“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
I’ve heard a lot of talk about the value of specialization. The theory goes that, if you want to become successful, you should pick one thing and do it really really well. You only have so much time to invest in yourself, and you have to have a pretty specific pitch if you’re going to capture people’s attention. You want to be sharp and you want to be purpose-built. When it comes time to chop down that tree, you will have the finest edge that anyone has ever seen.
Life (and work) isn’t made up of isolated, perfectly defined cookie-cutter moments. Life is messy. Life is complex. That tree you want to chop down might fall on someone. People might not understand the benefit of it being chopped down in the first place. Have you considered whether now was the right time to chop it down? Is chopping down the tree the best use of your resources considering your other priorities? Who will be documenting the process, writing articles and snapping photos so that you can promote your tree chopping services? Should you live stream it? And why not get yourself a chainsaw since this is the 21st century?
If all you cared about was that axe edge, I’m sure you would do a bang up job cutting down that tree. But you would fail miserably as mayor of the village.
It’s easy to think of communications as purely a supportive role. We’re not usually the ones charting the course for our organizations. We’re not driving the business. So it’s easy to understand how we can become quite reactive to the work that is requested of us. However, it is incumbent on us to constantly question the “why” of our work, however responsive we are to the “what” and the “how”, in order to be able to provide strategic guidance, and maximum value, to those we are supporting.
Have you ever heard someone say: “This isn’t the hill I’m going to die on”? It was something an old manager of mine used to say fairly frequently. When she said it, it meant that she disagreed about something our CEO was asking us to do, but she didn’t feel strongly enough about the argument to fight about it until the bitter end. In other words, it wasn’t a disagreement she was going to lose her job over.
In Netflix’s House of Cards, Frank Underwood is a conniving, calculating and ruthless politician who has sights fixed firmly on power. He understands that favours lead to personal indebtedness, and those under his thumb often find themselves doing things that they would never otherwise do. How does this happen? How can the burden of personal debt cause otherwise intelligent people to go against their own better judgement? It has to do with the power of reciprocity. This is how it works.
I’m sitting here, in the middle of the room along with the rest of this disappointed audience, and I can’t read a single thing on the presenter’s PowerPoint slides. Someone next to me whispers: “How big is that font, anyways? Size 6?” “It doesn’t matter,” I reply. “He’s just reading his slides word for word.”
One of the most critical success factors when presenting to an audience is good eye contact. That’s why handheld clickers are so important – you can advance your slides without ever breaking that all-important audience connection. So what do you do if you lost your little remote?
Decisions are tiring. It takes a lot of energy to ponder the pros and cons of the thousands of choices we make on a daily basis. Thankfully, our subconscious has developed tools to help us make all these tiresome decisions quickly and efficiently. According to studies, one of these subconscious tools is a trigger word we can take advantage of to influence the decision-making process.
David FolkersonDiscover a magic word that increases influence by more than 30%
Senior communicator | Team leader | Web and social media expert | Strategist.
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