To Influence or Not To Influence

Are our strategies to create change really working for us?

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Over the past two years, I’ve felt like I’ve been in hiding. As someone who teaches authenticity and the power of vulnerability and transparency, there’s a big part of me that feels like I’m living a lie. How can I talk about these things and remain quiet  about issues that are so important? But when it comes to politics, I’ve vowed to stay silent on social media.

I grew up in Montana, have lived in Arizona, Seattle, Dallas, just outside New York City, and now reside in Austin, TX. I know people—good people—on both sides of the political spectrum. There are many, many people I know and love who have strong beliefs that have guided them to vote in ways I can’t fathom. I have strong beliefs that stand in stark contrast. I read posts daily that say something akin to, “If you’re not fighting against it, you’re part of the problem.” and I feel that sense of angst and sadness inside myself. Am I part of the problem? Is my silence betraying my deepest beliefs?

But what I know to be true is that nobody was ever influenced by people who told them they were bad or wrong. Nobody is going to say, “Oh yes! Thank you for helping me see the light! What have I been thinking?!” No. Never. 

I believe that the way most people have been fighting has been contrary to what they want most. For if you truly wish to influence others, it’s critical to step into their shoes and to see through their eyes. To suspend judgement and anger and fear, and find a way to connect on a human level. To, as Stephen Covey so eloquently challenged us, “seek first to understand, and then be understood.” 

Otherwise, aren’t you really just talking to yourself? How will that change anything?

I’ve attended marches and rallies over the past few years and I’ve looked out on the hand-painted signs filled with anger and hatred and where I thought I’d find my tribe, I’ve only felt sadness and loneliness. Is this is what we’ve come to as a country? This ugly divisiveness? However “right” we think we may be, how can this accomplish anything good? How will we ever come together to create change if we harbor such disrespect for our fellow human beings? 

I certainly can’t claim to have the answers to such weighty questions, but I do think it’s one we should all be considering. For my part, my strategy is to stay out of the political fray and focus on where I can make the biggest impact. I strive to connect all of us—however we voted—to our best individual selves. That’s the work I’m here to do. For if we can each find a way to take personal responsibility for how we show up in the world, my hope is that, collectively, we’ll all win.

What is the impact you personally want to have on the people around you? You have the power to influence. But how you go about it, can make a world of difference. 

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