We live in a world where the term “influencer” has become a legit job title. Surrounded by different media channels, we oftentimes find ourselves overwhelmed by the amount of advertising coming our way. A new product here, another groundbreaking service there. And many of them are promoted by those so-called influencers. Since their status is measured by the number of followers, likes, and comments – in short, engagement that determines their popularity – companies reach out to those people to promote their products or services. A win-win situation: The companies see their sales numbers increase, the influencer earns his/her cash, and the consumer (follower) is confident to make the right choice.

Although the term “influencer” has only emerged in the last couple of years, with the rise of social media, many people can influence. Status, power, cultural heritage are three main elements when it comes to influencing. We are being influenced on a daily basis, knowingly or in a more subtle way. History and culture have shaped our society, partially our thinking. And then, of course, art, fashion and innovation are greatly impacting our daily lives – as do larger groups. 

Shaped by Art and Culture

Art and architecture, as an integral part of our cultural view, definition, and understanding have, throughout centuries, left their mark on the evolution of our society. They allow us a different view on the world, shape it continuously, and little elements build on one another. They influence us in that they allow us different, sometimes completely new, views on the world

The Notre Dame in Paris, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Forbidden City in Beijing, or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur are just fractions, a handful of examples of architecture that positively influence – and inspire – humanity, as well as encourage us to innovate even more. Fashion designers and artists, as a crucial part of our cultural scene, draw inspiration from those grand creations. Our identities and places in this world are formed by those marvelous artworks. Some of these often influence who we want to be, how we see ourselves in this world. They draw, before us, the path that we see ourselves walk on. Inspire. They influence on many levels. They trigger fantasy, imagination. Lastly, they educate. 

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten – B.F. Skinner

As elements frozen in time from different eras, pieces of history and long gone times that have managed to withstand great change, go down in our arts and culture scenes. They tell stories. Additionally, they allow us an idea of “what has been” – and may, hence, influence the way we now see our contemporary world. And going further, masterpieces of art and architecture not only educate us, but give us a chance to question, to imagine; they encourage us to think for ourselves and see from new angles. 

Influencing the Right Way

Influencing – the word comes with a rather negative connotation. However, let us take a step back and change our perspectives towards a more positive notion. Because one can influence the right way. Those who are in reputable positions and playing important roles in our society ultimately have the responsibility to inspire. Hence, to give the term “influence”  a positive twist. They should lead by example. 

Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means – Albert Schweitzer

But it is not the individuals that hold powerful positions that ideally lead by example. Groups in various segments of our society are just as important. The greater the movement, the greater the influence. As a human species, we feel naturally drawn to larger groups as we expect their impact to be significant. They have the ability, together, to make a difference. Large movements can bring about change that can dictate the course of how something is being run, handled, in the long run. A real shift in people’s thinking is possible. It may take a while, but with each individual joining a specific cause, a shift is happening. Gradually. But constantly in motion. Forward. 

A Role Model for Others

Despite the famous, influential personalities, societal groups, and cultural achievements that have left their mark on humanity, never underestimate how you have an impact on someone else‘s life. We may frequently not be aware of it, but our actions do inspire others. We influence people surrounding us even though this may not necessarily be our intention. However, for someone else, we’re a role model. 

Do something wonderful. People may imitate it – Albert Schweitzer

So, even if we feel that certain things we do don’t have meaning, that little steps we take to better ourselves in a more significant effort to make a change in the world don’t matter: Don’t be defeated. Because they do, ultimately, receive recognition. They do matter. There’s always someone who’s looking up to you and your every move – and is encouraged to act similarly. You have a positive impact on someone with the smallest of things. Maybe you don’t see it. So that’s okay. Just know that each of us inspires. We all inspire one another. 

What actions do you take to positively influence others?