Dare to be Unpopular..!

Over three decades ago, while a young Rotarian, a game was played by the over hundred members of my club, and it was about who they felt was most popular. I was pleasantly surprised to find I had won.

Two years later, there were some issues I felt I had to take a stand about, and found I’d become the most unpopular person around.

Last year, the same club called me as a guest speaker. I found the members had a grudging respect for me, for having taken a stand over three decades back. Which made me want to broach the subject about popularity and respect today, especially as a so-called popular politician’s been cut to size, due to respect for him, being on the wane.  

To a great extent, the difference between popularity and respect is that one is about surface appearance while the other is about admirable qualities that lie within. In a world dominated by social media, it’s easy to be tricked into believing the person with the most “likes” is the winner.

However, would you do business with someone just because he or she is popular? I don’t think so. You’re more likely to want to do business with someone you respect … and that usually comes down to what we once called “good morals”.

Isn’t that old-fashioned? Surprisingly, no. According to “The 10 Most Desirable Traits in Human Beings” by Carmen Honacker, the qualities we most value in other people are:

Integrity: Having a code of ethics, based on common decency.

Courage: Doing what’s right, even when it’s inconvenient or puts us in a difficult position.

Humour: Laughing to get through tough times. No, this is not about ridiculing others.

Social intelligence: Accurately reading people’s emotions or what’s going on below the surface in social situations.

Emotional maturity: Owning your emotions and accepting the full range of feelings, yet choosing to express them maturely and appropriately.

Kindness: “True popularity comes from acts of kindness and kindness goes hand-in-hand with compassion.

Self-confidence: We need a balanced view of our weaknesses and strengths, and to see mistakes as opportunities to grow. No self- esteem or an inflated sense of self-worth are dangerous.

Discipline: Having the dedication and persistence to stick to your goals and working to achieve what you believe in.

Generosity: Giving our time and money to create a better world. At the end of the day, life is about people — how can I sit back and do nothing when I am blessed, yet others are in need?

Self-awareness: Acknowledging no-one is perfect and having the humility to put others first, no matter how successful we are.
As one wise writer says, ‘Popularity is doing what people want, and respect is doing what people need.”

A disclaimer before I end, is that I don’t pretend to have these qualities I’ve just penned, but would certainly aspire to get there...!

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at bobsbanter@gmail.com