Life is About Change


This Blog explores applied game theory, life strategies, personal development and self help how change and the resistance to change affects our lives?

Definition: Change – A shift in a recognizable pattern or habit.

STUDENT: Speak further about change.
LEWIS: We all know that life is all about change.  In the creation of a life filled with love, freedom and wealth the ability to respond effectively to and influence what changes around is essential. It doesn’t really matter why or how people change. It only matters that they do. Even if people could somehow refuse to change, everything and everyone else around them would still change.

STUDENT: And yet people do not change easily?
LEWIS: No, they don’t. People like habit and they will stick to what they know unless they are in such discomfort that they must change or experience the pain of remaining where they are.

STUDENT: Pain? Speak more about pain and change.
LEWIS: Dr. Dennis Waitley, a well known writer and speaker in the motivational field has gone  on record as  saying, “When I  experience  pain I  know  it  simply  as  a  signal for change.  It tells me that I need to change either the way I do things or the way I look at things.

STUDENT: Is there a system for measuring change?

LEWIS: Substantial change seldom happens instantaneously. It happens in stages. The rate and manner in which people change will vary based on many factors including beliefs, culture, gender, and personal history. Throughout the change process, relapses can and often will occur. This should not be a point of concern. Relapse is a normal process and a constant possibility in one’s attempt to change behaviors. Mathematicians use  calculus  as  a  tool  for  studying  complex  changes.  A master influencer will use different persuasion techniques depending upon what stage of change the receiver is  in  and  whether or not they are in relapse. (See the Conversation on Mastering the Art and Science of Influence.)

STUDENT: So there is a system of influence based on the point of change that an individual is in?

LEWIS: Yes. One of the most effective approaches is known as The Transtheoretical  Model  of  Influence. This approach works on  the  concept  that since influence creates change, it is best applied in situations where change is the prime focus. Those  who  use this model believe that there are five  essential stages of change. Since people are always changing it  seems  natural that an individual who understands these five essential stages can effectively apply influence.

STUDENT: What are these five stages of change?
LEWIS: The Five Stages of Change as defined by the Transtheoretical Model of Influence are:
• Pre-contemplation – This  is  a  state  of benign ignorance. Highly heuristic in nature, individuals in pre-contemplation mode will generally not even think about a situation more than they have to. In this stage, an individual is not even conscious of change. The status  quo  rules. There is no thought of risk, or of internal or external influences. Things just are as they are. There are no thoughts about consequences. There is a faith that all that has worked  before  will  continue to work as it has before. There are some individuals in a state of pre-contemplation, though a minority who know that a particular behavior is not in their best interest, but see no reason to change it. Most of us are in a  state of pre-contemplation a  good part of the time.
• Contemplation – In this stage, individuals recognize that there is a consequence for  their behavior and have  even  considered  changing. They may even have explored a solution to the problem at hand – Googled it, talked to some friends about it, took notes on it while hearing about it on TV, the radio, or the news. It is a major thought, rather than a passing thought, however it is still merely a thought rather than a commitment. These are the folks who talk about writing a book some day or quitting smoking. They are interested, involved, and even excited. Yet they are still spectators to the game at hand, not yet participants.
• Preparation – In this stage, individuals decide to change risky or unproductive behavior. In the process of this preparation, they are exploring what the best course of action will be. In essence, “What will make the cost too high to choose one path over another?” When the preparation stage is complete, it is time to act.
• Action – The change has taken place recently, maybe in the last six months. There is no way as of yet to determine whether it will be long-term or short-term change but the change is a reality. It is a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing but you are definitely on your way.
• Maintenance – Interestingly, maintenance can become as heuristic a mode as pre-contemplation. This is because once you have repeated a behavior over and over it becomes comfortable and consistent. You do it without thinking or planning. There is no discipline required. It is automatic! The change has lasted long enough, and patterns have been established to indicate that the change will be maintained.  In such a case, there is usually an attitude change and the changed individual can even articulate what motivated the change and what it is that he or she did to make it last.

