Every year I work with hundreds of leaders helping them become more influential in a variety of settings. I am frequently asked about people who have influenced me over the years. Although the list is long, identifying my top influencer is easy. It’s my dad.
My dad has had an impressive career as a business owner, leader in the community, Bush Fellow, and author. I have no doubt that he is at the top of many lists of key influencers. As I reflect on his influence on me personally and professionally over the years. I keep coming back to five key lessons that influence what I do to this day. I’m sure those of you who have worked with him will recognize some or all of these.
1. Know your purpose
This lesson presents itself in everything I did and still do. From contemplating my overall purpose in life to my purpose the next 5 years to the purpose of a meeting or even conversation, knowing my purpose guides me and makes me more intentional in my decisions and conversations.
As I work with leaders helping them be more effective in meetings or increase their influence, I repeatedly find that their purpose is fuzzy. They focus on what they are going to do or say but not on their purpose. Once they become clear on their purpose, they often change what they planned to do or say to help them achieve that purpose. One of the greatest lessons I learned from my father that I consistently share is know your purpose.
2. If it’s to be, it’s up to me
The idea that if I want something, I need to find a way to make it happen was instilled in me from a young age. It didn’t matter if I was focused on getting a good education, starting a business, achieving success or even happiness. The point was that no one was going to come by and hand me any of these things; I needed to set a goal, create a plan, and make it happen.
Too many times I hear people waiting for things to happen, making excuses for why things didn’t get done, or blaming someone else for their reality. While it is true that there are things beyond our control, it doesn’t mean we have to remain a victim of circumstances. When you ask yourself what role you play in the situation or what you can do to help move things forward, good things start to happen. Whenever I’m faced with a particularly big challenge, I hear this lesson echo in my mind: If it’s to be, it’s up to me.
3. Be there when you’re there
Although this is a lesson I first began to hear as a child, it is more relevant today than ever before. My dad used to tell me to make sure to be fully present and invested in whatever I was doing. If I was talking with someone, I should be fully engaged and not distracted by other people or things. No matter where I was, I should be fully present and in order to both make a valuable contribution and get what I need.
Technology definitely adds to the challenge of being there when you’re there. I needed to remind myself of this lesson recently when I took my daughter to Universal Studios. I had my phone out during a ride recording everything as we went through. I realized after the ride that I wasn’t fully present and was more focused on recording the ride than enjoying the moment with her. We both turned our phones off and got back in line. The second time through we were both 100% present and had a great time. I couldn’t believe all of the things I missed as I was recording.
We miss so much personally and professionally when we are distracted or multi-tasking. I encourage everyone to make an effort to be there when you’re there.
4. Always add value
My dad always directed my attention to value rather than cost. Something that was relatively cheap that didn’t offer good value was not a good purchase. On the other hand, there are times when expensive things or experiences add so much value, you find the money to cover the cost. Over time, that lesson was applied not only to what I purchased, but to what I offered others. I began focusing on the unique value I bring to the table or the value for my client of the solution I am proposing. Remembering to always add value has helped me bring my best to both my personal and my professional relationships.
I challenge you to ask yourself “What value do I (my team, my company) bring to the table?” It is beneficial to apply to friendships and family as well.
5. Never stop learning
My dad is big believer in continuous learning. Growing up, I always saw him reading 2 or 3 books at a time. It is no wonder that when he founded the Klassen Performance Group the mission statement became “Relentless Commitment to Improvement”. It is a direct reflection of this lesson. He always said that at KPG we relentlessly focus on improving ourselves, our solutions, and our clients. One of his favorite quotes is:
“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
Charles “Tremendous” Jones
I find that the most effective and rewarding way for me to learn now is to expose myself to a diverse group of people and ideas. Doing so challenges long-held beliefs and assumptions and often leads to more innovative solutions. We often associate learning with a classroom or books. I am a big believer that if we open our eyes and keep this lesson in mind, we can learn something new every day by just being present.
These 5 lessons from my dad have had a significant impact on my life and are just some of the reasons he is #1 on my list of influencers. I share these lessons with you now in the hopes that they will be as impactful in your lives as they were in mine.
Who are they key influencers in your life and what impact have they had? In whose life are you a key influencer?