Introduction: Focus on Others

Twenty-five years ago, I was wandering through a department store in Quincy, Illinois, carrying my five-month-old son, John, on my arm, while my wife was busy shopping. Like all kids, John had been babbling since shortly after birth. But as I carried him through the store his babbling changed. He started to shout in short bursts, and after each outcry he'd stop and look around, searching for the sound. He'd shout again, and grow quiet. Then something clicked, and he smiled. He realized the sound was coming from him, and his world had suddenly changed. He had found his voice. After that, there was no stopping him. For the rest of the time we waited for Mary, John shouted, stopped, giggled, and shouted again, louder and louder each time.

Many of us spend our lives in a struggle to define ourselves and how we relate to our surroundings. We each endeavor to find our voice and our personal “message to the world.” This book can't help you know who you are. But it can help you communicate your message—your talents, your ambitions, your goals, your perceived contribution to your community—to those around you—and to do so simply and clearly.

None of us exists in a vacuum. Human history isn't the story of individuals; it's the story of how individuals have interacted with others. Our identity is determined, to a great extent, by how we see ourselves impacting other people. In short, your simple and clear message is dictated in part by the world around you. ...

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