Influence isn’t something that you can measure with numbers.


Mentoring a child is real influence
Influencers don’t get with the program. They define the program. (Click to Tweet)

I used to care about things like my Klout score, my Twitter followers, and my blog subscribers. One day twenty people would sign-up, the next day only three. And I’d wonder, “What did I do wrong on the three-subscriber day?”

But a funny thing often happened on those days. Those were the days when I got emails and comments that said:

Your post today changed my life.

I now have the courage to talk to my boss.

I will be a better father today.

When I get to work, I’m going to finally have that talk I’ve needed to have with one of my team members.

Thank you for being there and sharing your life with your friends/fans/followers!

Comments and emails like that are immeasurable.

How do you put a number on “changed my life?”

How do you quantify “courage to talk to my boss?”

What is the value of making one father better?

One changed life, one courageous employee standing up for his beliefs, one better father. The impact of those three things could reach beyond my wildest imagination.

The lie we’ve been told

At some point we were told that what others thought of our creation, our thoughts, our writing or singing was what mattered. Most of us bought into that lie.

That lie tells us that a negative critique is disapproval, that it makes what we created less valid or meaningful.

That lie tells us that a Retweet equals importance or impact.

That lie tells us that influence can be measured. Measured by follower count or some ridiculous algorithm.

That lie leads to FEAR.

FEAR of rejection,

FEAR of reaction,

FEAR of loss.

Followers gained means you are doing the right thing. Followers lost means you have been a bad boy or girl and need to get back with the program.

Live this way and you’ll never change the world. You’ll only be a sheep in the herd.

Real influence

Influencers don’t get with the program. They define the program.

One person mentoring one hurting child who lives in abject poverty with an abusive stepfather and a drunk mother…and watches him end up graduating from college with honors…that person has influence. (As an aside, mentoring for impact is not exclusive to poor children with abusive parents. The rich, white kid who goes to private school and drives a BMW to school every day needs a mentor just as much as anyone)

Influence one person today. Don’t buy into the lie saying that is not enough.

You can truly change the world by changing one life.

I believe in you.

This community here believes in you.

I look forward to hearing your story.

And to those who wrote those notes to me and left those comments…my heart smiles because of you.

Who can you influence today?

16 thoughts on “The Lie of Influence

  1. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    Been there. We should share stories 😉

  2. Kathy Leicester says:

    The post today made me weep in that good way that seems a little bit like what heaven promises to be.
    Thank you!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Yesterday I made Skropp think he is crazy, today I make you cry. Good start to the week. 🙂

      1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        you didn’t make me think I was crazy…you just accused me of being crazy 😉 haha.

  3. Great! I was thinking about this the other day. Impact is much more important than reach. You need the second to get to the first, but you can’t evaluate your success by counting.

    You have definitely had impact.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Thank you Jim. That means a lot!

  4. Lily Kreitinger says:

    Influence does not equal fame. I’d rather be unknown to the masses and change one life than to get lost in a false sense of greatness.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      It just occurred to me…if Mother Teresa was never quoted and we didn’t know her name, would her life have been any less meaningful?

  5. Steve Pate says:

    Those I do business with today, to show them their materials does matter to further the mission of Tall Timber Ranch!

    And my baseball team, last night I was pretty hard on my guys, today I’m going to make sure to dump tons of encouragement and a bunch “I believe in you’s” tonight, and I mean it, nut just saying it.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Do it!

      Most people (not all but most) are harder on themselves than you will ever be. What they need from you tonight is empowerment and encouragement.

  6. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Awesome post my friend. Who can I influence? I had a meeting with a guy this morning that I’m working on some projects with. It is safe to say that he influenced me this morning and that I influenced him. Both to take steps to our dreams.
    I intend to influence my children and my wife and I’m sure there will be several more people throughout the day!
    The great thing is that, often times, we won’t ever know that we influenced someone! It’ll just happen as we are the kind of person that we should be!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Two-way influence…I like it 🙂

  7. Tom Dixon says:

    I loved the post today, but I still tweeted it…hope you don’t mind. This is the perfect reminder that what we do that won’t be noticed (taking that time to mentor a co-worker, etc) is just as important as what gets us more “followers.”

  8. Jon Stolpe says:

    I have to influence those in my office every day. I work in the construction world where the environment can often be crude. I have the opportunity on a daily basis to influence those around me to be professional – to put the customer first – and to do it with a smile.

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