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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

In a Word: Influence

We asked three community influencers to share their thoughts on one word.

When I think of ‘influence,’ I don’t necessarily think of it in grand, sweeping contexts. Not that examples of this type of influence don’t abound, whether from figures in history or those special teachers, coaches, business and community leaders, workplace mentors, friends, and relatives who have had real and lasting impacts in our individual lives and in our community.

To me, influence starts from the simple concept that sometimes gets lost — we influence others and our circumstances all the time, whether we mean to or not. The more we keep this in mind, and the more we try to be positive influences on our family members, our co-workers, friends, and strangers alike in the little things and on a daily basis — when it would otherwise be easy for us to be preoccupied with our own worries or the immediate task at hand — the more effective we can be when we are called upon to be a positive influence when those big issues come around.

Compton is the managing member of the Evansville office of Jackson Kelly PLLC.

Negative influences seem inescapable these days — nasty politicians, celebrities behaving badly, opioid addiction. Is negative now the norm? Working with nonprofit organizations, I see the effects of negative influences in our communities — a child taken from their home because of physical abuse (or worse); a woman fleeing domestic violence; a homeless drug addict needing help and shelter. We have a responsibility to provide places of positive influence for those who haven’t encountered much positivity or hope before — maybe ever.

Positive influence isn’t just about being a mentor, a successful businessperson, or a visible personality. It’s also about the hard work of reaching people where they are, supporting their needs right now, with a spirit of generosity, respect, humility, and, above all, hope. Fortunately, my work also lets me witness nonprofit organizations serving the most vulnerable in our community day in and day out, making their spaces, programs, resources, and outreach into powerful positive influences for the greater good.

Carpenter is the executive director of the Community Foundation Alliance.

The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something — influence. When I think of influence I tend to think of the people and events in my life that have shaped who I am and who I strive to be. There are coaches, teachers, family, friends, and even strangers who all have played a part.

But the greatest impact on my character, on my development, and on my behavior was a gift from my dad. He was an exceptional man, and I was fortunate to have had him in my life. Doing good things for all people in hopes it may make them better was part of his daily routine. He influenced more people than he likely realized, and he certainly displayed influence through behavior and was the most consistent example of the word I have ever known.

Hedde is a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

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