Sunday, July 20, 2014

Managing string pullers

Puppetry has been used since the 5th century BC and was mostly practiced in Ancient Greece and the Greek word for puppet is nevrospastos which literally means drawn by strings. A puppet is an inanimate object or representation of a person or animal that is moved either by strings or by a hand. There are many forms and types of puppets including string drawn, hand, glove, sock, finger and shadow puppets among others. A puppet has no life, voice nor movement of its own and its actions are solely based on the person pulling the strings for a string drawn puppet who determines what the puppet can do. It is mostly used for educational or entertainment purposes among others with an audience watching and enjoying the show.

What strings?
I have often heard and still hear of people being called puppets in one way or another when they are deemed incapable of making their own independent decisions or they act to please certain people. This is one way of demeaning someone who is weak in autonomy and independence. And so they are spoken of as if they have someone pulling the strings behind the scenes and determining how they act and decide. While watching a puppet show recently, I thought about how pervasive string pullers are in any person's life. Comparing life to a performance where friends, family and even strangers are watching, one can either do things that make people clap and congratulate, or leave people shocked and wondering what just went down. These actions are based on various types of environmental stimuli which can be likened to string pullers. Think of marketing campaigns, billboards on the freeway as you drive, musical advertisements playing in the background while you shop or the pop up adverts as you browse the web. These are all string pullers that can determine your actions if you let them. Other types of string pullers include culture, peers, religion, role models, trend setters, magazines, opinion leaders and books. They all play a role in a person's life depending on internalization, to the point of making people buy products, eat certain types of foods, drive particular cars, drink, act and react or associate with certain brands and people the way they do. I decided to title this post "managing string pullers" and not getting rid of them, because I view them as inevitable and even a necessary part of life which needs to be managed properly. As a person is an autonomous decision making entity having the freedom of choice, there is always the option to accept or reject the effect of string pullers and environmental influences that come into one's life. Unlike a puppet, which does exactly as its master wants, much to the amusement of everyone around, a person can say yes or no, yet this will not stop the same or other competing string pullers from trying to gain acceptance and influence within one's life.

Strings and goals
There are positive string pullers and negative ones and it is important to identify them appropriately after which one needs to manage and align string pullers in line with personally desired outcomes in life. Aligning string pullers with one's goals is very important as it facilitates achievement of those goals. Sadly, many a people have ruined their lives while others are watching on the sidelines, much in the same way that a puppet performs for a crowd through allowing the wrong string pullers in their lives or even failing to identify bad string pullers and managing them in line with desired path. One cannot simply allow each and every string to be pulled in whichever direction without having a say or at least rejecting some string pullers. The self help book 7 Habits of highly effective people, speaks about how successful people should manage string pullers to achieve their desired ends and is also a string puller in itself. It speaks to a mindset change by prescribing what successful people should allow and not allow in their life. My encouragement is for you to increase your exposure to progressive and positive string pullers which compliment and align with your goals, while limiting or cutting out negative ones that inhibit and thwart those same goals. Detach yourself from string pullers which are not in tandem with your life goals, while attaching yourself to those that will catapult you to your destiny. Have a review process to carry out independent assessments of the impact these influences have on your life and be able to make the right choices for your life. How do you view the impact of the above or any other string pullers you have faced in your life and how do you manage them?