How Can You Increase Your Influence in Society?

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority (Kenneth Blanchard)

The best leaders of the 21st century are those who are active, constantly evolving, focusing increasingly much upon influence and empowerment rather than upon authority, leading through example, learning from their mistakes (and making mistakes in the first place), accepting mistakes and the learning process followed by the allowance of making mistakes, emotionally intelligent, humane, close to nature, and ready to throw themselves into creativity, seeing endless possibilities through action-oriented learning and development, be it in themselves, or in other individuals.

Never underestimate the influence you have upon others, and thus, on society around you, regardless of your background or current professional title. 

How can you influence people, and change society, then?

Influence begins with your daily activities, the choices you make in your daily life, and about your future. Influential people do not always even recognize their personal influence, but even the slightest spark you as an individual are capable of creating in another individual may lead to significant development, and changes in society. The results are not always immediate, but be aware of the fact that your inner fire will be reflected upon everyone in your society, and thus lead to significant improvements in society, or to decreased satisfaction among people surrounding you. We all have our personal life paths that have influenced the people we have become, and all our current and future actions will definitely lead to, and have an impact upon how society around us will develop now, and in the future.

How then, as an individual, can you make a difference and influence people and society around you???

  • Be prepared and willing to engage in long-term work, personal development and continuous learning.

The first rule of becoming a true developer and change-maker in society is to embrace personal learning, development, and humility. Always be open to engaging in dialogue, listening to people, and learning from real life and through experiences.  True maturity emerges from the ability to stay open-minded, curious, and tolerant together with the willingness to grow as a spiritual being and as an individual.

  • Do not expect quick results.

Humanitarian and influential work requires more than you think. Be prepared to engage in work and make efforts that become visible only in X years from this moment, rather than focusing upon getting short-term results in three months. Of course, short-term work is significant as well, but real influence starts with the ability to create lasting, long-term changes in individuals and in society.

  • Be honest, authentic, and true to you.

True leadership and influence begins with the ability or remaining true to yourself, your authentic individuality, and in how you would like to see society around you. It is not always easy to close your ears and other senses, but authenticity requires for you to be capable of envisioning the current state and a future you would like to envision before being capable of creating it in reality. Always keep your ears open when listening to others, but also remember that your purpose in society is not in accepting everything as it is, the status quo, but rather in reshaping and redefining the future you want for yourself, and for the people around you.

  • Stop dreaming and start acting.

No one will ask you, so you will have to take action yourself. Do not expect anyone to lead you on the way. Instead, get active and start living in a way that reflects who you truly are, and how you would like to see society evolve around you.

  • Drop your professional title.

Professional titles are not an entitlement, nor a guarantee about the quality of the work you do. Very often people have beautiful titles, but look deeper into what is included in their job title. Do they live up to the expectations of their job title, or are they merely “products of their environments”, governed and controlled by their employer?

  • Meditate, sleep well, and relax.

Influence requires a peaceful mind, so be prepared to cut unnecessary activities and people from your direct personal life, and instead focus upon activities that bring you joy, make you feel empowered, and that offer your personal development activities. Leaders have a tendency of overworking themselves, so please remember to learn to say no as well, and to get the rest and recuperation that you truly need, and deserve.

  • Set your goals high, always expect more from yourself than from people around you, but also remember to forgive yourself and not to be too demanding upon the expectations you demand from yourself, or from other people.

We all wish to accomplish certain things in our lives, but remember to remain humane, and never expect other people to accomplish something that you would not be capable of achieving personally. I have always wondered how certain people are capable of expecting things they would never be capable of achieving themselves. True leaders know the way, show the way, and remain humane in the process of setting an example and in leading the way. True influencers and leaders do not only set an example, but are also capable of living up to the expectations.



How Can You Be Truly Convincing?

“By 2029, computers will have emotional intelligence and be convincing as people”. (Ray Kurzweil, 12.11.2014)

Do you believe in a future where computers have emotional intelligence? Can emotional intelligence be integrated into computers, when not even all human beings are capable of maximizing their potential in terms of emotional intelligence? 

If you have ever worked in sales, you know how important it is to not only sound, but to actually BE, convincing. In fact, this applies to others than just salespeople, or, put in a wider perspective, we all kind of work in sales, at all times, and in all situations in life. 

However, being convincing is not a synonym to being truthful. Although sales, as any other performance, should always include being truthful, there are always people who do not care so much about the truth, or who prefer creating their own truth. We find examples of these across society, of people who convince themselves first, and are color-blind to truth. I have once before quoted Anaïs Nin in this perspective: “We do not see the world as it is. We see it as we are”. 

Throughout centuries, truth has been discussed by philosophers, with a number of frameworks and theories built around a single word with so much meaning. Without going deeper into the different philosophical theories about truth, I just want to pinpoint that truth can be personal, and what is true to another individual, is not necessarily true to you. Some people are very convincing without actually telling the truth (a common truth that applies to the majority of people). There are many sad stories about individuals living their personal truths with a lack of morals, and humanity. Without having to explain further, I am pretty sure that you can think of a number of these. 

