24. The Effect of Clothes

Clothes have a very peculiar effect of speaking for you. Depending on what you wear, and where you are wearing it, clothes themselves have the ability to influence.

Have you ever been around a person who is wearing a nice suit but you aren’t wearing nice clothes? Have you noticed how you feel just a little uncomfortable like “something is going on?” Maybe you even feel “under-dressed.”

This is one example that happens from nice clothes, but this effect isn’t just for suits. This effect occurs with “spiritual robes”, medals and awards, police uniforms, and more.

Consider intentionally dressing to influence

If you are not already conscious in your clothes choices, consider being more intentional. People respond to what you wear, even if they don’t tell you. When you are in public, consider wearing clothes that if a person met you for the first time, they leave with the impression that you want.

First impressions matter, because that is the stepping off place that people begin their relationship with you. If that relationship is “we’re just casual buddies” then don’t be surprised if you are building influence from square one, instead of ahead.

In some cases, the “uniform” of the day is most important.

When people are wearing uniforms, and you are not wearing the same uniform, the reverse is affect is true. Those wearing the uniform can often feel a bit uncomfortable being around a person who isn’t wearing a uniform. It is almost as though they naturally cannot place you in “their tribe”, the one that has the uniforms.

Sometimes it is necessary to put on the same clothes as other people, especially when you want to work “at their level” to drive forward. People who work together as a team, feel comfortable when they “dress together.”

Probably the best example is outdoor work clothes for working on around the farm. If you are helping lead outdoor projects, wear similar outdoor clothes as the people doing the work. This is the time to fit in.

Never underestimate the power of clothes for setting the tone of a relationship.


23. There is No Replacement for Hard Work

Clever people like to think that they can out maneuver hard work. While it may make them feel good about themselves to occasionally receive more than they put in, they are painfully mistaking.

There is no replacement for hard work.

Working long and hard hours, builds your ability to work at a higher level, even when you aren’t working long hours. Hard work makes your work have greater impact, even when you aren’t working hard.

There just is no replacement for hard work.

Sometimes when working hard and long hours, you can feel like giving up. This natural feeling that everyone has, occurs when your mind and body has finally reached what it considers hard and long. However, this isn’t the time to quit, but rather to acknowledge this is when the real work actually begins. Pushing through these feeling is where all of the gains are found.

Muscle memory develops when your muscles are tired, but you will them to go further. Your mind sharpens when its hazy and tired, but you continue to make it operate.

There is simply no replacement for hard work.

Marines have a saying. “If it ain’t raining, then it ain’t training.”

Marine’s train in the worst conditions because those are the perfect conditions for warfare. When you are capable of focusing in cold rain in complete darkness, you will always have a leg up to out maneuver and out think your opponents. While others use think of those “poor conditions” as an excuse to feel pain, others consider them “perfect conditions.”

While creativity can innovate tactics and strategies, without hard work, newly created tactics and strategies will never work. This is why cleverness doesn’t beat hard work.

There is no replacement for hard work.


22. Not Taking it Personal

Here is one story that explains yesterday’s post on not taking the frustrations of others personally.

One day while working at Lockheed Martin Space, our project manager asked me to attend a customer update meeting. I never shy away from speaking with the “big wigs” so I accepted.

On this occasion, I knew that I would be required to represent a project that we were working on which had not made much progress and anticipated it being a fiery discussion.

When the conference call began, I was asked to provide status on where we were with migrating and executing software code written by another vendor.

“We have made changes to the code, necessary for running in our environment, and we should be executing today…”

After about 60 seconds of speaking, the colonel cut me off and sounded quite bothered.

“What you are saying really has me concerned. Let me explain why.” – She said.

“Sure” I said with no concerns for what was coming next.

When someone is frustrated, it is a great idea to be receptive to hearing them out.

“It seems like we missed our opportunity to run the code” she started.

“I have already told my superiors that we were going to make progress.”

It turns out that she had been eager to tell them that not only were we going to make progress, but that during this tiny window of opportunity of 2 days, that we’d be able to show something for it.

“I see” I said, thinking about what I had heard, but not taking what she said personally.

And then the fears and assumptions started coming out…

“What I’m really concerned about, is somehow the vendor making it impossible for us to run.” (A ludicrous idea)

“I have this feeling that they are talking behind closed doors right now, about how we can’t get this to run.”

On she went, with one concern after another. Even though I was the primary person involved with migrating over and doing this work. Because I had kept my cool, and focused on really listening to this person’s frustrations, the frustrations were never aimed at me, even though I was the primary person involved in the work in question.

People want to vent frustrations, not start a fight.

Just because a person is venting frustrations, even to the person that they might be frustrated with, they are not attempting to pick a fight. They want to be heard.

The more I listened to the colonel’s concerns, the more I realized her concerns came from things that had nothing to do with the work we were doing.

