If you knew you could control what someone thought, how they thought ….anyone at all….would you do it?
Aside from the (hopefully) obvious moral implications of this, try it as just a thought exercise for a moment. You could free this person of self-doubt, foster self-compassion, and help them be the very best version of themselves. Maybe you could control them long enough to permanently change their thought process or some of their habits. Just think: You could help someone go from average to amazing! You could be a major force for good in the world.
When you think about it this way it seems an amazing ability to have, but I’m guessing you already see it would be dangerous too… This is a serious amount of influence to have with someone.
And just in case you haven’t spotted it yet, I need to warn you that you are being influenced too. Almost constantly in fact (think advertisements for a start). I’m even trying to influence you in this blog post ;). Some people believe only impressionable or weak-willed people can be influenced. This simply is not true – we all are susceptible to it. Sometimes we see it and resist, sometimes we assess that it will result in personal benefit to ourselves and we go with it. Often we are not aware of it at all.
Recognising that this is a serious amount of influence to have with someone, who should we allow to have such power? To put it another way:
Most of us have a metaphorical moral compass to let us know if we stray on to rocky ethical ground. I’m sure the equivalent of moral compass alarms went off in your head from my first sentence of this post. I get it, really I do. What I want to do here is ask you if you really, really get it too? All of it?
Let me explain. It stands to reason that not everyone’s moral compass points true north as it were. So what if these influencers weren’t making you the best version of yourself at all? What if they were fostering doubt, or abusive and destructive thought patterns, or even ‘just’ limiting your belief in what you can do?
Scary thought right? Now, I’m not here to frighten you into a low level paranoia, but I do want to you to pay attention.
If you don’t control your mind, someone else will – John Allston
Back to our thought experiment, lets look at where we are right now. Who has the most influence over you? Who do you allow to influence you? Not sure? Try these questions instead:
What do you read? Who do you surround yourself with at work and at home? What movies or TV shows do you watch? How and where do you look for new ideas and learning? (Do you even look for learning?)
And now ask yourself:
What am I Feeding Myself?
Jim Rohn: what you read is how you think
John Rohn once gave the example that if you get up every morning and read the news papers you are filling your day with death, destruction, war, and misery. These are great at selling news papers, but arguably don’t contribute to a positive mental outlook for your day. I am not suggesting you stop keeping up to date with current affairs, but do be aware that everything you come into contact with affects you*.
Knowing this then, you might want to surround yourself with peers who you admire and respect, who you would consider a role model. Ultimately, people you would like to resemble in some aspect or other.
If you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong room.
So here’s an idea: embrace the knowledge that we are influenced. Accept the fact and use it to your own advantage. Tip the scales in your own favour. Choose your influence so that changes to your behaviour take you towards being the very best version of you that you can be.
You are not able to avoid outside influences – after all, it is only by interacting with the world that we can learn. Even on a desert island you would be influenced by your surroundings, the weather, how successful you had been gathering food that day. So if we can’t avoid outside influences, the only thing we can do is to make sure that as many of those influences are ones that YOU CHOOSE FOR YOURSELF.
Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. Napoleon Hill
Good luck, and I hope you find many creative ways to be your true awesome self.
* Years ago I read Derrin Brown’s ‘Tricks of the mind’ on the plane on the way to an interview. I bombed the interview because I was using the wrong language to express my ideas. I was using the language of a stage mentalist and not the language of a scrum master! It didn’t change how good I was as a scrum master, but it did leave the interviewers with the distinct impression I might be manipulative and controlling.
Want to know more?
- Have a look at my list of recommended reading if you feel the need to change your intellectual diet.
- A couple of other good blogs I read whilst researching this one, if you are interested in further reading.
- Alternatively watch Derrin Brown’s “The Heist” for an insight into how influence can work. (Bear in mind there are other techniques he uses in The Heist.)