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.

 

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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!

The Boring Banquet

Have you ever had to suffer through a boring banquet?  The kind of event where you listen to someone blow their horn and share statistics and personal accomplishments-

Sales increased 150%!

My new product line was a huge success!

My products have entered the European market!

Revenue increased 83%!

Numbers, dollars, percentages.  All great things when measuring your business.  Measurements and statistics are an important way of judging your effectiveness and efficiency.  And let’s face it- we need success and money in business and making money in itself is not a bad thing.

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But it makes for a boring banquet!  Numbers, charts, graphs, yawn…  And it’s not really measuring life- is it?

Contrast this with this true story banquet-

My son recently attended an 80th birthday party for a business partner and friend named John.  Now this was a pretty lavish affair held at the Ritz Carlton and included friends and family that flew in from all over the country.  The ballroom was fancy, and the food and music was great- but that was not the amazing part of the evening.

The highlight of the banquet was the stories that were shared by family and friends about the way that John touched their lives and made them better.  Stories of how he went out of his way and helped them get started in business.  Stories of how he risked his own money to help them.  Stories of a man who mentored and served others without obligation.  Stories of a man with an amazing heart and the capacity and courage to lift others up.

One by one, the stage was occupied by family and friends who shared true stories of how John changed their lives.

No statistics.

No list of personal accomplishments.

No inventory of things earned or gathered.

Just stories of changed lives.   Many of which were not family members.  Just folks that John met along the way, providing confidence and resources to get them started on the path to success.

These kind of stories are never boring.  This is the story of a person who truly serves.  Who understands that living a life of success really provides a responsibility to serve others.   It’s not about accumulating stuff, money and personal accomplishment. Or maybe this might be your banquet?

I broke the 8 handicap on the golf course or I caught a 200 pound tuna or a 12 point buck.

I made a million dollars in the stock market and bought a vacation home in the mountains.

I travelled around the world twice.

In my industry, I was the greatest….

All fine and admirable accomplishments- but they make for a boring and self-centered story.    Could you see others taking the stage and sharing how you touched their lives or would your story be about your personal statistics?  To avoid the boring banquet concentrate on giving and leading with your heart and learn to forget the numbers.  Focus on what is really important and eternal.  Focus on leaving a legacy of love.  And this way, your banquet will be AMAZING!

So what do you think about this- did it get you thinking?  Or am I way off on this one?  Don’t be a stealth reader- Let me know what you think!  Click on leave a comment and share your thoughts! 

Copyright © 2013. Leading by Serving- Leadership is for Everyone!. All rights reserved.