Some time ago I wrote a blog about Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”. He has written at least another 3 books that I know of but I have not read them yet. The reason why I am mentioning The Tipping Point is because, in the book, Gladwell identifies categories of individuals that make the difference to a ‘tipping point level’.
Taking this concept a bit further, I wish to talk about the so called ‘influencers’ or, in other words, people that influence other people, their community, or even society. Those people are leaders but I argue that you need more than influencing ability to make a difference and leave a legacy.
You can be an influencer in your life. I am thinking, for instance, of Michael Oher. If you are a football fan, he plays for the Baltimore Ravens. If you are a movie fan, he was the main character in the movie “The Blind Side”, which earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar for best actress last year.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Michael was one of twelve children to Denise Oher. His mother was an alcoholic and crack cocaine addict, and his father, Michael Jerome Williams, was frequently in prison. Due to his upbringing, he received little attention and discipline during his childhood. He repeated both first and second grades, and attended eleven different schools during his first nine years as a student. He was placed in foster care at age seven, and alternated between living in various foster homes and periods of homelessness. Oher’s biological father was a former cell mate of Denise Oher’s brother and was murdered in prison when Oher was a senior in high school. In 2004, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, a couple with a daughter and son attending the same school Michael was attending, allowed him to live with them and eventually adopted him. The family began tending to his needs after becoming familiar with his difficult childhood. They also hired a tutor for him, who worked with him for twenty hours per week. He finally emerged as a strong defense football player and the rest is history.
Piers Morgan interviewed Michael on CNN this week and asked him if his life would have been different without the help of his adoptive family. Michael’s answer was unequivocal. He told Piers that it may have taken a bit longer but he was going to get where he is now anyways. He had made the decision to remove himself from the vicious cycle of desperation that all of his family and friends were riding and continue to ride, and he succeeded. At 25, he has become a role model by simply being true to his personal commitment. He also decided to share his experience for the benefit of others and wrote a book (“I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side) which is already inspiring many.
The message in all this is that influencers are not just people with magic powers that are able to convince others of things they wish them to do or say, but rather they are people with the love, integrity and vision that will give them the strength to hold steadfast to the iron rod without being influenced by others or distracted by momentary illusions. They will reach the goal because they have walked the path before getting there.
Are you an influencer?