It was great to have a chance to catch up with my youngest son and his special lady for a slightly belated celebration of his 30th birthday. For the past few years, he has not been around for his birthday due to his job’s travel requirements.
All three of my sons are light years ahead of where I was at their respective ages. I’m okay with that. Instead of following in their old man’s footsteps, they pulled over to the passing lane. They are on similar paths in terms of using public speaking, photography, sales, relationship development, communications, strategic thinking and other areas of interest that we share, but they use them differently and have taken them further than I have. It all makes for a fascinating view.
One of the clearest things I see is that influence is more important than imitation. I feel like my influence has helped them to become the successes and kind of men they are; I may have put a bit of wind in their sails, but they charted their paths and navigated the waters. That is altogether different than having them imitate their dad. I was blessed with a dad who responded to my curiosity of taking over his accounting business someday with, “I’d love for you to, but I don’t think you’d like accounting. I don’t think it is you. Read this book (which he pulled off his shelf) and we’ll talk.” I took the book and that semester I took an accounting class, too. He was right; he knew that imitating him would have put me in a role that I hated. He influenced with me with courage, tenacity, independence, and never-surrender attitude in the quest to do things I love.
We all have the chance to influence others; our goal should not be imitation. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which is a matter of pride; influence requires humility for all involved, which is more fertile ground for growth.