A Developmental Moment #4: What Does Influence Mean and Why Does it Matter?

The Differences Between Internal and External Influence and Their Relationship to Service

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

As I was pondering the next developmental moment, and was considering influence as a topic, I had to stop, and reflect upon the past three years. What to say about influence?

Well, as with most things in my life today, an insight did occur, which will now come out through me and to you. Fun.

Alright, so influence is an important topic when you are leading teams; and, well, I do believe it is an important topic in everyone’s development, regardless of their iteration of self-development, or their interest in leadership. Why?

Because, we all will, at some point, apply for a job, need to grow our network, and, or, seek new areas of self-expression. And, to be fully self-expressed, or, rather, to self-express yourself fully, it is nice to understand the concept of influence. Let’s do just that then. Take a look at how I interpret the concept of influence.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

influence

verb /ˈɪnfluəns/ 

to have an effect on the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially by giving them an example to follow.

influence something, influence how, where, etc. to have an effect on a particular situation and the way that it develops.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go.

Alright, so here’s what we have for influence; to have an effect on a particular situation and the way it develops, or the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially in regard to providing them an example to follow.

Now let’s discuss influence in two different ways. Let’s take a look at internal influence, and external influence. Both are important, and both are needed. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Internal Influence

When I write the phrase internal influence, I am referring to your influence within the business, organization, or institution in which you work.

Understanding influence as an opportunity to build cultural capital inside of the business, organization, or institution in which you work is important for a leader to consider. If your influence wanes, it may be hard, for example, to garner political support on a project your team is working on.

However, if your influence is strong, or even adequate, garnering support will be easier. Pretty simple.

What I’ve found to be most true about internal influence is that being who you really are is of utmost importance. Meaning, to be the authentic leader you know yourself to be.

Yes, we all have to make concessions at times, and, yet, we all have the creative power to effect change. And, this is true, even when our influence is bourgeoning.

A quick aside. Influence, like most things in life, lives along a spectrum. Meaning, that influence is not binary. You gain influence over time; and, it takes time.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, okay, well, how do we create influence, and effect change. Here are a few important considerations for those interested in increasing their internal influence.

  1. Relationships – as I’ve written many times, everything starts with relationships. The one we have with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. Being in a relationship means having easy and difficult conversations. Remembering this truth is important in leadership.
  2. Questions – asking questions is always an important step in creating influence. Often, people shy away from asking the tough questions. Ask them. It is important to your own development, and that of your teams.
  3. Creativity – being open, flexible, and innovative, is an important aspect of influencing the future. Without creativity, the past is the future, a stamped reproduction. Thus, being open to new ideas, those from your peers, and your team is essential.
  4. Integrity – doing what we say we are going to do is important to all aspects of our lives, and there is no exception in creating influence. If we are unable to make it to a meeting, or are going to be late, communicate. Open communication ensures that we are always keeping everyone in the conversation, and keeping our integrity intact.
  5. Authenticity – be who you are. You are just as you are supposed to be, so embrace your unique-self, and let that shine. There is only one you, which means there’s not another person on the planet that can create influence, or anything else for that matter, just like you. When we are authentic, people know, and respect our truth. And, if they don’t? Remember, that’s their issue. Not yours. Be who you are.

Alright, there are five examples, and considerations for you, on how to create influence within a business, organization, or institution. Remember, influence takes time to cultivate. It’s kind of like gardening. You must water your relationships, questions, creativity, integrity, and authenticity, and, when you do, you will see your influence grow.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

External Influence

External influence is similar to internal influence, and yet, also different. You can use the five considerations aforementioned with those clients, students, or customers, that are external to your business, organization, or institution. And?

There are a couple more strategies for you to consider. Here we go.

