Influential People

Influential People

Historical moments have no doubt changed many lives. Well known leaders and famous heroes have made a difference. But sometimes the most influential people in our lives are personal heroes, the people who care for us and have inspired us by the way they live their lives.

During the yearly Leadership McPherson classes facilitated by the McPherson Chamber, I have asked the class to share who the most influential person in their life is. Not once has anyone mentioned a historical giant or famous athlete. Repeatedly it is a mom or dad, a spouse or sibling, but often it is a grandparent. Their reasons encompass the importance of constant love and support, but often they share stories of resilience, overcoming hardships, and the impact their influential person has made by being a positive light despite difficulties.

I always share comments about my circle of influential people because it is difficult to name just one. My mom is the most kind-hearted person I know. My sister, who is also my best friend, brings so much laughter to my life, and my grandmother Elsie, was a true testament to strength. Elsie, who maybe topped 5’, endured the great depression and continued to save jelly jars to reuse as drinking cups, saved plastic bread sacks to use again, rationed sticks of gum by cutting them in half, and taught us all how to live simply. She suffered when her twin sister was kidnapped at age 16, when she lost a child, and when her son was quarantined with polio. Elsie lived through WWI and WWII and made a living for her three young children after becoming a widow at a young age. I can’t imagine how many times she had to pick herself up and go on with life, but she did. Elsie survived cancer in her 80’s and with a grateful attitude, lived to be 101. With a smile on her face, she used to say, “I could complain, but it wouldn’t do any good.”

So when you feel overwhelmed with the pandemic marathon we are enduring, remember the influential people in your life. Are they your rock that you can lean on now? Maybe their legacy of courage and perseverance, is there to remind you that “you’ve got this!”

One of my most favorite quotes relates to these ideas. “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Together we can endure the hard times, and together we can learn to be a blessing, to be influential, and to be a positive light to others.

– Debbie Hawkinson, Executive Director, McPherson Chamber of Commerce