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Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change


Personal Thoughts

Influencer takes you on a fascinating journey from San Francisco to Thailand to South Africa, where you'll see how seemingly "insignificant" people are making incredibly significant improvements in solving problems others would think impossible. You'll learn how savvy folks make a change not only achievable and sustainable but inevitable. You'll discover breakthrough ways of changing the key behaviors that lead to greater safety, productivity, quality, and customer service.

Summary Notes

  • A German study has shown that even brain-damaged patients perform arithmetic better when they have been given a clear and challenging goal than when they have been given a vague “do your best” challenge. This study has shown the heart rate as well as the cognitive and behavioral effects of the presence of a challenging goal.
  • Notice the obvious. Recognize behaviors that are obvious (or at least obvious to experts) but underused. • Look for crucial moments. Find times when behavior puts success at risk. • Learn from positive deviants. Distinguish behaviors that set apart positive deviants— those who live in the same world but somehow produce much better results. • Spot culture busters. Find behaviors that reverse stubborn cultural norms and taboos.
  • They look for obvious but often underutilized actions. They then seek confirmation of what seems obvious to them by examining the advice of experts. When tailoring their own change program and trying to see what will work for them (given their unique circumstance), they look not at the 98 percent of the time they’re successful but the 2 percent of the time when they fail. They then use these crucial moments to inform the actions that need to follow.
  • Influencers use four tactics to help people love what they hate:
    1. Allow for choice.
    2. Create direct experiences.
    3. Tell meaningful stories.
    4. Make it a game.
  • This proclivity to attribute others’ worst behavior to some underlying character flaw is so common that psychologists have given it a special name. It’s referred to as the fundamental attribution error. This is the belief that people do what they do merely because they enjoy.
  • The best way to help individuals align their behavior with their deepest motives was to stop trying to control their thoughts and behaviors. You must replace judgment with empathy, and lectures with questions. If you do so, you gain influence. The instant you stop trying to impose your agenda on others, you eliminate the fight for control. You end unnecessary battles over whose view of the world is correct.
  • When you swap coercive methods with personal choices, you open up the possibility of influencing even the most addictive and highly entrenched behaviors by gaining access to one of the most powerful human motivations: the power of the committed heart.
  • With this in mind, it should surprise no one to learn that the gold standard of tactics for engaging personal motivation is a direct experience. Let people feel, see, and touch things for themselves.
  • First, people tend to resist new behaviors because they’re crystal clear about what they’ll lose by changing but uncertain about what they’ll gain. Like it or not, when it comes to change, humans tend to overvalue what they’re losing while undervaluing what they gain. So we don’t eagerly embrace the verbally recommended strategy.
  • Predicting what will make us happier. In fact, psychologist Daniel Gilbert has made a career out of demonstrating that human beings are downright awful at predicting their own likes and dislikes. For example, most research subjects strongly believe that another $30,000 a year in income would make them much happier. They feel equally strongly that adding a 30-minute walk to their daily routine would be of trivial import. Yet Dr. Gilbert’s research suggests that the added income is far less likely to produce an increase in happiness than is the addition of a regular walk.
  • With persistent influence challenges, bad actions are generally real, fun, and now, whereas negative consequences are often fuzzy, maybe not so bad after all, and most certainly a long time off. To turn this around, influencers learn to help others love what they currently hate by allowing them choices, creating direct experiences, telling meaningful stories, and turning tedious into a game.
  • Fortunately, Henry is dead wrong. Henry is trapped in what Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford, calls a “fixed mindset.” If he believes he can’t improve, then he won’t even try, and he’ll create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • The fact that a four-year-old’s onetime response to a sugary confection predicts lifelong results is at once exciting and depressing—depending on whether you are a “grabber” or a “delayer.” You’re either well fitted to take on the temptations of the world or doomed to a lifelong fate of enjoying now, pay later—as might well be a lot of our friend Henry.
  • The answer to this important question is good news to all of us and most certainly offers hope to Henry. When Mischel took a closer look at individuals who routinely held out for the greater reward, he concluded that delayers are simply more skilled at avoiding short-term temptations. They didn’t merely avoid the temptation; they employed specific, learnable techniques that kept their attention off what would be merely short-term gratification and on their long-term goal of earning that second marshmallow.
  • Ericsson has been able to systematically demonstrate that people who climb to the top of just about any field eclipse their peers through something as basic as deliberate practice.
  • Many of the profound and persistent problems we face stem more from a lack of skill (which in turn stems from a lack of deliberate practice) than from a genetic curse, a lack of courage, or a character flaw. Self-discipline, long viewed as a character trait, and elite performance, similarly linked to genetic gifts, stem from the ability to engage in a guided practice of clearly defined skills. Learn how to practice the right actions, and you can master everything from withstanding the temptations of chocolate to holding an awkward discussion with your boss.
  • For instance, we learn how to make use of a word processor or Web server by mastering the most common moves, but we never learn many of the additional features that would dramatically improve our ability.
  • When this same pattern of arresting our development is applied over an entire career, it yields fairly unsatisfactory results. For example, most professionals progress until they reach an “acceptable” level, and then they plateau. Software engineers, for instance, usually stop progressing somewhere around five years after entering the workforce. Beyond this level of mediocrity, further improvements are not correlated to years of work in the field.

Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change

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