The Art of Incurable Influence


influence (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The Art of Influence

I'm Interested in Apathy

I’m Interested in Apathy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life is influence. The sunlight influences the weather and the weather influences the activities of humans, right? But everyone already knows that!

So, why should you read this? The answer is short and simple. Most presentations relating to the subject of The Art of Influence do not even mention the most important factor: your own uniqueness.

Can you get how that might be quite important? Instead of focusing directly on influence itself, let’s begin with focusing on you. Are you open to that? Unless you are open to self-discovery, then all of the most delightful rewards of The Art of Influence will be reserved to those who dare to risk receiving the full benefits of introspection.

Of course, there are many methods of influence and many principles that can be useful. However, which ones are the most important for you personally right now? That depends on you!

Consider a table that has very solid legs but the top is partly broken and very flimsy. Strengthening the legs further will not make the top more functional, right? In contrast, if the top of a table is very solid, but the legs are flimsy, then adding more weight can result in the entire table collapsing, perhaps even breaking the otherwise useful top.

The most important factor in The Art of Influence is you. If you value improving a particular table, then the reality of that particular table is the most important information in regard to improving the table. If you value developing your own influence, then recognizing the reality of your own uniqueness is the most important factor in developing influence.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what is unique about you? What have other people told you about what makes you interesting to them? What do you know to be distinct about yourself? What is different about you from other people that you know?

Obviously, the specific people that you are interested in influencing are important, too. But there are lots of other people, right? There is only one of you though.

Now, if you know what is unique about you, then certain other people will be most fitting for you to influence. Identify what is unique about you and that will be the most important step in identifying which partners and allies are ideal for you personally.

Would you like an example? Either way, I’m going to present you one now because I want to identify whether you are someone that I am interested in as an ally or partner in some way. You may have presumed that I was writing this and sharing this for your benefit, and reading this certainly may benefit you, but here is a little secret about me; the person I am most interested in benefiting is me.

Now that may surprise or frighten you. You may wonder “but how can I trust someone who openly admits to be more interested in themselves than in me?”

Well, I could ask you how could you trust someone who is so desperately interested in other people’s approval (such as your approval) that they would compromise their own well-being just to earn your trust. People who say that they are not ever interested in their own well-being may either be crippling themselves with self-sabotage (which I have done) or they may be faking selflessness as a deceptive ploy to promote their self-interests covertly.

By the way, selflessness is real. But selflessness does not selfishly draw attention to itself. Someone who is proud and defensively argumentative about their alleged “selflessness” simply does not have any.

So, what’s unique about me? One obvious thing is that I am very analytical. Maybe you have already noticed that.

I was a very exceptional student. In early elementary school, I was designated as “gifted.” By the time I finished high school, I was awarded a National Merit Scholarship, which go to a few thousand of the top-ranking high-school graduates in the US each year.

Next, I immediately enrolled in a state university as a full-time student in 1989. I already had 28 credits, which was 2 short of being considered a second-year student.

A few years later, I graduated college with honors (“cum laude”) and then went to graduate school for a while, then dropped out to get a job. I actually did not really like most of my college classes. I was pretty good at making good grades, but I focused elsewhere.

By the mid-1990s, I had no remaining interest in academics but growing interest in spirituality, personal development, and psychology. I resided at a Zen Monastery for a few months, but I also found it somewhat disappointing. I had particular standards and I was committed to them, for better or worse.

Around that time, I also began to be quite interested in holistic health. At least some of my interest was because I was not especially healthy.

I experimented with several diets quite unlike the diet of my childhood. In 2005, I began to eat a lot of fresh animal products (as in raw, barely cooked, or fermented without any pasteurization). As promised by my nutritional consultant, my immune system began to eliminate more toxins, sometimes very rapidly, and my brown eyes began to lighten to hazel.

Media Influences

Media Influences (Photo credit: Domenico / Kiuz)

I’m skipping lots of important details, but one other distinction about me began in 2002. That summer, I was a refugee from a forest fire in Arizona that consumed about 500,000 acres of forest and, starting then, I read economic forecasts from competent forecasters (a competence demonstrated by their records in the prior decades).