“I understand what you are saying Mike, but what am I supposed to show them? How can I show them that we’ve made progress?” – She said.

It was clear, that we had not helped our customer be able to articulate that not only the expected progress was happening, but great things were around the corner.

Had I become defensive, I never would have made it passed “the work hasn’t been completed.” Instead, I received considerable amount of insight into how our customer thinks and how to empower them. In turn this would give us breathing room, to do the actual work needed to accomplish the mission.


21. Influencing from the frustration of others

Let’s put aside hypothetical heated conversations you might fall into for the moment. When others come to you in frustration you should understand something important. They are not frustrated at you, even if it makes logical sense to be.

These people are stuck with the feeling of frustration.

Frustration is a feeling. It ought not be reasoned with, nor explained away. It is a real physiological feeling that, in fact, feels terrible. So terrible, that it will cause people to vent their frustrations in an unbelievable number of ways.

Frustration is the feeling that things are no longer moving forward as they “ought to” and the person in front of you feels that.

In most cases when people come to you with frustration, they are seeking to remove this affliction, and they’ve chosen you. If you are not aware of what is going on, you may get sucked in to their feelings, and become defensive. If you do that, you will lose the opportunity to earn influence, by being present.

You have a choice. Earn influence, grow and gain in your life or “defend yourself”, lose influence with others and go nowhere.

These opportunities present themselves to those who have internalized they are invulnerable.


20. Putting Down Roots

In this fast paced world, it appears that many within society no longer see the value of putting down roots. Instead of investing in their local communities, people decide to stay mobile and “move where the money is” or where it is “exciting.”

But this comes at a cost.

Communities become a monoculture in age (usually only old folks) and they lose the precious talent needed to help keep things vibrant and growing. Worse even, is the indoctrinated culture of “its someone else’s problem.”

People who put down roots, make it their business to pick up the trash on the side of the road, while those just passing by wait for the government to do it.

When people settle down in an area, and make somewhere their home, they take pride-in-ownership. When people settle “just for the money” they give as little as possible and take as much as they can, why else are they there?

Those who do not put down roots, instead of planting trees in their backyards that could feed themselves and future residents, they wish that others had planted them for them.

Imagine what it would look like if everyone waited on someone else to be responsible for where they live.

Every year, the youth coming-of-age leave their homes to far away places to learn, often for the first time, how to do things productive. At universities they often learn from people who are far and away from the real world work and are stuck in the imaginary land frozen in time 50 to 100 years ago. Once they’ve completed that foundational knowledge, they travel somewhere else, usually an urban setting, in hopes for finding a job related to the abstract and dated information they now possess. Once they’ve started going in life and learn how to be productive, they remain where they are, or bounce somewhere else, usually never to return from whence they came to invest and build up the capital there.

Instead its always somewhere else that gets that renewed investment.

Is it really a surprise that so many systems are on life support?

Maybe it’s time again that people developed a sense of responsibility for one piece of ground and make sure that its truly valuable, for now and in the future.


19. Death Cults

For some it may be hard to believe, but there are death cults just about everywhere. While this may seem shocking, when you detach from the things that make you to pay attention about what makes others, it becomes much clearer.

While there are certainly plenty of people who hang out at “death cult” clubs (online), or wear the “death cult” tshirt and stickers, usually death cult people look like everyone else.

What makes them part of a Death Cult, is their obsession with doom and gloom, and their diseased view about everything.

The world is always coming to an end. This thing or that thing is going to kill us, or is currently killing us always. There is nothing that anybody can do in life, but just accept the fate that “it’s all in the process of being over.”

That is what people who obsess about death want you to think.

Just because someone can analytically or categorically break down to show you its true, does it make it true.

  • Global Warming will kill us all!
  • No its actually climate change that’s killing us!
  • We’ll all be dead soon because the energy is going to dry up, and we’re dependent upon it.
  • A meteor is going to hit and there is nothing we can do about it.
  • The stock market is going to crash and the whole economy will be ruined forever.
  • Society has completely collapsed, just look at all of the bad things on the news!
  • They is too many people on earth!!
  • A disease is going to get us. See how many people its killed!!!!

And on and on it goes.

But life continues on. As it always will.

Human beings have never had it easier than they do today, this is why they worry so much. Becoming obsessed with imaginary, analytical and categorical bad, makes one forget about the simple reality that we have the ability to craft and mold our destiny.

Leadership is so compelling because of this.

People who are surrounded by “the sky is falling” really attach themselves to people with a purpose. With a plan. Something that they are striving towards. This is truly compelling.

Sure if you want to group everything into these abstract structures, and then want to be upset about them when they “are threatened” you can do that.

Or you can build relationships with people around you, to make something better.

Never forget, for those who really know, people are the greatest asset. Learn to empower, channel them, and release them from death cult obsessions.


