What is “People Centricity”? (And Why Should You Care?)

[This is an excerpt from the book People Centricity by Stephen Hewett.]

Would you like to have any — or all — of these…

  • good health?
  • financial security?
  • personal, emotional and sexual gratification?
  • the enjoyment of the happiness and health of the people who are dear to you?
  • an occupation you find absorbing, fascinating, and lucrative?
  • agreeable leisure-time activities?
  • a faith you find important, whether religious or secular?
  • an overwhelming sense of positivity in yourself?
  • the feeling that you are a good person and that you generate good outcomes for yourself and for the people you care about and work with?
  • anything else that makes you feel most happy?

If you have all of these great things already, I mean all of them, I congratulate you. You may not need to read this book. But if you’re missing any if these things, then, Reader, I urge you to read on, because this book will help you get more of the above things … if not all of them.

All I ask is this: if you do want to get at least one more of the great things listed above than you already have, do please accept that you’ll need to change what you put into your life in order to get out what you want. After all, how can you expect to get new outcomes if you don’t change your inputs? It’s only logical, isn’t it?

“People Centricity” is what I call the approach to life I recommend in this book. So let’s answer the question: What’s People Centricity?

Well, it’s all these things:

  • a powerful, invigorating and life-enhancing life philosophy
  • a new way of seeing the world
  • a way of making your life even better
  • fun
  • interesting
  • engaging
  • fulfilling
  • liberating in that it liberates you to a new life.

How can we define People Centricity? I suggest

the life philosophy of making an investment of time and emotional energy to advance the agenda of people — with whom you have a mutually beneficial interaction — who are outside your immediate close circle.

People Centricity is a fairly obvious term to think up, so perhaps I shouldn’t make a claim for having invented it. I wasn’t aware of it, though, until I first started using the term in my consulting work as an extension of the more familiar expression “Customer Centricity.”

But Customer Centricity only focuses on customers; People Centricity focuses on everyone. The notion of People Centricity is, I’ve noticed, becoming increasingly present on blogs and in articles; more and more people are feeling that there must be something in the idea of attempting to focus the discipline of centricity on people rather than only customers.

All the same, this book is, as far as I know, the first ever on the subject of People Centricity.

Your Tribe

Here’s another important definition I use here. In this book, I refer to your close circle as your “tribe.”

So who is your tribe? Well, I’d say it’s

  • the person or people you live with;
  • whoever you regard as your immediate family;
  • the people who are your closest friends;
  • the people you work with most closely;
  • if you belong to a religion, the people you are closest to at your place of worship;
  • sometimes, people beyond your immediate circle of acquaintances whom you see as belonging to your own ethnic, national, or religious group. (This is a more extensive definition of the concept of your tribe, and applies most often in political situations.)

There may be other members of your tribe, but the categories above are the most important ones. You get the idea: basically anyone in your life to whom you are emotionally or socially close is likely to be part of your tribe. In practice, the most important constituent of your tribe will be your family.

Social Tribalism and Its Potentially Dangerous Effects

In this book I use the term “social tribalism” to describe putting a narrow focus on the agenda of your own tribe. This narrow focus often, though not always, means being actively opposed to the agenda of people beyond your tribe.

Social tribalism has been a feature of all human societies since the origins of our species. All acts of terrorism and all kinds of political violence, including indeed much personal violence, are acts of social tribalism. Much of politics is in fact social tribalism in action. Wars and other kinds of armed conflicts are large-scale examples of social tribalism. World War Two, in which more than fifty-million people died, owed its origins almost entirely to social tribalism. The numerous wars that have happened before and since are due to social tribalism, with the appalling conflict in the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia, in which about 140,000 people perished, being an especially dreadful example of social tribalism in action. The 9/11 terrorist outrages directed against the United States were, among many other things, an appalling and highly-publicised example of social tribalism; but on most days throughout the world, social tribalism is responsible for other, less well-publicised but in their own way no less, appalling acts.

The truth is that all the world’s wars, mass murders, and individual acts of terrorism are caused by social tribalism; that is, by our near or complete indifference to the needs of others beyond our immediate family circle and friends.

The simple and sad fact is that people whose focus is this narrow rarely make much of their lives. They are born, they live and they die, and they are never — or only rarely — touched by the blessing of what life could be to them, and what they could be to life.

