Keys (to Success) Pt II: The Intensity of Attention
Gratefulness is greatness.
This key is a character trait i have noticed in every successful person I have met. What do all successful people do? They exhibit the key of gratefulness. However, this type of gratefulness is different.
Josh was a businessman. He had it all - he was CEO of a huge corporation, a frequent traveller for business, an angel investor in new ventures, and on multiple boards carrying numerous prestigious titles.
I met Josh in university in a course that he was teaching. Despite the huge balancing act of scheduling everything in, amidst the long days and minimal sleep, he made sure that he had time for every single student who came up to him. The first thing I noticed about Josh was the Intensity of Attention. The intensity of attention is an mental measurement of how present you are with the person in front of you. Whenever somebody asked Josh a question, you could tell that a couple things. Mainly, to Josh, the world at that point in time was the student, the questions/statements he was making, and Josh's personal thoughts about the subject - nothing else. I could be standing right next to Josh and the student, and he would not even notice me until the student was done with that conversation.
What were the key physical points? For one, he didn't have his phone out. At ALL times, it is extremely rude to be talking to somebody while simultaneously looking down at your phone texting. This even applies to taking a call while present with somebody unless it is a life-or-death situation, which it normally isn't. Why? By doing so, this shows that you don't value the other person's time that they are present with you. Of course, here’s me simply stating the opposite: If you show that you truly value another person’s time, they will appreciate it.
Second, his eye contact could have killed somebody - it was as strong as a laser beam, bearing down into your eyes. I remember looking at him and appreciating the face-to-face engagement, as opposed to the numerous times I observed people glancing around their surroundings during a conversation, obviously not engaged in the topic at hand.
Lastly was the body language. Josh's body was always positioned facing towards the person he was talking to. There was a psychology study done a couple years ago measuring lies, truth/honesty, and openness. Results found that people who were hiding something always unintentionally turned their body away from the interviewer. The aftermath? Welcome to something that I call the Belly Button Rule (also used in Public Speaking basics). The BB Rule is to keep your belly button (your core) facing the people you are talking to as much as possible. This conveys earnestness and shows the your companion that you are being honest.
This key is essentially one of mutual respect.
If you're reading this, and you have a roof over your heads, food for the next week, gas in your car, and money in your bank account, go ahead and take that moment to think about how blessed you are. You've probably heard this before and done it plenty times, as a good reminder. Now while being grateful for what you have is a good thing, I want to pose the idea that it is not just what we have that is a blessing, but that being grateful for people and for time is huge. Each person that spends time with you is giving up minutes of their own life, something that they will never get back, and that should be taken with a measure of appreciation, no matter the situation.
Key II: Intensity of Attention: Treat the person that you are present with as if they are the most important person in your life.
Daily Invitation Challenge: Keep your phone on silent and try to focus solely on the person in front of you.
I've realized, that with diverse individual strengths and weaknesses, success is hard to quantify on an individual basis. While some may label me successful, I would beg to differ and instead comment that I've got a long way to go. That being said, with so many people asking for advice and wisdom, I have decided to write a epochal blog segment on my keys to success. Each Key will end in a daily invitational challenge for you to implement right away.
Key 1: Add Value to Others.
I run my own business selling educational products to families during the summer, and on one particularly slow day (no sales lol), I ran into a family who was open to seeing what i had. When the dad let me in, I came across the mom on the couch with a cast on her legs, and two kids running around, cracked up on that little kid energy that we used to have. These kids loved the books I had. When i say loved, i mean that I've never had a kid this excited about what i selling - she was even more excited than i was, and I doing the presentation! When i finished up my
demo and gave them the price, I made my way into my bag to grab the order pad. As I looked back up, the dad became unusually soft, and said, 'Jay, I love the books, and my kids do too, but we just can't afford it. I'm not even sure if I'll have my job in September, as they've been laying a lot of people off due to budget cuts." Unbeknownst to me until that point, it turns out that the dad was a teacher, who taught in the area i was selling. Now, a part of me was extremely bummed out about this - I was about to have a day where I made exactly zero dollars and I was really banking on having this sale. At first, mentally, I became really frustrated because I needed to make this or I wasn't going to hit my target for the week (you sales people know how it is =P). At that point in time, the kids came running back around and jumped on their dads lap,asking him to buy the books. "please daddy, could we pretty please get them? You can use the money from our piggy banks, we don't mind! Pleasseeee!" ...and they dumped out the contents
of the piggy bank onto the floor.
I stopped packing up, and I realized at that point that it wasn't all about the money, money always comes and goes - but I could have a part in helping these kids learn. I turned to the kids, and very seriously asked, "will you read these?" to which they replied, "Yes! Yes! Of course!" I got up, told them to wait, and i went to my car and grabbed a set of books that would make my day go from a zero day to a negative day (this is where you know I'm a really bad salesperson). I handed that set of books over to them, refused to take any money, and told the father that i was thankful that he is a teacher, that he was doing a good thing helping our future generations. Not gonna lie, this guy was confused. He didn't get why I would give him a set that he knew would cost me money. He kept on asking me, "whats the catch? There's no such thing as a free lunch. I don't want it, I'll feel bad." I eventually convinced him that i was honestly just doing it because of his kids - I think anybody who can be more excited about my product than
me is somebody who truly loves it. It was a gift.
I ended that day, broke poor and in the negative, and that night I questioned my actions, asking myself, "Dude, what about your recognition this week? You prevented yourself from hitting your goals!"
Quite the contrary, actually. No, I didn't hit my goals that week.
But guess what? Two weeks later, i was still working that area, and I run into a principal of one of the high schools.. It turns out he grew up with Dave, and was close friends with him. Dave had told him about this weird college student (me) who dropped by and gave his kids this set of amazing educational books. He ended up buying from me, giving me a personal, written, high value testimonial, and referring me to other teachers that were close friends who he knew
would want to take a look at what I had. Within the next couple days, i hit them all up, and broke my weekly career record.
You've all heard the term that things happen when you least expect it, and it's true. But I don't think it would have happened if I hadn't been looking to simply add value to others in the first place.
This is the one key that I have found to be the most important, and thus the first. The majority of people go through life always looking to gain from externalities (people, events). To take advantage of said externalities is by no means a bad thing, but I find that the opposite is less frequently practiced - the giving. While we may often measure the costs and benefits of a transaction (whether it be a relationship or business deal), we tend to maximize our gains and minimize our energy input into the transaction. The question is always 'what can i get from this
person or this thing?' instead of how can I add as much value as possible to this person.
The more that people realize you care for their wellbeing and are acting on selfless purposes as opposed to sucking them dry of their knowledge or resources, the more open they are to helping you out. By practicing adding value selflessly, we allow ourselves to avoid disappointment (from expecting a return that may not have come) and also open ourselves to unexpected surprises.
Daily Invitational Challenge: Ask yourself - "How can I add value to others?"
Wow, the energy coming from everybody on New Years Eve was amazing! It feels as if everybody is making plans, setting resolutions, and is on path to breaking through personal records - I love it!
Yesterday also marked the start of my team for my Southwestern summer, see here @ www.swredline.com, and to top it all off, I have hit 1,000 followers on Twitter! Thank you all.
Recruit a 10-person team for the summer internship
Run for President, Omega Gamma Chapter, Alpha Kappa Psi
Find a niche, launch an e-commerce website for residual income
Hit 5,000 units
Help 50 more students better their public speaking skills
Prepare for TM 2012 World Championship by speaking in front of 50 different audiences.
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.