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How to start growing significant influence in 23 ways

The Ladder Climber

Why is it that some people are able have a significant influence on the lives of others?

And yet, some of their views  are controversial or highly critical of others or their actions, aren’t they? Is this your reaction:

I would never say that!

Maybe you wouldn’t.

Without being crass, how can you get on top of the pile?

Here’s the sauce:  When you can’t, or don’t, talk about what matters to you, you’re only repeating the gossip and doings of others. And that will never make YOUR name.

That’s why you’re only average. That’s why you’re barely off the bottom of the ladder. That’s why no one has heard of you, or cares.

Awesome people are considered so because they inspire others. If you aren’t inspiring anyone, you’ll have to carry the drinks for those who are.

Life doesn’t have to be meh

You CAN decide to be the director in your movie, leave average on the cutting-room floor and screen your own epic.

Colin Powell has a word of encouragement,
from his book My American Journey:

“You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

You can change the picture of your life starting today. And it doesn’t matter how far down the slide you are. The ladder to epic is always there. You just have to climb it. Here’s 23 ways to awesome.

1. Learn Mr Good Enough’s Awful Secret

Terrible but true: The thirst for speed and ‘instant answers’ has pushed diligence and excellence into the background. More-or-less right is ok, ok?

Sometimes yes; sometimes no.

Learning when to play the ‘good enough’ card will help you a lot.

When you’re beginning something and feeling tentative, a start will release a few jitters and show people you’re serious. Waiting till all the bugs you haven’t yet found are sorted will only delay you into irrelevance.

If your thing pretty much works; if it definitely solves a problem, then it’s good enough to show. Stand up. Ship it.

But when you’re servicing a client need; when you’re fixing a problem your system somehow failed to find, ‘good enough’ is not.

When you want to be seen as a neo-god, do the dirty stuff. That’s the way you’ll find yourself on Facebook.

2.Decide to Communicate the Things that Matter

Entry to Stanford’s MBA program is impossibly competitive. And as part of the selection process, you have to submit a 750 word essay about ‘What matters’.

What matters to Stanford?

According to alumni ambassador Heriberto Diarte, it’s:
“. . . people who have strong values, and who want to have a positive impact in the world.”

Decide what you stand for, and will defend. The word authentic is so overworked it’s becoming less meaningful.

Nevertheless, your best weapon for breaking out of the crowd is the frequency and conviction with which you defend your values.

Can you speak with confidence about your values, and do you live in a way that demonstrates your commitment to them?

It’s your first step in making an extraordinary difference. Extraordinary differences are what people tweet about.

3.Act Like You’re Dating

Be yourself. Talk about what matters. Leave an impression of someone who cares about what you do and wants to serve.

Aim to inspire those who hear your vision and solutions.

Think back. You can likely recall a teacher who stood out among the rest.

I can.

I didn’t achieve much in my high school classes. With one exception. In one year, in one subject, I created work that put me at the top of my class. That teacher so inspired me that I produced results that amazed even him.

What made the difference? The teacher didn’t do the work, after all. The difference in my results happened because I found within me a reason to practice until, for a while, I could get better results than anyone else.

If you inspire people through your belief, your actions or your results, they’ll tweet about you.

4. Speak The Future You Want.

Talk about the vision you see. And talk about it in a positive way, for attitude matters as much, or more, than desire.

Robert Kiyosaki tells the story of coming to a crossroad in life, when he had to decide who to follow.

Whose advice made sense?

“Rich Dad believed that words were a person’s most important tool. He constantly reminded me to watch the words I spoke, simply because he believed that the words you speak and the words you think ultimately become the world you live in.”

Which world are you actively creating with your words and thoughts?

5. Learn From The Sleeping Hare

You’ll have heard the tortoise and hare story many times, often, no doubt. And you probably rejoice, as I do, when the underdog – a slow tortoise – beats a foolish hare who wastes away his hours sleeping under a tree.

It’s a powerful parable that offers several lessons. But the important ones are nothing to do with any action the tortoise took.

Slow and steady wins the race?

It rarely happens if an opponent has superior ability.

Most readers and coaches are distracted by the tortoise’s hypnotic plod. But the tortoise didn’t win because he was persistent. He won because the hare opted out. The hare had other priorities, which included showing he could win without doing the basics.

What are your priorities today? Will your goals be advanced in some tangible way? Are you allowing distractions to delay your pursuit of the goals you say are important?

If you aren’t giving your goals priority, do they really match your values?

6. Talk About Needs, Not Deeds

Have you painted many walls; have you served a million customers? While the service you’ve given in the past is one measure of your usefulness, referring to it shouldn’t be your priority.

The way to ensure your service is continually relevant and desired is to focus on what’s needed – or wanted now – rather than on what you’ve decided you’re good at doing.

