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Having influence can change lives. An influential leader can walk into a room and empower others. They have faith in what they say and know their mission.

But influencing others can be intimidating. You need people to take action and change the way they think.

Influential leaders empower their employees and speed up results. They leave an impact for generations to come.

In this episode, you’ll learn the three ways to become a more influential and impactful leader today.

Show Highlights Include:

  • How emulating Francis Bacon makes you a better leader and puts faith in your mission. (2:17)
  • Why sitting next to a Grandparent immediately makes you more influential and intellectual. (5:36)
  • How Björn Borg’s tennis training keeps life full of inspiration and wears out your opponents. (8:12)
  • The Extreme Ownership Guide for making life more enjoyable and inspiring to others. (11:07)
  • Using the Growth Mindset to become a more dependable and reliable person today. (13:27)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thanks so much for listening today. I want to discuss what I think is the single most important ingredient to being a transformative leader, that type of leader who makes an impact.
Now, there are numerous traits that describe leadership greatness and they're all worthy of merit. There's courage, confidence, competence, character, conviction, consistency, discipline, determination, desire, vision, a teachable spirit, focus and passion, just to name a few. [01:00.6]

I love a leader who has such a focus that they have a singleness of purpose and a burning desire to accomplish that purpose, as Napoleon Hill would say. I love a kind of leader who has a kind of relentlessness that obstacles, setbacks, disappointments, even failure, cannot stop them. But every effective leader that I have ever met all share this one critical trait. They have great influence. Influence, that's the key.

I believe John Maxwell was spot on when he said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Friends, our ability to influence people within the sphere of our periphery determines our impact. The type of organization really doesn't matter. The size of the organization really doesn't matter. You're talking about motivating people, inspiring people, convincing people to follow you. You're talking about influencing people. [02:11.4]

Francis Bacon once said, “The duty and office of rhetoric is to apply reason to imagination for the better moving of the will.” Translation: if you want to impact others, give them a meaningful and significant reason to follow you. People follow those they admire. They follow those whom they find trustworthy, reliable, dependable. They follow people who are going someplace, and when your influence is high, people are going to follow you. They will trust you to lead them in the right direction. They will have faith that your vision and your mission is meaningful. It's significant. It's life-changing.

Friends, from Winston Churchill to the pastor at the church on the hill, your ability to influence determines your degree of impact. Rob Peters states, “The genuine meaning of influence is to get people to take action without any sort of force or exertion.” [03:13.3]

Influence is an essential leadership quality. It gives you the ability to move just one individual or a large group or in business. Warren Bennis once stated, “The basis of leadership is the capacity of the leader to change the mindset” of another person. Ken Blanchard wrote, “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”

You see, influence is about understanding yourself and the impact you have on other people. Our ability to influence can empower employees, accelerate results, and create a better working environment, so the critical question becomes, how do we grow our influence? [03:57.3]

Oh, I'm glad you asked. I think it can start by simply recalling those voices of wisdom from our past, like those wisdom voices from our parents, from our grandparents. Maybe you're thinking of a particular teacher or a coach right now. For me, it was my father.

My dad was the wisest man I’d ever met in my life. Yet he was just a third-grade dropout. He taught me nuggets that have literally changed my life, simple wisdom traits like “Son, don't judge folks.”

“Son, you'd rather be an hour early than a minute late.”

“Son, be kind to people. How you do anything is how you do everything. It's never wrong to do the right thing.”

“Son, make sure your servant's towel is bigger than your ego. Make sure that whenever you do something, you do it to the best of your ability.”

Perhaps the greatest lesson my father taught me is that, no matter what the storm, no matter what the difficulty of the hour, you keep standing. You always stand. Yep, my dad, the wisest man I’d ever met. [05:07.2]

But you know what? That wisdom that he possessed came from somewhere. Most likely, in my opinion, it came from the Bible. It came from his life's experiences, and it came from godly parents, my grandparents. You see, I am of the firm belief that we can learn much from our grandparents that can impact how we lead.

When I was a professor at Texas A&M, I loved encouraging my students during vacations to go home and to sit close to Grandma and Grandpa, and to talk very little, but just sit and listen. I told my students they would be amazed at the wisdom that is simply poured out of their grandparents. What if I were to argue this simple point that our grandparents modeled growing influence, the kind of influence that can cause us to be transformative leaders who make an impact? [06:04.4]

You see, our grandparents practiced common sense. They executed basic behaviors. They did what they needed to do to survive and to ensure that the family would continue moving forward. Forward momentum is very important, regardless of whether it's in business or in athletics, or in a family scenario.

It was Harvard Business Review years ago that did this longitudinal study. Harvard Business Review asked this one simple question on the knowledge-base employees. What is the one variable that generates the highest degree of employee-satisfaction? Friends, it wasn't money. It wasn't bonuses. It wasn't time off from work. It was when the employee sensed that forward progress was taking place. [06:54.2]

I want you to think about our grandparents. Our grandparents moved our families from one generation to the next, and I believe they did it with that old-fashioned wisdom rooted in common sense. It caused them to execute basic behaviors. They simply did what needed to be done to survive and to ensure that the family would continue going forward.

