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Afterword

The Paradox Of Failure

SO . . . YOU SET YOUR GOAL, did your homework, got the support you needed, planned, and executed. And you failed. You didn't influence the other person after all that. Your daughter still went off to Europe alone. The boss wouldn't approve your project. The recalcitrant committee members gave a minority report. How do you deal with it?

First, sit down and have a nice cup of tea. Call a friend. Rant and rave. Or, if you prefer, read a trashy novel or watch an old movie with a lot of car crashes in it. Get used to it, though, because once you start being conscious about influencing, you will notice that you fail a lot. Of course, this is because you are paying attention rather than doing the blindfolded drive-by influencing you used to prefer. You are failing because you are taking risks - and it is the nature of risk to be associated with failure as much as with success.

But after you get past the first twenty minutes or so of teeth-gnashing, you will acknowledge that you have, after all, had partial successes, and here and there a really glorious moment. And you will probably notice also that you have learned a lot from the things that didn't work and that you feel more in charge of your own life than you used to. Being the persistent person you are, you will continue to try to shape the events that make your world. You will develop a better sense of humor. And you will live to influence another day. Here is one last favorite Emerson quote:

"All promise outruns the performance. We live in a system of approximations. Every end is prospective of some other end, which is also temporary; a round and final success nowhere. We are encamped in nature, not domesticated."

What? So What? Now What?

That about sums up the way to treat your influence experiences. If what you are doing isn't working, you can stop doing it. You would probably rather not reproduce the same mistakes (to quote George Santayana, "Those who cannot learn from the past will be condemned to repeat it"). You will probably want to remember what worked well so you can do it again. It's worth your while to take some time to reflect about an influence opportunity just after it is over. A quick formula for this is to use: What? So what? Now what? What happened, what does it mean, and what am I going to do about it?

Then pick up that novel and go to the beach.

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