For the last two months, I have been living in Granada, Nicaragua. We took intentional time to live as a family and process many projects and people we have in our lives. We needed this time for spiritual renewal and to re-imagine how to live moving forward. I hope in a few blog posts to unpack a few things that I thought about on this journey.
I met many new people in this small city. It occurred to me that I had no gain in relationships while I was present, rather just the purity of getting to know a new person. It was the truth in what making a friend is all about – mutual respect and admiration. To love my new neighbors. On the flip side, I realized the dilemma and agenda I too often struggle with in gaining influence.
Which do you most aspire to: Influence or Affluence? Would you rather have the opportunity to wisely direct the lives of others or would you rather personally gain from the lives of others?
The difference between these two mindsets can direct so much of our approach in relationships. It’s not a conversation I hear often talked clearly about, but it is an under-current that drives decisions. If we are gaining influence with desire of affluence haunting our choices, we run the risk of taking advantage of the people who we have been given the opportunity to lead. I think too often people say they want influence, but truly want affluence.
This is not new in some ways, but in other ways it is very new. As popularity of leaders gain, their value for appearances have always had an increased dollar that is associated. This is the story of a world we call celebrity. But, now celebrity is moving down to a social level. As we can now track the number of followers everyone has on Twitter and Facebook for all to see, so now there are quantifiable ways to monetize our reach. This results in the creation of strategies to increase followership with the hopes of increasing financial gain. If the phrase “Time is Money” is understood, we may want to realize that “Friends are Money” is a more true statement. In the past, there was social criticism of this type of thing, but in todays economy we subtly accept it as reasonable or maybe even understandable.
Here is my hope for the future: As the social era continues through our generation, authentic influencers will have the greatest voice. Social response will limit affluent gain as strategy. As our “friends” increase, the people who influence our lives with decrease. There will be few people who make all the difference in the way we live.
We should strive to be an influencer.
Have you ever experienced this tension? Have you seen it in others? Do you fight it yourself? Here are a couple check-points to consider this question for your own life and hopefully keep your aspiration in check.
1) Access – As you gain in both of these spaces, both influence and affluence, there becomes a natural rise in access to more places. It’s the VIP treatment that many people begin to realize. You get invited to more events. You get to go into special rooms. You are given unique experiences. Gifts may even be sent specially your way. Are you using this unique access to further your own personal gain or do you freely give of that access to others who are not in the room? How you respond to access is a key indicator of your pursuit of influence or affluence.
2) Time – As our influence and affluence expand, the things we choose to do become more dependent on how both of those continue to increase. We begin to make choices based on financial gain and quantity of impact. If these are the only two categories that we contribute our energy that affluence is driving our decisions. Make sure you build in moments that increase the opportunities of others. Let others be heros and give your time, energy and skill to help them regardless of any personal gain.
3) Affirmation – We all receive instant feedback through the heart of instagram, a thumbs up on facebook, or maybe a retweet on twitter. These are kind gestures by followers, but are not indicators of influence. When you are influencing the life of another human you will know by the words they share with you through letters, phone calls and personal notes. When we are influencing other people, many people will go out of the way to communicate how they care for your guidance.