  1. Engagement – being fully engaged at all times with those you serve is important. Meaning, that it is important to create an engagement system that you can rely upon, which will ensure your engagement is, well, like a drum beat. Your clients, students, or customers need to rely upon your engagement pattern. I write about developing my LinkedIn engagement system in the post, A Blogger’s Diary 12/27/20: On Writing, Goal-Setting, Systems, and the Holidays, which can serve as one of many examples to draw upon.
  2. Consistency – a drum beat, or pattern, on which your clients, students, or customers can rely. Important. There are lots of ways to ensure you stay on track with your engagement. You can calendar your engagements, enter them into a project management software system, or keep them in a planner. The tool matters far less, than the output of making sure to engage regularly and consistently.
  3. Reciprocity – relationships are built upon many things, and reciprocity is one. Being in relationships means sharing yourself with your clients, students, or customers. And doing so in a genuine way. Remember, people know when we are inauthentic. They can see, hear, and feel it. Just be who you are, and reciprocate.
  4. Value – our clients, students, or customers want to know they are valued. They would like value, and to know they are valued. Both. Providing value comes in many forms, and it’s not always, actually rarely, monetary. It’s about being there for your clients, students, or customers. Taking care of them, treating them with kindness, and valuing their needs.
  5. Service – in the end, it’s all about service. All of it. The service we give ourselves, and the service we give out to our clients, students, or customers. When we value our service, we are always looking for, and creating, new ways to serve. Whether that is through a new business model, a new product, or a new service. Really. Ultimately, it’s about understanding the need, reflecting on that need, and creating a bridge for that need.

Internal and external influence matter. It’s not about ego. We are leaving ego at the door. It’s about service. About taking care of people. Finding out what they need, and working with them to fill that need.

When we are in relationship with people, we are in a unique position to serve.

And, as we continue to serve, our influence grows. Influence grows as we grow and deepen our relationships. The relationships we have with those we serve. Ultimately, it’s our peers, teams, clients, students, and customers that let us know about our influence.

When we have movement in our relationships, we can see it and feel it; and, when we have traction, we know, because reciprocity flourishes as we enter into new relationships each day. And, as we enter into more relationships, our service grows; and, yes, we also grow. Fun.

#authenticity, #consistency, #creativity, #development, #developmentalmoment, #engagement, #externalinfluence, #influence, #integrity, #internalinfluence, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #questions, #reciprocity, #relationships, #self-development, #service, #value

A Bloggers’ Diary: On Blogging, 3 Months In

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Well, it’s been 3 months since I started blogging, and I’ve learned some, and have so much more to learn. Phew, so much.

How did I get started?

As I’ve written in other posts, when COVID-19 sent everyone home, a byproduct of the pandemic was more time. Though I continued to work, the business was/is much slower than normal. In fact, the business is completely different today, and will continue to be so.

As I was looking for another outlet for the additional time, my oldest son and I had a conversation about COVID-19, discussing if future history books would show a large increase in creativity during the pandemic. Not sure, yet it is fun to think about.

Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

What I do know is that it got me thinking about creating a site where I could get out my own creativity, and could also invite others to do the same. Though the latter hasn’t been fully realized, the former has been, and in ways that I never anticipated.

At the time, I had no idea how far it would go, and it pleasantly surprised me for sure. Pretty cool.

I’ve actually integrated the blogging into my normal daily workflow. They are very relevant to each other, and in many ways, they feed on each other. Fun.

What have I learned?

Phew, so many things. Here are a few.

  • How to create, manage, update, and maintain a website – lots of work, was a steep learning curve for me. Yet, like anything, once you get into it, starting moving work forward, you learn, read other blogs, and adjust as needed.
  • How to connect social media accounts to websites – actually not difficult. The difficulty is in managing the social media accounts. Making the time to learn how to use them, as they are all very different. Lots of work.
  • How to manage my time differently – even though there was/has been more time since COVID-19 began, I had to strategically create time each day to move the work forward.
  • How to differentiate writing from working on the site – both are needed. I write everyday, and, at first, worked on the site everyday. Now, I still write everyday, yet only work on the site once or twice a week. Not sure if that is a proper balance, as I do know updating the site is very important.
  • How to follow and interact with other bloggers – much fun. I have greatly enjoyed reading other blogs, asking questions, and giving my perspective on other topics. Fun.
  • How to connect videos to websites – about a month ago I wrote this blog, How We Learn, and Why it’s Important to Understand, and after reflecting upon it, it occurred to me that creating videos would be super fun, and would be another way to engage with people.
  • How to market your blog – learning more here every day. Lots of ways to market and engage people. I will say, however, that being active and consistent is super important.
  • How to sign up and write regularly on medium – I had never even heard of medium before beginning to blog. You can follow me here.