The Transtheoretical Model of Influence provides a simple, easy to understand and apply approach to influence and persuasion. By understanding the five stages of change and applying the appropriate influence models they are assured of success.

STUDENT: Is the Transtheoretical Model of Influence easy to apply in everyday situations?

LEWIS:  It requires specific skills. Particularly keeping in mind that it is essential that you assess what stage the receiver is at and make the appropriate tactic for influence to fit  the stage of change. Why approach a person in pre-contemplation with an influence model that is most appropriate for a person in the action stage? It just won’t work. In fact, there is a good chance that the receiver won’t even recognize that you’re attempting to influence them.

STUDENT: Are you saying that if you apply the wrong form of influence for a specific stage of change, that which you are doing will not even show up on the receiver’s mental radar?

LEWIS: That is correct. You must consciously define what stage the receiver is at then assess whether he is in a heuristic or systematic mode, and then use an influence tool that fits the stage and the mode. This cannot be done too quickly either. If you are in a hurry or impatient, the Transtheoretical Model will not serve you well. You must move stage by stage, systematically, shifting your influence models as the receiver moves from one stage of change to the next.

STUDENT: This seems like a lot of work. There must be an easier way?
LEWIS: There are  many  easier  ways but not if you wish to have longstanding influence. If you are effectively able to influence the receiver at each stage, you are building a foundation of influence as well as a bridge to the next stage.

STUDENT: So you start at stage one and influence step by step?

LEWIS:  No. Keep in mind that when you first attempt to influence the receiver, he or she may already be in stage two, three, or four. You must be skilled enough to determine this before you engage the receiver in the influence process.

STUDENT: Can influence be used to help a sick person heal from a physical or emotional illness?

LEWIS:  Yes. There are many different types of influence-based health professionals. Psychotherapists and counselors including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and specially trained therapists such as family therapists, pastoralcounselors, behavioral therapists, gestalt therapists and body/mind therapists (those that integrate hands on healing with counseling).
STUDENT: Is there an ethical problem with a therapist or health professional using these manipulation techniques to influence a client or patient?

LEWIS: NO. All  therapy  and  counseling  techniques  and  systems  involve suggestibility as part of the process. Psychotherapy  and  mental health counseling  come  in  many forms  including  Freudian  and Jungian Psychoanalysis, Gestalt and Rational Emotive Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis (and its offshoot, Neuro-Linguistic programming), Inner Child work, Family Therapy, and  many  others.  If there  were no influence involved then the work would have little or no value. It is the influence that makes it so valuable. Some health professionals are in the business of influencing their  clients  to  be  more responsible  and accountable for their actions and behaviors. A skilled therapist should have background in  the  study of human development  and  personality;  interpersonal issues, marriage, family  and group/ community dynamics;  cultural systems;  research methods;  and supervised  field experience.   Many  of   these approaches  focus on  reversing  common  self-defeating  behavior  and  negative thinking. All of this is applied influence in one form or another.

 There is so much to master here. Where does one begin? Where is the manual that will teach me everything I need to know about influence?

LEWIS: There is  no  manual  that  will  ever  be  accurately  called  “The Definitive Book  on  the Art and Science of Influence.” We have just too much new research and too  many  revolutionary  approaches arriving on the scene. However, I know if a serious student studies, researches, practices and repeatedly puts the principles into practice with positive intentions and ethical applications, he or she will immediately notice a shift in his/her own quality of life. These students will see the world through new  eyes. It will happen quickly and seem much as it must have seemed to Moses when the Red Sea parted in response to his command.

STUDENT: Can you discuss the relationship between instinct and the choices we make?
LEWIS: Yes. In the end, both the influencer and receiver benefit from the process because when applied effectively and proactively, influence  makes the world a better place to live in.

STUDENT: Can you discuss the relationship between instinct and the choices we make?
LEWIS: Human beings, more than any other living creature have a wide range of  choices  available  to them. One of these choices is to respond to our genetic and biological inclinations. Another is  to  make short-term journeys into the domain of desire and short-term gratification, even if to d o  so  is  to  rebel,  even slightly against our genetic predispositions.  Do we repress, suppress, or transcend our instinctual urges, or do we act on these urges? And then the question arises, “Can we learn to leverage  one  urge (the urge to compete for instance) against another  (the urge for sex)?

