Monday, 3 January 2011

How to be a Leader rather than led.

As I have encountered many different people in my life, I have come to realise an astonishing fact – the majority of people, and a surprisingly large number of those in business – are wilfully ignorant. I do not intend to be rude in stating this, nor to suggest that I am some sort of superior being, but rather to point out that in my experience, the majority of people let golden opportunities to better themselves pass them by.

We are privileged to be living in the third great leap forward in civilisation, the Information Revolution. Most people in the developed world now have access all the accumulated wisdom of mankind at their fingertips. For any field that you wish to develop in, the learning is out there and usually free of charge.

And most people completely ignore it! The overwhelming use of online social media for example, an invaluable resource for sharing wisdom, is for trivial chat, showbiz gossip and entertainment media. There is nothing wrong with this use, but to ONLY use these opportunities for the trivial is a phenomenal wasted opportunity.

It is beyond the scope of this article to explain why this should be so, but instead it is written to point out a particular opportunity that presents itself just by virtue of the fact that there IS so much wilful ignorance. It boils down to this: in the world of the reactive, the proactive are kings!

Most people are like aerials – they pick up on the “vibes” around them and react accordingly. Their reality is determined by how things, circumstances, people and events around them make them feel. They vary only in sensitivity – some people overreact to everything, some are average and some people are generally indifferent. This attitude is completely disempowering – it makes you the victim of your world – everything is the fault of something else and there’s nothing you can do about it! You are utterly at the mercy of fate and chance by this view.

However there are some people who are transmitters – there are people who can manipulate other people and circumstances to suit themselves. What is surprising is that almost anyone has the ability to do this and the techniques are well-established, yet most people choose instead to be led rather than lead. Again, it is beyond the scope of this article to persuade people to wake up and see what’s going on. Instead, here are the basics of persuasion and manipulation for those who would rather lead than be led.

The first principle of leadership is to realise that every situation presents some sort of opportunity. This is the fundamental principle of positive thinking. To resent and focus on what you have lost or cannot reach serves no useful purpose, and in fact makes things worse. No matter how loudly your feelings may scream, it is possible to keep the attention and your focus locked on to the immediate opportunities that are always available to take yourself forward. There is nothing final about setbacks and being knocked down – but not getting up again spells certain doom!

Not everyone has this sort of positive focus “built in”, but it can be learned by almost anyone! If you are serious about being free from the tyranny of chance and circumstances, Learning and persevering in this focusing skill is a crucial first step.

With your focus on the opportunities available in any given moment, you are now ready to improve your situation by making people around you predisposed to helping you. We do this not by domination or fear, but by seduction.

Every word, gesture and action from you has a direct and profound impact on the people around you, and they’re ALL important – another fundamental mistake often made by the arrogant. If someone is in front of you, they are important – they can improve your wellbeing in ways you may not realise, even if they are lowly or not relevant in worldly status.

Having accepted the potential of every single individual to foster your cause, including those you may have a dislike for, it is now important to conduct yourself in a polite and friendly manner, even to those who are brusque and even rude in return, not necessarily for spiritual or moral reasons, commendable as these may be, but because it serves your interest! It does not imply that you become a “doormat” or “soft touch”. You may be assertive and refuse to comply with unreasonable or unachievable requests, but you do so politely.

Having established correct focus, thereby controlling your own emotions, and a developed a reputation for firmness with courtesy, you are have established the conditions necessary to exert influence. The procedure for doing this is astonishingly simple:
1. Direct the attention of the subject to something desirable. Most of broadly want the same things – peace, comfort, love, sex, power, success, fame and wealth, but you will have to be careful in determining what the subject wants at that moment. Alternatively attention could be drawn to a source of anger or fear, like losing one’s home or job or being a victim of crime. Tapping in to these primal desires weakens the tendency to judge and analyse incoming information, and creates a feeling of mutual empathy, so the subject is more open to suggestion.
2. Drop a suggestion that something you want the subject to do will fulfil the desire. This could involve a favour, accompanying you, lending you something, or general attitude like loyalty, friendship, commitment or forgiveness.
3. Reinforce the suggestion by some gesture of appreciation for the right response, which can be praise, gratitude, a sweet or a hug.

Watch adverts and political broadcasts or listen to good speeches carefully and you see this tried and trusted persuasion by seduction in every one. Quite often a sexy image is linked to the product, suggesting however irrationally that it will make it more likely that you get sex by owning the product. In others, a breakfast cereal is linked to a happy family, suggesting that the cereal will promote health and harmony in the family.

With the desire aroused, the logical and judgemental centres of the brain are bypassed and the two ideas are linked in the subconscious. As unpalatable as it may be, abundant research shows this subconscious linking to be real and effective in affecting behaviour at a subconscious level, which is why politicians and businesses spend vast sums of money on providers of these marketing services.

The author makes no moral judgements as to the use of these techniques other than to point out that they can be used for purposes both benevolent and malevolent. Furthermore, as stated at the beginning, people who chose not to evoke the disciplines of leadership are by default choosing to be led. It is ultimately an individual’s free choice.