Why Your Influence Matters

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks with my nieces wedding (more on that later) and I’ve missed connecting with everyone! Honestly, many times I was scribbling pieces of blog ideas on scrap paper and napkins in sunny California and just couldn’t make it happen. I gave myself permission to take a break.  BUT, I am back in the blog saddle and have so much to share with you over the next months.
This week I want to introduce you to an extraordinary woman and a new friend, Jenni Catron. She’s released a book that resonates with my definition of making a difference~INFLUENCE! She has masterfully written a book CLOUT: DISCOVER AND UNLEASH YOUR GOD-GIVEN INFLUENCE that will encourage you to see your own personal influence as leverage to making a God-imprint in your world. She is a gifted leader and the real deal. When I first picked up her book, I thought, I am going to write her and share a little of my own story. Not expecting a response, she not only wrote back right away, but I was so blessed by her willingness to engage. We’ve since exchanged books and emails and she is the beautifully authentic! Whether you are a seasoned leader, emerging leader or someone who believes in ordinary everyday influence, this book is for you!  I invited her to do an interview and so here she is…drumroll please….photo 2Jenni Catron!
Can you share the clout journey of writing this book and what has brought you to the concept of “clout and leadership?” What was your first “aha” moment with the idea of clout?
I have had a passion for leadership for as long as I can remember.  I believe it’s one of the gifts that God has given me but I’ve been perplexed over the years trying to define and understand how to best steward this gift of leadership.  Over time I’ve grown to believe that leadership begins with influence but the more I studied my own motivations and observed the behaviors of other leaders, the more I discovered that we tend to skip ahead to doing the things that we perceive make us leaders and take for granted the exploration of influence that God has designed us for.
About ten years ago I went through what I define as my “crisis of purpose”.   As a confident and driven person I had pursued dreams I had outlined for my life but I had done so without taking a healthy look at how my life up to that point had shaped me and how God had innately gifted me.  It was that season that I stumbled upon this passage from Galatians:
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given.  And then sink yourself into that.  Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”  Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message)
This verse awakened me to the need to understand who I was first as a child of God and then secondly how the gifts, talents, experiences and opportunities that he had given to me could be used to do “my creative best.”
What is the difference between clout and influence? 
I use the words clout and influence interchangeably.  I define Clout as your God-given influence.  It’s the collection of gifts, talents, experiences and opportunities that God has given to you and to no one else.  That collection creates the foundation for your influence – your clout.
How do you use clout to lead well?
When we understand our God-given clout I believe we lead from a healthier and more authentic place.  Rather than trying to be what we perceive we should be or what others want us to be, we lead from a place of confidence in who God has created us to be.  
You talk about 7 Clout Killers in your new book, what are they? Can you share one or two that have been barriers for you and how you have overcome them?
The Clout Killers that I discuss in the book are fear, comparison, jealousy, scarcity, insecurity, pride and control.  I’m sure there are others that can derail us but these were the ones I’ve seen most consistently show up in the life of leaders.  They are the tactics that the enemy tries to distract us and derail us with.
I think fear is the big one for all of us.  In fact I call fear the frontrunner of the clout killers. It’s usually an “I’m not enough” fear that triggers the others. For instance fear that I don’t measure up to others leads to comparison and fear that I’m not good enough triggers insecurity. While all of us wrestle with different clout killers in varying degrees, fear, comparison and insecurity consistently show up for many of us.
What next steps would you offer to a leader who is seeking to leverage greater influence?
I would encourage you to “make the careful exploration” that Galatians 6 talks about.  I believe we must lead ourselves well to lead others better.  When we do the tough work of seeking God for our identity, giftedness and calling and then pray through and discern what might be hindering us or holding us back (the clout killers), we are better equipped to understand our sphere of influence and lead more authentically in that place.    
You are encouraging people to name someone in their world who deserves a “clout award.” Who would that award go to in your life and why?
Oh, there are so many people!  But one that immediately comes to mind was the owner of the ice cream shop that I worked at in high school.  She believed in me more than I believed in myself.  She saw potential and gave me opportunities to explore my talents and gifts and in doing so she equipped me with confidence.  She didn’t need the attention for herself.  She invested me in me to enable me to grow.  
What’s next for Jenni in leadership and how can we come alongside and pray for you? 
I’m in another season of conquering some fears and growing in my faith.  I am in the process of transitioning to the west coast to take a leadership position at Menlo Park Pres.  It’s a wonderful church under the amazing leadership of John and Nancy Ortberg.  But change is challenging and I’m praying that I can learn a new culture, earn influence with a new team and utilize my gifts to help propel the vision of this church forward.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!
P.S. I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I do and will discover your own unique CLOUT. Not sure what I was really thinking, but authors are real people, and I know it’s crazy because even though I am an author myself and hope I would do the same when someone writes me, I am blessed by Jenni’s authenticity and encouragement to me personally.