Taking Steps Toward Leadership–Not what you thought?

Leadership is Influence, nothing more, nothing less.~John Maxwell

I heard that quote today at our company convention.  I also heard that influence is a measure of your significance.  Our Alternative Book Club is embarking on another book, Spotlight on Significant Living.  The title is not written in cement (which would make shipping costs on the book prohibitive) but that’s the general idea.  Everyone in the company gets into this business because they want some measure of significance.  They want to BE somebody.  I heard this from my Senior Vice President who was making about $400,000/year.  He wanted to be somebody, but he didn’t have a degree in business.  He got his GED instead of his High School Diploma.  He couldn’t pronounce Statistics if his life depended on it.  But there was no doubt he really knew his stuff when it came to money!  He helped a lot of people, and he trained a lot of people to help people, and he trained a lot of people to train a lot of people to help people.  He was invited to training events all over the country to speak and inspire people in the financial business.  He hated wearing a suit and tie, and he and his wife were the nicest couple you’d ever want to meet.

Cheryl is also in the business because she wanted to BE somebody.  She is instrumental in the Women’s section of the business because she realizes that though there aren’t a lot of women in the financial business, 52% of our new people are women.  She helps train and mentor women because women think differently than men, approach the business differently and have unique challenges when it comes to business.  She also makes $1,000,000/year.

Some of the best sportsmen and women go into sports because they want to BE somebody.  The most influential professional speakers want to BE somebody.  The specialists in the medical field want to BE somebody.  Teachers want to BE somebody.  The connection between these different avocations is the influence one wields in those positions.  The common trait is that in order to be influential, you have to be very good.  They are at the top of their games.  They are famous.  They get awards and prizes.  People look up to them.  What does that mean?

When do people start feeling the need to be significant?  Is it after they graduate?  Is it in High School?  Middle School?  Kindergarten?  You can see this competitiveness in very young children…”I’m the best!  I am the fastest!  I’m Batman!”  But some people never feel that way.  I know people who think being significant is a worthless pursuit.  It is too much effort for the results.  They go to work in their cubicles or man their machines, do the minimum amount of work and clock out.  They veg out watching ESPN.  Their idea of a great time is getting blind drunk or high to escape their boring existence.  Even people who play LARP are trying to BE someone.  This “someone” may be a 1/2 dragon stone child that spits acid and can move 100 yards in 2 seconds, but he’s someone important.

Then there are the unsung heroes.  They lead a good life and may be influential to a lot of people but in a less flashy way.  They’re the janitors that know all the kids’ names.  They’re the bank tellers that ask about your recent trip.  They’re the counselors that help you through college admissions paperwork.  They’re influential because they exhibit good character and a genuine love of the job they do.

If you are a person that wants to BE someone, you have to take stock in the gifts you have.  Why do you want to BE someone?  How many people do you want to influence?  Do you want to be a positive or negative influence?  Positive influence is harder to measure and takes longer to recognize, but you can’t get arrested for it.  These questions you need to ponder for a while, then come up with a picture of what your significance actually looks like.  Once you have that mental picture, you design your activities around that idea and prepare yourself so that you can achieve that mental picture.

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