Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Seeking Positive Influencers

“Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays, it insists on it.” Russell Baker

“You cannot succeed by yourself. It’s hard to find a rich hermit.” Jim Rohn

“Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages, it is the
Friedrich Nietzsche

Morning, all! Ruthy here, welcoming back our conference attendees, buddies, friends, fellow Seekers, et al! We've got a great buffet breakfast lined up for you guys and I brewed a fresh pot of joe...

Grab a mug. There's flavored creamer to your right and food to your left. Every table is stocked with a loaves-and-fishes bowl of M&M peanut candies. Yup, you got it: bottomless! Talk about comfort food! Sit back and relax because today we're going to chat it up about influencers and I don't mean the kind who post kindly reviews on B&N or pass a new novel around, drumming up new readers.


This kind of influencer, good or bad, is all up to us, the writer.

Modern day writers and publishers make a fortune off books homilizing a positive attitude. Head to your local Barnes and Noble, Borders, or the public library. Each one of these devotes precious end-cap or display table space to this sought after information, plus an individual shelving section designated for the same purpose.

Scan Amazon.com and gaze upon the proliferation of morale building, self-help volumes abounding there, geared to help us be a more positive, productive, uplifted, goal-seeking, outcome-oriented person.

Now I'm not going to lecture about this growing trend. Sheesh. We'd need a host of blogs just to skim the surface of why people who live in the greatest country on earth, rife with freedom and opportunity, can't make themselves happy. We'll just save that little ditty for another day.

Jim Rohn's website deals with the topic for free, my favorite price tag. A click of the mouse and you’re in, ready to absorb words of wisdom from one of America’s most renowned business philosophers. With over fifty-seven years in broadcasting, motivational speaking, writing, and recording, Rohn has seen it all and addresses the topic of negativity point blank.

Avoid it at all costs.

Rohn’s pretty direct about the whole issue, and the man breeds success like Anheuser-Busch breeds Clydesdales. Big and strong, with perfect deportment. (I can't mention Clydesdales without remembering Superbowl commercials... The one with Hank, the rejected horse who worked with unwavering persistence to make the team, guided by the "Pauly" Dalmation, while the theme from Rocky plays in the background??? Oh my stars, I'm tearing up just thinking about it!

Or the donkey who tried hair extensions because he wanted to be a Clydesdale???? Oy vay, pass the tissues, I'm all ver klempt here!)

You’re a writer, at a specific point in your career. This varies depending on your work, motivation, time spent, etc., but the fact is, you’re moving toward something at a pace of your choosing.

Who do you hang with? Who are your associates? Your partners, critiquers, friends and cohorts. Are they a positive influence? Do they pretend to be a positive influence, even as they drag you into the depths of despair? Whose fault is that?

You know that answer as well as I do. We allow others to influence our lives by allowing them a portion of our lives. Rohn puts it this way: Some people you can afford to spend a few minutes with, but not a few hours.”

Pretty succinct. We pick and choose a portion of the effect on our lives, our careers and our writing by the company we keep. Positive or negative, strong or weak, accepting or complaining, we make choices without always considering the level of influence that association allows.

You want to be good at what you do? Avoid the “misery loves company” set. You want to be the best you can be? Steer clear of those who settle for mediocrity. Do you have goals and aspirations whose glow illuminates the end of the tunnel? A tunnel can seem pretty long and dark when traveled with low expectations.

Rohn says: “Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.”

Limiting negative exposure time may seem simplistic, but it’s a huge step toward being the more assertive, positive, successful writer you want to be. Success threatens some people. Unfortunately, there are those who find great comfort in limiting your success to their levels. What’s up with that? Not kosher. Definitely not something a true friend would do, but that takes us back to the whole misery loves company theory. Your success may reflect their lack. That’s a bitter pill for some to swallow.

Your achievements as a person, daughter, husband, wife, father, sister, writer, Christian, homemaker, lawyer, nurse, midwife, teacher, accountant, etc. depend on you. They are not guided by luck or circumstance. You are the captain of your ship. The tack you take is yours to decide. Fill your sails with wind and dare the open sea, or drift aimlessly. So much of what we choose is guided in small but steady ways by the company we keep. The influences we allow in our lives.

