Chris Collins is a lifestyle aficionado and icon of the global fashion industry. For more than two decades he has been a brand ambassador and model for Ralph Lauren.

Today, Chris still models for Ralph Lauren occasionally but he is focused on developing his own line of men’s fragrances. He is also a luxury brand advisor and consultant for global brands such as Aston Martin, Kilian and Lareymondie.

Chris has a background in Biology and Psychology, from the University of Maine. He also teaches at NYU as an adjunct professor.

What I learnt from Chris Collins in his own words:

“Passion is that little fire that just continues to burn and it just keeps you inspired. It’s like you’re never bored. When I’m working or when I’m engulfed in what I’m doing I don’t think about it, I’m excited to do it. I can’t wait to get up in the morning to actually start my day, to figure out the next project, to plan out where I’m going, where I’m headed, how I can inspire more people. I think it is very, very important to have that little fire burn within you.”

“I think that naturally we all have a gift, whether it’s tapped or untapped. Some have more gifts than others, but I think the difference between natural ability and effort is that, if you don’t put in the effort your gift won’t flourish. I’ve been genetically blessed, thank God for my parents, and my genetic makeup, but I think the reason why I actually managed to work for a prestigious company like Ralph Lauren for 20 years is down to the person I am.”

“I remember sitting down with Ralph before I did any photo shoots for him and he wanted to know all about me, about my family, about my interests. He knew that I was just more that this guy that was just coming to take a photo. He knew I was this good looking guy who was smart, intuitive and very empathetic and a good person. I take pride in being a good person. I take pride in caring about others and their feelings and I think that that’s the recipe for how I lasted the distance. I know people who are way better looking than me but they couldn’t last in this business, because they didn’t have the right attitude.”

“I don’t believe in luck. I believe in being put in a situation or a circumstance and taking full advantage of it. I think that we’re all put in situations and it’s up to you to pretty much determine whether or not this is going to be the situation that you’re going to flourish in or fail in. I was put in a situation. I was extremely blessed to be put in it. I do believe in blessings; I just don’t believe in luck. I don’t believe that I was lucky to be put in the situation. I just believe that we all are at some point going to be put in a situation and it’s up to you to take advantage of that situation and make the best of it.”

“I always stay humble and never get too low on yourself. I never get too high and I never get too low, because there are days when things don’t go well. Then there are days where it all makes sense and you walk downstairs and things just happen and it just clicks. Then other days things don’t make sense and I used to get really, really low on myself and then I realised, all it does is deprive you of realising that this is normal. Not every day is going to be the most prosperous day. There are going to be days that you lose and there are going to be days that you win, but as long as at the end you are in a good place as far as moving forward and succeeding or whatever’s the most important to you, then that’s the most important. You have to look at the average. I don’t get too high when things go great and I hear the greatest news I’ve ever heard and then I hear the worst sometimes. That is essentially life. It’s up and downs, the ebb the flow of life. So I try to deal with it the same. I’m human and I’m a very, very emotional human, but I still try to handle both with the same demeanour as best I can.”

“What motivates me are people’s stories and the good in people. A lot of people listen, but a lot of people don’t hear well. I have this ability to hear people. There is a huge difference. Listening is when words just float in and out and you do not really understand what that person needs or what they like, or what inspiration they may benefit from. So the motivation for me is basically to help others, to inspire others, to listen to the stories of others and let them know that I’m still trying to figure it out too, just like them. When I’m trying to help people it is kind of selfish, because it’s probably helping me more. That is what inspires me, to actually have a chance to influence or inspire or encourage or to help others…that’s my day to day inspiration.”

“I consider myself to be a person with a high level of empathy and I think empathy is maybe the most important characteristic that any of us as human beings can have, because you have to have the ability to understand others and to actually take into account other people’s feelings and emotions. The one disconnect, the one characteristic that a psychopath and a sociopath don’t have is the ability to empathise.”

“I 100% believe we choose how to accept things in life, situations in your life, things that are either taking away from you or giving to you and it all boils down to the way you look at life. I have a choice to deal with certain situations completely differently. One situation can be dealt with differently by many different people. I don’t think that one situation warrants the same response. So I think in a sense it’s your ability to take whatever’s happening to you, or said to you, or done to you or taken away from you….and to digest it.”

“My life has been this journey of mistakes and successes and I’ve made good mistakes. I’ve done things in my life and I’ve called them the great mistakes.”

“I always want to be the dumbest person in the room. I’m always eager to listen and I’m always eager to learn.”

“Even in my lowest moments and moments where I can’t believe that this is happening to me, I still thank God very graciously for what I do have. I think, ‘I may have lost a job opportunity but thank you God for having a roof over my head and healthy lungs to breathe and the ability to think and the ability to figure it out.’ I’m very gracious to others. I always let them know how much I appreciate them and how grateful I am to have them. I constantly let people know that, because that makes people feel good and inspires them and encourages them and it’s also for me to show how grateful I am to people. It’s basically energy for me that’s building… It gives me a sense of knowing that, it’s feeling good and it makes me happy and I just want to make other people feel important and I’m gracious with that. So, yes, gratitude for me is one of the highest emotions or acts.”

You can read more about the character traits that drive greatness in our book Great Traits. The e-book and paperback versions are available via Amazon or visit your nearest Waterstones to buy in store. To receive new content and podcasts from the Great Traits Project sign up below: