Influence matters! I used to believe friends were more important than family.
Recent events have shifted my thinking.
The statement above is how our 14-year old daughter, Maddy, has started to understand the importance of influence and relationships. This year has been a big year for her. In response to this learning, a little while back Maddy wrote down her thoughts and perspective. This week Maddy shared these thoughts with me. I asked if it would be possible to publish her writing as the core elements are just as relevant for adults as they are for other 14 year olds and teens. Maddy was keen to share her ideas and hoped that other people and possibly, teenagers sharing similar experiences, may take something away from her comments and writing. We are very proud of Maddy and hope that this blog has the influence on others that it has had on us.
I have always loved my family dearly and they are a very important part of my life. However, upon reflection I realised that I was prioritising my friends, wanting to spend more time and money on and with them. I feel like I have an insight into relationships after a number of experiences this year. I have found that friends are there for you, people who make you happy and you form life long memories with.
But, one thing I have learnt is that people change and they come and go.
Friendships are still important for all the reasons listed, but family is more important. Family members are the ones who you also create memories with. In my case, they will never ever leave my side and who will love me no matter what. That is not always the case with every relationship.
I have come to realise that people come into your life for a reason. The real challenge is understanding why and what they have taught you? Family is the most important thing you will ever have so treasure them, don’t leave them and don’t lose them. Love your family wholeheartedly, otherwise one day you may look back and regret not making the most of the opportunity. Be a role model for your siblings. Spend that precious time with your parents. Put in the effort to build a strong relationship with both your Mum and Dad.
A teacher of mine once told me that trying to meet the expectations of others was the undoing of the world…of relationships, families, self-esteem and self-belief.
I interpreted her statement as a comment on the fact that a large portion of society are living based on the expectations and standards as set by other people. As I grow up, I am discovering who I am and learning that life should be lived how you want it to be, not how others say it should be.
Recently, this thought has crossed my mind many times. I agree with the comment but feel that these expectations are more often than not formed by the media. Whether it be the news or social media platforms, I strongly believe that the majority of the expectations we have of relationships, lifestyles, work, health and body image are influenced on what the media has shown.
Sure, the people we associate with and conversations help to influence our expectations, but the media are the foundation. They influence our expectations – almost like we are being told how our lives should be lived.
Recently I have begun to really take note of the world, of what’s happening around me, peoples values, passions and the expectations of others.
Yes, before I knew what was happening in the world around me but not to the depth that I am understanding now. This has only happened recently however I have been able to realise that I am unconsciously becoming more aware. I am beginning to understand the position everyone has in society and the impact that people can have on others.
In my experiences in the last year involving friendships, school work and conversation I have come to understand the impact one choice, one word and one action can make. One text, a smile, an email, one question. I have seen and felt firsthand how people impact one another. It is interesting how a class discussion can be influenced by one question or opinion. Some of my relationships have changed through one word or lack thereof. I have been genuinely surprised by the impact words and people can have.
Have you ever considered the impact and influence you have on others?
It could be anyone – a relative, a friend or a teacher. After your next interaction with someone watch how they respond to certain words you say or even your body language. Take note of how they act afterwards. Do they smile more, laugh more, talk more?
In a recent class we discussed change in people. A point was made that the most significant time of change in someone’s life is between the ages of 12 and 16 years old. We discussed the fact that people change and grow but you can’t always see it. So, we identified different ways we can see change in others, other than physically. People may change who they hang out with, their passions and interests, how they display their emotions and their focuses. Some people start to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
This lesson was a turning point for me, when I realised it applied to me.
That I had changed…my friendships had shifted…my values and even the amount of time I now spend on social media. I have become more aware of what my strengths and weaknesses are and am working to improve my weaknesses and use my strengths in the best way possible.
Another time that I started to shift my thinking was after listening to Waleed Aly’s speech about ‘fear’ on The Project. It really struck me and made me think about the world we are living in. It highlighted the need to understand different people’s perspectives and points of view.
The main point I took away was that everyone has different opinions and perspectives.
We need to try to understand people’s motivations to understand what they do and have done. It is not an excuse for the tragedies occurring on a daily basis. However, understanding where other people are coming from will help to bring peace and less outrage about every attack or disaster that has unfortunately become the norm.
The majority of people are reacting in fear and are scared. They want to be safe but there are so many unknowns. It often comes down to understanding one another and the influence we can have. I feel like this is how most relationships fall apart. When the perspective of the other person fails to be seen.
Another experience that I have learnt from is when I was asked who my inspiration is and who I look up to. My immediate response was my parents. It may sound cliche’d but my Mum and Dad really do inspire me. The relationships between my parents and I is quite strong and is continually developing. I have become aware of the amount of hard work and effort my parents put into maintaining a happy and healthy life for our family. Seeing how loyal and committed they are to the family is incredible and I truly admire them for that.
My parents are strong advocates of values.
Not only knowing your own but also being able to recognise others values and understanding how to work with them in the most effective way. Being a 14-year-old, there have been the down times in my relationships with my parents. I know at times I have not treated them with respect, but I know that my parents love me no matter what and they trust I will learn from these moments.
As well as values, my parents are also very much about trust. One of the best lessons I have learnt from my parents is that trust is earned and takes a lot of time and effort to build, however can be broken just like that. My dad told me about a metaphor of an oak tree. It takes hundreds of years to grow but can be cut down in minutes. Despite all the warnings from my parents, that is one thing I did learn the hard way but I am grateful that I now more fully understand the importance of trust.
My main points are that we need to realise and understand our impact on others. People should think about how what they are doing, saying or typing will impact others. The need to consider your influence on relationships, both previous and current and learn from them is important.
You need to evaluate who you trust and how you have built trust?
Who has broken your trust and have you ever broken someone’s trust?
Consider how people change and how you influence?
Have you changed? Have your friends changed?
What about your other relationships?
It is important to contemplate your own values, strengths and weaknesses and how they will help you. To think before reacting, consider the other person’s perspective and motivations for the choice they have made.
Most importantly, we can all learn from everything that happens; every event; every mistake; and every achievement. These things define you, they add another piece to the puzzle that is you.
The ability to influence is integral to effective leadership and strong relationships. As is developing trust. I often write and discuss the importance of building strong and meaningful connections at home and in the workplace. Some people interpret this as needing to become good friends and share time out of the work with others, which is not really the point. Relationships and leadership are more than that. In part, it is the ability to reflect on what is happening, honest assessment and the emotional intelligence to understand perspectives and react accordingly.
Some of these traits are innate. A few can be learned or enhanced. Either way, the first step is acknowledgment. Developing yourself and learning about leadership can be learned at any age. Seeking deeper understanding and the impact you can and do have on others provides an excellent platform for self-acceptance, influence and leading people.
What have you learned about yourself and your relationships recently?