Standing Out From The Crowd

Out Of The Crowd
As we discussed in yesterday’s post, I’ve been thinking. When it comes to experiencing sustainable and long-term success, which is most important, “what you know” or “who you know”? It’s a little like the Nature vs. Nurture discussions, or the chicken and the egg.

Well, it turns out that in terms of true success, I believe the answer is neither. In fact, the answer isn’t even part of the popular expression. Others have weighed in, adding on to the old adage. For example:

In the age of social media, it’s no longer just what you know, or who you know. Now there’s a turnabout: it’s also who knows you, and what they know about you. Of course, what they know about you is what you choose to let them know about you; what information you share with them or present to them.

Lee Iacocca, the legendary executive with Ford and Chrysler, is reported by John Maxwell to have said that success comes from who you know, and also how you present yourself to each of those people.

I don’t disagree that how we present ourselves to others is important. In the beginning, it’s the first impression. And we all know that “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. So it’s gotta be important. But then we hear that “first impressions can be misleading”, and “things aren’t always what they seem”, and certainly “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”!

With all these idioms running around, it’s hard to know what to believe! Still, as our relationships progress we must continue to present ourselves and our ideas to others, and how we do that certainly matters.

So, it’s time for a quiz. In terms of real sustainable success, which is most important:

a) what you know
b) who you know (and who knows you)
c) how you present yourself to (b)
d) all of the above
e) none of the above

Before you answer, may I offer to you one last thought that will lead to what I believe is the most critical element?

While smarts, or smart packaging, may get you in the door… over the long haul, enough tough stuff will show up to strip off the paint and reveal what’s inside. That’s when character attributes like perseverance, stability, honesty, selflessness, dependability, loyalty, courage and trust will carry you to victory. It is also when the lack of these characteristics will sink your ship.

True success is based on relationships, and relationships are built on long-term interactions of one sort or another between individuals. And positive, long-term interactions are only possible where good character exists. This is true in every aspect of our lives, personal or professional.

Given the choice between Character and Competence, I’ll take Character every time. I can train someone to be competent; I can give away my entire skill set to a person of character. On the other hand, if I can’t trust them it is going to be a very short relationship.

Given the choice between Character and Connections, it’s not even close. Because over time, people attract to them what they are. You can count on behavior to repeat; poor character means more of the same just waiting to bite you around some future corner. It’s just a matter of time.

So, I believe the answer to the quiz is (e) none of the above. And I will rewrite what I hope will one day be an even more popular saying:

“True success comes not only from what you know, and who you know; but most importantly from who you are.”



Who you are will separate you from the crowd.


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