Be conscious of your living.

There are times when the environment poses so many opportunities for learning that one may wonder why our personality cannot accommodate a higher level of thinking and behaviour. It is odd that since ancient times, we have been hearing of observation being key to development and change, for observation helps us make choices that may prevent us from perishing or instigate the development of a skill ensuring survival.

While on the TV set of a socio-political programme, a rather well-known politician walks in as one of the guests with his bodyguard in tow. Skipping to the end of the show, I made a solemn comment to the rest of the panel hoping that the politician has left in case an angry, hating citizen might decide to do something nasty. I was slightly surprised with the response that “we need not worry as every corner is covered with undercover police officers”.

Here comes the good part: more focused observation of the bodyguard would reveal a number of reasons why I felt uncomfortable and not in the least safe with him (and possibly the officers outside). As a bodyguard he had the build, and I am certain he had the training, but during the show, I was quietly observing him wondering how he would go about protecting the politician in the event of a nasty incident.

Delivering a message: micro-expressions

The bodyguard seemed like a nice fellow. One who did not smile because he was not supposed to smile. But all body language and micro-expressions on his face, especially when he was not aware of being scanned, spoke the truth. He was just doing his job. I couldn’t help but wonder: would he be willing to take the bullet? Did he believe in the cause and the person who represented it enough to be loyal in the highest form when the time came? His body language told me “yes”. But every line on his face, every twitch of his facial muscles told me “no”.

So, no. I did not wish to go out along with the politician when I felt that the bodyguard just did the minimum requirements for his job and was not loyal to the cause. And I thought of another incident. I wanted to hire a PR person to promote my business. It all sounded wonderful until the moment I felt there was no devotion to the cause. The deal was off.

When can you count on one

Not everyone is cut out to be everything. That has been a known fact for aeons. Coercing one into doing a job does not work. Nor does encouragement. Not does threat. It is unsettling to realise that all three might do the trick, simply because the right foundation is missing. To be a bodyguard, you need not only have the physical ability or ensuing training to be one. To be a PR you need not only have the connections and gift of the gab to promote a service or product.

No matter how good the politician, or how good the product, we still need the right people to protect or promote these two so that the society or the consumers are aware of the quality existing out there.

True leadership

Paradoxically, leadership is not about leading. It is more about making the tough decisions. This may be pleasing or not so pleasing to the masses. In every society, only the one who managed to tap into their skills early on and applied them in everyday life rose to a level higher than the rest. As such, this person would naturally attract other members of the society since self-awareness (on, both, positive and negative traits) seems to mesmerise those around us.

So what is it that makes the good leader rise even more? Their self-awareness. This allows them to see what they lack and seek others who possess these skills to complete the puzzle of a vision, a dream, a purpose. Every leader or entrepreneur needs to develop the capacity to choose the right person for the right job. A skill that has been left to personality tests and untrained human resources managers who have forgotten the basic skill for surviving and thriving: observation.

micro-expressions eagle

Observation: the forgotten skill

Observe your surroundings and develop an instinct or a method that will verify your feelings of trust for a person or a situation. Remember to voice your concern, if only to yourself. Look for signs at every moment and in every place. Look for the micro-expressions in others, as these cannot be helped and always show the truth. Cross-check the information your brain receives to establish what makes sense and what not. Tiring? If you think so, then you may not be cut out to be a leader or an entrepreneur. Time-consuming? Then you see leadership and entrepreneurship from the wrong perspective. But this is what made Sir Alex Ferguson one of the top coaches in the world. Observation. And he never tired of it.