One of the beliefs that I teach about influence is that “influence is automatic, either you are influencing or you are being influenced” regardless of the environment, the intention, the state of mind you are in, or your company.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in my hometown Porto Alegre (Brazil) and my mom, my sister and I were relaxing in a coffeehouse, people watching, sipping “cafezinho” (expresso) and having fun. We were talking about work, family, vision and one thing lead to another and the conversation ended up in a story that has influenced me deeply-and I want to share that with you.
My mom was talking about one of my cousins that I had heard about when I was growing up but I had never had a chance to personally connect with him. This man was extremely successful, he had his own successful company and he was one of these people who “lives to work”.
The problem wasn’t that he worked so much, but the fact that he was really selfish, really into himself, a person who put business and deals above real friendship.
According to my mother, he was a person that knew a lot of people due to his business success, but he hardly took the time to connect with people. Years passed by and my family never heard from him. Many years later, my family received the news that unfortunately our cousin had passed away.
My mom and my dad went to the funeral, and when they arrived there, both experienced something really sad. In spite of this man being very well-known in the community that he lived in, very few people showed up for this funeral.
But that was not the worst part.
In Brazil, the tradition is that after the priest says the last words about the deceased person, the top of the coffin is closed and 6 pallbearers carry the casket to the rack so the body can be taken to the burial. Unfortunately, it did not happen that smoothly. Something was wrong!
When the pallbearers approached the casket to lift it up they noticed that something was missing. People started looking at each other with desperate and sadden eyes. People became uncomfortable and they knew why. There were only 5 men to carry the casket and they needed a sixth person to help out (in that situation they needed a man, because the casket was heavy).
Unfortunately they had to stop the ceremony and find a stranger that worked at the cemetery to help carry the casket. I do not know why, but when my mom finished telling me this story I was in deep trance. I was thinking what kind of life someone must live so that in the end of it, after meeting thousands of people during your lifetime, you do not have 6 friends to carry your own casket.
The reason I decided to share this family story is for you to think about your life and most important, about the positive impact you are having on your friends, family and the community that you live in.
Are you positively impacting your friends, family coworkers and community?
Are you going to leave a lasting impact that is going to be bigger than your own life?
For some reason, I had never thought about who is going to attend my funeral, who is not (I am sure nobody thinks about that stuff), but what if nobody shows up? What does that really mean? You see, everybody on this planet is teaching us a lesson about life, about what to do and about what not to do. I thank my cousin (that I never met) for influencing me to become even more connected with the people who are really important to me. As I mentioned before, “influence is automatic, either you are influencing or you are being influenced”.