It’s been said that “life” is a collection of experiences – the places you go, the relationships you develop, the things you see, the things you learn, the goals you achieve, the people you impact, and more. What sets those apart in large measure for each of us, and even separates one of our own “experiences” from another, is our perceptions. A group of people can all be subjected to the same factual circumstances and each have a different “take” or experience.
A brief story illustrates this point. A mother took her 7-year-old son to the gym with her while she worked out. As he became bored and went looking for her, he wandered into the women’s locker room. The women, in various stages of being undressed and getting ready and not expecting to see this young cowboy, began running around, screaming, ducking for cover, hiding, and so on. Finally, exasperated, he put his hands on his hips and shouted, “What’s the matter – haven’t you ever seen a little boy before!?!” Truly, different perceptions that colored that same experience.
Those differences in perceptions can so color our interpretation that I’ll often see people completely and arbitrarily attach inaccurate meanings and intentions to the things they’re sure other people “meant” or “were doing” and begin a downward spiral of self-sabotaging behavior. This generally results in fear, frustration, and damaged relationships. In terms of the Laws of Attraction, it attracts more of what they don’t want. I recently accompanied a CEO client to an important business meeting to help represent his organization as a member of its leadership team. During an intimate meeting with my client and some executives important to him I became aware of an unrelated need they had that we could easily handle on our way home. As the meetings had gone very well and the relationships seemed strengthened, it seemed natural to suggest we could do that for them. Although they didn’t take us up on it, afterwards a lengthy discussion ensued between the client and myself regarding putting your best foot forward and projecting an image of strength and success.
His initial perception was that my offering to help portrayed us as weak and not the image he was concerned about projecting. His thinking was that if we were truly successful we wouldn’t have the time or mindset to do something like that. While he was concerned with “looking” strong and not doing certain things I was concerned with “being” strong enough to do whatever we thought was good or right. Author-consultant Stephen Covey describes these differences as being personality-based or character-based. This client cited the oft’ quoted statement that “nice guys finish last.” Interestingly, this seems to be in direct contrast with author Zig Ziglar’s world famous philosophy of success, namely, “if you help enough other people get what they want, you can get anything you want.”
With regard to “being” nice, much research has shown that highly successful people are most often very nice people and glad to help others. This may fly counter to the perceptions of many, but seems to be the case. My observations and experiences in life, in business, with clients and with a great number of what most reading this article would consider highly successful people, indicate real success comes not from what you can appear to be, but from the strength of what you really are.You know it because you can sense it. Think of all the comments people make that indicate who they’ll deal with and who will be successful at getting their business and loyalty: “He’s the real deal;” “She’s the genuine article;” “There’s nothing phony about him;” “With her, what you see IS what you get,” and so on.
Perhaps you’ve known someone who, on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being highest, is actually at a competence level of 3 or 4 in a certain area but tries to project they are an 8 or 9. While putting your best foot forward is important, my experiences as well as those of others indicates that people can either spot, or at the very least, sense, a phony. Just because they don’t say something, it would be naive to believe they don’t notice or sense a “cover-up” or “inflated information.” Think about it – don’t you really want to do business with those you know, like and trust? How do you feel when you realize that someone you’re counting on is all show, and no go, that you’ve been “duped” by their appearance or the image portrayed, or you just “know” they’re pulling something on you? Rather than being clever enough to look good, why not be committed enough to be good and strong enough to do good? You can always receive coaching to better communicate your strengths and position. There’s power in being real – that’s really the deal – and that’s the Winner’s Edge.
Until next time, here’s to your success.
Larry H. Gassin