The Value of Influence

The value of influence…

Similar words have been spoken in many different ways, and each one has the same meaning. We have the power to influence people, both positively and negatively. With our actions, with our words, with our nonactions, with our silence, with our strength, with our weaknesses, with the way we live our lives and with how we treat people, and so much more.

Everything we do, every decision we make that impacts us will also impact others. Think I’m wrong? If you use drugs, it harms you. If you steal money so you can buy those drugs, it not only harms you but it harms those who you stole from. If you get high and you get behind the wheel of a car and get into a car accident, you not only damage your car, but someone else’s. Heaven forbid someone in the other vehicle is hurt, or worse, killed. That is the power of your decisions, which influences the behavior of others.

Still think I’m wrong?

If you are in that accident while under the influence, and you kill someone, that person’s loved ones will be effected, their decision making could be changed on how they feel about DUI/DWI and how they feel about you, the person who caused the accident that killed their loved one.

On New Year’s Day 2012, a drunk driver hit a car at 10:30 in the morning. That car was carrying a family heading to church. The father was hurt, as was the mother. The oldest child was shook up. The youngest was killed. It altered that family’s life and that driver’s life as well, forever. That little girl will not grow up, get married, have children, become a grandmother.

The driver’s family was shocked and ashamed of what their son had done. They were saddened and angered and heartbroken as well. Two families lives were changed because of one action, something that could have been prevented. It was a negative on so many lives.

That is the power of decisions, which influence what happens when they are made.

Then there is the true power of influence, an action that someone sees that either empowers them to do something or influences what someone does.

I love this commercial:

Did you watch it? One person’s good deed led another person to do something good as well.

Flip that. One person’s bad attitude, bad day can have the same influence on those around him/her. If you snap off at someone because things aren’t going well for you, then you could influence that person’s day to going from good to bad in seconds.


We have the power to influence, the power to help folks who are struggling, the power to say a kind word instead of a negative one. We have the power to change our own attitudes, and in the process help others do the same.

Our world is in dire need of positive influences. We see so much negativity on the news, on television shows, in movies, during sporting events, at work, at home… and the list just goes on and on and on. We are an unhappy people, and so many of us are influenced by our negative surroundings.

Michael Jackson sang about changing his ways, changing our ways in the song, Man In the Mirror. I love the song, the meaning.

Talk about the power of influence. Can you—can we—make a positive difference in someone’s life? Tell someone they are special. Compliment someone on a job well done or for just being a good person. Give a struggling person a boost of confidence. Say something nice, or better yet, do something nice.

As I said earlier, our world is in dire need of some positive influences, but that doesn’t mean some celebrity needs to be that positive influence. You have the power to influence people around you, both negatively and positively.

You can make a difference.

Back to the story about the family who was hit by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day of 2012. After the youngest child died, the father and mother sought out the driver who caused this horrible tragedy. They didn’t seek him out to yell at him, to blame him for their daughter’s death, to curse him. They sought him out to forgive him…

I don’t know if I could have done that, but that is true power of positive influence.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Chain Letters and Important Lessons

I get a lot of chain letters in my inbox each week–at least two or three a day on slow days. You know those things that say if you do this or that and make a wish and stand on your head and clap your hands while spinning in a circle three times then you will get your wish and life will be grand for you. But if you don’t do what the chain letter says to do then seven years of jock itch will come your way or you will become a poor person living down by the river in a van. (Please tell me someone got the reference there.)

Almost all of these chain e-mails come from people I know and for the most part they get deleted without so much as one word read.

This morning my good friend, Lincoln, sent me an e-mail. It was a chain letter. Just so you understand, he’s like me: chain mails are generally used to wipe his digital behind and flushed down the internet toilet and sent into the vast void of nothingness called Deleted. I read all the e-mails he sends me–there is always a purpose with everything he does, so there had to be some rhyme or reason as to why he sent this.

The subject line read: IMPORTANT LESSONS.

With the way it was written I thought my good buddy had penned it. I asked him about this and he said no, it’s a chain letter, but that it was too good for him NOT to send it to a few people.

I, for one, am happy he sent it to me.

Let me share with you the e-mail, minus the chain part:

Five Lessons About the Way We Treat People

1 – First Important Lesson – Cleaning Lady

During my second month of college, our professor Gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the Cleaning woman several times. She was tall, Dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2 – Second Important Lesson – Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American Woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally Unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960’s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached.

