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8 Ways to Make Yourself Profoundly Influential

8 Ways to Make Yourself Profoundly Influential

Influence is one of the most powerful tools that you can use to impact your personal and professional life.

Unfortunately, we are not born with the natural tendency to be influential. It’s a craft that is nurtured until mastered. Sadly, the mastery of influence is shrouded in limiting beliefs, and battled by resistance that others will impose.

I know this battle well. The struggle to affect your personal life as well as your professional life is difficult. There is no right path to take; you must simply take the path. But, more importantly, you must do the work.

To drastically increase your influence, do the following:

1. Ask a Beautiful Question

As an influencer, it’s our fiduciary duty to listen. But before we begin listening, we must approach each encounter as a student and ask what Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question, calls “the beautiful question”.

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A question of this caliber opens the mind to richer discourse. It forces others to pause and allow the question to marinate and percolate. As the question simmers, each degree of adjustment brings about a cadre of hunches, impressions, and fragile new ideas.

As an influencer, here are a few beautiful questions to ask:

  • What does not fit?
  • What would an outsider do?
  • Do I understand why we do it this way?
  • What might be the long-term consequences?

2. Create a plan to be a good listener

As an influencer, you must spend the better part of your energy listening. This might sound counter-intuitive, but the most effective strategy to get people’s attention is for you to give them your attention.

“Listen. It makes you smarter.”
— Richard Branson

When you are genuinely listening to someone, when you are giving them your undivided attention, when you can summarize their conversation, when you can ask a beautiful question — you are demonstrating open-mindedness and respect.

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3. Welcome disagreements

As influencers, we expect a healthy chorus of disagreement. I would even say that as an influencer it’s your responsibility to create an environment of disagreement. Why, it’s a healthy sign of critical thinking. Where ideas are being challenged, not for malicious intent, but in an effort to test the ideas’ viability.

4. Focus only on what really matters

As an influencer, your energy is limited. Therefore, it’s imperative that you focus that finite energy on projects where you can make the greatest contribution. There are a number of strategies you can adopt, but here are five that work for me:

  • Develop a clear “why” — this keeps you anchored to what really matters
  • Do it — because you are the only one who can
  • Delegate — often you will not be the best one to do the work
  • Defer — sometimes things are not actionable now
  • Weekly review — because you need to check where you are spending your energy

5. Build a plan for being proactive

As an influencer, you do not wait for a situation to find you. You must build a funnel to remain proactive:

  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Encourage disagreements
  • Focus on what matters

Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
— Steven Covey

6. Set a powerful vision

As an influencer, vision is critically important. You must develop a vision statement that is compelling. If your vision statement does not excite you, how will you ever influence others? You must give yourself permission to envision the perfect future, by answering these two questions:

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  • What do I want to see happen?
  • What would “it” look like in three years?

Once you are clear on your vision and the things you want, the how generally takes care of itself.

7. Use your influence to bring out the best in others

As an influencer, your responsibility is not to be the smartest person in the room. Your only responsibility is to foster a culture of intelligence — to multiply the intelligence among your team members.

Early in a task, team members should discuss the knowledge each brings to the table. That changes the criterion for power from social influence to informational influence.
– Bryan L. Bonner and Alexander R. Bolinger

8. Increase your value through education

As an influencer, you must increase your value by thinking of yourself as a product, and upgrade yourself every year. You must see yourself as a competitive product with benefits, and liabilities, all waiting to be improved.

A good strategy for upgrading yourself is to ask, “What skills will give me more freedom in the future?” Once you have identified these, dedicate time to mastering them. And by mastery, I mean knowing the skill so well that you are positioned to help someone else solve their problems.

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Final thoughts

So there you have it. My suggested list of characteristics that will make an amazing influencer. Which one are you going to start with first? My personal favorite is number eight.

My hopes are that you choose to become an influencer, because your professional and personal life will thank you for the dedication.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash/Anthony Delanoix via images.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Making Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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