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Three SERIOUS QUESTIONS I’d Like Your Help With…

3 December 2010 6 Comments

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So, 2011 is going to be a serious year for me. Since I’ve spent the last few years working on getting myself focused and disciplined, I now have a lot of faith and my upcoming success…

Hispanic business man using his brain...But, like always, with that higher level of accomplishment comes a higher level of conflict, and, even deeper, what I’ve found is that as you reach a certain levels of development, what you used to think was unconscious inner-conflict (i.e fear) actually becomes a set of conscious philosophical dilemmas.

What happens is you learn to consult with your own intelligence so that you don’t proceed in a direction (or move at a pace) that’s not right for you.

So here’s a few questions I’ve been “marinating on’ for the last few days that I’d like your opinion on:

I.| Do power and influence natural corrupt the person who acquires them? Is “evil” inherent in the process of gaining power, or is it a type of consciousness independent of power itself???

II.| Is persuasion ethical? Can you justify using persuasion (i.e. psychological control of another person) if it results in positive behavior??? And

III.| Is the use of video destroying our intelligence? I know this is a little out there, but what I’ve realized is that the style of a learning-video (the teacher’s character) DETRACTS from (and supercedes) the substance of it (the actual ideas themselves), so what I’ve been thinking is that trend towards online video (including educational sector of it) is leading to the EXTINCTION of critical thought (while on surface, seeming to progress it).

So I’m about to go more in-depth with each one but remember that I’d like your opinion on this: nothing’s too deep or too shallow, or too long or too short. I’d just really appreciate it if you left me a comment below.

———— On Power & Influence ————

QUESTION #1: Does power and influence naturally corrupt the people who gain it? Does the acquisition of power inevitably, slowly and gradually alter someone’s perception of the world, causing them to BE-come what they original planned to OVER-come???

One of the cooler images I've found of YodaThe analogy here is that last Star Wars trilogy, “Revenge of the Sith,” where you learn the history of Darth Vader and actually come to sympathize with his character and his personal conflict…you find out that what eventually came to be “evil” began as an honest and authentic (albeit confused) desire for good…

I’m asking because as I see what’s possible with what I’m doing here, and as I get better at focusing and disciplining myself to actually do it, I notice a couple things happening.

One is that I’m stepping into a position of power and influence, and people are beginning to accept my ideas on faith without actually THINKING about them themselves…

…so my mind immediately goes to those classic quotes about how “power corrupts absolutely” and to fables (or actually history) who attained a position of power and mis-used or abused it.

Since I’ll be in a position of leadership and influence that I’m unfamiliar with, my fear is that I’ll unexpectantly change because of the pressures, demands and dynamics of that position.

Basically, I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m worried that it might be something BAD…

I was talking to a friend last night about this, and she came up with historic examples of powerful people who used it for good (Malcolm X, MLK, Huey P., etc. etc.), but it still didn’t completely free me from the fear.

Another friend recommended the book “Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior” (Hawkins), which I haven’t checked out yet…

On a deeper note, supposing this to be true – supposing that power DOES naturally corrupt – doesn’t that cause people with positive intentions to relegate power to those with evil ones???

In other words, if we want the world to be a better place, we need people with good intentions to have power, but if people with good intentions assume or believe that power naturally corrupts, then they’ll never seek it and it’ll AUTOMATICALLY go to people with negative ones.

It’s been eating at me for the last 2-3 days…

———— On Persuasion and Psychology ————

QUESTION #2: Should someone use persuasion to get someone ELSE to take a positive action? How can someone with that skill judge the ethical extent to which he’ll use it???

black african american male praying and thinking...Besides getting better at disciplining myself and (thereby) transitioning into a position of power, I’m also becoming more aware of how psychology and motivation work in other people…

Here’s an example (this is kind of ill, but bear with me…it’s the perfect way to explain):

So I was watching some video-coaching the other day (on how to grow your business if you sell information…books, consultation etc. ), and the guy explained how you need to stop selling information and start selling RESULTS instead…

Not only do you want to frame the product as a result (in the marketing), you also want to get the person consuming it (reading the book, watching the video, or whatever) to ACT on you gave them (so that they can actually get the result you sold them on).

