The Power of an Open Agenda

Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone with an ulterior motive?

If you’re a woman, you’ve probably experienced this hundreds of times in your life.

Most men, myself included, are incredibly bad at hiding our intentions with women. We try as hard as we can to appear cool and calculating, and to make the process slick, but the truth is that women can smell when something is not quite ‘right’.

I had my own version of this experience one time when I was visiting the Louvre in Paris. As I waited outside for the Museum to open, a friendly young man in his early 20s approached me asking me if I would consider signing a petition. I asked him about the cause, and he explained. It seemed genuine, and so did his motive, so I agreed to sign. Just as I was finishing, he dropped in his real agenda ‘How much do you want to donate?’

The fact he was so covert with his real desire for me to donate suddenly made me angry. I told him he should have been up front with me about the desire for money, rather than pretending he only wanted a signature. The money wasn’t the issue, it was the hiding of the agenda.

I wished him well and told him I wouldn’t be donating.

All of us have experienced something like this at some time. When we discover that someone had a hidden agenda, or wasn’t really open with us, it makes us mistrust them.

Lately I’ve thinking a lot about having an open agenda, and what it means to living your best life.

An agenda is essentially our attempt to move someone else towards a specific way of thinking or acting. In short form: it’s what we want.

The strange things I’ve noticed is that most people aren’t very open with their agenda. In fact they are the exact opposite.

I believe this comes back to fear of rejection. We fear the risk of ‘no’. 

Because of this fear, we stop asking for what we want or need, and instead try to squeeze our agenda into more socially acceptable norms.

There’s no getting around it. Having an open agenda is hard. It means asking. It means telling the truth. It means facing rejection more directly. It means being courageous, honest and sometimes downright blunt with people.

A great example of this is Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Death in the movie Meet Joe Black. Having no worldly understanding of communication subtleties, he simply states the things he wants to everyone around him. He asks for a cup of tea in the middle of a corporate board meeting. He tells a woman that he simply likes being around her. This bluntness initially shocks people. Yet, it soon makes them open up and become more connected to him.

Lately I have been experimenting more with having an open agenda.

I have been telling people more directly about my ambitions and desires as a speaker and writer and asking more for their help. I’ve been open about my feelings with a woman I am attracted to, and felt an incredible difference in the dynamic between us. These experiences have taught me that there is power in an open agenda.

The energy we expend in trying to hide our agenda is exhausting. It creates a sense of discomfort within ourselves that transfers to the people around us.

The more you hide what you want, the more you hold yourself back from getting it.

Be open with your agenda, and notice the power it brings you.


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