Nicole is 35, lives in Brisbane, Australia, is a primary school teacher and the sort of person you want teaching your kids.
She’s a positive, healthy role model, a trained dietitian, runs a personal-training business and trains for marathons between her schooldays. She even coaches the kids’ Run Club at school, doing her bit to ensure more kids are exposed to the positive influence of active lifestyles. She says running and healthy well-being “is a huge part of my life.”
But it wasn’t always like this for Nicole.
Nicole has overcome many barriers to living a more active life. Not a naturally sporty kid, she didn’t feel particularly drawn to physical activities, or included, as she was growing up.
In fact, some of her experiences with sports actually pushed her away, making her feel like it wasn’t for her.
But one Saturday morning, at the age of 29, after many failed attempts to join a gym or stick to an active routine, Nicole had a coffee that changed her life.
It was with her work friend, Jo, who was a 'park runner' (despite the clue in the name, Nicole had no idea what a park runner was).
Jo had become, like many others, hooked on a thing called parkrun so much so that she wanted to spread the word and bring others into it. And Nicole was her latest target and she could see Nicole benefiting from being there.
And so, with Jo’s encouragement, Nicole signed up and showed up to her first parkrun.
Nicole quickly learnt from the experience that the name was a bit misleading. It was in a park, but it wasn’t just a run; many walked and in fact were praised for doing so. And it wasn’t only about the run or the walk, but more about people coming together to be active, and all the positive influences that activity and those interactions provide.
A new journey that led Nicole into an active lifestyle and all the good things it brings.
The influence of experiences - bad to better
Nicole is an example of someone whose experiences in sports have become pivotal moments in her life. Negative experiences and people around her had at first alienated her from sport, but then they became positive influences, helping her become more active.
And now, she has become an advocate for the active world, an ‘evangelist’ even, living and preaching an active lifestyle, not just for her, but for others as well.
I talk more about Nicole's story, and a lot about the influence of the experiences we provide in my new book.
Influence is by most definitions something like ‘the capacity to influence a person, the behaviour of someone or something, or the effect on them.’
We see this influence in the experiences we provide.
The activities, events, and sessions you design and deliver influence what people choose to do. You persuade people to take part, and they walk away influenced in some way. They are affected physically and mentally on emotional and social levels, even sometimes on a transformational level. And the reason they are influenced in such meaningful ways?
It is the experiences they have.
An ‘experience’ means many things but can be defined roughly as ‘an event or activity which leaves an impression on someone’ - which is what we hope will occur with the events and activities we provide.
We hope to impress people enough to sign up for our sport or our session, and that it makes such an impression on them that they want to show up to experience it again. And again.
But, of course, the influence of the experiences you provide can go both ways.
We need to be mindful of the influence that we can have, we need to take care that the experiences we provide leave a positive impression and that the sum of all the experiences people have provides a positive impact, and not a negative effect.
Mr. Mandela said it best in his famous speech, and we won’t try and capture all the influence that sport can provide, but we can quickly recognise and reflect on the role it plays in our lives, and the lives of so many.
And so, our role (I think) is to harness this power to good effect.
You might be doing that enough already, but if you think I can help amplify that influence please let me know.
Let's start creating a more active world, together, getting more people involved in your sport or events - more often, for longer.
The Tools YOU can use
Creating Influential Experiences
This time last year we designed a campaign to inspire more women, like Nicole, to be more active more often.
'Move with MDC' was a campaign, designed on evidence and brought to life with a focus on pillars of inspiration, support, and connection.
The results were inspiring, with many more women and girls becoming more active across Australia.
This showed us a great example of the influence and legacy that events like these can provide, in many ways.
The important and actionable point here is that you are in a fortunate position to be in, and that we can use influence in different ways.
We must seize the opportunity we have in our work to have the influence we want, and amplify it to achieve our full potential!
So how do we influence people?
Start by asking and answering these questions with your team:
What influence have we had on people? On our participants or members? What about our volunteers?
What impact are we having? The good? And the bad?? How meaningful is that influence? How large is it?
What influence do you really need to have? In what ways? And on who?
What is the current state of your experiences?
Do you need more people to be more active more often? Are enough people signing up, and enough people showing up again? And bringing others with them?
What do our experiences, interactions and activities make people think, feel, and do?
What are they saying about you?
Before it, during it, and after it?
What would a more positive experience look like for them? And for you?
What could that provide your organisation?
Do you find yourself attending events but planning their next one??? Then this is for you!
Join the Event Club!
We visit events and share our thoughts on them afterwards - and we are in demand! We have been asked to attend upcoming events are share our thoughts, and we'd welcome yours. If you want to join us, or have an event we should visit, please let me know.
NEXT UP - The Aus Open Review, and then... the Avalon Airshow!