Most people don’t realize how brilliant they are.
This stems from:
A lack of self-belief.
A lack of external affirmation.
A lack of human mirrors in their life.
Or, maybe they’re just too close to themselves to see it.
“Standing on a whale fishing for minnows,” as the Buddhists say.
THE POINT IS: If you want people to fall in love with you – you have to help them fall in love with themselves first.
Thanks for that one, Dixie Dynamite.
One way to do so is by giving them a front row seat to their own brilliance.
Whether you’re a coach, manager, parent, executive – or simply someone who wants to make others feel essential – consider these strategies for ushering your people to the best seat in the house:
1. Be their permission slip. Not everybody is comfortable being smart. In fact, many people require permission to bring their brilliance to the table. Without it, their capability may never come across.
The good news is, there’s no formula. There’s no seven-step system. Often times, giving people a front row seat to their own brilliance is a matter of looking them in the eye and saying:
“I believe in you. I believe in your abilities. And I know that you carry something amazing with you that’s yours and yours alone, so, I invite you to bring it stage center and set the world on fire.”
That’s what approachable leaders do: They make it okay for people. Okay to be smart, okay to be awesome and okay to be the most rocking version of themselves, every day. How can you give people permission to share what they’re afraid of revealing?
2. Put something into people. As an author, I’ve learned that a great book doesn’t inform you – it infects you. Interestingly, in the leadership realm, the same principle applies: You have to breathe life into people’s understanding of themselves. Otherwise they may never realize their own potential.
As Benjamin Hoff explained in The Tao of Pooh, “No matter how useful we may be, sometimes it takes us a while to recognize our own value.” That’s why infection is so critical: You’re putting something into people.
From possibility to vision to enthusiasm to energy, that’s what an approachable leaders remember: It’s not just how people experience you – it’s how they experience themselves in relation to you. How will you send people back with a lighter step?
3. Dig for documentation. Any time one of my colleagues says something even remotely interesting, intelligent or creative, I always offer the same response: “That’s terrific – have you written about that yet?”
Usually their answer is no, which is fine. That’s not the point. The goal of this response is to honor people’s words with an immediate foundation of affirmation, in the hopes that external validation from someone they trust will inspire them to explore their thoughts in greater detail.
What’s more, when you let people know that their words have weight often enough, eventually enough evidence will accumulate to convince them of their brilliance. When people bring you their ideas, are you fundamentally affirmative?
4. Puncture their delusions of inadequacy. Next time someone tries to convince you how much they suck at something, simply ask them, “According to whom?” Odds are, they won’t have a valid source. Probably themselves. And as we all know, nobody is a harsher critic than he person looking back at us in the mirror.
Another bullshit-calling question I find helpful is, “What evidence do you have to support that belief?” It’s a bit annoying, but it does drive home your point.
Or, if either of those suggestions bomb, try this: Help people replay mental reruns of past victories. Mount the evidence heap high enough where they’ll have no choice but to think, “You know what? I’m actually pretty awesome after all.”
Ultimately, by showing faith in others, they believe in themselves, feel more highly of themselves and identify the stories they’re telling to themselves. How acute is your nose for personal falsehood?
5. Roll playback on unintentional music. One of the coolest books I’ve ever read is Unintentional Music, by Lane Arye. His philosophy is that the things we normally consider to be garbage can enrich us. And that when we choose to see disturbing or unwanted materials as potentially meaningful to our work, the final recordings of our life’s music is that much more beautiful.
Next time you’re with someone who does or says something accidentally awesome, refuse to overlook the value of their unintentional notes. Use Phrases That Payses like, “Say that again!” “Wait, what was that?” and “Did you hear what you just said?”
By forcing people to pause, rethink and repeat what just slipped out, they might discover gold. Hell, that’s how most inventions, rock songs and art pieces were created: By accident.
Learn to attend to people’s words with a sense of deep democracy. That there’s always something to treasure. They’ll return the favor by treasuring you. Are you allowing, embracing and using people’s verbal accidents?
6. Memorialize the impact. It’s one thing to tell someone they’re brilliant; it’s another thing to quote that person on your blog, published it for the entire world to see and then email them with the link as an official thank-you for the inspiration.
That’s what I do. Every single day. And it takes less than five minutes. The cool part is: The Internet is forever. Which means that person’s quote isn’t going away. Which means they don’t just have a front row seat to their own brilliance – they have season tickets.
The best part is: You don’t need a blog to do this. You need to listen, you need to remember, you need to publish on a public platform and you need to personally let the person know you’ve done so. People don’t forget. Whose name did you put up in lights last week?
HERE’S THE BIGGER PICTURE: Recognition isn’t just an interactional gift – it’s also an emotional release. And when you give people a front row seat to their own brilliance, a few things happen.
You create a world of delight.
Which increases their level of engagement.
Which reminds people of their fundamental efficacy.
You create a significant emotional event.
Which establishes a memory that sticks in their mind forever.
Which drives people to display the work they’re capable of.
You create a safe haven for people to fall in love with themselves.
Which helps them fall in love with you too.
Which helps people pull out their inner vitality.
Ultimately, giving people a front row seat to their own brilliance requires radical transfer of emphasis.
Because it’s not who you know. It's not who knows you.
It’s whose life is better because they know you.
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Monday, January 10, 2011
Most people don’t realize how brilliant they are.