Learn to live life on your own terms

HAVE you ever known anyone who naturally just attracts others to them? I’m not talking about vigorously extroverted people who become the centre of attention at parties and gatherings. And I’m not talking about so-called “charismatic” people who, with their charm and style, can influence the pants off the most resistant opponent.

No. This is another breed entirely. I’m talking about someone who is special, unique and somewhat rare. Someone who, whenever you spend time with them, uplifts and energises you without seeming to do anything special.

It is more about who they are, rather than what they do, that makes them so attractive to you. Somehow they add massive value to your life just by being there.

As I write these words, I am reflecting on a fascinating conver-sation I had recently with a good friend of mine. We were discussing how some people just have this ability to attract others, and we questioned what it was about them that made gave them that quality.

In the end, we determined some key attributes that contributed to their magnetism.

While not all of these attributes may be found in any one person, any one of them by themselves was a powerful attractor.

The first was that they were unquestionably “on the path”. Perhaps a better way to put it is “on a mission”. They seemed to know what they were about and where they were going with their lives. They had a dream, a vision, and they were going about making it happen, usually without too much fanfare or fuss.

Of course, one naturally thinks of the Mandelas and Ghandis of this world in this context. But if you look closer to home, you’ll find these people in unexpected places.

More often than not, they’re out of the public eye, because they don’t need the media to get them to where they want to go.

They’re in the workplace, but not necessarily in traditional leadership roles, because they usually don’t conform to the protocol that comes with management.

An associate of mine lives in London and is pursuing a career as a musician. We began our careers at one of the “Big Five” consulting firms together. Extremely intelligent and highly regarded by the firm we both worked for, my associate’s real passion was to write and play music.

Torn between the financial security and intellectual challenge of his consulting role, and a deeper, riskier calling, he deliberated for years before committing to his current path.

His courage to commit to his passion inspires me, as well as many others. People who come in contact with him are drawn-in by his music and his fierce determination.

My friend and I agreed that such people attract others to them because it is so clearly obvious that they are fully living their lives in a way that provides them with a sense of meaning and purpose. They are committed.

Others, perhaps, through this person can see the possibility of achieving the same sense of purpose for their own lives, or that the vision that they are living, the message that they are sending, speaks a certain truth to others.

There’s an Aboriginal saying: “You must become the change you want to see in the world.” Or, as George Bernard Shaw said: “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, create them.”

That’s what these people do as a matter of habit.

These people lead. They may or may not be in charge of people, but because of who they are, they naturally attract followers.

Therefore, by definition, they are leaders.

Secondly, these people walk their talk. They display integrity at all times – what you see is what you get.

I think the world, particularly in the corporate sector, is chock full of theorists in positions of power who preach from the latest leadership texts about the latest models and benchmarks for excellence, while their own backyard is a total mess. Just ask anyone who has been on the wrong end of a management consultant’s invoice.

Who would you rather hire – a stockbroker who has become wealthy through trading shares or one who is just “average”? How can someone advise or teach if they haven’t learned and successfully applied lessons from personal experience?

These people don’t tend to read and then tell others what to do, they are men and women of action, not words. They simply lead by example. They’ll take action based on what they know to be right, based on life experience. Sure, they’ll read, but they apply the lessons in their own lives first.

Thirdly, there’s something about the way in which they interact with others. Taking a total and genuine interest in the other person, for a start. Seeing the strengths and potential of people.

An old boss of mine had a real sense of purpose – he was going places. He attracted followers, including me. But he also could see my own potential and took regular time out to encourage me to achieve it – to find my own mission.

What does it take to become someone with this magnetism? The real question to ask should be “why become somebody like this?” My answer is simple: you’re not living your life to its full potential if you don’t.

Which is a roundabout way of answering the initial question. Get out there and find your own path that gives you meaning and purpose in your life. Easy to say, not so easy to do. And that’s the final thing about these people. For them, life was never meant to be easy. They thrive on challenge. They are out there on a quest. They are living life on their own terms. That’s what makes them special.

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