The saying is, “You can’t be everything to everyone.” We all know that this is true.
In fact, whenever we want to do anything, one of the first questions we should ask ourselves is, “who am I doing this for?” When we do something for everybody it usually ends up being nothing for nobody. In fact, before producing this podcast I needed to think long and hard about who the audience is that I’d like to reach. Without knowing that I cannot possibly produce the message that would be appropriate to the audience.
The people that we do have the power to reach are what we can refer to as our circle of influence. Our circle of influence are the people who we have influence with. They will listen to us, they value what we have to say and thereby we can influence their attitudes or choices. One thing that very effective people do very well is identify very quickly their circle of influence. When they find themselves in a situation, before they proceed and try and do something about the situation the first question ask themselves is do I have the ability to actually influence this situation. If I don’t then it is out of my circle of influence and I am not spending my time wisely when spending it there. There may be someone who comes to us for help. If we can identify very quickly whether we can or cannot help them, in other words, whether they fall within or without of our circle of influence, this will serve not only us but also them. If someone comes to me with a financial problem I need to tell them that they need to speak to a person who works in finances. I simply don’t have the expertise to help them. I can still assist them with finding someone who works in finance but trying to help them with their finances would simply be unfair both to me and to them.
Accepting that which is our circle of influence and that which is beyond our circle of influence can sometimes be very difficult. The reason for this is because we can have a strong emotional attachment which makes us desperately want to be able to help another person. The classic example of this is a parent with their teenage child who won’t listen to them. This is, unfortunately, extremely common. We may know this from when we were teenagers and we may know this from our own teenagers. Now this is not exclusive to teenagers but it’s such a common example that I’ve chosen to use it. A parent desperately wants to see their child make the right choices. A very painful thing for a parent is to see their child make a terrible choice and not having the influence to get them not to. Why teenagers don’t listen to their parents is an entirely different discussion which has a lot to do with the way we parent. Very often we continue to attempt to influence her child not knowing what else to do and in the process only create greater distance between us and our child. This is for one reason. Because they are currently outside of our circle of influence. What we can and should do is find others who have influence over them and approach them about the issue and have them discuss it with our child. In fact, in life, very often the way to influence a situation or person is not directly but through another person who we know has influence.
In business we seem to know this very well. We always seek out being introduced to a new potential client. The introduction by someone that has influence with the potential client opens up the door to us, influencing the potential client to consider us.
There are ways to broaden our circle of influence. This is definitely something that we should pursue. How do we go about broadening our circle of influence? As with everything else there are 2 ways, without and within. One way people create influence is by becoming a status symbol, developing an air of importance about themselves or using name dropping to come across as powerful. This surely does create some more influence but it will usually be shallow and short-lived. When someone develops themselves to be a person who lives with integrity, genuinely care for others and genuinely value others, they become a source of true everlasting influence. There is nothing more valuable than the real deal. Someone who is true to themselves within and without and that is the way they are with others. This is actually a very valuable commodity because it is high in demand and low and supply. In other words, when you accept that your lack of influence on another has more to do with you than the other you are on the road to broadening your circle of influence in an everlasting way.
There is a spiritual teaching that says that every single soul is assigned a designated part of this universe which they are put here for to influence in a positive way. This would mean that in fact we must learn how to expand our circle of influence to ensure that we impact every part of the universe that has been designated for us. So I’d like to leave you with a question. What is it that is limiting your influence on others and what is the one thing that you need to do in order to expand your circle of influence.