“In influencing others; example is not the main thing. It’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer
What’s a situation coming up in which you want to influence someone to give you their time, mind or dime?
If you want to capture and keep their attention – if you want to open their mind and change their mind – don’t open with information.
Open with an example.
In fact, follow Dr. Brene’ Brown’s shining example …
I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Brene’ Brown at a recent Leadership Colloquium at NASA Goddard.
Brene’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability is one of the top ten most-downloaded TED videos.
After the first 10 minutes of her NASA presentation, it’s easy to understand why.
She’s disarmingly honest about her journey from being a left-brained researcher who only valued bottom-line facts to discovering the transcendent, whole-hearted, free-flowing love that comes from having children.
What she didn’t anticipate was the fear that comes from being a mom.
She described how she used to stand in her kids’ rooms at night and watch them sleep … and weep.
She cherished them so much, she was afraid something would happen to them.
She knew this was illogical. They were perfectly healthy, perfectly fine. Yet there she was … miserable.
She started researching why the emotion of happiness seems to be irrevocably tied with fear – and used an EXAMPLE to open our eyes to how common this phenomenon is.
A family is driving to their grandparents’s house for Christmas. The parents are uptight because they’re running late.
The kids, sitting in the back seat, start singing Jingle Bells .
The parents realize how ridiculous they’re being and start singing Jingle Bells along with them.
At this point, Brene’ asked the audience, “And then what happened?”
Guess what the majority said??
“They get in a car accident.”
Is that what you thought?
Do you know what that means?
It means, deep down, you believe happiness is fleeting – you believe it is too good to be true.
How about you? In the midst of things going well, are you, at some level, waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Say it ain’t so.
Brene’ went on to explain that, in an effort to protect ourselves against the pain we feel when something goes wrong … we prepare ourselves by projecting it so we won’t be blindsided when the heartache happens.
Not only does that cut short any joy we might be feeling, that “failure forecasting” increases the likelihood of something going wrong because that’s what we’re focused on. Then, if something does go wrong, it reinforces our worst fears and proves us “right.” This sets up an emotionally unhealthy spiral where we have even more cause to worry.
Brene’ continued with constructive ways to change this destructive default … if we choose.
Okay, what’s the point?
Look back over this post.
Were you engaged? Were you thinking about that insight that some people are afraid of happiness – and thinking how it relates to you?
That’s because Brene’s EXAMPLE pulled you in and helped you SEE this situation.
If Brene (or I) had just talked about how some of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop – even when things are going well – that would have been wah-wah rhetoric. You may not have related to it because it was information.
People today are suffering from InfoBesity. They don’t want more information.
They can get all the information they want – anytime they want – online for the click of a button.
People want to be intrigued.
And one of the best ways to intrigue people is with EXAMPLES – not information.
Back to your upcoming situation where you’ll be trying to persuade someone to give you their valuable time, attention, respect, business, account or funding.
Don’t start with information. Start with a real-life example that helps them SEE what you’re saying so they’re experiencing it – not just hearing it.
Be sure to check out Dr. Brene Brown’s website and blog. Her insights on how we can be wholehearted – instead of going through life half-hearted because we’re protecting ourselves from pain – are brilliant. http://www.brenebrown.com/