Insights About Influence - John Maxwell


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Before we get into the particulars of how influence with others works and how to develop it, let’s nail down a few important insights about influence:


1. Everyone Influences Someone

My friend Tim Elmore, the founder of Growing Leaders, once told me that sociologists estimate that even the most introverted individual will influence ten thousand other people during his or her lifetime.

Isn’t that amazing? Every day you influence others. And you are influenced by others. That means no one is excluded from being both a leader and a follower. If you are observant, you can discover the prominent leader of any group.

Titles and positions don’t matter. Just watch the people as they gather. As they work to resolve an issue or make a decision, whose opinion seems most valuable?

Who is the person others watch the most when the issue is being discussed? Who is the one with whom people quickly agree? Whom do others defer to and follow? Answers to these questions point you to who the real leader is in a particular group.

You have influence in this world, but realizing your potential as a leader is your responsibility. If you put effort into developing yourself as a leader, you have the potential to influence more people and to do so in more significant ways.


2. We Don’t Always Know Who Or How Much We Influence

One of the most effective ways to understand the power of influence is to think about the times you have been touched in your life by a person or an event.

Think about the people who influenced you in a powerful way, or the little things that meant a lot to you. I can point to the influence of a camp I attended as a youth and how it helped determine my career choice.

My seventh-grade teacher, Glen Leatherwood, began to stir a sense of calling in my life that I continue to live out today in my seventies.

When my mother bought bubble lights for our family Christmas tree, there was no way for her to know that they would evoke the feeling of Christmas in me every year.

The affirming note I received from a professor in college kept me going at a time when I was doubting myself. My list is endless. So is yours.

We are influenced every day by so many people. Sometimes small things make big impressions. We have been molded into the people we are by those influences. And we mold others, often when we least expect it.

Author and educator J. R. Miller said it well: “There have been meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity. 

No one of us can understand that mysterious thing we call influence . . . yet out of every one of us continually virtue goes, either to heal, to bless, to leave marks of beauty; or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to stain other lives.”


3. The Best Investment In Tomorrow Is To Develop Your Influence Today

What’s your greatest investment possibility for the future? The stock market? Real estate holdings? More education? All of these things have value.

But I would argue that one of the best investments you can make in yourself is to develop your influence.

Why? Because if you have the desire to accomplish something, you will be in a better place to do it if others are willing to help. In the book Leaders, Warren G. Bennis and Burt Nanus say, “The truth is that leadership opportunities are plentiful and within reach of most people.”

That’s true in businesses, volunteer organizations, and social groups. If you’re an entrepreneur, those opportunities are multiplied exponentially. The question is, will you be ready for them when they come?

To make the most of them, you must prepare for leadership today and learn how to cultivate influence and use it positively to make a difference.



John C. Maxwell, 10 Lesson Developing The Leader Within You, pg. 16-18

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