4. Winning Arguments With Force

While those practicing influence ought to avoid arguments in general, if you want to “win” an argument, don’t try winning it with force. In fact, even if you win, you lose.

Think about the negative energy arguments bring

You see, when you have some level of connection with a person, the two of you share similar energies and it creates a reciprocity. This is why arguments are particularly troublesome for those who are actively trying to influence people to adopt an idea. If you have an energy of “fight” and “win”, it automatically creates an opposing “fight” and “win” energy in the another person. Unless the other person is consciously resisting this urge, really, they have no choice but to join you.

Most arguments the participants “argue” for their idea to be adopted. The other person attempts to resist the adoption of the argument by stating facts, feelings, and opinions that either support their argument or remove support for their “opponents”.

When explanations turn to using force chaos ensues

When force is applied trying to get someone to adopt an idea this is where influence completely breaks down. At this moment in time, the person whom ought to be influenced, knows without a doubt that their best interests are not at heart.

Their mind shuts down new information from the person, because its likely harmful, and has only two choices.

  1. Rise to the occasion to combat.
  2. To yield.

The person who uses force is hoping for #2, but their best bet for influencing is actually to lose with #1.

Why is it better to lose than to win?

If a person yields to force, they will embody every negative emotion which will expose itself in enumerable ways.

They’ll avoid your presence.

They’ll work against you.

They’ll ignore what you say.

How will you influence someone who you can’t find, won’t communicate with you, and conspires against you?

Don’t use force, especially to win something as silly as an argument.


3. Knowing Your Place

People can lead and influence others without knowing that is what they’re doing. I’ve nicknamed this “the unconscious leader.” The unconscious leader, generally is a person who has drive in a particular direction that has caught the attention of others. Through the natural processes of making friends this leader opens up space for others to interact with the drive that they have.

Because the unconscious leader, does not know that they are “leading” their abilities to maximize those around them is limited. Others can even come into conflict with their in-the-moment personal desires.

A Critical Situation Was Born

In 2002, I started a band named “A Critical Situation” with friends in high school. Because I had a drive to create music, friends around me, who had no desire to play, began picking up instruments. Kyle picked up the bass, Jon picked up guitar, and Chris played the drums. Magically, one day, a band was formed.

Little did I know how much frustration was going to follow by not intentionally leading this band.

Kyle didn’t want to play an instrument, he just wanted to hang out with us so his playing never improved.

Jon really was a better frontman and singer than guitarist.

And Chris had the worst rhythm and stamina. He needed intentional practice.

Worst of all, I really wanted to create music not necessarily perfect the craft of playing music.

Ignoring our inability to play musical instruments, it took two years to get “A Critical Situation” into a well ordered machine.

What the band needed was stepping back, getting intentional, and reordering everyone.

Instead of unconsciously bringing my friends into this music, fixing the band required getting rid of those not committed to improvement. Our friend Mark, who was already practicing and playing bass, became our bass player.

James another friend of ours, who was already a guitarist stepped in to replace Jon allowing him to become the frontman.

An Chris got the practice that he needed.

A Critical Situation became the punk rock master piece that I had envisioned two years before. What made the band possible was becoming conscious about decisions and choices.

Leaders don’t have to know they are leading.

At the time, I never considered why any of my friends wanted to play music. I assumed they were like me, but if they were they would have started a band before I did. I know now, they wanted to play music because I created a vision for our punk band and put everything I had into making that vision a reality.

Every time there was a new problem, we needed new gear, something would break, music didn’t work out, I’d step in to fix it. The band, and making good music, became a mild obsession of mine.

Even in this moment now, it is difficult to see the band outside of what were my own desires.

However, it was the vision of what could be and my determination to make it so, that drove my friends to help me create the band.

I began my life as an unconscious leader.

In the end, it took another 12 years before I finally understood why I have attracted people. That is when I became conscious.


2. Hazel, Green Eggs and Bacon

Below is a real story of everyday leadership. Its not glamorous. Its full of mistakes. But yet, it shows the results of being persistent and patient.

Hazel, the spunky three year old, decided that she no longer liked to eat eggs, even though she still wanted to raise chickens. One day she just up and decided “I don’t like them.”

This presented a problem for mom and dad as they wanted their child to eat more and grow strong, while using a plentiful resource.

One day, dad decided that this was going to be last time that Hazel avoided eating her eggs.

So Dad Took a Stand

“You’re not going to leave this breakfast table until you have eaten at least one spoonful of your eggs.”

Hazel, often the more emoting kind of child, began crying.

And thus began an hour long negotiations on eating eggs.

