“Confidence is knowing that you will succeed. If it doesn’t happen today, it will happen tomorrow. If it does not come with this project, it will come with the next one. Confidence is knowing that you can acquire whatever skills and knowledge you do not yet possess. It is knowing that you are capable of working hard and tenaciously enough to go the distance, however far that may be. It is knowing that as much as you appreciate the cheerleaders in your life, you would keep going even if nobody believed in you. And sometimes nobody will believe in you. That’s when confidence turns into real class.” – from Chapter 7. Class and Confidence
HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED YOUR LEADERSHIP QUALITIES AS CLASS ACT?
What is business? What is life? What lies in the center of these? Yes, people. You cannot build your business without interactions with other people. You don’t build your life solely by yourself. You are not created to thrive alone in this world by the Creator. Then what should you do when you have to co-exist with other people? How should you do? The answer is this. Treat others as special beings as you are. Build yourself with positive qualities so that you can reach people and help people build those positive qualities as well. People will never forget you when you lead yourself with such unforgettable acts thereby inspiring and leading them.
This book is all about it. Make yourself unforgettable(and by doing so, make a positive impact to others). Here, those qualities that make yourself unforgettable are termed as “the class act.” They say some people have innate quality of class. I am sure you have met someone with that unique energy that made him/her truly unforgettable. Likewise, you probably have met someone with total absence of it that made you forget sooner or forever. It’s not easy to define but it’s easy to detect -both the presence and absence of it. You can just see it. What are the key qualities then? Let’s go through some key qualities that will make YOU unforgettable in this book.
- A Distinctive Example of What Class Epitomizes
The book develops around ten or so key qualities and starts with the famous episode of the historical presidential election of John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon. Evidently, what lacked in Richard Nixon was ‘class’, whereas what John F. Kennedy epitomized was what ‘class’ is all about. According to the author, despite the fact that John F. Kennedy was comparatively new and a less established name, the decisive victory through the first-ever TV debate was possible because ‘John F. Kennedy’s class advantage came in that he seemed cool, calm and in control. Nixon may have had the content, but Kennedy had the class. What have endured are images of a relaxed and confident-looking John F. Kennedy-clearly the class act, despite that Richard Nixon was much more experienced in government and much better known.’
Using this example, the author, as a good introduction for what he will develop throughout the book, thereby describes people with class being firstly, the great communicator who can clearly communicate who they are and what their vision is. They speak in terms of vision which is not about what they’ve done or will do but about what they can see. Secondly, they are a great communicator who puts that shared vision into simple words that everyone can understand. Thirdly, they want to help others become the best versions of themselves. They are not driven to lead others but to serve them. They have the ability to create success for others. Just as Kennedy did, they paint a picture of how others can do it for themselves.
- Inspiration, Not Imitation
In today’s business marketplace, being well qualified is not enough since the similar good qualifications abound. Everyone looks exactly the same. Nobody is able to say, “I’ve got ideas that are really new and different!” This is a problem in today’s business world but at the same time it also implies that anyone who values originality and knows how to put it to work is valued. You need inspiration(not imitation)-the power to create energy and excitement by what you say, how you look, and above all, what you do.
Also, you have to remember that business leadership is based on two elements: vision and technical competence. Top people in a given industry always embody at least one of those two elements. Sometimes, but rarely, they embody both of them like Steven Jobs. Vision is the ability to see what other people don’t and create market or innovate for that.
- Listening as the Key Communication Skill
Listening effectively to others can be the most fundamental and powerful communication tool of all. As skilled listeners, you know how to adopt responses to the speaker and the situation. There are several different levels of listening but in the end, the secret to effective listening is nothing more than basic respect for another person. You’re listening, not judging. To the extent that you are nonjudgmental, people will be willing to talk candidly with you. Remaining composed even when you feel your buttons are being pushed is a powerful expression of real class. This is especially important when people communicate something personal or painful. Respect is different from just feeling sorry for someone. It requires real understanding of other’s feelings. Once this happened, the foundation has been laid for you to share your own point of view.