So if you want them to act, you can’t just educate them on what specifically to do, you also have to “motivate” them (read, use psychology ON them) to push them into action….

In other words, you use your understanding of psychology to gain leverage over the other person and get them to do the things your suggesting they do, (rather then just say, “do this, do this and then do this….”)

So, as an example, he advised someone who sells weight loss and exercise information to say, as a headline in their advertising:

“Lose your weight or LOSE YOUR HUSBAND to that skinny bitch at the office…”

african american woman laying on bed using laptop

See what’s being done? Once he found out that the typical client was a married, overweight woman, he leveraged her subconscious fears of cheating, divorce and abandonment to get her attention…

…but it was to do something positive! (*Lose weight, exercise, eat healthier, etc. etc.) So even though it is jacked up, it can be argued to be a “win win” situation for everyone involved.

Now of course, that’s going a little bit too far…I used this just to exemplify the science. Truth is, we all do this to some extent or another (do or say things to influence someone else’s behavior), but it’s the boundary I’m concerned with.

What I’m really asking here is, where do you draw the line??? Once you have drawn a line, how do you know you’re not getting too close to unintentionally crossing it?

Even further, mixing it with the power and influence piece of above, when you’re in a position of power and have this skill, what kind of road are you headed towards???

I literally know of people who, right now, can send an email out to a list of about 300,000+ subscribers, say “Hey, I just put this video up: come check it out and let me know what you think…”, and then send them to a video where they use a series of psychological levers (mixed in with some actual knowledge and valuable material, of course) to get them to buy something.

Whether the product is actually helpful seems besides the point: I’m concerned with the ethics and the path the person doing it is heading towards…

Which leads into my last question…

———— On Video and the End of Literacy ————

QUESTION #3: Should I really be using more video? Are there side effects to this trend that I’d be encouraging? Does it simple allow me to connect with audience more or does it DETRACT from the content of the actual ideas (and therefore inhibit true learning)???

black woman at table enjoying a websiteThis is an interesting one cause you often hear people bigging up video as an online revolution (an ALL-POSITIVE thing), but to me, there’s two problems here:

1.) Video is contributing to our age of an attention-deficit society, and

2.) Video places STYLE over SUBSTANCE…

When your watching video, you’re really more impacted by the person’s CHARACTER rather then the material itself…in fact, if you think about it, that’s where your attention automatically goes by default.

Someone who has a ton of great ideas and insightful information, but who’s boring or unattractive will never get anywhere near the same type of response as someone who’s energetic, lively, charismatic or any of the other traits salesman or entertainers typically have (even though their actual ideas may be mediocre at best).

The simple medium of video DETRACTS from the overall purpose teaching implies. Not only are most videos crafted to ADAPT to our society’s inattentiveness, but the simple act of having a video-emphasis ENCOURAGES it…

For instance, the more video I do, the more I get responses like:

“What’s that pendant you’re wearing around your neck?” or

“I really loved your video and your energy…I’m just wondering: how did you get to be so knowledgeable at a young age??? What’s your story?”

…or other comments that have absolutely nothing to do with the material.

And the LESS I get responses that actually question or inquire into what I’m saying (responses that show the viewer is actual thinking THEMSELVES, rather then just being entertained).

Video distracts attention away from the raw knowledge (by placing it on the character, the setting, etc.) while reading forces attention to go in-depth with it (because there’s nothing else to focus on but the knowledge itself).

So in my view, the advent of online-video is helping us become the first ever literate but still IL-literate society, and since I want to encourage critical thought and introspection, I’m not so certain if I want to hop on that bandwagon…

———— Concluding Thoughts ————

These are just some of the issues I’m currently tackling…the internet (being an intangible medium) can be a highly-leveragable platform for subtle mind-control, so thought-leaders in this forthcoming world have a lot of ethical questions they need to pose to themselves about how they’re going to do their thing…

african american businesspeople at laptop

Again, these are just SOME of the philosophical dilemmas I’m dealing with now…it’s what happens when you learn how to set and achieve goals: a whole new world of drama, conflict and decision making opens up.

