Chapter 12Focus on the ContextYourself

Insist on yourself; never imitate.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wants versus Needs

At its core, influence is about getting what you want. Even though what you want may be to save the world or at least some small part of it, your influence goal or specific objective is still more about you than about the world. So it's best to be very upfront with yourself about what it is that you want and what underlying needs or vested interests getting it would serve. A simple way to do that is to revisit your goal and ask yourself what it represents for you. Asking, “What would achieving this goal do for me?” is a simple way to get at your own motivations for influence. Sometimes by doing so we're clarified and strengthened in our commitment. Sometimes we realize that it's all about ego gratification and, in fact, a facelift or a new sports car would be cheaper. If you're not completely honest with yourself, you could find that getting what you tell yourself you want will not satisfy your underlying need. Honesty with yourself also has the bracing effect of helping you modify unrealistic influence goals or objectives, such as making your teenager admit that you are right about his or her hair. (Influencing him or her to change the hairdo would be a more realistic objective.)

Strengths and Limitations

Having made a tentative commitment to go ahead and influence, you might as well review how hard you'll have to work at it. If you've decided to do something ...

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