Influence and New Artisans
Gold, Fools Gold, and Patience
I found the last few posts, mulling Alan Moore’s 13 questions, an exercise in prospecting. Each question demands real thought, but even then, leaves something behind. I’m looking forward to our conversation on Wednesday evening (link below) with Alan, and those of you who can make it, to share what we’ve found as we’ve washed these questions around.
One of the joys of good questions is what they leave behind. We may think we’ve answered them but later realise we haven’t fully; fragments hang around in our working memory, like slivers of gold, waiting to be found.
Prospecting, though, takes patience and a particular form of time - Kairos time rather than Chronos time, waiting for the right time for the insight to make itself known. I’m still at the beginning of that process, but already finding a few.
One of them, glinting quietly in the washings, was another question.
As artisans, who and what do we give permission to influence us?
The thought that we become the average of the five people we most associate with is always on my mind when we have so many people fighting for our attention as we face a flood tide of information, opinions and ideas.
Persuasion is an industry as old as Aristotle. His three rules of persuasion suggest that any spoken or written communication intended to persuade contains three key rhetorical elements: logos, the logic and reasoning in the message; ethos, the character, credibility and trustworthiness of the communicator; and pathos, the emotional dimension. Although the basic tenets remain the same, we have now industrialised persuasion, leveraging persuasion technology and the potential to automate much of it, as this HAI study suggests.
Most of what is directed at us is a re-presented, commercially-flavoured version of a source of original thinking. Fools Gold.
There are only a handful of truly original analysis models for styles of management. Thinkers such as Warren Bennis, Peter Drucker, and Charles Handy nailed the basic principles decades ago, and Leadership is a study as old as time. Despite this, almost every week, we are deluged with something that claims to be new but is about as original in substance as a new flavour of ice cream.
The frantic efforts we see are no more than vehicles of persuasion, Aristotle on steroids, looking to find us at the intersection of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), feeding off what Maria Popova in her wonderful Marginalian Blog describes (and articulates beautifully) as “The Republic of Not Enough” - we are never enough, we never have enough….
The frantic efforts come from those who are a form of arbitrageur, people looking to extract economic rent from our beFUDdled state by persuading us we’re not enough, so won’t get enough and that we must act quickly (with them, of course).
Consultancy and Coaching are prime examples, being as they are effectively unregulated sectors where anybody can set themselves up to persuade us of their wares. That is not to say that there are not excellent, well-qualified, dedicated consultants and coaches out there, just that they are in a minority and difficult to spot. A clue is often a “flavour du jour”, from diversity, to “neuro something” to wellness, rather than a well-evidenced grounding and experience in a recognised professional discipline. Understanding context is critical if we are to get the balanced support we need and avoid being sucked into an environment of monetised mediocrity.
Influence can be a genuine gift or a trojan horse, and we would do well to understand what we are being offered by those who are seeking to influence us.
Our worst enemy is busyness and an unwarranted sense of urgency. The work we do as artisans benefits from a simple sequence - observation, reflection, generating a powerful question, positioning ourselves and acting. It is a craft, not just a process. Doing it with a small group of people we trust who bring different perspectives, experience and skills, and our interest at heart, is vital. People who will still be there when things go wrong.
We have access to all the knowledge we need - it is how we work it and to what end that matters.
Those who we work with influence us. As a gift given freely, it is priceless. As a means to their end, it can lead us far apart from the work we are meant to do.
Diary Date: This Wednesday, 9th August, 6:00 pm UK
Alan Moore, the originator of the questions I have been pondering these last couple of weeks, will join us on Zoom to consider our reactions, questions and thoughts on how we apply them to our own practices and businesses.
Open to Subscribers only. Limited to 18 participants. Not to be missed.