STUDENT: So in essence all humans possess the ability to make choices in opposition to instinctual urges when they wish to?

STUDENT: It must be difficult if not impossible to make a choice that goes against one’s genetics?
LEWIS: It is difficult. There is always the question of what is one to do if one has a genetic disposition towards a pattern or behavior. Is it best to act on it or if it appears to have negative consequences, to avoid it?
STUDENT: Should a person with alcoholic tendencies simply avoid imbibing in the beverage or should he say,  “This is me, it feels nice, and I’m going to do it in spite of my genetics or rather because of my genetics.”?
LEWIS: As I have said  often throughout the Harrison mentoring process, “I am not going to tell someone how to live his or her life.” The fact is that the choices we make, whatever the source or influence, affects our health and viability as an individual.

To see photos of beautiful architecture that has been abandoned:




Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a pioneer in the personal development movement The author of nine self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line



Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies www.How ToSolveAny – a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.



Non-Verbal Communication

The focus of this blog is   To explore, and learn to apply wordless messages as a tool for the creation of love, wealth, freedom and greater influence.

Definition:  Nonverbal Communication – The process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages.

This is  extract of a class I taught on problem solving and the illusion of time.


STUDENT:  What is the history of nonverbal communication as an academic discipline?

LEWIS:  It is generally accepted that the first scientific study of nonverbal communication was The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), a book by Charles Darwin.  Darwin proposed that emotions could in fact be reliably communicated in facial expressions by these creatures.  For close to a hundred years, most researchers on nonverbal communication struggled with the idea that most definitions concerning this type of communication were based on arbitrary symbols.



STUDENT:  Why was this a problem?

LEWIS:  That would mean that the meaning of such symbols differed from culture to culture.



STUDENT:  How has this changed?

LEWIS:  Paul Ekman conducted influential studies in the 1960s that determined that expressions of fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, sadness, and surprise are universal. With Ekman’s reach, it became clear that a large percentage of facial expressions are to some extent iconic, and thus universally understood.



STUDENT: I understand that human beings do not communicate by words alone.  Yet our bodies are regulated through the nervous system, and also by the sophistication of our communication skills.  Speak further about nonverbal communication skills from this perspective.

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication can occur through any sensory channelsight, sound, smell, touch or taste, and transcend words.  Nonverbal communication may also include body language; posture, facial expression, voice tone, eye movements and eye contact, gestures, touch, (Haptic communication) and other subtle factors.  All these communication cues determine how we interact with other people.  In addition, our programming will determine the reality we choose to create and the boundaries we accept, either consciously or unconsciously.



STUDENT:  You mentioned other subtle factors of nonverbal communication.  What would be examples of this?

LEWIS:  People also use objects or artifacts to communicate nonverbally, including hairstyles, architecture, symbols, and clothing.  There are also many nonverbal elements within speech. This is commonly known as paralanguage, and may include elements such as pitch, voice quality, volume, rate, and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as stress of voice, rhythm, and intonation.



STUDENT:  If  body language and posture are forms of nonverbal communication, where would dance fit into this conversation?

LEWIS:  Dance is definitively a form of nonverbal communication, and one of the most universally understood and expressed.



STUDENT:  How about writing, sign language, or painting?

LEWIS:  Yes these are considered verbal communication. All written texts have nonverbal elements, such as the physical layout of a page, handwriting style, and the spatial arrangement of words.  However, those elements of writing, or any other form of communication that do deal with words would be considered verbal communication.



STUDENT:  How about an art form such as painting?

LEWIS:  In painting there is the physical layout of a work, the painting style, the spatial arrangement of the elements in the work, and the tools used to create the work.



STUDENT:  There is so much here to learn.  Where can one begin?

