On Influence.

On Influence.

Karin Krog is a too little appreciated Norwegian jazz singer. Her album with Dexter Gordon, Some Other Spring, was produced in 1970 but sounds as rich and energetic as anything being produced today or in the heyday of Kansas City Swing or 1940s bebop.

The album has earned its rightful place in the top jazz albums of all time and I recently rediscovered Krog while reading through The Penguin Jazz Guide, a literal best-hits guide, which shares:

“Krog famously skipped school to see Billie Holiday sing in Oslo and that was that.”

This reminds me of a lesson from early childhood on the power of influence. I can’t remember where I read it or who taught it to me, so I can’t give proper credit where it is clearly due, but the lesson stuck and I’ve never forgotten it:

You’re teaching a lesson each day that you live, your actions are blazing a trail, that others will follow, for good or for ill, you’ll help them or cause them to fail.”

Kind of heavy stuff for a 10 year old, but I know I was that young or younger when I first learned it, and I am fortunate to be given a chance to live it.

Observing my grandparents and parents in their own businesses, teachers, coaches, religious leaders and friends. They all had a tremendous influence on me and I’m beyond grateful, telling anyone who will listen that I clearly hit the genetic lottery being born where I was born and into the family and support network that has nurtured, guided and supported me for so many years.

Whether Billie Holiday ever came to know it, she launched the career of another great jazz singer that day in Oslo, simply because she did her job and did it well. She inspired another great jazz artist with an incredibly-impressive career. Billie Holiday’s influence was that powerful.

How are you using or wasting your influence? Do you show up to the office as the most-enthusiastic, most-engaged and most-curious professional amongst your peers and competitors, aware of your powerful influence, or are you just going through the motions?

I won’t lie. I’ve been in both positions. There have been times when I was not highly engaged; when I was simply going through the motions. The results are exceptional when I’m fully engaged, aware of my position of influence on patients, parents, employees, referring doctors, residents, dental students, family members and every single stakeholder in orbit around me. The results are proportionately disappointing when I’m disengaged, uninspiring; a danger to everyone and everything around me. Fortunately, those times in my life have been brief and acutely-obvious to smart managers and partners I’ve intentionally placed around me. Like a baseball team with a strong bullpen, I have the talent and ammunition around me to survive the occasional horrible inning.

Listen. This is a heavy burden to bear, at times – blazing a trail for others to follow – but you and I have broad shoulders. We are meant to bear it and to bear it happily, without complaint. Thank God for that. Never take it for granted.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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    Appreciate your commentary on influence and your person experiences around being present and powerful every day.
    I have experienced much the same events occurring in my life based on my level of engagement and have approached each day with intention to be a positive influence on those around me.
    Thank you for the award you sent me. I’m pretty sure there are lots of folks in all your groups that shine brighter than I. I am grateful for the recognition and value your friendship and wisdom.
    Look forward to seeing you soon!

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    Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration to everyone at Burleson Seminars and beyond. Thank you for being you and for all you done for so many people, including me. I appreciate you! See you soon.


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