It’s not always words that influence us. Some delightful things can happen when you allow someone’s actions to cause you to look at a situation from a new perspective. When you decide to try on their habits. When you follow their lead. When you choose to put them first.
These are the three lessons of influence I learned over the last week.
1. Buy fuzzy slippers.
She brought in fuzzy slippers to work. They were cows.
After 18 years in a corporate environment… some years with dress codes, and with memories of being told that I shouldn’t wear knee high boots, I should wear pantyhose, and I should dress for the job I want… my brain first tried to figure out where fuzzy slippers fit in all that.
The answer is that it they don’t. And that’s awesome.
There is no joy in pantyhose. But there is joy in fuzzy slippers.
We have a video recording studio at our office, and shoes make noise. But fuzzy slippers don’t.
So now I have zebras. Someone else ordered Sharks. And another is shopping for Lions. We wear them even if we’re not recording.
We were all positively and joyfully influenced by cows.
2. Use water jugs.
I drink buckets of coffee. This is no surprise to most people. My husband does, too. Our office and our house go through a LOT of coffee.
One day someone brought in a jug. A 64oz jug. The kind with lines on the side that mark every hour of the day. The creators of this object are trying to help. It’s to encourage you to drink a certain amount of water by a certain time of day. It’s to make sure you stay hydrated, without drowning yourself, by drinking 64oz at once that your body can’t hold.
Guess who else has a jug now?
Guess what happens if it gets to lunch time and the water line is still too high? “Chug the jug. Chug chug chug.” (Not quite the same circumstances or meaning as college.)
And we laugh. We all encourage each other. There is no shame; mostly silliness.
It helps me take a break from coffee (just a break, not a break-up… let’s not be ridiculous). And since I started working out again, staying hydrated all day has made the workouts this week a lot more tolerable.
I would never have made this choice on my own. It was the good habit of someone else that sparked an opportunity.
My jug is pink with polka dots. Someone else has blue. Another occasionally drips but is loved just the same. We all have jugs. One person influenced the rest of us. One person encouraged the rest of us.
Culture is formed best from the ground up, and apparently it takes a lot of water.
3. Share the dish.
It started simple enough. I noticed the birds who chose to hang out on the neighbor’s porch. I wondered whether they might want to join me for morning coffee. So I put out a dish.
At first nothing.
Then it was just the birds. The littlest ones that like my lilac bush and are so little that they either fly or hop. Their legs are too short to walk from place to place like the robin that runs down the middle of the street like a rebel.
And then one morning someone else was at the dish.
First it was Dart. Then it was Dash. And then another (haven’t named him yet). And the best part was the time I saw them there together. The birds and the chipmunks sharing the dish. At the same time. One on each side.
No one ran away or flew away. They shared the food. They shared the space. They shared the dish.
To be honest it makes a ridiculous mess. Birdseed all over the porch. (I actually think they throw it out of the dish intentionally.) There is also chipmunk poop. Little raisins scattered across the porch as well.
“You should get a regular bird feeder that hangs,” I’ve been told.
No. Because then the chipmunks can’t share.
Not everything needs to be customized for just one group. The birds are not more important than the chipmunks.
Not every decision has to be about making life easier for me, and less messy. (Let’s be honest, sweeping ain’t that hard, and raisin poop isn’t that problematic.)
Because of the dish everyone eats. Together.
And I love that. Gathering around a table to share a meal is a good God thing. And I get to sit in my chair with my morning coffee and share in the moment, too.
Influence and inspiration can come from more places than a Ted Talk or a Tik Tok.
But some lessons aren’t best learned from strangers on a screen.
One of the most important things we can do is slow down enough to pay attention to the lives in our circle. To the people in our community. To the paths on our way to work, at work, at play, and in the every day moments of daily life.
We can take stock of what’s happening and observe. And then we can try things on.
We can see if there is an opportunity to be more than we are.
One little moment at a time.