I once read a story about British statesman and financier Cecil Rhodes.

He is the one whose fortune was used to endow the world-famous Rhodes Scholarships.

People said that he was a real stickler for correct dress–but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings.

A young man was invited to dine with Rhodes and he arrived late by train, so he had to go directly to Rhodes’s home in his travel-stained clothes.

Once he got there, he was appalled to find the other guests were already there and they were wearing their full evening dress.

After what seemed a long time, Rhodes finally appeared.

But what was shocking to this young man and to the other guests was that Rhodes was dressed in a shabby old blue suit.

Later on, the young man found out that Rhodes had been dressed in his formal evening clothes, but had changed out of them, and put on the old suit, when he heard of his young guest’s awkward dilemma.

How much influence and impact do you think that had on that young man?

  • I’d bet the young man never forgot what happened that night!
  • I bet he told everyone he knew about it. (In fact, I wonder if that’s how we know the story today.)
  • I bet he would do anything he could to help Rhodes from that day forward.
  • I bet he would take any advice Rhodes ever gave him and bend over backwards to return the favor!

*Do you want to know the “secret” to impact and influence?

It’s empathy!

It’s putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and letting them see you know what it’s like to be in their position. It’s then interacting with them and treating them based on that understanding.

But it HAS to be real. It can’t be fake. If it is, you’ll lose any chance of impact and influence with that person and others.

When it’s real, you’ll have become a person of influence and impact, because you’ll be a person that people can genuinely trust.

Isn’t empathy the underlying principle of “the golden rule”?
Isn’t a lack of empathy one of the biggest reasons for strife and trouble between people?

We all want to have an impact and influence in this world.

The “secret” to actually experiencing this starts with thinking of others first and responding to them out of that understanding.