noun: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something

verb: have an influence on

As one president transitions to another in this new year, much is thought about influence. Influence of politics and media and entertainment and music and artists and our collective American culture on our individual lives. It is a good time to reflect on who is influencing who as a nation and also as independent citizens.

It has been an aspiration of mine for the last few years to go out into the world in which I live and be kind. I hope to have a positive effect on those I encounter if only in the way of a smile or genuine “Have a Good Day” salutation. But alas, I am human. I do fall down, make mistakes and have bad days. I do still feel somewhat bad about that unfortunate Starbucks incident. But anyway, that’s for another time…

Influence doesn’t have to come from someone who is powerful or popular or even that passionate. It can come as inspiration from ordinary people who carry with them prowess. Those who have finesse that are encountered everyday are probably the best source of influence over one’s life. They are mentors and inspirationalists demonstrating what is possible in reality. My reality. My community. My life.

I find myself looking for inspiration and disappointed so often with what I discover. I am being influenced by the wrong people. The truly inspiring are those who don’t want to be influencers. They are just living their lives in motivational ways with strength and integrity and diligence. I am going to keep looking for those around me that model their best by simply being themselves. I am going to soak in their smiles and listen to their stories and be energized. But I am going to try to be “that” person, too. The person who is confident and kind and shares a smile in return. I am using my power for good in this new year, and I kind of like that about myself.

“When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.”

Roxane Gay

Categories: Uncategorized

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