May, 2008

Obstacles into Opportunities

By Framing, Self Persuasion 2 Comments

It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.“ —Eric Hoffer

Hi Persuader,

I had a teacher who was relentlessly optimistic and positive about everything. As a teenager, it sort of bugged me because. . . .well, because I was a teenager and teenagers are seldom relentlessly optimistic or positive. Everything “bad” could be turned into something “good” according to this teacher. Setbacks and obstacles were learning experiences. Crushes gone bad and broken hearts were just a preparation for really clarifying what we wanted in a mate. Struggles with certain subjects in school became self challenges that we could, by all means, triumph over.

Ugh. It really annoyed me.

Now, as an adult, and a parent of teenagers (who happen not to be pessimists or negative), I realize that she was 100%, absolutely correct.

We get into these ruts. . . we get into these ways of thinking about things around us that keep us trapped. It’s the old clich√© of the ‘glass half full/glass half empty’.

The events in your life are not what make you who you are, but it is your response to these events that show your true character. Lately I’ve been really exploring the idea that our emotions and emotional responses to external stimuli, are choices. Emotions are choices. That’s a revelation in some ways. It’s very freeing. I’m not connected to anger if I don’t want to be. I’m not responding with fear because I choose not to. I’m not choosing to be depressed about things I have no control over.

And if you notice, those last three statements are in the form of negative statements. Changing this pattern also requires that we pay careful and patient attention to the language we use. I am . . . I am choosing to be courageous. I am choosing to let this go. I am choosing to realize that I am separate from the things that happen around me.

What if just by readjusting our obstacles into opportunities, we attract more of what we want? What if it’s that simple? Wouldn’t it be worth it to suspend cynicism? Wouldn’t it be worth it to let go of the patterns that have kept us stagnant? I should think so.

I only wish I had learned this lesson earlier. Not that I was a depressed or pessimistic kid, but we all have moments. . . This reframing of struggle into potential and exciting lessons is exactly the kind of thing that we as persuaders can learn from. Framing and reframing our lives and the lives of those around us is absolutely mandatory if we want to succeed in persuasion. Helping others to see that the glass is half full, helping others to see how our products and services will benefit them immeasurably in life, helping our loved ones, our teenagers, to realize that every day we make the choice (many times unconsciously) to be unhappy, is a real revelation. Let’s make our choices consciously and use that consciousness for relentless optimism.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

The Persuasion Zone

By Advanced Persuasion No Comments

Hi Persuader,

We’ve all heard of athletes who say they were really in ‘the zone’. The zone is that perfect point where whatever we’re doing is accomplished with ease and elegance whether it be playing an instrument, driving down the perfect road at the perfect speed on the perfect motorcycle, or selling to one prospect after another.

There are days when I’m speaking to my students on a coaching call and days when I’m giving in person presentations where I’m “on”, where I know I’m affecting people deeply and meaningfully. Of course I strive for that each and every time and hit the mark most days. (I also know that we all are prone to an off day and instead of getting down on myself for the rare off day, I view them as lessons on what to improve instead of dwelling in the ‘oh woe is me’ mentality.)

I have a friend who’s a massage therapist. She told me a story about how after nine years of doing massage, she finally felt she gave a really phenomenal massage for the first time recently. She said, “I have known on several occasions when the massage I’m giving is awful, where I’m not going to see the person again under any circumstance because I’m absolutely not connecting with them or they aren’t connecting with me, but I never could tell when I was giving a really good massage and I think that’s because I wasn’t giving really good massages. I think I was giving mediocre massages that people were appreciative of just because most of the time when we’re touched in a healing way, it feels good whether it’s amazing or not.”

I was absolutely blown away. I had to know what it was after nine years that she did differently that switched what she considered a mediocre massage into a phenomenal massage, so I asked, “What did you do differently?”

“It’s the strangest thing,” she said. “I didn’t have my mp3 player in the office. And usually when there’s no music, the client wants to talk, but I made a conscious decision to have it be completely silent. And then I imagined myself on the table, almost as if I slipped into their skin, and simply listened to what their body wanted. And when I was done, I felt I had been in a trance for an hour.”

This is the zone, and I’ll take it a step further and suggest that this is the persuasion zone. It’s the essence of matching a person to ‘slip into their skin’. It’s what powerful persuasion is based on — empathy, relating to another person on whatever level they’re on and not trying to push our agenda from our level but first creating the level of simpatico on their level and then pulling them with their approval to our level.

This can be done in absolutely every one-on-one work situation or personal situation, it can be done in absolutely every group situation, and the first step is to become aware that this is what needs to happen.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland

Ambition in Action: I believe in You

By Persuading the Affluent, Self Persuasion 4 Comments

Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.” — Mark Twain

Hi Persuader,

My clients and students are at the top of their respective games. I know this, because I work primarily with very high end financial advisors, real estate agents, speakers, sales professionals, and the like, and they did not get to where they are by falling into it or because of luck. They got there because they have goals, they have work ethic, they have the intelligence, they have the education, and they have ambition.

Ambition is a very interesting force. Some people have it, others clearly don’t. What is the difference between the two camps? Is it an internal spark? Self confidence? Is it something you have to be born with or something you can acquire? If you think about some of our more recent presidents and the raw ambition it takes to become president, and then consider their brothers (just as an example — Bill Clinton/Roger Clinton, Jimmy Carter/Billy Carter), then we can sort of see where this isn’t much of an argument for the genetics of ambition.

The true mark of an ambitious person is being able to bounce back after a setback, not getting mired down in the ‘oh, woe is me, I didn’t achieve what I wanted to’, that many people succumb to after not at first succeeding. Real ambition lays in the ‘try, try again’ part.

This pulling yourself up by the bootstraps mindset was so well illustrated by Thomas Jefferson when he said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

So it’s all a matter of — do you want it or don’t you? If you want it, and you don’t have it, what are you doing or not doing that’s preventing you from having it? If you want it, and you don’t have it, that’s enough of a start, it’s a platform from which to make that jump.

Stop one: start with a simple list. I’m a HUGE fan of lists. Make a list of what your goals/ambitions. Get specific. These things don’t come to fruition if they’re vague and unformed in your own mind. Get down to the nitty gritty details. Flesh it all out and read over it every morning when you wake up and every night when you go to bed. This will speak to your sub/other than conscious mind and set it up to help you begin to form solid plans for how to achieve the goals you have in mind.

And if or when you cup up against some adversity, remember that the small defeats are not the end result. The end result is your goal, the small defeats are tiny speed bumps (or flat tires) along the way — both overcome-able and temporary.

My last bit of advice — start now. Do not pass Go!. Get to it.

Until Next Time,

Kenrick E. Cleveland