Six Sources of Influence

Topic: Six Sources of Influence (Part 1): Six Reasons Some Habits Seem Impossible to Change

Date: Aug 21, 2008

Time: 9:50 – 10:45

Lecturer: Ron McMillan

What influences you to do what you do each day? (Class answers) We choose which influence we obey. We always have a choice no matter what. The most important capacity we possess is our ability to influence our own and others behavior. How do you change minds & hearts?

  • Have a clear objective—a.k.a. start with the End in mind
  • Vital Behaviors—know what to change—Diagnosis first
  • Influences—6 Sources—So you can provide the prescription


One of the great objects, as I imagine, which God has in view in sending us here upon the earth, is to give us experience in the influences of the earth that we may contend with them successfully and overcome them, that when we pass beyond the veil we may be in a position to comprehend them to a greater extent than we could had we not come here and felt the influences to which human nature is subject. I have thought that we, as a people and as individuals, do not sufficiently realize the importance of keeping guard upon ourselves, and upon our feelings, and of resisting the influences that surround us. George Q. Cannon Journal of Discourses 11:29-30 (1864)


Your world is perfectly organized to create the behavior you are currently experiencing.

If you want to change the behavior of yourself or others you’ll want to always follow these two (2) steps to avoid disaster:

  1. Diagnose
    1. Look for answers
  2. Prescribe
    1. Many people wanting to give up a habit first start off thinking they’ll have the “will power” to stop it, but most of the time this thinking is futile. It’s better to diagnose first, know what the source(s) of influence is, and then determine what to do from there. There are specific steps a person must take to develop strong “will power” to stop their bad habits.
    2. So many times we act as if our complex problems have just one solution, but this is not true.
    3. Most of us know the principles of health, but we don’t understand the influences that cause of to stay in the bad habits of gorging, or eating unhealthy foods, going to bed late, etc…

The Milgram Experiment: An experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale University. Eventually the experiment was to involve more than a thousand participants and would be repeated at several Universities, but at the beginning the conception was simple. A person comes to a psychological laboratory and is told to carry out a series of acts that comes increasingly into conflict with their conscience. The main question is how far the participant will comply with the experimenter’s before refusing the actions required of him. Two people come to the lab to take part in a study of memory and learning. One of them is designated as a “Learner” and the other as a “teacher”.

After the study the following statistics were discovered:

  • 2/3rd of all “teachers” flipped all the shock switches all the way up to the 450 volt status.
  • 90% of all “learners” were shocked if the instructor was wearing a white lab coat.
  • Women went 80% further on the shock switches than men did.

What are some of the main reasons you think the “teachers” kept on shocking the “learner” and just didn’t walk out of the experiment?

· The voice of authority—white lab coat

· Locked in the “conformer paradigm”

· They were incentivized with a cash reward to participate in the experiment.

· The cause of the experiment in their minds was so much more important than the sacrifice of the “learner”

The Six Sources of Influence Chart:





Personal Motivation


Personal Ability




Social Motivation


Social Ability




Structural Motivation


Structural Ability


Six Sources of Influence Explained:

  1. Personal Motivation:
    1. If left to yourself do you want to do it? The influence of the pain or pleasure of the behavior itself. Watch the video “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink
  2. Personal Ability:
    1. Do you have the skills, knowledge and/or experience?
  3. Social Motivation:
    1. How do others affect my motivation for doing something? Peer pressure from friends, spouse, boss, co-worker, etc… Watch the Elevator Experiment about social influence: HERE Others either encourage, or discourage you. The video from Brian Wansink shows that people eat “mindlessly” when they are eating out with others. They eat more than they usually would alone. We are social creatures by nature.
  4. Social Ability:
    1. Enabling or disabling a person to get something done. Example again from Brian Wansink about the “Nutritional Gatekeeper” He has found that 72% of all food decisions of the home are made by the Nutritional Gatekeeper. Transforming your home is the 1st step to controlling obesity in the world. If junk food is lying around you’ll probably eat it. K Remember “your world is perfectly organized to create the behavior you are currently experiencing.”
    2. It’s a problem for you then eliminate the influence, or source (best solution)
  5. Structural Motivation:
    1. Non-human factors that affect my behavior such as: money, bonuses, privileges, allowance, compensation, etc…
    2. In the Milgram experiment they were paid $50 for participating in the experiment.
    3. Learn from Mimi Silbert. Don’t have “staff” but create and “extended family” in the work place where everyone teaching each other, and growing together. Watch on Youtube: HERE Website:
  6. Structural Ability:
    1. Do you have all the tools and resources to complete your work? This includes the space, data, tools, information, and anything else that will affect your ability to get the job done.


Topic: Six Sources of Influence (Part 1): Six Reasons Some Habits Seem Impossible to Change

Date: Aug 22, 2008

Time: 9:50 – 10:45

Lecturer: Al Switzler

1) Sam Crenny—Liar, Liar Video. Most of us are morally asleep. This director in this experiment found out that the first 15 volunteers lied to get their cash incentive after participating in the bean bag toss game. After having a new group of 15 volunteers sign an honor code slip and record their voice, 12/15 told the truth about their bean bag toss results to receive the cash reward. Each volunteer received more cash if they successfully tossed the bean bag in the smaller among all three holes.

We don’t help people connect to their values if we say “just do it because I’m the Dad, or I’m the boss or whatever….” We help people connect to their values if help become accountable to the values they already believe in but may be morally asleep to.

2) Deliberate Practice

  • Problem: Many behaviors are far more physically or emotionally challenging then we realize. How tackle big challenges.
  • Solution: Build emotion skills—will power through understanding Deliberate Practice

Deliberate Action Steps:

1. Practice in advance

2. Break it down to “bite size chunks”—Gradual step by step refinement

3. Receive regular & immediate feedback

4. Set strategic goals

  • Find the influencers/opinion leaders in the world and make friends with them.
  • When you see people acting in illogical, weird ways, start to wonder what their incentive system is.
  • Use incentives wisely. Use structural motivation such as cash incentives wisely. It’s quite common to see a child, or employee, or friend do things for you only because of the cash reward. For example a parent could always incentivize her child with cash to do his/her chores and then see that child become very lazy when college time arrives and they’re living with roommates and they don’t clean up around them, or do things because they’re were not taught to value the higher mission of enjoying being and seeing cleanliness around them.
  • Use the power of : space, data, cues, to influence you and others for good.

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