“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”
― Stephen King
My past mistakes have been plentiful. Some even catastrophic.
I must have gotten a bulk price on mistakes. I’m not exaggerating.
There was a time in my life when I pretty much did everything wrong. It’s a freaking miracle that people from my past even talk to me much less remain my friends. I’m constantly astounded by this.
Let’s face it. I have faced it. I was a pretty big dick. A genuine asshole.
An ass wipe.
It’s true. I was all of the following and more:
- Mean spirited
OK. Now that we have the self deprecation out of the way…
As you might imagine, given these terrific qualities, expecting anyone to be positively influenced by me was delusional. And I was delusional…
I changed because I wanted to change. And I wanted to change because deep down I did not want to be those things I listed above. I did not like who I had become. I knew I was really destined to be someone else. I was meant to be:
Above all I wanted to help. To be helpful to my team and to people in general. I wanted to be of service to them. Help them grow, prosper, and realize their true potential. That’s who I really was. Who I was meant to be.
And so eventually, the tide started to turn. The Real Me began to emerge.
Do not misunderstand. This process of change takes a lifetime. It’s not like Metamorphosis where a caterpillar spins a cocoon and emerges some time later as a beautiful butterfly. I still have a long way to go.
With deep rooted issues like I had (and still have)? Well, as I said it’s a process. Two steps forward, one step back. Always on guard. Continuous improvement. Kaizan as the Japanese say.
But now, today, I can describe to you 6 examples, plus many others, of how the person I have become has begun to influence others positively.
All names changed to protect their privacy.
I ran into him at a restaurant in Miami late one night. A former colleague, I had not seen him in years, although I had periodically received responses from him on Social Media. We were with our families. Said hi. That was that.
Two days later Guillermo reached out. Said it was a “sign” that he had run into me. He was in a quandary on what to do about career and job. Stagnation had set in. Seeing me had caused him to recall my writings over the years.
He said he really valued my insight and philosophies. Would I help him out with some tough career choices? This was a request by a man who had seen me at my worst and had personally experienced that Terrible 6 List.
We set up time and talked several times over the next two months. We sorted out what he valued, what he really wanted from life and career. He made his very difficult decision and landed a great opportunity.
His qualifications landed him that job. All I did was ask a few pointed questions, focus him, and turn him loose. I had not realized how I had been able to recover my credibility with him.
Bart is a quiet man. Extremely bright, technical, sharp, caring. He is the antithesis of all the things I used to be. I do not believe Bart would have wanted to be anywhere near the man I used to be.
I work with and frequently run into him. He never ceases to tell me how much he loves what I write and how it inspires and motivates him. I hadn’t a clue the impact my writings were having on him. Mind blowing.
This lady is super smart and driven. A great single mom and a professional. She has busted it her entire career and been very successful.
One day several months ago totally out of the blue, she rang me up. Would I help her map out a plan to prepare her for retirement and a second career? She told me how much she valued my experience and skills. What a feeling.
Given its what I do, I agreed. We worked through a Life Coaching process together. She now has a plan. Her plan. I wasn’t altogether “together” when I worked with Veronica. But it appears I had still been able to influence her.
I worked with Ted on a project over a 6 month time period while transitioning a major platform. Ted is a pro. One of the most cooperative, thorough and accountable people I’ve ever worked with. Never a doubt about the outcome.
I hadn’t talked to him in 4 years except through LinkedIn notes. I congratulated Ted on LinkedIn when I saw he was in a new role. He responded joyfully and that he loved keeping up with my posts.
I had not realized the influence I had on Ted from afar. Totally missed it.
Aaron was a team member in a company I founded and took public. He was there when all the bad stuff happened. I was disgraced and persona non grata as a result of bad decisions I made. Aaron knew the entire story.
A few weeks ago he reached out to catch up and to ask if I would offer him some Life Coaching. He was in the midst of potential career and life changes and needed help sorting through decisions he had to make.
Despite my past, Aaron had seen my change. And how I offered a holistic real world approach to help him figure out what to do. Positive influence.
I had not seen or talked with Allison for more than 17 years. She too had been with the company I took public and obviously knew of my travails and difficulties. Still, she reached out for help and advice in setting up a business.
We communicated via email where I learned a bit about what she was wanting to accomplish. I gave her some assignments to prepare for a call.
When we talked on the phone it was obvious she had done the homework. We concluded with a focused direction in which to pursue her ideas.
I was completely taken aback with her approaching me for help. Despite the issues I had faced, it seems I had left a positive impression. She had been positively influenced and was willing to ask for help.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
― Albert Schweitzer
I’m not sharing these stories for self aggrandizement or to convince you how great I am. I’m not attempting to pat myself on the back. The scars I have back there make that all too painful.
Yes, I’ve screwed the pooch in my former life as the saying goes. The damage and blowout could have been irreparable and irrecoverable. I have immense gratitude that it wasn’t the case. I was able to recover.
I worked on my character. Because it’s character that makes a reputation.
“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
― Dwight L. Moody
That’s what I did and I was able to recognize that the influence I’d had on people wasn’t all negative. That I had credibility left. And by focusing on character I was able to slowly build more influence. Credibility.
We should all come to this realization. We all have or can have influence. Just understanding and recognizing that is the first step. After that, its a process of walking your talk. Building and growing.
One act and person at a time…
“If you were born with the ability to change someone’s perspective or emotions, never waste that gift. It is one of the most powerful gifts God can give — the ability to influence.”
― Shannon L. Alder