One evening a couple of weeks ago I had a very rare moment. From time to time, life just seems to throw more at us than we can handle. For me, I mostly put it on myself. That evening was one of those rare moments. It’s just a feeling of being overwhelmed. Dealing with 21 stores, meeting deadlines, preparing a wedding I was officiating that weekend, reigning in a neurotic bride I am officiating a wedding for next month, having a speech scheduled for the following week that I still needed to prepare, doctors’s appointments, my involvement with Toastmasters, books I have obligated myself to review, worrying about kids and grandkids and the list goes on to create what we call “stress”.
Most people see this as a bad thing. The truth is, I rarely have an issue with stress, but when I do, I welcome it. The reason why I welcome it is simple. On those very rare occasions when I do feel the anxiety of too much stress, I know it’s time for me to find a quite place so I can do some serious soul searching. That’s when I reflect back to a self-discovery I made a few years ago that really puts things back into persepctive. This self-discovery has literally changed my life. I only wish I had made this discovery while in my 20’s, or 30’s. But the truth is, many people live their entire lives and never reach this conclusion, or even worse, they reach it on their death bed when they are unable to change things.
What is this simple discovery that has changed my life forever; this thing that allows me to take on so much and not let it get me down; this reality that allows me to push through the minutia of life? I sincerely hope everyone reading this will make a copy of it and read it over and over until you fully understand the magnitude of this concept. It’s that important. It is a simple concept that will literally change every aspect of your life and the concept is this: My life is not about me. My life is about the influence I have on others. Just reading those words sounds entirely too simple. To fully understand and utilize this concept requires some incredibly deep self-examination on your part.
As long as we are part of this world we live in, we have either a positive or negative affect on the world. Being neutral is not an option. This concept is aptly described by an old Cherokee proverb that goes like this; An Indian Chief was talking to his grandson. He told the child, “There is a battle within my soul between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is hatred, bitterness, envy, jealousy, vindictivness, selfishness and so much more. The other wolf is good. He is love, faith, selflessness, compassion, truth, helping others, and so much more.” After giving it some thought the grandchild asked, “Which wolf will win the battle, grandfather?” To which the grandfather replied, “The one I feed.”
Whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, or whether we ever realize it or not, the truth is as long as we are on this earth, we will impact and influence others. In the grand scheme of the angelic conflict, our individual lives are miniscule. A thousand years from now, our lives will be long forgotten and simply a speck in the annals of history. But the impact we have on the lives of others during our time on earth will carry on. You can have a negative impact on those around you like Charlie Manson, or you can accept this concept and have a positive impact on the lives of those around you like Mother Teresa. Most members of the human race will fall somewhere in between.
When you become cognitive of the simple truth that your life isn’t about you, it is about the influence you have on others, it changes everything. It changes the way you act and react. It changes the way you treat your family members, friends, co-workers, customers, even strangers. It gives you the self-discipline to improve your self. With this knowledge as your reality, you view your customers not as an opportunity to sell something, but rather as an opportunity to help someone. With this reality you no longer open the door for a perfect stranger but fail to open the door for your wife. With this reality you no longer view the details of life as stressful but rather as opportunities to positively influence as many lives as possible. That, my friends, is our whole purpose for being here!
But simply knowing this concept is not enough. We’ve all heard a million times, “knowledge is power”. That is flawed thinking. In reality, “knowledge correctly applied is power”. Knowledge not applied is worthless and knowledge incorrectly applied is damaging. Both lead to having a negative influence on others.
It is very selfish to believe your life is all about you. When you say, “Oh, I’m too stressed out” you’re putting yourself first. You’re making your life about you. That kind of thinking greatly limits your possibilities and will lead to having a very negative influence on a lot of people. You will never reach your full potential with a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) attitude. We must agressively work to alter that to a “What’s in it for others” attitude. Then and only then will you be able to unleash your full potential.
Even with this knowledge, however, from time to time we are going to have a negative influence on others. We can’t control that because we cannot control how others react. But we can work diligently to minimize the times when we negatively influence others and maximize the times when we positively influence others. It becomes a matter of making the right choices, our dedication to those choices and our own self-discipline. We must be honest with ourselves and be willing to admit our faults and weaknesses and commit ourselves to minimizing or even overcoming those faults and weaknesses.
Tomorrow doesn’t have to get the best of us; it doesn’t have to be stress-filled and we don’t have to fall into a feeling of helplessness because we are not helpless. We can make the necessary changes in our lives to be better prepared to give positive influence. In fact we are the only person that can make those changes. No one else can do it for us. We must abide by the serinity prayer; to accept the things we cannot change, to have the courage to change the things we can and to have the wisdom to know the difference.
My hope is that you will do more than merely read these words. My hope is that tonight you will find a quiet place where you will be uninterrupted and have a difficult conversation with yourself. You must reach deep down into your soul to ask and honestly answer, “Am I going to make a negative influence on others or am I going to make a positive influence on others? Since my desire is to make a positive influence on as many lives as possible, what do I need to change about me? What do I need to learn? What habits do I need to develop in my life or eliminate from my life? This is up to me, and I can do it.” So I leave you this simple truth that has made so much difference in my life. Knowing this and understanding its depth gives me peace and strength. I hope it will do the same for each of you.
“My life is not about me. My life is about the influence I have on others.” ~ Monty Rainey
Monty Rainey is a District Manager with over 14 years in the self storage industry currently overseeing 21 stores in the Austin & San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .