Influence: (n) the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
We’re used to looking at the word influence and influencer in the terms of social media. In fact, I asked my 5th grade class what it meant to influence someone or be an influencer they said: “to share ideas and thoughts on social media”. Not a bad definition for a 5th grader to come up.
Who is an Influencer?
Consequently, my first question back to them was “is it only on social media?”. This one was a little bit tougher for my kids. Keep in mind they idolize influencers on social media (my kids are obsessed with tiktok and Instagram). Finally, one student raised their hand and said “well, we have influence with our friends”. BINGO y’all! This is exactly where I was going with this conversation.
So, we talked about what it meant to be a good influence versus a bad influence. This gave us the opportunity to discuss what it looked like to be a positive influence with our friends.
Leaving Bad Influence Behind
Furthermore, this gave us the opportunity to discuss leaving bad influencers behind. We don’t want these negative people in our life. Whether they are giving us the ideas to do bad things, or things we don’t necessarily want to do. Or, that they are draining us. However, in real life we can’t just click the unfollow or block button. We have to be willing to make the change and be firm about it. We discussed strategies to walk away from those negative influences in our lives.
It isn’t easy having these conversations. However, we might need to have them if we are being held back by someone. It’s okay to say, “hey, when you’re ready to be kind and a positive influence in my life, I’ll be happy to talk to you then. Until then, I don’t want to be around you”. It’s hard.
The best positive influencers share kindness with the world. However, it’s nearly impossible to be kind 100% of the time. We’re humans. We are definitely not perfect. Instead of focusing on perfection, focus on sharing kindness with people.
You Should Be a Good Influence
Why did I spend the time to discuss this with my class and the people around me? Why do I share with them ways to be kind? Is it important for me to call them on it when they aren’t being kind or being a good influence?
Well, it’s important to me because if we are allowing anyone in our life to be a bad influence, we are welcoming into our life an excuse. I’m not one for excuses or self-preservation. Instead, do the right thing as much as you can. Yes, that’s the enneagram 1 in me; however, it’s so important that we lead by example.
I share with my class to be kind because if we’re sharing hatred or rudeness or meanness then we are saying that we want that in our lives and it is okay and acceptable. It’s not. Treat others better than you want to be treated. If they aren’t willing to do the same, then maybe they shouldn’t be in your life.
I 100% call them on it when they are not being kind or they are showing they are being a bad influence. I’m sure there are people who are probably saying “I haven’t talked to Lindsey in a while”. I made a decision that if they were not a positive influence, then they aren’t welcome in my life. If they aren’t willing to share kindness, to lift me and others up, if they aren’t being their best self, they aren’t welcome. They are more than welcome to reach out to me when they have made the decision to be a good influence. However, it’s too draining on me to continue to reach out and lift them up if they aren’t willing to be a good influence back.
How Can You Be a Good Influence?
- Be kind | Show all the kindness in the world. Don’t spread rumors, don’t lie, be there when people need you.
- Help others | Again, help when you can. It might be something as simple as making a copy for them. It might mean getting a coffee. It might mean leaving them alone.
- Don’t drain others | Think about your actions and how they affect other people. Every human has walked their own life. You don’t know their entire life story. Something might be happening in their life right now that is triggering to them and you don’t even know it.
- Give people what they need | This might be alone time, this might mean sitting there listening to them talk. This might mean having a really difficult conversation. It also might mean just watching a tv show with them.
So, let’s lift each other up and show kindness.