People Centricity is something very different, and very much better, than social tribalism. People Centricity is all about making a definite investment of time and effort to empathise with the agenda of people from outside your own tribe, to deliver the best mutually beneficial outcome for those people and for you. (The concept of the mutually beneficial interaction is central to what People Centricity is, and I look at it in detail in the next chapter.)

Don’t get me wrong, I think family life and time with friends are all really great. For me, my family is my greatest personal happiness, and I have a rule (which admittedly I don’t always manage to adhere to) that I don’t do any work at weekends so I can devote myself to spending time with my family. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful family, excellent friends, and many great work colleagues.

But I also believe deeply in People Centricity.

The trouble is that most people on the planet are socially tribal in their approach to the world. They only bother to concern themselves significantly with the agenda and needs of the people in their tribe.

Christina Patterson, a columnist on the UK newspaper The Independent, expressed the matter pithily when she said:

A society can’t function, or at least it can’t function very well, without the realization that people outside your family are as real as the people in it. There has, in recent years, been a growing emphasis on the ‘hard-working family’ as the seat of all that’s good: parents battling for their darlings’ rights and now, God help us, even clubbing together to start schools. There’s a name for a community that puts family first. It’s called the Mafia.

The Mafia, like many other socially tribal organisations, was not averse to resorting to murder if that suited its purposes. The truth is that social tribalism is potentially a deadly philosophy — and a deathly one too.

The world’s prisons are full of people who only care about themselves. Even more to the point, the world’s graveyards are full of the decaying corpses and skeletons of people who lived their lives only for themselves, who never had an inkling of what life could really be, and who’ve now lost their chance for all eternity of knowing what their life could have been like if they’d believed in and practised a more positive attitude toward other people.

This realization that, as Christina Patterson puts it, people outside your family are as real as the people in it, is, in a nutshell, the essence of what People Centricity is all about.

You might say, “But I do care about people outside my usual ‘tribe’, as you put it. I care about my customers or my clients, and I’m friendly to shopkeepers, I would be happy to help an old people across the road and I’ll drop some change in a busker’s hat if I like the music.”

That’s great, it really is, and yes, very probably you were doing a lot to pursue People Centricity even before you began reading this book.

But in proposing People Centricity as a life philosophy, I’m going to be suggesting that it’s very much more than just you sometimes caring about people beyond your tribe. I’m going to be suggesting that People Centricity is all about adopting a more systematic and thorough approach to caring about people beyond your tribe.

Why am I suggesting this? Simply because I know that practising People Centricity will make your life even better than it is now.

In particular, practising People Centricity is that it will let you harness, in your daily life, all the positive outcomes of the powerful social and physical dynamic called the Law of Attraction.

People Centricity and the Law of Attraction

Very likely you’ve heard of the Law of Attraction already. The Law of Attraction is a way to understand, and make the most of, certain fundamental energies that are believed by some to be part of the world, and especially the energies of human interactions. The Law of Attraction maintains that like attracts like, and that by focusing on positive thoughts and by behaving in a positive way, we can bring about positive consequences both for ourselves and for other people.

At heart, the Law of Attraction really is that simple.

People Centricity puts the Law of Attraction into practice in everyday human relations. Practice a broader perspective on other people — go beyond mere tribalism — and your life will benefit because you’ll understand other people better, and so you will get correspondingly even better at winning the trust, friendship, and affection of others.

This is the simple but mighty point at the heart of this book: No matter how well we understand people already, People Centricity has something to offer all of us. Of course, I’m including myself in the “us”; all of us can become constructively broader and more positive in how we see other people.

People Centricity is a philosophy to take you through life. It’s all about learning how to understand and share the feelings of other people so as to produce the best mutually beneficial outcome for those other people and for you.

A particularly important point here is that People Centricity matters more during dark days. There are always going to be times when you’re not feeling especially well disposed to other people. In fact, those are precisely the times when People Centricity is most useful to you.

Why? Because it’s then that you need people more than ever. During the tough times, being people-centric makes life better. Adopting a people-centric attitude to other people really is the best remedy of all during dark days, and the best way to make the days light again.

During the good times, People Centricity makes life wonderful.

I’ve spent a couple of decades trying to work out what the secret of relating to people and genuinely empathising with their agenda is and how to apply it. People Centricity has become a passion of mine, and I’ve written this book to share that passion.

