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Inspirational and Insightful Quotations #12 --- Influence

Updated on November 26, 2015

Quotations on Influence

Men themselves may be forgotten, but the good which they set in motion goes on and on, as ripples in an ever-increasing circle after the pebble has sunk beneath the waters. Proof of this we can see all around us. It is also true that men's good acts oft times have an influence beyond their expectations, beyond what is ordinarily estimated as their "zone of influence." Moreover, men who do good reap rewards if only in the approval of their own conscience or in the gratitude of an appreciative people.

—Tom Finty, Jr., Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 22, 1910.

That which we recognize in those near to us is the unconscious power that streams out of their love, gentleness, patience, fidelity, kindness and humility, and the unconscious influence of these transcend in the volume almost all physical force or invisible influences. Go on working; your influence has not gone; your aspirations may be glittering and glancing again in endless continued reflections after you are gone.

---Henry Ward Beecher, New York Tribune, New York, N.Y., June 22, 1874.

Whether we will or not, our acts and words and manner of living are making suggestions to and having an influence upon those about us. We can never tell upon what shore will beat the little wavelet of suggestion before it expires—if it ever can expire. If this thought could be driven home maybe many of us would talk and act better.

---Lew B. Brown, Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 9, 1913.

Force destroys; influence transforms. And to be transformed is the most glorious capacity of men and women.

---William Goodell Frost, The Citizen, Berea, Ky., June 8, 1911.

Don’t do that which will drive people away from your sphere of influence, but do that which will attract people into your orbit—do that which will make people feel that in your orbit is a good place to be.

---Wickes Wamboldt, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Sept. 26, 1941.

A man’s work is not what he says, nor what he does, but how he affects others, directly or indirectly.

---Miles Hanson, El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, Oct. 14, 1916.

Influence is cumulative, and usually unconscious.

---William T. Ellis, The Daily Argus, Mount Vernon, N.Y., Feb. 12, 1916.

Influence is the magnet of character.

---Elijah Powell Brown, The Banner-Democrat, Lake Providence, La., June 25, 1898.

No man is so insignificant as to be without influence.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Guthrie Daily Leader, Guthrie, Okla., March 18, 1904.

Our interests determine our influence.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Duluth Evening Herald, Duluth, Minn., Sept. 28, 1901.

The breath of our influence depends on the depth of our earnestness.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Fulton County News, McConnelsburg, Pa., Jan. 29, 1903.

Every man and woman is a road or a path. We follow in their way. Let us make it smooth, so far as we can, so that they who come after us may not find these ways choked up or rough.

---Henry Edward Warner, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, Va., Nov. 14, 1915.

Influence is a thing that a man can use to good advantage, if he doesn’t use it too much and for the wrong purposes.

---Liston Dickson Elkins, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Aug. 13, 1945.

Too often influence is just a synonym for affluence.

---Liston Dickson Elkins, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Aug. 28, 1945.

No man can rob you of your influence if the world has found that you are trustworthy.

---Roy L. Smith, Wood County Democrat, Quitman, Texas, Aug. 12, 1925.

It’s a stupidity to think that your influence does not count.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 30, 1927.

No man can ever end with being influential who cannot begin with being thoughtful.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., June 28, 1933.

He who hopes to exercise influence must be careful to be trustworthy.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 18, 1936.

We rise in influence as we increase in self-control.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., June 4, 1938.

Some men long since dead are more alive today than many a fellow who walks about simply encumbering the earth.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examine, Ogden, Utah, Feb. 4, 1924.

Men and women who live within themselves perish when they die. Those who contribute to the welfare of others live on even after they die.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Feb. 21, 1927.

Someone has said that every word man utters, no matter how light or seemingly insignificant, has an influence upon himself and others. Whether the influence be good or bad depends upon the character of the word. That is true, for every word is a thought, and thoughts make our world. How slow we should be to utter words which hurt and fill the lives of others with sorrow. Words have struck despair into hearts and have destroyed ambition. For youngsters we should have constructive words, hopeful words, inspirational words. For everyone we should have words of good will and charity. At least we should cultivate a desire to do no one an injustice by a carelessly spoken or a bitter word of criticism.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Nov. 12, 1928.

One cripples his own influence when he disables another.

---Dewey O. Miller, Wesleyan Young People's Journal, Syracuse, N.Y., May 1942.

No one can live entirely to himself. There is always someone whose happiness and welfare depend in a measure on him. No one is without influence on someone. One may not always know who is being influenced by his action and life, but someone there certainly is whose mind is turned this way or that by him. “A word spoken is an arrow let fly.” You cannot tell where or how far it will go. Do not get reckless and think that it does not matter what you say or do. It is surely affecting someone in some way. Someone does care. Think what influence you are using. Think whether others are the better or happier for your living. Influence you are sure to have. See to it that it is for good. Be on the side of right, of justice, of humanity. Do not speak or act without thought. Use your influence to help the weak and the erring to forsake their errors, the wavering to see the way and be strong.

