BY JEFF SHINABARGER
Let’s get real. Every week we open up our social apps and take a quick look at how many people are following us. We check the project account, personal account and business account. When we meet a new person, we check out their profile and quickly determine their level of influence based on the number that it says. Influence has become a number and we instinctively quantify our own and others with just a few clicks and searches. These little numbers are impacting who we think is important (including ourselves).
This is the new precedence that permeates our culture. Rising and falling. Up and Down. Known or unknown. Influence has become defined by the platform we control. Platforms are usually defined by quantity. There is always someone with a platform with more people than me or you. Which leads to this question: Is our value truly determined by the quantity of our followers?
This is the first time in history that every person could quantify their following and if you are like me, sometimes you wonder if this is good progress. These so called ‘levels’ of influence are driving much of our behavior. You are either at the top or you are looking up trying to get ‘there.’ We instinctively know more followers results in more attention. We make choices based on the quantity of reviews and the collective agreement of ratings. We pay money to boost exposure, followers, and reviews with the hope of a larger platform. And on a daily basis, we fuel the hype through our behavioral decisions.
So, on a personal level, why do we do this and why do we care? The problem is personal. We want to be seen and to be known. We want to be seen with people that are known.
What if we changed our view of the platform. What if a platform is only as important as how we use it. What if we valued a platform not by how many are watching, but by our intentionality and purpose?
I was crafting the message, stage, experience and content for a massive event, literally 14,000 people were listening. I chose to leave it all. It was an influential platform and shaping many thinkers in a specific audience. But I chose to leave. I remember getting messages from people trying to understand why? What I have found is that if I can help one person find why they exist, the exponential return is much greater than the platform I once influenced. When I give intention to the life of one person, it will always have a greater return than the appearance of a thousand.
We all have the ability to shape small circles that are around us everyday, this is what changes the world. The table where you are eating dinner. The family you are parenting. The marriage to your best friend. The team that you lead. The class that you teach. The program you run. The person you know through carpool. If those closest to you don’t feel your intentional love, encouragement and pursuit of their purpose - then your focus is probably only based on appearance. Appearance is no platform at all.
Now, what if you are leading an organization, one where you need more people to know the problem you are solving? This is the strategy that I have found for increasing your platform for your problem: make progress on the problem. Tell stories of people impacted by the progress. Solve the problem. Whenever you are making a true difference, your name will become known and it will be much more intentional.
Platforms are not bad if used with intention and not for attention. I recently learned a great lesson in conversation with Lecrae, a pioneer in much of his music career with a quantitatively large platform. He mentioned something I will never forget. “I want my ceiling to be the floor for others.” This simple thought is one of the greatest I have heard about platforms. When we build a platform for ourselves, its all about appearance. When we lift up the dreams of others, it’s all about intentionality. When we build a platform for the sake of others, it gives reason to quantity.
A platform is only as good as how you use it. Whether your platform is five or five thousand, you have the ability to help shape the purpose of others through it.