I’ve learned so much, and have so much more to learn, which is why I thought this new diary series would be super fun to write.

Let’s take a look at how my blogs have iterated in the past three months.

Here is the first one, Creativity During COVID-19, and here is the most recent one, The Blog + Video Series 2: Writing and Life Series #4 – On Pain and Healing Through Writing.

Lots of development over the past three months. A wonderful journey thus far, and I have every intention of continuing to write in this medium.

Here are some of the topics I’ve covered in the past three months.

  • Relationships
  • Mindfulness
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Self-Development
  • Writing
  • Social Action
  • Business
  • Letters
  • Inspiration and Imagination
  • Possibilities
  • The Sound of

That’s actually a pretty inclusive list. The letters category is really new, it was just created last week. There is only one blog in there now, which is the one about my father passing, Letters: For My Dad.

Corvallis, Oregon

That was a tough one to write, and has me in tears now. Phew. I miss him.

What’s next?

Continue to write, and learn. I’ve got a long list of topics to write about, much more than the time to get them all written anytime soon. And, you know, that’s totally okay.

I see blogging as something that will continue to be a part of my life forevermore. I’m not interested in the short game, only in the long one.

I also see my work in higher education and blogging, as something that will continue to converge. Actually, I’ve just recently added coaching services to the website, which I am super excited about. You can check them out here.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I’ve got a deep passion for personal and professional development, and have been working in this field all my life. Fun.

I also get very excited about new ways to engage, and new topics to write about, which I continue to reflect upon.

Alright, that’s all for this entry. However, before I go, I would like to thank each of you.

Thank you for reading, liking posts, commenting on posts, engaging me in however you did. You are appreciated.

#blogging, #blogs, #coaching, #covid-19, #engagement, #learning, #managetime, #marketing, #medium, #personal-and-professional-development, #socialmedia, #videos, #websitedevelopment, #writing

How We Learn, and Why it’s Important to Understand

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Why is it important to understand how we learn best? It has to do with our own ability to relate with ourselves, first, and to others, second. Do you know how you learn best? Not sure? That’s pretty normal.

Though deep down you know, as I once did, most people don’t actively think about it. And, neither did I. It was not until I went back to school in my early 30’s that I fully understood how I learned best.

Alright, let’s take a look at the top 4 learning styles, and see what style resonates with you most. I also invite you to think about how else you can use these learning styles in your life. Ready? Good, here we go.

Learning Styles

Visual

Visual learners like to see what they are learning. These learners are interested in the visualization of the work they are engaged with. Think whiteboards, flow charts, and large post-it boards.

They must see the work in order to fully take the information in, process it, and provide a meaningful response. Some people don’t know they are visual learners. If you are not sure, I suggest writing out your next project on one of the aforementioned tools, and see what happens.

As I am visual, I can provide an example here.

I don’t expect this visual to make sense, and in fact, it may shock or startle some of you. What you are looking at is how someone that is hyper-visual thinks.

The importance of getting those ideas out of one’s mind and into reality, via any tool really, is extremely important to someone that is a visual learner. Without the ability to do so, the person may get stuck. I know, I’ve been there.

Aural

Someone that learns best through sound is in the aural category. Think about someone that chooses to listen to audio books, or someone that must have someone explain a particular task or project to them through verbalizing the steps. Our youngest son is an aural learner.

For those that learn best this way, having tasks or projects written out or in visual format, as in the above whiteboard example, will not work. Or, rather, visual and written instruction will not work as effectively. Sound is the key.