---Lucius W. Nieman, Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 25, 1912.

There are few persons who have an oversupply of humility. “I have no influence,” say they. There is no person, however humble, who cannot exert influence on someone. If it be not for good, it is for evil. It may not be bad enough to lead to crime, but if not good, it is deteriorating. The man who thinks he has no influence is likely to be careless in his conduct, thinking it does not matter what he says or does. This is a bad state of mind into which to fall. One may never know to whom or where his influence extends nor its force. Sometimes much deeper impressions are given than he would suspect. Sometimes a casual word of encouragement or kindness to a forlorn or wayward child has led him to grow to a useful and honored life. It may have given courage to one despairing. It may have changed the course of some erring one. Do not be discouraged because you do not always see the result of your effort. Personal influence does not end with the one whom you influence, but to many whom he in his turn influences as you influenced him. There is an endless, invisible chain binding you to many whom you know not. It may not be those who you are trying to influence who are most influenced. It may be a child of whom you have not taken notice. It may be a passing stranger, or an indifferent acquaintance. You can never tell. Some influence you are constantly exerting.

---Lucius W. Nieman, Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, Wis., Dec. 3, 1911.

The words of a person may inspire us, spur us on, or stir us to some sort of action, but that which affects us most is silent, latent, honest character that radiates, that does more than speak—that burns right into us like heat—the power of influence! There are people, whom the moment you meet, you trust. Something compelling and genuine radiating from their personality. This is the power of influence—the only power that binds people together. We all carry around with us the memory of many who have influenced us in our lives, not by what they have done, or said, but by what they are. We are influenced most by what a man does, not by what he says. We listen to him, but we watch him most! Something leaves his eyes, and the expression on his face and something radiates like electric rays from his bodily makeup. He influences-and that is power greater than all words. So long as we know that our influence spreads we are made happy. Because something as great in power comes back—personal satisfaction.

---George Matthew Adams, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., June 17, 1941.

Everything of which we judge is of relative value. Our standards of judgment are based on comparisons. If you have not known sorrow, you cannot appreciate the fullness of joy. If you have not felt the most complete happiness, you cannot touch the depths of pain and sorrow. Every love that touches our lives, every friendship, complicates our situation because it adds intimate interest. The sorrows and joys of the loved ones, of the beloved friend, become our own and our burden of sorrow and gift of joy is augmented by the burden or gift of the loved one. Of such stuff is the tapestry of life woven, and rich indeed is he whose tapestry is full of the color contributed by other lives that have touched his closely. The threads they give, through examples of sacrifice and service, of courage and cheer, may be the bright spots that lighten the whole. Keep the doors of your mind and heart open. Refuse no experience. Feed yourselves at every available source, no matter how humble. Better to break the web and the mirror of reflected life than never to find the real thing.

---Betsy Root, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., July 7, 1937.

Influence, which plays so large a part in the running of the world, has come in some measure to mean money and manipulation, “pull” and politics, power and propaganda.

And because of emphasis on such meanings, we may have come to suppose that we have little individual influence, because we don’t know the “right people” or don’t belong to the “prevailing party.”

But small as our individual influence may seem to us to be, the power of every person to affect the lives of other people is something to ponder.

No one has ever seen a boy mimic every moment of his “Dad,” or walk in the ways of a big brother, or take up the talk and technique of a workman he is watching, would ever question the power of personal influence.

Children look and listen. Men observe their fellow men.

And though our only observer were but one small boy, our influence could be endless, because our effect on his life is passed on by his effect on other lives.

Even the least known people have much more influence than they suppose.

What we say and how we say it, what we wear and how we wear it, what we do and how we do it, all have their influence on others.

Those whom we serve and those by whom we are served are all in some degree moved and modified by our manner.

Any question we may ask or any answer we may give has its effect on those of whom we are or on those to whom we give answer.

Our cheerfulness is contagious. Our sullenness is contagious.

Our honesty sets the pattern for honesty. Cutting corners gives others excuse to cut corners.

Our courtesy invites courtesy.

One gentleman who yields his seat to a lady has exerted some degree of influence upon the inclinations, if not upon the actions, of all who observe him.

One man who keeps a calm, cool head may save people in panic.

One man can stop a crowd, and often does. One man can move a crowd, and often has.

One persistent protestor can often prevail against public or private perfidy.

One man with the courage of his convictions often can confound a conspiracy.

Although the world would seem to be run by formal and official bodies, by public policy and power politics, by money and means, by position and preferment—yet the world is made up of people, and people are moved by the personal example of other people.

If we do what we should, others often follow—though we may not know it. If we do what we shouldn’t, others find excuse for their misdoing.

