One incident can change us forever. In the last century a rich boy and a poor boy lived in the same neighborhood. The rich boy wore nice clothes, lived in a nice house and had plenty of good, nutritious food to eat. The poor boy lived in a cheap house, wore ragged clothes and did not have much of anything to eat. One day the boys got into a scuffle. In the struggle the rich boy won. The poor boy got up, dusted himself off and told the rich kid that if he had the proper food to eat like the rich boy did, he would have won. Then the poor boy turned and walked away. The rich kid just stood there. He was numbed by what the poor boy had said. His heart was broken because he knew that it was true.
The rich boy never forgot that experience. From that day on he revolted against any favored treatment because he was rich. He made it a point to wear cheap clothing; he intentionally endured the hardships faced by the poor. His family was often embarrassed by the way he dressed, but despite family pressure, that young boy never again took advantage of his wealth.
History omits the name of the poor boy, but the rich boy who developed such a compassion for the poor made them his life’s work. His name is recorded in history. He dedicated his life to service and became a world-class physician, serving in Africa. His name was Albert Schweitzer. I’m not suggesting that we all be as selfless as Albert Schweitzer, but I do believe that we need to be more in tune with the thinking and feelings of others. Very few people have had as much impact on the world as Albert Schweitzer. Even fewer people have gotten as much satisfaction out of life as he did.
The Importance of a Smile
The dictionary says that to smile is to “look joyous,” or “to have an appearance to excite joy; to contract the features of the face in such a manner as to express pleasure, moderate joy, or love and kindness.”
Generally speaking, the first thing we notice when we meet a person is the smile–or absence of same–on their face. A favorite compliment is, “You certainly have a beautiful smile.” Factually, there are very few things that influence for the good and give more encouragement than a sincere smile. Henry Miller said, “There is power in a smile. It is one of the best relaxation exercises I know of.” Joseph Addison said, “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. They are but trifles, to be sure, but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”
Several years ago a study revealed something that most people have known for a long time. After weeks of testing the appearance, personality and attitudes of subjects and their influence on others, the professors at Yale University discovered that a smile is the single most powerful force of influence that people have. That’s good news, because all of us can generate enough energy for a smile.
A smile has been identified as the “little curve that sets a lot of things straight,” and we’re often told that if we see someone who does not have a smile, we should give them one of ours. However, we must do more than smile if we’re going to be successful in having a long-term impact on other people.
If we’re really going to influence people after we’ve gotten favorable attention with a pleasant smile, we must communicate with sincerity and honesty. Now, obviously, a university study should not be required to know that, because the saying is still true that you communicate what you are. In summation, a warm, friendly smile is a very fine thing. Think about it. Better yet, try it and I’ll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!
Evaluating Your Associations by Jim Rohn
I’d like for us to take a look at the power of influence in our lives and how it is possible to be nudged off course a little at a time until finally, we find ourselves asking, “How did I get here?”
We should ask ourselves three key questions:
1) “Who am I around?” You’ve got to evaluate everybody who is able to influence you in any way.
2) “What are these associations doing to me?” That’s a major question to ask. “What have they got me doing, listening to, reading, thinking and feeling?” You’ve got to make a serious study of how others are influencing you, both negatively and positively.
3) “Is that okay?” Maybe everyone you associate with has been a positive, energizing influence. Then again, maybe there are some bad apples in the bunch. All I’m suggesting here is that you take a close and objective look. Everything is worth a second look, especially the power of influence. Both will take you somewhere, but only one will take you in the direction you need to go.
Only then can we discuss three ways to handle associations or relationships that are holding you back.
1) Disassociate. This is not an easy decision, nor something you should take lightly, but in some cases it may be essential. You may just have to make the hard choice not to let certain negative influences affect you anymore. It could be a choice that preserves the quality of your life.
2) Limited association. Spend major time with major influences and minor time with minor influences. It is easy to do just the opposite, but don’t fall into that trap. Take a look at your priorities and your values. We have so little time at our disposal. Wouldn’t it make sense to invest it wisely?
3) Expanding your associations. This is the one I suggest you focus on the most. Find other successful people that you can spend more time with. Invite them to lunch (pick up the tab) and ask them how they have achieved so much or what makes them successful. Now, this is not just about financial success; it can be someone who you want to learn from about having a better marriage, being a better parent, having better health or a stronger spiritual life.
It is called association on purpose—getting around the right people by expanding your circle of influence. And when you do that, you will naturally limit the relationships that are holding you back. Give it a try and see for yourself.
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