I was recently contacted by the CEO of a company to see if I was available to talk to his executive team who he thought would benefit from “a rousing the troops” type of speech. Now usually for these sorts of engagements I have plenty of time to prepare and I feel I have the whole thing pretty dialed in when the time comes to deliver. On this particular day I had no such luxury. After several emails back and forth it was decided that I would do the talk on the provision that it was ok to have my 2 year old daughter with me (it was too late in the game to find reliable/trustworthy childcare) and the CEO was to make it plainly clear to his team that me being there was totally ad hoc. I started the speech by saying that I was underdressed (sandals, slacks and t-shirt) underprepared (I didn’t have any time to prepare)and had a 2 year old daughter tagging along who hadn’t as yet taken her late morning nap (it’s currently 3 o’clock in the afternoon). I continued by saying that it might turn out to be an interesting 20 minutes or so. From that point on I really don’t recall what I said, the limited notes I had made for myself went totally out of the window. People say when this happens you are experiencing moments of flow” – but in this instance I’m not sure if it was that at all. Mostly I just tried to be genuine and told the people there to sharpen their spears and fight the rising tide. Only by creating a unified front and enduring personal sacrifice would they achieve success. I really do enjoy giving speeches of this nature, although however I feel it is somewhat difficult to get 100% buy in. The biggest downside for me though is the lack of “the feedback loop”. Once you have given your talk you don’t really get to see the net result of it, if of course there was any net result in the first place. This brings me to my point.
More often than not, you have no idea how your words and actions impact other people. I think we all live in a world where cynicism reigns supreme and as a result we have a tendency to keep our thoughts and opinions to ourselves because “who listens anyway right?” Wrong. If you have the opportunity in any way to say or do the right thing then you should take it because ultimately the true measure of self is how you act regardless of the preconceived ideas or misconceptions your words or actions may or may not have on others. I am a little bit of a control freak and to speak to a crowd of intellects without the appropriate preparatory time in my mind was futile, but the big picture was that if I could create a shift in one person who then creates a shift in another then another then another – well you get my point. I fear failure, we all do but how can you know success if you don’t even try. The easy out for me would have been to throw excuses out there about childcare for my daughter, not enough lead time etc., but I chose the path of most resistance and after it was all said and done I hoped my speech created a shift. I will never know, but I would definitely have had zero impact if I didn’t do it in the first place. That was a guarantee. Choose the hard road, give the best of yourself to people even if there are no tangible rewards because in the end, when asked, you can say to yourself “I did my best”
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