If one man breaks through the hedge or walks across the grass, we may soon expect to find a wide hole through the hedge or a worn path across the grass. But if no one provides the precedent, no one finds a prior path to pursue. And doing something without precedent isn’t often easy.

If no man had ever cheated, if no man had ever defaulted, if no man had ever deserted, if no man had ever killed, if no man had ever done a deed of dishonor, it would be all but unthinkable that any man ever would.

But what one does give excuse to others. Thus precedents are provided, and an endless chain is set in motion.

Never discount the power of your personal influence—neither with your intimate associates nor with the people who make up “the public”—for your life is your own only insofar as it doesn’t affect the lives of others. Beyond that, you are accountable for your influence.

---Richard L. Evans, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., July 20, 1947.

At the root of national decay, there has always been a decay of moral force and a weakening of the moral pores. On the other hand, it has been the influence of countless multitudes, the summer warmth of their goodness and love, which has made possible a world in which beautiful things grow up and live. We have an influence for good or bad, of which we cannot free ourselves. It is not an ornament that we can put on and take off like a coat, but a vital and personal element and part of ourselves.

—John H. Shakespeare, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pa., June 26, 1911.

What is influence? Literally it means an inflowing; that is, the flowing of our lives into each other. Just as the brooks rising from different springs in the mountains, meet and flow together, commingling their waters, and the larger stream in its turn, meets another stream and their waters flow into each other, until they all flow together into the great ocean, so our influences are ever flowing together.

—C.B. Williams, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 7, 1902.

The power of human influence is a conscious power in the hands and under the control of every individual. Its mystery does not prevent our daily use of unmeasured energy. You do not understand the mysteries of the sunbeam, and yet it is a power in your hands which you use every time you take a picture or plant a garden. You do not know the mysteries of electricity and yet it is a power in your hands used in the incandescent light. So with human influence. An unseen power used every hour of life. We never meet anyone whom we do not influence and whom, in turn, does not influence us. Each individual wields influence upon us. You start out in the morning with a cheerful heart and you brighten the heart of a hundred others during the day. You start out in the morning cross and crabbed and you .get a hundred other people out of fix. You are cross to the clerk and the clerk gets cross and everything goes dead wrong. You are good-natured and patient and the clerk is happy and makes every customer happy all day long.

—George Wood Anderson, Norwalk Hour, Norwalk, Ct., Oct. 23, 1925.

There are two ways of judging a man's greatness, by his purity and dignity of character and by the extent of his influence upon mankind.

—William M. Anderson, Sr., Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 2, 1912.

Influence comes out of responsibility--influence in our life. It has grown out of character, what you have become. Influences never die, they never cease when you are dead. They live in the lives of others. ... We had better be careful of our influence exerted.

—D.C. Barr, The Monroe News-Star, Monroe, La., April 21, 1930.

As the magnet draws the filings, or the pole the needle of the compass, so is the influence of the human being. The biggest part of influence is unconscious, not what we intend. Influence may be evil or good--like the odor of a rose or the stench of a cesspool. Every life is a beacon to entice upon the rocks the ships it does not guide into port. This influence will be to your credit or discredit, honor or dishonor. Keep with the good and soon you will be one of them: keep with the bad and soon you will be one of them.

—A. Preston Gray, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., April 2, 1925.

By the cheerfulness and happiness of our natures we can help and influence others. ... We may not see at the time the good we have done, but our words and actions live after us, and are repeated. So we may make our characters to shine before the people that they will respect and desire to emulate our example. Every man that has lived has left a history and an influence. ... It pays to live an honest life, to be pure, upright and honorable and to help others–thus we build up our own characters. Every man should be in the possession of a good character, for a good name is better than anything else.

—John C. Cutler, Jr., Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 9, 1922.

There is the stewardship of influence. Life is meaningful only as properly related to other lives and every life has its influence on every other life. This is the most solemn thought of life to me--that I shall be a part of all that shall ever come after me and that my life is going to influence, for good or for bad, somebody down the way of life.

—M.E. Dodd, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Nov. 28, 1927.

No one ever gets too old to exercise an influence.

—Roy L. Smith, Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., Dec. 16, 1943.

No man ever saw a yardstick that would measure influence.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., July 22, 1936.

The secret of influence is in keeping faith with one's own friends.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 6, 1940.

Death cannot touch the good deeds we do. They live in the memories of those who have been benefitted. I know living only in deeds is not immortality, but it is one phase of life which death cannot end.

—David O. McKay Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 24, 1945.

Your influence, like your shadow, resembles you. It is an exact silhouette. Your influence and you are the same. You cannot be one thing and your shadow, your influence, another.

—Hugh McLellan, San Antonio Express, San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 12, 1925.

One cripples his own influence when he disables another.

