When I first started blogging in 2004, it surprised me how much people actually applied and tested the ideas I wrote about. I wasn’t sure how much traction there would be on the action side, so at first I was pleased to see that.
However, this also gave me a weightier feeling of responsibility, especially as more years went by. Being labeled an “influencer” is an accurate title because it was clear that I was influencing people to make real changes and consider different frames.
I took this responsibility seriously, so I’ve made an effort to be careful about what I post, and I do carefully consider how it may affect people because I know that much of this work does have a meaningful effect on people’s lives. I’ve written articles that have influenced people to quit their jobs, end relationships, or move to different cities. Fortunately this has resulted in a lot of gratitude coming back instead of regret, and since the work I do is about personal development, it’s a pretty positively focused endeavor anyway.
One thing I see happening in the world of social media is that more people are requesting – even demanding – higher standards from other influencers. People are asking more celebrities to take a stand on social issues. It’s not cool to be quiet or wishy washy anymore.
People who may have sidestepped leadership are being asked to step in leadership roles. I think this is all good. It’s obvious that the political leadership void needs to be filled somehow. The current state of the world is shaping more people into leaders.
I want you to consider another angle on this as well. It’s not just influencers that play a role in this. We all influence each other, often in subtle ways that fly under the radar. So do give some conscious consideration to how you’re influencing people these days, even if you don’t see yourself as an influencer.
People are impressionable, and you are influencing them whether you know it or not. You can shun that responsibility (like the POSITWH is doing), or you can accept and embrace this role.
I encourage you to take a stand on what matters to you. Sometimes your stance will be popular, and this will invite more support. Sometimes your stance will be unpopular, and this will invite rejection. Much of the time, you’ll be somewhere in the middle, attracting a mix of both. Don’t let the rejection aspect get you down. Just see it as one of life’s many tests to pass.
Note that you’re always being rejected. Either you can be rejected by the people who oppose what you genuinely stand for, or you can be rejected by those who see you as a coward for staying quiet. The first option invites support from aligned people. The second option just leaves you pretending.
I want to be rejected – by the people who ought to reject me. That helps me see I’m on the right track and that I’m standing up strongly enough for what matters to me enough. Rejection isn’t something to fear – it’s something to embrace.
If you influence people responsibly, you will be rejected by some for it. You’ll also be rejected by different people if you influence them irresponsibly. Which people do you want to reject you? Rational people or irrational people? Loving people or hateful people? Violent people or nonviolent people? Think about which people you’d prefer to reject you, and you’ll gain a clearer sense of where you ought to speak up and express yourself more powerfully.
Note that one of the biggest regrets people have later in life is that they kept quiet for too long and didn’t express their true selves nearly enough. I’m not going to have that regret, and I suggest that you do your best to avoid it too.
If you’re asking an influencer to step up and lead more, ask yourself if you’ve at least done the same, right where you are. Have you been expressing what’s true and meaningful for you? Or are you playing it safe? Are you merely regurgitating how you’ve been influenced, or are you carefully considering the ripples your influential activities can create?