The minds of the ignorant are fertile plains, upon whom the wise can act upon, to spur action that can possibly bewilder any organisation or entity. Each of us are influenced by our habitat. This includes work environment, family and the society at large. In being influenced we exercise our own personal selectiveness we can choose from an individual, a group, the work place, the acquaintances circle, etc. Mostly, we willingly select the source of influence. This is not to suggest that subtle influencing doesn’t take place; in fact it is a twenty four hour experience each day we get faced with. To the influenced, many times the source of influencer, remains unknown to them. When we allocate and spend considerable amount of time with a particular set of people, their influence upon us, emerges gradually over a period of time. It is not instantaneous, and hence therefore becomes long lasting, akin to the creepers, the influence spreads itself over us, slowly. If being in company of people of Grace yields a stable influence of calm and harmony in our attitude, it is no surprise that evil company corrupts good manners.
The precise effect of influence upon one another is felt, once we soak ourselves in the infused thought, and that too, in isolation and to the precluding of all other attending factors to the thought. Largely human mind’s orientation is to do, what others can make us do - that’s why we have leaders and followers. No soldier will kill another human or even any living thing, unless he/she has been oriented with the thought that it is his job to kill - and that it is noble. They act upon instructions and not upon the advice of the inner self. The inner voice is influenced by external sources and hence gets entrapped, muzzled and silenced. The human mind has inbuilt capacity to seek knowledge beyond frontiers; it is by constant indoctrination that this ability is pulverised and is made numb. “Not to reason, or rhyme…,” is the slogan of a follower. They act, when asked by others.
Influence is not necessarily only a bad thing to be had. Everybody needs influence; there is no inner-glow, without transition of outside factors, covering a broad spectrum of knowledge base. We all need it, even the moon borrows its soothing light from the blazing sun.
When influence is not in the domain of bad and unacceptable, it is therefore more a matter about the relative personal experience one has at the hands of either, an individual or an event. Since we absorb attitudes, skill and practical talent proficiency from outside of ourselves, it therefore usually is a long drawn process; it is acquired upon through frequent re-visitation to the person or to the environment. It is no vaccine that can be administered for perpetual applicability. Influence over minds grows voluntarily and with slow grudges. Extreme care must be exercised to ensure that what your inner vessel is being filled up with is with your full knowledge and concurrence.
Influence through vainglorious conversation or deceptive intention is not worthy of indulgence; it reeks with serious risk of reputation loss. Influencing for expediency is immoral.
Most of us believe, what is said to us -- the said can hoist any with feelings of being the best or it can run any down with sentiments of abundant inadequacies. This happens to those who commit themselves to accept the various communications that are received each day, both at personal and professional level. The veracity of intentionality is never checked. Everything said is believed upon, wherever and whenever, it suits the recipient. Those who mortgage their mind to toxic and negatively inclined individuals remain perennially consigned to the crutches of doing what others want them to do. They have no stake in any decision taken. Their minds are pledged, hence cannot independently think and act.
As is said, commonly, that it is always “one” person who can make a difference, why cannot leader/ managers be too? --- That “one” person! The demagogue leader is never tired in his pursuit to find people who would rent out to him, their minds; so that he can sway them with his ideas and ideology.
Once, rented to him, he as the occupant drives the individual (owner) to wherever he wishes to take him---- he (landlord/owner of the mind) becomes the follower. There are occasions when the leader who is renting the mind has no designated office, with relevant powers, to do or stop any action / initiative; yet he spurs into action on an army of people, who committedly will be found subservient to the commands placed upon them. Ask any common man on the street, who do they think broke up Pakistan, in 1971? They invariably, to the extent of 99 percent will say, it was ZA Bhutto! But what is conveniently forgotten is that ZAB had no political office, yet everyone was listening to his diktats! This was so because he had long seized the minds of the population in West Pakistan. Leaders make followers to do what they desire for themselves. Followers, are always a compliant community. Thomas Carlyle formulated the following thought so succinctly, “show me the person you honour, and I will know what kind of person you are, for it shows me what your idea of character is, and what kind of a person, you long to be”. I would like to make a few amendments to this crisp articulation,” to the CEO / leader /manager I ask, show me, who are those advisors to whom you have rented your mind, and I would know what kind of a person, you are.” During World War II, Germany achieved great success in the art and many dimensions of indoctrination.
No human hand can throw and cast young women, children and infants into the gas chamber, unless their own mind is not surrendered on rent to others. And no CEO should ever forget that those who take his mind on rent, never pay any rent for this prized accommodation. These set of people are “Corporate Qabza Group”, who seek interminable tenancy, and never a short-term lease of the mind of the leader /manger.
This “To Let” epitaph that all CEO’s / managers carry quite blatantly on their forehead, is essentially an invitation to the devious to fill in negative energy, which in their opinion is the first step towards making the colleagues / CEO an abiding clerk.
While leaders are expected to listen to sound counsel and advise from amongst his colleagues. However, if they pledge their thinking to a few or a group of few individuals, such managers will end up in the blind alley. They will commence, their termination of independent thought and mind.
Great Leaders do not belittle people, instead they invoke and ignite their passion, mostly hidden to themselves to achieve success. Those leaders who put proper filters to their thinking, and hence allow their mind to think, independently, are the ones, who make the difference. It is important for managers not to put on rent their minds to others. They must keep, what they own.
Listen to advise of well, but act upon none, unless credible information is available to corroborate.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist