Our Influence and Our Story
Now, I’m guessing if you’re like me, you’ve likely heard about the role “stewardship” plays in each of our lives. Typically we’ve been told that we are called to be stewards over the time, talent and financial resources of our lives. While I believe this to be absolutely and irrefutably true, it occurs to me there a couple more legs to the “stewardship stool.” Let’s consider for just a moment what we might call the fourth leg of this five-legged stool, the element of influence. In fact, let’s ask this question; “Do you like to meet ‘people of influence?” Well, if you do then we simply turn no further than ourselves. Each of us can be considered a person of influence. Why? Because we each have spheres of influence that consist of relationships that we can call upon for the purposes of helping someone along the road of life. It’s just a natural byproduct of weaving in and out of life’s connectivity.
Though it doesn’t appear on our personal financial statement, one can certainly argue that the cumulative impact of our time, our talent, our financial resources and our influence can be enormous. This is particularly so when we deploy these “assets” in the spirit of helping move the needle of someone’s life in a more positive direction. A common question might be, “How might we ‘leverage’ our influence to impact the lives of others?” Maybe it’s as simple as using some of our own relational capital to connect a person in need with a person who can help. Or, perhaps we might find ourselves in a situation where we need to exert our influence over another to keep them on the narrow road between the ditches that life would have them fall into. In either case, whether we’re called upon to be an influence or “spend” our influence for another, it’s a high calling to manage this asset well.
We Each Have a Story
Now, let’s consider what I believe is the fifth leg of the stool, our story. Have you ever secretly wished you were a good storyteller? Though you might be one of those rare breed of storytellers, you’ve more likely found yourself wishing you could, even if for just a moment, simply “tell a good story.” Seemingly, storytelling has become more and more a lost art reserved for a select few. A good story engages the senses and leaves you wanting more. In fact, I believe this is the anchor leg of stewardship.
Each of us has a story that is unfolding each and every day. As we invite others into our story, they so often see themselves in some part of our story. It is at this point we find the fulfillment that comes from one of the deepest longings of people…the longing to be invited in. This is the point where we move beyond the transaction of daily life to the transformative possibilities as we begin to see our larger purpose both in life and in our work. The power in the story is in the invitation. The invitation in is the gateway to engage the hearts (and stories) of others so that we can know their struggles, celebrate their triumphs and affirm their worth. This is the essence of authentic leadership.
Making the Real Investment
So, let’s consider all of this in the context of asset management. In their role, asset managers are entrusted with the role of shepherding and caring for the well-being of their client’s portfolio of investments. Aren’t we as stewards called to shepherd and care for those relationships that have been entrusted to us? Aren’t these in fact some of the most significant investments that we could ever hope to have under our care? Asset managers talk about investing in precious metals. How much more might life afford us if we invested in “precious” people? After all, don’t we in effect shepherd and care for others well by leveraging what’s been given to us for the benefit of others?
Though we don’t look for it, the really neat thing about leveraging these assets in this manner is that this type of investing carries with it a guaranteed return. Think about it for a moment. As we deploy our time, talent, financial resources and yes, our influence and story, to help the people around us grow, we too receive manifold blessings. So, if you long to be a person of influence and become a good storyteller then go be one. There is a watching world that awaits.
About the Author
Jon Thurman is director and executive vice president at Insurance Office of America providing executive leadership oversight to the Shared Services Group of the company.