LEWIS:  When studying nonverbal communication, it is usually easiest to explore and learn about face-to-face interaction.


STUDENT:  How would one do this?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication through face-to-face interaction is generally classified into three primary areas:

1. Environmental conditions where the communication takes place.

2. The physical characteristics of the communicators.

3. The behaviors of the communicators during interaction.



STUDENT:  Why these three?

LEWIS:  Because they utilize the primary elements in communication – neurology, understanding, and programming.



STUDENT:  This seems very complex and very systematic.

LEWIS:  It is very systematic, but this also makes it easier to understand.   Look, there are many different systems utilizing this triad of neurology, understanding, and programming. Among the most influential in my own studies and teachings are the writings of Milton Erickson, a pioneering psychiatrist in the field of trance work, hypnosis, and influence.  What made Dr. Erickson’s work unique was his mastery of rapport.  He developed the ability to enter the worldview of his patients, and from that vantage point, having established rapport, was able to make extremely effective interventions that influenced his patients to overcome many phobias and assorted life problems.  Most masters of influence now know that it is much easier to influence an individual or group if you can create rapport with them.  It is rapport that facilitates change through influence.



STUDENT:  What is the specific definition of rapport?

LEWIS:  Rapport is a harmonious communication or relationship between two or more living creatures.  Rapport is generally characterized by empathy, affinity, and mutual understanding.



STUDENT:  Are we always conscious that rapport is present?

LEWIS:  No.  Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication.  It is a commonality of perspective; being “in sync” with, or being “on the same wavelength” as the person with whom you are talking.



STUDENT:  Can one consciously build rapport with another?

LEWIS:  Yes.  There are a number of techniques that are supposed to be beneficial in building rapport such as matching your body language (i.e., posture, gesture, etc.); maintaining eye contact; and matching breathing rhythm.  Some of these techniques are explored in the Conversation on neuro-linguistic programming.



To explore these concepts in greater detail see the Conversation on Change, the Conversation on Understanding Systems of Greater Complexity, and the entry on Milton Erickson in the Level: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

STUDENT:  Is whistling, grunting, or “scat” singing, as might be found in some forms of jazz, considered verbal communication?

LEWIS:  They might be in common language, but definitely not in specialized language. (See the Conversation on Specialized Language)  Among scholars and academics dealing with various forms of communication, the term “verbal” relates directly and specifically with spoken words. The vocal sounds you have spoken of in your question are nonverbal.



STUDENT:  I have heard it said that the eyes are the doorway to the soul.  Can you discuss eye gaze as a form of nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  The study of the role of eyes in nonverbal communication is sometimes referred to as “oculesics.”  Eye contact can indicate interest, attention, and involvement.  Studies have found that people use their eyes to indicate their interest with more than the frequently recognized actions of winking, and slight movement of the eyebrows.  Eye contact is an event when two people look at each other’s eyes at the same time.  It is a form of nonverbal communication and has a large influence on social behavior.  Frequency and interpretation of eye contact vary between cultures and species.  Eye aversion is the avoidance of eye contact.  Eye contact and facial expressions provide important social and emotional information.  People, perhaps without consciously doing so, probe each other’s eyes and faces for positive or negative mood signs.

Gaze comprises the actions of looking while talking, looking while listening, amount of gaze and frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate.



STUDENT: Please discuss nonverbal cues of the voice.

LEWIS:  This is known as Paralanguage. (sometimes called vocalics)  It’s the study of  nonverbal cues of the voice.  Various acoustic properties of speech such as tone, pitch, and accent, collectively known as prosody, can all give off nonverbal cues.  Paralanguage may change the meaning of words.

The linguist George L. Trager developed a classification system which consists of the voice set, voice qualities, and vocalization.[11]

  • The voice set is the context in which the speaker is speaking. This can include the situation, gender, mood, age, and a person’s culture.
  • The voice qualities are volume, pitch, tempo, rhythm, articulation, resonance, nasality, and accent.  They give each individual a unique “voice print.”
  • Vocalization consists of three subsections; characterizers, qualifiers, and segregates. Characterizers are emotions expressed while speaking, such as laughing, crying, and yawning.  A voice qualifier is the style of delivering a message – for example, yelling “Hey stop that!”  as opposed to whispering, “Hey stop that.”  Vocal segregates such as “uh-huh” notify the speaker that the listener is listening.



