Upon reading many biographies or hearing people's personal stories, one or two significant influencers usually come into view. They may or may not have been intentional influencers, and sometimes they were not benevolent.
Life-on-life influence is a powerful thing. How the digital age will undermine or enhance such relationships will be interesting to watch.
The digital age and social media have altered a previous understanding or expectation of influence. Now a celebrity or well connected social media user can send a tweet or post a comment that is then retweeted/reposted/repeated 10's or 100's of 1000's of times! Whether something is true or not, repetition can exert an influence previously unheard of!
But what about a kind encouragement from a teacher to a student, from a grandparent to a child? What about the confidence of a coach or artistic director or teacher that shapes the courage of a young person? What about a nod from a boss or trainer that changes things for an adult?
“You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important” is a memorable line in the movie The Help. After the character Aibeeelen witnesses the child (Mae Mobley Leefort) she is caring for being hurt over and over again by her mother, she decides to do something about it. Everyday she tells the young child in her care something good about herself.What difference might that make in the life of a child who would not have had any input other than her distracted, ignorant and selfish mother?
My mother's mother died when my grandmother was a small child. Who poured in to the heart of that little girl in the absence of her mother? How has that affected my family for generations now?
I was mentored by a woman who is 4' something. Her influence in my life, and in the lives of many others, has changed the world. The same is said of youth workers, community support workers, counsellors, school and university advisors, case workers, coaches and managers... quietly changing the world, in some of the least assuming ways, often over a coffee, an ice cream or bag of chips.
Think of orphans, underprivileged youth, struggling students or people who had seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome....think of average good kids or young adults or people in mid-life. Sometimes it is the voice of a caring adult that fuels the heart and mind and makes nearly anything possible.
Who has influenced you, or who are you influencing to realise their greater potential?