Have you noticed when a person wants to help a struggling marriage, they seek the wisdom and guidance of those who are successfully married? When that same person wants to end a marriage, they seek the discontented, those whose marriages have failed. We seek our ends by the choices we make, large and small. Want success? Surround yourself with those willing to work for it. Rohn contends: “Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”

If we waste time on the shallow voices in our lives, we tune out the valuable ones, those that challenge us to do our best. Rohn advises us to seek out and be around those who have something of value to share. He believes that influence can be both powerful and subtle. “…You wouldn’t let someone push you off course, but you might let someone nudge you off course and not even realize it.”

Oh, yeah. Most of us can see that all around us. The subtle, invasive negatives we allow into our lives. Avoid them. Limit them. They are a downfall.

Helen Keller said: “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” Prophetic words of wisdom from a woman who overcame adversity that would boggle the mind of the sighted, hearing community. I couldn’t agree more.

Seek success. It won’t just find you. Choose your associates with careful decision. Above all, challenge yourself to rise above, be the best you can be. It’s the least you can do with the marvelous gift of life you’ve been given, no strings attached. Show your gratitude with your growth and heightened expectations. Your shining light can help others ‘see’ the way.

Candles are popular right now. They come tall and short, thin and wide, scented or non. Some clever person even thought to fashion them in jars. Pretty savvy! A jarred candle has a built-in holder, no dripping wax, a wick that burns bright and a cover to smother the flame…

Which are you? The wick or the cover?

I thought so. Examine your work relationships. Make them all they can be. Let your light shine, even if you have to trim your ‘wick’ or polish your ‘jar’ by adjusting work schedules and relationships. Seek the strength and favor of positive people. Aim high, and don’t let anyone suck the wind from your sails. If you do, whose fault is it?

(Inserting motherly arched brow and look of patient understanding here…)



Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh so true, Miss Ruthy! I like those quotes, but especially this one: “Some people you can afford to spend a few minutes with, but not a few hours.”
If you let someone else spew their toxic attitude all over you, it's your own fault!

Jessica said...

YOu preach it girl!!
But stop with the food. My stomach is grumbling with envy. In this house, all I'm stocked up on is cereal and poptarts.
Nice post though, and very true. Bad company corrupts good character.
There are certain women I love to hang out with for their snarky 'tudes (they make me laugh) but I have to be careful because I've noticed that around those same women I tend to badmouth and become dissatisfied with my wonderful hubby.
Not godly.
I could go on and on but I think I better clamp my mouth closed and just say,
"Thanks for the post!!"

Kimberli said...

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN, SING IT GIRL! Oh my, a great post with an important truth. Remember when I washed up on the shores of Unpubbed Island with a bit of seaweed in my muumuu, reeling from yet another setback? Well darling, that came after a year that could have been the basis of a country music song--down to losing our precious dog.

I was definitely off course, but I made changes. One of those was getting out of that pool of mire that I mistook as a hot tub (would someone put a fence around that thing? Pert near pruned my skin to bits.) And guess what kind of influence I was to others??? Negativity is easy to slip into, and not easily recognized. A true silent marauder. Oh goodness, I should use words I know how to spell.

Anyway, I hate that it happened, but it was a good lesson on negativity and being a positive influence--and a timely one. I'm currently teaching two computer courses and I have a lot of students who need positive reinforcement.

This is a wallhanger, Ruthy. One that should be read on occasion as a reminder that we can allow others to destroy us if we're not careful, and worse, we can very easily destroy ourselves.

Kim said...

Ruthy, this is terrific! I'm reading a book now, and the message is similar.

Scripture tells us in Colossians 3:23 tells us "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."

I think the message is ringing out loud and clear today!


Kim said...

PS Ooops...need to edit next time!


Mary Connealy said...

Greetings inhabitants of Seekerville.

