Passion & Focus

The need and urge to express ourselves have been exploited to the delight of millions of people around the world in numerous reality shows. American Idol, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, and on. Hundreds of thousands audition for their chance to risk.

We hold our breath as performers step onto the stage in front of judges, a live audience of hundreds to thousands of people, and a TV audience in the millions. They desire to be seen and heard, willing to face the possibility.

Daring performers, hapless wanna-bes, and those with an inner spark. They all step up.

This week on “America’s Got Talent,” it was a 41-year-old, shy, giggly, woman from the Philippines whose voice teacher told her long ago that she was too old to pursue singing seriously. And then she opened her mouth. In the first phrase, we were in awe. The live audience became quiet; the judges were mesmerized. On the last note, the sobered audience was on its feet amazed at the beauty and power of this operatic voice coming from the most unlikely source.

My wife and I looked at each other, with tears in our eyes and yelped, “WOW.”

Many people think that this WOW – this awe-inspiring stuff – only happens in the theatre, on TV or to others. But, again and again, I have been inspired by the stories I hear from corporate leaders who tell me about their lives, about their dreams, and about what they hope to do; executives who want that wow.

Finding your voice, as every artist, writer, painter, singer, politician, and executive team leader knows, is an ongoing, sometimes- elusive quest. Mysterious or puzzling, this quest must be pursued for it is the core of every developing successful leader.

Too many hours are spent in companies needlessly delivering or listening to power-point data-dumps that masquerade as essential-information sessions.

The solution is let go of the notion anyone will remember what we’ve said in a power point. A picture is worth a thousand words. Use one. Or say less, write less, and know you will have to repeat the message, and repeat the message. Repetition works. Endlessly long data-dump power-points don’t.

And then there are the outliers, the executives who trust in the power of their vision, know the importance of contagious passion in keeping corporate teams and employees fully engaged and committed.

It is through these individuals and their voices that fresh perspective is offered, innovation birthed, and the hope of staying relevant and competitive is fulfilled.

Will you take that risk? Are you willing to be the outlier?

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