The Secret of Charisma…Five Steps to Create Luck & Opportunity

fingers crossed

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

C.S. Lewis

As I was sitting in an airport waiting for a red-eye recently I was oblivious to the sea of humanity all around me at a large restaurant near my gate. Lost in my emails I glanced up and realized that in both directions there were dozens of people in a dialogue with their devices, sitting at small white plastic tables. As I scanned the people around me I saw, among others, a petite, contemplative nun sitting next to a woman whose features seemed permanently angry sitting next to a young couple in baseball caps. Sitting among them totally invisible I thought about what qualities separate the people who are influential and successful from everyone else. Could I see it on their faces or how they’re interacting with those at their tables? Exactly what defines the energy, optimism, idealism and all the other “isms” that attract people to each other? Why do we want to be around some people and go far out of our way to avoid others? What’s the secret and how can we have more of it every time we pick up the phone, lead a meeting or handle an unexpected problem?

Charismatic people tend to program themselves—change how they think—to continually eliminate mistakes and disappointments from their consciousness and pay attention, with an almost super human  focus, on what’s next on the agenda, what they want to accomplish and how to help/serve those they are with. For them the past really is history and their focus is always on the present, with an emphasis on helping others reach their goals. Until we can create the habitual mindset of discarding past mistakes we won’t have the ability to really focus on what it takes to reach people in the present.

This simple differentiation in mind sets is enormous. It’s a characteristic we want to hire in all new employees as well as find in our most valued colleagues and friends. These people, who exude optimism and confidence despite the circumstances, realize that regardless of what happened earlier it’s never too late to have a do-over, to learn from what went south and create a smarter, highly-improved outcome Success for these people means having the ability to forget what didn’t work—assess but don’t dwell-- and put their focus and energy on what they do want.

People do respond to how we’re feeling, plain and simple. If you had a wonderful weekend and walked into work feeling like a million dollars, and your boss had the worst weekend in history, you’ll start to feel it. Our neurons mirror each others’ feelings; they fire when we are doing something or observing the same thing in others. So when we encounter others with all our frustrations and annoyances still with us, we’re passing on those negative feelings.

We can’t outperform faulty thinking, but we can change it. We know what we admire and want from others, now let’s look at strategically creating the mindset we need to get the results we want. The following five bullets help us create the mindset we need to influence and reach others:

  • Start with the simple and powerful premise that if you’re annoyed with anyone (driver who cut you off, person in line at Starbucks or micro-manager in your third conference call of the day) you’re aiming a small dart straight at yourself (from Buddha’s Brain). Think about everyone who feels exhausted by 10:00 am; they’re injecting negative chemicals (often cortisol, the stress hormone) into their bodies. Now think of compounding this by being angry at all those people every day, all the time. We’ve no energy left to lead, be creative or problem solve. New idea, choose to let it go, switch what you’re thinking, send a smile or choose a different behavior or thought. The idea is you get to choose how you’re reacting and misery is always optional. It’s impossible to accomplish great things if you’re stuck in the petty activity of holding grudges or letting people upset you, and all those little darts are going to exhaust you by the end of the day.
  • Create the state of mind you want any time. Think of where you are and what you’re doing when you really feel great. It might be biking through open country, reading on a Saturday afternoon or doing something with your children. Think about the feeling associated with what you love to do and even imagine pulling a lever that makes you feel it to an even greater extent. It’s powerful to be able to go from frustrated to relaxed by switching mental gears. And remember all the “business tools” in the world won’t work unless you first have the mindset you need to create what you want.
  • Keep a list of all your successes and a list of five successful people who have overcome big obstacles. Know your strategies for mentally handling challenges and overcoming them. For example, many grad students have tremendous knowledge and incredible minds, but when something doesn’t work, i.e. a job interview, a date, a test that was flunked, they literally fall to pieces. You’ve got to have the resources to bounce back since the ones who are the most resilient are always ahead of the game.
  • Know your beliefs. If you want something and aspire for it and study for it and yet you don’t think you are capable of getting it for any reason, then you’re wasting your time. Change your beliefs (our beliefs must align with what we want and support us) and you are on your way. If you are reading this and saying to yourself “Yes but there’s only one reality,” please realize you are mistaken. Come out of a meeting and everyone heard and believes something differently. Two people go on a job interview; one fervently believes she can get it and the other wishes she had more experience because she isn’t qualified. They’re both the same, one gets it, one does not.  Finally reality looks like we’re walking on a flat surface when in fact we’re hurtling through space at thousands of miles an hour. Reality is what we make of it.
  • Use your intelligence and confidence to appreciate others every single day. The founder of Send Out Cards, Kody Bateman, started his company he said after failing to stop and say good bye to his brother when he was moving from one location to another; he was in his moving truck and in a big hurry. The brother was killed soon after in an auto accident and Bateman decided he would never let a day go by  that he didn’t tell someone how much they were appreciated. By appreciating others and finding ways to help them succeed we attract opportunity, create our own luck and become those amazing people who bring out the best in others.

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