Being Influenced By Unlikely People

Being Inspired By Unlikely People


I quickly got ready and headed out into the morning sunshine.

I was on my way to our local park in Lisbon. Set on a hill near to the Pantheon (resting place of many notables of Portugal) and with a beautiful view of the Tagus river, my wife and I had already enjoyed sitting on its sun-dappled benches. A couple of cafes spilled onto the street near its northern edge, while at its eastern extremity a packed cafe kept the steady stream of patrons happy.

However, this time I wasn’t there for relaxation.

When we had visited before I had spotted a series of outdoor gym equipment dotted along one stretch of path- these were the object of my trip this morning.

As I’ve explained previously, I’ve been trying to get fitter. Attaining and maintaining a healthy body (and mind) is an important part of growing your influence and it is something I’ve been trying to focus on. The hills of Lisbon have been helping me out….

I was feeling a bit apprehensive about using the equipment. My fears went roughly as follows:

  • What if the equipment was only used by people with a six-pack like 90s-era Peter Andre and legs like Mark Cavendish?
  • What if no-one was using the equipment but everyone started watching me?
  • What if the instructions were in Portuguese?

As I headed down the steep street towards the park, dodging parked cars, loose paving and people stepping out of doorways, I tried to keep in mind that I was proud of myself for at least checking out my options.

The idea that every journey starts with the smallest step may be a cliche, but it is true. After all, I would never forgive myself if a free opportunity to get fitter was just down the road and I never even took a look.

I was still nervous though.

However, as I stepped into the park my fears melted away. There on the equipment were an old man and woman, the man probably in his mid-70s. They were on a piece of gym equipment each, chatting away to each other without a care in the world.

As I watched, the woman pumped iron and the man swung his legs alongside. All of a sudden my nerves were gone.

If they could do it, why couldn’t I?

If this couple (I think they were French tourists) were happy to go a park and try the equipment without fear of public sanction I should have the confidence to do the same.

I walked up to the first exercise with an extra spring in my step.


Sometimes, influence can come from an unlikely source. When I got up that morning I never would have thought that it would be those people inspiring me to think bigger and try harder.

When you look for influence in your life, don’t just consider the usual suspects. Who inspires you by their example, whoever they are? In your turn, how can you inspire others?

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One thought on “Being Influenced By Unlikely People

  1. I also think we can sometimes turn out – unwittingly – to be the unusual suspects.

    I remember a few years back going on a job around Parliament Hill. Feeling unfit, inadequate and out-of-breath; but then a lady passed by.

    She said she had seen me running earlier and was impressed in all the time it had taken her to walk to where we were now passing, I was doing a double circuit of the route. She was so lovely and it inspired and influenced me to run even more. But it also made me wonder whether I – total running misfit – had in some way even influenced her! It can work both ways of course x