Influence-a Gordian Knot

First question of many: Who is this Gordian guy, and what’s so special about his knot?

Influence is not a right. A person is not entitled to influence even if they have had a position bestowed to them. Influence is a gift for some—a person of influence may come by it naturally. But most of us must work very hard to earn it.

If you are a person of influence can you waste the gift, maybe by not realizing or not fully utilizing the full potential of the gift? And, if you’ve been given the gift can you expect too much out of it thinking that your influence will change the world? Or even worse, is it possible to be tempted by your potential to influence into forcing an issue? In doing so aren’t you teetering dangerously close to using the subtle beauty of influence as overt power?

Influence can be both humbling and frustrating. Sometimes the impact of your influence comes to light when you had no idea you were influencing someone or a situation. And, I cannot expect to have any kind of power to get someone to do something or see things my way. I can’t expect anything to come out of my influence, I don’t have that right.

Influence is not the same as power, not at all. To me, it’s almost the antithesis of power. Personally, I could care less if I have power, but having enough influence to make an impact is an absolute values-driven need for me. It’s part of my personal vision. The only way to leave a legacy is to be a person of influence who has an impact.

What is the relationship between influence and power? Which comes first? Does one enhance the other? Can you have one without the other?

An informal, non-positioned leader of others may have influence without authority. But if a person with positional authority is not credible they cannot be influential, and someone really screwed up filling the position with an inappropriate choice.

Persons of influence earn their credibility through consistent actions that are supported by a solid values base. Given the right foundation and the right situation we all have a great potential to be persons of influence, and we can accomplish a good deal through that influence, dropping pebbles one at a time into one pond at a time.

When push comes to shove, if you could only have one would you rather have influence or power?

Be careful, the answer says a lot about you.

By the way, “Gordian” refers to an ancient city, not a guy named Gordy. Here’s the end of the story of the Gordian knot: legend has it that no one could untie it. Alexander the Great solved the puzzle with his sword, slicing the knot in two. Which just goes to show influence doesn’t always cut it. Sometimes you must resort to blunt force power to get the job done. Sigh…

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