Influencer Training Day 2 – How to Change Anything with the Six Sources of Influence



“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.” — Jane Austen

This is a follow up to my previous post, Influencer Training Day 1. These are my notes from day 2 of Influencer training.

It turned out to be way tougher to write up than I expected.   I had a lot of notes and we covered a lot of material and I wanted to boil it down as simply as possible. This is actually my third variation and I think it’s the cleanest so far.

Change You, Your Work, Your World

Why would I spend so much time trying to get this right?  Because I think it’s some of the most powerful information for changing you, your environment, your team, your work, or the world.

Influencer is effectively advanced training for dealing with resistant and persistent problems. It works by clarifying meaningful results, identifying vital behaviors, and focusing on Six Sources of Influence.  The Six Sources of Influence is simply a matrix of motivation and behavior, organized by personal, social, and motivational forces.

Real-World Training Based on the Book

Influencer training is based on the fantastic book, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, by the amazing team (Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.)  What a bunch of super heroes — really.  I was lucky enough to have Amy Daly-Donovan for my instructor.  Nothing beats having a skilled instructor who has a wealth of experience and insight to share.

Our day 2 of training was mostly spent walking the sources of influence, so I organized my notes using that frame.  I think it helps make it easier to follow.  I also stuck to the key points and chose effective over complete where I needed to make a call.

10 Key Lessons from Influencer

Before digging into the sources of influence, this is a quick survey of 10 of my favorite lessons from day 2 of Influencer training:

  1. 10X your success.  You can improve your chance of success ten-fold by using a variety of strategies.  Influencers succeed because they “overdetermine” success by using all six sources of influence.  They use a variety of strategies to make change inevitable.  In a study by VitalSmarts, 95% attempting corporate change failed.  They tried 1-3 strategies then quit.  On the flip side, those who used 4 or more strategies were 10 times more likely to succeed.  See How To 10X Your influence.
  2. 3 reasons why change fails.  There are 3 common mistakes why change fails: 1) they don’t use all potential sources of influence, 2) they don’t tie their strategies to vital behaviors, and 3) they jump from behavior to behavior and lose focus.   You have to focus on vital behaviors.  You’re looking at high-leverage and ripple effects.
  3. Connect to values.   The most powerful motivation is personal motivation.  The most powerful personal motivation is when you connect to values.
  4. Leverage deliberate practice to change your game.   Deliberate practice is practicing explicitly to improve your performance.  It involves focus, high-levels of repetition, and actionable feedback on results.  The key here is that many people think they’re limited because of genes or natural ability.  They get stuck or don’t try to learn new skills.  The solution is using deliberate practice to improve your personal ability.
  5. Will is a skill.  Yes, you can improve your self-discipline by using techniques.  This should be good news for a lot of people.  (see my post, Is Will a Skill?)
  6. Overwhelm your problems by using all six sources of influence.   This is along the lines of Voltaire’s famous quote, “no problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking,”   In this case, it would be, “no persistent or resistant problem can withstand six sources of influence.”
  7. Accelerate change by winning over opinion leaders.   Opinion leaders are the people that others look to when forming their opinion.  They’re socially connected.  Think of it like a domino effect.  The key here is that you want to influence the opinion leaders, not necessarily the innovators.  The innovators may be easy to win over with logic and may not be socially connected.
  8. Your data stream sets your mental agenda.  Beware of how you’re influenced by the news you watch, the reports you read, the people you interact with.
  9. PropinquityPropinquity is the power of nearness and time.  Move things closer or move things further to change their impact.
  10. Know the target of your influence.  As simple as it sounds, make sure you know who or what you’re trying to influence.  Ask yourself, who’s behavior are you trying to influence?  Another way to put it is, who needs to do what when?

The Six Sources of Influence

Here is a visual of the Six Sources of Influence:


Here is a summary of each Source of Influence:

  1. Source 1 – Personal Motivation – whether you want to do it.
  2. Source 2 – Personal Ability – whether you can do it.
  3. Source 3 – Social Motivation – whether other people encourage the right behaviors.
  4. Source 4 – Social Ability – whether other people provide help, information or resources.
  5. Source 5 – Structural Motivation – whether the environment encourages the right behaviors.
  6. Source 6 – Structural Ability – whether the environment supports the right behaviors.

Now, let’s  walk through each Source of Influence…

Source 1 – Personal Motivation

Source 1 focused on personal motivation.  It started with a memorable quote by Steven Wright:  “Hard work pays off in the future.  Laziness pays off right now.”  The problem with personal motivation is that many vital behaviors are boring, frightening, scary or uncomfortable.   The key is to make the undesirable, desirable and to consciously connect to values.

