“All I was doing was trying to get home from work.” One of the more famous statements of Rosa Parks when speaking about the December incident in 1955, Montgomery Alabama where she was arrested and put on trial for refusing to move to the back of the bus.
Rosa Parks case became the rally point of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which became the focal point of the civil rights movement in the US. A then relatively unknown Baptist minister rallied the movement to the level of global significance.
What makes a 28 year old fresh out of bible college a global icon? That’s how old Martin Luther King Jr. was when he became globally influential.
There were several factors in that recipe. Not the least of which were purpose, and passion.
But let’s not overlook the obvious. Martin Luther King Jr. gave influence to Rosa Parks. It’s a fundamental principle of influence.
Just like if you want respect, you give respect. If you want influence, you give influence.
More importantly, you give influence to someone who’s truly congruent with who you are, so you can authentically talk about your respect for them.
Leaders of the civil rights movement in Montgomery had looked at a similar case 8 months prior. In March 1955, a fifteen-year-old school girl in Montgomery, Claudette Colvin, refused to give up her bus seat. King was on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into the case. Colvin was pregnant and unmarried, so E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr decided to wait for a better case to get behind.
One of the most important acts King did that led to his global stature, was to be Rosa Parks’ first raving fan. He showed her leadership and courage to the world and credited her with the leader she became in the civil rights movement. From that act, King’s leadership and courage emerged.
Choose who you give influence to and give it abundantly. It will define you as an influencer.