Hollowed Eggs, Mary Pratt, 1983
Everyday people, doing everyday things, thinking everyday thoughts –this is what shapes the world.
In this series of everyday influence, I asked everyday women what influence looks like in their lives. And I got incredible responses from them.
This is our second post in this series and here we will hear from two women – both are mothers, wives, daughters. Both are leaders. Both are friends. Both are Christians. Both are artists. Both live VASTLY different lives even with all these labels in common.
There is such a variety of women answering this. Each one in a different field or place in the world so their answers are so specific and particular. You might read something in their answers that you don’t get or identify with at all. You might read something you don’t even like. But stay curious. Stay Curious! Look for words in their answers that catch you. And run with those words, trusting that they are for you.
The first everyday woman is Rona. She is a wife, mom, a grandma, an excellent administration assistant (read indispensible individual who holds things together) to a faculty chair at one of our universities. She also is a writer who has participated in creative writing programs and workshops in the US and Europe.
(Also she is one of my mom’s dearest friends and my earliest memory of her is her getting stern with me, my brother and her kids for how we destroyed their basement with a toy tornado one afternoon….thank God for our parent’s friends who become our friends—that’s a gift).
Here are Rona’s responses. (and as with all of these, I only very slightly edited the answers just for maximum clarity– the essence of the responses is in tact!)
How do you influence others right now?
I feel that every intersection with people that we have – is a moment of influence. Having said that – I try to pay attention to people as they come to mind and heart, and when possible reach out to them. That could be one of the ‘how’s’.
Who do you influence?
See my answer above! If I were being specific about intentionality – I would say individuals in my faith community, my co-workers, my family, my friends, my neighbours.
And I want to note that not all my influence is positive. (smiley face)
What’s that specifically look like in your life?
Influence to me is about Being, and if I roll that back, it’s about Knowing, and rolling back even more, about LOVE. That for me I think is about listening to that still small voice. Being able to do that comes as I journey deeper into the Love of God, knowing it’s permanence, it’s unconditional truth, it’s completeness. As I grow there, the listening leads me in different ways.
What is your goal in influence?
Love with the same love that God loves me with. Embrace the gifts in my life and in me and grow in them.
How do you do this?
If the question is how do I achieve or reach my goal – that is a life long journey.
These are some of the ways:
Talking about and sharing the journey with others.
Reading other peoples stories.
Music/lyrics and story telling. Writing.
Pondering and percolating, and comtemplating/meditating.
When it comes to embracing gifts, it comes again to listening and responding to the nudges and opportunities as they arise. In some cases the nudge is a call to create opportunities.
Who influences/influenced you?
Everyone – hahaha. Although this is true I know that the question is about larger influences. There are many. I’d like to say here that negative influences have in some cases been as shaping or more so, as have been positive ones.
Who empowers/empowered you?
My Dad – in many ways he left me with the feeling that whatever I wanted to do I could.
My husband – has supported and encouraged me through many, many things.
My sisters – I have two sisters in particular that have always made me feel like I could do anything and have always supported and encouraged me.
God – my journey into this relationship, wow – Christ in me – wow.
There have been many people along the way that have given me opportunities, encourage me, and support me.
There have also been some significant times of injury – I mention these here because the people that inflicted them, were earnest and, in most cases, not malicious. But these injuries – rather the journey through the healing from these injuries, have been empowering experiences because of the opportunity to learn more deeply of LOVE!
What has been indispensable in making you you?
I really don’t know how to answer this question.
Leaning in, pressing towards my faith– somewhere along the way I knew and believed that God doesn’t blink. God doesn’t say “whoops, something happened.” Rather God is with me, will lead me, help me work it out, love it out, forgive it out, accept it and be.
In many ways the making of me, the being me, is a way of saying the unfolding of me, or the revealing of me. The journey is different for every person, except that the journey begins before we have bones, maybe even before the womb.
What is the outcome of your influence?
The outcome of my influence:
– for one it is about connecting and gathering people,
– it is also about reframing, questioning, and providing an alternative perspective
How do you guage success in your influence?
To me success is not about outcomes or responses. Although these are great and validating and can be encouraging, they are not a measure.
Success is about being true; in the moment, listening and responding to the still small voice, our gut and intuition, the Spirit of God.
