Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day which brings back lots of great memories from my childhood.

For most of my life, I looked forward to two things happening every March – watching college basketball at my grandparent’s house (i.e. March Madness) and Saint Patrick’s day festivities.

My grandfather, John J. Galgon, would have preferred to have grandsons (although he loved my sister and I dearly), and so we had the privilege of learning about every sport imaginable. When it was time for the NCAA conference tournaments, the entire family gathered around the television at 417 Ridge Avenue immersed in the action to cheer on our favorites.

Certainly growing up with a last name of “Palansky”, you wouldn’t think St. Pat’s would bring a twinkle to my eye and a jump to my step.

And, yet, Saint Patrick’s day was also celebrated with great fanfare in the Galgon household.

Although my grandfather didn’t have an ounce of Irish in him, he was an active member in the Hogan’s, an Irish fraternal organization which was the lifeblood of the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (And, when I was in college, my non-Irish grandparent’s even served as the King and Queen of the parade!)

My grandparent’s house was at the end of the parade route, and on parade day the door to their home was left open and 100’s of people – strangers and friends — would meander in and out of 417 Ridge Avenue for the green beer and to have a conversation with my grandfather.

People were drawn to him as if there was a spell cast upon them and they couldn’t get away even if they tried.

He had an uncanny ability to develop rapport with strangers and possessed a genuine concern for every person he met.

Celebrating St. Pat’s Day yielded many lessons in both business and leadership.

As John Maxwell once said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”

And, like many great leaders, my grandfather’s influence had a powerful effect on everyone he met.

When I think about what he did to generate such powerful influence, I go back to the research from Kouzes and Posner delineating the top three (3) characteristics of effective leadership – Integrity, Forward-thinking, and Inspiration.

My grandfather was an honest man who created a clear vision for his life, who brought out the best in others and operated with little or no fanfare, earning him the nickname “the Quiet Man” in his circle of friends.

Just as people follow the person first, and then their great plan, people wanted to follow my grandfather. They loved being around him.

His influence came from his ability to connect — across generations, beliefs, and attitudes — even if he wasn’t the most polished or educated person in the room.

Connection and Influence. They’re two of the biggest puzzle pieces in the world of leadership and St. Patrick’s Day always reminds me of this lesson.

The Upside Challenge for you this week is to examine your own level of influence with clients, employees, and/or those closest to you. Are you someone worth following? Why or why not? And, what one action will you take this week to increase your level of influence? Know the answer is in how and where you connect!

Think you need more than a little luck to accomplish your 2013 goals? Not sure how to do it alone? Contact Sheri to set up a complimentary strategy session!

See Upside. Be Upside. Live Upside

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