Research conducted by the Belding Group identified that there are four key components to that somewhat nebulous personal characteristic we refer to as ‘charisma’. People who were identified as ‘charismatic’ had confidence, a positive attitude, a positive demeanor and an outward focus.
The first three are perhaps the best understood and most common characteristics. The last one, outward focus, is the rarest of personal attributes, and the most powerful in how it enables us to influence those around us.
We all value, respect and honor selfless people
An outward focus, defined simply, is placing the needs of other people at a higher priority than our own. The classic example is the story of Sir Walter Raleigh who reputedly removed his cloak and threw it over a puddle so Queen Elizabeth wouldn’t get her shoes dirty as she walked from the street to the curb.
The fact of the matter is, we all value, respect and honor selfless people. But selflessness comes at a price too dear for most of us. It means giving of yourself, giving some more and giving again, with no promise, explicit or implied, of a return.
That philosophy is rare indeed in our modern quid-pro-quo society, where today’s equivalent of the gallant Sir Walter Raleigh would be more likely to turn to the Queen and present her with a dry cleaning bill.
Do you believe the old saws that “you get what you give,” and “what goes around comes around?” Most people claim to, yet still hesitate to do things for others without promise of something concrete in return. That’s because having a true outward focus requires trust, and a great leap of faith in the goodness within people – and there seem to be very few of us with an abundance of either.
“Looking out for #1” isn’t what you think
Should you look out for #1? Absolutely. But it’s important to define who #1 really is. Think about it this way: if you look after your own needs to the exclusion of everyone else’s, you only ever have one person watching your back. But if you put the needs of the people around you ahead of yours, and they, in turn put your needs ahead of theirs, you now have a whole bunch of people watching your back. Which, ultimately, is a better strategy?
Read the stories of anyone who has achieved greatness, or of anyone who professes to be genuinely happy and successful in their lives, and they’ll tell you that they ultimately got what they wanted by first ensuring that those around them got what they needed.
An outward focus isn’t a requirement for success with the people around you, but it sure makes the ride a lot more enjoyable.
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