We are all influenced by others.

The influence others have on our lives is often very positive. Parents, teachers and clergy can help mold our character. Clubs can help to establish positive relationships in a safe environment. Families can help guide and steer us away from situations that have temporary or lasting consequences.

The challenge in growing up and becoming independent is in balancing the influence of others with your own developing convictions – what you stand for. Being responsive to others and following their guidance is appropriate in many circumstances. Parental respect suggests that we listen to and model the behavior our parents demand of us. Respect for authority commands us to listen to teachers, law enforcement and others who seek to protect us and prepare us with life skills and training needed to succeed.

Throughout life, we gradually evolve as an infant, completely dependent on others for all our needs, into adulthood, with the opportunity to make our own life choices. Having experienced this myself, I’m not sure if it is more frustrating as a teenager or a parent of teenager. But, that’s the subject of another article…

The question is not whether you will gain more independence and control over your life; it is more, “Where are you in your journey?”

Author and leadership expert John Maxwell tells the story of himself as a young leader – when he was more concerned about pleasing people than he was in making correct, but unpopular decisions. He spent several years developing the ability to follow his own convictions and to reduce the influence others were exerting over the decisions he was making.

Maxwell writes: The process took me four years. At the end of that time I felt I had learned many valuable lessons, and wrote the following to help me cement what I had learned: Courageous leadership simply means I’ve developed:

  • 1. Convictions that are stronger than my fears.
  • 2. Vision that is clearer than my doubts.
  • 3. Spiritual sensitivity that is louder than popular opinion.
  • 4. Self-esteem that is deeper than self-protection.
  • 5. Appreciation for discipline that is greater than my desire for leisure.
  • 6. Dissatisfaction that is more forceful than the status quo.
  • 7. Poise that is more unshakeable than panic.
  • 8. Risk-taking that is stronger than safety-keeping.
  • 9. Actions that are more robust than rationalization.
  • 10. A desire to see potential reached more than to see people pleased.

If pleasing others is a source of conflict for you, you may want to re-read the ten lessons listed above. Maxwell suggests that you don’t have to be great leader to be a person of courage. As adults and young adults, we have all been around long enough to know what we should do. Courage comes from doing the right thing and being true to your values, ethics and morals – to be willing to trade what seems good in the moment for what’s best for your future and the future of those you influence.

The interesting thing about standing up for what is right is that there are always others who feel the same as you, but need to see someone else show the courage to draw the line in the sand.

I encourage you to read through Maxwell’s lessons several times. Ask yourself if you are satisfied that you are living in a way that is fulfilling, void of undue influence from those that don’t share your values, and represents a life you will be proud of in the long run. Sometime we need to give up a little now to achieve what we really want. Have confidence in your convictions. Whether you realize it or not, you will be a beacon of light to guide others to gain confidence in their own convictions. Ultimately, we will all benefit as we stand up for what we believe.