THE POWER OF SILENCE
When we meet people, we want to impress them. Sometimes we want to excite their interest and get their favour, or we want to project an image they like or perhaps to intimidate them or impose our will on people.
How do we cultivate these impressions quickly and effectively?
The most important thing here is the power of silence, the secret of suggestion.
The ability to hint and allude to things rather than be crude and direct.
We must embody a sense of mystery, causing people to want to know more about us and what we have to say and think.
We must be wary always talking, sharing, discussing stuff, trying to oversell.
The less you say the more people will fill in the blanks.
This process of communication can be counterintuitive to some people.
Some people think so critically of themselves or others that they fear that if they leave blanks, others will fill those blanks negatively.
But if we hint and allude to things in the right way, they’ll almost always fill in the blanks way to your advantage.
In other words, if you don’t tell somebody everything, they will think more positively about you than if you tell everything tell the person too much.
Too much control, too much emotion, too much information, and they start to think the opposite. There are no blanks.
When you catch yourself speaking fast, trying to squeeze more in to the window of time you think you have. You are filling in the blanks, and that’s going to cause negative perception. Disempowering you.
Sometimes we speak fast to be powerful. It works the opposite.
To let people fill in the blanks you have to be selective in what you’re saying.
If you only reveal negative or uninteresting details about yourself, or your topic, people automatically fill in more of the same.
If you merely hint at exciting projects, great achievement and expertise, they’ll assume you’re being modest, and the real story is 10 times more impressive.
You don’t need to 10 times everything for them.
Let the audience do it for you, and the audience can be an audience of one.
Now, you can see this happen a lot on TV. It’s the art of the gentle smile when someone pays you a compliment you just hold a gentle, knowing smile. And the audience fills in the gaps. You’ll see on every great actor in the world during an interview that “knowing, gentle smile” and it can mean whatever you want it to mean. You fill in the gaps.
So we can say Talk is cheap, but the imagination is priceless.
Do you know the third universal law of nature?
Yes, the third law of nature is that nothing’s ever missing it just changes in form. Well done, you remember it and now have seen one simple application, let others fill the gaps after you give them a hint at the direction of thought. Let others fill the blanks. Nothing is ever missing just changes in form.
The dangers of saying too much cannot be exaggerated.
Oversharing is both burdensome to other people, and it makes you look and appear like a more ordinary and unimpressive person.
A simple phrase or incisive comment is infinitely more powerful in getting both attention and being treated with respect, filling the silence with verbiage only makes you appear insecure, vacuous and so, practice holding both your nerve and your tongue. It’s also the art of comedy. Say little and let the audience fill in the gaps after you gave a hint.
There’s a great quote and it goes “those who know do not speak and those who speak do not know.” Lao Tzu.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the quote, actions speak louder than words. So following on from the last example on this topic of influence, we know that actions are what causes victory in any environment, not words. So, behaviour is far more powerful than words.
Say less than necessary.
It also emphasises the need to keep your mouth shut to be most effective.
But this principle of universal law number three, the law of interconnectedness goes a step further.
So you’ve taken the time from the last chapter to think about the idea of influence through suggestion rather than influence through blurting out vigorously everything you need to know.
You have learnt that wearing your heart on your sleeve is not as powerful as action.
Power is never a game which can be played alone. So we inevitably need to get other people involved in our plans and our vision and our purpose. This is usually more challenging than we’d like to believe at the outset because everyone is ultimately driven by their own interests, not ours.
But it will also take more than a few elusive words, clever arguments or even direct threats, to draw that person’s interest into line with yours.
There are two types of people in the world.
Those who win and those who try to win arguments.
They’re never the same person.
Even if we exaggerate the person who argues to exaggerate to get a reaction, to make an effect, they will not succeed.
So in other words, winning does not involve winning an argument or proving a point.
In all walks of life, you will frequently be faced with the choice of being right or being successful.
Now, this isn’t about compromising your personal code or sense of honour.
This is about putting aside your ego, and childish urge to win an argument.
History is littered with stories of self righteous individuals who refuse to be practical when they could and they were petulant.