As an analytical person, I understood the various forecasts and integrated a few of them together. In early 2003, I published a forecast of a continuing increase in global commodities prices along with warnings of weakness in real estate prices, trends of borrowing and lending, and also an eventual crash of stock prices in the US.

In 2004, I refined my focus further on to fuel prices in particular, publishing “The Real US Deficit: OIL” in which I introduced the idea that rising fuel prices would spark a major re-allocation of resources in the US (and the EU), similar to what had been happening in Japan since 1989. I made up a clever name for the predictable continuing rise of oil prices plus the predictable consequences on trends in borrowing, spending, housing, and stocks: “The DominOIL Effect.”

Perhaps the most interesting thing about my experience with economic forecasting is not the logic of the forecasts, but what I learned about people. (The logic is pretty simple. Because people value gasoline so much that many will pay hundreds of dollars a month for a lot of it, that motivates suppliers to sell as much gasoline as possible and for as much profit as possible. Also, if enough people value gasoline enough to spend hundreds of dollars a month on that instead of on something else, prices of other things can fall as people spend more and more on gasoline and less and less on other things. By the way, high gas prices ballooned the demand for things like telecommuting, satellite offices, and outsourcing, which can offer tremendous savings on commuting costs, commuting time, and other “overhead” operating costs.)

Briefly, what I learned about people is that most of them are terrified. Oddly enough, two of the most popular forms of that terror are hope and rage.

In their terror, they may imagine hopeful scenarios to motivate them to experiment and adapt. Experimenting can certainly take more courage than being paralyzed. (Note, I have actually been partially paralyzed and it certainly took initiative to explore recovery alternatives. When vague, complacent despair shifts to a more panicked desperation, that can be a very motivating experience.)

Naturally, some of the hopes and dreams of a terrified person may fail to be fulfilling. The terrified but hopeful person may experience frustration and exhaustion. They may resort to blame and resentment and contempt and jealousy and rage. They may identify a particular target (whether an individual or group or some other demon) as the alleged present obstacle to their possible future fulfillment.

One of my favorite “demons” is the diagnosing of a particular medical condition as incurable (as in beyond the competence of a particular diagnostician to reliably treat). Scurvy was famously labeled incurable, along with many other medical conditions that have proven extremely easy to remedy and prevent. I propose that cancer, diabetes, asthma, autism, and even cavities can be quite easy to treat (and prevent).

But I digress. What I learned about people is that most of them are terrified. In particular, courage may be the most terrifying thing of all.

What is courage? Courage is the willingness to do what most others would not be willing to do, including to say what others would not be willing to say. Courage is the willingness to be unique (or at least distinctive).

So, notice that I told you from the beginning that the most important element of the art of influence is what is unique about you. If you are open to the courage to explore what is unique about you, only then could I be interested in working with you in regard to particular methods that may be most beneficial to you.

For some people, there may be an opportunity to improve their performance by focusing simply on their health (as in biochemistry & physiology & nutrition). When I had a biochemical imbalance so extreme that I could only sleep a few hours per week, that made a difference in my analytical ability and communication skills. What if some simple alterations could improve your biochemical functionality by 5% or even 25%?

Consider that if you LOST 5% of your competence, your performance could plummet. This is like losing 5% of your vocabulary or 5% of the software on your computer. Certain things would be impossible. Other things would still be possible, but incredibly slow relative to what you can do with 100% of what you have now.

Adding 5% or even 25% to your functionality is not like having an extra amount of fuel (more of the same). It is like having extra tools or speaking an extra language or noticing things 5% or 25% faster than other people do.

Again, speaking of noticing things fast, I noticed the economic shift years in advance of most people. I understood in 2004 what most people still demonstrate that they do not comprehend- including people with long lists of academic credentials (like Doctorate degrees). An MBA dissertation from Columbia University in 2006 cited one of my articles, so I know that lots of other people do understand the extremely simple economics of the ongoing economic transition. However, without an openness to courage, most people may continue clinging to hope and anger instead of recognizing the obvious.

When a biochemist understands physiology 25% better than the average MD, that biochemist can produce results that are absolutely shocking to the MD. It can even be terrifying.