I recall a new business that opened in my town, on a busy main road with ample passing traffic. But the Lollipop Trading Company store was small. Their main line seemed to be mailboxes. And very few people are unhappy with their mailbox. Lollipop Trading Company was attempting to fix a problem that didn’t exist. The store soon closed.

You won’t be linked to or shared if people don’t need what you do.

Are you talking about the problems you can solve, or simply the services you like to deliver?

7. Strengthen Your Strong Side

Achieving success means consistently committing yourself to follow a certain path. You’ll find the road much easier if you enjoy the daily routine.

Think back to activities you thought you did well. You probably used one or more key skills in those activities. The thing to recall is not the activity itself, but the aspect of that activity that brought pleasure.

As a child, I made a model theater, and also a play house, from real timber on an empty lot. While a teen, I wrote a novel and started a magazine. The elements of design, building, writing, and working alone have recurred throughout my adult years and I am happiest and most productive when these elements are prominent in my work.

Maybe you’ve been rock climbing, and love it. But you might have been attracted (to rock-climbing) for many reasons. You might like the adrenaline rush you get when you climb with bare hands, because you like taking risks. Perhaps you revel in the role of organizer, as you enjoy finding, and checking equipment. And maybe you feel powerful and successful when guiding others through a dangerous activity you’ve gained some mastery in.

There are lots of ways you could ‘love’ rock climbing, or any activity, or role.

You’ll have memories of many activities you thought you did well over the years. Consider the commonalities between them. What circumstances or relationships recur? Do you recall being happiest in a team, or on your own?

Reflect on your own lessons from the past. You’ll likely be most competent at the tasks you enjoy. Competence inspires people, and they’ll share your work.

8. Set yourself on fire when you’re with others

When you get an opportunity to explain your vision and direction, grab it. And sear the minds of those you interact with in a way they will never forget.

Increase the odds that someone will share your story. Look for any opportunity to present it.

If you can’t be present ‘live’, make and share a video. Set yourself ‘on fire’ with passion as you explain what you do.

Obviously you’ll need to know and believe in your vision very deeply. But if you want to be considered awesome, you need a vision that sets you alight. And you might want it to continue beyond your life. What meaningful things will you leave behind as your legacy?

Andrew Carnegie left libraries but you don’t have to leave physical things.

Some people leave marks on our souls, not the land.

Inspiring evangelist Nick Vujicic creates a mind shift in everyone he meets, even if they have no interest in Christianity.

Find Nick Vujicic on Facebook

What achievement would mean the most to you? Why?

And why will it mean something to others?

9. Serve As Many People As You Can

If you aren’t currently contributing to others, consider changing your lifestyle to do so. A fast way to get noticed is by giving great service, in any field.

You could volunteer somewhere, if you can’t think how to sell your knowledge just yet.

You’re in the best place to judge where you’ll be most effective. You know your abilities and values. And you don’t want to feed trends; you want to create them.

Reflect carefully on what people say is needed.

Many people have strong views about the things that are wanted ‘right now’. Some of those observations are astute. Others are fanciful or unimaginative. Henry Ford said people would have told him ‘a faster horse’ if he’d asked them how they thought transportation could be improved.

When you decide how to contribute, don’t be limited by current fashion, or what ‘everyone says’.

10. When You Make Promises, Keep Them

This is a biggie. Broken promises litter our world like golf balls on a driving range.

Is your life destined to leave little sign it ever happened, like an eco-tourist’s trek through a national park?

Be different. Start keeping your word!

Once you’re sure of your resolve, start promising things that will push you. Promise things others won’t commit to – or don’t deliver when they do. Then life will get interesting. And people will talk.

However, if you’re undecided about being awesome, you’ll probably keep taking action that sends a message that signals unreliability, that you really don’t care.

And what about when you break your word to yourself?

“I’m definitely going to swear off sugar.”

Break a promise to yourself and your self esteem takes a hit. Plus, your promises will start to lose their binding effect on you. You’re better off not to give your word, at all, if you’re going to ignore it.

But if you want to be awesome, decide to be the one people turn to. Keep your word.

11. Avoid weaknesses

When you practice or study something you aren’t very good at – and don’t like doing – you may pass a test. But what then? Will you ever have anything to do with that subject again?

Unlikely, right?

While I was at high school, I had to enroll for end of year exams several months in advance. I didn’t like the compulsory French, so didn’t enroll for the coming exam.

What a rebel!

After I announced my decision, the master accepted I wasn’t doing any more French, and I had five extra hours each week to study things I did like.

Once you have the resources to get assistance in areas of weakness, cease working there. Accept these two truths:

  1. Your time is too valuable to use ineffectively
  2. Employing people with better skills than you, in areas you have no interest in mastering, will allow you to do more things you ARE good at.

