My friend Mike Signorelli posted a piece on 10 lessons learned in 2020. One of them was “There is a difference between popular and being influential.” I’d like to focus on an aspect of this today, which is… let’s say, a “pursuit” of either… what might that look like?
As in just about every other aspect of human existence, there is a big difference between the genuine self, and the false self, or, ego.
I will try and keep this simple. One of the main things that makes a huge difference in most cases, is this. People who want to be popular, will set out to become popular. They will sell themselves, and even go as far as compromise themselves to be popular. An empty pursuit as the ego is the one receiving the “benefits” of popularity.
Those who become influential in many cases, never set out to be influential. They just serve faithfully, take the last place, don’t actually want recognition or fanfare. They have more insight and wisdom as their pursuit is deeper and more genuine, they also and less self focused and more others focused. SInce they don’t care about being popular, their energies are spent on acquiring wisdom and understanding, not building a false self ego. Brennan Manning says it this way. “Presenting a false self to the public that everyone will admire, but no one will know.”
There is an old article I have from 30 years ago about a Salvation Army nurse who was very effective in the profession during the AIDS pandemic early on, in Africa. She was so good and influential, that they offered her the position of head of the entire hospital. This certainly would have been the popular choice. Meanwhile she had also been working with a free clinic for AIDS victims.
When presented with the offer, she said, ” Thank you, but I think I will work with the ones in the clinic… they need the hope that I can offer them.”
The article goes on to say, “Ruth Shock made her own unassuming descent into greatness.” She established one of the largest most effective free clinics that served patients who could not afford care.
Note the word – “unassuming.” Unassuming means humble, meek, modest, unpretentious. This is where her influence and power was. She may not have been the most “popular” person, and probably didn’t care at all. She was a person of great influence, power, ability and love for others, which was her driving force. In her humility, power was demonstrated. This was her genuine self, purpose and calling being made manifest.
Do you want to be truly influential, or merely popular?
BH/ Contribution: Mike and Julie SIgnorelli