Strategy: Consciously Connect to Values

  • Allow self-discovery.  Telling people what they should value leads to resistance.  Lead them to discover the connection themselves.
  • Create personal experience.  Experience it first-hand.  Take a field trip or just try it.
  • Create vicarious experiences.   When people are reluctant to try something on their own, use vicarious experiences.  For example, in one experiment, subjects gradually got over their fear of snakes by first watching other people handle them.
  • Tell a story.  Telling a story can help create vicarious experience.  In this example, we watched a video that compared two presentations.  One focused on data.  The other was told by an actual patient.  The one told by the patient was more influential because of the emotion and connection to values. Watching the patient tell their story helped the healthcare organization shift from conducting patient orientation to reassuring a frightened patient and from delivering bed linens to comforting a nervous family.  Routines took on new meaning.  By telling a story, the patient helped create a vicarious experience that helped connect the listeners to their values.
  • End with an invitation.  Extend an invitation to act.  People are more motivated when they feel they have choice.

Additional notes …

  • Make the undesirable, desirable.  Change why you’re doing it or how you’re doing it.
  • Overwhelm your problems.  Overwhelm your overwhelming problems by implementing several strategies, once source at a time.  You can work your way through all six sources.
  • The key to successful change is personal motivation.  How do you help somebody who isn’t motivated?  You can’t, but you can help them find their own personal source of motivation.  When it comes to addictions, what factors make the difference … therapist’s tenure, type of therapy, or length of therapy?  None.  Dr. William Miller learned that programs fail when they try to take the place of Source 1 (personal motivation), therapists succeed more when they help others find their own personal motivation, and that the pain of changing a habit feels different when it’s anchored to personal motivation.  He founds this pattern to be true for ex-smokers, heroin and cocaine addicts, successful ex-alcoholics, and most successful dieters.  This reminds me of the saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Source 2 – Personal Ability

Source 2 focused on personal ability.  It started with a perfect quote from Arnold Palmer: “It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get.”  The problem is we assume our genes or character traits limit us.  The key is using deliberate practice to improve our personal ability.

Strategy: Demand Deliberate Practice

  • Practice.  Put in your time and practice until it becomes second nature.
  • Break the skill into small parts.  Chunk it down so you can perfect the parts.
  • Get feedback from a coach.  Have a coach provide more specific feedback and improve your blind spots.
  • Prepare for setbacks.  Mentally prepare for the times when you feel like you’re sliding backwards.

Additional notes …

  • Is will a skill?   Here we watched a video that showed us that while some people naturally have more willpower, it’s a skill you can learn and improve.
  • It’s not a bigger bag pipe; it’s how you play it.  Here we watched a video of Don Lerman, a Gastric Gladiator and competitive eater.  He used deliberate practice to improve his technique.  He said that internally stomach is the same size whether you’re 150 lbs or 500 lbs.  According to Don, it’s not about a bigger bag pipe, it’s how you play it …  techniques will win you a contest.
  • Practicing deliberate practice.  To practice deliberate practice, we read a script to work our public-speaking skills.  While we spoke, we focused on pacing, articulation, energy, nonverbal, and cues (written on the page), while our coach gave us real-time feedback.

Source 3 and 4 – Social Motivation and Ability

Source 3 and 4 focused on social motivation and ability.  The issue is that long-standing bad habits are almost always influenced by other humans who either encourage or enable the wrong behaviors or discourage or disable the right ones.  The key is to use the power of social pressure by finding strength in numbers.

3 Key Strategies

  • Strategy 1: Pave the Way.  Be the first to behave a new way.
  • Strategy 2: Enlist the power of those who motivate.  Ask, “who are the actors” and “what are the actions?”  Look for potential motivators in opinion leaders, formal leaders, and your neighbors and colleagues.
  • Strategy 3: Seek the support of those who enable.   Ask, “who are the enablers” and ‘what are the actions?”

3 Ways Others Can Enable Us

  • The wisdom of the Crowds.  According to James Surowiecki, under the right circumstances, groups are smarter than smart individuals.  Sample the market over seek expert advice.  Build “wise” groups by ensuring diversity.
  • Encourage synergy.  To do so, brainstorm, maximize diversity, and seek a third option.
  • Get feedback.  To do so, ask close colleagues, form sample groups, and learn from critics.

Additional notes

  • Can one person who disagrees in an effective way, make it safe for others?  Here we watched an experiment based on an earlier experiment by Solomon Asch By disagreeing skillfully and respectfully, one person in a group can make it safe for others.   When one person lead by example, saying, “I see it differently, but I think …”, 95% gave their opinion.
  • 5 kinds of adopters.  Dr. Everett Rogers found 5 kinds of adopters: 1) innovators, 2) early adopters, 3) early majority, 4) late majority, and 5) laggards.
  • Engage opinion leaders.  To rapidly create widespread adoption of vital behaviors, find and engage opinion leaders.  You don’t need to meet with and affect everyone you’re trying to influence.  Enlist the power of opinion leaders to help you make change happen.
  • Change follows an S-curve.  It starts out slowly, rapidly accelerates, and then levels off.
  • Build “wise” groups.   Ensure diversity and maximize independence (by limiting the power of officials or authorities.)

Source 5 – Structural Motivation

Source 5 focused on structural motivation.  The key influence challenge is that rewards, incentives and costs can encourage the wrong behaviors or discourage the right ones.  The key is to ensure that costs and incentives support desired behaviors.

