Although I spoke English from the moment I could speak, English was technically my second language. Without realizing it, this point created a block in my mind or more accurately my subconscious mind. I just simply assumed that I couldn’t possibly have as strong a grasp of the language compared to my native speaking classmates.
I always did ‘OK’ in English; never great. So when it was time to study William Shakespeare, I was not hopeful. So it was no surprise to me that I kept bombing my practice exams. My English teach Mr. Stewart pulled me aside and basically told me I was being an idiot; obviously not in those exact words. Before I could get defensive, he elaborated by saying, “I know what you are thinking, but your English is as good if not better than the other students in the class; It’s all in your head”.
Bar being really taken aback and touched by what he said I didn’t think much more of it and just kept studying as I usually did for my exams. That year I aced my English exams and scored an A+, the same grade as Michelle McNally (yes, I still remember her name) who was arguably the smartest girl in our year! Safe to say Mr. Stewart didn’t share my surprise and simply smiled and said, “I told you so”.
This was a pivotal moment that influenced the trajectory of my life because I went on to build a career rooted in communication and story-telling and have never looked back!
So what was it about Mr. Stewart that had such a powerful influence on me? Why was he able to influence me perhaps more than other teachers? Why do some people have greater influence than others (and we’re not talking about social media ‘influencers’ here, that’s a different story all together)?
On any given day the words we use can influence others, but it’s the words with purpose that have the power to influence people. When we come from a space of authenticity, knowledge, care and compassion we resonate; not just within ourselves, but with those around us. The vibration of resonance has the power to cut through all the other noise and affect true influence.
But here’s the caveat, the power to influence people comes with great responsibility. Throughout history we’ve all seen some incredible influencers who spoke from their authenticity and with fierce purpose, creating resonance with thousands if not millions of people around the world. Some influenced for good and others..not so good – aka Word War II!
So the next time you are walking into a job interview, a presentation, a negotiation or even a first date; remember the power of purpose, authenticity and resonance. Have the courage to find your inner voice and don’t be surprised if it has the power to influence people.