by Dave Bruno | @guynameddave
Let’s run through a short two-list exercise. A couple warnings, however, before we start. First, it only works if you are completely honest. Second, when it works it will change your life and make you a person of influence. Ready?
List five people you are most inspired by. No need to be obsessive compulsive. Just get down five names of people who seriously inspire you. My list would look something like this:
- Saint Augustine
- Abraham Lincoln
- C. S. Lewis
- Kate DiCamillo
- Wendell Berry
Now, list five people who have directly influenced your life for the better. Again, no need for perfection here. Just write down five names of people who have made your life better. My list would look something this:
- Leanne Bruno
- Jim Hammond
- Mr. Harris
- Ron Sauer
- Tie: lots of friends like Todd, Jon, Brady, and others
If you read any self-help book or attend any inspirational conference, you will be told stories about the people on List 1. It makes sense. The people on List 1 are inspirational. The accomplishments of List 1 people are mind boggling. Personally, when I think about List 1 people it makes me want to change the world.
Yet, the people on List 2 changed me. Without them, I probably would not even care about List 1 because List 2 people made me the kind of person who gets inspired by List 1 people.
Here is how to be a person of influence: give yourself entirely over to being a List 2 person. Think about the people on your List 2 and figure out how to be just like them.
Note that this is the exact opposite advice as what you hear at inspirational conferences and read in self-help books. Motivational speakers and writers make their living encouraging potential List 2 people to think about the people on List 1 and try to figure out how to be just like them. The alleged reason is that List 1 people are the most strategic and influential and world-changing people. Therefore, if you want to me the most strategic and influential and world-changing kind of person you can be, you need to be like a List 1 person…even though your life has not really been influenced much by List 1 people, inspirational though they be.
Also, and this is just my belief on the matter, you cannot get yourself on List 1 no matter how hard you try. Notice that I did not say you cannot get on List 1. You might very well end up there. But if you do, I believe, it will not be because of your own effort. People end up on List 1 in ways that are inscrutable. The best way to end up on List 1 is to be the most amazing List 2 person possible and not get in the way of providence when you are called on to also be a List 1 kind of person.
But if you become a List 2 person, guaranteed you will be a person of influence. Guaranteed. Granted, you likely will not be remembered (on earth) much past your death. Your life, though, will have positively influenced many people whose lives would be sadder if you had not been the kind of person who ends up on their List 2.
Do not fret about making it on to List 1. Instead, be a person of influence.