A Positive Influence On Someone’s Life

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“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.”   – George Eliot

I went for a walk this summer’s morning before the heat and humidity of the day. I am grateful for summer and the magnificent flowers, but this morning I admit that part of the walk had me gazing upward. It was the temporary weight of things: preparing for a virtual presentation, thinking about my upcoming doctor’s appointment, wondering about a friend’s wife who is battling cancer, needing to go online to buy some essential items, and wondering if the Pittsburgh Pirates will ever win their division again.

My head snapped around when I heard the yelp, and then saw a Golden Retriever struggling with its first leash. The young woman who owned him had managed to get the leash wrapped around her baby carriage. I smiled, offered my untangling assistance, and allowed the puppy to lick me enthusiastically.

She confessed that she wasn’t very good at “the puppy thing,” but I assured her that she would be perfect in no time. I also offered that our local pet store has free puppy dog training classes – with plenty of patient and experienced people lending their expertise. At that moment, I had the opportunity to influence someone’s world, to make it just a little better.

Influence What You Should

We live in strange times where we have social media influencers, movie influencers, music influencers, news influencers, sneaker influencers, political influencers, sports influencers, and the like. I am confident they are all influential, but do they actually influence? There’s a significant difference, you know.

Among our society’s top social media influencers are the Kardashians, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber. One well-placed tweet, post, picture, or even viral email from any one of them can catapult a fashion or vacation spot or gooey dessert to the heights of viral-dom. There is, of course, a qualification there. They most often don’t promote anything for free. And, chances are, most big-name influencers don’t do it at all; they have social media influencers under contract who do it for them.

Influential people are seen as powerful, but do they have a genuine influence on us as people?

I am sure that Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian West, away from the many layers of lights and glitter, may influence their dearest friends in their closest encounters. Still, as a society, we have developed a serious compassion problem.

Dr. Maggie Tipton, an expert in physical and psychological trauma, wrote for Healthline in March of last year:

“People may not know how to have a conversation with someone experiencing trauma or how to offer support. It may look like there’s not as much compassion when the reality is that they don’t know what to do. They don’t intend to be compassionless, but the uncertainty and lack of education lead to less awareness and understanding. Therefore, people don’t reach out to support the person experiencing trauma.”

The Problem

In real-life terms, despite all of these influential people jamming our airways and digital devices, they are impractical when it comes to dealing with one another human to human. It’s not that they’re bad people, but they are as afraid to reach out to one another as anyone else. It is why social media influencers, being invited into our lives to take the place of a wise grandparent or feeling friend, are often a bad idea.

In this overly-digitized world, there is no more critical influence than the beautiful human heart. It is the incredibly endearing interaction of a parent taking the time to indeed talk to a child, the coach reaching out to a troubled athlete, or even a walker offering to help a frazzled young mother to untangle a puppy’s leash.

Every day and in countless ways, we can positively influence life. Remember that the online or media influencer of today could very well be tomorrow’s postscript. What endures is the infinite love of the human heart and its capacity to help, heal, and influence the most troubled soul in its most significant distress. One of the greatest blessings is to have a positive influence on someone’s life.


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.