Lasting Influence = People x Ideas Spread x Time
Influence = People x Ideas Spread
I give you the above equations to show you something important about influence. It is difficult to see how much influence a person has within their lifetime, but influence is seen more in what work does over a longer period of time. This is seen in the distribution of books like The Bible, in art like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and with inventions like the light bulb as a finished product from Thomas Edison. These things still impact people today, because these people and their ideas are influential. Do people still recognize the teachings of Jesus as influential in leadership and religion, do people still recognize da Vinci as influential in art and painting, and do people still see Thomas Edison as an genius with fresh ideas and who produced a revolutionary invention? The answer would be a resounding “yes” to all of these questions. After these teachings, art, and inventions were given to the world, people looked back on them to weigh creations of the present. That’s influence that creates conversation.
So, when authors or entrepreneurs or speakers talk to me about their influence, I usually think that it is much too early to evaluate. Of course, there is the measurement of how many lives one impacts during their lifetime, but even more extraordinary than this is when people are influenced after someone is no longer here on earth. When people go back and build on an idea which is hundreds or even thousands of years old, you know that a person had ideas that created a powerful legacy.
In some cases, people have to continuously create ideas because they don’t influence others for a long period of time with those ideas. You can tell when ideas influence people based on how long a product or idea has traction. Most work has a peak in the beginning, and then sales and interest from others go downhill from there. It looks something like this:
But, when someone produces influence with their life, or with their art, or with their invention, interest doesn’t die off. The conversation continues when ideas influence. This idea looks something like this: