The Power of the Other — Henry Cloud

Amazon link

"This book represents a major shift in the conversation on leadership, growth, and high performance. I want to shift the conversation from a focus on you (i.e. here is how you can develop yourself) to a recognition that your own performance is either improved or diminished by the other people in your scenario."

In a nutshell: we are walking summations of our past experiences, but many of our decisions are influenced by the thoughts and values of those closest to us, and these in turn are impacted by the quality of our relationships with these people.

Great book. However, the studies quoted lack sources, which is a huge problem — will try and find later.


Triangle of well-being, link

  • Mind / physical

  • Relational connections

    • Specific qualitative relational connectedness

      • Research (no source): infants who have a loving relationship develop "all sorts of internal physical and mental equipment"… relationships -> important physiological development

  • Brain

The four corners of connection: there are 4 types of relationships

  1. loneliness, a lack of connection, something many at the top experience, but shouldn't have to —ELON MUSK

  2. approval-seeking caused by high expectations, withholding of praise, put-downs, a bad connection. Result: playing defense and performing sub-optimally

  3. flattery / escapism, a false connection: lack of real support/accountability/feedback

  4. real connection, characterized by 3 main features:

    1. support: the real test is what happens when you choose a different path from the one your supportive person desires for you… supporter should offer input, but protect your agency

    2. responsibility

    3. feedback "… is the breakfast of champions" — Ken Blanchard

(1) doesn't get feedback, (2) feedback isn't received well, (3) feedback isn't given well, (4) provides actionable information that can develop agency


Failure is inevitable, but high performers, when confronted by it, are inspired to keep trying

  • Ryan Holiday writes on this topic in Ego is the Enemy, link

Pixar CEO Ed Catmull: "The way I see it, my job as a manager is to create a fertile environment, keep it healthy, and watch for the things that undermine it."

Executives are often though as "big decision makers" (this deal, that deal, etc.), but even more critical are their HR decisions: what kind of workplace culture they consciously — and unconsciously (via all their interactions with employees… which passes on their personal values) — develop

  • Jack Welch spent 50% of his time on people issues, link

  • Eric Schmidt's 'How Google Works' presentation is one my favorites, see slide 34 especially, link

Growth requires pushing new limits, which inevitably involves discomfort. The key? Big goal, little steps.

Gossip can be represented by the victim-persecutor-rescuer model (VPR, AKA the drama triangle), wherein the Victim goes to the Rescuer not for truth/growth, but for validation that their feelings are valid and that they are on the moral high ground vs. the Persecutor… this will sound very familiar to you e.g. "Can you believe he treated me that way?" This indirect communication is destructive.

Cloud intersperses a few unsurprisingly (given its length and longevity, one expects wisdom) well-placed biblical quotes throughout his book, and this one was particularly catchy:

"If people are causing division among you, give a first and second warning. After that, having nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them." Titus 3:10-11

Cloud notes that Dave Ramsey's company had an interesting "no-gossip rule:" gossipers are given a warning and then fired if the warning is disregarded.

Trust: made of up 5 components:  understanding, motive, ability, character, track record

Yerkes-Dodson Law: arousal up to a certain point increases performance


Selected Quotes

"You can't master people, but you can become a master at choosing and dealing with people."

"There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. Every great leader has opened up to someone who could meet a need, whatever that might have been. The range of human needs is broad, but the way to meet those needs is very narrow: it involves humbly and honestly embracing the need and reaching out to the 'power of the other.'"

"We hear a lot about 'managing your energy' these days. That's important, but it's not just managing your workload and taking breaks; it's just as important to manage the energy sources around you. This is intensely interpersonal. People give energy, and they take it away. Know the difference and plan accordingly."

Research, or lack thereof

  • Past elderly heart attack or stroke patients have lower incidences of recurrence when they join a support group

  • "People who tap into the power of the other" have stronger immune systems, tend to get sick less frequently, and recover faster when they do

  • Eating unhealthily in a close-knit community, you will live longer than if you are emotionally isolated and eat only health foods

    • Study/experiment?

  • Relationships affect how much money you make / how well your kids do in school

  • The best ratio for neural performance between positive:negative feedback messages is 5:1, highest performers get 6:1, lowest get 1:3

  • We remember about 10-20% of what we read/hear/see WRT to a hypothetical situation X, but 80% of what we experience were we to attempt X ourselves

  • Students performing math tasks performed different when their father's names were subliminally flashed on a screen: those who associated Dad with the goal of high achievement performed better, and the stronger the relationship with Dad, the stronger the effects.