When I was a senior in high school, my principal called my friend and I down to his office. He sat us down, looked us both in the eye and said, “You guys are both leaders. People follow you. You can either use your influence for good or bad. That choice is up to you.”
We walked away from that meeting and both laughed. “Leaders? Us? HA!”
I knew nothing about leadership or influence at that time in my life. Three months after graduating, a mentor handed me a leadership lesson on CD. When I listened to it, something went off in me and I’ve been studying leadership ever since.
It’s been ten years since that meeting with my principal. Looking back, I can see that what he shared with us was true. We were leaders and we did have influence. However, we did not use our influence for good.
When I look back and reflect on how I used my influence in high school, I realized that I used my influence to get people to try drugs, to party, to put others down, to exclude others, etc. While I know I was not the only reason, I realize that I helped people get into lifestyles that were destructive. Some of those people are still living destructive lives ten years later.
For me, that is unacceptable. While I can’t go back and undo how I did use my influence. I can use the influence I have today for good. In ten years, I want to see the people I influence now to be living great lives and doing great things, and to know that I had a small part in helping them get there!
Enough about me though, let’s talk about you. The question is not, do you have influence? You do. The question is, how are you going to use that influence?
Take a few minutes and answer these questions:
- Looking back, what impact has your influence had on the people who you influenced? Good or bad?
- Looking at your life right now, are you using your influence for good or for bad? In other words, are people’s lives better or worse as a result of spending time with you?
- Looking into the future, how do you want to use your influence? How can you develop yourself as a leader who uses your influence for good?
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