Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

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 they do…
     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 names.”
     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.

                                                                                               --Michael Johnson

 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.



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