Here is an example.

Jeff Flesch on YouTube

This is a video I created for the blog, 3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy, and I am using it as an example of aural learning, as I am talking through a strategy in this clip. Helpful. What would not work for an aural learner, would be the written out steps to the associated diagram without the spoken explanation.

Verbal

Verbal learners need to read that which they are to work on or engage with. Being able to read instructions, for example, is imperative for a verbal learner. Think about putting something together, not with a picture in mind, but with a list of steps, 1, 2, 3.

Being able to internalize the written instruction or steps, is important for a verbal learner. What would help the above video clip for a verbal learner? Yep, that’s it. If I were to write out a list of the steps that I am talking the viewer through. That would be helpful. Think of an ordered system. More comfortable for a verbal learner.

Kinesthetic

Those that learn best with their bodies are kinesthetic. These learners like to actually do something with what they are learning. They need to actually touch, feel, and practice the new information.

Though the below picture is not the best quality, it gives you an idea of a practical tool that was created intentionally to engage those that learn best by doing something with new information.

Alright, so can the learning styles be combined? Do some people learn best with a combination of the aforementioned learning styles? And, can people’s learning styles change over time?

Do some people learn best when learning styles are combined?

Yes. I am a great example of this fact. I learn best, by seeing, reading, and then hearing information. I also like to practice new information by either utilizing a worksheet, or more likely a whiteboard. I love whiteboards. I have a whiteboard wall in my work office. Excellent.

Yet, this is only how learning works best for me. I know people that need to have information explained first. A must. Then they can interact with visuals, and other types of learning styles. Why is knowing this important?

When we know how the people we are in relationship with learn best, we can support them in their learning and life. Important. And, when we assume we know, and offer support, that support, while well-intentioned, may not work.

It’s also important to know, as we have discussed, that some people may not know how they learn best. Asking them, in these instances, may not help. What can you do? You can offer them different approaches to learning, and see what fits them best.

Do learning styles change over time?

Yes. Here are a couple of reasons why learning styles change.

  • Because as we develop we learn new ways to process and operationalize information. We may add new learning styles to our approach to learning, and may even need to let go of approaches that no longer work.
  • Different contexts require different learning approaches, so in these contexts, you may need to adapt your learning style while incorporating new tools. Think of a new job, going to college, or graduate school.
  • You may learn, in school or at work, about a new way to learn that was previously not available to you. And, in this new learning, you may adopt a new learning style that fits you better.

Why is it important to understand how we learn?

It’s important to our own development. When we know how we learn best, we can employ strategies at home and at work that align with our learning style, which can help our retention of information and mastery of all that we do.

As I’ve mentioned in this post, I am a hyper-visual learner, therefore it will probably not surprise you to know that I have not one, nor two, but, rather, three whiteboards in my little apartment. Yep, three. Needed.

It is also important to understand how other people learn best. When we understand how our friends, family, and coworkers learn best, we can support them by advocating for, and providing learning contexts that adhere to their learning style.

We all learn differently, yet the learning process is very similar regardless of the style that fits best.

And, why did I write this post? Good Question.

Because it occurred to me that it is also important to someone that is engaging others through digital media – you, me, and many, many other people.

Whether that is via a website, social media, a blog, or some other medium. Understanding how people learn is a critical component of engagement.

In order to create the most engaging context, as many learning styles as possible should be considered, addressed, and included when possible. As I continue to develop the COVID-19 Creativity website, I will employ more strategies that include each learning style to ensure that everyone has a quality experience.

Alright, we’ve addressed the top learning styles, walked through their significance, and connection to self-development, relationship-development, and the importance of using these styles to create more engaging contexts.

Now I’m interested to learn how you’ve used learning styles in your personal and/or professional life to create more engaging contexts. What have you done; and how did it work for you, and your audience?

#aural, #engagement, #individual-learning, #kinesthetic, #learning, #learning-and-engagement, #learning-styles, #relationship-development, #self-development, #verbal, #visual