STUDENT:  What are your closing thoughts on the concept of nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  Communication, especially distinctions in how we hear or listen, has many subtle elements.  When we listen, (or speak) we naturally focus our conscious attention on words, rather than body language.  However, our subconscious absorbs and responds to both verbal and nonverbal signals.



STUDENT:  Can one easily distinguish positive forms of nonverbal communication from negative forms?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal forms of communication are not usually positive or negative in and of themselves; the perspective of the observer, the message being delivered, and the situation at hand will determine the appraisal.



STUDENT:  Is there still much research being conducted on nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  Studies now range across a number of fields, including social psychology, linguistics, and semiotics.



STUDENT:  What are the specific characteristics that define a type of communication as nonverbal?

1. Nonverbal cues are culture bound.

2. Nonverbal messages primarily communicate attitudes and emotions.

3. Nonverbal cues substitute for, contradict, emphasize, or regulate verbal messages.

4. Nonverbal cues are continuous.

5. Nonverbal cues are more reliable.

6. Nonverbal cues are often ambiguous.



STUDENT: Speak about clothing as an element of nonverbal communication.

LEWIS:  There are many different levels of communication that are reflected from clothing, including cultural and social interests.  One of the most powerful forms of nonverbal communication related to clothing is a uniform.  All clothing has both a functional and a communicative purpose, but this is even more so with a uniform.  When a person is in uniform, they can identify gender, position, influence, rank and function.  All of these can be clarified even more if the uniform contains a badge and a social insignia.



STUDENT: Speak on bodily characteristics as an element of nonverbal communication.

LEWIS:  Elements such as physique, height, weight, skin, and hair can also convey nonverbal information.  There are certain bodily characteristics that change their meaning depending on the interaction and qualities of those involved in the communication.  These factors include skin color, ethnic background, national origin, gender, odors, and clothing.  Studies have shown that there is a correlation between how a person dresses and their interest in courtship.



STUDENT:  What is the connection between nonverbal communication and financial success?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication affects us on every level of living, including financial success.



STUDENT:  What are your final thoughts on this conversation on nonverbal communication?

LEWIS:  Nonverbal communication is often much more impactful than verbal communication.

The more one can understand body posture, the perception of time, and our relationship to space the more effective our communication will be.



STUDENT:  If a person has the use of language, why does nonverbal communication even exist?

LEWIS:  There are many theories on this point.  One theory states that spoken language is most effective as a tool for communicating information about events external to the speakers.  Nonverbal cues and codes are more effective for creating and maintaining interpersonal relationships.  This brings into play the concept of social intelligence.  In many situations, it is considered appropriate – more polite – to communicate attitudes towards others nonverbally, rather than verbally.


A Conversation on How We Make Decisions


Foundational Principle for this Blog: To explore Applied Game

Theory and how individuals and organizations can strategize to make

effective decisions.


Definition: Decision – A choice selected from a number of alternatives.


STUDENT: How can Applied Game Theory be used to make effective


LEWIS: Any decision requires that a choice be made from a number of alternatives and

directed toward an organizational goal or sub-goal. This is basically what happens when an

individual chooses a strategy in Applied Game Theory.


STUDENT: What defines the superiority of one decision over another?

LEWIS: The likelihood that one consequence will result rather than

another. The correctness of decisions whether in a group or in a

personal situation is measured by two major criteria:

1. adequacy of achieving the desired objective; and

2. the efficiency with which the result was obtained.

Decisions can be complex admixtures of facts and values. In

groups with a hierarchal structure of leaders and followers,

information derived from observation or experimentation as well as

proven facts, or facts derived from specialized experience, are more

easily transmitted than are values. Many members of an organization

may focus on adequacy, but the overall administrative management must pay particular attention to the efficiency with which the desired

result was obtained to ensure that the benefits are worth the economic

and social cost.


