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The Science of Transformational Leadership, Part 1

This is part one of a four-part weekly series exploring the LUCK formula for creating the inner change necessary to become a transformational leader. Some leaders make change look easy. While most strive to drive change through persuasion, they stoke our imaginations and inspire us to embrace daring new visions. How do they do it? Is there a secret formula or are they just lucky? The simple answer is yes.

This is part one of a four-part weekly series exploring the LUCK formula for creating the inner change necessary to become a transformational leader.

Some leaders make change look easy. While most strive to drive change through persuasion, they stoke our imaginations and inspire us to embrace daring new visions. How do they do it? Is there a secret formula or are they just lucky?

The simple answer is yes.

Yes*,* there is a secret and yes, they are lucky. But their luck isn’t random. They create it from the inside out using a step-by-step process that anyone can learn. This article is the first installment of an ongoing series in which I’ll share this “secret formula” for the first time ever. It was derived from a 2012 discovery called the Voice Code that mapped the natural laws that govern the development of human thinking.

The Voice Code map offers us profound new insights into the invisible levers of social influence. These levers have now been made actionable through the LUCK cycle, the four-step social engagement sequence previewed below:

Step 1. Listen for inspiration

Step 2. Understand the resistance

Step 3. Call to imagine

Step 4. Keep listening

Simple isn’t it? Well, yes and no. The steps are indeed simple. But putting them into practice does require a radical mindshift for most people. The process outlined in this paper trains us to embrace the paradoxical “inside-out” mindset that gives iconic visionaries their seemingly magical ability to win hearts and minds. Anyone can master this mindset. The only requirement is that we be willing to loosen our grip on the old “outside-in,” persuasion-driven models of social influence.

Let’s face it: Without a firmly rooted inner game, even our most admirable attempts to influence others become reduced to manipulation. The LUCK cycle helps us transcend this trap to activate shared vision by clearing the windows of perception within our target audience. To activate your vision of what this system can help you accomplish, we’ll now discuss each of the LUCK steps as we unravel four unlucky beliefs that keep most people in the dark. Your travel companion will be “Bob,” a passionate sustainability advocate who is on the verge of a life-altering discovery.

[NOTE: For a deep dive into the science behind this framework, see The Voice Code: Master Your Inner Game and Igniting Inspiration: A Persuasion Manual for Visionaries.]

Unlucky Belief #1: Change is hard

Bob works hard to make the world a better place. He sees the problem that others miss and feels a powerful sense of duty to help them awaken. Does he like the endless resistance he confronts daily? No. But he’s tough. He can take it. There’s a reason he’s made it this far: he never gives up. His years of service and self-sacrifice have taught him that people are essentially good. They just resist what’s right until they see the light. So if we really care, we cannot give up on them. We have to stick with it until they get it. Bob has done an admirable job with this mindset for many years, raising donations for his cause, overcoming endless resistance like a pro. Then one day, out of the blue, he hits a wall and loses his will for the fight. He can’t do it anymore. The constant uphill slog, carrying the world on his shoulders… It just doesn’t seem worth it. There’s got to be a better way. But what is it?

John Marshall Roberts
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personal evolution
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of the good life
SB'17 Detroit
Bob believes that change is hard and proves himself right every day. This belief has turned his life into a treadmill of willful striving that, until now, was locked in place by his unwillingness to question his own thinking. As Bob unravels his own blind spots, he’ll discover that change isn’t inherently difficult. He has been making it seem hard through his habit of trying to influence others through persuasion instead of inspiration.

Is it hard to inspire change? Not at all. Inspiration is easy. What is very hard — in fact, damn near impossible — is persuading people to change. Persuaded people are motivated to act based on external rewards. Inspired people act from an intrinsic desire to share their gifts. Persuasion moves from the outside in, as we seek to fill an inner void. Inspiration grows from the inside out, extending itself from joyful fulfillment.

When inspiration is our motivation, we see ourselves as the creative authority of our lives. The first step of the LUCK process — “Listen for Inspiration” — helps you master this mindset as you break free of the belief in self-sacrifice. In so doing, it lays the foundation for you to accomplish the two prime directives of transformational engagement:

Prime Directive 1: Be Authentic.

Engage others from a place of deep sincerity and inspired conviction, in a spirit of service and shared self-interest(aka “inner game”)

Prime Directive 2: Know your audience.

Speak to others’ core aspirations, framing our vision as a call to transcend past and co-create the future (aka “outer game”)

Rest assured, anyone who perfectly fulfills both directives in any interaction will become a powerful change catalyst without any struggles whatsoever. The change that occurs will not be subtle, either. Whatever the situation, the presence of an inspired new possibility will be unmistakable, filling all with a deep sense of connection as they live into a new future unfolding at their feet.

Why are experiences like this so rare? If it’s just a matter of fulfilling two directives, why don’t more people, products and brands have this impact? Simple: We’re addicted to persuasion. This keeps us from being authentic.

Mistaking good intentions for authenticity, we rush headlong into conversations about how to influence others without considering the quality of our intentions. Do we truly care about our audience as human beings? Are we infused with a sense of higher purpose? Is our primary motivation to contribute? When we engage with persuasion the honest answer is no. We just want to figure what to say or do to influence others to achieve our goals. This mindset isn’t uncommon or immoral, but it is positively lethal to our hopes of igniting inspiration.

Step 1 of the LUCK cycle, “Listen for Inspiration,” helps us gently plug back into the ”grid” of our inner powers of authenticity as we venture to influence others. As we learn to listen for inspiration, our social reality shifts. Instead of seeing people as targets, we see them as a mirror of ourselves. When we look at people this way, we have no desire to fix or change them. We see their inherent perfection and express our appreciation by reflecting this back to them. They then naturally light up in our presence and open to our message. No persuasion required.

Practice LUCK: Listen for Inspiration

Where have you found change to be a struggle? Where have you had the most difficulty getting through to others? Are you willing to consider that change could be easy if you let inspiration be your guide? The graphic below offers a snapshot overview of step one of the LUCK cycle. Make listening for inspiration your first order of business in your social interactions and watch what happens. The mere intention to think this way expands our presence and summons powers of influence unavailable to the persuasion-driven masses.

In next week's installment (Part 2 of 4), we'll cover step 2 of the LUCK sequence: Understand the Resistance. In the meantime, if you get so that you want to dive deep and master Step One consider reading scene two "Befriend the Emperor" from the LUCK inner game manual, The Voice Code. It offers an actionable overview of the principle of Authority and a 15-minute inner alignment exercise that you can use to instantly activate this principle in your communications. For Step One outer game support, consider reviewing chapter one, "The Anatomy of Inspiration," from the outer game manual, Igniting Inspiration.


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