I confess to becoming more cynical of late when it comes to business and leadership books. My appetite to feast on the musings of others used to be insatiable. The business section of book stores used to feel like a well worn boot … familiar yet strong. For some time now, even when I habitually seek the places out, it has left me ambivalent.

I had a relapse yesterday.

My mind was consumed with what felt (and still feels) like an impossible problem. Not a totally unfamiliar one, fairly typical organisational dysfunctionality. (refer Albrecht’s Law) What was perplexing me was my inability to get any traction around the issue. It was disconcerting. Like a childhood dream when you are trying to run away from something and feel like you are being held back.


My name is Col, and I’m a bookshop-aholic. The object of my relapse was the unremarkably named ‘Influencer‘. Like most books of its kind, some simple and powerful ideas get padded out with stories and elaborations. Even though I had a few flights ahead of me to digest it … it only took about 20 minutes to be inspired to not give up.

One of the profound ideas, to which my musings here will not do justice, is that you simply cannot verbally persuade people to sustain different behaviour or see the world differently. As someone has famously suggested, “You can’t persuade someone to change their mind about a position that they didn’t ‘think themselves into in the first place.”

The ‘master influencers’ in the study managed to transform people’s lives by cultivating incentive for a few very specific behaviours. Interesting.

This simple refresher thought has put some wind in my sails when I think about my work with others. It also rings true in relation to my own efforts to maintain wellbeing. It pays to identify a few simple behaviours that we know will result in particular outcomes. Discipline, yes. Simplicity, yes.