Discomfort of Influence

Discomfort of Influence

Having influence is NOT always a bed of roses!

Along with influence comes a certain unavoidable degree of visibility, where you start living in a kind of fishbowl and are held up to a level of keen observation, and even criticism, that you probably weren’t used to before.

I personally dislike publicity. Have always grown up shielding myself from the spotlight, trying to make a difference behind the scenes. It worked – small time.

Until suddenly, one day in 1999, I realized that the heroes I grew up on, the folks I learned to look up to and learn from, WERE NO LONGER VISIBLE. I’m sure they existed, just weren’t as widely talked about, or promoted, or publicized.

I wondered why.

Today we have unscrupulous politicians, thieving criminals, unethical business-people, immoral stars (movie, music et al) as the ULTRA VISIBLE role models our youth must look up to – because there’s no alternative.

That was the day I wrote a stinging letter to India’s largest weekly magazine, INDIA TODAY. With a circulation of over FIVE MILLION in different Indian languages.

To my astonishment, they mentioned it in the EDITORIAL – on the first page.

And did a DIFFERENT kind of cover story from their regular style – on people, Indians, folks our youth and country must look up to. Sports superstars and social workers, novelists and entrepreneurs, people worth emulating and dreaming of becoming.

And that was the day I decided it would be IRRESPONSIBLE to let my personal feelings about publicity and visibility get in the way.

I would overcome my natural reticence and shyness, work on living with it, to draw attention to the work I do, the causes I support, the people I admire, the needs of sick children in India and the world.

Do I enjoy it? Absolutely not.

I feel VERY strange when I receive adulatory emails from folks across the globe. When total strangers write to say they’ve been moved to doing things after seeing what I’ve achieved.

But then I sit back and think… what if this encourages THEM to go for their dreams.

That’s when I decide it’s probably worth the trouble.

The discomfort.

Yes, influence carries with it some discomfort.

I have to get out of my comfort zone to get this effect. So that others as scared as I once was know there are people DOING this, and so they can find the courage, the belief, the role model to follow on the path to fulfilling their own destiny.

I am not comfortable being praised in public. Would rather hide under a bushel of anonymity.

But some things are more important.

Being seen as a role model for younger, more energetic but less directed or guided people, is one of those.

It doesn’t make the decision easier, or the situation any more pleasant – but at least, there’s a purpose to be achieved by enduring the discomfort of influence.

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  • Apr 30,2008 at 5:24 am

    Thank you for another wonderful post Dr Mani.

    Two months ago I started a social network for people from the island of Dominica were my parents are from. I was born and raised in the UK and wanted to connect with a few people from the island of my parents birth. The internet seemed the best way to do that.

    Two months later it had 2,500 members and I was totally shocked and amazed. People were re-connecting with old family and friends who had left Dominica to live in the USA/Canada or UK.

    It has thrown me into the spotlight and like you I like to be behind the scenes quietly making a difference. A week ago the critics started. People outside of the network talking about “what’s wrong with it” and I had to do all I could to let it go and not listen!

    I guess now that I am in the light there is no hiding – which of course is what Marianne Williamson said because my deepest fear is that I am powerful beyond measure!

    blessings to you and your family


  • Apr 27,2008 at 6:20 pm

    An interesting and timely post for me. Ever since starting blogging I have always felt a certain amount of discomfort – not so much because of influence, but simply because it puts my life on show.

    Sometimes I have things going on with my personal life that mean that I don’t feel like working and blogging about it but of course, the blog is public and eyeballs are there so I have that uncomfortable feeling of having to carry on because people are watching.

    Sometimes I regret having a blog and wish I had just gone underground into anonymous niches but to be honest, I don’t think I would have earned any money at all if it wasn’t for my blog!

    But anyway, your post has reminded me that perhaps its a good thing because it forces me out of my comfort zone which helps me grow.

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