How to Be Successful & Influence Others | Motivational Podcasts

Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of wearable inspiration and gift ideas. Visit them online at Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from “The Majesty of Calmness” by William George Jordan, published in 1900.

The only responsibility that we cannot evade in this life is the one we think of least — our personal influence. Our conscious influence, when posing to impress those around us, is woefully small. But our UNconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of our personality, the effect of our words and acts, the trifles we never consider — is tremendous.

In every moment of life, we are changing to a degree the life of the whole world. Every person has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. So silent and unconsciously is this influence working, that we may forget that it exists. All the forces of Nature — heat, light, electricity, and gravitation — are silent and invisible. We never see them; we only know that they exist by seeing the effects they produce.

In all Nature, the wonders of the “seen” are dwarfed into insignificance, when compared with the majesty and glory of the “unseen”. In a thousand ways, Nature constantly seeks to lead us to a keener and deeper realization of the power and the wonder of the invisible. Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or for evil — the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of our lives.

This is simply the constant radiation of what we really are, not what we pretend to be. Every individual, by their mere living, is radiating sympathy, or sorrow, or morbidness, or cynicism, or happiness, or hope, or any of a hundred other qualities.

Life is a state of constant radiation and absorption; to exist is to radiate; to exist is to be the recipient of radiations. There are men and women whose presence seems to radiate sunshine, cheer, and optimism. You feel calmed and rested and restored to a new and stronger faith in humanity.

There are others who focus in an instant all your latent distrust, morbidness, and rebellion against life. Without knowing why, you chafe and fret in their presence. You lose your bearings on life and its problems. Your moral compass is disturbed and unsatisfactory. It is made untrue in an instant, as the magnetic needle of a ship is deflected when it passes near great mountains of iron ore.

There are people who float down the stream of life like icebergs — cold, reserved, unapproachable, and self-contained. In their presence, you involuntarily draw your wraps closer around you, as you wonder who left the door open. These refrigerated human beings have a most depressing influence on all those who fall under the spell of their radiated chilliness.

But there are other natures (warm, helpful, genial) who are like the Gulf Stream, following their own course, flowing undaunted and undismayed in the ocean of colder waters. Their presence brings warmth and life and the glow of sunshine — the joyous, stimulating breath of spring.

There are some people who are like malarious swamps — who poison, depress, and weaken others by their very presence. They make heavy, oppressive, and gloomy the atmosphere of their own homes; the sound of the children’s play is stilled, the ripples of laughter are frozen by their presence. They go through life as if each day were a new big funeral, and they were always the chief mourners.

And yet there are others who seem like the ocean; they are constantly bracing, stimulating, giving new draughts of life and strength by their very presence.

We thus cannot escape for one moment from the radiation of our character, this constantly weakening or strengthening of others. We cannot evade the responsibility by saying it is an unconscious influence. But we can select the qualities that we will permit to be radiated. We can cultivate sweetness, calmness, trust, generosity, truth, justice, loyalty, nobility — make them vitally active in our character — and by these qualities we will constantly affect the world.

Discouragement often comes to honest souls trying to live the best they can, in the thought that they are doing so little good in the world. But trifles unnoted by us may be links in the chain of some great purpose. In justice to ourselves, we should refuse to live in an atmosphere that keeps us from living our best. If the fault be in us, we should master it. If it be the personal influence of others that (like a noxious vapor) kills our best impulses, we should remove ourselves from that influence — if we can possibly move without forsaking our duties. If it be wrong to move, then we should take strong doses of moral quinine to counteract the malaria of influence.

To make our own influence felt, we must live our faith; we must practice what we believe. A magnet does not attract iron, as iron. It must first convert the iron into another magnet before it can attract it. It is useless for a parent to try to teach gentleness to their children when they themselves are cross and irritable. The child who is told to be truthful and who hears a parent lie cleverly to escape some little social unpleasantness is not going to cling very zealously to truth.

The parent’s words say “don’t lie”, but the influence of the parent’s life says “do lie”. No person can ever isolate themselves to evade this constant power of influence, as no single corpuscle can rebel and escape from the general course of the blood. No individual is so insignificant as to be without influence.

The changes in our varying moods are all recorded in the delicate barometers of the lives of others. We should ever let our influence filter through human love and sympathy. We should not be merely an influence — we should be an inspiration. By our very presence we should be a tower of strength to the hungering human souls around us.

