Influence is a powerful force in the world. It is a force that can change things without forcing them. Human beings are uniquely wired to be influenced by the actions and words of others. This, of course, can have a negative effect, as most good things in life can if not handled properly. One only has to think of the peer pressure that many high school and middle school students face each day from their peers that influences them to make destructive decisions. Influence itself, however, is a truly good thing. In fact, the force of peer pressure, which is the negative manifestation of influence, shows how truly an impactful force influence can be. Check out this course for more information on exercising influence by tapping into emotional intelligence.
Influential Influence Quotes
Influential people use influence to bring about good in the world. Transformational change in any domain is usually brought about by the influence of a person or a group of people committed to certain ideals with a vision of something greater. There have been many great thinkers in history who have given some core insight into influence, how it works, and where it is most effective. Below you’ll read some quotes about influence from just a few of the world’s most influential thinkers.
Influence as Inspiration
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” – Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek is a highly influential leader who has inspired many organizations with his popular leadership book Start with Why. The quote above, taken from his book, taps into a fundamental truth about leadership and the people who follow. Leaders want to influence people to do things, and if they’re a good leader, then the things they want to influence are good things. But how to do it? Manipulation tends to feel like the one that guarantees more success. After all, manipulation is about making things happen. With inspiration, there are not guarantees. Instead, a leader who relies on inspiration is trusting that his or her people will do what is right from within themselves. They’re not forced. They’re inspired. Manipulation may or may not get a leader what he or she wants, but inspiration is more long-lasting because it allows the behavior that occurs to originate in the person inspired rather than in the mind of a manipulator. It’s much more authentic. For leaders of organizations whose focus is on sales, this is is a great course on mastering influence over a team.
Surrounding Ourselves with Constructive Influences
“We are like chameleons, we take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us.” -John Locke
John Locke was an important English philosopher of the Enlightenment, and his quote above demonstrates the fundamental nature of people to pick up the behaviors and beliefs of those they surround themselves with the most. Locke’s quote echos a thought from the Bible in Proverbs 13:30, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Because a person’s moral character is pliable and is influenced by what it is surrounded by, similar to a chameleon, the more positive the people a person surrounds himself with, the more positively influenced his moral character will be.
The Reach of Influence
“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” -Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician and Christian philosopher, most well known for writing the Pensees. Pascal realized the incredible reach that influence could have, and the quote above captures a perfect image of how impactful influence can be. What’s important to learn from Pascal’s thought here is that no matter how small a person’s influence may feel, it can have a great impact. For that reason, people should exercise their influence for good, no matter how insignificant it may feel.
Influencing Our Children
“The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering galleries, they are clearly heard at the end, and by posterity.” -Jean Paul
Jean Paul was a German Romantic novelist, known for his often humorous writings. Jean Paul’s quote captures the indirect influence a parent can have on the world in the way that they impact their children’s lives. Children are the most pliable of human beings when it comes to their moral character. Parents have a great privilege and responsibility to shape their children’s moral character for good. Though most of the world will not see the care a parent invests in the moral development of their child, that development will manifest itself through the child’s life as he or she grows up and exercises their own influence into the world. Parents may make a significant impact for the good of the world through the way they raise their child.
The Untapped Potential of Influence
“The books that influence the world are those that it has not read.” -G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton was an English writer, philosopher, and Christian apologist. Like Jean Paul in the previous quote, Chesterton realized the sometimes private nature of influence. There are many important thinkers whom many people may never pay any attention to. Yet there are those people who are impacted by those thinkers, and even if it’s a small number, these people go on to generate vast influence upon the world. Therefore, in a way, sometimes the most influential thinkers in history are those that are never engaged on a large scale by a wide variety of people. An encouragement to readers from this influence quote from Chesterton is to find out who the influential thinkers of the world are who are greatly unknown, and engage with the influential thought of those people. Then be influential through what you learn.
Influence truly is a powerful force that can accomplish great good in the world. Leaders in whatever domain they find themselves can learn how to exercise influence by engaging with important thinkers such as the ones above.