After reading Clients for Life, one thing in particular stood out to me, and it was not one of the 7 characteristics of an extraordinary advisor. It was the authors’ definition of having the right attitude. The criteria the authors list for having the right attitude are as follows: 1) Having a deep interest in people, 2) being a perpetual learner, and 3) having a high level of humility. I think these three things are incredibly important to be successful in anything, not only consulting. Having an authentic and deep interest in people will ensure that you cultivate meaningful relationships and are not simply ‘networking’ or using relationships for your benefit. You are learning about people for its own sake.

I once heard a graduate of this program say, “I hate people” and then go on a rant about how annoying people can be. What? What are you doing in SPP? Seems like you’ll need to be interested in people and care about them to be successful, especially in this line of work. I immediately disliked this particular guy, and vehemently disagreed with him (in my head). However, this leads to criterion #2: being a perpetual learner. Abraham Lincoln once said, “you can learn something from everyone, even if it’s what not to do.” I think this a fantastic way to reframe traditionally negative situations, like having a terrible boss or a demeaning coach. You can complain and feel sorry for yourself, or you can say ‘wow, this guy is a real jerk, but I can learn a lot from him”. Counterintuitive, yes, and perhaps even a little utopian and unrealistic, but a wonderful way to reframe things. Looking for little chunks of knowledge or insight from every situation is extremely helpful.

The authors write that the more you know and the more you become competent, or even excellent at your work, the harder it is to stay humble. However, this is a key to being appreciated and valued. Nobody likes arrogance!

Displaying these three characteristics in earnest will not only help you have a successful practice, but a successful and meaningful life, full of rich experiences.