Use your time where you’re the most effective.

12. Ensure your most valuable asset is intangible

If my son had to choose his favorite possession, he’d probably pick his Mercedes.

Whereas . . .

Someone who has just escaped a tyranny might value their freedom more than anything else.

What about you? Would you go out in a storm to help someone, with your own safety at risk? Maybe the storm in your neighborhood ripping families apart is not a tornado but a ill-conceived decision to build a new road.

I consider intangible assets more valuable than physical ones. And I’m not alone. People give their time and money selflessly  – and their lives – every year attempting to protect principles like freedom, justice and equality.

Look at a war memorial next time you pass one.

Some of those killed were volunteers: serving the greater good was important to them.

Is it important to you? Do others know?

13. Do something every day towards the world you want

You might write ‘how to’ books, philosophy or fiction. You might make video supporting the causes you champion. You might play music in the square or run for office.

But don’t let your values stand silently inside you. Don’t allow your vision to be missed in life’s noise. Find a way of shouting out your dream.

When people notice you, what do you want them to think about, tweet about or post predictions about on Facebook?

Entrepreneur Kimanzi Constable says if we doubt we’ll achieve success, it won’t happen. And he advises getting on with it. Kimanzi is working for the world he wants to see. Read his words

Start something happening today!

14. Embrace the secret code on your mind’s transmission

When does action happen in a car’s transmission?

Answer: when the selector points to Drive. And it’s the same in your life.

Drive gets things going. We get out of the way when people show drive: they are usually moving fast! Do you work in a team? The driver in any group is the one who thumps the table and calls for action.

That’s the identity you want. So push your internal selector to Drive and leave it there.

A clear message, and actions that match it, are both necessary if you want others to embrace your dream.

Few dreams are realized alone, but you’ll have to be take the lead before others will follow.

Consider how you’ll awaken others to the difference you’re making. It may be that your actions will speak much louder than any words. If you’re an artist, perhaps your art does all the talking.

Never stop driving your vision forward. To make a difference, you must illustrate the way you’re manifesting your ideas so others can understand them and support you.

15. Water your garden; ice your cake

If you plant a garden and don’t water it, nothing will grow. You’d have wasted your time. If you make a cake that needs decorating, and you don’t do it, your product looks unfinished. It may be eatable, but . . .

How many times have you changed course in life?

A project not completed is a terrible thing to see.

Why? It’s because those who began it got no reward for the time invested. Those who worked on it are discouraged, and a little older. Life isn’t that long. It’s foolish to waste hours.

When my parents died, they had lived for less than half the adult years they might have expected. How old are you? And how much more time do you think you have? You may see your end coming, and you don’t want regrets. Use every moment sensibly.

You can help yourself by getting a firm handle on your values and vision. When you know what’s important, and where you’re heading—with no doubts—you’re much less likely to waste your days on the wrong projects.

Once you start something, be enterprising. Anticipate problems before they arise, so your journey isn’t stopped. Organise what’s required ahead of time.

Common sense? Not as common as it used to be . . .

16. Dare

If you dare, you’ll make headlines.

Most people can’t or won’t. Or they just plain don’t.

Fear stops almost everyone from doing almost everything they’d like to. How much dancing in the streets might there be, you’d wonder, if everyone who felt like dancing just did it.

The good news about fear is that you don’t have to learn how to get over it.

You just decide to live with it, to manage it, and to act regardless. The truth is that many successful people report a terrible fear of failure even after becoming well known in their field. But they learned to manage it. You can too.

Will you fail? Possibly. Will you keep trying?

That is up to you. Most people don’t.

But awesome people do.

17. Live A Hard-Knock Life

The best experiences and knowledge comes from that ‘school of hard knocks’.

Many people are not working in roles that suit them, despite having had an expensive college education. Unsatisfactory work may bring a paycheck. It will not fulfill your potential.

A college environment is simply a structured framework to practice the skills you are learning. You don’t get a complete understanding of your vocation until you are out working in the world.

And that is when disappointment will descend over you like a chilling fog if you realize you trained for a role that doesn’t satisfy you.

If your dream isn’t happening, consider what you can do to change things. There are plenty of ideas in this list.

However, you may have missed college, for whatever reason, and qualified at the school of hard knocks like I did. Well done you.

Have you found work that suits your values and strengths? If not, keep looking, or create the position you want in a business you own. Many have done it.

I didn’t get a degree in architecture, but a while back I built an architecture practice and designed a lot of expensive homes.

I wanted to do it. There was a lot I needed to learn quickly. I made a few expensive mistakes. But I’d wanted to design homes since I was a boy. So I figured out how to do it.