It was only when I got to know about the Law of Attraction that I realized that People Centricity is the key to doing something really amazing: putting the Law of Attraction into action in our relationships with people. For me, realizing this was a massive and mighty breakthrough.

Today, the Law of Attraction is causing more and more excitement around the world. The more people know about the Law of Attraction, the more excited they tend to get. The Law of Attraction provides insight into the world and human life, an insight so powerful that people often wonder how they can have lived so long and not known its secret.

As Rhonda Byrne points out in her acclaimed book The Secret (2006):

The Law of Attraction says that like attracts like, and so as you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you.

The Law of Attraction is about thinking positively and about feeling positively, about behaving in a positive way, and about being positive. I don’t mean being artificially, insincerely positive. I mean being genuinely positive.

An important corollary (or, to use more colloquial language, consequence) of the Law of Attraction is that in many respects, the way for you to become the kind of person you want to be, is to think like that person now and to behave like that person, too, where this is realistic and doesn’t cause any potential negative effect on others.

This is what “like attracts like” really means. It means, in its most basic form, that positive attracts positivity and that negative attracts negativity. So logically, if you behave positively, then your life will be positive.

The Law of Attraction works. People who behave sincerely and genuinely as if they are what they want to be are likely to become what they want to be.

So, people who are friendly attract friends, people who are loving attract love, people who give energy and life to the world around them attract energy and life from the world.

You Attract What You Are

This is what the word attraction in the Law of Attraction means: you attract what you are. It follows that, other things being equal, you can use the Law of Attraction to bring things you want into your life. The Law of Attraction implies that if you want something, you shouldn’t focus on the wanting; instead, focus on the thing you want, and you will get what you want.

If, for example, you want love…

…don’t focus on wanting love; focus on love: be positive, be loving, and you’ll get love.

If you want a promotion at work…

…don’t focus on wanting the promotion; focus on the promotion itself: think of what you can do to make others want to give you your promotion, and you’ll get your promotion. You might find yourself getting promoted even higher than you imagined!

If you want money…

…don’t focus on wanting money; focus on the money itself: think of what you can do to make others want to pay you money, and you’ll get money.

If you want beauty (in all its incarnations) in your life…

…don’t focus on wanting beauty; focus on beauty itself: admire it, seek it, appreciate it, and you’ll get beauty.

If you want to be beautiful…

…feel and think your beauty, and you will be beautiful.

If you want sex…

…don’t focus on wanting sex; focus on being sexy, charming, and appreciative of sex and sexuality. Being like that will bring sexually warm people into your life.

Strangely enough, the Law of Attraction also seems to apply to inanimate objects.

Try this, for example: Next time you’re hurrying along a pavement in London/Paris/New York/Beijing/Moscow/Rio de Janeiro or anywhere else, and you’re desperate for a taxi, as you rush along the pavement, of course you’ll be focusing on wanting a taxi. Try not to do that. Instead, focus on your taxi: what it might look like, what the driver will look like, what he or she will be thinking about. Focus hard on your taxi — and a taxi will soon appear.

Sounds mystical?

Maybe it does. But try it; it works.

Evidence of or for the Law of Attraction

Why does the Law of Attraction work for inanimate things? I wish I knew, but unfortunately I don’t. Some enthusiastic devotees of the Law of Attraction believe it somehow taps into fundamental energy forces that abound in the universe. Well, maybe that’s true. I studied some aspects of physics years ago when I was training to be an aviation pilot, but my studies were very much focused on the rule of physics relating to aviation, and I definitely never noticed energy waves being part of the syllabus, so I’m not qualified to discuss them.

I’ve sometimes thought, though, that the Law of Attraction may be a practical, everyday, macro-application of the phenomenon known as quantum entanglement. This is a recognised and scientifically respectable physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs (or groups) of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each member must subsequently be described relative to each other.

But again, I am not a physicist and don’t know about the phenomenon of quantum entanglement at an in-depth level, and, even if I did, its application in the real world can only ever be a theory.

But surely it doesn’t really matter that there are some highly complex and hard-or-impossible-to-prove-anyway theories about how, or why, the Law of Attraction works. What matters is that practising the Law of Attraction really does seem to create a climate of positivity around people that benefits the world and the people.

