You don’t have to be a “somebody” to be a leader. You, just as you are, can be a positive influence on others and change lives.
Influence: The power to have an important effect on someone or something. If someone influences someone else, they are changing a person or thing in an indirect but important way.
The word “influence” gets thrown around a lot these days. Once upon a time, it felt like I only heard the word “influence” in a negative con- text from my mother who was constantly trying to steer me away from hanging out with the “too-cool-for-school” kids. But today, the word “influence” has become a real hot topic.
More than ever, leaders are looking to positively influence their teams in the workplace, parents are focussed on positively influencing their children’s emotional development, and people online are striving to become “influencers” in order to, believe it or not, influence people. But what exactly does the word “influence” mean?
I’ll admit, leadership and influence aren’t things I grew up think- ing about. But as my journey has evolved over the years, I’ve come to understand the power of leadership, influence, and helping others through my roles as a health and wellness expert, wife, mother, friend, and most recently, an “influencer.”
What have I learned? Well, the biggest lesson has been this: you don’t have to be a “somebody” in order to be a leader. In fact, you, exactly as you are today, can have a positive influence on others if you simply choose to behave and approach life in several key ways.
Use what you’ve learned in life to be of service to others
It’s really not about being an expert or having all the answers, but rather using what you’ve learned in life to help others. When I first thought about entering the health and wellness industry, I was terrified that I wouldn’t stack up. I was worried I would come across as an amateur because I didn’t have a degree in kinesiology, or enough work experience, or a cut-enough six pack for that matter.
But once I dove head-first into the industry, I quickly realized that people didn’t care about those things. What they cared about was my story and what I had learned from it. They were connecting with my experiences. They were connecting with my message.
All I had to do was be willing to share what I had learned. The idea isn’t to be an expert at everything, but rather, to shape your mess into a message that others can learn from.
Be as open, raw, and real as you can stomach
This piece can be difficult. It will always be a work-in-progress because you will always be changing. In this era of “perfect everything” on social media, the idea of being authentic is more of an exception than the rule. But, if you can find, cultivate, and share your real self with the world—whether that be with your kids, your co-workers, or your social media following, you will find it much easier to positively influence others.
Haven’t you found that you gravitate towards people who you feel are genuine? Don’t you feel more connected to those who are willing to express vulnerability? Yes, you’ll have to push beyond any introversion, shyness, or reluctance to be who you really are, but trust me, the effort will be worth it because that’s when you’ll be able to build authentic, supportive relationships.
It’s about the journey, not the destination If your message is going to come from your journey, then you’re going to have to shift your thinking from being destination focussed to experience focussed. Those who are able to truly help others are rarely the ones going for the quick-buck or easy answer. Instead, they believe that there is no end to what they’re learning, experiencing, and building. This is something that’s been challenging for me as I’ve always been a results-oriented kind of gal with a fear of failure. Over the last few years however, I’ve realized that my real objectives are to find new ways to share what I know in order to help others. If you value helping others rather than achieving quick-wins, you’ll find meaning and purpose every step of the way.
Keep it simple, refine your message, and commit to sharing your gifts in whatever way feels authentic to you. Like me, it might just be the best thing you choose to do.
More Inspiration: Check out Sonia’s other cool article on how to spark your creativity!
Author: Sonia Jhas is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine and is an award-winning health and fitness expert. She is a certified personal trainer, nutrition specialist, speaker and media expert, and is also an ambassador for the Canadian Mental Health Association.