Expanding your influence is one of my favorite topics. Let me tell you about an experience that fuels that passion. It comes down to
what true influence looks like.
Picture it. A new teacher, fresh out of college, accepts a fourth grade teaching job in late October, taking over for a former military wife within a few years of retirement. The woman hadn’t even put up bulletin boards and she’d been given some of the more “challenging” students. Yup, that was me.
In one of my first weeks, our plumbing system went down and we had to bus our kids to a nearby school to use the restroom. We also had a “Fall Harvest” (it was Halloween) party. The things nightmares are made of.
I had barely learned all their names at that point, was still figuring out where the last teacher had left off and was dealing with some major behavioral problems. I’m sure they could see the fear in my eyes.
I asked a few experienced teachers for help and received some well-intentioned advice like, “Just stay on top of them” or “Make sure they know you’re in charge.” I’d resolve to do just that except I’d get into the classroom the next morning, stare out at their bright and shining faces and think….“but HOW???”
Then a friend from church who knew my plight came in and got to work. That’s what influential people do–they get their hands dirty.
- She informed me that I had some money to spend at the teacher supply store and took me shopping.
- She helped me clean out and organize my room.
- We put up bulletin boards and created “learning centers” for reading and math so I wasn’t spending my whole day doing direct instruction like the teacher before me had.
- We rearranged their desks, putting my students into groups.
- She worked with me to establish a positive discipline system.
We spent hours together and the longer she took with me, the more I felt the tension and hopelessness lift.
I went into my classroom the next Monday prepared, confident and empowered. My kids were shocked and undoubtedly relieved. I had indeed “taken charge” but only because a friend came alongside me.
I’m convinced that friend was the only factor that kept me from quitting teaching. Without her influence, I would have given up, beaten down and defeated.
Especially when someone is in crisis mode, they need hands-on help, not platitudes.
Influence means investing time and energy into someone who doesn’t even know what they need and who will most likely never repay you.
My friend saw me drowning and dove in to save me. That’s what true influence looks like.
That experience has fueled my passion to empower women to elevate their image and expand their influence with practical strategies and personalized action plans instead of just feel-good mumbo jumbo and inspirational quotes.
None of you are going to drown on my watch.
Tell me…when has someone stepped in to influence YOU in a practical way?
I’d love for you to pin and share!