Perhaps the argumentative individual’s greatness is recognised after their death. Like some people, for example, who were grump and mean while they were alive, but their greatness was not realised until they were well gone.
Wouldn’t you rather be successful during your life rather than hoping somebody heaped praise on you, as they lowered the coffin into the ground or sent it into the crematorium?
You must remember that trying to force someone to see things your way is an act of aggression.
Which everyone besides those who get off on being dominant or dominated, will resent you for.
So what if someone holds religious views that you find absolutely absurd?
You don’t agree with them?
Or what if they support a politician you find a bore?
If you want to have influence over that person, you’ll never find it by belittling their views or making them feel stupid.
Think of all the times you felt you had to make a point because someone else was just being too stupid for for words.
Did they actually ever concede the argument and even if they did, what did that get you beyond a momentary ego boost?
Squeezing consent out of someone more than likely leads them to resenting an undermining you in the future.
Never forget that bitterness is repaid far more often than kindness.
This is all too easy to understand.
People will not help you and will more likely try to hinder you if you make them feel insecure or foolish or disrespected.
It’s obvious when you see it written down. But we all too often forget and our emotional surge forward takes control of our mouths blinding us to how we are making the people around us feel.
Arguing is a combat sport.
Someone is always going to leave the exchange bruised and bloody and it’s usually the person who wins the argument.
But sometimes both.
There’s a great quote. I love it.
People can’t be talked out of illusions.
Metaphors aside, even if you manage to win the argument, whatever it may be, people almost never change their opinions afterwards anyway.
Perhaps you convince them in the moment, but they soon retreat to the comfort and familiarity of their original position.
Sometimes even digging in deeper in their opinions to fend off any future disruption.
Put simply, we like to be right or more accurately to feel we are right.
Psychological and behavioural studies have shown that we make decisions on the basis of our emotions rather than our reasoning.
First we choose and then our brain goes about rationalising the decision.
Knowing this you can stop spending time on fruitless effort trying to reason people in your way of thinking.
Instead, you must give them a demonstration of something they can feel an emotional, personal connection to something which is beyond words, and instead that will impact them at a deeper, more fundamental level.
Now, this is something that every documentary and Movie Maker knows only too well. “Show don’t tell” is the way to bring an audience along with you on a trip.
And as the cliche goes, a picture paints 1000 words and certainly isn’t a rule confined to the visual.
The point is to give people a tangible story which like one of Aesop’s Fables illustrates your point in action, creating a living breathing example for people to get their teeth into.
Which is precisely what I’m talking about when we talk about living and breathing inspired I use a lot of nature based metaphors so that they people can see real life examples of how nature’s law impacts behaving.
So in that way I put flesh on the bones of principles.
The truth is generally seen, rarely heard.
Nothing is ever missing a just changes in form.
Now, this is really powerful stuff, and it’s very easy for those who’ve done the 12 discards on the 12 most important people we’ve encouraged this year in 23, for everybody to do.
But not everybody is doing.
So I understand it may be difficult for some people to understand what I’m about to talk about, in this universal law. The third universal law nothing’s ever missing just changes in form, recreate yourself.
To assume formlessness and thereby be able to flow effortlessly with the needs of the moment is a power that is spectacular in life.
It’s a hugely evolved highly conscious and very inspired state.
Similarly, to be treated like a person that you want to become, you must cultivate the ability to reinvent and present different sides of yourself to the outside world.
As the famous line from Shakespeare goes, All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely our players.
So most people translate that as if we each have a specific part assigned to us in the drama of life.
But the truth is that we can choose and change the parts we play in life.
We already play multiple roles.
After all, a man might be a husband, a brother, a musician, an engineer, a swimmer a traveler, a friend and each of these represents a different part of their personality.
With this in mind, we can and must choose to increase and consciously grow the number of roles we play if we are to increase our power and life.
Shakespeare again, one man in his time plays many parts.
To master this third law and its broad applications it’s particularly useful to reflect on the role of the courtier.
Now playing the perfect courtier is on almost forgotten art in modern Western world. Because we emphasise over and over again individualism as leadership.
Individualism in leadership basically says I make the decisions. I am the leader, I am not influenced by others.
