It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized just how much influence we have over each other. What amazed me most was that it’s not just about our words and actions; those offer an easy cause and effect relationship. The really interesting thing is our invisible impact on others.
What is this secret power available to us all? Emotional contagion.
And by learning how to use it effectively, we can become better leaders and influencers.
You’re Under the Influence
Have you ever had a happy friend boost your mood? A visionary colleague inspire you to take action? Or a sad family member bring you down a little?
In those moments of sudden state change, you “caught” the feelings of the other person.
I began to recognize this invisible power when I took notice of how different people influenced me. My fun-loving friends brought out my funny side. “Good listeners” got me talking more than usual. And passionate people inspired me to follow through on bigger goals.
I felt like a dozen different people all wrapped up in one.
But then I discovered the cause: we’re all under constant influence. Every moment contains invisible forces that bring out different parts of our personalities. We’re not crazy; we’re just complicated.
These invisible forces are countless in number. So for now, we’ll focus on one: people.
What’s Your Invisible Influence?
In short, everything in you—the good, the bad—sprays out.
Like a garden hose, you spray everyone in sight. Everything in you affects how others live. (And they keep spraying you, too.)
Wherever you go, you’re contributing to the invisible atmosphere around you. Your internal state emits into the world through your facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, word choice, and more.
As it comes out of you, it alters the state of the room, affecting how others think, feel and act.
Your strengths (passion, clarity, joy) build others up and put them in a winning state. Your weak spots (fear, anxiety, anger), on the other hand, put others on edge and cultivate a failing environment.
We’re all under the influence of each other. But it’s those who take notice and choose what they spray, who become our greatest leaders.
What Exactly Do You Spray?
You send out countless secret messages to your friends, family and colleagues, that only their subconscious minds pick up.
Many of these messages are automatic and unseen; even to you. However, you can take control of them by understanding their sources. Address the source, and you can change the message.
1) You Spray What’s NATURAL
We all have personality traits and emotional states that come most naturally to us. They’re our everyday superpowers.
Here’s a short list of spray-able qualities:
- Calm & Clarity
- Passion & Enthusiasm
- Power & Confidence
- Delight & Contentment
- Compassion & Empathy
- Drive & Desire
I’m the calm, clear type. So when some people feel stressed out and overwhelmed, they come to me.
It’s not because I have all the answers, though. (Between you and me, I often have nothing profound to say.)
The real reason I make others feel better is that I give out what they need in that moment.
However, calm and clear is boring when it never sees passion. That’s why I need others in my life who naturally spray enthusiasm and drive.
Don’t reject your gift
It’s easy to look around at other people and think they have the perfect package. And that your personality is somehow inferior.
In truth, however, your natural strengths are a gift to the world around you. You have them because others need them. So pour them out with pride.
2) You Spray What’s INTENTIONAL
Every superpower has its weak spots.
Superman has kryptonite, excitable people can lack focus and the highly driven are sometimes low in empathy.
Great leaders know their weak spots and find ways to offset them. It’s not about “fixing” your weaknesses, however. Rather, it’s about protecting others from your naturally unproductive or damaging messages.
Thankfully, you can cultivate just about anything. Excitable people can develop calm clarity. And the driven type can grow their empathy muscles.
We’re not born with a single bag of tricks and forced to simply deal with it. We can, through intentional practice and development, or by seeking influence from the right people, access new qualities…which we then give away to others.
It’s more difficult than sticking with the natural stuff. However, this is where true leaders step up.
Anyone can give what comes easily. But those who intentionally generate the inner resources others need…they’re the real leaders.
3) You Spray What’s REALITY
We all know people who can suck the air out of a room. They’re unhappy, dismissive and critical about everything. Your day was great until he or she showed up and brought the dark cloud.
What’s the deal? A negative reality.
You likely also know someone who brightens your life. This person is always smiling, laughing, speaking positively, and easily finds the silver lining in anything. When he or she shows up, you instantly feel happy and more at ease.
What makes the difference? A positive reality.
Our brains paint personalized versions of life, based on countless little factors. And whichever reality script is running, produces our current spray-able state.
Imagine what someone might feel with each of these reality statements. What facial expression, posture, word choice or general attitudes would you see?
- “Life is awesome.”
- “Everyone hates me.”
- “We’re the best.”
- “I can’t handle this.”
- “Love is everywhere.”
- “These people are useless.”
In short, you spray whatever owns your reality in any given moment.
The secret then, is to own your own reality. When you don’t take control of it, you unintentionally cultivate unwanted states that spread like a nasty virus, and rob you of your influence and leadership.
When you decide to take control and build a healthy reality, you become a true leader who give what others need.
Every Leader Needs a Fill Plan
You spray whatever fills you. So it might as well be the right stuff.
The problem is, it takes work. It’s hard to reject negativity and embrace virtue. It’s not easy to face your weak spots and do something about them.
But, in the end, it’s worth it.
You’re a leader.
Even if you don’t have children, staff or a big list of instagram followers, you still have invisible influence. And you have a responsibility to bring your A-game everywhere you go.
True leaders are those who master their inner states and give what others need most.
To do that, we must:
- Leverage our natural strengths
- Practice intention with our weak spots
- Surround ourselves with the right people who fill our deficiencies
- Choose a more empowering reality (My book, Free to Change, covers this in depth)
What’s your fill plan?
Elevate Your Influence. Be a Better Leader.
What does your current problem or situation need from you?
Download this free worksheet and find out! It’ll help you identify your strengths and weak spots and then build a plan to shift the invisible space around you.