Have you ever had a role model who inspired you to become a better version of yourself? If so, you know positive influences can make a huge difference in your life. It’s nice to have somebody to look up to, especially when you’re struggling with a difficult situation. If you’d like to return the favor to your friends and family, check out these six ways to be a positive influence for the people you love.
Negative words can’t inspire positive action. That’s my coaching philosophy in a nut-shell. Don’t believe it’s true? Think about how you react when someone scolds you. Most people will get defensive or hurt and shut down. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong; no one likes to be insulted so the key to being a positive influence is compassion when helping others. Here are six characteristics that will help you inspire people to change their lives.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato
Resist the temptation to judge people. Every person carries baggage that you couldn’t possibly know about. What looks like pure laziness could be depression in disguise. It’s hard to care about exercise and healthy eating when you’re constantly worried. Don’t tell people they should be more active. Show them how exercise made a difference in your life. You might convince them without even trying.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain
Your ability to make healthy choices could cause people to get upset and lash out. Understand that these insults are a reflection of them (not you). Indeed, a study by the Oxford Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that the human mind overlaps neural representations of the self and others. This helps us feel empathy, but it can also cause us to project our insecurities onto other people. Don’t get mad if a loved one goes on the attack when it has nothing to do with you.
“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I’m not a fan of “participation trophies.” No one is entitled to success. It must be earned. And children have to learn how to cope with failure now if they want to be successful in the future. Prizes like these fail to teach this lesson. Dare to do challenging things. If you fall short, get back up and try again. People will be inspired by your ability to push through setbacks until you achieve your goal.
“We become what we repeatedly do.” – Sean Covey
Your actions must be in alignment with your values if you want to be a role-model. Most people are visual creatures. They need to see a living, breathing example of what can happen when you follow a healthy lifestyle. This is critical if you want to raise fit and healthy kids. Having obese parents increases the risk of a child becoming overweight more than any other factor, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
“Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think about the people you admire most. Are they lukewarm? I doubt it. I bet they express themselves with a fiery passion. Imagine the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and the writings of Anne Frank. You need to be firm in your convictions if you want to move people. That doesn’t mean you need to be overly dramatic or anything like that. Simply look for opportunities to express how the pursuit of health has made you a stronger person. Telling your story could encourage somebody to take their first step.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown
I was overweight and hated my body for most of my life. I wasn’t active as a child and never learned how to ride a bicycle. I can’t keep certain foods around the house because I know I’ll binge if I do. I’ve been addicted to food, cigarettes, video games, and some other things I won’t list here. That might seem forward; but as Brené Brown so eloquently expressed, we have to explore our darkness before we can discover our light.
Exercise helped me recover a positive sense of self more than anything else I tried. Look at it as a form of therapy that can replace the poor habits that don’t serve you with positive ones that build you up. There’s a lot more to exercise besides weight-loss. I shared six more surprising benefits of exercise in last week’s post just in case you missed it. If you found this article helpful, please share it in a thoughtful email or Facebook share!
About the Author
Daniel Wallen is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of the Wallen Way. He is a personal trainer, Lifehack contributor, and author of, “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous“