The great acting teacher Sanford Meisner defined acting as “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” But for many of us who communicate before an audience, whether as pastors, executives, educators, or lawyers, the temptation is to do the opposite, to act imaginarily under truthful circumstances.
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Fueled by a legitimate desire to deliver a powerful message, we craft our words, our presentation, and our delivery to such an extent that the drive to do our best can actually rob us of sharing a genuine moment with an audience.
It’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence. We think, What can I do? I am only one person. Even when I was the CEO of a company I often felt this way.
The truth is that each of us wields far more power than we could possibly imagine. However, most of us have never discovered this—or we have forgotten it.
How important is winning to you? I know I like to win. What’s even more important is how I play the game. The process is key to me.
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For many leaders today, life is moving really fast. Contemplating the process of life is not on the top of many leaders “to do” lists. Yet, process is vital in order to do life well and to finish well. To me finishing well implies much more than just a successful career or ministry. How important is life’s process to you?
Several years ago, I wrote out a list of “100 Things I Want to Do Before I Die.” It’s really an amazing, audacious list. Whenever I review it, I am both inspired and stunned by how many of the items I have already accomplished. And yet, there is so much more. The list keeps growing.
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I’ll bet you have a list, too. Perhaps you’ve written it down; perhaps not. Regardless, you doubtless want to accomplish things—probably a lot of things. Really important things. Unfortunately, life is short. I have more to accomplish than I could probably do in seven lifetimes.
By nature I am a planner. I plan everything. And then I re-plan. I probably spend 90 percent of my time thinking about the future and planning for it. I consider my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I anticipate problems and consider contingencies. I have a Plan A.
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But, unfortunately, Plan A rarely happens. When it does, it is awesome. But for me, Plan B is usually the norm. Like an old friend of mine used to say, “Do-do occurs.”
There’s an instructive scene in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda is instructing Luke Skywalker in how to use the Force. He asks Luke to retrieve his disabled spaceship out of a bog where it has sunk, using only his mind.
Luke, of course, thinks this is impossible. Sure, he has been able to move stones around this way. But a spaceship? That’s completely different. Or is it.
I lamented that I’d let weeds take over my flowerbeds. I didn’t have garbage can space, and my composter died in a windstorm, so I was left with a pile of uprooted weeds. They screamed failure to me.
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That is, until God whispered, “You can compost them right there. They can mulch the dry soil. Provide natural fertilizer.”
Yesterday, I described the ideal employee candidate as humble, honest, hungry, and smart. I represented this as a sort of formula: “H3S.” But how do you determine if someone you are interviewing has these qualities?
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I have a list of questions that I use during my first interview with a candidate. It has evolved over time, as I have gained more experience. I don’t ask every question in every interview; rather I keep it on my lap as a reference.
Most leaders I’ve met want to build a high-performance organization. Instinctively, they know that this requires great people. But few of them have ever taken the time to define exactly what they are looking for when it comes to the ideal candidate.
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Good leaders begin the recruiting process with a written job description. This generally includes the required educational experience and technical skills. But great leaders need to do more than this. They must take a step back and look at the baseline qualities of the candidate.
I once heard Dave Ramsey share the secret to his effective leadership and decision-making strategy: ”I make a decision, and if it’s the wrong one, I make another one.”
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Here was my thought process in reaction to that statement:
- That’s ludicrous.
- That’s reckless.
- That’s… genius.
“Hi. My name is Michael, and I’m a prepaholic.” If there was a support group for people who over-prepare, I would be a charter member.
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In my prior role as a CEO, much of my job involved making presentations—to boards, banks, investors, authors, agents, customers, employees, vendors, the media—you name it. Now, as a professional speaker, it represents most of my life. Each one of these engagements is an opportunity to connect with the audience and make a good “brand impression—or a bad one.