Twenty feet of 3/4 inch thick PVC pipe cut into twelve pieces of different lengths. The kind man at Home Depot became slightly less kind and slightly more annoyed when we showed up early on Labor Day morning to get those pieces cut. It took a grand total of ten minutes to get the pieces cut, thanks to some pieces that were already cut (which we later found out cost three times as much as they would if he had just cut them). While he was impressed that our measurements added up exactly for the pieces we did need to custom cut, he was obviously less impressed that he was the one who had to cut them.
Now multiply those calculations from above by ten. 200 feet of PVC pipe cut into 120 pieces of different lengths. Add in a different kind man at a different Home Depot who pulled up his sleeves and got to work when we showed up late at night a few days later to get those pieces cut. It took a grand total of thirty minutes for us to cut all of the pieces. While he was impressed with the scale of our project, he was even more impressed with the reason we were doing it.
By appearances the influence the two men had should have been similar. They were both doing their job and helping us with a project (which we labeled “Expo Magic” while checking out. They were both working at a time they would probably rather have not been working. They both put effort into getting us a successful result.
As you may have guessed, this is where the story flips the tables and we start discussing the greater influence of the guy who helped us with the bigger part of the job. What was the reason? It could have been any number of things. Maybe he knew he would get to go home to his loving family that night. Maybe he was looking back on his family’s trip into Washington DC on Labor Day and the amazing time they shared. Maybe he was intrigued that he was now part of a project that will impact over a thousand people nationally.
I think the real reason is part of all of those. Mainly, the fact that I know all of those are true, not just me speculating wildly at possible reasons (like I occasionally do). He took time to connect with us during the project. Sure, his focus was on the PVC pipes he was cutting, but he cared about us even more.
I guess the main thing I learned from this is that influence doesn’t require being the President, the Pope, or Santa. All that’s required for influence is lifting your focus from your project to the people around you. The President, the Pope, and Santa all have influence because they did that, and because they still do that. And so does the second man from Home Depot. So can we. No matter how insignificant they may seem, intentional connections are influential.
//Allen Ramsey//2016 Ambassador