Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

Legacy of Geneva Anderson 1: GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT

September 30, 2018

(Note: Geneva Anderson was a friend who came to being a public speaking coach late in life. I have blogged about her previously–see May 30, 2018 and LEGACY 15 posts. She won the SC statewide Toastmasters’ competitions twice, once in the mid 2000’s and again the mid 2010’s. She died just before Christmas 2017. This is the written version of one of her hallmark speeches. You can see some of her videos and read her story and other speeches on her blog, http://www.GenevaAnderson.org.)

We all have a story. When we meet someone new and are asked to tell something about ourselves, we offer up a version of our lives, usually where we were born and the family we were raised in, and a run-down of our interests, pursuits, education, vocation, and marital status. In a business context, we do pretty much the same thing. We come to a networking event and the conversation goes something like this: “Hello, I’m Joe Blow with Lucky Leaf Lawn Care. And you are?” If you are the one Joe Blow has approached, and if you are like many people at networking events, your “tang gets tonguled over your eye teeth and you cannot see what you are saying”!

How many of you identify with that? I am a member of BNI, a business networking group. There is a builder in our chapter who is an excellent builder. His work and craftsmanship are outstanding. His name is Bob and we call him “Bob the Builder!” Bob played football for Georgia Tech. He has a tall, athletic build and carries himself well. He is the picture of confidence. Yet Bob once confessed that he starts tensing up as he is driving from his home in Anderson and does not relax until he walks out of that meeting every Wednesday!

At BNI every week every member of the group stands up to deliver a 60-second “elevator speech.” I know Bob well, and he is a quality builder; but because his presentations are not well thought out ahead of time, he often gets dinged for exceeding the time limit and has to stop before he finishes his points. From this, you might not be convinced that Bob is truly a good builder.

Many of you here today could easily identify with Bob. You are really good at what you do, but most people would never know it — or they don’t know it as well as they could know it — because you lack the speaking skills to accurately articulate your story.

We all know light travels faster than sound. Many people appear very bright until they open their mouths! If you are a business owner trying to solidify your “brand” in the minds of your customers, clients or potentials, you need to be able to skillfully deliver your story.

According to Bo Eason, NFL football player turned life coach and speaker, “Today’s success is built on relationship, authenticity, & deep personal connection.” He further states that many of us think we have everything we need, but the one thing we’re all lacking is deep personal connection.
The people we fall in love with are the ones whose heart is hanging out there. Their ability to show courage and vulnerability builds immediate intimacy and trust. Imagine how having the ability to build immediate intimacy and trust could affect your business life…

Think back to the lowest moment in your life — when you looked around and there were no answers — the story you feel shame or embarrassment about, the story you do not want to tell. In that moment you either said, “Hey, I am going to fight; I am going to stay in here.” Or you quit. Those are the only two choices. That’s what we are all looking for; those turning points in life that define who you are. When you have the ability to tell that story, people will connect with you. They will trust you.

If you want to be successful in anything, you need to master the narrative of your life. All of your leadership and moneymaking ability rests in that narrative, because that is how people will connect to you. We are all looking for other human beings to connect with, and stories do that.

In Rolf Jensen’s book THE DREAM SOCIETY, he predicts that the highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the ‘storyteller’ because he will be valued for his or her ability to produce ‘dreams’ for public consumption.

Let’s take a look at some legendary brands that are producing dreams by delivering a compelling story.

Laurence Vincent. in his insightful book LEGENDARY BRANDS: UNLEASHING THE POWER OF STORYTELLING TO CREATE A WINNING MARKET STRATEGY, says that effective advertisers draw consumers in with a story. By design, legendary brands such as Starbucks, Apple and Harley-Davidson develop narratives that forge deep bonds with consumers. You won’t see a Harley-Davidson loyalist on a Honda Gold Wing. His allegiance to Harley-

Davidson is rooted in emotion, identity, and personal philosophy. To a Harley man, his bike is not a product. It’s his road buddy, his best friend. The Harley brand has reached and maintains legendary status by using a library of narratives, creating timeless myths that captivate and hold the loyalty of its consumers. In the marketplace, a loyal consumer trumps a merely satisfied customer. (A loyal consumer is one who would rather fight than switch!)

So, how can you take your life, your achievements and failures and build a story that connects to the hearts of your audience?

It’s hard to do it on your own. You can start with coaching and getting some training to help you overcome your basic fear of public speaking. You can join Toastmasters and have a mutually supportive environment, a laboratory in which you can test the waters, fail forward, and learn to tell your story.