STUDENT: How can one make wise decisions if one must make a personal decision

without the benefit of the assessment tools available to a large organization?

LEWIS: Through the assessment of fact-based and intuitive sourced



STUDENT: Explain this in greater depth.

LEWIS: Logical and apparently rational options have real and multiple consequences

consisting of personal actions or non-actions influenced by environmental factors and

values. In application, some of the various consequences may be unintended as well as

intended; may be conscious or unconscious; and some of the means and ends may be

imperfectly differentiated, incompletely related, or poorly detailed.


STUDENT: Let’s say that the information required to make a rational or

logical decision is available.

LEWIS: In such a case a clear-thinking individual will select the

alternative that results in the more desirable set of all the possible consequences.


STUDENT: This seems like a complex task.

LEWIS: It is; and yet to some it initially would seem pretty basic,

requiring only three steps that can be done with a pad and pencil:

1. identify and list all of the alternatives;

2. determine all the consequences resulting from each of the

alternatives; and

3. compare the accuracy and efficiency of each of these sets of



STUDENT: So what makes it complex?

Lewis: Any given individual or organization attempting to strategize

applying this model in real life would soon discover that it is

extremely difficult to comply with the three steps, since it is

highly improbable that anyone can know all the alternatives, or all

the consequences that follow each alternative, without a remarkable

team including resources such as sophisticated computer models and

an understanding of many influential theories, such as the Butterfly

Effect and Black Swan.


STUDENT: If these limitations exist what can one do to make the best


LEWIS: Bringing into play the reality that there are insurmountable

limits on rational decision making, one would need to find and apply

other techniques or behavioral processes that a person or organization can bring to bear to achieve approximately the best result.


STUDENT: Is there much research on how to do this?

Yes. Much of the early research in this area was conducted by Herbert

Alexander Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001), one of the most

influential social scientists of the 20th century. Simon dedicated

much of his life to exploring, both directly and indirectly, the

behavioral and cognitive processes and factors of making rational

human choices: that is, decisions. On this subject Simon wrote:


“The human being striving for rationality and restricted within the

limits of his knowledge has developed some working procedures that

partially overcome these difficulties. These procedures consist in

assuming that he can isolate from the rest of the world a closed system

containing a limited number of variables and a limited range of



STUDENT: Is Simon’s work still important today?


LEWIS: Yes. Even today many social scientists refer to his most

influential work, Administrative Behavior, in which he addresses a

wide range of criteria for evaluation of accuracy and efficiency,

such as cognitive abilities, human behaviors, management techniques,

personnel policies, training goals and procedures, specialized roles,

and all of the ramifications of communication processes.


STUDENT: Speak more of Simon’s work.

LEWIS: Simon explores many organizational factors but within the great

scope of his writings two universal elements of human social behavior

seem to stand out:

1. The Role of Authority

2. Loyalties and how an individual identifies with a specific group or


These are important areas of exploration for a person looking to

become skilled in the application of LHAGT since, when strategizing,

one must take into consideration factors such as hierarchal and

competitive behavior in oneself and others.


STUDENT: Can you address decision-making in a large competitive and hierarchal


LEWIS: In such an environment where one is dealing with operational administrative

decision-making, a decision as mathematically accurate, efficient, and practical as possible

is of greatest value.


STUDENT: What does “practical” mean in this context?

LEWIS: Easy to implement within a set of specific guidelines – what a

mathematician would call “coordinated means.”


STUDENT: So one must do this effectively in the midst of a hierarchal

and competitive environment?

LEWIS: Yes but this is not really an obstacle since hierarchies,

competition, and the application of power, influence and authority are

well studied, primary elements of organizational behavior.


STUDENT: Speak further about hierarchies, competition, and the

application of power, influence and authority in such a situation.

