Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Big Influence

We are influenced by so many people, whether they are people we know or ones that we only wish we knew. I can't begin to count the people who have impacted my life to help me get where I am. 

This week, Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people was announced. I perused the list and found it contained some very unusual names. I wondered why certain people (Vladimir Puiten, Kim Jong Un, Miley Cryus) made the list and also what criteria were used to make the selections.

The editors of the magazine, relying on their journalists and former members of the list, select the new members. They made an interesting statement about the difference between power and influence which answered my question about Putin and Jong Un:

Power, as we’ve seen this year, can be crude and implacable, from Vladimir Putin’s mugging of Crimea to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s summary execution of his uncle and mentor Jang Song Thaek. Those men made our list, but they are the outliers, and not just because we generally seek to celebrate the best work of the human spirit. The vast majority of this year’s roster reveals that while power is certain, influence is subtle. Power is a tool, influence is a skill; one is a fist, the other a fingertip. You don’t lead by hitting people over the head, Dwight Eisenhower used to say. That’s “assault, not leadership.”

Another note about the article is the writers: most of them are influential people, too. For example, Hilary Clinton wrote about John Kerry. I guess she's qualified to write about him since he took her job. Barack Obama wrote about Pope Francis, Dolly Parton about Miley Cyrus, and DWayne Wade about Serena Williams. The winner of the magazine cover is my favorite singer ever, Queen Beyonce.

You can check out the list here:  TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People 2014

Time's list made me consider the many people who have had an impact on me. There are thousands, and they may not even know the impact they made because their influence was so subtle. Also, some of the people taught me by non-example, showing me the ways not to be.  We all have these people in our lives, so I'm not going into what I learned from them. 

Although teachers, friends, celebrities, etc., have a powerful influence over us, I think family has the greatest impact. Whether we like our families or not, we are kind of stuck with them. How many of us have said, "I'm not going to do that when I'm a parent" and then grow up to hear our parents' voices come out of our own adult mouths? This is influence by example, and I think it's just a toss of the coin if you get a good set of parents. Individual members of a family may be in that toxic column that you have to divorce in order to have peace. 

The positive influences of family can be phenomenal. One of the most prominent family members to me was my grandmother, Bubba, who taught me to sew, one of the greatest skills I ever learned. She was so patient, marking and pinning to show me the right path to take with a needle and thread but also in life. When I began teaching my own granddaughter how to sew, I remembered how Bubba taught me and try to be just as patient. She was a very generous person, too. She cut the timber on her property to help send me to college, and I don't recall her ever saying no to me. Her influence, especially during my teenage years, was my constant, guiding force. Every person who had/has a prominent, positive family member like Bubba should consider himself blessed.

Drew, Bubba and Kelsey approx. 1997
Sometimes I think we should take a few minutes to consider how and why we are where we are and who pushed us along the way. Who has influenced you?