Storytelling is power! You unleash that power when you get your story straight.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

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LEGACY 21: The Legacy of Asking Key Questions

July 13, 2018

It’s been several weeks since I’ve written a blog myself, but the idea for one popped up this morning when I awoke. We (my wife and I) are on our way to northwest Ohio (a 12-hour drive) to wrap up the affairs of her 93-year-old father, who died (preferable in my book to the somewhat euphemistic “passed”) this past Tuesday. In his waning days, he asked a relative, “What is the purpose of life?” The relative, definitely younger and less experienced in life, was taken aback and, not knowing how to answer, didn’t respond. She said she wished she had known what was going on and said something. I’m not sure that was the important thing. Can we ever really know if we say the right thing?

So I found myself thinking, “What are the key questions we should ask?”

What prompts us to ask? What is the purpose of asking? Do we really want answers? Or are we looking for something attendant—Relationship? Mere information? Satisfying our curiosity? (Why is it that children are always asking WHY? and we as adults stop asking?)

There are 2 kinds of questions—unimportant and important. Key questions definitely fit into the latter. But there are probably a host of questions that are important but not key. So let’s keep delving down into levels of importance and “key-ness.”

There are questions that identify information that matters, as opposed to trivia. There are questions that help influence decision-making. And there are questions that change our lives. I’m not a philosopher, so questions of epistemology (the theory of the nature of knowledge) I’m not qualified to begin to answer. How much can be known? The answer is the Question of the Ages: Who knows? (and if you respond in pat theological certainty, “God knows!”—how do you know that? And the begging questions, “Are there things He doesn’t know?” And on and on it goes…)

In my little, often-unknowing mind, there are a few KEY key questions for sure. My father-in-law asked one of them: “What is the purpose of life?” It can be asked in other ways or with other nuances: “Why am I here?” “How can I find meaning/significance?” “What do I need to be doing with my life?” Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING (according to a 1991 survey conducted by the US Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club, one of the 10 Most Influential Books in the US. See Wikipedia under the term “MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING.” A humorous footnote: The archived article, from the NY Times, has 13 total books listed. Five of them, including Frankl’s, are tied for 9th place. There is no actual 10th place book.)

Key questions revolve around key needs: purpose, relationship, legacy. What will I leave behind? (Why do I blog? What do I gain by it?)

My father-in-law was one of the most purposeful and effective men I’ve ever met. He lived a full and productive life and left a great legacy for his family and his world.

I wish I could ask him now, “What did you mean by that question? Do you have an answer? Was it the answer you expected? Is it the answer you wanted?” and “Are you still asking questions? If so, why?” And perhaps the most important one for me, “What question should I be asking right now?”

LEGACY 11: THE VALUE OF LEGACY: Why Does It Matter?

May 20, 2018

(Originally written 9/30/14. The grandson mentioned here is almost 7 now.)

Why is being consciously concerned about leaving a legacy important? Why does it even matter?

The only answer that even works is love.

A hundred years from now, who will remember me personally? No one, most likely. A century later, if any of us exist at all in anyone’s consciousness, it is as a name on a building plaque or tombstone or in a genealogy. Nothing remains. Anonymous dust. (Since I plan to be cremated, there won’t even be the tombstone in my case.)

So why bother caring? For the same reason that, in that unthinking heartbeat, without batting an eyelash, we would lay down our lives for the grandson we are taking to the museum. He matters that much.

True, he probably won’t be around in that same hundred years, but leaving him something significant, consciously, may make it easier for those he transmits his legacy to. Someone has transmitted their legacy, even if only genetically, to get me here, and others have transmitted culture, knowledge, and sustainability to get us all here. So somehow, it matters.

We have to love enough to leave a legacy. The only legitimacy legacy can claim is caring enough to make it happen. Deep inside, in our core, we care, enough to want it to matter. So we strive to leave something behind.

I can remember crying in my early school days, asking my dad—in my own mind— why he had had to leave me. (He committed suicide when I was 3.) But sometimes a clarity would come in, that perhaps he had left me more by leaving me—I had social security and veteran benefits for school that I would not have had otherwise. And who knows what negative memories I was spared? Maybe in leaving me, he loved me more than even he knew. I still pray for him—that is part of his legacy in leaving.

We have to love our past adequately in order to value the future. The continuity needs to be established. It took me until I was age 60 to track back past my father’s father’s name, age, and residence listed on my dad’s birth certificate. I found a brokenness in the life of his father—my great-grandfather—that explained it. He had killed his mother accidentally at age 17, and died when his son was 12. That son, my grandfather, never married my grandmother, leaving more brokenness. (My father’s birth certificate says they were married, but I’m almost certain that was a cover-up, based on other genealogical clues.)

But out of all those brokennesses, and a multitude of others, the mosaic of my life is pieced together. I have to try to step back enough to discern the picture. And even then, I only catch glimpses of glory.

But I care enough to try to leave it for my son and daughter, for their daughters, and for this grandson who is not even my flesh and blood. He may never read this, but it matters to me. I love that much.