Wyatt Woodsmall (an NLP practictioner) said “You’re never going to solve all of your problems, you’re only going to inherit more sophisticated ones.”

Hispanic business man thinkingI used to think my problem was that I couldn’t get myself to do anything, but now that I got that covered it seems so insignificant.

It’s a lot like when an older guy looks back on his high school years when he THOUGHT his big problems were getting a girlfriend, impressing his boys and what have you. It’s a whole new world of meaning…

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think…



  • Robert said:

    1) Not at all. Power only gives one a greater ability to accomplish their end. The thing is, with so many different ways to do so, a person with power isn’t always thinking with their conscience. If you’re concerned about losing yours, chances are, you won’t. I’d recommend keeping friends that can ground you around. I think people with power that use it for ‘evil’ may use it for such, because it’s hard to listen to and act according to your conscience…even when you don’t have all that power. When you start accumulating power, well, people let all sorts of things fly, group support stats seeming harder and harder to find. Of course, none of this is proven fact-maybe? I’m just imagining the causes.

    2) I think persuasion is ethical, or that it can be. Even more, perhaps it’s just natural. To be persuaded, you’d have to be persuadable, no? If you’re persuadable, then you’re not firm in your standing-in my mind anyways.

    It’s sort of similar to asking if controlling someone is ethical. If self-control is lost and/or not developed then a person is being controlled by external forces by default, no?

    Where do we draw the line? Well, it’s another form of control to me. I’d say that it remains ethical until you persuade a person to do something unethical. We’re constantly influencing others. I see persuasion as the art of conscious influence. If a person never gets K.O.S., gets their values and priorities straight, then they’re open to being persuaded because they don’t have a solid foundation.

    3) Gotta let my thoughts sit on this one.


  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Thanks man,

    …appreciate that. These questions have actually been on my mind for the most of last week, but I wanted to put them out there in the atmosphere to see what kind of response they get.

    I really just find myself going back more into my philosophical mode then I used to, because it matters so much to me now.

    Thanks again,

  • Sepia Prince said:

    1) “Power corrupts…” – I’ve always liked that quote, however, it all stems from the intentions of the person gaining external power and how the use it. People with political aspirations, I feel, many times go into the field hoping to change things from the inside and find themselves in a position where their behaving in ways that may be “immoral” to them.

    I do NOT think that power and influence corrupt a person naturally, but rather our relationships with anything external, and how we respond (not react) to the same, is what creates the new avenues for the next event and experience.

    A guy can have power over his woman in a relationship in most if not all areas, but it’s his intention that we have to question (Is he a power vampire? Is he empowered by empowering her?). To me, evil IS a form of power, the shadow side of us, that can be unleashed if we do not keep ourselves elevated and in unison with the present.

    2) Yes, it is ethical. This ties into the first question where the intention is what we have to bring into question. Also, how solid is the person in their beliefs who is being persuaded that they can be persuaded? How do you get around the roadblocks and find out which key terms to use to make the persuasive message penetrate?

    The example about the woman given two choices about losing weight or losing her husband is RIGHT ON POINT. Had the adviser replaced ‘husband’ with ‘life’, she probably would not be as ready to hear more information or open up her pocketbook.

    3) Yes, the SOLE use of video for learning purposes is destroying our intelligence! Not just how we learn and comprehend, but also the digital age of communicating is having a detrimental effect on penmanship. Are notebooks still used after 12th grade? 8th grade? We’re sending text messages, tweeting, and sharing information in front of a video camera with “personality” to boot. A “boring” presentation has a detriment on the message shared, which may very well be pertinent.