There’s nothing wrong with forging your own unique path, but this has become misleadingly confused with the need to be figurehead, the CEO or the front of the band, even if you do ultimately want to take the leading role there’s no shame and a great deal of power and knowledge to be gained in making yourself the power behind the throne by playing courtier.
A courtier is a trusted advisor that the confidant to another powerful figure, a mentor or a coach.
The perfect coach constantly shapes shifts to suit powerful figures around them, learning to inhabit the role, which the moment requires you become.
Recreating yourself ever fresh every exciting making it continually a source of pleasure to have you around.
Consciously practicing this role will not only hone your skills in social intelligence, but will give you valuable training in the mirror effect as you shape yourself either to charm or disarm people around you.
This remains an ungraspable idea just about as ungraspable as smoke.
Formlessness binds all other laws to it and to be formless is to learn the art of flow.
To be in tune with the world around you means you must always be willing and able to recreate yourself.
This is the purpose of the discard form.
The very core of these principles is not to be precious about your our ego and your identity.
The word authenticity is bandied about these days.
What does it really mean?
When we talk about identity we all show different sides of ourselves to different people consciously or otherwise.
The way we behave or represent ourselves varies enormously depending on our audience.
The you, you are with your closest friend is quite different to the you that shows up to a business meeting or the you that is present in a romantic relationship.
Being an authentic person and no bullshit person or whatever other kind of person you are, you you play those roles, choosing the characters that we need to play.
Some people find this flexibility disturbing but there’s no reason to see it any other way.
It’s actually immensely liberating.
There is simply no concrete core you at all.
We are free to choose how we are from the moment to moment.
Krishnamurty wrote, We are prisoners living in the cage of our own thoughts. Decorating the prison cell and calling it change.
Buddhism amongst other ancient Eastern philosophies teach that it is our attachment to a sense of a solid self and solid identity that is the source of all our suffering.
Mastery of anything begins with the mastery of the self.
So we must be prepared to let go of the stories that we tell about ourselves from the past about who we are when we tell those stories.
They don’t serve us.
The forest and the trees of our past are actually in balance.
They are not really good stories to keep telling because they start to define us.
The freest and the most powerful people in the world are those that aren’t trapped in the stories.
Neither those they tell themselves nor the ones society foist on them.
“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities but in the experts mind, there are a few” that is a powerful Zen quote from my old teacher.
“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish” Steve Jobs. Same quote different words.
Chances are, you’re not entirely comfortable admitting to yourself that there is no self, no place to stand.
I think there’s always going to be some degree of conflict by disturbing the thought that is destabilising to our identity.
Sometimes we prefer to remain peacefully asleep at the wheel of our life.
But things come up and eventually we have to face the music.
Maybe the conflict between what other people think you should be and shouldn’t be, and the you that you know makes a war in your head.
Escaping the grind of this war means taking a risk to step outside.
What you know as the comfortable zone is haunting you a little bit.
Maybe you’re just tired of finding yourself the victim of other people’s games and being tossed around around by power-plays at work that you don’t realise are happening until it’s too late.
But whatever your situation, there’s a lot of knowledge about how to be and there’s a lot of psychology and insights hanging around the world for you to sort through to sort out your questions.
So to embrace this might feel like you have to have a radical overhaul of everything that’s going on.
It can seem from time to time overwhelming, impractical or just impossible to put formlessness into practice.
And so you you you take the self work you’ve done, you take everything, put it back on the shelf and you wonder if there’s an easy way and I respect that because I probably did that myself.
You have to choose the right time and space and you have to be able to use the “no place to stand” well. So when we talk about the sharpened sword, you know, it’s great to sharpen your sword but you have to be mature and wise enough to know how and when to use it.
Absence from reality is one way people try to deal with the challenges of life.
They try to step back away from them.
And that’s about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Just remembering that the person who is living consciously at work is the same person who comes home changes their clothes, but who they are beneath those clothes is exactly the same person in spite at work and living consciously.
Now, this, for example, is in complete contrast. To the person who’s masking. Masking means they go to work and they pretend that they are one person and they come home and change their clothes and they become somebody else. And therefore they’re not really living in a state of consciousness.
