Did you see the movie Inception?
I’m not a movie person AT ALL, but I saw this one a couple times when it first came out. There was something about the way it showcased mental health / perception / ideas that fascinated me.
Long story short–you’re not here for movie reviews after all–is that the movie uses outrageously fascinating cinematography and mind-bending action and suspense to demonstrate that ideas are not forced upon others–they’re planted, in a sense.
Leonardo DiCaprio does this by running around on his zany (but cool-looking) adventures as a professional thief and by infiltrating the minds of the people he’s targeting.
Now, I know it probably sounds like I’m sending you down a devious detour, but that’s not the case at all.
The point is this: If you want to be effective in getting people to make better decisions, you have to use a sneaky approach like Mr. DiCaprio did in Inception.
How to Influence People the Right Way
To get people to do what you want them to do (in a good way, please), you need to follow a few core principles.
Core Principles of Influence:
- You must know what action you want others to take
- Your heart must be in the right place (You must actually care about the person)
- You must be in it for the long haul
- You must be flexible
The only times I’ve ever been able to successfully influence someone else is when I follow the principles above–and I need to follow all of them.
Convincing others starts with knowing what action you want them to take. It sounds obvious, but a lot of people miss this step.
Clearly identify the desired action before YOU take action.
If your heart is not in the right place, you’re not going to encourage the intended action. You’re going to go with any old action that gets the person to change.
But what will likely happen is that they won’t change for the better–they won’t change in a way that is good for them and for your relationship with them.
This is a process that takes time, and that’s why I’m letting you know that you need to be committed to the long term.
Changing minds and hearts doesn’t happen over night. As you’ll learn in the final step, you’re going to need to sneak your ideas into minds. You’re going to need to be Leonardo DiCaprio. Except your plan is not going to neatly come to a close at the end of a 2.5-hour cinematic caper. It could take weeks or months before you see results.
Flexibility is crucial. It’s absolutely key.
Why? Because when you first attempt to influence someone, you’ll find out that no plan goes according to plan. People are impossibly complex, and you can’t control anything other than your own actions. You will need to learn to adapt.
This is the final step. Ready?
You might be thinking, but isn’t this the whole point, Jordan? Can’t I just incept right from the start?
No! Because you won’t be successful.
You need to do the work beforehand to get the results you want.
Only when you’re clear on your action, and only when you truly care about another person, can you know what actions you need to take.
And only after you do the work on yourself as well will you be ready to commit to supporting someone for the long haul.
Like Leo D, you’re going to need to wind and wiggle your way through outrageous situations until you get to your final destination.
But if you plant the idea in someone’s mind enough, and with continued effort over time, one day you’ll wake up and realize that the two of you have reached a brand new and much better destination.