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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 August 21, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. Hello promotion, here I come!
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. No, thanks Alzheimer’s; you and I are just not a good fit.

So how to train your brain to learn faster and remember more?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new.

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.” Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

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But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

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Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

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I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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