine objectives, lower standards, diminish expectations, alter plans, as well as have a host of other contrary or destructive effects. Too often, we continually associate with people without considering the type of influence they might have on our lives. That is to say, we do not take the time or make the effort to consider if their influence will help or hinder our plans for becoming what all we want or need to be. If we did we would know whether to limit our exposure to them or avoid them altogether and move on.

This begs the question if we were to analyze our friends, what would we find? Might they actually be holding us back, keeping us down or guiding us in the opposite direction of where we want to go? Could it be some of those with whom we associate are not disciplined people therefore; their reason for wanting to hang out with us is so they feel better about themselves? If this is in fact the case, I would suggest disassociating from their influence for these people seldom, if ever, change. They are only looking for someone who is optimistic and positive to identify with so they can say they are doing well. Yes, by hanging out with you they may feel better about their own person, but they are not contributing to the relationship by contributing to your growth. Truth is they are leaching while subtly influencing you away from your goals.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be around them or interact with them on an occasional basis, but it does mean you shouldn’t include them in your circle of personal and influential friends; for those should be chosen wisely. I look at this in the same manner as eating Pizza. It is OK on a limited basis, but not as an everyday food staple.

Early on in my business career, I became fairly good friends with one of my clients. He was a little older and I believed him to be a little wiser. Although he was quite the gentlemen, he was still very stern and to the point; a likeable cowboy who was unpretentious and caring. A few times a week I would meet him either at his office to take off a job; meet for lunch or simply stop by to chat. He would share insights as well as bits of wisdom. Soon, I felt he would make a good mentor so; I started asking his opinion on what I was doing and how I should do it. Around the time this started, I was making the transition from being a lead field technician, which is what I was prior to purchasing the business, to becoming the business man necessary to maximize the potential of the business I now owned.

One of the things that happened as I grew in business knowledge and professionalism was I started dressing better. I no longer wore a tool belt, but carried my tools in a very professional looking silver metal case. This change allowed me to meet additional professionals I would not have otherwise, met. The difference in my professional demeanor and dress started bringing our company much larger opportunities. Where once, this persons company provided a decent percentage of my business, the percentage was now small. Within less than two years, we started doing work all over the United States, as well as other countries around the world. As my business grew the meetings with him became less and less due to my need to travel to these different places where we were working. Another thing that happened, in order to maintain the relationship and keep up on their work was I assigned an associate to this persons account.

After nearly eight months I made it a point to visit him as I missed listening to his insights. When I walked into his office building his receptionist brought me back into his office and closed the door as she walked out. She had never done this before. Wow, I thought, something seemed strange as there was a different feeling in the air. He was not very talkative at first, but then he started telling me how I was not heading in the right direction; how I was losing my roots trying to be someone I wasn’t and thereby, would wind up losing all my friends.

He told me I needed to remain who I was and not be this new person dressed in this fancy updated wardrobe and appearance. This did not ring true in my heart. In fact, I believed he was being jealous instead of happy for me. His actions and demeanor caught me off guard. I had expected him to congratulate the growth of the business as well as my continued success. In place of the adulation, he was trying to keep me in jeans and overalls. I was grieved he didn’t recognize how much of a part of my growth he had been. As a matter of fact, it was obvious he felt threatened therefore; he took those jealous feelings, which had come to the surface and verbally threw them at me.

I sat there thinking about his advice; should I go back or continue on the planned path moving forward. I knew if I continued, there would be no relationship. On the other hand if I made the decision to return to what I used to be, I would not be fulfilling my potential, which means I would not become all it would take to make my dreams a reality.

I never saw him much after that particular meeting. When I did, it was always small talk. Soon, we drifted apart and shortly thereafter, he began to use a competitor. For me, well, I continued forward doing all I could to become everything necessary to attract my desires. His business stayed the same size while mine enjoyed great growth and success. This does not mean he was not a success in his own right and that I was better, it simply means I continued on the right path for me stretching myself to become all I was meant to be or could be.

Often in life’s journey, you will encounter those who don’t want you to grow. This could be one of your parents, a sibling, a relative, a coworker or a friend. They want you to remain who and what you are indefinitely. Why? Usually, as previously mentioned, it is jealousy. It can also be due to the fact you are growing while they are not and, as is most often the case, this causes their relationship with you to be uncomfortable. As a result they feel convicted and guilty, watching you grow therefore, rather than making the disciplined effort to start their own growth process, they either begin to verbally cut you down or take other measures to hold you back with them.

So, take stock of your friends and all those in your circle of influence, then ask yourself a few simple questions: What do they have me doing; what do they have me thinking; what do they have me saying; and what do they have me becoming? When you have considered these questions ask yourself, IS THIS OK? If it isn’t, you may have some hard decisions to make that will change the outcome of your relationships and your life…

Best of LUCK as you
Labor Under Correct Knowledge…


Rick Cox