Some people are truly, genuinely unforgettable—and in the best possible way.

They possess qualities that don’t always show up on paper but do always show up where it matters most: in the minds and even hearts of people who know them and will never forget them.

Here are eight qualities of unforgettable people.

1. They Truly Believe the Unbelievable

Most people try to achieve the achievable; that’s why most goals and targets are incremental rather than inconceivable.

Unforgettable people expect more—from themselves and from others. And they show us how to get there.

And they bring us along for what turns out to be an unbelievable ride.

2. They Genuinely See Opportunity in Instability and Uncertainty

Unexpected problems, unforeseen roadblocks, major crises—most people take down the sails and batten the hatches and ride out the storm.

A few see a crisis as an opportunity. They know it’s extremely difficult to make major changes, even necessary ones, when things are going relatively smoothly.

They know reorganizing an entire sales team is accepted more easily when a major customer goes under. They know creating new sales channels is a lot easier when a major competitor enters the market. They know reorganizing manufacturing operations is a lot easier when the flow of supplies and components gets disrupted.

Unforgettable people see instability and uncertainty not as a barrier, but as an enabler. They reorganize, reshape, and re-engineer to reassure, motivate, and inspire—and in the process make everyone around them more successful too.

3. They Wear Their Emotions on Their Sleeves

Most people are professional.

Unforgettable people are highly professional and yet somehow still openly and genuinely human. They show sincere excitement when things go well. They show sincere appreciation for hard work and extra effort. They show sincere disappointment—not in others, but in themselves. They celebrate, they empathize, and they worry.

In short, they’re people. And, unlike many people in a work setting, they behave as if they know it.

Professionalism is admirable. Professionalism—with a healthy blend of humanity—is inspiring.

And because it’s so rare, it’s unforgettable.

4. They Throw Themselves Under the Bus

Many people, even if just occasionally, throw other people under the bus. (Unfortunately, I’ve done it.)

Some people never throw other people under the bus.

But unforgettable people see the bus coming and pull others out of the way, often without the other person knowing—because unforgettable people also never seek to take credit.

They don’t need to.

5. They Never Stop Paying Their Dues

Dues aren’t paid, past tense. Dues get paid every day.

The real measure of value is the tangible contribution a person makes on a daily basis.

That’s why no matter what they’ve accomplished in the past, unforgettable people are never too good to roll up their sleeves, get dirty, and do the “grunt” work. No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.

Unforgettable people never feel entitled, setting an example that helps others keep from feeling entitled—except to the fruits of their labor.

(Which is the best fruit of all.)

6. They Lead by Permission, Not Authority

Unforgettable people lead because the people around them want them to lead. They’re motivated and inspired by the person, not the title. Often the most unforgettable leaders are informal leaders.

And if they are in charge, their words and actions make their employees feel they work with, not for, a boss.

Too many bosses don’t even recognize there’s a difference, but unforgettable bosses do.

7. They Embrace—and Promote—a Larger Purpose

Say you start a company (or are in a leadership position). Your job is to achieve company goals.

Unforgettable people also work to achieve company goals—and usually achieve more than other people—but also work to serve a larger purpose: to advance the careers of employees, to make a real difference in the community, to rescue struggling employees, to instill a sense of pride and self-worth in others.

They aren’t remembered just for nuts and bolts achievements but for helping others on a more personal or individual level.

Unforgettable people embrace a larger purpose because they know that while business is business, the best business is personal.

8. They Take Real Risks, Not Fake Risks

Many people try to stand out in some superficial way. Maybe it’s their clothes, or their interests, or their public displays of support for popular initiatives.

They do stand out, but for reasons of sizzle, not steak.

Unforgettable people stand out because they’re willing to take an unpopular stand, to take an unpopular step, to accept the discomfort of not following the status quo, to take the risk of sailing uncharted waters.

They take real risks not for the sake of risk but for the sake of the reward they believe is possible.

And by their example they inspire others to take a risk to achieve what they believe is possible.

Unforgettable people inspire others to achieve their dreams: by words, by actions, and most importantly, by example.

Who can forget a person who helps us achieve our dreams?

I certainly can’t—and neither can you.

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Photo of person on mountain courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020