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By: Jamie Collins
Consider this another fun and exciting round of: “What movie did Jamie watch this week and what in the world will it lead her to talk about?” Yes, here we are again. Just me and you. Raise that cup of coffee or that fabulous can of Diet Coke and let’s toast to “Happy Friday!” Smiles all round. The weekend is in route, everyone. It’s bearing down like an attorney with a deadline. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one…)
Last night, I watched “My Week With Marilyn,” which depicted a snippet of the life of the infamous blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe. Prior to watching this movie, I must say I didn’t know much about her, aside from the fact that she was a living, breathing icon of unparalleled proportions (at least until her untimely death, and then, even surpassing the grave) and she had her fair share of battles and binges with alcohol and drugs. While the movie didn’t cover much of her life story, it did appear to do justice to the portrayal of her presence, as a person, and allowed me, as a viewer, to feel what it was like to be in a room with her. While my husband wasn’t a big fan of the movie, I found it interesting to take a look inside the life of a female icon whom I know very little about.
We are surrounded by people every day: our family, co-workers, friends, and random strangers. Some of them capture our attention, and others don’t. Why is that? I believe it has a lot to do with an individual’s overall presence. Who they are, the energy and passion they bring into a room, and most importantly, one dynamic and enchanting quality that so few possess.
I believe everyone who encountered Marilyn would readily sum her up with one word: captivating. The woman was absolutely captivating. This got me to thinking: “Have I ever encountered anyone who was that captivating?” The resounding answer to that silent question was, “Yes. I sure have.” One person immediately came to mind.
Have you ever known someone who was so polarizing that it’s nearly impossible to offer up a description of them which does them any justice? You know the standard descriptive lines: “She’s so funny.” “He’s so charismatic.” “He dominated that courtroom.” Let’s face it; there are certain times when words don’t really help us to fully describe what we’ve witnessed in another human being. The funniest person you’ve ever met in your life is hard to describe. So is the most charismatic person. And we all know it’s virtually impossible to describe what went down at a trial to anyone who wasn’t actually present in the courtroom. I believe that’s because what you are attempting to describe is an intangible. It’s the “it” factor. “It” comes in all different forms, but when you’re in a room with “it,” you know. You ever met someone like that? That person all the other people gravitate to? The person who captivates a room from the moment they enter it?
A few short months ago, I found myself sitting in a reception following a wedding for a dear friend. My husband and I were seated at one of those big, round, wedding reception tables, cloaked in white, and scattered with small, heart shaped chocolates and the usual assortment of dish-ware, in a dimly lit room. We found ourselves seated at the table with two attorneys whom I know well, and hadn’t seen in a really, really long time. They are quite the dynamic duo. It’s really something. Their accolades are nothing short of stellar. In fact, you couldn’t make up a more impressive list of career accomplishments for an attorney. They are top shelf all the way. Let me assure you the male attorney seated at the table that night had lost absolutely none of his captivating qualities over time (hello, former president of the American Trial Lawyers Association – if you’re reading this- you know who you are).
I had attempted, on numerous occasions, to describe this particular attorney/person to my husband over the past decade, while telling work stories or discussing various topics, but always found no words that could fully describe the “it” factor he exuded. It was intangible. It made him polarizing. It drew anyone and everyone (and I mean everyone) to him. He always had a big, friendly smile pasted across his face, exuded a warm and happy countenance, possessed a great sense of humor, told the most interesting, funny and entertaining stories and enlightened those around him with the most fascinating topics of discussion. He was one of those special breed of humans. He was dynamic. He was charismatic. He was witty. He was charming. He was polarizing. If you were in a room with him, you got sucked into his “it” factor, intentional or otherwise. You found yourself immediately drawn in and wanting to know more, hear more, and learn more. You were hanging on his every word and there was nowhere else you wanted to be.
In the car, on the way home that night, my husband turned to me and said, “I see what you mean about [him].” From the tone of his comment, I knew that he finally grasped what I had been trying to describe all along. When you are in this guy’s presence – you just know it. He lit up the room. He was captivating. And it wasn’t just us – it was a table of strangers, with the exception of us, and they were all completely engrossed. They were enamored; and I mean completely. It was interesting to sit back and watch other people be taken aback by a captivating person from an observer and fellow spectator’s perspective.
In thinking through this, and reflecting upon the Marilyn movie, I realized that generally speaking, highly successful people are often captivating. They are polarizing. They have that intangible “it” factor that makes them so truly fantastic to be around, and leaves us all wanting to be in their presence and nowhere else.
Perhaps we each possess a select, few qualities that make us captivating in our own ways. Maybe we aren’t dominating a table conversation among 8 strangers who are all hanging on our every word, but we each have something to offer the world. We have a key quality or two that pushes us to the front of the pack, makes people gravitate to us and allows us to polarize a conversation or room. I’ve worked with people who baked cakes professionally for co-workers’ birthdays, wrote beautiful calligraphy, knew shorthand, spoke multiple languages, had the organizational skills of Martha Stewart, told the funniest stories, could give one heck of a rally speech, or run a law firm or trial team with the best of ‘em. We all know these people. Some of us (I believe most of us) are these people, in one form or another.
You might think that the qualities I described above aren’t polarizing. Maybe in certain situations, I would agree with you. If you are the master of birthday cake baker, perhaps your co-workers are basking in glee and bowing down to you as they eat your delicious, sugary, home-baked confections in the break room, but are they polarized? Only until they slide that last bite of cake slides off their forks and into their mouths, so they can slink back to their desks in a state of utter glutton. But this person as a contestant in a cake design contest? You betcha. They are polarizing.
Perhaps you think: “She writes calligraphy. That’s great, but how could you ever be captivating with that quality?” Maybe you see those Post It notes, all embellished and adorned, floating around the office (you know, the ones that put yours to shame…) and they cause you to admire the lady, but are you polarized? Not so much. But what if this lady decided to start designing her own, custom, greeting cards and could readily produce them, at a small price, for your next party, gift or soiree? Maybe then. I’d love to send my loved one a beautiful, custom designed, one-of-a-kind, greeting card made just for him or her. Here’s my money, greeting card lady – I’m all in. You see my point? The quality a person possesses is not necessarily the point of focus here. It’s taking that key quality, whatever it may be, and putting it in the right environment, at the right time. That’s captivating.
Maybe we’ll never fully illuminate a room with simply our presence, but maybe, just maybe, we will. Perhaps we’ll never know what it’s like to captivate an entire table or room full of people with our mere presence, but perhaps, one day we will. I believe one of the key qualities that highly successful people all seem to possess in common is their innate ability to captivate people; to polarize the rest of us. So, the next time you find yourself in a room, and you see someone enter who lights it up, watch them, study them, and hang on their every word.
Don’t sell your talents and belief in yourself short. You need to tap all of the good qualities within you, as much as you tap the very oxygen that you breathe. Discover them. Utilize them. Embrace them; seize them; and make them count. Step up and be you, at the precisely right time, and place. Find your niche…and light up a room just by entering it.
Hey TPS readers – If you feel inclined to share a thought today, go hit that “comment” button! It’s got your name on it. It’s always great to hear from you.
Have an absolutely amazing, fabulous, phenomenal, mind-blowing, never been better weekend…and while you’re at it…see if you can captivate a person or two along the way.
And last but not least, we’d like to wish all of the fabulous moms out there a very special “Happy Mother’s Day” with your loved ones (and to everyone else, this is a the last minute card/flowers/gift reminder, TPS style – don’t blow it!)