Monday, December 17, 2012

Power of Influence

As I was writing my next column, about compliments and shoes, I stumbled upon a friend’s Facebook post that stopped me dead in my thoughts.

I typically multi-task when I write: check email, check Facebook, check, check my banking account (yikes!), and so on. This was a typical writing morning. Sitting at the bar in my favorite coffeehouse, surrounded by the sounds of grinding espresso, steaming milk, soft Christmas carols, and joyous chitchat. Pure inspiration.

182 words. Staring at me from the computer. That’s all I had. I was struggling, as I sometimes do…so much for pure inspiration. Then I read a post by a friend on Facebook and I was floored. Now this was inspiration, pure thought-provoking inspiration.

What was I thinking? I’m sitting here, writing about my black patent pumps and two enlightening interactions, but they paled in the comparison to what has occurred in our world. The post was about the massacre at Sandy Hook. It was poignant, well written, exceptionally insightful, emotional, and timely (and I thought I was the writer!). Two feelings jolted through me when I finished reading: pride and embarrassment.

Pride: I’m proud to know this person. Proud he took action and beautifully expressed his thoughts. Proud he woke me up. Proud he showed me what is important, what matters, and who matters.

Embarrassment: That I would brush past the incidents of Sandy Hook and continue with my life like normal, not taking advantage of my position to share insights with YOU.

My friend isn’t a writer. He simply posted his thoughts on his own Facebook page where his 816 friends may or may not read it. That was his platform. And he took advantage. Why wouldn’t I do the same?

So I opened a new blank word document and started writing (this).

Sandy Hook was a horrible tragedy. It is a huge indicator of something terribly wrong with our society. I don’t know the answers, but I do know it can’t be ignored. Maybe that is the answer. To stop ignoring the signs that tell us something or someone is “off.” The gut feeling that tells you something is wrong. Reports quote people who knew the gunman describing him as “disturbed” and “weird.” And my stomach turned when I read, “I can’t say that I’m surprised.”

A very sick person executed the Sandy Hook massacre and no one who knew him was surprised by the actions he took. Yet they did nothing to stop him. They did not speak up. They did not listen to their gut. They did not take action. They failed.

It’s time to start taking actions that will surprise people, possibly even shock them. They may be unpopular. They may not be politically correct. They may piss some people off. But if you look back through history, our biggest change agents never did what was popular, they simply did what they thought was right. And until every single person recognizes his or her own power of influence, nothing will change.

Someone who knew the gunman had the power to influence change.

This is my power of influence. I am blessed to write on a platform with hundreds of thousands of readers. And you have your own power. Do you recognize it? How are you using it? How are you taking advantage of the people you know, the people who listen to you, and the people you influence? How are you using your power to make this world a better place?

Our world has become robotic. Speaking out isn’t encouraged. Raging against the machine isn’t encouraged. But being politically correct is. Screw that. Do you want to be thought-less follower or a powerful influencer?

I have the power.
You have the power.

What will you do with it? Will you use your power to influence and cause positive change?  Or will you simply ignore the calling to use your power for something greater and continue down the PC path? I won’t. Neither should you.

I’m your Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista. How may I help you help yourself?

Take Action: Sign the National Sympathy Card for Sandy Hook. 

Read the Facebook post that inspired this article:
With a couple buddies watching football devastated that the Steelers failed yet again to act like a decent football team. As we are finishing beers the night game was interrupted by the president's speech.

Our table went quiet and we listened.

It was very appropriate that football was put on hold and there were no complaints. In fact there were no comments.

Grown men went quiet and thoughtful. We all felt like crying and some of us did.

The speech was exceptional- thoughtful, heartfelt, poignant, & powerful. Politics don't matter now. Perfect little kids without a care in the world except for recess have been murdered in their classrooms in a world that they thought was safe and secure.

They were thinking about Christmas when they went to school for the last time and they hugged their moms/dads and said I love you, see you when I get home.

They never came home.

These aren't my kids. They aren't my friends, they aren't my family. I don't know these kids or their families.

I do know they were innocent. I know they were loved. I know they were American babies at school during a loving & happy time of year.

Those families will never have another great Christmas. Their families will never be whole. This time of year will now just be a reminder of a loss and a heartbreak that can never be healed.

The rest of us will move on. We will survive. We will forget as time passes. Columbine came and went- we were shocked, we felt remorse, we forgot. Virginia Tech came & went and set a new record for horror. The nation again stopped for several days and focused on a campus that had been shattered. Then we gradually moved on again.

This pattern will continue to happen unless something changes. It has happened in high schools, in colleges, in elementary schools. I don't know what the answer is and I am sure evil will continue to exist no matter what we do.

With that said I am feeling both very sad & very stupid. What did we think was going to happen? We make speeches and express outrage and then when it comes time for change or solutions we revert to partisan politics. Whatever your point of view was before the tragedy you revert to that position and start explaining why people that think like you do are not responsible. We blame the other side, we equivocate, we rationalize... And we do nothing. That isn't actually true- we move on from remorse and point fingers at others, we point across the aisle, we point at schools, we point at police, we point everywhere but in the mirror.

We are Americans.

There are not two sides to that statement.

We are ALL at fault because we will not stand together and move forward. We have all forgotten the pledge of allegiance... "Divided we fall"

Our children are being killed in their classrooms.

The president will TRY to change the laws about guns in the near future. If you saw him tonight you can be sure that he wants to do something tangible to try to change our future.

Maybe you didn't vote for him. Maybe you don't like him. Maybe you disagree with his politics, his policies, his point of view.

Maybe OUR American babies are more important than your politics, your policies, and your point of view.

I don't know the answer. I don't know what the president will try and I don't know if it will work. I will support it regardless. I will take the leap of faith because any tangible action is better than inaction. We know what happens if nothing changes- American children die.

We must move forward united, we must not forget, we must not point fingers. Let's try something new. If it doesn't work we can try again. These are OUR kids and OUR future. They are more important than I am. They are more important than you are. There were no shootings of any kind at the schools I attended. I never had to hide in a closet from a madman trying to kill me. Things have gotten worse not better and we have let down the next generation. We have not provided them the same thing that our parents provided us. I am at fault. You are at fault.

What are we going to do now?

United we stand.

Posted by Eric Stilley
December 16, 2012

Stephanie Melish, one of the few, hand-selected, Gitomer-Certified Speakers is the ONLY Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista in the world! Stephanie trains, sells, and speaks to companies and associations all over the country. To book Stephanie for your next event, please visit or contact the friendly folks at Buy Gitomer via email at or by calling 704-333-1112. For exclusive content first, follow Stephanie on her Sales Barista Facebook Page.