    The sensational-ization of Holly-weird films, and irrelevant Facebook statuses are examples of the quickened climate we’ve adopted. I said in FB status back in the summer that I find it weird that people are bored with the proliferation of things to engage oneself in. Video is great, but it’s should not be the main medium for sharing data.

    P.S. I tried to keep it short – lol

  • Queen Genially said:

    I just read the questions, forgive me for my shortness, finals this week and all. See below . . .

    I.| Do power and influence naturally corrupt the person who acquires them? Is “evil” inherent in the process of gaining power, or is it a type of consciousness independent of power itself???

    I don’t believe in evil. I see the nature of people being self preservation regardless to whom or what. A small percentage of people elevate above the basic survival mentality and are able to influence others path of self preservation. You are the sole controller of your being, if you gain power and influence in your path it is your very nature that will shine through from start to finish. In other words if you are seek to exploit people with the power and influence you gain, you shall but in the same instance you will only be balancing a character trait within that person and conversely if you seek to assist people with the power and influence you gain then you shall and in the same instance you will be balancing a character trait within that person. In the first instance the exploitation is seen and culturally unethical, but truly you would be teaching that person a painful lesson. In the second instance your assistance is seen as culturally acceptable, but truly you would be teaching that person to rely on others instead of themselves and while that is less painful, it can be just as hurtful in the long run. To me the answer is, be yourself the best way you can and that’s all you can do. Just do it naturally.

    ?II.| Is persuasion ethical? Can you justify using persuasion (i.e. psychological control of another person) if it results in positive behavior???

    Persuasion is only possible because people need catalyst in the growing process. If they allow themselves to be persuaded and it causes a positive change then good for them, if they allow themselves to be persuaded and it turns out to be a waste of time, then good for them too. They learned a lesson. You have to just offer what you can and if you only help one person it’s still worth it.

    ?III.| Is the use of video destroying our intelligence? I know this is a little out there, but what I’ve realized is that the style of a learning-video (the teacher’s character) DETRACTS from (and supercedes) the substance of it (the actual ideas themselves), so what I’ve been thinking is that trend towards online video (including educational sector of it) is leading to the EXTINCTION of critical thought (while on surface, seeming to progress it).

    If the topic presented is quality work and intriguing then I don’t see a thing wrong with video learning. I walk away at least once a week from the TV either after watching NGC, or Science channel and I’m left with plenty of inspiration and thought provoking ideas. If the content is high quality then it is what it is. We can’t DEPEND on TV, but we are living in the tech age and using these mediums for education is not done often enough.

    My simple 2 bits.

    Stay uplifting +B!

  • Zibijah said:

    Do power and knowledge influence others and naturally corrupt the person who acquires them?

    Yes and No…. Power is knowledge and does influence others but lets stop right there and ask ourselves where is the intent of the influencer.
    We must know the origin of the new found power.
    If its from the heart then spiritually your conscience influencing is sound. Many times people lead with there thoughts and this influencing can get them into trouble, because things percieved by the mind are illusions. These illusions construct partitions in our mind, points of view that can consist of your past or lack of experience with whom your intending to influence. This can alter your intent and be shunned upon as evil.
    Hand and heart must be in sync and the mind follows.

    Should someone use persuasion to get someone ELSE to take a positive action? How can someone with that skill judge the ethical extent to which he’ll use it???

    We all who consider ouselves scholars know that you become a seeker first and formost. If you do not seek out this knowledge you will not attain it. There are those who do not innerstand this at all, and want to be knowledgable, be a leader in there family but will not do the work. I speak of this cause I coach others randomly and they will come to me, now I feel it is my duty to spirit of both of us that I direct the person.
    Do I influence, why sure we already stated this power if used properly but I’m not going to persuade anyone,must be very careful not to coherse. Ethically its about what you can live with, if your being pushy you may want to be aware of it(again let your heart be your guide). But ultimately the party should want your insight and not your influence, then determine if warranted, do they accept your guidance.


  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Thanks Zibijah (and everyone else) for the feedback. I’m starting to see everything clear as day now…

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