Characteristics to Cultivate

Not only is the world a crowded place, but most of the people in it are card-carrying members of the crowd. Only a relative few actually – and deserve to – stand out.

If you want to be one of those stand outs, you can begin by cultivating some important personal characteristics that help to set you apart from others and make you someone others notice, respect, and willingly follow.

These characteristics include:

A Habit of Speaking Your Piece – One of the easiest ways to stand out from the crowd is to develop worthwhile opinions or conclusions, and let others know what they are. Plenty of people have opinions or conclusions about current events, work projects, historical watersheds and the like. But many of these don’t recognize the facts or even make sense. Your opinions and conclusions should reflect the known facts of the matter, a reasonable amount of analysis, and an understanding of human nature. In simple terms, they should be opinions or conclusions that others can support.

A Willingness to Express Your Passion – The more you express what you really feel about an issue, a project, a problem, or an opportunity, the more you will distinguish yourself from the crowd. This is because commitment, conviction, energy, and passion are relatively rare, and very appealing to others.

A Readiness to Take Credit Where Due, and Only Where Due – Most people are shy about standing out from the crowd. They lack the self-esteem to say “I did this, and it’s good.” If you’re willing to own that attitude when you have earned it, you’ll immediately have the crowd on your side. But be careful: taking credit for others’ work, ideas, or successes is not only unethical, it’s a behavior that will turn the crowd against you.

An Obvious Comfort with Silence – Most people are uncomfortable when the room gets quiet, and they nervously fill the silence with whatever comes to mind. Often, they babble. One good way to stand out from the crowd is to get comfortable with occasional silence. This not only allows other people to offer their own ideas, opinions, and conclusions, it marks you as someone special, someone worth listening to when you do speak.

An Ability to Ask Thought-Provoking Questions – The right question can turn almost any conversation toward a more beneficial and worthwhile direction. It can also serve as a shovel for digging up useful information you and others both want and need to know. The more often you can ask a thought-provoking question, the more people will look to you for this kind of guidance.

The Skills of Motivating and Delegating Effectively – There is a strict limit on how much you can accomplish with your own two hands. By learning to motivate others and delegate tasks effectively, you’ll tend to multiply the raw amount of useful results you can be responsible for producing.

A Solid Focus on the Point at Hand – One of the ways that people disguise how little they know or how unwilling they are to commit to a course of action is to ramble, talking about “how we got here” and outlining “various options” without favoring any one of them. Sometimes, that kind of talk is helpful. But more often, you’ll gain others’ respect and move a sticky situation forward by avoiding all the fluff and simply arguing in favor of your take on the most fruitful next step.

A Mastery of Body Language – Words are important, of course, but communication involves a great many other “channels,” including body language. If you stand tall, make steady direct eye contact, position yourself properly, and speak in a strong voice, others will quickly recognize that you are someone out of the ordinary.

An Empathic Nature – Standing out from the crowd need not include disregarding your humanity and connections to others. There’s never a good reason to be inconsiderate, rude, or nasty to others. You’ll gain more traction for rising above the crowd if you always treat everyone with respect, politeness, and tact.

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