It read:

“Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.

Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”


Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 – Third Important Lesson – Always Remember Those Who Serve

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.

“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.
By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, Were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 – Fourth Important Lesson – The Obstacle in Our Path

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and couriers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 – Fifth Important Lesson – Giving When it Counts

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.


Let me add a couple of things to this, if you don’t mind.

A couple of weeks ago, my best friend, Keith, and I were walking down the street when a car suddenly shut off at the intersection we were about to cross. Several cars went around the vehicle and I saw more than a couple of drivers give dirty looks to the owner of the broke down car.

An older gentleman got out of the vehicle–one of those smaller SUV types–and began to try and push it out the road. I went over to him and asked if he wanted me to help him.

The man gave me this bewildered look and I asked him again. He finally said ‘Yes, if you don’t mind.’

I grabbed up my buddy and we started to push the vehicle. There were two problems wit this:

A: There were no parking spots along that stretch of road.

B: Everything electrical had shut down in the vehicle, which meant there was no power steering or any other electrical component that would make it easy to move the vehicle.

Keith and I pushed the car a full block and into the parking lot of the Supreme Court. It was all uphill. By the time we were done, my legs were burning, but I felt good. I had helped someone in genuine need. No reward was needed, no thanks was expected.

That’s the way it should be.

My daughter and son show examples of this all the time. I’ve written about them in the past, about some of their unselfish deeds.

Tomorrow I’ll repost something I put up on my old blog about my daughter, but for now I’ll say something about my son.

When we go places and spend money on our kids, my son always asks, ‘How much is that?’ We tell him not to worry about the cost, if it’s too much we’ll tell him. And he always looks at us with sad eyes and says, ‘I don’t want you to spend all your money on me.’

Sometimes, he’ll say, ‘Daddy, do you have enough money for that?’ If I say no, he offers me his little Lightning McQueen wallet and says, ‘Take my money and buy it.’

The boy’s a giving little dude, that’s for certain. And he doesn’t just do it with money, but food and other things as well.

The lesson for today is certainly how you treat people goes a long way, not just for the people you come in contact with, but for you also. Doing good things for people makes you feel good inside.

I love the Liberty Mutual commercial that shows one person helping someone and another person seeing it and then doing something nice for somebody else. Kind of like dominoes, creating a chain reaction, each person reacting to someone else’s kindness.

Life should never be about what’s in it for us. It shouldn’t be about how this can make me look good or what can I gain out of this. Life–understand that I am talking about LIFE here–should be about putting that best foot forward and helping others.

It doesn’t mean just giving money to people. It means giving of your time. Your abilities. Your resources. Your ear–listening is important. Putting yourself second is one of the hardest things to do, but that’s really what the good life is all about.

Jesus did it.

Soldiers do it.

Firemen do it.

Teachers do it.

Police officers do it.

Politicians do not do it.

However, one football player in Aledo, Texas did. Johnathan Gray, a young man soon to play football for Texas, gave of his time–which for the number one running back recruit in America is pretty valuable in the sports world–when he consistently visited, Leah Vann, a young lady with Leukemia, and a student at the school he attended.

The article appeared in Sports Illustrated and you can read it here: Adelo’s Gray More Than Top Talent

In today’s world of selfish, me first athletes, this is refreshing. Heh… in today’s world that’s refreshing.

While you’re out and about, if you see someone in need, even if it means simply holding the door for a person with their hands full, take a moment and lend a hand. Don’t wait for a thank you or a reward. Do it out of kindness.

Help a friend.

Help a stranger.

Help a loved one.

Help a co-worker.

Help a fellow student.

This isn’t about writing, though if you wanted the context to be so, you could help other writers by buying their books, telling folks about them and using that word of mouth that goes a long distance these days.

A word of caution: If you are one who asks what’s in this for me, then helping others is not for you. The only true reward in helping others is the satisfaction of doing a good deed.

One more thing and I’m done for today. If you see a soldier, you tell them thank you. You tell them you appreciate what they’ve done for this country, for your freedom.

With that I say to Lincoln and Keith, both soldiers, thank you for all you do and all you’ve done.

Until we meet again, my friends…