LEWIS: From a LHAGT perspective it is pretty straightforward. In

an organizational hierarchal game one individual has defined rights

because of a higher rank to determine the decision of an individual

of lower rank. There is both rigidity and flexibility within this

process. On the one hand the attitudes, actions, and relationships of

the dominant and subordinate individuals in the hierarchy constitute

components of role behavior that can vary widely in content, form, and style, but on the

other hand there is no variance in the expectation of obedience by the player of superior

status, as well as the willingness of the player in a

subordinate position to obey.


STUDENT: How does all this work in a Japanese business model, or in a communal

situation where everyone’s ideas are respected and considered?

LEWIS: There is no conflict here. It is virtually impossible to

have an organization, no matter how egalitarian, that does not

have some minimal authority, even if that position changes, as

for example it does in the UN Security Council, where a different

nation’s representative serves as president on a revolving basis.

No matter what the structure of a group might be, authority is

highly influential on the formal structure of the group, including

patterns and styles of communication, sanctions, and rewards, and the

establishment within the group of goals, objectives, and values.


STUDENT: How are personal decisions that an individual might make different than

decisions the same individual might make within an organization?

LEWIS: A decision that an individual might make as a member of an

organization would be quite distinct from his/her personal decisions.

In fact it is a personal decision for an individual to decide to

join a particular organization. Over time this individual is likely

to explore whether to remain as part of this group based on changes

and the needs that arise in his or her extra–organizational private

life. While in the organization this individual will need to make

decisions not in relationship to personal needs and changes, but in an

impersonal sense detached from personal need. Rather decisions will

need to be made as part of the organizational intent, purpose, and



STUDENT: How can one separate the personal from the organizational in terms of

decision making?

LEWIS: If the distinctions between the personal and organizational

are not clear it can be difficult. Often individuals act unethically

because they look to serve the group in ways that are inappropriate,

and which ignore that distinction. “Whistleblowers” – individuals who

report unethical behavior within organizations to which they belong –

are extraordinary in having a clear distinction in this area.


LEWIS: In the most effective organizations, ethically-based

inducements, rewards, and sanctions are created to form, strengthen,

and maintain an individual’s healthy identification with an organization. Simon’s

contributions to research in the area of decision-making have become increasingly

mainstreamed in the business community thanks to the growth of management


To learn more about Decision Making, research Decision Analysis and explore the ideas of Harold Dwight Lasswell and Chester Barnard.


Influence and Game Theory

In my studies in Game Theory and my teaching of Life Strategies I have recently directed my attention to the subtle ways in which we are influenced and influence others. In my roll as a radio talk show host, writer, mentor, coach and teacher I have watched with amusement how new ideas take hold in groups and soon become dogma.


The American advertising executive Donny Deutsch has discussed how ideas spread through a culture as a type of pyramid.  He speaks of these pyramids in relation to the marketing of products and services but I believe that what he describes addresses cultural viruses as well.


At the top of the pyramid is a group that Deutsch calls the “Creators”. These are individuals who though not highly social seem to create trends without any obvious purpose or motivation. When viewed closer we may see that their actions are driven by aesthetics or an attraction to a particular pattern that may not be obvious to the rest of us. These creators may be consciously influencing culture, simply responding to personal interest or even instinct, or acting on a momentary whim. It doesn’t really matter. In the end they are influencers and what they say or do influences others.


These types of  Creator/influencers may include powerful politicians,those who are famous for being famous,  individuals of great physical beauty, or those with charisma, great intellect or highly effective communication skills, or deep spiritual wisdom.


On the next level of this influence hierarchy are very small social circles of what Deutsch calls “Disciples”. Like the creators these individuals are neither very social, and are usually concerned with sound, sight or kinesthestic aesthetics and patterns. Like the Creators the Disciples can recognize these aesthetic patterns in a way that others cannot. However the Disciples are seldom creators, they are copiers and what they copy is what the creators create.


On the next level are what Deutsch calls “Believers.” These individuals seldom have any personal contact with the creator and may not even recognize the subtlties of aesthetics and patterns in a way that the creator and disciples can. What believers can offer that creators, and disciples seldom can is sociability. These “initiated” individuals can take the aesthetic choices of the creator and disciples and spread them virally through social networks and into the larger culture.


