Discomfort of Influence

Having influence is NOT always a bed of roses!

Along with influence comes a certain unavoidable degree of visibility, where you start living in a kind of fishbowl and are held up to a level of keen observation, and even criticism, that you probably weren’t used to before.

I personally dislike publicity. Have always grown up shielding myself from the spotlight, trying to make a difference behind the scenes. It worked – small time.

Until suddenly, one day in 1999, I realized that the heroes I grew up on, the folks I learned to look up to and learn from, WERE NO LONGER VISIBLE. I’m sure they existed, just weren’t as widely talked about, or promoted, or publicized.

I wondered why.

Today we have unscrupulous politicians, thieving criminals, unethical business-people, immoral stars (movie, music et al) as the ULTRA VISIBLE role models our youth must look up to – because there’s no alternative.

That was the day I wrote a stinging letter to India’s largest weekly magazine, INDIA TODAY. With a circulation of over FIVE MILLION in different Indian languages.

To my astonishment, they mentioned it in the EDITORIAL – on the first page.

And did a DIFFERENT kind of cover story from their regular style – on people, Indians, folks our youth and country must look up to. Sports superstars and social workers, novelists and entrepreneurs, people worth emulating and dreaming of becoming.

And that was the day I decided it would be IRRESPONSIBLE to let my personal feelings about publicity and visibility get in the way.

I would overcome my natural reticence and shyness, work on living with it, to draw attention to the work I do, the causes I support, the people I admire, the needs of sick children in India and the world.

Do I enjoy it? Absolutely not.

I feel VERY strange when I receive adulatory emails from folks across the globe. When total strangers write to say they’ve been moved to doing things after seeing what I’ve achieved.

But then I sit back and think… what if this encourages THEM to go for their dreams.

That’s when I decide it’s probably worth the trouble.

The discomfort.

Yes, influence carries with it some discomfort.

I have to get out of my comfort zone to get this effect. So that others as scared as I once was know there are people DOING this, and so they can find the courage, the belief, the role model to follow on the path to fulfilling their own destiny.

I am not comfortable being praised in public. Would rather hide under a bushel of anonymity.

But some things are more important.

Being seen as a role model for younger, more energetic but less directed or guided people, is one of those.

It doesn’t make the decision easier, or the situation any more pleasant – but at least, there’s a purpose to be achieved by enduring the discomfort of influence.