The 4 Stages of Influence

Influencing others is a humble and respectful enterprise.

Influence is an easy to understand but hard to implement strategy in interpersonal relationships.  The opposite is ‘resistance’, and a close cousin is ‘change’.  The confusing thing is that the meaning of influence sometimes gets mixed up with ‘manipulation’, a less than desirable behavior.

Influence is generally regarded as the ability to change something or someone because you’ve built the trust needed to make it happen.  Influence just ‘doesn’t’ happen, so how does it occur?

The 4 Stages of Influence 

Those that influence the best are those that have the most humility.  

  1. Letting yourself be influenced by others.  When you open yourself to learning, listening and replying, you have begun the process of influencing another.  Going where someone is communicates their importance to you.
  2. Engaging in trusting actions.  It’s hard to influence others without being trustworthy yourself.  This step takes patience and time.  If you’re rushing this, then you’re likely engaging in subtle manipulation.
  3. Having a valued skill or behavior. A component to influencing another, is having knowledge, skill, or behavior that others legitimately value in some way.  Using this in ways that help others is often the glue that builds your ability to build influence and build confidence in your actions.
  4. Showing humility.  Those that influence the best are those that have the most humility.  A person that makes a lot of noise around themselves, creates a shallow outcome of manipulation.  Influencing others is a humble and respectful enterprise.  One meant to build others up, rather than build one’s ego.
  • Which steps may you be using? Which ones are absent as you work with others?

The Process of Regaining Confidence

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Regaining confidence is not an external event.  Those that are waiting for something to happen to feel better, may end up disappointed…

If you feel a lack of confidence, it’s best to start out with yourself first.  That’s where the problem really resides.  Things happen, you make mistakes, and you may lack the right skills.  

Finding the Path to Confidence

  1. Be Real: Face your weakness – it’s what you need to do differently, not what needs to change.
  2. Work through people: Find those that believe in you.  
  3. Deliver value, build confidence in others, receive credibility.

It’s not what happens, but what you decide to make happen.  Acknowledge your weaknesses, and build a plan to mitigate them.  If you take the ‘minimal’ path, you will remain at an unsatisfying level.  The motivation you generate will repay you in ‘confidence’.  Others will gradually engage and reinforce what you have become.

The Importance of Rediscovering Your Roots

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A friend once said to me: “As things change, sometimes people move toward you, and sometimes they move away from you.”

As we develop, we form new interests.  As we form new relationships, new and different patterns of life take hold.  Some good, and some create a distraction. Over time some relationships shift, and we find find ourselves moved away from the aspects that brought us confidence in ourselves.

Making an exercise in the rediscovery of our roots, can be a powerful direction that brings us back to more effectiveness, renews our sense of well being, and helps us cope better with life challenges.

Here are some of the ways, connecting with our roots can make a difference in our lives:

  1. We connect with important past relationships that were positive and played a part in our development. Often times the busyness of life takes us away from people that contributed a lot to who we are today.
  2. It helps us reconnect with things that worked for us in the past.
  3. We find new energy from things that brought richness in our past.
  4. We can solve current difficulties using “tried and true” approaches, that we have abandoned at some point.

Ways to connect with our roots:

  • Call up a friend or associate you haven’t seen or talked to for some time.  You might be surprised how good it makes you feel.
  • Engage a rewarding hobby that enriched your life in the past.
  • Remember how you solved problems before.  Use those techniques again.
  • Write and reflect on your problems.  Remember what really helped you get through.

The Rewards are there…Rediscover something that you “moved away from.” Locate what meant a lot to you in the past and reengage it.  Reexperience some of the joys it brought you, and learn to cope with existing problems, using things that worked in the past.

The Strategic Advantage of Tenacity and Resiliency

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Sometimes going through the same path can seem unappealing.  Repetition is mind-numbing at times.  Reframing your path as tenacity and resilience is a fresh way to look at your efforts.

Your efforts have a meaning if they are important to you.

When repetition is unproductive:

  1. When the efforts don’t contribute to something higher than yourself 
  2. When they don’t align with what you see as important 
  3. Mis-directed meetings 
  4. When your heart is not in it
  5. No results…

Resilience is combining thoughtful repetition with a mission despite the hardships encountered.

Ways to make your behaviors and actions mean more – and create an advantage:

  1. Do more that matters.  Define what that is.
  2. Examine whether the hardship is tied to important values or a mission.
  3. Is your activities wearing you down, or are they creating “tired but rewarding energy.”

Too many activities are a result of distraction, survival, and reaction.  If any of these exist, it’s probably time to find a new path. Embrace repetition, when it is getting you closer where you want to go.

Taking On Worry By Being A Better Problem Solver


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If you worry a lot, then you probably need to get into more problem solving skills and behavior.  Humans are tied to knowing, and when something isn’t quite known, there is a tendency to gravitate toward anxiety or worry.  Obviously this does little to change the situation.

Worry squelches and cuts off your ability to use problem solving.  Working through something may require different levels of problem solving.  Often cutting through a problem means you have to think it is possible to solve it.

A problem solving process

  1. Define what is really the problem.  Use one or two words to label it.
  2. Think of all the evidence you have that “won’t support” your original worry.
  3. Come up with exceptions when the problem didn’t exist.  What was happening? 
  4. Gather if needed other expertise, resources, or skills that will potentially solve the problem.
  5. Choose your options and apply one or more approaches.

Worry is only an unproductive dead end to a problem. It never leads to everything except more distress.  Moving effectively through worry requires a commitment toward constructive action and determination that other solutions exist.

Ways to Drive More Positive Change in Your Life

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Change is seen as the enemy and something that must be dealt a response, often reactively.  Creating change is a lofty topic to be sure, but the intent should always to create the change you want to prevent unwanted change, and also to make things better.

