02/12/2014 11:59 am ET | Updated Apr 12, 2014

3 Wise Ways to Become Sought-After

1. Seek Out Those Who Don't Act Right (Like You)

Beginning with our first success in childhood we become attached to what we believe are our strengths, in temperament and talent, which enabled us to win. Why not? They seemed to be what makes us popular. We also are drawn to people who seem to act right, like us. We instinctively project onto them other traits we admire, even when they do not have them. In so doing, we narrow our view on what's the right way to do things, missing many opportunities and friendships.


Yet by engaging with those quite different than you, new worlds of adventure and accomplishment can happen. Before you get bugged by how that person acts wrong, speak to a strong sweet spot of shared interest. Then the shared opportunities you glimpse can dilute the irritation you feel when that person doesn't act right, like you. You are on the path to thriving with a third metric approach to success.

2. Move From Smart to Wise

"Smartness is like a wild horse: riding it can be exhilarating for a while until you are thrown from it. To tame and harness smartness for the long run, you need wisdom -- the stuff that gives you ethical clarity and a sense of purpose, according to From Smart to Wise co-authors, Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radjou. "When wisdom provides the moral compass, smartness can become even more potent.

As we grow older, we tend to lean on our particular area of strength, honing our capabilities in that area. As we do so, we become attached to that kind of intelligence, and without much conscious thought, we can get stuck in it. Our strength becomes a winning formula and we grow dependent on it, which eventually makes us weak and vulnerable in other areas. This type of smartness shapes our worldview and defines our personality. We can develop such an attachment to our kind of smartness that we see only negative aspects of the other kind of smartness without recognizing - or being willing to accept -- the limitation of our own kind of smartness."


As Good to Great author Jim Collins discovered, "[B]eing good at something gets in the way of being great." To expand your capabilities, Kaipa and Radjou suggest that you identify which kind of leader you tend to be, then hone your expertise in the other and come to realize your underlying "noble purpose":

• Functionally Smart: Go deep, excelling in one function or field in which they have considerable expertise, and are careful in risk taking

• Business Smart: Go broad, as big picture thinkers who are risk takers at heart.

The reward, according to the co-authors: "Since wise leaders are grounded in a noble purpose and accept that change is constant they are more adept than smart leaders in turning the key drivers of complexity (diversity, interconnectivity, velocity, ambiguity, and scarcity) to their organization's advantage."


3. Notice and Emulate Those With Depth Perception

Those who live reflective lives, like leadership expert Mark Sanborn, tend to notice the nuances in others who are similarly wise. We are prone to having a Third Metric picture of success. Here are two of his actionable observations about such extraordinary people:

• "Their failures don't impact them as negatively and their successes don't get overblown. They let neither success nor failure distort the big picture because they know life is always a mixture of both. They learn from setbacks but don't wallow in them and they appreciate successes but don't rest in them."

• "They make as many mistakes as others but have fewer regrets. Extraordinary people acknowledge they've grown into who they are as much from their mistakes and defeats as their wise choices and victories. To eliminate past mistakes would diminish present wisdom."

"The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there." -- James Buchanan