I read all of the biographies in Time magazine’s April 30 issue on “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” They were picked by the magazine’s editors so the selection was arbitrary and there was no hard evidence that these were, indeed, the 100 most influential. I didn’t recognize two-thirds of the names but I noticed trends that emerged in the biographies. Many of these people:
- are hard workers, often with clear values that guide their lives and work. Consider basketball sensation Jeremy Lin who “achieved success the old fashioned way: he earned it. He worked hard and stays humble. He lives the right way, he plays the right way.”
- are persistent, focused and determined to win. That’s Tim Tebow who has a “strong work ethic” and is a leader that his teammates trust and respect, “unashamed of his convictions and faith.”
- are not intimidated, often demonstrating great courage and a willingness to take risks. Samira Ibrahim, age 25, challenged the Egyptian military: “It takes one woman to speak out and thousands of others around the world will listen and be inspired to act.” Manal al-Sharif drove a car where this is forbidden for women, posted a YouTube video, was imprisoned, but “inspired a movement.” Italy’s Mario Monti introduced reforms that “took great courage” and made “painful steps to cut spending, raise taxes and reduce Italy’s budget deficit.”
- show innovation, willingness to embrace technology, and a commitment to excellence. Apple’s Tim Cook is portrayed as a self-disciplined leader, highly ethical, always thoughtful, calm, and committed to excellence.
- are skilled, knowledgeable, and reflecting admirable characteristics. Hillary Clinton is described as “Tough. Indefatigable. Patient. Smart. Knowledgeable. Superior political instincts. Funny. Loyal team player. Skilled global advocate.” These are words from a Republican who worked for George Bush.
Apart from Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow, nobody’s personal faith or spirituality was noted in these biographies. There was emphasis on hard-work and determination but no emphasis on God’s influence or the importance of gratitude. We may wonder about others, equally influential but not known enough to be on Time’s list.
How can less famous people like us be influential? How do we coach, teach or lead others to become influencers as well? Please comment.