A wonderful and wise lady, who I have met only once, but have come to admire from afar is Patricia. Patricia and I are connected distantly through marriage. Her son is my daughter’s brother-in-law. Social media has made her husband, James, one of my favorite friends although from a distance since they currently reside in Shanghai. James has supported me for years in my endeavors to “Help Fathers to be Dads”!
Patricia told the story of a speech her son Kevin made in Chinese language class while attending Junior High in the United States. The subject of the speech was to be about “the most influential person in your life”. Being very attentive and wonderful parents, Patricia guessed the most influential person Kevin would choose would be his mother or father, maybe even his older brother. Patricia offered to help Kevin by listening to his speech, but he said, “No thanks Mom, I got this.”
As the story goes, and it is a true one, Kevin got up before the class and announced, “The most influential person in my life is….me!”
Patricia wrote, “Apparently, he made the speech with sufficient reasons to justify the statement well enough to win himself an award – without his mother’s help of course. I actually could not recall what friends had told me about his speech and Kevin, of course, did not care to repeat or to elaborate.”
What struck me about Patricia’s story is the paradox that she and her husband were so influential over their son, giving him the strength, knowledge, and attitude to know that, indeed, he himself, Kevin, will always be the most influential person in his life, as we all are. He knew from his upbringing that, while we all thrive on mentoring and guidance, we also must listen, evaluate, and decide who we will listen to and what values we will embrace and put into action.
We are, ourselves, the most influential people in our lives! We are the ones who take action or inaction. We are the decision makers and difference makers. Of course, we need intelligent and caring people to teach us life's lessons--so there will hopefully always be very influential people in your life. But don’t fool yourself! You will always be the most influential person that will ever guide you in your choices, in your goals, in your life!
Teach this very important lesson to your children and they will understand that their ultimate success and happiness really depends only on them!