4 Ways Millennials Can Grow Their Influence
Maybe you’re trying to grow in your influence at work but are just not sure how - I get that. After reading this blog, you will have a handle on a couple of simple ways to grow your influence, millennial or not.
In case we haven’t met, my name is Evan. I founded Caffeine about two years ago and also work at a local church called North Point. I’m currently 24 years old.
I want to share a story with you.
When I was 17 years old, my dad was struggling with drug addiction, and his business was suffering because of it. He owned a diamond company which supplied inventory to my grandfather’s jewelry store. As you can see entrepreneurship runs in the family.
Up until that point, I had been working with my dad and grandfather on the weekends. I started before I could drive learning the business, sales, and marketing of his company.
Growing up, I wanted to be just like my dad and take over his business one day.
Because of his struggle with drugs, that day came a lot sooner than I thought it would. With my dad’s overall condition not improving, it was time for him and my grandfather to make a move. With limited options, they thought handing the business over to me was the best option.
Just like now at 24, at 17, I certainly did not have it all figured out. I think what gave my family the sense that I might be able to do well was a track record of being faithful with whatever gets put in front of me.
This quality is key number one to growing influence: faithfulness.
If someone you work with entrusts something to you, aka: tells you to do something, this isn’t a burden. It’s an opportunity.
In my experience of leading people, the ones I want to give more opportunity to are the ones who have been faithful in the past with whatever I gave them.
More often than not, I’m not actually “in charge” of some of these people but work alongside them. When people repeatedly drop the ball or don’t follow through, I don’t trust them, and they lose influence with me.
Being faithful is often defined by ownership, follow-through, and the end product of whatever task it is. If someone’s end product isn’t perfect, but they displayed plenty of ownership and follow-through (aka effort), there is grace for that.
Fast forward two years from then, I’m living in Toowoomba, Australia. Toowoomba is a small town two hours inland from the Southeast coast of Australia. I signed up for a program called a Discipleship Traning School. In this seven-month long school, we learned the basics about Christian ministry and missions. I ended up letting the opportunity pass with my dad’s company to pursue a passion for Christian Ministry.
You might feel like this was a big jump. To me, both opportunities were about helping people. Additionally, it was my relationship with Jesus that carried me through that previous season, and I wanted others to experience the life it brought me as well. I still genuinely care about it, which is why I love being a part of North Point.
The school, however, wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Going into this new season, I wanted to gain influence, but I continued to trip over myself, sabotaging any influence that I had gained along the way. It was during this time I realized how much humility and self-awareness I lacked. Looking back, it’s embarrassing. If there is an area I feel like I still have the most room for growth, it’s still these two.
I didn’t realize how the things I said or did affect others and what a fool I looked like at times as I tried to impress people. While trying to sound competent, I often was and came across as insecure. Usually, I had no idea what my body language was saying to the people around me. With my feet up, I could be seen as disrespectful. With my arm around someone, felt as invading their space. Or simply, how my facial expressions were perceived as people shared things.
Thankfully I had people in my life who were willing to give me that hard feedback.
This sort of feedback is the hardest to swallow. There is an interesting tension to manage, which is; you should be highly self-aware of how you are perceived yet not let your life be dictated by what people think.
Key number 2 in growing your influence is self-awareness.
Key number 3 is humility.
These two are separate but connected. You must pay attention to yourself and think about what you say and do to grow your self-awareness. This alone, though, isn’t enough.
You need to get feedback on what it’s like to be on the other side of you. Often I find people I’ve only known a few months are the most helpful because their eyes are still fresh. At the same time, though, ask people who have known you a long time to get a below the surface look at yourself.
Why are these two connected you might ask? I think humility is a secret sauce in having an honest account of who you are and not caring what people think.
What you’ll notice is that confidence is not on this list. I think it’s a bunch of garbage. Here is why:
If you can take a good hard look in the mirror and not let other’s opinions drive your ego or down you to the ground, you’re on the road to humility. Humble people don’t need affirmation, they reach down deep or go to a higher power for it.
When you don’t need people to like you, you’re confident. Real confidence is found in humility.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples like it was no big deal because he didn’t rise and fall on the opinions of others.
The last and easiest way to grow your influence is to bring clarity.
I saved this for the faithful that read down this far. See what I did there? Faithful. It’s alright; I thought it was funny.
Bringing clarity into a meeting around a specific topic is by far the fast track to gaining influence in my opinion. To do the whole, “bring clarity” thing properly, you need all the other factors mentioned above.
If you aren’t faithful, you don’t have cred with the people in the room. If you’re not self-aware, you won’t know when to speak and how to say it. If you’re not humble, you trip over yourself needing affirmation and acceptance from people in the room.
Here is the real reason you should bring clarity into a room; because it’s helpful.
It’s not to inflate your ego and make you feel good about yourself. It’s not to make yourself sound smart or competent so you get a raise or promotion.
Influence matters because you can make a more significant impact.
One hundred years from now, what kind of legacy are you going to leave? Are you going to leave the world a better place than you found it?
The self-serving purpose of gaining influence is hallowed and will leave you wanting. Instead, grow your influence so you can make the world around you a better place.
So how do you bring clarity?
If you can simplify complex issues, you can bring clarity. If you can solve hard problems, you can bring clarity. If you can give the “why” or ask great questions, you can bring clarity. If you can articulate what people are thinking, you bring clarity.
Do me a favor, share this with a friend you want to help grow their influence.
Let me know your thoughts by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best,
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