Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
The Key Skill
Remember Earl Nightingale? He was a fellow who did small
bits on the radio years ago about how we might do better,
and in this wonderful voice that sounded like gravel
drenched with sugar maple, Earl Nightingale spun
unforgettable stories. He wrote a book called “The
Strangest Secret,” and that secret was that our lives tend
to move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts. If
you can find Earl Nightingale tapes, even though they were
done decades ago, their usefulness and practicality is just
as valuable in this century as it was in the last.
I know a “secret” too. It’s neither my wisdom nor an
original discovery, because others farther down the path
taught me this skill is available to us all. Wouldn’t it be
wonderful if someone came along and provided us with the
primary key to doing better in the world of business and in
life? What if a wise person had discovered a set of
principals that would genuinely change your life, your
ability to sell a product, and to increase your bank account
as well? As Eliza Dolittle said, “Wouldn’t that be loverly?”
A number of researchers have made positive strides in
that direction. Some like Daniel Goldman in his book,
“Working With Emotional Intelligence,” Howard Gardner’s
“Frames of Mind,” and even though some
wouldn’t put Dale Carnegie in the same category, ( I would)
he too, spent his life working on this so-called “secret.”
What is the secret skill? Here’s a hint: it’s not your
grade-point average in college, or your discipline of
study. It’s not tied to your geographic background, or the
income level of your parents, and I.Q. has very little to do
with it. (Another hint – AG kids do it so well.) You may
have a 4.0 GPA, but without this ability, you won’t fare as
well as you might, but…even if your grades are not the best,
and you have the “secret,” your future can be bright.
Sadly, there is no place in any formal educational setting
to be taught this magic from first grade through PhD.
If you have a cluster of traits and behaviors that we
might put under an umbrella heading of “interpersonal
skills,” you possess the number one predictor of success in
the world of work. And the really good news is, each and
every one of us have the ability to develop these skills.
Some say you have to be born with personality or
charisma…okay, that’s wrong. It’s not necessary that you be
tall, attractive, rich, or extremely intelligent. You can
develop these skills by practicing on being you. Powerful
people do it, and we can too.
By powerful people, I don’t mean senators, corporate
presidents, or general officers in the military. I mean
people who have strong interpersonal skills. Here’s what
When we encounter these individuals, the first thing
they do is raise their upper body just a bit, their eyes
lock on yours, their hand is extended, and they greet you
with a smile. They often say their name first, as in, “My
name is John, Mr. Jones, and it’s nice to meet you, sir.”
Note there is no phony, glad-handing encyclopedia salesman
pumping your arm off here. “Phony” never works. The most
remarkable characteristic about these people is that they
are just being who they are. They are sincere, genuine and
authentic, and they look into our eyes.
How long should you look at someone when you meet him or
her? Long enough for the color of their eyes to register on
you. (Avoid the psychotic stare.) Then the web of your
hand fits into the web of theirs. No need to squeeze all
the blood out of their body, but do provide a solid, firm
handshake. If you are one of those who do the
“crawfish-pincher” thing, here is a really solid tip for
you… change the way you shake hands.
People who look
at us, speak to us, and remember our names tend to do
better. Like great ropers, they reach out. As for
remembering names, almost everyone says, “I can remember
faces, but I’m terrible with names.” Another great tip -
stop saying that. Stop saying to your self that you can’t
remember names. (Whatever you say to your self comes
true. People who say they can’t do a thing are always
right.) Instead, say to your self, “Studies show the
average person remembers some 1300 names, so if I can
remember my mother’s name, my spouse’s name, my children, my
teachers, and my dog’s name - I can do better at remembering
Be aggressive when remembering names. Instead of
saying you can’t, say the person’s name to yourself several
times, and do what memory experts do. They write the name
down and study the list. (The secret of all A students, by
the way.) If you forget someone’s name, ask him or her
again. Nothing is more flattering than someone remembering
your name or being interested in you.
People who do well in the world of work - and in life –
may have product knowledge, may know company policy, and may
even be experts on regulatory requirements - but they also
do something else. They work all their lives on developing
skills to deal with other human beings. These mentioned are
just the tip of the iceberg. Delve deeply into this
subject, and you may be surprised to find the greatest key
to success resides in a place you might never expect to look
or think to explore…and that place is inside you.
We have not been short-changed.
We have already been given everything we need.
We just have to help it come out.
Ed. Note: In January of 2012,
RFD-TV’s All Around Performance Horse TV, and Roping and
Riding with Tyler Magnus, will broadcast the first embedded
segment of The Advice Barn, a viewer call-in show hosted by
Dr. Harry Anderson, with featured guests, Dr. Michael
Johnson, and Dr. J. D. Norris.
The Advice Barn is sponsored by Total Feeds, Inc. maker of
Total Equine, Dr. Harry Anderson’s creation of an
all-purpose feed designed for the horse. Total Feeds, Inc.
sold thousands of tons of Total Equine last year.