18. Strengths and Weaknesses

Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement

– Marine Corps Leadership Principles

Leaders know their strengths and leaders know their weaknesses. They spend the time maximizing their strengths and learn how to mitigate the negative affects of their weaknesses.

People become a leader when they delegate their weaknesses to others whom are stronger to them. These people do not become weaker by acknowledging their weak areas, they become stronger personally, and as a group.

Weaknesses should never outshine your strengths, and if they do its because you haven’t discovered and focused on your strengths.


17. Permission is Optional

Permission is optional in life.

You don’t need permission to be you just as much as others don’t need your permission to be themselves.

In a world where you treat people with respect, you don’t need to ask their permission. In fact, those who feel comfortable not taking permission usually know

Asking permission puts you at the mercy of the person being asked. This social relationship, should be your choice, be intentionally on your terms, and should never be out of fear.

Scenarios where you might need to ask permission, shows your lack of strong connection to the person you are asking. Consider building a relationship so you do not need to ask permission to be you.

The strongest teams don’t ask permission to exist, instead they cultivate and value the contributions of those on the team.

Instead of asking permission, state what you are in the process of doing and be open to shifting course based on the feedback of others.

This is the path to influence.


16. Elongating Your Horizon

Most of us live in a very busy world with very busy demands. We all have 24 hours in a day, but some of us use every second of that time to take care of the past, the present, and a little bit of the future.

We wake up, we may exercise, eat breakfast, commute to work, spend or 8 to 10 hours at a job, commute home, spend time with family or friends then go to bed, only to do it all again the next day. Some are even squeezing in entrepreneurial endeavors in their office hours.

Living this kind of life, rarely does it put one into the position to seriously think about the future, whether that is 20 years, 30 years, 50 years, or 100 years in the future and yet, that’s exactly how one can gain perspective on one’s life.

Have you tried planning for 300 years from now?

This may seem really far out there, but do you not think that your actions today could direct action that far in the future? What about setting a family trajectory, a narrative of growth and value building that lasts at least that long?

Even if what you do, doesn’t make it that far, it raises your trajectory. To consider how far that is in the future in reality, (it’s really not that far), you gain a deeper appreciation of what it took to get you here over 300 years. Thinking about these things, begins building Legacy, one of “The 21 Laws of Leadership”, a book written by John Maxwell.

Just the effort alone is worth it, even if its for an occasional solo night out with a notebook thinking about the future.


15. Question What You Hear or Read

People are influenced by all sorts stimuli whether that is hearing and reading or seeing and smelling. These influences shape the way we think about the world and the way we approach what we do, daily, weekly and beyond.

My time spent in Marine Corps Intelligence and working intelligence at the FBI taught me well to question the sources of information that I ingest.


Information, is not the same thing as knowledge

Unless we remain vigilant, information that we see printed or heard unduly influences us to believe that something is true. Without having performed any work, we naturally want to take information and call it knowledge.

Yet, this is an assumption that has many layers of assumptions that work against you. Here is a small list of assumptions that can back fire:

  • The organization that provides the medium hasn’t modified or held back relevant information before making it available.
  • The writer or reporter does not have ulterior motives that benefit them by providing you with that information over others.
  • The writer or reporter actually has access to the information that they are providing.
  • The writer or reporter is consistent in keeping the facts straight.

The military is stringent about who’s information is trusted, should be too.

Trust forms the bed rock of our relationships. Military intelligence provides “source bylines” that, depending on your clearance, will provide you will insight into who or what is providing the information. In the world of human intelligence (humint), these source bylines are the life and blood of whether or not a source’s information is trusted.

These humint handlers, as they’re called, manage the source to make sure they are collecting what is needed for the people that need the information. It is their job, to provide accurate information about the source itself. These human intelligence professionals, even request the sources provide proof of access and information validity if they want to maintain their relationship. Here are a few questions they answer.

  • Has this person reported information before?
  • Does this person have first hand access to the information reported, or did they hear it?
  • Has the information this person provided been verified either now or in the past?
  • What are the reasons they are providing this information?

Intelligence goes to these great lengths because they know how bad information actually is.

Information, is just information. It doesn’t mean its true. It doesn’t mean its helpful. Just because its information doesn’t mean it helps you make decisions about how you ought to think of the world you actually occupy.

It’s just information.

Intelligence agencies guard certain information because the information is actually valuable, yet majority of information is not.

Upon arriving home from Afghanistan in late 2009 after spending nearly a year conducting intelligence (collection and analysis) on state and local government officials, tribal leaders, and local war lords it was a major wake up call to see how those back home accept the information they receive. Any information, is valuable information, and the information that caters to what is already believed, the more credible.

When information matters, this is a dangerous behavior.

A simple tip. Raise your standards of what you know, and value what you know over what you have read or heard.