How Many Lives Do You Touch?

Josh at Becoming Minimalist had a very thought-provoking post earlier this week about influence and how people are constantly striving to have more of it. The main idea of his post is that each of us already has a ton of influence.

Doubting Our Influence
It’s easy to fall for the belief that we are all just one little gear in the machine of life. It’s easy to believe that our individual actions do not have an impact on the world around us. With more than six billion people on the planet, that belief is certainly understandable. Maybe it’s just the lazy way out, but we often downplay our importance and use this to rationalize our decision to not be that positive, uplifting presence.

You Touch More People Than You Think
However, using the analogy of being a gear in the machine, you don’t have to actually touch every other gear to have an influence on them. Think about it. If you greet the person at the coffee shop with a smile and ask how their morning is going, if you hold the door open for someone at work, if you come home and give an encouraging word to your spouse, help your child do their homework or learn a new concept, and send a friend an encouraging message on Facebook (or even better, on the phone), that adds up to five influential actions. That’s five other gears that you’ve put into motion. And who knows how many other gears each of those will touch and put into motion, all as a result of your actions. There’s a new television show on Fox called “Touch” that does a pretty good job at illustrating this concept. One action done at the right time can trigger a series of events and have a positive influence on a whole chain of people.

The Ultimate Influence
Our little boy is now just over a year old. At this point in his life, virtually everything he learns is from my wife and me. As parents, we have a tremendous influence on our children. Consequently, we have a (smaller) influence on every single person our children will come into contact with. When you think about it that way, it’s easy to see how important it is to be an example of compassion, responsibility, integrity, and hard work. You may never actually meet the people you end up influencing; just know that you are making a difference.

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