I feel like I've been gone far, far too long.

I have to remember how to live my normal life.

Negativity, huh? Uhoh. There goes my sole source of humor.

lynnrush said...

Thanks for the post.
It's so true....You need to be around positive influences to move forward. That's why I'm so thankful for ACFW! And my Crit partners.

Great post!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Melanie, I love that quote too. I bet most of us could point to relatives (ahem, pointing no fingers at my esteemed family, OF COURSE!!!), friends or acquaintances (critiquers, perhaps?) that fit in that category.

But even a little contact with someone who views your work negatively can be a downer for someone with a creative bend. So important for us to be the 'lens cleaner', the person who discerns beyond false words and smiles.

And Jessica! Here, honey, try some of this Chocolate/almond/raspberry friendship bread. With whipped cream, if you like. That will help, I'm sure! :)

Kimberli, my pet, I think we all felt your pain this year but you're one tough, "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" kind of girl. Good going. This business isn't for wimps.

Heck, LIFE isn't for wimps, LOL! Your comments put a smile on my face 'cause we've all been there, sweetcheeks. It's a well-trod path.

And Kim, what a great quote to go with this message! To give heartily as to God...

I'm jiggy with it, girlfriend.


Mary, your LIFE is a source of humor. Ee gads, woman, your daily happenings are enough to put us on the floor laughing.

Multiply that by oh, what is it, Mare??? Sixty-plus years, give or take?



Julie Lessman said...

Oh my, I just HATE it when Ruthy makes me cry!! Absolutely INCREDIBLE post today, Ruth (a name I only call you when I want to be serious). Honestly -- pure prose that spoke right to my heart. When I was done reading it, I was uplifted, inspired and tearful (not fearful, mind you, but TEARFUL because you made me cry). AND totally CONFUSED and STUMPED as I ask myself once again -- why isn't this woman published yet???? The answer? God's timing is perfect, and Ruthy's powerful emergence onto the publication scene will be too, I feel it in my bones. Old bones, to be sure, but smart ones too. :)

Love you!

Kimberli said...

lol, well actually, I'm a really big wimp, but thanks anyway, Ruthy :o)

I'm also an eater. Where's the snacks?

Mary Connealy said...

Hey Seekers, all the ACFW attendees got to meet Ruthy's daughter. She hangs around here sometimes.

She was such a sweetie. I was just so honored that she'd come by to see us at the book signing.

Nice work on that girl, Ruthy.

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, Ruthy! Excellent advice. And such great quotes. I'll be sure to check out that website.

What spoke to me most was where you said we're the captain of our own ship. I don't struggle so much with negativity as I do with just taking action. I've gotta take action!

Thanks for the reminder.

Missy--who loved meeting Ruthy's daughter and SIL!!

Ann said...

Whoa, Ruthie ... words to live by, girlfriend.

I think creative people tend to have a little melancholy in them and have to try a little harder to sing "I'm H-A-P-P-Y, I'm H-A=P-P-Y ... I knwo I am, I'm sure I am, I'm H-A-P-P-Y!" under many circumstances.

BTW that song does not work as well as chocolate.

Like Jessica, I try to avoid opening a can of anti-husband snarkasm. I was kind of glad to miss the family reunion this year for that reason!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jules, honey, I love making you cry. It's my goal in life. One of 'em, anyhow.


Love you, as always.

And we know the publishing thing will happen. In the meantime I pester you guys and unsuspecting contest judges in various categories. God is good, although I think his watch needs work. I feel like I've been on quarter-to-publish for years, but that's the norm. We'll get there.

And Kimberli, you're not a wimp where it counts. Not wanting to hurt other people's feelings... That doesn't make us wimps. That's considerate.

Umm, fear of spiders or mice?



And Mary brought some carrot cake along. Good job, Mare! Love it. The frosting's to die for.

And my Beth was so pleased to meet a bunch of Seekers. You guys made her feel special as she grazed your tables, and she's still bubbling over how nice you all are.

