Was I walking like a victim the evening I got mugged in New Haven, Connecticut or was I simply walking on a block I shouldn't have been on after 3 P.M.? That's what I asked myself after reading, in one sitting, Kevin Dutton's amazing book "The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What saints, spies, and serial killers can teach us about success."
Dutton's hypothesis, which he sets out to prove in the 222 pages of text, is that the typical traits of psychopaths are also the ones many highly successful leaders, businesspeople, and artists also have. They include:
Extreme focus * Ruthlessness * No empathy * High intelligence * Ability to speedread everyone * Stress-resistant * Charisma * Surface charm * Fearlessness * Persuasiveness * Outgoing.
Those who keep a lid on these traits don't wind up in jail, on death row, or dead on the street from a fight. Those who don't can go down in history as a serial killer like law student Ted Bundy. Before he was executed, Bundy boasted that he knew exactly who would make good victims for him by their walk. Psychologists were fascinated by that contention and tested it out. Sure enough, Dutton tells us, that proved to be true.
If our walk can mark us as vulnerable to whatever, we have to consider other possible signals we're giving off that undermine our ability to succeed in whatever field we are in. Mine, a coach I paid a king's ransom informed me, was too-open body language and too friendly a smile when entering the room in which business was to be conducted. "You're broadcasting a message of insecurity," he said. He was on the money. When calling on prospects or current clients now I proceed with Great Gravitas.
In addition to coaching, we can learn plenty about how to up our game by observing the psychopaths in our midst and taking on the traits which can be easily incorporated into how we present ourselves. Often those psychopaths are the very successful members of our family who we only encounter on holidays like Easter.