One of the great contradictions we all share is the strange interplay in life between genuine confidence and our (in) ability to thread Life’s needle of success to avoid arrogance and pride. If you find the winning path to this one you are off to a great start in 2017.

Experience suggests that genuine confidence, and a full development of that special something that leads to success in so many ways, may be more about the other person, as odd as it may seem. Here’s why.

An overly expansive Ego plays a particularly powerful role in all of this. Poets and preachers tell us to be on the lookout for it. The problem is Ego does not come to us with a sign draped around its neck.  It comes in clever disguise.  And in another contradiction that runs shotgun with the first one, our also fragile in-spots Ego and sometimes not-so-subtle chest- thumping at predictable intervals often shadow a secret doubt about ourselves we carry along on our journey.

I have been privileged to know and work with any number of enormously talented lawyers. (And a lot of other very talented so-called Movers and Shakers.)  But that talent is compromised if they fail to see clearly why humility and a genuine focus on others may be the most important but under-appreciated talents of all.

Recently a good friend of mine shared a story about his shy daughter on the cusp of becoming a teenager.  Many of her best friends, who were in the same classes with her last year in school, were in other classes this school year, so she felt a bit on the outside in her classes with students she did not know in her school, or know well.  She was after a fashion the new kid in the school at an important self-image building time, as confidence had not yet found its way in her.

On the day of her birthday, some of her new friends surprised her by decorating her locker in grand and colorful style. Their daughter’s decorated locker was the talk of the school, and my friend said she was thrilled beyond words. In an unwritten but clear way, her self-confidence silently transitioned to a new level at an age and time which is a treasured feeling for a young girl-woman in the making.

If you have not been around a girl-young woman- to-be at this critical age, it may be easy to see this event as just an ordinary thing.  But if we think more deeply about it we should all see that  the memory of the gifts this young girl got that day will come and go, but what she will always remember is how special her new friends made her feel on that birthday when her transition and journey to acceptance took a big step forward.

Will Rogers famously and memorably said: “I never met a person I didn’t like.” How do you suppose a revered figure, who touched so many people, came to like them all? He kept focused on the other person, much like the daughter’s locker-decorating friends. That was his secret ability to connect with all manner of people.

What I’ve learned about life on the way to the courthouse is this: When you show an authentic interest in others, you grow to see beyond your own wants and needs to see the often unspoken desire of others to be genuinely acknowledged. To see others through your heart as well as your eyes.

When you affirm another human being you are honoring an action that is waiting at life’s intersection of your religious faith, values, principles and best instincts, and it is the filling out to the full the direction our mama’s taught us to be good for goodness’ sake.

Along the way the good things, and even the best of things, come your way as well. And for the best of reasons. Because in this world of posturing and posts, discerning people have been waiting and looking for “the real deal” folks like you, as my wise father often noted. (It was part of his secret ability to connect, too.)

It’s hard to thread that needle of true success if you fail to keep your pride and your ego that drives you to that pride in check. But the Lucky-Strike Extra in life is keeping the focus on others in ways large and small. If you do this one thing, you are out of the blocks fast in life’s race in 2017.