They’re living in a state of polarity trying to be demonstrating effective performance of work and then come home and try to demonstrate love at home.
And this person is in what would be called a battle with them within themselves.
So although we’re going to advocate the ability to be formless and be any character you want to be in the world as Shakespeare called it, we’re also saying that beneath all those characters, there is a unity there is some sense of self
We’re talking about influence how to influence another person, how to get our message across.
What we’ve heard so far is that winning an argument is a loser’s way that you if you want to succeed, don’t succeed in winning arguments. Behaviour is better than words.
Behaviour is less than thought.
Research in behavioural studies have shown time and time again, that we don’t just love a colourful anecdotes we are far more likely to believe them.
So for example, if your friend gets mugged in a park, you’ll avoid that park and experience a very negative association with the park. Whenever it’s mentioned. You won’t even bother to check the crime statistics to discover that this incidence of your friend being mugged is very rare.
It takes a personal story or the death of a loved one on a bike for you to internalise the reality that riding bikes is dangerous no matter how many statistics you hear.
In short, we’re really good at rejecting information until it’s turned into a vivid human drama.
But let’s not be black and white here.
No doubt some people can be persuaded by logical argument alone. But all the same, they’ll listen and need time to process and consider this change of heart. Because it will feel like a change of heart rather than a change of head.
So you can only sow the seeds of this change before letting them go on their merry way.
That’s a risky strategy, as you’ll need plenty of time in hand to monitor whether they’re actually coming around to see your point of view.
Better to tell them a story rich and colourful and personality.
And and to tell it not as though your opinion but as though it’s really really really proof evidence which convinced you by taking them along the same path.
You become fellow travellers and already begin to see things from a shared perspective.
The other side of or key to this law is to always remember that talk is cheap.
From the enthusiastic investor you met at some event to your best buddy who said they’d go to the pictures with you this weekend. Everybody promises things, but very few deliver.
Never rely on other people coming through for you.
Words are wind.
Don’t let that wind fill your sails because soon enough you’ll find yourself becalmed and alone.
In other words, don’t let yourself be swept up in the words of others. Their actions are what matter even if they do not consciously intend to deceive you.
Tell the world what you intend to do but first, show it Napoleon Hill.
The core of the dynamic at play here is that whatever we tell other people and whenever we tell other people what we intend to do before we actually do it, we generate an expectation that we’ll deliver it and the only way you can from there is down.
The only way you can go is down after that they expect you will succeed.
So it will not be especially impressive when you do so.
And if you don’t well you’ve set yourself up for the fall.
Far better to keep your mouth shut and then to deliver something out of nowhere creating an impressive and exciting spectacle.
Now remember Steve Jobs used to do this in those Apple keynotes introducing just one more thing. Like it was an afterthought, which usually blew the audience away and outstripped everybody’s expectation in that emotional sweet spot of surprise. And they he raised the impact of everything he’d already announced.
And that’s not the only reason to keep your plans to yourself. Research has shown that we give ourselves a dopamine hit just by announcing that we’ll do something like running a marathon or writing a book. And that chemical reward for doing absolutely nothing can be addictive.
People congratulate you on your Facebook for saying you’re gonna do something like ride a bike through the Otway’s or run a marathon. But it’s no way the same as actually doing it is it?
And you know, and I know plenty of people who announced similar goals on social media, and they never actually do anything except talk about what they’re gonna do, but not ever do it.
So they’re getting a dopamine hit from saying they’re going to do it and they become addicted to the saying because it best is like Pavlov’s dog.
Finally, you also need to think strategically. If you’re an impresario or an entrepreneur, or an ideas hustler you’ll likely be working on a bunch of different projects all at the same time.
If you constantly talk about them, you will rapidly and irrevocably become known as someone who doesn’t deliver but has big mouth.
In other words, someone who’s self deluded, a label which is the kiss of death to your power, as nobody wants to support a person whose head is stuck in the clouds or up their own ass for that matter.
So, do the work and then deliver it your actions will speak louder than your words, your actions will speak for you.
We talk about actually delivering less information.
But giving information to people in the form of triggers, so that they can fill in the gaps.
