Who's Leading Who?

Do I influence the people around me or do they influence me? Is my sphere-of-influence those I influence or those who influence me? Who's leading who?

Seth Godin wrote a post a few of days ago about a Fire in South Buffalo. He talked about how the media seems to play on our fears and when we react, we encourage them to continue.

"We get what we click on. Alas, we also get what others click on. And society does a poor job of marketing productive media to itself. We're consuming more media than ever before, but I'm not sure the mass media is making us much smarter, braver or more willing to take action."

We are more influenced by our surroundings than we'd like to admit. We dress alike, trim our beards or wear our hair (or the lack of it) alike. We talk like those around us and we tend to appreciate the things that are appreciated by people who are important to us.

His post got me thinking about sources and first actors. Often the first actor is the one who refuses to react. We make a difference when we choose our actions.  When we fail to choose our actions, we let others, the media or our sphere of influence, choose for us.

If our media isn't making us much smarter, braver or more willing to take action, who is? Do you have any peers, mentors, friends or anyone who does make you smarter, braver or more willing to take action? Do you have friends who pull you up, or challenge you to a higher level of performance?

Ways to lift others (and yourself):

  1. Challenge a friend to study a book together or work out together.
  2. Volunteer to work with a friend for a non-profit organization.
  3. Encourage a blogger - That's right, find a blogger or two who you appreciate and tell them.
  4. Write a blog post. Ask to guest post on a blog. Join Lead Change and write there. You don't have to write for the rest of your life, but do something new.
  5. Ask someone to mentor you for 4 weeks on an area where you're already strong, but you'd like to improve.
  6. Offer to help someone in your workplace who's junior to you.
  7. Buy someone's lunch without them knowing.
  8. Join a LinkedIn group where you can help others and take 10 minutes a day to participate in the discussions on that forum.
  9. Donate money anonymously to a charity.
  10. Make time to listen to others. Challenge yourself to learn 10 new things a week about your coworkers and remember those things for 4 weeks.
  11. Call someone who has helped you in the past, out of the blue, and just say "Thanks!"
  12. Write a handwritten Thank You note to someone and send it via snail mail.

List your ideas below, too. I'm sure there are thousands of ways to move the needle and lift others up.

We have to decide to be a thermostat and not a thermometer, every day. We have to resist the pull to a life of routine reactions to our circumstances. We must dig our heels in and resist the pull to mediocrity. We must be people who lift others and who challenge others or we won't have anyone to lift and challenge us.

Will you make someone smarter, braver or more willing to take action today?

Photo © Q - Fotolia.com

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