To me being unsuccessful is when I let go of grace and love – and I’m unkind, uncaring, or unloving.
When do you stumble in your influence and what does it look like to get back up?
Stumbling mostly is tied to pride and fear. When my mind starts thinking I’m pretty good, … ouch … I fall. When I begin to feed insecurity – giving it time and energy, that’s a fall as well. Getting back up is about seeing myself – hearing myself – awareness of myself. Loving, forgiving, accepting myself and reminding myself; of the Love of God, knowing its permanence, it’s unconditional truth, it’s completeness.
Once I begin leaning into that love, I’m already starting to get back up.
So much in here is worth pointing out –
Successful influence is not outcomes or changes – those are great but not the measure. The measure, Rona has experienced, is in how true one was in the interaction, at how responsive one was to the still small voice. Influence and honesty with ourselves are connected – this is a pattern many women picked up on as we’ll see in the upcoming posts.
And stumbling in our influence = unkindness or uncaring. That’s true and hard. Unkindness nullifies our influence….why is that? Why is kindness essential to our human growth?
The other thing that is really sticking out to me is how Rona framed her influence
Her influence is about connecting and gathering people. Isn’t that the need of the world…..
Her influence is also about reframing, questioning, and providing an alternative perspectives for those people.
And her influence lies in the bare human need for encouragement. Giving courage to another. I read that and am struck by how its not changing their mind or shaping their actions, but giving courage to their own selves where they are.
How do we gather and connect others? Might that be the place of influence?
The next woman we have today is Connie. Connie is a mom of two elementary school aged kids, an entrepreneur, countless other things, but mostly a fearless DANCER – chances are she’s danced at your kids’ school and your kids LOVED it. Her bio is at the end if you’re interested in what she does here in town.
How do you influence others?
As a mom I feel like my goal for influence is my two boys. My goal is to be sure to make connection with them my priority. As my boys get older, I feel like this is becoming even more important. This means being present, only being out two nights a week, and keeping my work hours between school hours as much as possible.
Besides my family, I work with artists in Calgary seeking to bring social change in mental health, and resilience. We work in schools bringing community, compassion and courage to students. We provide education for teachers to be equipped for the challenges they face with today’s students, and we help parents create a good home environment for their children.
We also produce annual shows on social justice issues such as poverty, bullying, family breakdown, addiction. This year our show will be getting to the roots of discrimination and racism and what we can do about it.
Who influences/influenced you? Who empowers/empowered you? What has been indispensable in making you you?
I have been blessed to have had many amazing mentors from Youth till now. I would not be who I am without them. My family has molded me, taught me, refined me and directed me. I have been formed by them for certain. Mostly, my daily walk with Jesus is my foundation for everything.
What is the outcome of your influence? How do you gauge success? When do you stumble in your influence and what does it look like to get back up?
I would hope the outcome of my influence is to create greater courage in people to drop shame and be the overcomers they are. To see people rise with compassion and come back to community where many of our social issues would find healing.
I value working through rest. I’m a striver by nature. This has been my demise many times over. There’s a surrender I’m learning to walk in. When I’m striving, everything feels too hard. I’m pushing, I’m grumpy, I feel pressured to DO. When I’m working in rest, I’m still working, still planning, but I’m flexible, I listen to obstacles, and I’m ok with outcomes.
Owner of Movement With A Message, Village, National Hope Talks, Co Founder of Cypher Church, Author, Hip Hop mama
So much about both these everyday women’s responses strike me as important.
First – they both saw the absolute connection between how we are in ourselves to our ability to influence. Rona and Connie mentioned that if they are operating out of striving, pressure, pride or fear and not love, rest, maybe an internal wholeness, then it doesn’t go so well. Our influence requires us to be us and us to be leaning into a grounded wholeness.
Second – Influences in our own lives are incredibly personal and close – we have all been shaped by our families to such a high degree. It is true then that our influences on others are going to happen primarily in personal and close relationships. Connie has seen this and works to help people think through their influence in those primary relationships of teachers/students/parents/families. But even more importantly, she outlined how important that is in her own life and how even details such as “how many nights mom is out a week” are crucial for influence.
Real connection over ideals every time is key to influence.
Coming up next……the everyday influence of a theologian/professor/sci fi fanatic (and yes she is my dream doppleganger….)