Connectivity and Fractalization in Our Society

August 29, 2012

It seems to me that perhaps the greatest longing of our current culture is connectedness and connectivity. When I first thought of this, I wasn’t sure why two words, but as I tried to parse them out, I found that for me, connectedness would mean the feeling of being connected or the hope that becoming connected is possible, whereas connectivity would mean the ability to become connected. It might be that having the hope of connecting does not automatically ensure the possibility of making connections—communication requires more than simply transmitting; there must be reception, decoding, and return transmission for true communication to take place. Similarly, there must be those with who desire the kind of communication we are broadcasting and who would (and do) find such communication mutually rewarding.

Our society has become so fragmented and fractured that we are truly a broken people. We are broken (in more ways than one, including being broke and sometimes bankrupt in multiple ways beyond simply financial), and by and large, we don’t know how we’re broken or how to “fix” it. It may even be that our society is fractalized, that there are patterns emerging within or from our brokenness, but we are unable to see the patterns, to believe in them, or to utilize them.

And to be honest, I don’t have answers to these musings—just more questions arising in my mind. But I have to be careful how I phrase the questions, because our perception of what is or of what is possible (the old “half-full or half-empty” question) affects how we process, and ultimately, how we live: If we see something as futile, we despair, while if we see possibilities, we hope; we become cynical, or we begin to build; we curse, or we bless. And in this respect, if in no other, we place ourselves in control of our destinies, and are judged (even if only by the outcomes) for our actions.

For me personally, the negative course is a losing proposition, and my belief is that it is so for others also. I turn 60 in a week (it’s almost September 2012), and for decades I yearned for connection, and found it in some limited relationships (but then, all relationships by definition are limited, aren’t they?). It seems in the past 5 years, I have come further in far more satisfying ways than I ever imagined. I am arriving at a peace with myself, within my relationships with family, friends, and my God (in three different multi-faceted relationships: God as Creator/Father, as Jesus [Son/elder brother/groom/etc.], and as Holy Spirit [friend/counselor/advocate/etc.]), a greater peace than I have never known. And I find joy coming alongside, sneaking up on me, even in hard times as I learn that relationship is more important than problem-solving. All of this is refreshing, and I find I want more. I become enthusiastic, or to use the term one friend loves, exuberant. In the process, it creates within me a thankfulness, and a desire to share the joy and the insights. And so, I write, and blog, and share.

Relationship, Context, and “I Wanna Go to WalMart”

April 12, 2012

I meet regularly early on Tuesday mornings for a couple hours with a few guys for spiritual renewal and refreshing. We’ve been doing it for about 5 years now—sometimes we pray, sometimes we study, sometimes we just talk, sometimes it’s a combination of these and who knows what. This past Tuesday turned out to be one of the most hilarious times we’ve had in a while.

It started out as a discussion of some spiritual principle, I think, but it turned into an insight for me about life in general. The conversation began with Barry’s question, “What does … mean?” (I forget what the specific was because what came next was so funny.)

Chris (who turns 52 tomorrow and often has some of the most out-of-the-box perspectives on things) said, “It’s all about relationship. What does it mean to you if my wife says, ‘I wanna go to WalMart’?” Charles said something. Art said something. I said: “She might actually want to go to WalMart, or she might just want to get out of the house.” Then Chris hit us with it: “What if it’s a code for, ‘I want to have sex.’? I have relationship with her, so I would know that, but you wouldn’t!” Of course, much laughter ensued, but it was a powerful insight.

If we don’t know someone or really have relationship with them, we have to pretty much mean what we say. Of course, our context—where we’re coming from, the situation we’re in, the particulars of the matter—influence our understanding of what is said, and we all have stories of how easy it is to mis-interpret what someone says. But we can only develop codes and have secret or private understanding of meaning via relationship. We have to have a mutual understanding, an agreement, sometimes unspoken, that when I say X you understand Y, something totally different that the literal, obvious, face-value meaning. And we do this sort of thing all the times in our families and friendships. It’s what slang is all about: When we say something’s “cool” or “bad,” we don’t mean that literally. But we have to agree on the meaning, and that happens through relationship. Gangs and cults and terrorist organizations know this well, but so do businesses and churches and civic groups. All develop their “insider” languages, their private code-signals (phrases, signs, etc.) that say, “I’m in… are you with me?”

The conversation got even quirkier a bit later when Barry, who had had to leave early to go do a job that was some distance away, called Charles by accident. Mumbling on the other end of the phone, he said, “I meant to call my wife. Why am I calling you???” Of course, we had to suggest that maybe he really wanted to go to WalMart after all…

Yes, I had to ask Chris privately—he’s one of my best friends—whether that was an actual code phrase they used. Never got a clear answer on that. Maybe my relationship with him isn’t deep enough. That’s OK. I didn’t really want to go to WalMart with Chris anyway.

Though I did go to WalMart with Charles later that day. But only to buy a hunting license—and some cough suppressant for my wife, who’s been too sick to go…