Lecturing a child almost never works to motivate. I say almost, because it appears that sometimes they give in and do what you want them mostly to stop hearing you lecture.

In this case mom and dad, mostly dad tried to lecture.

“This is why we call you skinny mini. You are skipping out on eating your eggs. If you eat your eggs you will be stronger.”

Hazel at this point decided to again cry and put her heard on the table, determined not to eat one spoonful of eggs.

It Turns Out Lecturing Doesn’t Work

Mom decided she was going to try and motivate.

“If you eat that spoonful of eggs, you can have this bacon.”

For just a moment, this looked like it might work. Hazel lifted her head said “I like bacon” and looked on to being given the bacon.

“You can have the bacon after eating the eggs.”

Nope. That didn’t work. Hazel returned to pouting and crying. So much so that Hazel worked herself up into gagging her food from earlier. Not a pretty picture.

Motivation Gets Momentum But its Not Always Enough

As dad sat and watched mom something began brewing inside. He decided that this whole situation was more than he could handle.

“OK, this is ridiculous. Eat your eggs, now. Its one spoonful, you need to grow up. When you get older you”ll have to deal with significantly more difficult situations than this. You used to eat eggs, so cut the game and do it.”

Again with the intense lecturing, something Hazel did not want to hear. So mom piped back in with a sweet voice.

“If you eat your eggs, you’ll be done. Can’t you eat just one little spoonful? Remember green eggs and ham? He didn’t want to eat his eggs too, and eventually he decided he’d try them and liked them!”

Hazel seemed to respond positively to the familiar story she knew well. But she didn’t take one step towards eating those eggs.

Ever hear of Good Cop – Bad Cop? It doesn’t work at the breakfast table.

You see, one of Hazel’s biggest three year old behaviors is resistance of control. If she wants to go where you’re going, then she’ll take it. If she, in that moment, has no desire for it, she is very resistant to giving in. In this moment, it was clear, she just does not want eggs.

“Go get me Green Eggs and Ham.” Dad said to mom.

Mom returned promptly with the Dr. Seuss book.

“Do you want me to read you Green Eggs and Ham?” Dad asked to Hazel.

She excitedly nodded yes and scooted in for a read.

Dad read through the book enthusiastically to build connection with his daughter, so she might “listen to reason” in the next round of negotiations.

Building connection brings people close enough to listen.

Hazel beamed with joy after being read the book “Green Eggs and Ham.” Dad decided to try something different rather than to get the child to eat that spoonful of eggs.

“Do you want scrambled eggs with Ketchup?”

“Yes! Yes!”

It would appear that Hazel would consider eating eggs after all, now that it wasn’t the dull eggs that had been sitting on her plate for 40 minutes.

“Will you eat them if I make them?” Dad started building commitment to eat the eggs.

“Yes I will!” Hazel replied.

Commitment is enough to get people moving.

Dad was influenced. He believed that Hazel would eat the eggs so long as he made them scrambled, and they had ketchup on it.

To build further commitment dad added.

“Hey go get the ketchup.”

“Ok!!!!” Hazel yelled out as she excitedly hopped up and went to the fridge.

The eggs were cooked. Hazel topped them with ketchup. Having felt that everything was in order dad walked away. After returning he inspected the plate to see if all the eggs had been eaten, or just maybe half. One look at the spoon told all.

Don’t walk away until you’ve seen actual progress. And then await a little longer.

“Hey! There are no eggs eaten here. You said that you would eat your eggs with ketchup. Here, eat at least this.”

Dad split the eggs into two sides of the plate.

Hazel agreed and started eating them. Dad, again, felt that everything was in the bag so he walked away. Upon returning, and inspecting yet another issue had come up.

Instead of eating them, she was putting them in her mouth, chewing them up, (possibly to eat just the ketchup) and spitting them out back on the plate.

“Hey!!! That’s not right, you need to actually eat them. Here eat these.” Dad put egg on the spoon and handed it to Hazel.

“Now don’t go spitting these out. Actually eat them.” Dad watched and was content with what he saw.

“Ok only a few more spoonfuls.”

Hazel complied and ate a few more.


Persistence wins because “what works” is rarely just one thing, especially when influencing a tough character.

Hazel did eat that bacon…


1. Practice and Performance

We all ought to perform more rather than just practice.

We practice when we do an action when no one is looking. So we do everything multiple times “until its perfect”.

We perform when we do an action and others are watching us do it. Because people are watching, in real time, we know that we have to get it as best as possible in the moment.

We would like to think that there is a real distinction between practice and performance, but unfortunately that’s not true. The truth is, our entire life is performance.

Those who practice are perfectionists that don’t deliver.

Those who perform do what they say that they do.