We thus should exude self-confidence. But remember that self-confidence, without self-reliance, is as useless as a cooking recipe without food. Self- confidence sees the possibilities of the individual; self-reliance realizes them. Self-confidence sees the angel in the unhewn block of marble; self-reliance carves it out for itself.

The person who is self-reliant says ever: “No one can realize my possibilities for me but me; no one can make me good or evil but myself.” They work out their own salvation — financially, socially, mentally, physically, and morally. Life is an individual problem that we must solve for ourselves.

Nature accepts no vicarious sacrifice, no vicarious service. Nature never recognizes a proxy vote. She has nothing to do with middle-men — she deals only with the individual. Nature is constantly seeking to show you that you are your own best friend, or your own worst enemy.

All the religions of the world are but speculations in morals, mere theories of salvation, until you realize that you must save yourself by relying on the law of truth, as you see it, and living your life in harmony with it, as fully as you can.

Religion is not a Pullman car, with soft-cushioned seats, where you have but to pay for your ticket — and someone else does all the rest. In religion, as in all great things, we are ever thrown back on our self- reliance. We should accept all helps, but — we must live our own lives.

We should not feel that we are a mere passenger; we are the engineer, and the train is our life. We must rely on ourselves, live our own lives, or we merely drift through existence — losing all that is best, all that is greatest, all that is divine. All that others can do for us is to give us opportunity. We must ever be prepared for the opportunity when it comes, and to go after it, and find it when it does not come, or that opportunity is to us — nothing.

Life is but a succession of opportunities. They are for good or evil — as we make them. Many of the alchemists of old felt that they lacked but one element; if they could obtain that one, they believed they could transmute the baser metals into pure gold. It is so with character.

There are individuals with rare mental gifts, and delicate spiritual discernment who fail utterly in life because they lack one element — self-reliance — for self-reliance would unite all their energies, and focus them into strength and power. The person who is not self-reliant is weak, hesitating, and doubting in all they do. They fear to take the decisive step, because they dread failure, because they are waiting for someone to advise them, or because they dare not act in accordance with their own best judgment.

In their cowardice and their conceit, they see all their non-success due to others. They are (quote) “not appreciated”, “not recognized”, they are “kept down”. They feel that in some subtle way “society is conspiring against them”. They grow almost vain as they think that no one has had such poverty, such sorrow, such affliction, such failure as have come to them.

The person who is self-reliant, however, seeks ever to discover and conquer the weakness within them that keeps them from the attainment of what they hold dearest; they seek within themselves the power to battle against all outside influences. They realize that all the greatest men and women in history, in every phase of human effort, have been those who have had to fight against the odds of sickness, suffering, and sorrow. To them, defeat is no more than passing through a tunnel is to a traveler — they know they must emerge again into the sunlight.

To be great, you MUST be self-reliant. Though you may not be so in all things, you must be self-reliant in the one in which you would be great. This self-reliance is not the self-sufficiency of conceit. It is daring to stand alone. Be an oak, not a vine. Be ready to give support, but do not crave it; do not be dependent on it.

To develop your true self-reliance, you must see from the very beginning that life is a battle you must fight for yourself — you must be your own soldier. You cannot buy a substitute, you cannot win a reprieve, you can never be placed on the retired list. The retired list of life is — death.

There is but one great password to success — self-reliance. If you would learn to converse, put yourself into positions where you must speak. If you would conquer your morbidness, mingle with the bright people around you, no matter how difficult it may be. If you desire the power that someone else possesses, do not envy their strength, and dissipate your energy by weakly wishing their force were yours. Emulate the process by which it became theirs, depend on your self-reliance, pay the price for it, and equal power may be yours.

You must look upon yourself as an investment, of untold possibilities if rightly developed — a mine whose resources can never be known but by going down into it and bringing out what is hidden.

You can develop your self-reliance by seeking constantly to surpass yourself. We try too much to surpass other people. But if we seek ever to surpass ourselves, we are moving on a uniform line of progress that gives a harmonious unifying to our growth in all its parts.

Competition is good, but it has its dangerous side. There is a tendency to sacrifice real worth to mere appearance. True competition is the competition of the individual with themselves — your present seeking to excel your past. When you embrace this attitude toward your own progress and possibilities, you can almost create your life as you will.

Subscribe to the Inspirational Living Podcast at iTunes & Stitcher

Inspirational Podcasts Stitcher
Subscribe Inspirational Podcast

All transcripts from our motivational podcasts are edited adaptations of the original work and copyrighted by For reproduction permission please contact us via our contact page.