One of the greatest lessons I’ve been taught as a speaker is to:
“Be similar, not special.”
I used to be horrible at this. Like, really bad. I thought if someone was going to hire me, and listen to me, as a speaker, it would only happen if they knew how “special” I was and all the great things I’ve done.
Yeah…not so much.
I’m writing this post because of a conversation I had with a coaching client last week. She’s truly embracing becoming a better leader and communicator, and I encouraged her to share more of her journey with people in the organization.
She has a GREAT story…just like you do. But the problem is, we often diminish our own story. We are either afraid to tell it or we think it isn’t as good as someone else’s, so we keep it locked inside of us.
When is the last time you watched a movie or a play and the main character was so special that they won everything?
If you have seen a movie like this, it probably wasn’t very compelling.
What makes us similar and relatable to people is struggle. Fear. Being knocked down. Overcoming something.
THEN, and only then, when the person wins we also feel like we’ve won. There’s a connection.
I’ve asked, literally, thousands of people what characteristics they look for in a leader and not one of them has ever responded with “special” or “never does anything wrong.”
Humility, transparency, authenticity are frequently mentioned.
It’s ok to admit you’re a hot mess because, at some point, we’ve ALL been a hot mess. But what you did about it IS your woe-to-win story. It’s the stuff of which great movies are made.
Make no mistake about it, this is a HARD thing to do. One of my hardest things to do as a speaker was to admit how much I struggled when my mom and dad passed away. When I was afraid starting my own business. When I wanted to quit and give up during a race.
Going back to those places and ADMITTING vulnerability is unbelievably difficult. I’m sure it comes easier for some but certainly not for me.
I can tell you, though, that the responses I get from people now are 10x better than anytime I ever stood up on stage and tried to impact people by being special. And it has nothing to do with actually standing on a stage – it’s our basic everyday communication of one-to-one or one-to-many.
You might be thinking, “I can’t possibly share personal stories with my team members.”
Really? Why not?
“Well, it’s business; it’s not personal.”
Are you doing business with people? Then there’s nothing more personal than business.
If you feel like morale and motivation are low, please consider how special you are. Yes, I do think you are VERY special (wink wink) but are you similar? If you’re going to share the win, at least share part of the woe.
And watch what happens.
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