When certain forms of snake oil were established as being extremely beneficial to health, some doctors got together and formed alliances to oppose threats to their livelihood. They hired people to go around and sell concoctions that were not snake oil and that either had no lasting medical benefit or were detrimental to health. This method was so effective that the phrase “snake oil salesman” came to be associated with people who take advantage of the hopeful ignorance of the masses.

Further, most of the masses never knew that the salesmen were the issue, not the genuine snake oil. Thus, even genuine snake oil was presumed to be medically ineffective. At that point, groups like the American Medical Association in the US considered that particular threat to their livelihood to be neutralized.

So, beyond nutrition and biochemical improvements, the next most profound type of development in the art of influence is an improvement in language and communication skills (as in analytical skills). Once someone has explored any physiological improvements that might be a higher priority than language and communication skills, that opportunity can be explored.

Basically, we filter our experience of everything through our neuro-linguistic software. Physiology is like the hardware. Language is like the software. (Actually, DNA is the hardware, while nutritional, epigenetic biochemistry is what powers the DNA’s operations, and language rewires the neural networks- which is actually much more profound than “software.”)

When we interpret and label our experience, such as our schedule or our budget or economics or ecology, we interpret and label through language. Profound improvements in language skills can produce profound improvements in analytical precision and overall efficiency.

Most people believe presumptively in a medical model of diagnosis which is based on the idea of demon possession. People say things like “I have an incurable illness.” That is a valid interpretation.

However, when someone does not eat much vitamin C and experiences the natural and predictable results of the reduced organ performance, that is not the presence of a physical substance called scurvy. Scurvy is not a physical substance. Scurvy is a diagnostic label, kind of like “short” or “skinny.”

No one is possessed by the demon of obesity or starvation. They eat however much they eat of whatever they eat. They can claim that they are possessed by their diet, but that labeling or interpretation in language is useless in terms of promoting adaption.

No one is possessed by scurvy. People can eat more vitamin C or not.

No one is possessed by illiteracy. People can read or not, and, if not, maybe they could learn to read.

Now, I totally respect the medical industry and their “demon possession” model. I certainly respect what they have done in the past to perceived threats to their commercial interests.

I’m not mad at them (raging) and I am not trying to change their system (hopeful). I am just open to results that are profoundly more valuable me than what they offer.

When people say “isn’t it sad that cancer is incurable,” the most important thing about that formation in language is the lack of self-awareness. Even if cancer was incurable (though I consider that idea a ridiculous, superstitious cynicism), what would be so sad about it? Is it sad or is the person speaking sad about it?

Of course, when someone says “isn’t it sad…,” they are inviting empathy and emotional re-assurance. They are exposing their distress and fear. They are just doing so indirectly.

When people are paranoid and terrified, how likely is it that they would go around and tell everyone about it directly? Of course people hide their hysterical paranoia. That is adaptive! That is also the nature of paranoia: to hide the fears, to fear the exposure of fear, to fear the fear itself, to jealously condemn acts of courage (and even to condemn hope), yet also to make a proud display of even one’s most timid adventures.

Influence is easy. Identifying the best method for influence in a particular case is what makes influence so easy. If there is clarity about the particular case (including self-awareness by the person interested in developing influence), only then can influence be easy. Otherwise, influence can be one of the subjects most revealing of presumptions, false hopes, and the tendency to blame and rage against alleged “threats.”

The history of conventional medical groups neutralizing perceived commercial threats is of course no great victory for them. When a particular model of scientific terminology is 5% better than a more established model, that will probably be called an advance. When a new model is 15% better, that may be called a threat. However, when a new model is 1200% more effective than an older model, those who are clear about the new model may have no interest in interacting with adherents to the old model.

The old model that is so far surpassed by a new model will simply be discarded, rather like telegraphs were totally replaced by telephones. Why don’t people still use the kind of airplanes that were designed in 1912? Why don’t people traveling across continents ride on ships that take 2 months to complete the journey?

The logic of economics is simple enough. However, the amount of courage that a person has to experience clarity can shift dramatically for a particular person. Their capacity to influence others may rapidly balloon.

How? Through dramatic improvements in their own biochemical functionality as well as dramatic advances in their linguistic fluency. When people know that you are speaking their language, but speaking it unusually better than they do, influence can be very easy.


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