Mostly because I tell her the inside scoop so she knows better, LOL!

Missy, I've loved captain analogies ever since I read Walt Whitman's Oh captain, my captain...

Beautiful. And it's our job to take the wheel of destiny, right? Just isn't always easy to do. So many choices.

And Ann, I hear you on the anti-husband thing. We all make jokes about men, but there's a fine line that goes from funny to mean and it's not as visible as you'd think. And when EVERYONE in the group starts ragging on their husbands, it can create a domino effect of discontent.

An unhealthy and unholy environment.

Note to all: Dave never reads the blog. If he did, he'd hike a brow at me telling people to be nice to husbands, give me a disbelieving look, shake his head and pour more coffee, wondering if this woman is the same one that scolds him for (fill in blank here)regularly.

Hey, someone grab me a diet Snapple, would ya'? Gotta wash down the mega-calorie carrot cake. It's all about balance, right?

:) Ruthy

Janet Dean said...

Ruthy, what a wonderful post!!!! I need reminders to stay positive and get moving toward my goal. Thank you, oh, wise one.

And thanks for sending sweet Beth our way at the book signing!


Cara Slaughter said...

I really appreciate your post, Ruthy. I often get down, although I never allow myself to sink too low because what if I can't get up? Anyway, I have the world's most wonderful friends, kind and sympathetic, positive and funny enough to make me cry. (I cry when I laugh.)I spend a lot of productive time reading e-mails from a very supportive group of sister writers. Can anyone guess who?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Janet, we all need those reminders. I only wish it weren't so often... Is it memory or stubborn pride that gets in the way?

Maybe both. ;)

Cara, you're so right. We started this group because we're a tough, competitive bunch of women who had a single goal that then became a common goal: publication. We started the blog to send a similar message to wannabes everywhere: Been there, done that, we've got your back.

There's safety in numbers and I ain't talkin' about swimmin'!

Hey, anybody got money left on their Starbucks cards? I've got a powerful urge for a mocha/raspberry frappuccino...

At least grande if not venti.

That's sheer indulgence in a cup.


Kimberli said...

Yep, I hate to hurt people's feelings. How a thousand compliments can be undone with one careless word, I'll never know.

Spiders, mice? Oh yes, and snakes. You'd think I would pick another hobby besides hiking. My trail partners (which consists of four men and moi) have a good time laughing at me when we're in the middle of the forest. I'm sorry, but if a snake rears its head or shakes it's tail, I consider that sufficient reason to scream.

Nased? What an odd word verification.

Anne Barton said...

Ruthy, this post is insightful and amazing, as are you! Waves of positive energy are rolling onto the shores of Unpubbed Island. Thanks. :)

Tina M. Russo said...

Ruth this was an awesome post. I read it to the gals at work. Thanks for the Ruthism's--especially the Helen Keller Quote.

Jeanne May said...

Well said Ruthie. Sometimes we may know the effects of negative people on us, we can feel the energy draining from us at a quick rate when we are in their company. Sometimes, however, we lack the courage to minimise the contacts we have with these draining people. We have all kinds of reasons why we need to keep company with them. We have a huge decision to make -- to do what we know we have to do in order to progress, or remain safely in our comfort zone.

And I honestly know how uncomfortable and difficult that decision is to make!


Ruth Logan Herne said...


You read it to your buds to put them to sleep, right? So you could raid the paper clip jars with no one WATCHING!!!

You fiend!


And Ann-with-an-e, you're on top of things, girl. No negative waves allowed on the island. We built a stone retaining wall to avoid just such a possibility.

Although the occasional complaining night accompanied by all things chocolate IS allowed. Time limits strictly enforced.

Jeanne, it is hard sometimes. Sometimes it's hard because we MAKE it hard, and sometimes it's just hard. Our job is to know the difference.

This is where being a hardnose comes in handy. I can minimize those times with negative people (even family/writers/friends) by understanding that my assent only encourages their behavior. And that's not good for either of us.

The old Serenity Prayer comes to mind... Pick your battles. My money's on you!