What does it take to be convincing? It is quite simple: 

Being convincing requires having confidence and trust in yourself. 

You also need to be convinced about the matter/product/situation. Selling Snow from the Sahara requires your personal conviction about the existence of snow in the Sahara. It is impossible to sell something that actually does not exist – that would equal to fooling your clients. 

In solution-based, client-oriented selling you can of course, in cooperation with your customer, define their needs, and based on those needs, create a tailored solution for them. That is problem-solving with and for the client. But you cannot promise a client that you can provide them with snow from the Sahara when you both know that there is no snow in the Sahara. And even if your customer does not know this, YOU know. 

Conviction includes taking moral responsibility in the first place. It also requires technical knowledge about what it is you are offering. All too often it is a fact that clients are offered various kinds of solutions by people who do not even know their products well enough. This includes not only a risk for the customer, who pays for the service/product, but also risks for the service/product provider: low quality leads to unsatisfied customers, and is a real slap in the face in regards to your brand’s image and reputation. 

Want to act morally and truthfully correct? Integrate the following into your (work) life: 

– Do not get involved into anything that is against your personal values/morals/knowledge/beliefs.

– Always be truthful to your clients/people around you.

– Know your product/service before actually offering it to your clients. If there is something you do not know, make sure to inform yourself so that you do not let your clients down.

– Take responsibility. True professionals and experts have not only a broad knowledge in their field, but are also continuously developing themselves, and seek to transform their knowledge into wisdom. 

– Live as you teach. There is no point in saying something, but acting in the opposite way. 

“You cannot convince anyone of anything. You can only give them the right information in order for them to convince themselves”. (Eben Pagan. Quote 12.11.2014). 



Influence, Manipulation, Something Inbetween or Neither One?

“There is no such thing as a good influence. To influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him”.

(Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)


Do you agree with Oscar Wilde´s citation? That good influence does not exist, since the purpose of all influence is to transfer one person´s feelings and ideas to another person, thus affecting the other person´s behavior? 


One thing is for sure: Oscar Wilde´s words include a lot of truth. With our feelings, thoughts, knowledge and actions we all do have more or less influence on people around us. The line between influence and manipulation, however, is often quite subtle. And the difference between influence and manipulation is merely that influence is often regarded as being something positive, while manipulation, a term originating from the Latin word manus (hand), means processing, and very often has a negative meaning while it refers to misleading, or forgery of evidence. Manipulation can also refer to concrete handling of something, e.g. the manipulation of stock markets. There are definitely many kinds of manipulation, such as magician card tricks. In this post, however, I refer to psychological manipulation, which actively aims at having an effect on someone´s, or something´s, behavior and thoughts.  


Influence, on the other hand, is the power of affecting, controlling or manipulating someone, or something; the ability of triggering change in the development of fluctuation in things, including thoughts, or decisions. Thus, manipulation can be regarded as the negative version of influence, although even influence itself can be regarded less positive. 


Influence can be actual, bad, beneficial, big, cultural, economic, good, harmful, heavy, huge, important, intellectual, mental, military, moral, negative, personal, positive, potential, primary, significant, social…and much more. 


Influence and manipulation are constant energies in our societies, and environments, starting from a crying baby´s cradle trying to manipulate (or influence?) its parents towards an action. Hence, the most primary ways of manipulation and influence can be observed in a child´s world. At least one could think so. However, very primitive influencing and manipulation techniques exist in all age groups, depending upon many different factors, such as an individual´s learned patterns, defense mechanisms, sense of self, morals, and ethics. An individual usually behaves in a way that he/she thinks is correct, without perhaps knowing or understanding better. Thus, bad influence and bad manipulation, unfortunately, together with primitive behavior, equally exists amongst all age groups. 


How can we learn to identify different ways of manipulation, and influence? And how can we cope with these? How can we make sure not to be the one´s negatively influencing, or manipulating other people, organizations, whole societies, or e.g. the economy? 


There are no simple responses to these questions. Since manipulation, and influence, both occur on a common level in our societies, it can often even be difficult to take notice when someone, or something, is influencing or manipulating you. Very often people influence or manipulate us without even noticing it themselves. Therefore, both influence and manipulation can happen somewhat by mistake.


A good guide for protecting yourself against both influence, and manipulation, is to listen to your intuition, and feelings. Another important thing is to stay grounded, and centered – again, listening to your intuition and your feelings rather than being too much affected by external sources or distractions. It is of course possible to learn these through experience, which can sometimes be a tough life lesson, especially if you are someone who is easily influenced or manipulated. There is much literature available upon influence and manipulation, the different types of both, and how to respond to either external influence or manipulation. 


Leading by example and being a positive role model is a way of making sure that you are not the one with the negative influence (or manipulation). Changing other people is impossible. Therefore, if we wish to trigger positive change, and be role models, we need to work on ourselves, on our behavior, our actions, our personal wisdom, and on our growth as responsible individuals in our societies. 

 “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours”.

(Dr. Wayne W. Dyer)