Think back over your life. Think about the people that had a positive influence on you. If your past was like mine, many of them didn't realize the impact they made. The influence was usually due to them caring about you and doing some little thing. What little things have been done for you that changed your life? What little things have you done for someone else that might have changed theirs?
I have been influenced by little things done by others.
I had a boss that asked whether I had the guts to take a job he felt I could do. It was a job I wasn't even qualified to apply for. That question influenced me to set my career goals at a higher level and faster pace than they were at that time.
When I attended my first Toastmasters meeting the group made me feel welcome from the moment I set foot in the room. One person made it a point to introduce me to several members before the first meeting started. Another leaned over to me on my second visit, just before my first speech, to let me know what to expect and to let me know I would do great. I am grateful to both of them.
Children can influence us as well. A great example of this happened to me at a Cub Scout summer camp here in my hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. For those of you who are not familiar with Cub Scouts, the boys range from 1st through 5th grade. I showed up on the morning of the first day of camp just to make sure everything went smooth for our group. We got everyone registered for the week's events, set up a canopy where the scouts and leaders could get under some shade for lunch and then headed to the flagpole. At the flagpole, all of the camp participants said the Pledge of Allegiance and then the camp leader started to give instructions. In the middle of the instructions, one of the 1st grade boys tugged on my pant leg. When I looked down at him, he had the biggest smile on his face. He said, "Mr. Carr, I'm having a really good time" and he meant it! They hadn't even started their first camp activity yet. At that moment, I knew all of the hours I put in as a scout leader were well worth it.
I have found that we can influence others by doing little things for them.
You can influence others by providing help when it is needed. When I say provide help, I am not just talking about offering to help. Most people will not take you up on an offer even if they desperately need it. I remember taking food to a couple that was sick. This was not anyone I knew. It was a friend of someone that was in my Sunday school class. Two years later they saw me, thanked me and told me how much that meant to them. They even remembered my name after two years! Another way I have helped was to provide advice to coworkers that now refer to me as their mentor. Also, to help families pack up a truck to move. Some of these families are friends of ours today even though they live several states away.
Another way I have found that you can influence others is by saying "thank you." I don't think I ever realized the power of saying thank you until a few months ago. I was at a professional symposium in Northern Virginia. I was one of the symposium leaders. During a lunch break, I stayed in the room where one of the classes was being given to watch all of the personal belongings of the students while they were at lunch. During the break, three of the hotel workers came into the room to fill water pitchers and put out clean glasses. One of the workers was obviously a mentally challenged person that was hired to help. His job was to put the clean glasses on the tables. When he serviced the table I was sitting at I said a simple "thank you." I will never forget the look on his face. I could have told him he won the lottery and he couldn't have looked any more excited! Even after they left the room to go to the next, I could still hear him shouting as loud as he could about the "nice man."
Writing notes is a third way you can potentially influence others. I started writing thank you notes a couple of years ago (for reasons other than receiving a gift). I have been thanked over and over for some of these notes of appreciation and told I didn't have to do that. I have recently learned and started using at times a new way of writing notes. I learned it from Charlie "Tremendous" Jones who has since encouraged me to pass this method along to others. Purchase some inexpensive, inspirational books that have had a positive impact on you. Write an encouraging note inside the cover of one of those books and give it to the person. You will feel good doing it, reading the book will change the person, and they will think of you every time they read it. What a powerful gesture!
Start today doing little things for others.
I can look back over my past and remember several moments in time that God used someone doing a little thing that encouraged me. I have also heard from others that have been influenced by me for doing the same. There are many kinds of little things you can do to encourage others. Some of these involve providing help when there is a need, saying thank you, and writing notes. What are you going to do today for someone that will make a difference in his or her life?