John Wooden, Coach at UCLA defines ‘success’ as ‘The peace of mind attained from attempting to do the best of which you are capable.’ I love the sentiment of the statement, but my own definition is slightly different. I see ‘success’ as ‘the peace of mind attained from attempting to be the best of which you are capable’. If you focus on attempting to be the best of which you are capable in every moment then, at the end of each day, you can look back on a ‘success-full’ day. The intention to be the best of which you are capable in every interaction is the first crucial way to be remarkable in every interaction. Let’s look at the other four.
Our mind has the tendency to swing back to the past or forward to the future. According to a 2010 Harvard Research Paper, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
We’ve all had the experience of sharing something important with someone else and they appear to be distracted. They are making eye contact and nodding, but we know that they are not really ‘here’ – in this moment – with us. Being ‘remarkable’ means being present. Keep bringing your mind back to the present moment, gently and non – judgementally, so that you can be the best of which you are capable in the here and now.
Studies show that we incorrectly “read” the motives of intentions of others around 80 percent of the time. That statistic doesn’t improve significantly when it comes to our spouses, family members and close friends; we incorrectly “read their minds” 65 percent of the time! When we are interacting with someone we know well, or have worked with for a while, we take mental shortcuts by assuming that we know what they mean, or why they feel the way they do, or what they are going to say next. By stepping outside our space of “rightness,” and being genuinely curious about what the accurate picture is, we create an atmosphere of full engagement. After all, the only way you can be sure of being right is to ask, and then to listen to what you are told.
In our busy lives, we tend to default to conversational or even cosmetic listening, and we forget how meaningful it is to give the gift of our full attention to the speaker. We mentally climb over the words, looking eagerly for a gap to squeeze in our story or experience of the topic.
When we are listening actively, then that is all we are doing. We are not thinking about what we are going to say next, or reflecting on whether we agree with what has just been said or thinking about the better story that we want to tell. Active listening is about being completely present and of service to the speaker, taking in every word that is being said, with the intention of understanding fully. The focus used for listening actively enables us to allow insights to come through, because the chatter of our mind has been quieted through the active-listening process. I’ve noticed time and again how the energy created by active listening is enough to encourage others to really open up, even when discussing a topic that they are normally defensive about. It’s an effective way of pouring oil over the troubled waters of a difficult discussion.
Be the person you’d like to have an interaction with
Those who emit a positive energy are inspiring to be around. We feel charged after spending time with them. Those who demonstrate a genuine curiosity in who we are can make us feel remarkable. Dale Carnegie was once quoted as saying: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” The more you enable others to talk about themselves, the more fascinating you become! We all have our down days, of course. But the rest of the time, we have a clear choice about whether to express ourselves positively and constructively or whether to be the person who drains everyone’s energy.