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Influence Circles: The hidden side of motivating yourself & others

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Danny Raede


When you look at the etymology of the word “Influence”, it means “any outpouring of energy that produces effect.” Without this idea, we wouldn’t be able to change or shape our internal world, the world of others, or our relationships.

In our work at Asperger Experts, questions regarding Influence are the most asked type of question. Things like “How do I get my child to do their homework?” or “How do I stop myself from having anxious thoughts?”

A parent will try to get their kid to do homework by yelling at them or threatening consequences (outpouring of energy), but instead of being motivated, the kid will sink deeper into Defense Mode and withdraw & shut down further (the resulting effect).

Whenever we look at this system, we use the framework of Influence Circles to understand, evaluate and troubleshoot the issue. When ALL of your influence circles are aligned, the energy that you put into the specific act of influence produces the desired action (We call this the “Big Result”).

Often the Big Result isn’t the desired result of that specific act of influence, but of a set of actions. (You don’t want your kid to do their homework to do their homework, you want them to do their homework to meet goals and expectations, develop skills, good habits, personal resiliency, get good grades, get into a good college and ultimately have a thriving life).

If your Influence Circles are not aligned, you will never get the Big Result, no matter how much you try.

So how many Influence Circles are there, and how do they work? Most people think there are 2: Action and Big Result.

Coming from this perspective, the obvious question is, “What action do I need to take in order to get the Big Result?”

But therein lies the problem! 2 people can do the exact same thing and get wildly different results. Think of the car salesman that does everything right, yet it still feels weird to you. Even though his action is aligned and intentional, he still isn’t getting his Big Result.


Because there’s more to Influence than just action.

Most people can’t see beyond “The Invisible”, nor do they even know such a line exists. The magic of aligning your Influence Circles is actually in the alignment of the Intent, Meaning, and Motivation + Emotion circles.

Do that, and suddenly the Big Result comes with ease.

So how do you do that?

Start with the outermost circle, Motivation + Emotion, and ask yourself, what motives and emotions drive this act of influence?

Are you trying to influence someone or something from a place of fear, anxiety, worry or stress?

Are you doing it out of love and connectedness?

This simple act changes how you perceive a situation (the meaning), which changes your intent. And your intent drives your action, which gets you to the Big Result you seek.

Remember: People can forget what you say or do, but they will almost never forget how you inspired them to feel. Being aligned in your intentions and clear about your meanings allows you to communicate your thoughts and feelings in such a way that better leads you to your desired results.

To be clear - this is not an emotional manipulation to get what you want. This is a way to communicate in a genuine fashion that allows you to let go of manipulation. You have to also deal with the other person, and their wants and feelings, thoughts and desires. We are not promising success every go round. We are promoting better processes and understanding through clear communication and intention. This is a *process*, and perhaps a different one than you have tried. Stay with it. It will get you different results.

We often find that kids learn from how they are treated. Treating the people in your life with respect is a worthy goal. There isn’t a need to sacrifice respect, for the other person or for yourself, for an end goal. You might not get what you want, but you might find you get what you need.

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