Become a person of influence

By Gale Mote / Guest Editorial

I recently had the pleasure of attending the celebration for the CBJ’s 2015 Women of Influence. Consider this a big shout-out to the CBJ, the DoubleTree by Hilton and all of the event’s sponsors for an exceptional night of celebration and inspiration.

After the event, it became clear to me that you do not need to own a business or wear an executive title to have influence. It goes much deeper. Leadership is action, not position.

As I listened to the honorees accept their awards and tell their stories, patterns emerged. I believe each of us can be a person of influence by following these strategies.

Live your passion. Do what you love and what brings exceptional purpose to your life. Your commitment and energy is inspiring. Happiness and fulfillment comes from knowing you had an impact – it made a difference, no matter how small. It will be difficult to put in the hours if the work is soul-draining, not life-giving.

Living the dream is not easy work and certainly not for the faint of heart. There will be doubt, disappointment and setbacks. Benjamin Franklin said, “You cannot lose until you quit trying.” When you lose, don’t lose the lesson. Reflection is a core skill for building self-awareness and keeping the mission moving forward. Assess the situation, ask the right questions, gather necessary information and determine next steps. Keep an optimistic attitude – things will look better in the morning.

Aim high! Set high standards – people want to be part of something exceptional, not what anybody and everybody does. Do not be satisfied with a goal that is easily achievable. Mark Murphy, author of “Hard Goals” writes, “Difficult goals instill confidence, force you to learn and stay focused, and remind you that the work you are doing is important. They require you to bring your A-game and all your talents for a real sense of achievement.”

Build your network and nurture those relationships. Author Stephen King said it best: “Never let the sun go down without saying thank you and admitting to yourself that absolutely no-one ever gets this far alone.” Every acceptance speech from the 2015 Women of Influence honorees included a humble tribute to those who helped them along the way. Research shows that a strong social network is the largest contributor to happiness and life satisfaction.

An important part of your network needs to be people who excel where you struggle. A team is well-rounded precisely because the individual players are not. Seek out complementary partners who have talents, experience, knowledge and skills who can fill the roles necessary to accomplish the plan.

Own your attitude, behaviors and results. It is impossible to be a person of influence without trust. When you attribute your actions to others outside yourself, you are giving excuses, not reasons. Admit mistakes, apologize and move on. Be proactive – focus on what you can control and influence, not on those things you have no power to change. Be the change you want to see in others. People need more role models than critics.

Keep learning. Don’t become complacent or think you know it all. Your knowledge and experience helps you to influence strategies and decisions by sharing the right perspectives and information at the right time for the right reasons. No matter what your profession, it is changing at an exponential rate, from the what and how to the when and who.

I am reminded of the accomplished cello player who continued to practice six to seven hours a day at age 86. Someone asked him, “Why do you continue to invest so much time in something where you are clearly accomplished and have achieved distinction?” His reply: “Because I think I’m getting better.”

Lastly, share what you know. Shared knowledge is power. Find ways to mentor, teach and develop others who will benefit from your experience. The most influential people in my life are my teachers and coaches. They make me better, helping me to influence others myself.

Congratulations to the CBJ 2015 Women of Influence. Your passion, persistence, goal-orientation and commitment to making a positive difference in the Corridor and beyond is inspiring.




Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at