Education Week: Challenging individuals to harness their influence for love

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Merrilee Boyack challenges individuals to harness the power of personal influence and to do so with love. (BYU Continuing Education)

Attorney and author Merrilee Boyack invited Education Week viewers to harness their influence in five ways through her presentation titled, “Being Anxiously Engaged without Being Anxious — The Power of Influence.”

Boyack shared many experiences where she saw an individual influence many and the influence of many, impact just one.

“Sometimes our influence can change the world. I have met many people throughout my life — young and old, tall and short, and rich and poor and all kinds of people — who have absolutely changed the world through their influence,” she said.

Through this influence, she said, “(it) is my hope, that we may weld every link of our chain of influence with love. That love will be used with every ounce of influence that we have.”

Boyack explained five ways in which individuals can harness their influence to do good.

“Be aware of your influence.”

Boyack explained her experience in recognizing the powerful influence she had as a mother. She noticed the influence she had on her children and thus her children’s friends and so on. From this experience, she remembered the words of David O. McKay. “There is one responsibility that no one can evade. That is the effect of one’s personal influence.”

Once she recognized the power of her influence, she better knew how to harness it.

“Give gifts of influence.”

She explained that these gifts are not physical gifts but the gift of time, attention, sacrifice and knowledge. Boyack said these gifts of influence are often small but can make a great impact.

She gave examples, such as taking time to speak to someone when running late, or teaching another about cars or how to play the piano.

“Make an effort.”

Boyack challenged viewers to take the pledge of “giving away five split seconds a day.” By saying words of appreciation to a child or complimenting a roommate, Boyack promised, “If you chose to live your life this way, giving away a split second of influence, your life will dramatically change.”

“Be guided by the influence of the Holy Ghost.”

She explained individuals can be influences for good by the promptings of the Holy Ghost. “Whether we are women, men, or children, the Holy Ghost can and will magnify our good influence on others. Particularly as we listen and respond to promptings that we are receiving,” she said.

“Radiate love.”

Boyack said this final step in harnessing influence “changes the way we interact with people. It has such a profound influence. And they can absolutely feel that.”

On reflection of personal influence, Boyack reminded viewers to “turn to the example of the greatest influencer who ever lived, Jesus Christ.”

From these five steps to harnessing personal influence, Boyack explained that “sometimes we don’t know the influence we have on other people,” but encouraged viewers to remember the ripple effect of personal influence everyone has.

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