The rest, what Deutsch calls the “Masses”, simply by the need to feel part of a community make contact with what has been created fourth hand and make it part of their ordinary reality. They in turn influence others who are unaware of how they have been influenced. The masses simply jump on the bandwagon.


When Deutsch had anthropologists interview Crators and those who might be classified as Disciples. Tthey found  that many of these individuals with a limited desire for social interaction had no siblings.


This inquiry of course cannot be considered scientific and yet Deutsch asks the question “ Was it the solitary nature of their childhoods, the nececessity of playing by themselves,that  allowed the creators and disciples to uniquely collect and appreciate unusual ideas?” Is it possible that Creators as well as Disciples have no internal need to spread ideas and are satisfied to appreciate and apply them in isolation? Is it the Believers, who have some limited contact with Disciples and are able to observe them from a distance, that create influence, and help the Creators and Disciple to spread these social and aesthetic “Patterns” through the masses?


I do not like to label people or place them in “boxes” and yet Deutschs ideas on how ideas take form and spread among us is certainly fascinating.


Who are you? Creator, Disciple, Believer or simply part of the communal mind?


Lewis Harrison, the author of this blog is a speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching. He is creating a series of ebooks entitled “Ask Lewis…” which will be available on line

Lewis offers phone-based and on-line life coaching services and created the course on Life Strategies  –  a simple system for decision making based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash, the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”.

Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at

Story Telling, Memes and Influence

Over time, any story or series of stories where true or not within a community may take on mythic proportions.  In the United States, where I was born and live the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, and  Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address  are examples.  Eventually, if a story is passed on enough times by enough people, it may take on a life of its own.  It may become a sacred story, a reality for us and our community with little connection to the historical events that were the source of the story. This sacred story, this myth, may actually reflect who we are in relation to our community and so reinforced it can how we see ourselves.


The most productive RTPs through history seem to be connected to the human evolution towards survival, reproduction, and personal and group efficiency and effectiveness.  This all happens on a backdrop of seasonal changes, the search for food sources, local geography, relations with perceived enemies, terrain, and so on. Regenerating Thought Programs (RTPs)  reflect these relationships. I a person doesn’t understand how this process works it is easy to become overwhelmed and depressed.


If you chose to live on the Wisdom Path while at the same time engaging the world you will consistently be dealing with the expansion of technology, internet based social networking, the reduction within the general population of critical thinking skills, access to web-based information, and an ever-increasing amount of data that will be thrown at You.  You will need to learn to deal with the breakdown in the traditional division between entertainment journalism, politics, influence peddling, spirituality and the politics of faith based organizations.  It is virtually impossible to address and integrate all of these factors in your life while discriminating and discerning between empowering thought patterns and Idea Viruses – negative RTPs. Clearly, technological innovations are a double-edged sword.  They can enhance our lives or displace and devalue human culture and human existence.


How can you know which RTPs are fact-based and which ones are simply rumors or disingenuous attempts to influence ones beliefs? This is no simple matter.  Our society today is so complex that concrete and simple things that seem to make sense are likely to out-compete a fact-based “truth” that may be less appealing.  What is one to do?




Lewis Harrison is an speaker, consultant, and Contemporary Spiritual Teacher. He is a  pioneer in the personal development movement  The author of nine  self help books on human potential he offers seminar, workshops, retreats and phone based coaching.

He is the author of the Comprehensive book Healing Depression naturally

He created the course on Life Strategies  – based on Game Theory, the idea expanded on by John Nash the Nobel prize winning subject of the biopick “A Beautiful Mind”. Lewis holds regular stress management,  and meditation retreats at his Spa in the Western Catskills. Learn more at

His company offers on-site chair massage through

Lewis hosts a weekly radio show “What Up” that explore game theory. The show broadcasts Wednesdays and Thursday on WIOX 91.3 FM  – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (EST).  The show is also available as an internet stream at the same time period at