3 Key Strategies

  • Strategy 1:  Link rewards third and in moderation.   It’s more important that people are doing the right things from personal motivation than external rewards.
  • Strategy 2: Link rewards to vital behaviors.   Reward doing the right things, independent of the results.  Reward the right behaviors and the right results will follow.
  • Strategy 3: Use rewards that reward.   Check that people actually value the reward.  Connect it to their values.

Additional notes …

  • Tie rewards to the vital behaviors.  Here we watched a video of Dr. Mimi Silbert and her Delancey Street project.   Delancey Street is a self-help community with a 90% success rate for recidivism, which is unheard of.  It works by using carefully crafted promotions, supplementing strategy with rewards, and rewards are tied to vital behaviors.
  • Beware of reward blunders.  A potential reward blunder is tying rewards to the results and not the vital behaviors.

Source 6 – Structural Ability

Source 6 focused on structural ability.  It started with an insightful quote: “the world is perfectly design to get the behavior you’re getting.”  The key is to change the environment – make bad behaviors harder and good behaviors easier.

3 Key Strategies

  • Strategy 1: Use the power of space.  Leverage the effect of size, location, and surroundings.  For example, move things closer or further away.
  • Strategy 2: Use the power of data and cues.  Leverage reminders in the environment to help you remember how to act or that change what you think and care about.  For example, change the reports you routinely view to parallel your goals and values, post visual directions, or place reminders in key spots.
  • Strategy 3: Use the power of tools.  Leverage machines, layout, structure, policies, etc.  For example, mechanize difficult work, change the reporting structure, reorganize the work flow, or update instruction manuals, policies, and procedures.

Additional notes …

  • Visual cues and feedback dramatically affect your behavior.   Here we watched a video of a chicken wing study by Brian Wansink.  In the study, some tables were continuously bussed (cleared away the pile of bones), while others were not.  People that sat at tables that were continuously bussed ate twice as many chicken wings.  The irony was that when they left, they reported eating half as much.  Without the feedback they thought they ate less.
  • Play with propinquity.  Moving things closer or further in nearness or time changes their impact.

Additional Resources

You can find out more about the book, the training, and VitalSmarts, using the following resources:

I’m going to be testing the model for more challenges on the job.  The beauty is the model applies to personal changes as well.  I’m going to start tackling some of resistant challenges as well as helping my mentees be more effective in the changes they want to make happen.

You Might Also Like

The Influencer Change Framework (Influencer Training Day 1)

The Six Sources of Influence – A Powerful Model for Change

Influencing Without Authority

How To Put Good Ideas in Place

Awareness is the First Step to Change

Why People Resist Change


  1. My favorites from the post are:
    – “practicing explicitly to improve your performance”, …and
    – “Experience it first-hand.”
    This post is overwhelming… Suggest me how to overwhelm it 😉 (I am serious)

  2. Hi J.D – Thanks for sharing this. I will definitely be referring back to it. There’s so many useful ideas here. I love the idea of overwhelming your problems by using 6 sources of influence.

  3. @ Alik

    One of the things that’s helping me right now is I keep testing the model against problems. Also, use the book to help elaborate and build more foundation. My notes are really compressed. The book helps unpack and turn into action.

    @ Cath

    The training was incredible and I’m still working my way through the book. It’s pretty hard-core in terms of results. It’s a great book to have under your belt in terms of improving effectiveness.

    @ Fred

    Thank you. I’d like to compare notes once you make it through. It’s full of gems and insights. It’s got catchy ways of saying things too.

  4. Wow, JD, you certainly zoomed in on this with an admirable intention to understand in order to apply. I found the idea of a ‘wise group’ fascinating, and learnt the power of one person disagreeing effectively, the key word being ‘effectively’. Thanks for this insight.

  5. J.D.
    I had to read this 4 times and it feels very powerful. I appreciate all your efforts to share this in such a concise and informative format.

    Will is definitely a skill – I have just finished a book by a pediatrician about food. The author would say will is a skill we are not teaching our children these days – as a matter of fact a willful child today is a most unpleasant child to be around.

    I am also thinking how even more powerful this information would be when combined with Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communications/Compassionate Communications.
    Pops into my head: “When is this information like mind control? Like the tobacco industry did and now the food industry is doing?”

    I am wanting to stumble this so others can find it – Thank you for all your efforts and for sorting this into such a clear presentation

  6. Wow, this is a lot of great information. What I love most is Will is a Skill. That speaks volumes.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  7. @ Daphne

    I get to use the training immediately on the job. It’s a great forcing function.

    The idea that one person can sway a crowd simply by disagreeing effectively really is powerful and makes perfect sense. It’s a way to lead the way.

    @ Patricia

    Thank you. It seems like each time I write it out or whiteboard it for someone, I learn it deeper. It’s a powerful frame. This particular author team always impresses me, but this time I think they outdid themselves.

    @ Giovanna

    Lately I had been downplaying the value of will power and self-discipline. I thought the key was simply to link things to good feelings or find the passion. That’s not always possible. Worse, we don’t always want to do what’s good for us. Apparently, self-discipline really is a key success factor in life. I’m glad that will is a skill.

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