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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


August 13th, 2020



How many people try to control you?  Perhaps there’s a boss that needs you to do things.  Control might seem like a harsh and overbearing word to ascribe here.  We can always quit, walk out, say screw it.  But of course, then the pay-check won’t show up.


The other side of the equation can be even more morose:  trying to control others can be a doomed goal leveraged with all possible friction.  The mindless approach devolves into force, both mental and physical, as though people can be squashed into the shape imagined, as though they can be guided with force like the limbs of a puppet.  Even if this sad mission is somehow carried out to effect, the interaction is the opposite of elegant.  Violence of all types doesn’t just rob us of the best ingredients of humanity, it saps the art out of life.


Whether it’s just correlation, there seems to be a connection between the quick turn to force and a lack of control such an agent commands over their own self.  Perhaps the observation answers itself:  without an ability to control ourself, we turn to the crudest means to try and control others.  In the absence of the ability to effect the world in ways we want by our own means, perhaps we try to have that effect through others, by coercion?  This somewhat kicks the can down the road a bit.  A lack of control once removed doesn’t result in genuine influence.  Sure, with untold quantities of physical force at one’s disposal, others can be forced, but the charade lasts only as long as the force does.  It is a constant 1:1 tradeoff of input and output.  


Teleporting now to other realms of living, it’s possible to inspire someone for a lifetime with the smallest kernel of influence.  This sort of effect can be enormously asymmetric.  A single inspiring conversation, or experience can send a person off with untold energy, renewing itself on a tiny sliver of memory.


There’s a bit of a spectrum now created.  There’s physical force which influences only as long as it is present, then there is the pay check which influences as long as it takes for the check to arrive, and then there is inspiration which can influence for an unlimited amount of time.


All of these are incentives of varying effect.  Persuasion is really just the art of incentive as applied to other people.


But the real art enters when we apply this whole framework of influence, control and incentive to our own self.  Do you have to twist your own arm to make something happen, or do you dangle a carrot? 


Or do you know how to inspire yourself?

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 851: Controlling the Incentive

Tinkered Thinking

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