When I look at the casualties of a shallow superficial culture, the first two that come to mind are a lack of common sense and a reluctance to execute basics. If we want to grow our influence, look no further than Grandma. In fact, my challenge to you is the same challenge I have right now—be the kind of leader your grandmother would hire. Come on, somebody.

You see, our grandparents grew their influence by employing three simple practices. They executed the basics. Number two, they owned it, and, number three, they had a growth mindset. [08:05.7]

Let's just look at executing the basics for a moment. You see, I really believe that in a shallow culture, we forego the basics. We go for that which is extraordinary. But you don't really win titles without executing basics. You don't become all you can be without executing basics.

No wonder Chuck Noll, that great football coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, said this on one occasion. He said, “Champions are champions not because they do anything extraordinary but because they do the ordinary things better than anyone else.” I like that, simple execution of the basics.

I have a good friend of mine who was a professional tennis player back in the 1970s and I asked him on one occasion, I said, “Who is your stiffest competition?” and he said, “Björn Borg.” If you don't know that name, I would encourage you to go to Netflix and rent the documentary, Borg vs. McEnroe. [09:09.3]

Anyway, back to the story. I asked my friend, I said, “What was it about Borg that made him so difficult as an opponent?” and my friend simply said this. “Borg had the basics so down, he wore his opponents out.”
I have a friend right now who is hoping to get a call from Cooperstown. That's the town that houses Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame. My friend said, if he gets the call, it won't be because of his home runs. It will be because he executed basics. He knew how to lay a bunt. He knew how to hit the cutoff man. He knew that, with runners in scoring position, how to hit to the opposite side of the field. Basics. [09:55.3]

I remember John Wooden, that great basketball coach at UCLA, 10 national championships under his belt, always taught his star recruits the basics. As a matter of fact, the first lesson that Coach Wooden taught his basketball players was the proper way to put on their socks, because if you don't know the proper way to put on your socks, your feet will develop blisters and you will be of no use to the team. What good is being 6’11” and you're sitting on the bench. Come on, somebody.

My father, that simple third-grade dropout, he was just a basic cook. He was a line cook at California Maritime Academy in Northern California, just a simple cook, but listen to this profound wisdom.


“Yes, Dad.”

“Whenever you go to a new restaurant, order a bowl of soup. If it's possible, sample the soup.”

“Why, Dad?”

“If the soup is not good, don't invest in the restaurant.” Oh, baby. [11:01.2]

I want you to think for a moment about Grandma's basics that she taught your parents. Grandma's basics: telling the truth, thinking the best to people, doing what you say you're going to do. You think on the surface, what's the big deal? But I’ll tell you, a leader with honesty, a leader who doesn't judge, who treats everyone with dignity, a leader who is reliable, who is dependable, who is trustworthy, you talk about impact, you talk about transformative.

Not only did our grandparents execute the basics, they owned it. I love this book, love this book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin titled, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. My folks were practicing extreme ownership way before I heard about this book and they got that extreme ownership from their parents, my grandparents. [12:01.0]

It works something like this. If it's just about your position, if it's just about your status in life, there's going to be an issue. In Navy SEAL life, if it's just about your position and not about the mission, somebody dies, and in order to carry out that mission, you can't make excuses and you can't blame others. Come on, y'all.

Listen to me, friends. Imagine going through a day, a week, a month, a year, not making excuses, not blaming others. I've just described many of our grandparents. What did they do? They simply and unwittingly owned it. I have never heard my grandparents complain. I've never heard my grandparents make excuses. I’d never heard, ever heard, my grandparents, not one time, blame somebody else. They simply hung in there. They did what needed to be done, no questions asked. That's owning it and that's something that will grow our leadership in a seismic kind of way. [13:11.2]

I'm telling you, friends, I'm talking about the kind of leadership that makes an impact and we can learn it from looking at the lives of our grandparents.

Finally, I think our grandparents had a growth mindset. How else do you explain pushing a family forward for generations? I love Carol Dweck’s book mindset. Carol Dweck is a psychologist at Stanford University and she says we either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is where we don't learn, where we know everything already, where we're stuck in doing things the way we've always done them. I love John Wooden's comment. He says, it's what you learn after it all that really matters. I like what my father once told me. He said, “Son, I'd rather you be curious than certain.” I like that. [14:05.0]

When you have a know-it-all mindset, you're simply inviting entropy. What is entropy? So glad you asked. It's the second law of thermodynamics that suggests anything made up of a physical matter is in the process of decay and eventual chaos.

You see, our grandparents had a kind of growth mindset. They push things forward that forward momentum that Harvard identified as the number one variable that encouraged and really satisfied employees. When you have a growth mindset, anything is possible. When you have a growth mindset, you're always imagining. You're always reimagining. You're always thinking about what could be and what can be and what might be. It's contagious. [14:56.7]

You see, I really love learning about business leadership from sage, wise grandparents, who simply grew their influence by applying common sense, executing basics, owning it, and having a growth mindset. This produces a family leader who is a visionary, dependable, reliable, trustworthy and devoted, a family member who is dedicated and filled with optimism and passion—so just imagine how such influence traits can impact your leadership.

Remember, people will follow you if you offer them meaningful and significant reasons to do so. I want you to think about this for a while, and I want you to commit to being the kind of influential leader your grandmother would hire.

That's going to do it for this episode. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick, asking the most important question I can ask, how ya livin’? [16:06.8]

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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