influentialWe are definitely the masters of our fate, as poet William Ernest Henley wrote more than a century ago. But in life, there are countless other people who, through their support or example, may push us down a different path or at least nudge us to get moving in the first place. Have you ever taken the time to reflect on the people who’ve influenced you in a pivotal way? Below, I’ve challenged a handful of people to recall one (or two) of those people:

Claire

I was working as a registered nurse, and, because I enjoyed art and interior design, I was also taking a few classes at the college. Professor Bernard Lipscomb encouraged me to expand my perspective on design to include designing health facilities. I did exactly that. One day I was working as a nurse in the hospital, and the next I was working in the Engineering Department doing in-house renovations!

Tom

I lost my father when I was six. Two of my uncles took me under their wing, and when I was around 12, taught me how to hunt and fish. Who knows what path I would’ve taken in my teens if I hadn’t developed these interests? Their support also helped me discover a passion that has continued to this day. While I don’t hunt anymore, fishing still keeps me out of trouble!

Linda

Years ago, my husband’s aunt had leukemia. When she was hospitalized for the last time, she asked to be left alone one night because she needed to talk to her Lord. She made it very clear that she was looking forward to being reunited with him. She died a day or two later. I decided then that I wanted the same peace and comfort that she had. I may never get to her level of faith, but I am still trying because of her example.

Don

In college, I read Henry David Thoreau. His ideas about living life deliberately had a huge impact on me. Throughout my life, this theme has continually resurfaced in my interests and the way I live my life—in everything from yoga and meditation to Harley riding to Friedman’s Free To Choose economics and Ayn Rand capitalism.

Patricia

The most influential figure in my life was my mother-in-law. When her husband passed away in the ‘40s, she took over the ownership of his Texaco station and ran it until she retired in the ‘70s. When I married her son in 1958, she was the most confident, independent woman I had ever met. Men looked up to her. She taught me that women could be successful in business, too. Through her example, I went on to become CEO of a company myself.

Share a story about a person who has influenced you.

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