The Shifting Keys

Funny how things change. You can be so sure of something, and over time, your views can be changed to something vastly different. It’s crazy. Like shifting sand.

 

661px-Graduation_hat.svg

 

When I was young and just entering college, I was convinced that the secret to success was knowledge. If I could just absorb a vast amount of information, I would be valuable and successful. Smart people will always be in the lead, right?

I was sure that the key was- What you know!

So I studied hard, made good grades, and soaked up as much information as possible. You see, I wanted to know everything. I wanted to be equipped to join every conversation and have the ability to contribute a practical solution to any problem. I wanted to be the man with the answers! This would be my path the success.

As I progressed in my career, I watched others in my field advance due to networking and through connecting with groups and organizations. I observed that if you knew the right person, it would be a huge career accelerator. Just knowing that person was a door opener.

I was sure that the key was- Who you know!

So I worked hard to join groups and organizations in my industry. If my name is plastered everywhere, then I will have a great chance to be included in a new project or opportunity. I increased my address book to several thousand persons. I wanted to be a person that was known. I was sure that this was the key to being successful.

As I have gained years, I have realized that, while both of these items are very important, I believe there is something that is even more critical. And this truth cuts through everything we do in life. It is the connector. The glue that makes things work.  It holds everything together.

The key is- How you know someone!

This may sound a bit awkward, but here is the truth: Your relationships will be your mark of success. How you have connected with people on a deeper level. How you have loved and how you are loved. How you are able to meet someone where they are. How you can communicate how you feel about what you are trying to accomplish. How you make the other person feel.

I have watched and admired people through the years that truly get this. They have a way to quickly engage. You want to be around them. They may not have the knowledge or the network, yet they touch you in a deep way. They inspire. They lift you up. They make you feel valuable.

So how do you get there?  Some ways to strengthen these skills:

Be Positive- Always, always, always stay positive. If life is beating you up, find your strength to get through it. Showing you pain and frustration will not help the situation.  Dwell in the positive!  Find the silver lining, there is always something good if you look hard enough.

Smile- Use your greatest tool to engage with others, your smile. Smile often and to everyone. A sincere smile melts away insecurities and breaks down barriers.

Serve- Serve others. Put others first. Be sensitive to what is going on around you and take advantage of opportunities to help others.  Get your focus off of yourself.

Communication Skills- Take every opportunity to increase your skills as a speaker, writer, and instructor. Life is about getting your point across to others. In order to engage and inspire, you must have the skills to present your idea in a clear and compelling way.

Eye Contact- Make sure that your eyes connect in conversation. If you have a habit of looking away practice until this habit goes away. Looking away makes the other person feel like you are not being genuine and honest.

Ask Questions- Ask questions to show interest in the other person’s life. Questions are the secret to unlocking someone’s true identity. Through questions, you will find out what they are really about and you will be able to connect with them in a deeper way. This is also a skill that needs to be practiced and learned.

So graduate, if you are thinking that the general education classes are a waste, I am telling you that you are dead wrong. The liberal arts, communication, and writing classes are essential. Don’t take them lightly. Learn and practice these skills! Learn to really connect with others. Learn to be persuasive and inspiring. This is where you will find success. This will make all the difference.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

So what to do you think? What is you definition of success? What would you add #ifIWere22 again? Click on “comments” and let me know what you think!

Advertisements

The Key

When I was a very young man I was convinced that knowledge was the key to success.  I was sure that it was “what you know” that was really important.  So, I worked very hard in school.  I really felt like learning was the key.  If I could just learn as much as possible and gain experience along the way, I would surely be very successful.  I was very driven and serious about school and also soaked in as much practical knowledge as possible.  I was absolutely sure that this was the key.  Learn and gain experience and this will be the pathway to success.

Skelton Key – Wikipedia

Once I finished college and had my initial experiences in the career world, I changed my viewpoint.  I could see the value in networking and knowing the right people.  I was sure that it was “who you know” that was really the key.  In order to excel in this area I worked hard to network and get to know as many people as possible.  I would join associations, meet and greet, and collect and organize business cards.  I watched as some of my friend’s careers skyrocketed because they simply knew the “right” people.  I was convinced that if I could just meet more people that this would be the catalyst for my pursuit of success.  Not “what you know” but “who you know” was the important component to success.

As I have matured, I have once again changed my view on this subject.  I don’t believe that the key is either of my earlier conclusions.  Although knowledge and networking are valuable and necessary at least on some level, I feel like there is one key that is even more important.  Much more important.  I now believe it is “how you know” someone.

Not “what you know” or “who you know” but-  “how you know”.

This may sound strange and certainly deserves explanation.  I truly believe that the key to success in life is the depth of your relationships and your ability to really connect with someone.  Not volume of relationships, but depth.  This is tough for those of us who want big.  We want to make the huge numerical impact.  We want the big following, the big audience, the big appearances.  We are planners and producers.  We need numbers to think that we have made an impact.  We want the stage. 

But really, the important number is ONE.  You must learn to be satisfied to impact and connect with one person at a time, and, one-on-one is the best way.  You must value that one person the same way that God does.  What is the value of one soul?  Infinite value- can’t be measured.  Priceless- just like the credit card commercial.  The same is true when you deal with everyday people.  Take it down to the true reality.  No matter who they are- they are priceless. 

The homeless man, the President, the co-worker, the sibling, the mechanic, the boss, the grocery store clerk, the landscaper- the ungrateful, the arrogant, the depressed, the unlovely. 

So how will this make you successful?  I have watched people that understand the priceless value of a person in every walk and responsibility.  Successful sales people get it.  Great managers get it.  Good parents get it.  Great friends get it.  They give you their 100% attention.  They are not afraid to show their heart.  They will go above and beyond to help you- not to help the situation or themselves- but to help you personally.  They make you feel like you are worth a million bucks (make sense now?).  These folks get it.  And they are generally wildly successful.  They draw a following.  They are always in demand.  They use this skill daily and are masters of connection.  One person at a time!

So what are you going to do about it?  I am sharing this because I struggle in this area- I am a big net guy.  So, this has not been my strength, but I am working on it.  I have personally witnessed the power that is available to anyone willing to open up and take the chance.  Are you ready?  Will you take the time to deepen your relationships in order to unlock this power?  Go ahead, get started- because now you have the key!

Is there someone that you know that has the key?  How can you help those you lead to understand this concept?  Let me know what you think!