There are times in life when I walk through highly complicated situations that sort of rock my world. Some changes occur unexpectedly, some life transitions leave me feeling lost, and some hardships arise that make me question all I’ve learned in life. At times I walk courageously through the rocky changes; other times, fear grips my heart, and I need the strength of God to get out of bed in the mornings. I want to say that I have all the answers because that is what is expected from a leader; a woman of influence with a mind for more. As a woman on a mission to create waves in the earth and positively impact the places and spaces inhabited, I should know how to do just that, right?
It doesn’t always work that way.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, influence can be defined as the power to affect or change how someone or somethings develops, behaves, or thinks. Impact can be defined as a powerful effect that something new has on someone or something.
What if the impactful influence that creates change in the lives of those surrounding you meant having your life on display for the world to see; the good, the bad, and the ugly? What if it didn’t come through your success stories but your success “examples” from a life put on display? Imagine the impact of words of wisdom and encouragement that pour from your heart, mouth, and soul with conviction because you’ve openly overcome and gained strength from the very things the receiver is going through at that time. If we knew the positive effects of being open and honest about our struggles and who we are, I think we’d all have a lot more courage to be okay with sharing the ways we’ve come through them.
I find that my most impactful influential moments happen when my problems are on display for others to see. As I walk bravely through the hardships, the storms, the uncertainty, the ambiguity, and the transitions, one step at a time, answers arise not only for myself but also for the individuals watching. How I survive situations meant to destroy my sanity, take my life, and steal my drive, become like a manual or book of instructions for others to read so that they can walk through the same or similar situations.
What if our most impactful influence came through the way that we courageously conquer our fears, battle our hardships, walk through muddy waters that lead to success? What if it came through the way that we loved one another through the storms of life, the transitions, the ambiguity? We’d have more grace, compassion, empathy, and mercy for others because none of us would be in the judgment seat, self-righteously condemning another person. After all, we’d recognize that we may need their manual on overcoming the very situation they are walking through, either currently, or in the near or distant future, and if we don’t need it, someone close to us will.
What if our most impactful and influential moments happened when we took time to sit with another and share about the divorce and how we overcame the heartache and pain? What if it’s in sharing with another about the illness and how we endured, the loss of a child and how we walked through the grief, the loss of a parent, a job, a dream? What if we dared to say to another, “I don’t always feel good enough, strong enough, or wise enough to handle struggles, and I don’t always know the answers, and that’s okay?”
What if our most impactful and influential moments happened when we just provided a listening ear? What if our most influential moments were moments we did not even realize we were making an impact because we were just being our authentic selves? Most believe that the success gained using our skills, gifts, and talents are what others admire most. However, I think that the way we handle life, hardships, pain, and all else thrown at us, provides the most influential impact.
Olivia Alford is the owner and founder of 38 Expressions, a written media company, and our Women Words Project Coordinator. For more information on her services offered, visit 38expressionsllc.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit your own article to the Women’s Words platform, email Olivia at email@example.com.