And those triggers, of course, are positive triggers.
We’ve talked about behaviour being a more important reflection of a person’s intent than their words. And we’ve talked about argument meaning the person who wins an argument usually loses.
So let’s continue. The complementary piece of this puzzle is to remember to keep learning and never become complacent in your position. Anything that isn’t growing is decaying. It’s a stagnant pool. It’s the opposite of the flowing formlessness that we talked about in the third universal law of nature.
We’re not the first to emphasise the need to continuously remain a student always learning rather than becoming a self satisfied with our identity, not the first.
The beginner’s mind is one of the infinite possibilities whereas the self satisfied self declared Master, CEO or TEACHER who has shut up shop and declared that they learned, and they learned all they need to is as good as dead.
This is not only about power, however defined, this is also about being alive, alive to yourself to ideas and to the world around you.
The powerless are those imprisoned in received wisdom, who not only think that they think they do what they’re supposed to do, the ones who think anything new is bad, and that ambitions are automatically impossible, because they don’t fit the cage they’re in. The cage imposed by their beliefs, morals and ethics.
We all grow up with such a cage, the cage of culture, social norms, the patterns we learned from our parents, but few of us realise that the door to the cage isn’t really locked. Push it and see for yourself.
If you disobey the rules, people will, half the time quietly rewrite them so that they don’t apply to you.
If you don’t know what’s impossible, the impossible is much easier to do.
THE POWER OF STILLNESS
The idea is that nothing’s ever missing just changes in form.
And you can use that law in an incredibly simple way to influence others.
We’ve talked about the power of silence, we’ve talked about the power of listening. We’ve talked about the power of using less words to talk about the confidence of the smile. We talk about actually delivering less information and giving information to people in the form of triggers, so that they can fill in the gaps.
Those triggers, of course, are positive triggers.
We’ve talked about behaviour being a more important reflection of a person’s intent than their words. And we’ve talked about argument and the person who wins an argument usually loses life.
So let’s continue.
The complementary piece of this puzzle is to remember to keep learning and never become complacent in your position.
Anything that isn’t growing is decaying.
It’s a stagnant pool.
It’s the opposite of the flowing formlessness that we talked about.
THE POWER OF HONESTY
“There was a bad break up, sort of. It was eight months ago. I’m past it now. But I had to experience that for the first time. I don’t think I handled it as well as I could. At the time I couldn’t grasp that maybe it wasn’t anybody’s fault. Maybe I just wanted to be with the person for longer than they wanted to be with me. But accepting things that you don’t want to happen is really, really hard. It’s like: ‘Why do they get to walk around, and keep living their life, while I’m miserable all the time?’ It didn’t seem fair. So I might have reacted in a way that was disproportionate, to make the person feel more guilty than they needed to. Sometimes that’s your only recourse when someone hurts you: feeling aggrieved, and making it known. Not that it keeps you from suffering. But there is a sense of power in it. It allows you to redistribute the pain that you’re feeling. You can make their life a hassle for a bit, hurt their feelings, tell everyone they’re a big asshole. When the truth is: maybe they were just living their life, trying their best, and you got hurt. There’s not always a villain. Sometimes you just get fucked up by somebody exercising their own autonomy.”
We do things that we are not proud of. Simply put, we judge ourselves after the fact.
It means we “know” what to do, but we act on impulse and don’t do what we know.
Wisdom in hindsight is an important learning tool. But what do we do with that self-abusing regret, guilt, about what we have done in the past.
Very few things disturb us more than lingering guilt. It is actually the cause of most doubt.
Therefore, dealing with regret properly is a key to inspired thinking and certainly to the power of stillness.
You may not have regret, but the person you are talking to might have, and therefore their regret will impact your connection with them.
If you trigger a person’s guilt, regret, or unfinished history, they will bite you. Not dissimilar to a dog if you try to take its bone.
So, be aware that criticism of someone is often needling their wound. Nobody treats us worse than we treat ourselves. So, criticism isn’t necessary. The person is doing it to themselves, better than you.
In fact, sometimes over complimenting a person makes them feel bad. If feel they are not as good as your compliment, they will criticise themselves for not being as good as you wished, or think.