Career With A Purpose 7.0: The Power of Influencing Yourself, Part I

Serving Your Purpose Presents: The Power of Influencing Yourself, Part I

Career With A Purpose 7.0


Every day offers us a fresh start. We may have been disappointed with a frustrating interaction or poor personal performance the day before. But for our relationships as well as our work, we all have the opportunity to begin anew each morning.

And it’s vital to recognize this opportunity, because powerful emotions can prompt even the most mature among us to sometimes act in dysfunctional ways. For example, someone in a staff meeting indirectly insults the work we have done on a project, so we are tempted to avoid that person for days. Or we are dealing with a rebellious teenager at home and we let that distract us from meeting important professional deadlines. If we give in to big emotional distractions, we can sabotage both career security and personal relationships.

Business consultants tell us the most important thing we can do to affect new outcomes is to think about influencing ourselves. Of course, it would be nice if other people would change an irritating behavior trait, or raise their work ethic, or lose a defensive attitude.

But the truth is that the only person any of us can change is ourselves. And, interestingly, some of the most fascinating people we know are those who have developed the capacity to successfully influence themselves. Management consultant Joseph Grenny has studied a number of people who became self-changers. He observes that they seem to get beyond the shame over personal mistakes and the distractions of fear and worry. Instead, they tend to view themselves as a project.

Grenny says it’s almost as if “they can stand above themselves like interested scientists and consider their habits and proclivities” as if they were watching animals in a laboratory. By watching themselves dispassionately and carefully noticing the responses they get from those around them, they generate strategies and small personal interventions to help themselves behave differently.

They might create routines that put them in the best emotional frame of mind for the day’s challenges. For example, someone on a competitive sales force might discover that a vigorous workout at 7 am brings him or her into the office with high adrenaline and greater self-confidence. Someone else might discover that prayer before an important meeting helps him stay focused and able to be an effective participant in the dynamic of the meeting. Self-changers work to keep a helpful routine going.

Or they might develop a way to trick themselves into doing what they need to do. We all have habits we need to break, sometimes decades–long dysfunctions that threaten our health or our relationships. It could be something as simple as telling oneself, “I’d better not stop at this gas station, because the display and selection of cigarettes inside the store is too tempting. I need to stop at the next station that does not have an attached convenience store.” Self-influencers seem to create healthy inner dialogues and small personal strategies that help them take charge of outcomes.

In part two of this article, we share how this strategy of self-influence can help change a paradigm when facing something potentially discouraging.