Influence Makes Me Sick

It was another beautiful morning. I got up, and with my wife, headed up for breakfast. Oh and it was good. Scrambled eggs, toast with butter, sausages, bacon – all that good, tasty, greasy breakfast food that makes the world a better place. And to top it off, we were sitting on a giant cruise ship, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, on our way to Hubbard Bay, Alaska. 

What I didn’t realize is that the ship was getting into some nasty weather, and the power of influence was about to take its toll on me. We headed out of breakfast straight to the business meeting that we were attending that morning.  We were seated in an auditorium area at one end of the ship. I was watching the guy on the stage as the curtains swayed, rather significantly, behind him. Now, I have a pretty strong stomach, but that influence thing started to wreak havoc on me as I watched people from the audience running out with their hands covering their mouths! I tried to tell myself, I feel fine; no problem here – It’s just “mind over matter” – think good thoughts…all that stuff.

You know how it works, though.  When you feel nauseous, your mind loves to mess with you by playing vivid images of your previous meal – the one still in your stomach, and perhaps wanting to leave, very quickly. Top that off with all the other people running out, with their hands over their mouths, kind of “convulsing” as they ran! I was doomed.

So, yes, I was sick, too. I was laying in the shower for a while, dry-heaving, while nearly half the ship was doing the same thing. My wife said nearly all the public rest rooms were closed – too messy to enter and too many to clean that fast. Just about everyone was in their cabins, the worst place to be.  But, then again, who wants to be out in public, tossing their breakfast! The captain eventually aborted the Hubbard Bay destination, due to the bad weather, but we did ultimately go on to enjoy a wonderful Alaskan Cruise.

Was I really sick? Not sure. But the power of suggestion, the influence of those around me, coupled with the thoughts of a greasy breakfast, and that darn swaying curtain, did me in. 

Influence is extremely powerful. We are influencing others, and they are influencing us. John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”.  While this illustration is a bit gross, it can be said that everyone influences, and, thereby, has some element of leadership responsibility.

How are you being influenced? And who are you influencing? Both are happening, all the time. As a leader in your workplace, your church, your community and your home – people are watching you – gaining permission to be lazy, take shortcuts, be impatient with others, and not follow through. Or they’re being inspired to be tenacious, do things right, show patience and kindness to others, and always keep their word. 

Who have you influenced this week? If they modeled your behavior, would you be proud or ashamed?

I think the answer we all want is obvious. Let’s be more deliberate in getting it.