What makes someone influential? I think I’ve figured it out.
I recently read a book called On Becoming A Leader. The concept in the book that stuck out to me was that in order to lead, you must be able to influence first.
This led me to think about what makes someone capable of being influential. What do they do that the average person does not do?
One thought was style. What always comes to mind when I’m writing anything, is Common’s line in his song “Start The Show” from his album Finding Forever: “Half of it is what you say, and half is style.”
Style is important as a writer. I can have the greatest information to share with the world, but without style it would just be words on a paper that no one would care to read or remember.
After reflecting, I came up with this: Influential people have quality, style, and consistency. To explain, I’m going to use the late great Michael Jackson as an example because his influence was unmatched:
1) Quality. Michael was admired for his precision in everything he did. He was obsessed with getting every note in his music and every step in his choreography right. He was not confident putting out a product he felt was anything less than what his fans deserved. It may be years before anyone could come close to matching the quality of his performances, both live and recorded. As a result he has influenced the greatest performers of this generation.
2) Style. Style makes your presentation unique from others. From his red leather jacket in the “Thriller” video, the “Thriller” dance itself, to the crotch grabs and high-pitched “Hee Hee,” Michael had endless idiosyncrasies tied to his persona. (I googled Hee-Hee and Michael came up. That’s how serious it is). His style gave him a memorable image and added to his influence. When you look at many of today’s popular artists, from Beyoncé, Chris Brown, to Usher; they all have a little Michael in them.
Also nothing is original. Michael’s style was influenced by many, including James Brown. But Michael understood that influence was different from copying. He took his style influences and made it his own.
3) Consistency. Last but not least and probably the most important, is consistency. Michael Jackson was grinding from childhood and in his early adulthood he released some of his best albums: Off The Wall at the age of 21 and Thriller at the age 24. Moreover he toured endlessly. His dedication to his work regarded him as one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived, if not the greatest. He even passed in the midst of getting ready for his final tour.
To me consistency is where all the action lies. If you have nothing to show, how will people know you exist? People are more likely to remember you if you keep at it. Nobody wants to be a “remember them?”
With all that said, I think if you look at the greatest people in history, they have these three things in common. Think back to those people growing up you looked up to. Apply this theory. Am I missing anything? What do you think makes someone influential?