As I was talking to a friend of mine the other night, I realized my experiences in life have brought me to where and who I am today. Ok, it sounds a little cliché, but as I was admiring the impressive career and resume of my friend, he asked how I got to where I am today. As I recounted my days in the fire service, I started to hear a story that didn’t sound so bad. Somewhat like Steve Jobs who stated he stitched his life experiences together to arrive at his pinnacle, I draw on many experiences that I had long forgotten. Ok maybe not Steve Jobs… but the concept is the same.
Influence is about changing hearts, minds, and behavior to produce meaningful, sustainable results. (Influencer: The Power to Change Anything)
The people I have met along the way, the instructors, mentors, haters and mostly my friends, all direct my path in some way. I have learned volumes from those whom which I admire as teachers or mentors (see earlier post; The Influence of My Dad.) The technical and academic knowledge and even emulation of character try to steal some charisma that they may have wielded. I believe I can recount the lessons learned from those who either did not like me or vice versa. The haters are watched closely. If we glean more from our visible world than our audible, then these folks are both inspiration of what not to do or how not to do it. Lastly, our friendships in life make us happy and give us the belonging and acceptance we crave. Your friendships are also bestowed upon those who will cast influence on you. I never want to hurt those who I call a friend. I also do not want to be reserved with my thoughts or words around those who I trust enough to call friend. This is the big one. Trust will allow someone to tell you, “that’s wrong” or “what were you thinking” and not offend you because it is coming from a trusted source that cares.
Putting it all together, these experiences will shape your thoughts. Your actions are another thing. Daniel Pink, best-selling author of Drive, explains that we are motivated in many ways, but nothing more powerful than these three factors;
“1) autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives, 2) mastery, the desire to continually improve at something that matters, and 3) purpose, the desire to do things in service of something larger than ourselves.”
Our motivations coupled with our exposures will be the “who” we are. How we employ our experiences, or learn from them, will result in our destination. If in fact our drive is pretty similar across all the who’s in who-ville, then we need to be very skilful with how the stitching of experiences is done. Follow the leaders that care for you. Be inspired by those that care enough to be brutally honest with you. Learn from your negative experiences like they are valuable teaching moments in life. And then finally, think about the impression you are leaving on those around you in life and ponder, will it be stitched into shaping someone else’s life or just forgotten?
A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure. (Proverbs 16:9)