- Passionate Principle – Ethics
High technology and revolution in communications has changed the game in the business world. It’s much harder for an individual or a company to sustain a competitive advantage based simply on a product or a service since technology enabled to clone or improve whatever is being offered. As a result, relationships and reputation are becoming much more important. Ethics is getting important in this regard.
Over and above dollars and cents, ethics has a direct bearing on how you feel about yourself. You need and deserve to enjoy your success to the fullest. That can’t happen if you know that you’ve cut corners along the way. The author quotes an old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” To be a class act, stand for yourself first of all. See yourself as a creation that you can’t afford to risk. By doing that, you’ll also see that passionate principle is grounded in positive self-interest. You won’t be tempted into doing things for money or power, because you know that you’re already rich.
Ethics is not just an issue of morality. It also has direct impact on profit and loss. Can anyone imagine bigger financial disasters than what happened to Enron and WorldCom? Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost-not just by the guilty parties, but also by investors and former employees. Act on principle. Invest in establishing a strong passionate-principle and unforgettable identity as a class act.
- Class and Confidence
Why does confidence matter in class? People figure you know more about yourself than they do. So if you’re down on yourself, they probably will be so. Why is confidence so important? Well, when you lack confidence in yourself, other people are likely to agree with you. But for the same reason, when you project an air of confidence and self-assurance, they’ll feel good about you. And always remember, other people want to feel good about you. They want to connect with you as a professional and perhaps also as a friend. Your job is just to make that as easy as possible!
Confidence doesn’t mean certainty that you’re going to succeed. It means certainty that you’ll do your best. Confidence is also the ability to recognize your limitations without becoming preoccupied by them. Grandiosity, on the other hand, is an unrealistic inflation of who you are and what you can do. Grandiose people ignore the possibility of anything but success. When setbacks occur, these people are taken by surprise and have a hard time recovering.
The author suggests five key social skills that make you a confident class act. First, about how you feel: The capacity to relax in a social or business setting. If you seem confident and composed, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter that same state of mind in everywhere. Second, the ability to listen. Third, confident interaction: empathy and genuine interest in the experiences of another person. Fourth, rapport. When you feel empathy, you are more apt to build rapport. Build rapport by mirroring or matching the verbal behavior of the other person. Also, appropriate eye-contact is very important.
- Patience with a Purpose
Definition of patience: patience is the ability to wait without experiencing anger, anxiety, or frustration. Since patience is entirely internal process, the author firstly suggest that you grasp the simple fact that when your ability to control external events is limited or nonexistent, you must learn to control your inner response. Helen Keller said: we could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world. Helen Keller’s life was not only joy, but she chose to see the absence of joy as the means for developing other capacities. As she said, use the joyless experience you’re having for learning patience. As a second point, the author emphasizes that you don’t just endure it passively, and don’t make a fool of yourself by externalizing it. Instead, turn it into an active opportunity for growth. The author suggests us use those two principles to create a kind of test for yourself. Challenge yourself to suppress your anger, anxiety, and frustration. Make a conscious effort. Handle pervasive experience-waiting in our lives and difficulties to go with it-with good humor, with class and most of all with patience.
- Intelligence Beyond Intellect – Importance of Intuition
Here is a one study result the author introduces: A leading business school studied two thousand CEOs whose companies had doubled their profits in the past five years. Eighty percent of these executives reported that they relied on intuitive approaches to reach important decisions. They studied all relevant information and available data, but they still came to conclusions based on factors that could not be quantified. So often the best decision is a hunch that defies logic. It’s an inner feeling or flash of insight that brings the optimal solution. Professionals who are both rational thinkers and highly intuitive decision-makers do best in the real world. They have a distinct advantage in meeting challenges and solving problems.
A class act knows that at times things won’t work out as well as hoped. When that happens, unforgettable people know how to make the best of it. They also trust that things will happen differently next time. And sometimes things will not only happen differently, but in ways you never expected.
We all know the famous case of how DNA’s structures have been found by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1960s who won Nobel Prize. After hugely frustrating attempts, one night Crick had dreamed about a coiled snake and it all changed the game for their study after. One crucial fact to understand: Crick would never have had that dream if he hadn’t been thinking so hard about the problem. It was no coincidence that a dream about the structure of DNA came to him rather than someone else. He had paid his dues in terms of conscious thought. This is where the “class” aspect of this story reveals itself. Having the dream was not a class act, but becoming the person who would have it definitely was. By making such as sustained effort over such as long time, Crick’s unconscious energy was mobilized.
