Bruce Kasanoff says raising your internal ”comfort level” is the first step to success in business and in life.
If you want people to like you, learn to be 100 per cent comfortable in your own skin. There’s no more attractive quality than a person who is utterly comfortable with who they are.
This quality transcends physical appearance, intelligence, education, income or personality. It is the cornerstone of success in business and in life.
Now, would you like the good news or the bad news?
The bad news, as you already suspect, is that your internal life is insanely complicated.
Maybe your mother didn’t let you play with toys until you were 11, so you have low self-esteem. Or maybe you are just brutally honest with yourself and have recognised that your hair isn’t quite as soft and supple as your most popular colleagues at work.
Just because I say “be comfortable in your own skin” doesn’t mean you can instantly do it.
Now for the good news: your internal ”comfort level” is not fixed; you can change it.
If today you are insecure and self-critical, overnight you are not going to change into George Clooney, but you can certainly move in the right direction, and the more you do, the more other people will like you.
To make progress, you need to do three things. Accept the qualities you cannot change: Don’t waste any psychic energy on all that stuff I said up top, such as how your parents raised you or whether your feet are too large. Being comfortable in your own skin means you accept your vulnerabilities as well as your strengths. For example, I have the skinniest ankles of any grown adult male you have ever seen, and it doesn’t bother me one whit.
Recognise your ability to change is far greater than you once thought: You can’t change your height, but you can change how hard you work, how grateful you are for your blessings, how open you are to new ideas, and how you approach difficult challenges.
You must decide how willing you are to pay the price for what you want in life. This does not mean change is easy; it means change is possible.
Be persistent: It takes time to build both confidence and competence. Invest the time, even on days when you feel as though you are sliding backward. Can you become utterly self-assured in a week? Nope. Can you do it over several years? Probably. Can you do it over a decade? Absolutely.
To generalise a bit, no-one likes incoherent thinking. We hate it when an attractive person complains about being unattractive. We dislike hearing someone make empty promises over and over again. Although we may not understand exactly what’s happening, we are not attracted to people who have obvious internal conflicts.
When I have a bad week, I’m sometimes tempted to watch a big Hollywood star playing a complete loser. Think of Michael Douglas in Falling Down, where he plays an unemployed defence worker. The guy seems like such an average, pitiable loser … but in the back of my mind, I know he’s married to Catherine Zeta-Jones and that the two are Hollywood royalty.
Such a performance demonstrates that being comfortable in your own skin is not a function of how your skin looks; it is a function of what you believe inside.
My greatest lesson in life, bar none, is that people have a much greater ability to change than most recognise. So you have two choices. You can spend the rest of your life sorting through 10 million theories (a rough guess) about ways to be likeable. You will discover that most are hopelessly confusing and complex.
Or you can follow my simple strategy: Accept yourself, and others will do the same.
Bruce Kasanoff is the founder of The Journey, a newsletter for positive, uplifting and accomplished professionals. He is also an executive coach and social media ghostwriter for entrepreneurs. He can be contacted at kasanoff.com. This article first appeared at kasanoff.com.