As an Australian teenager in the 1950s, I was told by well-wishing adults that the key to success was learning "how to win friends and influence people". I studied Dale Carnegie's book, but its antiseptic sugary approach to life nauseated me. So I decided there and then that failure would surely be more fun, especially if it were accompanied by a healthy smattering of enemies, obstacles and challenges of all kinds. And I now celebrate my failure in retirement on an ancient vineyard in south-east France.
I'd love to see you explore the role that "group think" plays in success and failure.
I'm interested in this on a number of levels. One is the idea that people tend to coalesce around leaders who have the right look, level of confidence and ability to outline a clear vision - even if that vision is wrong. What are the factors that lead up to "group think" taking over - and how do individuals and organizations either guard against it or use it for positive outcomes?
I'm also interested in the outsized role that high expectations based on relatively small differences in appearance, behavior and association with successful projects and individuals can have on success. When a group comes together and decides an individual is going to successful, mentors and opportunities appear that make success more likely.
Also - have you read the book, Your Brain at Work, by David Rock? If not, you need to. It covers a lot of the brain research that explains observable human behavior. This includes brain changes in response to status threats and the impact of control or lack of control on brain function. It also talks about the ideal brain state for making the kinds of mental connections necessary to come up with innovative solutions - and how environment and relationships impact our ability to maintain that brain state.
1. 80% of success is just showing up. I have seen this time and again. Do what you are expected to do, do what you say you will do, even do the routine things which are asked of you. So many of your competitors donâ€™t show up, donâ€™t return phone calls, donâ€™t check the inventory, donâ€™t ship on the date promised, etc. Showing up will not make you a top performer, but it will certainly separate you from all of the flotsam and jetsam which surround you and elevate you to the top 20%.
2. Donâ€™t do anything stupid. There are huge opportunities to act and look stupid throughout your personal and business life. Try not to do so. So many others will step into do it and create the contrast for you. If you avoid doing stupid things, your chances of success will go up immensely.
3. God gave you two ears and one mouth. Use them in the same proportion. My dad told me and I told my sons: the person with whom you are interacting and perhaps trying to influence (girls/professors/customers/bosses) is more interested in themselves than they are in you. The more questions you ask, the more you listen, the more you try to understand their point of viewâ€¦ the smarter you appear and more successful you become.
Lots of people enjoy music but feel they are unable to make it. Only since the advent of recorded music has making music become seen as such a niche human activity. How do you eliminate that false construct in one fell swoop?
I've always followed the adage that if you have no clue what the next step should be, then stay put. It seems to have worked for so far, though I'm also aware of (often completely daft) anaologies that people to illustrate the opposite ("you can't steer a stationary oil tanker" etc.). Does that hold? And is true that the best decisions are always taken after at least one night's sleep?
Is it true that there is some optimum level of wealth whereby one attains a level of comfort and leisure without having all the baggage of "fame"? And if so, are any of us intelligent enough to know when we have reached that place, or does the process of becoming successful change us so that we forever move our own personal goalposts?
For starters, I would like you to destroy the definition of success and failure itself. That can be very eye-opening and not many people are ready to entertain such thoughts or reach the logical conclusion after that.
I think it's only a matter of time before someone compiles Dogbert's various tips, scrubs out the comedy and markets it as a success guide. Yesterday's obviously self-serving nonsense is today's brilliant personal strategy.
Eons ago I found the original book "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" while preparing to do the stage version in community theater. It featured tips on building your name through powerful-sounding but pointless memos, creating the illusion of working long hours, deploying buzz words, etc. Was surprised to see how material in that 60s parody volume mirrored what was being sold as serious advice in the 80s.
Stephen Potter's "Gamesmanship" and its wider-ranging sequels were all about psychological warfare in polite settings ("Do you play piano?" "Nothing you'd like, I'm afraid."). Potter embellished his whimsies with technical diagrams, a fictional society of "lifesmen" relentlessly one-upping each other, and an imaginary academy (rather tatty) where the art is taught. What's quaint in the books is now baldly practiced in real life. And in the case of politicians, television pundits analyze it precisely in terms of one-upsmanship tricks.
Also sent away for "How to Pick Up Girls." That relic of a simpler era posited that a lot of Girls went through life waiting to be correctly Picked Up, and all you had to do was approach enough females until you stumbled across them. It included such ideas as taking photos of strange women, and asking their names and addresses so you could send them prints. Later, a Miss Manners letter described a particularly off-putting encounter, which I recognized as one of the sure-fire charming gambits from the book. I think Miss Manners suggested involving the police. While that book reads as pure silliness now, a new generation of books, TV shows and courses wrap the same basic idea in dense pseudoscience that echoes Potter's work, albeit with serious intent. And the promise has devolved from getting a first date via calculated charm to Sex Now via irresistible mental manipulation.
1) Is it better to focus on your strengths and hire people to do things you're not good at, or work on improving those weaknesses?
2) How feasible is it to use hypnosis to program your mind for success (or deprogram any bugs already in there?)
3) How has hypnosis or your knowledge of it helped you professionally?