Chapter 1What We've Got Here Is a Failure to InfluenceDealing with Life 101

Shallow men believe in luck.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?

  • It's five o'clock. You've been at your desk since six this morning, and you're nowhere near ready to go home. You have a meeting with your manager tomorrow morning, and you're supposed to have a report finished. You would have, too, if the other people involved had done their parts. First, the data was late from your counterpart in the other group. The people on your team had other priorities and couldn't help you with the analysis. Then the “admin” was too busy to help you prepare a decent-looking presentation. You might have asked your manager for an extension, but you didn't want to look unprepared, so you decided to do it all yourself. It looks like an all-nighter.
  • Your teenage daughter, a bright and successful student, has announced that she will be turning down a scholarship to a prestigious university in favor of taking a year off to travel and “find herself.” You've had several heated arguments about this. Recently, you told her that you couldn't guarantee that you would pay her college tuition when she returned. Her response was that she was perfectly capable of earning her own money and attending a less expensive school. You feel that you've painted yourself into a corner and haven't made any progress in convincing her of the importance to her future of making the right college choice. You're ...

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