To develop this intelligence-i.e. intuition, the author suggests we use a journal to capture ideas, observations, and perceptions. Write down dreams, feelings, and hunches. If we have a business meeting tomorrow with people we haven’t met, guess how they’ll look and how they’ll approach the business they planned to conduct. Record flashes of insight and keep a record of decisions we make on that basis. Check back occasionally to see which of our hunches were correct. By keeping score, we’ll be able to evaluate our accuracy and possibly increase it. Making a conscious effort counts.
- Courage, the Flipside of Fear
Courage matters-more than we think. Winston Churchill called courage “the first of human qualities, because it guarantees all the others.” That’s what we mean by the courage of our convictions. If we lack the courage to hold on to our beliefs in the moment of their testing, not just when they are in accord with those of others but also when they go against threatening opposition, then our beliefs mean nothing. The point is, courage is an energy that manifests in our everyday lives by helping us control our fears.
Fear of failure is closely related to fear of criticism and fear of rejection. Unforgettable people master their fear of failure, but others are incapacitated by it. But in the largest sense, there is no failure; there is only feedback. Successful people look at mistakes as outcomes or results, not as failure. Unsuccessful people look at mistakes as permanent and personal. Buckminster Fuller wrote, “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence only of trial and error experience. Humans have learned only through mistakes.” Most people self-limit themselves. Most people do not achieve a fraction of what they are capable of achieving because they are afraid to try and because they are afraid they will fail.
The author makes an important case about fear. ‘You are not afraid for your life. You’re afraid of making a mistake. You’re afraid of failure. Most often, you’re just afraid of making a fool of yourself.’ To help with this, he asks us to remember that fear in the modern world is almost always a reaction to what’s going on in your mind-because it’s usually not going on anywhere else. Understanding that fear begins in the mind is a crucial step toward reacting courageously. Your brain may instinctively react with fear, but just by understanding that reaction, you can gain access to courage.
In dealing with fear vs. courage, you must bear in mind at all times that discouragement is part of the game. You will feel discouraged at times-which is when you must show the most courage. You need to remind yourself that discouragement will get your nowhere. It will only help drag you down even more. So be quick and get it out of your system and choose encouragement. Encouragement can and must come from within. Tell yourself that you are capable of achieving great things. Tell yourself that you’re smart. Tell yourself that you’ll achieve your goals because you are willing to put in the necessary effort. Above all, tell yourself that you’re a class act and an unforgettable person-in the past, in the present, and in the future.
CONTEMPLATION: TEN SELF-DEVELOPMENT BOOKS IN ONE. THIS CAN BECOME YOUR GO-TO-BOOK IN ANY ADVERSITY
‘In business and social situations, why is it that some people make such a positive impression? What behaviors actually imprint people on your memory to the point where they’re unforgettable, while some other people you can’t forget soon enough? What are the actual behaviors that define someone as a confident class act?’ Are you one of the ‘some’ people? Please say yes! I do believe most leaders more or less have these positive qualities already. But as mentioned, being fallen into one of the same is not enough. The world changes in faster pace than ever and being one of them doesn’t leave a mark anywhere-i.e. you are prone to be forgettable, easily. This book is one of my 5 treasure books that I will carry forever. I read this book for the first time in 2012 and re-read it this time for my book review. Still a very good reminder to push myself up.
Aside from the most impressive parts mentioned as above, the other qualities are as below.
