Habitudes for Communicators: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, by Tim Elmore
I came upon this book serendipitously. Have you ever had an experience that matches exactly with something you read about the day before? Jean will be giving a talk in a few weeks, and he was wondering how to prepare~ then this book just fell into our laps. I’m inspired because we have also just started a small group and I’m looking for things to inspire our discussion and help us create genuine relationships with each other.
The following is an excerpt from the first IMAGE given by Tim Elmore. The book is wonderfully designed to be not only inspiring, but easily applicable~ guidelines are given to assess yourself and your personal authentic speaker/communicator skills.
WINDOWS AND MIRRORS
When a communicator provides a window for people to see into his/her life, listeners receive a mirror to see their own. Speakers need to identify with the people they are addressing. Steve Jobs told 3 stories about his life, taking less than 15 minutes to deliver one of the most memorable commencement speeches ever given at Stanford University (2005).
When speakers hold a window up to their soul (their humanity) listeners identify with them and become engaged with their story. Because the communicator is secure enough to pull back the curtain on their own life, everyone feels safe to lean in and examine their own.
Effective speakers identify with the people who are listening. They may tell a story about themselves; they might reveal a fear, a hope or a weakness they possess. Through the raw act of being transparent, they attract listeners to identify with them. A great example is Brandon Stanton’s wildly successful blog, Humans of New York.
The windows and mirrors idea is about becoming transparent. Being authentic and revealing. We practice going beyond the sterile transmittal of information. It reminds us that what people really long for ~ what is magnetic to most audiences~ is genuine spirit.
People are looking for a communicator more than a public speaker.
Talk it over:
- Is it difficult for you to open up and become vulnerable in front of an audience? Why?
- How much weakness to share? How transparent should one be with an audience?John Maxwell suggests that speakers should be real to the point that the audience doesn’t begin to feel sorry for them. Do you have an experience of a speaker going overboard and losing your interest or respect?
- When have you seen a communicator become authentic and win over a crowd?
Dr. Martin Seligman says that the critical determinant of success in life is resilience in the face of adversity. Awareness, contemplation and a sense of humor are your best friends in attempting to learn from difficult experiences and make sense of them for listeners. Evaluate your personal communication using the following criteria on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being weak and 10 being strong.
1. I am keenly aware of my own flaws and weaknesses. _____
2. I reflect on lessons I can learn from difficult experiences. _____
3. I maintain a sense of humor and can laugh at myself. _____
4. I am emotionally secure enough to share my flaws/weaknesses. _____
5. I’m generally good at sharing stories from my life, even failures. _____
6. I can sense if my listeners need more transparency as I speak. _____
TRY IT OUT
One rule works in most social settings: people will only become as vulnerable as their leader. We must be willing to reveal the kind of information that we’d ask of another person. Telling people your background, your likes and dislikes, and your fears and hopes is part of the give and take of genuine conversation. It’s how we get to know people. This week, practice this habitude in conversations and in any speeches, talks or sermons you deliver. Develop two strong personal anecdotes and insert them into your comments to others. Take a risk and open up about your humanity. Then, meet in a community and discuss how it influenced others to be transparent as well.