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When You Realize You Have Complete Responsibility For Your Life, You Become Completely Free

When You Realize You Have Complete Responsibility For Your Life, You Become Completely Free

You are in your apartment on a Saturday morning, snuggled under the covers. No one is going to tell you to get up. You don’t have to ask your parents’ permission to sleep until noon. Whether you choose to stay nestled under the blankets or throw back the covers and start your day, you are responsible for your own life. When you realize you no longer have to ask anyone’s permission to live and the decisions are now yours to make, you become completely free. Free to stay in bed all day. Free to get up and follow your dreams. You are also free to make mistakes, learn from failures and accept the consequences of your actions.

Release yourself from the blame game

Taking responsibility for your life means that you need to stop playing the blame game. It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming: blaming the current government for the lack of money in your paycheck, blaming cold tennis balls for a poorly played tennis match, or blaming red lights for your late arrival at work. The time has come to accept responsibility for your actions. Do you need to practice tennis more? Leave earlier for work or take another route? And as for your paycheck, the tax system was established long before the current presidency. Maybe it’s time to look into whether claiming allowances for dependents could reduce the amount of taxes taken from your pay. Maybe you need to ask for a raise or even change your job.

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By ascribing your faults to others, you are handing over control of your life. The only thing blaming others achieves is to make you feel powerless, a victim of circumstance.

Rescue yourself from the trap of the victim mentality. It will never serve you well in the long run. Do you want to be that person tied to the train tracks, waiting for a hero to swoop to your rescue, or would you rather pop out your handy Swiss Army knife, cut the ropes and defeat the villain yourself? Heroes always have more fun, and they reap the rewards in the end.

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Also, realize that there are things that are beyond your personal control, such as a snow storm or the outcome of the presidential elections. However, you do have power over how you react to those situations. To paraphrase the words of Charles R. Swindol: Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it. The next time you begin to place the blame elsewhere, stop and think. Shoulder your responsibility. Like lifting weights, doing this will make you stronger.

Build your self-esteem

Becoming responsible for your life and your choices builds self-confidence. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. You are no longer the victim, tossed around by someone else’s whims. As Steve Jobs said, “Stop living someone else’s dream and start living your own.”  When you have taken charge of your life, you have the ability to chart your own course. Owning your destiny is a heady, powerful feeling.

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Beware the fear-monger

Be aware of the nay-sayer inside of you. Everyone has one: that voice that tells you to be afraid of stuff. “Don’t jump off the high-dive,” the voice says, “it’s too scary; don’t ask that girl out, she’ll probably laugh at you; don’t send in that manuscript, it’s not good enough.” It’s an evil little voice that dwells in the negative zone. It wants you to be afraid of rejection and paralyzed by fear. It is afraid of letting you take control. Don’t listen to the fear-monger inside. Once you gain more confidence, those negative thoughts tend to shrink and the sway of the nay-sayer within diminishes.

Become the captain of your life

Once you understand that you can be free when you take complete responsibility for your life, you will unlock the shackles that have been preventing you from doing things you may have never even imagined. You have control. Total control. You are the captain of your life, and you can steer it in any direction you choose. You can even decide to drop the anchor and not go anywhere at all. Ditch the blame game and choose not to be the victim. Accept that failure can happen. Everyone makes mistakes. Face the consequences and move forward. Dare to dream, and make those dreams come true. Be the hero of your own life.

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Featured photo credit: Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

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Sally White

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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