- Class In a Crisis
- Honesty With Honor
- Empathy For Everyone
- Stress Management
- Resilience Without Regret
- Appreciation Beyond The Comfort Zone
- Money And Class
- Don’t Worry, Be Classy
- Achievement, Productivity, and Beyond
You can start the book in sequence, but you can directly go into each separate subject at any time. In second reading, I feel that this book is actually a sum of a lot of other books under one unforgettable name – class. I would like to say that class act realized in our life-be it in personal or in business-is the culmination of our internal process. Of course some are definitely innate for some people, but mostly it’s an acknowledgement of these qualities and constant practice to make them theirs for most us. By the way, let me ask you a question here. Why do you bother to be a class act? Actually, the answer is closely related to the question of ‘Why do you bother to be a leader?’ Also, the question of ‘Why do you want to be an influencer?’ By now, you would probably know why being a class act matters to you. Leading doesn’t come easily. Leading results from the example you show. It starts from one person-you-who has resilience, integrity, charisma and will-power and who never compromises to your good principle that you’ve built patiently. The important point is the world benefits from your being a class act because it’s contagious. Not everybody can be a class act because it’s a very difficult internal process. So you become a valuable being to the world by shedding light to the world by your example.
I want to share five qualities I enjoyed most from this book and close my review with one remark.
We all know what confidence is. But the author elaborates further on what true confidence is. Many people may believe that they are confident in whatever endeavors. But actually, they may confuse confidence with grandiosity.
‘Confidence doesn’t mean certainty that you’re going to succeed. It means certainty that you’ll do your best. Confidence is also the ability to recognize your limitations without becoming preoccupied by them. Grandiosity, on the other hand, is an unrealistic inflation of who you are and what you can do. Grandiose people ignore the possibility of anything but success. When setbacks occur, these people are taken by surprise and have a hard time recovering.’ – from The Truth About Self-Confidence
In this sense, I believe confidence is faith with realistic and unpredictable outcome in mind. Many entrepreneurs who either want to start a new venture or stretch out their business into new area should always keep in mind that they shouldn’t become grandiose in their venture. We’ve seen over-confident Masco’s case from the book ‘The Strategist.’ They probably was confident without real outcome in mind or was grandiose with just rose-colored future in mind. Building confidence is certainly a internal process. And personally I believe it’s the most important quality in class-act. All other class act qualities are only possible when you believe in yourself. It’s faith in yourself and this leads to faith in all the other endeavors.
Second, Passionate Principle.
I couldn’t agree more with the author on today’s changed world where high technology and revolutionized communication can produce copies or better ones easily. There’s no secret anymore in this flat globalized world. What was possibly easy to hide in old days is impossible in today’s world. And since we know it’s difficult to keep your principle and acting on your principle, we value it even more. It is your brand and your reputation.
I said class act is contagious because it’s very difficult for any person who doesn’t acknowledge the virtue in it. Likewise, the lack of class act by one person does tremendous harm to many innocent people especially when that one person is a leader. Why do you think the first female President in South Korea was impeached? Why are many smart people in her cabinet who even dealt with law in prison? How did one person who certainly lacked personal principle in Enron drive the whole national economy into chaos? The bigger issue is the damage in one country doesn’t stop in one specific country any more in this everything-is-interconnected-flat world in our time.
Another excellent point discussed by the author is about the today’s business ethics.
‘We are writing more laws. We are enacting more criminal statutes with harsher penalties. Strengthening laws is understandable-but it is also unlikely to solve the ethical problems of corporate life. The reason is, criminal laws cause people to focus on what is legal rather than what is right. […] Today the federal criminal law includes more than three hundred fraud and misrepresentation statutes. Most go far beyond anything our law used to cover. With all this criminal law, we ought to have achieved a high level of corporate honesty by now. Current events suggest otherwise. Maybe that’s because we’ve turned what used to be moral questions into legal technicalities. In today’s world, executives are more likely to ask what they can get away with legally than to worry about what’s fair and honest. […] As more criminal laws cover technical violations, more of those white-collar criminal trials will deal with technicalities. The result may be to trivialize corporate crime and undermine respect for law in general. The word wrong loses its bite. Expanding the criminal-fraud laws may be an easy political call, but it is not a solution. We may wind up with tougher penalties, but we won’t get more principled behavior.’ – from The Limits of The Law
This discussion on passionate principle made me ponder on this subject for some time. In today’s business world everything is commercialized and measured that way. Right vs. Wrong seems to have lost its value long time ago. Where do we have to start? I found the answer from here.