And if you combine People Centricity with implementing the Law of Attraction in your daily life, the benefits you can expect to enjoy will be tremendous!

Oh, and if you still doubt that the Law of Attraction is real, let alone something that could change your life, consider one absolutely indisputable piece of evidence.

That piece of evidence is the placebo effect.

There’s abundant, indeed conclusive, evidence that in clinical tests involving patients who receive a real medicine and patients who receive a placebo (i.e., something that looks or even also tastes like a real medicine but isn’t), the patients who receive the placebos report, to a statistically significant effect, that they feel better. There have, indeed, been many cases where patients taking a placebo not only feel better but get better as if they had taken the real medicine.

Maybe results like these shouldn’t surprise us! After all, our minds and bodies are intimately linked. For example, I’m only writing this because my brain is telling my fingers to tap certain keys on my word-processor.

But there’s more to the placebo effect than that. The point is, the placebo effect works because it has an impact on our whole beings and because it makes us think and feel wellness, and that makes us feel better — literally.

That’s the Law of Attraction in action!

Mighty and wondrous as the Law of Attraction is, ultimately, it’s no more than a brilliant observation: you can only really state it and marvel at it. You won’t really benefit from it until you start to put it into practice.

Put It into Practice

Strangely, books about the Law of Attraction rarely tend to offer much in the way of practical advice about applying the law in your relationships with other people. By “your relationships,” I don’t just mean personal romantic relationships; I mean all your relationships.

If you don’t use the Law of Attraction to make your relationships with other people better, you’re missing out on an enormously important opportunity. Indeed, it’s in our relationships with other people that the Law of Attraction has the most relevance.

Yet this is just what we should expect. After all, the Law of Attraction teaches us that like attracts like, so shouldn’t you unselfishly offer consideration, caring, and unselfishness to other people if you want to get it back?

And, after all, don’t all human societies celebrate unselfish people? Don’t we admire such people and feel inspired by them?

That’s precisely what the Law of Attraction suggests will happen. We find such unselfish behaviour attractive and inspiring because it makes us feel unselfish and good ourselves and because we know, deep down, that we would like to be like that too, and that it’s the best way to live.

The principles of People Centricity and the simple ideas at the heart of the Law of Attraction, as well as sheer commonsense, suggest that if you behave in a selfish, socially tribal way toward other people, then they will behave in the same way back to you, and in this situation everyone behaves in a socially tribal way toward everyone else, and the world just goes on with everyone being tribal to each other, and the world just goes on full of people who are socially tribal, just as it has so often in the past, with the lamentable results that I hardly need to point out. Just look at most of the history of humankind to date.

Fortunately, for anyone who is still alive and who wants to stop being socially tribal in their thinking and behaviour and to enjoy all the benefits of not being like that any more, it’s not too late to change.

I end the chapters of this book with a short section entitled “Looking Harder at Yourself,” which offers some questions and challenges to help you make the most of the material in the chapter. Take the time to answer the questions, at  least to yourself, if not using a pen and paper. When I present a challenge (or exercise), actually do it rather than just think about it; as you may well know, the power’s in the doing.

Looking Harder at Yourself

Is your life exactly now as you want it to be?

What things do you most want that you don’t have?

Have you worked out what you could do to help the people who are most close to you now, or people you might meet soon, to bring the things into your life that you want but don’t have yet?

If you want to earn more money, what can you do to help the community or industry you’re part of, or a community or industry you might join, pay you more money?

If you want to be better liked at work, what can you do to help people you work with like you more?

If you want to be more liked in a romantic sense by potential romantic partners, what can you do to help potential romantic partners like you more in a romantic sense?

People Centricity: The Incredible Power of Putting Other People First

From your personal interactions to your business success and beyond, Stephen Hewett will guide you on this life-changing journey, one that will make your bad days good and your good days wonderful.

People Centricity: The Incredible Power of Putting Other People First
People Centricity: The Incredible Power of Putting Other People First

People Centricity is a philosophy to take you through life. It’s all about learning how to understand and share the feelings of other people so as to produce the best mutually beneficial outcome for those other people and for you.

“Stephen’s philosophy of Customer Centricity is at one with my own. Customer Centricity really is the core of business. Stephen is a customer guru of our times.” —Mark Price MD, Waitrose & Deputy Chairman of John Lewis Partnership