Normal is Persuasive

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Thanks, 2019.

It’s a new year, 2020. 2019 was a good year for me, so I think it’s time for me to post accomplishments.

  • In 2019, I regularly posted content for my website, micahkillian.com.
  • I went to the gym at least once a week, and regularly went twice a week.
  • I organized three parties, a first for me (I was not the partying type growing up).
  • I’ve done a lot of back-end work to start a business of my own.
  • I developed two websites for my wife’s customers.
  • I hiked to the top of Mt. Kurokami.
  • I printed large photographs for myself and family.
  • I helped build a photography studio with my wife.
  • I took photos for and assisted my wife with some of her important photography work.
  • I moved for the 17th time in my life.
  • I maintained good relationships with several great friends.

In 2019, I read 17 books (not including comics). Those books are:

  1. Gorilla Mindset
  2. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
  3. How to Win Friends and Influence People
  4. Influence
  5. Pre-Suasion
  6. Loserthink
  7. Sapiens
  8. Global Brain
  9. The Lucifer Principle
  10. Bronze Age Mindset
  11. I am a Strange Loop
  12. The Power of Positive Thinking
  13. Launch
  14. The Art of the Deal
  15. Win Bigly
  16. Know Thy Beast
  17. On Writing

What did I learn?

My experiences and studies through this year taught me two important things:

  1. Normal is Persuasive.
  2. I haven’t even approached the limits of my capabilities.

I’ll talk about that first item here. The second one will the topic of a later post.

Extraordinary is nice, but…

As a man who wants to have an impact on the world, I realized that I needed to learn how to influence other people. As a result, the theme of my reading for last year was influence. In order to influence others, I needed to learn more about people. Books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, Sapiens, The Lucifer Principle, and I am a Strange Loop helped me think and understand people more.

I also read several books that told the stories of men with almost super-human abilities and accomplishments. Sapiens, Global Brain, and The Lucifer principle, being history books, taught me about people who had impacts on the world that are remembered today. The Art of the Deal, similarly, taught me about perhaps the most influential man today, Donald Trump.

However, after studying human history and psychology, watching activity on social media, and reflecting on my own experiences, I realized something. Stories about extraordinary people helped me understand human psychology, but their individual stories didn’t provide much practical advice.

Donald Trump is a man of great accomplishments. He is undeniably successful. His success should be persuasive, right? He’s not a god; he’s just a man like you or I, right? If he can do it, so can I! …

Yet, it’s very difficult for me to imagine myself doing things like him. The schedule he keeps, his energy level, his focus, his vision, his stress-resistance, all contributed to his success. However, can I really be like him? I didn’t find myself moved very much by his story. I found it entertaining, but I know that there are some things about him that I can’t replicate. His energy-level, for example, is largely a product of his biology. In fact, highly-successful men like Trump don’t need much sleep (3 or 4 hours and they are ready to go). Similarly, his stress-resistance is neither normal nor easily replicated. Both are critical to the incredible success he has had. I see very little of myself in him.

However, there are two things about Trump I think I can imitate. I think I can imitate his nonchalant attitude toward failure, and his deep understanding and connection to normal people.

To change the world, be a part of the world.

The great philosopher Stefan Molyneux says that if normal people can’t understand your philosophy, it has no value in the real world. If you can’t influence normal people, then you can’t change the world.

In other words, if I want to change the world, I need to communicate on a level that normal people understand. The best way to do that is to talk like a normal person. To authentically speak like a normal person, I need to be intimately connected to them. And to see myself as intimately connected to normal people, I need to see myself as normal.

Trump has always preferred being around normal people rather than elites. Extraordinary winners are great, but normal winners are even better to him. His consistent preference for the everyman keeps him grounded even though he is the most powerful man in the world. His connection to normal people has given him the power to influence them.

But, his influence isn’t his ability to give them actionable advice. Nobody can replicate his success in real estate and politics. He can talk all day about success in business, but normal people don’t see themselves playing at Trump’s level.

What Trump does do, however, is plant the seed of ambition in the unambitious. His influence is in his ability to energize normal people. He absorbs the vibrations of normal people, processes and transforms those vibrations, and then vibrates back to them. He is a master of those back-and-forth vibrations.

I once thought that the language of “energy” or “vibration” is woo-woo hippie-dippy nonsense. Then I read I am a Strange Loop and Global Brain. Now I find it useful to think in those terms.

The important thing to understand is that Trump’s ability to connect with the energy and vibrations of normal people is a learnable skill. In fact, it’s one of the skills that is most accessible to the majority of the population! Normal people can understand normal people more easily than extraordinary people can. That’s just common sense.

Extraordinary consumption, normal persuasion

But, the common man often doesn’t understand the sheer power of that intuitive principle. Why? Well, because we tend to fixate on the extraordinary, the best. If we focus more on what makes us normal, we can influence more people.

Nobody wants to buy normal products from normal companies. They want the best. Want to buy a new camera? Check the reviews. Who’s got 5 stars? What to buy a computer? Who has the fastest computer at the lowest prices?

Who wants to watch normal people play sports? Nobody. We want to watch monsters battle other monsters on the basketball court or in the octagon.

Do you want to watch a normal movie in your limited free time? Hell no! You want to watch the best, the most engaging movie with the best looking special effects, actors, and actresses on the planet.

Because everybody fixates on the extraordinary, they forget the persuasive power of the normal.

When I read books like Launch, I could feel myself being persuaded. Why? Because they offered normal stories of success. I could see practical advice in those stories that I couldn’t see in stories about people with extraordinary success. It was precisely because they were normal that I found them persuasive.

And isn’t that true of most people? When we see other people do things that we can imagine ourselves doing, don’t we see their stories as more persuasive?

Obviously, if we want to sell a product, we have to promote it like it’s different than the rest. But, if we want to teach or influence people, it’s important to communicate how we’re the same as most people.

Growing up, I always felt like I was different and better than other people. My upbringing reenforced the ethic of different is better. But, I’ve learned that different can be better, but normal is persuasive. Normal people with normal stories of success can provide practical advice to other normal people about how to live a successful, meaningful life.

That was the most important lesson I learned in 2019.

 

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