‘To be a class act, stand for yourself first of all. See yourself as a creation that you can’t afford to risk. By doing that, you’ll also see that passionate principle is grounded in positive self-interest. You won’t be tempted into doing things for money or power, because you know that you’re already rich.‘ – from What Really Matters?
Compromise and greed that cause unethical behaviors come from the scarcity mindset that you are not enough-i.e. we are not rich enough, not powerful enough, and so on. It’s important to remember that as a leader you are a creation who is precious enough for taking a risk. You are already rich.
‘In old times, companies worked to get better and they seldom worked to become different. They didn’t need to rethink their essential reason for being. But today fundamental change is essential, not only for companies as a whole but also for the human beings comprised by them. Collectively and individually, success no longer hinges on momentum or market share. It demands resilience-the power to dynamically reinvent yourself as circumstances change. In this sense, resilience is more than responding to a onetime crisis or rebounding from a setback. It’s about continually anticipating and adjusting to shifting trends.’
Does this sound familiar? I have covered this important aspect in my book review for ‘The Strategist.’ The book dedicated a large portion of it to emphasize the importance of reinventing yourself. Here the author also highlights the importance of resilience to be a class act. Even if the ability to bounce back seems to be an innate human capacity, creating that strength is essential for anyone who aspires to be a class act. Class is the ability to find extra energy when it’s needed. Further, class means finding even more extra energy after the reserves have been used up. You have a responsibility to maximize that capacity in your life every day. Harness your inner strengths and rebound more quickly from a setback or a challenge, whether it’s a job loss, an illness, a disaster, or the death of a loved one.
Fourth, Inspiration, not Imitation.
I was very much shocked after I read this chapter and immediately felt thankful that I was lucky enough to grab this book. ‘Everyone looks great on paper and in interviews, but everyone also looks exactly the same.’ Well-qualified talents abound but they are more or less the same. This sounds grave but how true this is! Who can shout out, “I’ve got ideas that are really new and different!” This reminded me of Peter Thiel’s ‘Zero to One.’ You can easily copy to go from 1 to n. But it’s not easy to go from zero to one because it involves creation from nothing. How original are you? How are you different in positive aspect? The reason why we cannot answer easily to these questions explains both the importance and difficulty of achieving them.
The author suggests to become a person who values originality and knows how to put it to work. By focusing on what you’ll do right instead of what you won’t do wrong, you will instantly set yourself apart from the crowd. For this, you need to have an insight about your strengths and weakness, and the intelligence about how to maximize your contribution. And most of all, you need to have inspiration-the power to create energy and excitement by what you say, how you look, and above all, what you do. I would like to interpret this as ‘Find what you love, do what you can do best and share this passion with what you say, how you look and what you do.’ Period.
Fifth, How to do!
This book is very good both to leaders and to managers. We instinctively know or understand what the qualities are to be a class act. But it’s not easy to move down to ‘how to’ stage. The good point of this book is it covers how to do it in real and practical terms for most of the qualities throughout the book such as in ‘How To Build Confidence In Your Team’ or ‘Stress Management’. The book finishes its long list of class act qualities with ‘how productively you will drive through and achieve the result.’ I hope you also decide to be a class act from today and become an unforgettable person. What for? For your self-interest and for a better world that will be made by ‘your’ example! I am leaving the quote from the book on ‘Achievement, Productivity, and Beyond.’
‘Most personal development books begin with a focus on real-world achievement. That can take many forms, from goal setting, to wealth building, to ascending the corporate ladder. But we’re saving achievement for last-not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s the culmination of everything a class act strives for. No class act would want material rewards without earning those rewards-and earning them is something class acts definitely know how to do. They deliver even more than they promise. They do it even sooner than was agreed upon. And if they don’t make it look easy, they at least seem to enjoy the challenges. In short, class acts are real achievers emotionally, spiritually, and almost always financially.’
Lastly, there’s one point that I want to mention about this book. There are no pictures or no visual descriptions that may help appeal easily to the readers. A little bit of humor or a picture will help the readers enjoy more to the unforgettable journey to a class act with this book.
RATING: 4 out of 5
ABOUT THE BOOK
Author(s): Dale Carnegie Training
Published: 2011, UK
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.