When I was studying in Mumbai, I was happily walking in to my hostel one day and said “Hi, how are you?” to one of my hostel-mates. I went into my room and the girl came right behind me with tears in her eyes. Surprised, I asked her, ‘what happened?’ She said that she really felt good that I took the time to notice her and greet. She was feeling lonely and thought that nobody cared in this big city. I sat and spoke to her for some time. By the time she left the room, she had a lovely smile on her face. I was pleasantly surprised that something as simple as a hello had such a deep impact on someone. From then on, I made it a point to be more intentional while greeting people.
We might think that our role is only that of a father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister, boss/team member, friend, neighbor etc. But if we pause and look at a different perspective – our circle of influence is much larger than that. For example, if you had a fight in the morning with someone at home, it leaves an impact on them and you (consciously or sub-consciously). When they meet other people your impact is getting extended to them in some form. In turn, when the others meet many others the scope of your impact extends further. This means that each of us, even in our tiniest and minimalist of interactions, impact or influence at least tens of people each day, without even our awareness. This, when expounded into days, weeks, months or years, actually means we impact many, MANY lives in our lifetime.
Think about the incidents that have stayed with you from your childhood or any phase of your life. Situations that may not have been significant for others may have had a deep impact on you. And those may have influenced your personality, thoughts, beliefs or actions in some form.
Likewise, when we hit or even verbally abuse a child, it’s not just about that child or that moment anymore. It impacts the adult that the child is going to grow into and that adult will impact many others. It isn’t the best of memories for that child. It may have created a sense of fear or helplessness. Think about a time when you said something in a moment of anger or irritation that you did not mean. It would’ve left an undesirable impact for a long time. Somehow, our mind has the capacity to store the not-so-positive incidents with greater intensity for longer time. If you receive 10 compliments and 1 criticism, where are you more likely to place your focus on?
It’s not just my parent, my sibling, my child, my spouse or my friend anymore. Things have a long lasting impact on the world around us in many subtle ways.
If one person breaks a queue, we suddenly see many others wanting to do the same.
If one person tries to squeeze their way on the wrong side of the road, many others soon want to follow.
Each of us is aware of how someone else has impacted us. Are we aware of how we are impacting others through our words, actions or humor?
We may not be able to change anyone but ourselves. But we CAN, and ARE always influencing others.
What is the influence and impact you wish to have?