Creating Influence: What’s in the Way?

If you are starting over, chances are you are missing some of the family, friends, colleagues or neighbors who might have been part of your center of influence in the past. So you have to build them up again. Here are two tips for doing it - and don't forget to read SmartWoman@Work for ideas for influence in the workplace.

1. Get serious

In Alisa’s story in Victorious Woman, she talks about how she had idea after idea to start her own business. She had so many, and talked to everyone about them, that someone dubbed her them "Alisa’s idea du jour.” At first, Alisa thought it was funny, but not for long. And she was pretty frustrated. In spite of her B.S. and MBA and a pile of completed business plans, nothing ever took shape. Alisa was tired of being a joke in her circle of friends.

On top of that, when she finally got the idea for the café that was her million dollar idea, she couldn’t talk anyone into being an investor in her project. No one took her seriously (sometimes not even herself). But she was dead serious about opening her cafe and though she struggled to get the money and the help, Alisa finally did it. She developed a very successful business and, within just a few years, had fifteen stores. By then Alisa and her entrepreneurial success was the subject of newspaper and magazine articles. Everyone wanted to do business with her - and she had plenty of influence.

If you want to create influence, you have to take yourself seriously. No one else will until you do. Taking yourself seriously, means dropping the victim routine and giving up depending on others to “know what’s right” for your life.

2. Take the Lead

Whenever I have a dream with a car in it, I know that it’s a warning or a revelation about my life. When I wake up I try to remember if I was driving; almost nothing about the dream is more meaningful than that. If I’m not driving, it’s a sign to me that I’m letting someone else take the lead in my life. If I’m in the passenger’s seat, it might mean that I’m giving into something someone else wants or that I'm overcaring in some area and not taking care of myself. That’s the easiest problem to fix because just being aware changes my behaviors. But if I’m in the back seat, I panic. That means I'm letting someone or something run my life.

How often does that happen to you? Do you accommodate everyone else without expecting your own needs to be given consideration? And when you need something, do you even ask expectantly for help? Too few women do. So other people, with their own agendas, take over your life.

Starting today, choose for yourself. Decide where you want your life to go and how you want to live it. You may not be able to make it different right away, but you will be able to start making small changes. Maybe it'll just be in your own mind at first. That's OK. For Nancy Hill, whose story I tell in Victorious Woman, she made the decision to keep her disorganized house neat and sparkling clean. She thought she didn't have much money, she decided that would no longer stop her from making her house a pleasant home. That began a chain reaction in her mind because, with a clean house, she thought better of herself. She took those good feelings all the way to the bank - literally.Years after making that crucial decision about her house, and after raising her children as a single parent, she become a bank officer.

It all starts with you taking the lead and deciding what you want and going after it. One step at a time, one victory at a time, you can do it!!