Two Opinions: Influence Makes Us Great

This is a monthly column on becoming a great human being and has two opinions on the subject from eastern and western parts of the world namely Dr Amit Nagpal from India and Michael Thallium from Spain.

Amit Nagpal’s opinion

Dr Amit Nagpal is a consultant and coach whose primary interest lies in providing Personal Branding Consultancy specially in digital space. He is also known as a passionate Blogger, Motivational speaker and Trainer (in Life skills and Digital Marketing). He is a Leadership Mentor for IAYSCP (International Association of Young Supply Chain Professionals), USA and is also a member of the Global Mentoring Committee for Entrepreneurship Incubation, 3E Innovative Foundation, Delhi NCR, India. His blog, “The Joys of Teaching” (A Blog on Life Mantras for Sustainable Success) is read in 100 plus countries and the numbers continue to rise as the words spread day by day.

Dr Amit Nagpal is a Personal Branding Consultant & Global Success Coach. He is based in New Delhi, India and specializes in personal branding with a holistic touch. His philosophy is, "Take charge of your life and your brand.”

The Universe has a perfect timing for everything and when Michael suggested writing a post on Influence, I was reminded of the fact that the next person on my gratitude list was John C. Maxwell who taught me influence in the real sense of the term. So the perfect timing has come to express my gratitude to him, by dedicating this post to him.

Early lessons in influence (and personal branding)
There was a role model (of influence) for me right in the childhood days i.e. my paternal grandfather. He was highly respected and well known figure in the town (near Delhi) where I was brought up. He was well respected for his generosity, the way he treated his staff (including agricultural labour), his interpersonal skills, his character (no alcohol & non-vegetarian food) and so on.

Personally he always motivated me, came to my rescue (when he noticed that I was an underdog in some ways) and showered me with prizes for my academic achievements. Today, thanks to him, I try my best to help at least one or two people who are underdogs in my view. After my mother, he was the second strongest influence on me.

The better human being you are, the more Influence you will have
Power, position and money do make us influential but the moment they are gone, the influence is gone. If you are a genuinely good human being, you will be influential in the real sense of the term.

Circa 2007
A neighbor of mine, Sindhuja Rai introduced me to John Maxwell’s books and gave me a copy of “Becoming a Person of Influence” nearly 5 years ago. I read it, liked the quotes and anecdotes and soon it ended on my bookshelf like a host of other books. The book had superficial influence on me because I was not ready to truly grasp the concepts in the book. How could a person focused on filling his own emotional and ego tanks, enlarge others? How could a person nurture others when the child in him was still wishing to be nurtured?

But for the universe it was only a signal. I began my inner journey around the same time and made a conscious decision to change myself. I had posted on Facebook once, “When you reach the rock bottom, the time has come to look up.”

I began the journey of knowing and connecting with myself.

Circa 2011
After 4 years of regular meditation and clear thinking (probably an activated sub-conscious) I was still feeling there was something missing somewhere. Right in those days, a friend of mine told me, “You always try to connect through your writings, why don’t you speak to people to connect with them?” Oh my goodness, she had hit me right there.

I picked up “Becoming a Person of Influence” book again. Every sentence in the book had a new meaning for me. Every sentence I read, transformed me as a person. I was able to look beyond the interesting anecdotes and I really looked at what I needed to do to become a person of influence.

I was having a rebirth of sorts.

Lessons Learnt
The primary lessons learnt during these 4 years were;

  • The more good you do, the more goodness you will see around you.
  • Stop trying to become a person of influence, instead try becoming a person who shares and cares.
  • Be sensitive to the energy around yourself, stay surrounded with positive energy.
  • Silence the conscious mind to listen to the voice of sub-conscious.

But the most important lesson learnt was to look around and trying to help people with solutions (to their problems). If there is hopelessness, I should give inspiration, if there is negativity, I should bring positive energy. If they wish to become more successful, I should help them realize their goals.

If people still misbehave, I should try to forgive them for they are unhappy and frustrated.

Based on the lessons learnt, I have also developed my own coaching/training philosophy, “Enlarge as a human being, Excel as a Social Media Being and Evolve as a Personal Branded Being.” I do not wish to become a person of influence, but I do wish to bring positive change around me and for that I seek your good wishes.

Michael Thallium’s opinion
Michael Thallium

Michael Thallium is a global and greatness coach based in Spain. Michael has spent many years of his life traveling around many countries and continents, sailing the seas, flying the skies all over the world. Since 2008 he is dedicated to his passions namely coaching, language & communication and music.

I sometimes think that “influence” is a consequence of other factors such as trustworthiness and commitment, but I also think influence is a personal value which makes us great… as long as it is a “positive” influence. Both Hitler and Gandhi were influencers at the time, but think of their different kind of influences. So, how can you influence people in a positive way? This was and still is “the” question I want to find an answer for. And the deeper I go into the waters of influence, the larger the ocean of influence looks like.

One of the main reflections, I started with was on formal authority and moral authority. Both can have an influence on people, but only the moral authority has a lasting effect. You can be the formal president of a business company, but people will not authentically follow you until you gain the moral authority. I think one of the authors who best approaches this matter is Stephen R. Covey in his book “The 8th Habit”. However, this thing about influencing people is nothing new at all. The Greek philosopher Aristotle already dealt with it when he described the three main forms of rhetoric, the ability to see the available means of persuasion: pathos, ethos and logos.

But verbal persuasion or influence is in most of cases not enough. How are you going to convince a criminal not to commit a crime when he or she has become an expert at what he or she does? Well, I recently studied the work of different authors such as Al Switzler, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Joseph Grenny. They  are the co-authors of two very interesting books which I recommend to anybody who would like to know a little bit more about influence and change: “Influencer” and “Change Anything”. You will discover that this topic is nothing new. However, what I find interesting about their work is the way they present their influence paradigm. The first question you have to ask yourself is “What do I want to achieve?”, then you will have to clarify measurable results. To do that, you need to answer this question “Which behaviors will lead to the greatest amount of change?”, so you will have to find the vital behaviors. But “How will you motivate and enable change?”, then you will have to act upon six sources of influence: personal motivation & ability, social motivation & ability and structural motivation & ability. Have you ever heard of Grath Japhet, who positively influenced  the health of thousands of people in South Africa?  What about Dr Mimi Sibert who changed the lives of thousands of drug addicts and criminals in San Francisco through The Delancey Street Foundation? Or what about the work of Sunitha Krishnan in India to help women escape prostitution by giving their children education and career opportunities and fight AIDS?

In my opinion, you need to get rid of your ego and self-importance to become an authentic positive influencer. Money is important, but you do not need a lot of money to become a positive influencer or change agent. Have a look at this video directed and produced by Sharon Wright, Change For A Dollar:

I recently had something happening to me that levered my awareness about the influencer I can be. I was at an event with young entrepreneurs and one of them, who had been in one of my talks more than one year ago, said to me something like: “I would go anywhere in the world with you, just tell me where and we go.” At the beginning I felt “important” and said to myself, “yeah, you can influence people without even knowing it!” But then I felt a bit concerned, because I pondered over the enormous responsibility which came to me.

This is why I love “coaching”: to lever self awareness and self responsibility. And to start to influence people, you do not need to influence hundreds, thousands or millions of people. Just start with the people around you, with yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your school mates, your work mates… How can you motivate and enable change?

When are you going to start?

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