Open Thinkering


Tag: influence

Wednesday Wisdom #28: Influence

Wednesday Wisdom #28: Influence

I’m not sure when this video was created, but it’s certainly a younger Steve Jobs. It includes the above quotation, which I think is so powerful – especially if you come across it as a young person.

I’d love to get a poster of it for my kids’ bedrooms. Perhaps I’ll create one.

The whole set of Wednesday Wisdom images can be found in my Creative Commons-licensed Flickr set.

My 5 favourite non-fiction books

  1. The Art of Worldly Wisdom (Baltasar Gracian)
  2. The Complete Essays (Michel De Montaigne)
  3. The Passion of the Western Mind (Richard Tarnas)
  4. Pragmatism (William James)
  5. Moving Mountains: the art of letting others see things your way (Henry M. Boettinger)

These are all, either explicitly or implicitly, philosophical. This, of course, reflects my background, my first degree and my approach to life. But you don’t have to be a philosopher to enjoy these works: they’re extremely readable and the ideas and wisdom they contain is of use to everybody!

Owning a Kindle means I can carry around many of my favourite books with me wherever I am. The search functionality means I can quickly find the section I’m looking for. It’s regrettable that not every work is available digitally but I’m sure Google are working on it… 😉

What are your favourite works of non-fiction?

Creativity: confusing inputs with outputs.

Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby something new is created which has some kind of value. What counts as “new” may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs. What counts as “valuable” is similarly defined in a variety of ways. (Wikipedia)

I’ve noticed increasingly ‘creativity’ being somehow equated with thea use of bright colours. Whilst it’s true that inspirational environments can stimulate people, I doubt sincerely that a lick of paint can transform a space into a ‘creative’ one. This is because of the fallacy of confusing inputs with outputs.

People do this all the time, equating fame, success, good looks, talent, and ultimately creativity with acting a certain way, using a certain thing, or wearing particular items. Given that outputs are usually visible and tangible, this is understandable – but still wrong-headed. Instead of finding out what type of laptop someone uses, the type of pencil they prefer or favourite restaurant, we should be seeking the answers to different questions. Such as:

  • What do you always have close to hand when writing/designing/talking?
  • Which are your favourite blogs/books/podcasts?
  • Who influences you?
  • When did you realise that [xyz]?
  • How do you organise your thoughts?
  • Where do you do your best thinking?

Try finding out the answers these questions – ask people directly if you have to! Note their positive habits. Merely aping their setup and outputs deals with the latter, but not the all-important inputs. :-p

3 ways to influence people.

I can think of three main ways that people influence other people into being more productive. Here’s two:

  1. Emotions – appeal to fear, pride, happiness, etc.
  2. Admiration – person B thinks person A rocks, therefore listening to and acting upon what they say

The third way is, however, the most important. It’s making other people think the idea you gave them was their own. This lends ownership and increases self-confidence.

Doing so can raise other people’s productivity levels significantly. Some methods:

  • Email a link to a third party’s blog post/tweet/Facebook update.
  • Lend a book.
  • Suggest to a someone’s friend that they could do with hearing some advice.

In the film Inception, they have to travel to a third level of the subconscious to plant an idea to make it seem like the person’s own. In a similar way, to change behaviours and influence others, you often have to deflect attention away from yourself towards other things to give an idea some traction!