Personal Effectiveness [Part 8.2]


In the previous part of this 2-part series, we covered how others face you. In accordance with your personal definition, people face you every day and create impressions of you simply by listening and watching your every move. Many opinions are not important to you or your career or business, but many are.

In this blog, in which we finish our series on Personal Effectiveness, we explore how we face others. In other words, what are the traits and attitudes by which we define our interactions and relationships with others?

I trust you will be challenged and motivated to change as and where required.


We have written 7 Personal Effectiveness blogs in the past few months. I do not intend to repeat all of the content which you can find on, but just state the headings:

Part 1: Perspective

Part 2: Altitude vs Attitude

Part 3: Purpose or Default?

Part 4: Focused or Frazzled?

Part 5: Passivity or Risk?

Part 6: Problem or Possibility?

Part 7: Choice or Chance?

I put to you that your response to these important foundations of character is a major determinant of personal definition. It would be very hard to display either side of these traits without having an impact on others. Fair to say, that we probably all display some of them and have a natural state which is dominant. Think of them as a continuum from 0-10 and score yourself honestly. Then take the scores, add them and divide by 7 to get a [average] picture of these foundations in the way you face others. If you’re happy with the result per trait and together, keep it up. If not, there is room for improvement so renew your spirit of self-development. You’re never too old to learn.

The only point I wish to make in totality is that we face others with our whole being, physically, mentally and spiritually. Especially to those who know you best, you cannot hide what’s deep inside. Beauty may be skin deep but it need not be – it can radiate from deep within us. We each have the capacity for personal beauty in our personal definition. The Good Book says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” [Proverbs 4:23 ]

Here are some other thoughts pertaining to how we face others:

  1. Academic or practical?
    Some individuals are academic. Professionals have no option, an accountant or doctor need professional qualifications in order to practice. Most graduates have a broad-based degree and then work in fields of interest or skill. Others have a trade and ply it in their own business or working with an institution. Some never qualify with any academics and simply learn to be who they are by experience. In the past, apprenticeships were very popular and produced many near-engineers and technicians. Interesting now, that trades-men and -women emigrate with ease because their skills are scare almost worldwide.

    Whatever level of academics you have used to get to where you are has little bearing on your personal definition. You may not agree, but as much as it is not possible to be an engineer without the requisite qualifications, being an engineer is not your persona. The sense of importance you place on your academic qualifications and the degree to which they “make you” who you are, requires caution. Academics are nice but not necessary in your journey from human doing to human being. They help to make you competent but so does experience; they do not make you important. I often ponder the difference between qualified and educated. I have met many qualified people but education needs no introduction; the application of education that brings with it the confidence of competence is obvious. The corollary is this, do not lament that you do not have a degree just be yourself and improve what and who you are.

  1. Showing up or showing up others.
    Personal definition does not require you to be big in the presence of small. Psychologists talk of projection – blaming others to avoid blame. It is cheap and nasty, lacing in abundance mentality. Abundance mentality became well known many years ago as an acknowledgement that “there is room for everybody.”  You do not have to squeeze out others to make a space for yourself; you can enjoy your space while others enjoy theirs. We often hear of dog-eat-dog and it has become the formula for some careers. Get to the top on the shoulders of others if that’s what it takes. Show up others and you will show up.

    Rubbish! Short-sighted nonsense! If you want to lead, you need to win the hearts of followers. You can get hands and even some heads by inducement and fear, but you will never get powerful motivation in unison with a carrot-and-stick mentality. The Lions did not become a dynamic winning team with the promise of a bonus; they drove victory after victory on passion and pride and technical skills of the game. At the helm was Johan Ackerman and they even played for him in the end. Imagine if he was the “important coach” and they were the “paid rugby players”; they would be bottom on the log.

    Want people to show up? Then you show up and give them the credit they deserve.

  1. Relentlessness and resilience
    I was on a call with a friend the other day when he spoke about being relentless. He may have read it in a self-help book but knowing him, I don’t think so. He is relentless. Obstacles produce other routes, failure is a “how not to” for the future, money is spent on R&D without regret and from every failed attempt comes a new learning. I have seen positive people, but I have never known anyone this relentless. Always driving, always learning, always thinking, always questioning, always progressing. With it, comes resilience. Even if I say he should think again, he comes back with an answer – what we have got from where we have been and what we still intend to do. A night of discouragement, followed by weeks of resilience – one business life stage after another. I wish that all his desires are realised one day; someone is going to buy his business for a huge amount. And what will some say? He’s lucky. Balderdash, he’s relentless!
  1. Can you say No?
    Some of us are only learning to say No late in life. We have been “approachable” and “there for people” for decades. Even to the point that many times others had our attention while those close to us lost out.