I still don’t have a college degree in anything. But I don’t feel disqualified from anything I want to do.

And neither are you.

Go, succeed, and be awesome while doing it, whatever it is.

18. Practice the two-step until you can do it automatically

Your first step into adventure begins a process. But one step is just a ‘toe in the water’, able to be retracted if you change your mind.

You seal the decision to start by taking another step. Both feet have now moved; you’re on your way. Naturally, the actual ‘steps’ you must take are different for any venture. But each one taken advances the endeavor a little further.

Small steps are just as effective as big ones if you take enough of them. And a decision to consistently take a small step will cement a habit.

Developing some new habits is an effective way to get in the ‘two step’ groove. And the more days you continue a new habit, the more likely it is to become routine.

What new habits might be helpful?

Everyone’s routines are different. But any disciplines that measure productivity are helpful in focusing your attention on where improvements need to be made.

Unfortunately, most people won’t even start a new habit if it involves any noticeable effort or doesn’t have an immediate pay off. Thus, if there was a practice track for new habit-starters, you’d probably find it deserted most of the time.

But if you’re heading for awesome, make and take your new habits with you. The road will be easier.

19. Sweat: Aim For Mastery

When you’re aiming for exceptional, you have to offer something others don’t.

You’ll want mastery in something, the equivalent, say, of an apprenticeship in a craft and many years work experience. You want to be one of the best at what you do.

And that takes time.

Athletes know you can’t practice a few hours and start winning. It takes effort. And sweat.

Michael Jordan was typically blunt about it:

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.”

When you train one of your talents, for example: athleticism; dexterity; or story-telling; through deliberate practice, or you study a subject until you master it, you develop a proficiency.

You might have, say, a feeling, and love, for dance and rhythm which you train until you become good enough to enter competitions and work professionally as a dancer.

It’s not rocket science, unless that’s your field. Proficiencies are developed from strengths you have, deliberately trained.

Proficiency at a high level sets you apart. People will want interviews.

20. Carry a Life-Path GPS

Where are you in life? Where are you heading? What is it that nags away inside you?

Most of us have dreams and talk about them, at least to our close friends, before we grow out of innocence. At that point we get a whitewash of reality, and realize life’s mostly about conforming to expectations.

But your dream is still there, isn’t it?

Don’t let it escape!

When you have a idea consuming you, even if it only exists in your imagination, you can plan a route. Keep at it! Work it out!

Everything mankind has ever done began like that.

Author Robert Fritz suggests this test to help you realize if you still want something:

“If you could have it, would you take it?”

Would you?

Then take steps towards it. You can.

Warren Buffett doesn’t waste words.

“The truth is, so few people really jump on their jobs, you really will stand out more than you think. You will get noticed if you really go for it.”

You might not make the cover of Rolling Stone. But there are other magazines.

21. Find the most important thing and give it away

Give a little out and receive a lot back?

Unfortunately, the reciprocity principle has been taken out of context and dumbed-down so much that a lot of the ‘giving’ that happens is a travesty of this principle.

But giving to others will still advance your cause if you do it right. And that means sharing what is seen as genuinely valuable by the recipient.

Several years ago, a best-selling parable by Bob Burg and John David Mann—The Go-Giver—captured eloquently the gist of what people want: things they consider valuable.

The book’s easy-to-understand message is that to succeed you must create value for others before expecting to receive any back. And this doesn’t mean giving ‘stuff’.

The Go-Giver’s Law of Authenticity says that the most valuable gift is yourself, which in practical terms is the values and principles you visibly support.

You got it: the most important thing you can share is your passion for the environment you want and advocating for, assuming you are focused on improving the lives of others.

And you are, aren’t you?

22. Convey Belief

Most people crave inspiration, even more than they want any ‘valuable stuff’.

People who decide to follow you will watch to hear what you believe, look at the actions you take in support of those beliefs, and assess the results you achieve.

Of course, we do like ‘stuff’, especially if it’s free.

But we have plenty of information already.

If you want to be seen as awesome, as one of those leaders with a broad influence, then help people to believe in themselves.

Can you inspire people, through your stories and messages, to believe they can achieve their dreams?

People are hungry for inspiration. Will you supply it?

23. Bust your ass, as if your values are on the line

Communicate your feelings about the environment you want, with passion.

Promote (as in communicate about) things that matter to you, but don’t waste precious moments on issues that only matter to others. Speak from a genuine position: demonstrate that you live and breathe the cause or the message.

You’ll be heard if you do this.

Salesmen also speak with passion. But the things they offer often have nothing in common with their own values. And it shows, doesn’t it?

What about you?

Are you going to climb that ladder today, or keep sliding away from what really matters?

Anthony Smits - The Ladder Climber

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