The Mind Under Fire

The past few weeks have seen numerous news reports about the beatings and murders of Russian journalists.  A few of them have made reference to the hiring of “Mercaders” by the targets of investigative reporting, an oblique reference to Ramon Mercader, the man dispatched to Mexico City by Stalin to kill Leon Trotsky with an ice pick.  On this anniversary of Trotsky’s expulsion from the Communist Party in 1927, it is interesting to re-read some of his work.  In many ways as repellently infatuated with the use of force as Lenin and Stalin, Trotsky was also deeply interested in how to create behavior change. In his autobiography, “My Life,” Trotsky wrote “Ideas that enter the mind under fire remain there securely and for ever.”

Communicators can learn from this concept in two ways, literally and figuratively.  Literally, the statement reminds us that ideas people learn at intense moments of their lives shape them for ever.  But, figuratively, it also describes the process by which we should try to communicate important ideas.  We not only need to shape the ideas to make them relevant to their intended audience, but also create a fire in their minds to make them stick.  The emotional and psychological environment you create around an idea can be almost as critical as the idea itself.

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One Response to “The Mind Under Fire”

  1. Barry Reicherter Says:

    Many business elements can be linked to interpersonal communications, I think anyway. Is this not like falling in love, but in this case with an idea. Maybe we don’t fall in love with people but the idea of that person(s). For the most part, we don’t hop into the sack with people. We fall for the emotional and rational cores, which then spawns the idea of love… or love of the idea?

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