    There is really no excuse for that behaviour in a good personal definition. There is a formula for time management:

W + F + RE + S = T, where:

W = Work;

F = Family;

RE = Relaxation and Exercise;

S = Sleep, and:

T = 24 hours.

That’s what all of us have, 24 hours. No more and no less. That’s it, and multiplied by the days of our lives, that’s really it. Time management is not optional, it’s critical if you want to maximize personal effectiveness.

  1. Adversity

You will have it come hell or high water. It’s tough, relentless and draining. It can be short, like an accident or long like a disability. It is always associated with pain, physical or emotional. And, it is no respecter of persons.

Steve Jobs dies of pancreatic cancer with all the money in the world. And somewhere in a remote corner of the town other dies in poverty and of hunger. Adversity is a condition of Man.

I am always reminded that our right to choose is our choice of reaction. Given the same malady, one will crumple and another thrives. How many have entered business and failed, some to rise from the ashes and others to collapse in despair? Both faced with similar circumstances and both only left with the power of their reaction. Personal definition is hued with the way you deal adversity. The power to empathise with others is often born from our own grief. We understand what we have personally endured and survived, we identify with what we can imagine and hear from others. Spare a thought for those nearly broken in their adversity; before you criticize be aware of your own frailty in adverse circumstances. But, always use adversity for the better.

I wrote this to someone I love dearly and trust you will find it meaningful:

My prayer for you is that you will experience hardship with dignity. Hardship is the bedfellow of life. An illness, an untimely death, an accident, a retarded child are all sent to test the mettle of which we are made. Dignity and courage raise us to godliness in the face of confusion and pain. It is in the face of opposition and hardship that we record our finest hour and demonstrate our finest character.

  1. To believe or not to believe, that is the question

Sex, politics and religion were taboo when I grew up. I’m so glad that has changed and that we can discuss these topics in the open.

Religion is often suppressed in personal definition as something private. In fact, I am beginning to find that atheism is being raised quite early in conversations. “I am not religious”, I find, is an early statement in the formation of friendships and a noteworthy part of personal definition. In turn, in this modern world in which we live with all its personal and Press freedoms we hold dear, we should be able to say, “I am Christian or Buddhist” etc so as to define an element of our humanity and therefore our personal definition.

Whether it’s faith or fancy, the point I would like to leave with you is that your belief systems matter. Whether to guide a decision to be made or to serve to beacon a wrong or right decision already made, what you believe is a fundamental driver of how you face others.

A sense of personal definition demands a sense and even, display, of what you believe. Whether you speak it or remain silent, live it or default to it under pressure, your faith will shine through and will define you. Don’t allow a default setting to define you – define yourself and provide others a degree of certainty in your inter-personal dealings.

We all face others every minute of the day. Putting your best foot forward can work for some but eventually, the real you will reveal itself. No matter what that looks like, you will self-analyse afterwards and form your own impression. Others will be doing the same, rightly or wrongly, instantly and over time. Personal definition, like I have once described for Purpose, becomes the boundaries in which you are you. Most times you never think about it intentionally but over time, you will have become known to yourself and others in a particular way. If what you and they see is authentic and down-to-earth, good for you. If there is any plasticity, you owe it to yourself to improve. At the end of the day, you were born for a purpose and no matter how much or how little greatness has been thrust upon you, you have a responsibility to yourself and to others to be the best you can be.

In conclusion, as  coach I am often asked for my opinion of a particular behaviour. Should I stand up for my rights? Should I eat humble pie? Is what I am doing right? What could I do better? Questions that require an affirmation or an alternative approach from me. My answer is always: “Is what you are going to do effective in achieving what you want to achieve?” You see, we can do whatever we want to do but unless we achieve a desired outcome, what is the use? Surely, it is better to understand what we want to achieve, what is sustainable and meaningful and how these outcomes would best be achieved? Then we advance and we manage the process as things unfold trying our best efforts to achieve what we want. In such a  case, my way or opinion is unimportant in the scheme of things. And so it is with personal definition; what you wish people to think of you and how you wish to face them is all that matters. And the questions is not whether you are right or wrong but rather, is what you are going to be defined as effective for the way you want to live your life? Will you achieve what you want to achieve?

It truly is up to you to be the man or woman you want to be.

Great success, as you drive to great success!

Yours in Property.

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