When you pay attention, life is full of tiny moments of enlightenment. Deep insights can pop up from something you see in the street, a story a friend tells you, a movie, a book, a poem, or, increasingly -- a TV show.
Breaking Bad can teach you about pride and limits of loyalty. The Sopranos can teach you about the wake of pain caused by retained emotional wounds. USA Network's Suits can teach you about social and business confidence -- especially through the character of Harvey Specter.
Here are six life lessons you can glean from Harvey to bolster your social status, though these qualities will do little for your soul.
1) Own Your Character
In the show Suits, Harvey Specter is viewed as a charming, confident, sometimes arrogant man. Harvey doesn't apologize for who he is. You'll notice that people recognize this and accepts this fact. He defines his realm. You won't see Harvey worrying about what people think of him whether it be positive or negative -- in fact he'll sometimes use those negative opinions to his advantage.
How can you apply this in your life?
Take to heart the idea that how the world views you is based on how you view yourself. Meaning if you assign yourself a self-doubter, the world will doubt you.
Operate from your measured sense of what is right and wrong. If someone gives you cause to re-assess your opinion or direction, consider that in private. And make your decision in repose, rather than bend in the moment to what sounds good.
2) Your Appearance Matters
In the first episode of Suits, Harvey says: "People respond to how we're dressed, so like it or not this is what you have to do." And he's right. We are still a tribal species -- and we respond to social status signals, for better or worse.
Within seconds people make snap judgements about you, as you do them as well. If you seek to display authority, dress that way. If you want to encourage a softer kind of empathy, say, If you're a therapist, then choose less intimidating clothes. Softer textures. No power suits.
How you dress your body, and how you move your body -- your body language -- provides a short cut for others to know your intent.
So then how can you use this lesson to benefit you?
Simply decide how you want to be perceived and start taking small steps towards behaving and doing things that are aligned with that image of yourself.
3) Stay (Flexibly) Solution Focused
In an early scene, Harvey asks Mike, his apprentice fake lawyer, "What are your choices when someone puts a gun to your head?"
Mike responds with, "What are you talking about? You do what they say or they shoot you."
Harvey then replies with this golden nugget of a line: "Wrong! You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of the hundred and forty-six other things."
Harvey chooses to focus on solutions. Many of them.
Choosing this frame of mind will not only help you solve your own problems and others, it'll make people respect and admire you because you're more focused on doing something about the problem rather than wallowing in despair.
4) Maintain That Eye Contact
Throughout the series, Harvey is confident enough that he maintains strong eye contact with his clients, colleagues, enemies, and of course attractive women.
Why is this powerful?
Because as you keep eye contact with another person, it signals many things such as that you're actually engaged with them, your interest in a person, even how confident you feel.
Practice maintaining relaxed, open (no, not bug-eyed) eye contact with family, friends and new people you meet -- they'll notice a difference.
And they will feel -- especially in this culture of distraction -- that you are genuinely present with them in the moment.
5) Keep Moving
Right from the start Harvey is known as "the best closer" in New York City.
Why is that?
Because his focus in on action after action.
As he says, "I don't have dreams, I have goals. Now it's on to the next one."
This echoes something Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, recalls saying after his board apprised him of a multimillion dollar new product flop, "Tactical Error. Onward."
We set goals. Sometimes we miss. Sometimes we hit. We learn from both. We set our sights forward.
And take new action toward new goals. This is how businesses grow.
Harvey Specter's defining quality is high belief in himself -- how self-assured and confident he is in his abilities, mental resources, and disposition.
These are beliefs honed not in fantasy but in honed skills. Tempered on the battlefield of life. Entrepreneurs fuel their success on the principle of "it's better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission," because if we waited for other people to okay our next steps forward, we'd never launch. We'd never grow. We'd never triumph.
In many ways, belief in yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fail fast. Fail forward. Learn -- but act in accordance to what you believe is the next best step.
Without action, there is nothing.
Harvey Specter might make a terrible therapist, or clergyman. But as a model for an action-taking businessman who gets things done, he's a textbook.
Best Selling Author, Emmy-Nominated Producer, Screenwriter and Entrepreneur, Adam Gilad leads a community of over 80,000 men and women on their quest to create love and a bold, inspired life. Having served as a Stanford Humanities Center Graduate Research Fellow and host of National Lampoon Radio, Adam blends a bracing mix of research, humor and global wisdom traditions to help men and women break through the habits blocking their ability to open into love and freedom.