—Dewey O. Miller, Wesleyan Young People's Journal, Syracuse, N.Y., May 1942.

No one ever succeeded in influencing anyone who really did not want to be influenced.

—Phil Conley, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., July 21, 1947.

Unless you use your influence tactfully, it will be of no value.

—Phil Conley, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., July 28, 1948.

There is no more common fallacy than the one that tries to make you believe that words are cheap, unimportant: that it makes no difference what you say. Words indeed pierce consciousness, leave everlasting marks on the memory, and their influence goes on through the years.

—Grove H. Patterson, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., May 9, 1931.

No man should ever allow himself to think he can go through life without affecting the other lives. And every man should understand his awful responsibility of meeting in the world to come the influence, for good or for bad, that he left with others in the world we now know. Every human being exerts that mysterious power called "influence" upon every other human being with whom he comes in contact, and indirectly, with every human throughout the earth. Every word, every thought, every act goes to make this influence, constantly radiating from every person to every other person. Whether we would exert this influence or not, isn't the question; it must be exerted. Its exercise is not optional, but the influence cannot be superior to the real character, and the influence of each person upon all others will be just what his character is; no more and no less. The same fountain cannot give out bitter and sweet; a good character cannot but give a great and salutatory influence; the bad cannot but give a harmful experience.

—Frank S. Onderdonk, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 2, 1914.

The tragedy and the glory of life lies in the common fact that a heart lives not to itself. One is appalled as he considers the influence sinister that moves in the unworthiness of what one is to affect the life of his time. It does not require acquaintance with the life we touch to make this true. That imitative instinct that makes human personality so easily impressible is only one factor in the situation. The other is our actual fixing in large measure of the psychic atmosphere in which men live. Life is the factor worthwhile in the laboratory of character. It is a happy thing, too, that out from humble lives that register find things there goes that fineness to be breathed into human souls as is the violet’s perfume into the body.

—Peter A. Simpkin, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 25, 1916.

I ask you, what is your influence over others? I tell you that every day you are settling the destinies of others.

—Fred B. Smith, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 14, 1910.

Your life, like the force of gravity, is drawing in some direction. It is not neutral. No human life is neutral. There is no zero in the mathematics of human influence. Your life is telling either for good or for bad.

—C.B. Williams, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 7, 1902.

A man's life, like a river, becomes fuller as it goes along because of the streams of influence that pour into it.

Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Dec. 24, 1960.

"How can I influence other men?" This is the question the young man often wants answered more than any other. This is the question of salesmanship, of business, of the professions, of all phases of life. It is a legitimate question; for to influence others to the course of action that seems to us best for all concerned–this is the fine art of living.

The answer to it is, on the surface, example. "Try to put yourself in the other man's place. If once you can catch his point of view, if you can stand in his shoes, you can guide his reasoning into channels that are natural. If you fail to stand where he stands, you are simply tugging at a long rope with a very stubborn animal at the other end of it.

There are those who, for their influence upon others, depend upon force alone. "Hammer and tongs" is their motto. You can compel people by superior will and determination. You can bulldoze and browbeat, and gain your ends; but, when you have done so, you have left at the bottom of the other man's heart a silt of hatred, fear, loss of self-respect, that not only embitters him but renders your own task of pulling him along more difficult next time. You may cow and tame people by such knock-down-and-drag-out methods, but you can never gain their abiding friendship and willing cooperation. Fear is the worst of disease, and the body in which it sits can never be an efficient, happy, smooth-working instrument.

Others seek to gain influence, power, leadership, by lying. You can fool any man once; you can fool some people over and over; but most people cannot be fooled much of the time. No arguments, then, that are not straight truth, no figures that are juggled, no statement that is overdrawn, if you would gain permanent power over other folks' minds. It is far better to error on the understatement of facts. There is a natural force in restraint; and the simplest minded person, even a child, recognizes it. One who colors his statements, one who exaggerates, who froths at the mouth with words, beats the air with declarations, is giving himself and his cause away all the time.

No, the secret of good salesmanship, of political influence, of power over employees or patients or customers, is all to be summed up in the word sympathy. Put yourself in his place. Find his point of view. Seek to reason as he reasons. Ask yourself what is the best thing for him to do in all circumstances, not the best thing for you.

If what you want him to do is not the best thing for him, you dare not go ahead. Quit short of, or become an enemy to a man! Sell him something else that you know is good for him. Ask him to accept a wage that you know is just and fair. Get him to vote for a measure that you are dead sure is for his good. Steer him into a line of conduct that you are certain beyond the peradventure of a doubt is for his benefit, or you are a confounded egotist and have no right to influence over your fellowman. Sympathy is the secret.

—Burris A. Jenkins, Kansas City Post, Kansas City, Mo., Jan. 15, 1919.


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