You have probably heard the term, "She is a class act." Of course, it's always a compliment. But exactly what does that mean?
Class is easy to recognize but much harder to define. Similarly, the absence of class is easy to detect -- and a serious flaw for anyone who aspires to be successful.
First of all, class is not an "act." It's a deep-seated way of life for those who possess it. Having class involves good manners, politeness, pride without showboating, empathy, humility and an abundance of self-control. The actions of classy people speak louder than their words. You can see it in their body language and the way they carry themselves. Class always shows without being announced.
People can tell if you have class by the way you interact with others. If you have class, you don't need much of anything else to be a winner. If you don't have it, no matter what you do, it won't make up the difference. Money, notoriety or success by themselves won't give you class. Class comes from within, not from external sources.
As an explanation, I've created an acronym of what it means to be a class act:
-- C is for calm, courteous and in control. People who have class carry themselves in a certain way. They stay calm under pressure and don't lose their temper. They are respectful and use good manners. They don't use crude language or criticize or complain in public. They don't interrupt others.
-- L is for living by high standards. Class acts set goals in both their career and personal life. They are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and push themselves beyond their limits to see how successful they can become.
-- A is for above it all. Class acts take the high road and refuse to stoop to the level of their adversaries. They don't have to apologize for their unfortunate words because they know better than to give in to the heat of the moment.
-- S is for self-respect, and respect for others as well. They don't gossip or say mean and petty things about others. They take every opportunity to make others feel appreciated and good about themselves.
-- S is for self-confidence without being arrogant. Class acts understand their abilities and are not afraid to use them. You can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait, if you are willing to work hard. Class acts also increase the confidence of others.
-- A is for accountability. Class acts take responsibility for their actions and results, whether it's a success or failure.
-- C is for compassion. Classy people understand that helping someone up will never pull you down. Compassion is a vital part of class acts. Compassion feels and whispers, "I'll help." Class acts really care.
-- T is for trust. Truthfulness and integrity are the basis for trust. Classy people are trustworthy and understand the importance of maintaining confidentiality. To me the most important five-letter word in business is T-R-U-S-T.
In his book "The Success Principles," my friend Jack Canfield lists "Be a Class Act" as Principle No. 55. What I found most intriguing are some of the reasons he lists for why being a class act helps you succeed.
He writes: "People want to do business with you or become involved in your sphere of influence. They perceive you as successful and someone who can expand their possibilities. They trust you to act with responsibility, integrity and aplomb. Class acts tend to attract people who are at the top of their game."
That's true in the game of life or sports. Classy athletes have an edge over their opponents. Why? Their poise allows them to concentrate better. They exhibit better confidence to play to their potential. As a bonus: Classy athletes usually have the crowd behind them.
Take a close look at your network of friends, co-workers, customers and so on. Are they class acts? Whether you realize it or not, they are a reflection of you. The good news is that you can change.
Make a decision to recreate yourself as a class act and see what kind of people you start attracting. Do fewer things, but do them with excellence. Change your behavior for the better. Raise the quality of your attitude. When you have a higher level of personal standards, you get better treatment from everyone around you.
Mackay's Moral: A class act can say a lot without uttering a word.