Examine change everyday. Your heart knows what needs to change.

Unless you’re spending a great deal of time in denial, avoidance or procrastination, your heart informs your mind about what should be different or better.  Many if not all of us stay in this zone of self-denial. Examining and checking in with yourself daily is the first step toward an honest appraisal.

Five “first steps” toward driving change:

  1. Just start opening yourself up to the things you automatically feel are wrong.  They may be big or small, but they are there.  Just write them down and define them. Pick one word that defines the area for change.
  2. Work toward a plan.  Use a personal journal.  The more you write about something, the more your heart informs the mind, and enables your ability to problem solve.  We are often what we think.
  3. Use imaging.  Use your capacity to imagine what desired change looks like everyday.  Do this in conjunction with walking exercise, or quiet time.
  4. Work your plan slowly, with small steps. Realize it will take time.  The secret is actively doing something.  Getting imperfect results is a sign that change is happening.  You’re building momentum.
  5. Reevaluate weekly, or daily if necessary.  Become a “tweaker” that makes small adjustments.  Learn more and get more skills or feedback if you need to.

After a while your heart will tell your mind whether your on the right track.

How to Prevent ‘Going through the motions’

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There’s good and bad about repetition.  The good- is considered intentional and leads to something better or a higher skill.  The bad- means that you’re stuck in a rut, and you feel like action is actually reaction to events outside your direct control.  

In common language, you’re going through the motions.  The results don’t feel that good or gratifying.

Ways to make your actions intentional

1. Clarify your purpose, not someone else’s.  Make your actions mean something to you.

2. Let go of unnecessary emotional baggage.  Often we imprison ourselves with other people’s vision.  Create your own definition for yourself.

3. Address the bad personal habits one by one.  The friction we encounter where we feel we are stuck, may have its origin in how we care for ourselves.

4. Say no. Saying no, means you’re respecting your capacity to be.  Over-extending is compromising your true capabilities.

Finally, learning to ask questions and speak up, can alter the landscape and potentially make your experience better.  There is no rule where you should suffer in silence. Advocate for yourself.

Quick Ways to Reestablish Focus


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These days, focus can be quickly swept away in the flurry of demands and people issues that present.    The more roles you participate in, the more you know how to do, and the more effective you are, there are corresponding demands on your time.

This doesn’t have to be the result.  Reestablishing focus, is about managing what happens around you, either on a prevention level, or in the ways you take future steps to decrease the problem from happening again.  The way you maintain your focus is about making sure that your “overload” doesn’t hamper taking the next step.  The ways you maintain your focus, or reestablish it, may surprise you, because they are normally things we have within our direct control.

5 Ways to Reestablish Focus:

Maintain good sleep hygiene: This means good rising and retiring times.  It also means not burning the candle at both ends. Stress creation is often a function of poor sleep, disrupted sleep, or habits of staying up too late.  Poor sleep is a major contributor and byproduct of mental health issues.  Addressing sleep is often the first step taken in treatment – obtaining better sleep, builds an individual’s ability to deal with real situations in their lives with more strength.

Watching what you eat: Although this is not an article on dietary issues and weight loss, the food choices we make, can contribute to the ways we handle emotional issues.  Poor decisions with eating – inconsistent times, eating the wrong kinds of foods, and over-eating, can all impact how we mentally handle decisions around us.  Eating heavier foods, and too much food, can lead to insensitivity, and a tendency to internalize problems, rather than working them through.

White Space: What type of time do you set aside to do what you need to do? Often a source of poor focus is being over committed, and over-scheduled.  In other words, we bite off more than we can choose, and think we are wonder-people. Building ‘white space’, or time spaces in your schedule, gives you the leverage you need to do other things that feed your ability to focus.  This may include reading, journalling, reflection, listening to music, specific project planning, or prioritizing a project.

Keeping Active: This can be anything from walking to your car, taking the steps, playing with your kids, or planned exercise. The intention and follow through with some type of physical activity (not the amount) is what clears the cobwebs from your mind.  It allows our minds to filter through what’s important, and choose your next focus.

Recording What you Do: If you have a problem you want to address, or need to ‘Get Focused’, start naming it, recording it, and measuring it.  This is how you find the patterns. Keep your productivity tools to a few essentials, and don’t get over focused on using technology.  You can have a lot of ‘tools’ that never get used in effective ways, because there are too many of them. Choose the tools that feel most comfortable and go with those, record your accomplishments, and what you are doing.  It will create a better awareness of where you need to go.

The key to better focus, is about centering on things that change your body’s response to its environment.  It is about recording what you want, finding patterns, and then locating where you need to go.

10 Ways Leaders Move Others Ahead

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The Importance of Small Actions

The smallest actions can make the biggest difference. What may seem inconsequential could be the thing that moves another person along to something that is not initially known.

Giving and showing small appreciation for others can be a small private moment that is the tipping point that leads another to something better.

Leading others is a privilege.  Encountering others in our role, lends itself to unknown opportunities.

10 Ways Leaders Move Others Ahead

  1. Make every response a strength based moment
  2. Make a positive comment even when the feeling is negative 
  3. Find and name the qualities that make others valuable
  4. Show appreciation rather than enable
  5. Point out where actions are falling short, but where there is potential to correct
  6. Understand what others’ behavior means, rather than making a quick judgment 
  7. Give others a takeaway that holds value
  8. Talk about what is expected, participate in the process 
  9. Showcase others’ accomplishments 
  10. Find ways to serve the people that work for you.

Incorporating these humble actions is good for your leadership, but even better for those you lead.  The idea that you can exercise daily actions that move others forward is an exciting prospect.