We spend a lot of time trying to get others to do what we want, and generally our efforts end in failure. According to Dale Carnegie-the brilliant thinker on all things related to working with others-in his seminal work, “How To Win Friends & Influence People:
Of course, you can make someone want to give you his watch by sticking a revolver in his ribs. You can make your employees give you cooperation-until your back is turned-by threatening to fire them. You can make a child do what you want it to do by a whip or a threat, but these crude methods have sharply undesirable repercussions.¹
Our failure to convince others of the need to do what we wish can breed resentment and disturb an otherwise peaceful home, or any other organization for that matter. Yet, our own experience might suggest that what we think people are capable of, or are in need of doing, may lead us again and again to attempt to get someone to act in a certain way, for what we perceive is their own betterment. The question then becomes how to motivate others to do what might be in their best interest, without getting the opposite reaction–intransigence?
Carnegie’s thinking on motivating others suggests, “There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything. Did you ever stop to think of that? Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it. Remember, there is no other way.” Thinking back on my childhood, my near decade of teaching experience, and the founding and growth of my business, has led me to be convinced of the wisdom of Dale Carnegie when it comes to managing others. It forces those who manage to understand more about the people they seek to manage; they have to know the people they inspire, and convince them of their need to be the best they can be, so as to realize their own importance. I am convinced you cannot punish or reward, someone into being what they cannot see about themselves. You have to see the best in people and work to give them the opportunity to see it in themselves. You have to have confidence in the brilliance of what they are inherently put on this Earth to do and work consistently to provide them the opportunity to prove it.
When working with others to see their own potential, you must provide them opportunities that present risk, but not at a level where their possible initial failure will hurt their confidence. You must instruct where they can improve, without seeming to criticize their effort. To lead others to their own sense of self-importance that in turn allows them to be of greater benefit to others throughout their life, requires the patience necessary to endure the struggle associated with the discovery of one’s inherent goodness. Again, Carnegie in quoting Charles Schwab, who was the first American to be paid a million dollars to run U.S. Steel in 1921 states:
I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people, the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors-I would add teachers, parents and friends to this category. I never criticize anyone. I believe giving a person incentive to work. So, I am anxious to praise, but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.¹
Leading people on a journey of self-discovery creates strong families, communities and organizations of all stripes. Helping others to discover their own sense of self-importance is the surest path to peace, love and prosperity. Don’t just believe me or Dale Carnegie because we said it, test this theory out on someone you know and see if it works.
¹ Carnegie, Dale 1936. How To Win Friends & Influence People. New York Simon & Schuster
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