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April 24, 1995

Golden Accessories

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Speaking of accessories. Boy, did I get a lesson in accessories when my wife and I built a new house. I thought we were done once we had a building, some furniture, carpet mixed with hard wood, and a little light to live buy. But I was wrong.

“One day she announced, “We need to get some window treatments.” “Why?” I naively asked. She explained that the window treatments, pictures, knickknacks, rugs, etc., are critical to pulling the whole room together. “It makes everything complete,” she said. “It is called accessorizing.”

I guess that makes sense.

She went on to say that it’s the same as a woman accessorizing her favorite black dress. The dress looks fine without the pearls or the scarf, but the outfit’s complete with the addition of the right shoes, purse, jewelry, hairdo, and makeup.

What is true with home accessorizing and fashion accessorizing equally applies to the Power of One. Try on these Golden Accessories:

● A Smile

Tim Sanders writes in Love is the Killer App, “Think about what I call soul smiles. Everyone knows how to smile, although many flash a fake grin that is worse than no smile at all. People can tell when that flash of teeth is a lie. Some people smile, however, from their soul. It feels as comforting as when close friends hug you after a long absence. Smiles have that same effect when you take the time to think about them, when you let them radiate from deep within.”

Flattery is from the teeth out. Sincere appreciation is from the heart out.—Dale Carnegie

It just doesn’t take too much to turn the corners of your mouth up. All it takes is for your mind to flip the switch and send a command to “turn up the corners.” And there you have it. You don’t have to be completely pleased with everything going on around you or in you. But if you will offer a smile to someone that is genuine and frame the smile with friendly eyes behind it you will begin the Power of One momentum.

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.—William A. Ward

● A Thank-you

Let’s admit it: Those two magic words usually trigger the first golden accessory—the smile.

You can work night and day on a project, striving to get everything right. You put in extra hours, suffer stress in the process, and turn in what you think is your best work yet. But what happens when your boss fails to thank you for your extra effort? You’re crushed.

Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.—Gladys Browyn Stern

Instead, what happens when your boss sends you an e-mail glowing with praise, or swings by your office (or cubicle, more likely) and simply says “thanks”? He or she has made your day. And the long hours, meticulous work, and compromises you made were all worth it.

Don’t deny someone—anyone—the power of a sincere expression of thanks. Doing so will do more damage to that person’s self-worth—and to yours—than you know possible.

There’s a self-expansive aspect of gratitude. Very possibly it’s a little known law of nature the more gratitude you have, the more you have to be grateful for.—Elaine St. James

● Eye contact and focus

Few things are more important to people than knowing that someone genuinely recognizes you and sees you for who you really are. Probably the easiest way to signal that affirmation is eye contact. We live in a hurried, distracted world. Practice providing relational focus. It’s a Golden Experience.

“Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other. People look at foreheads, eyebrows, noses—anything but the eyes. So I try to make it happen. If I have to, I take my hands and grab someone’s shoulders to stop both of our worlds long enough to make true eye contact. It is the strongest way to bond. It shows you are present and you care”

Not sure of the importance of eye contact? If you’re a parent, you surely know how it feels (or felt) when your young child crawls into your lap and grabs your face. Why does your child do it? To get your attention. To be validated. Adults can’t do the same act to get your attention, but the same desire is there. Grant it.

● Remembering a person’s name

Dale Carnegie once remarked, “Most people find there’s no sound more beautiful than the sound of their own name.” I became convinced that remembering someone’s name was very important when I was working as a truck driver for a moving company during my doctoral studies. People always referred to me as “Driver,” no matter how many hours I’d been with them, helping them load the truck and move.

The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know my name. They did. I’d told them many times. They just chose to not acknowledge me as a person with a name. They just saw me as “Driver.”

What does it do when someone calls your name?

—It establishes warmth and intimacy.
—It combats the world impersonal
—It heightens your chance of persuasion
—It communicates care.

● Exhibiting a gentle spirit

“We should ever conduct ourselves toward our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend.”—John Henry Newman

Gentleness, goodness, and self-control are all in the same family of ideas. And good news for those you who don’t find that gentleness comes naturally. It’s more of a learned trait than a personality wiring. That means there’s hope for all.

Being gentle is about learning to act and react in a nondestructive way. For instance, after a hard-nosed discussion with an employee about her work performance, a gentle spirit will still treat you kindly. She’ll be fair and honest and understand where you’re coming from—even if it’s not what she wanted to hear.

Don’t get me wrong; being gentle doesn’t mean that you let people walk all over you. It just means that you stand up for yourself in a kind, quiet, and respectful way. A gentle person addresses issues, not people; problems, not personalities.

● Listen with your heart

“The heart is the chief feature of the functioning mind.”—Franklin Lloyd Wright

Your eyes and mind let you read the words on the page; your heart allows you to read between the lines. And you’ll experience these ‘between the lines’ moments all the time. You just don’t realize it because you’ve trained your heart and mind to respond one way or another. The key is getting your heart and mind to read the positive in a situation. Give the benefit of the doubt. And let your heart tell you when something you’re about to do or say—or not act on—is unethical.

Your heart can become a radar for the subtle nuance of the ethics of any situation. It usually is where the first alarm clock will go off that you are encountering something that is bad instead of good, wrong instead of right, and false instead of true. It’s also where the violation begins for an ethical failure spiral. Once you start on the slippery slope, it’s hard to pick yourself up again.

So train your heart to think about whether each and every situation is good, right, and true. If it’s not? Run. Run far, far away. Or at least brace your self for a stand.

● Keeping your word

Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep.—Denis Waitley

Keeping your word is a powerful—and sometimes quiet—way of practicing the Power of One. For what good is your word if you don’t keep it?

Seriously, you give you word that you’ll do something, say something, not say something, whatever, dozens of times each day. But do you really stick to all of those agreements? Whether you have a contract or not, your word is binding—and you need to treat it that way.

By keeping your word, you’ll show others how one person following through on a promise can make a difference. Who knows—the promise you kept might be the promise that spurs you—or someone else—onto greatness.

We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.—Abraham Lincoln

● Asking questions

This one might strike you as strange. Asking questions is a Power of One accessory? Sure it is. Questions always open up a monologue and allow for a dialogue. A good question can change the whole direction of a deal. Asking a question is a way to identify all of your options in facing moral and ethical dilemmas.

Do yourself a favor. Ask questions. Compare the answers to the Golden Ruler—is this new endeavor or friend good, right, and true? Three yeses mean a green light.

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