Never Thought I Could Do This (it’s all about “Level 1 Leadership Communication”)

A phone conversation last fall led to a huge, unexpected breakthrough for me.

It came from the emcee of a large event at which I was speaking.

She called calling to get information about me for her introduction and a little humorous post keynote banter.

Towards the end of our conversation she asked, “Skip, what is your secret talent?”

I let out a nervous laugh and replied, “I have no secret talent, my older brother got all the talent in my family.”

I proceeded to tell about how my infatuation with rock and roll superstar Bruce Springsteen led me to start guitar lessons six years ago.

To which she suggested, “so you can play and sing a song for us.”

“No, I couldn’t do that, it would cause mass evacuation of the venue,” I said.

“You could just strum a few chords, couldn’t you?”

I agreed to that.

Deep down I knew strumming a few chords wasn’t going to be enough.

I hung up the phone thinking, “what did I just get myself into?”

Immediately, I sent a text that read, “HELP!” to my guitar instructor, with whom I had not had a lesson in more than 15 months.

For the next six weeks we rehearsed the song closest to being ready for “prime time.”

Six weeks later, in front of an audience of 800, I delivered a 50-minute keynote address.

Despite the audience size I was completely comfortable doing that.

Not so much with the guitar and singing.

But, there I was, with a guitar wrapped around my neck telling the story about how I had come to put myself in this precarious position and being totally uncomfortable in that moment.

It was the most intense “comfort zone busting” experience I’ve had in a very, very long time.

When it was all over, I was energized and excited having done something in front of 800 people my wife thought I was crazy to do. (to view my performance, go here)

I felt this way despite nerves taking me seriously off key to open the song. Plus, losing my place glancing down at the lyrics in the monitor I didn’t need.

I am now working on refining that song and incorporating four others to prepare for performing at an open mic night somewhere locally.

Our comfort zones hold us back in ways we don’t even realize.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda is the lament of losers. It’s all about our Level 1 Leadership Communication (aka “self-communication).

What comfort zone do you need to bust through in 2015?

What comfort zones are you committed to busting through in 2015?

Leave a comment and commitment below.

’til next time, Communicate with Power!

4 thoughts on “Never Thought I Could Do This (it’s all about “Level 1 Leadership Communication”)

  1. Lisa says:

    I am considering leaving the organization I have worked for since 2001. My career focus has become very clear – I want to be part of a Change Management team (operational) and want to pursue my Six Sigma Green Belt. I don’t think I can use such skills within my current company. It’s a huge step and comes with risk.

  2. Skip Weisman, Workplace Communication Expert says:

    Thank you for being the first to step up and commit to your comfort zone busting breakthrough for 2015. It sounds like a huge step with some risk, as most comfort zone busting actions are. Assess the upside and downside? Ask, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

    If you can live with that, go for it. If not, put some contingencies and mitigation strategies in place.
    When I made my move in 2001 out of my 20-year baseball career into my own business, it was 2 1/2 years in the making., I made the decision in the summer of 1998 but knew I wasn’t financially, emotionally or professionally ready to make a move and I gave myself 2 1/2 years to get ready.

    What do you need to get ready and be in a position to maximize your upside, mitigate the downside and make the move? What is one small thing you can do today to move you in that direction?

  3. Lisa says:

    Thanks Skip! Lots of risk to leave ‘home’, right? But, as you’d probably expect from someone who wants to be part of a Change Management group, I thrive on change and don’t often shy from it. Because of the significance of this one, I am certainly starting to think through the potential worst case outcomes. The ones I’ve come up with really could exist anywhere I am – stay or go. My company SHOULD be prime to have a Change Management group due to some recent (highly significant) changes, but with a long history and much ‘old blood’, the thinking of decision-makers is only a toe-tipping into radical change that is really needed right now. Next steps…I have to get a firm knowledge base in the area of Change Management skills, tools and analytical components. I have my PMP already, and some history as a process change ‘amateur-expert’.

  4. Skip Weisman, Workplace Communication Expert says:

    This is spot on:
    “The ones (risks) I’ve come up with really could exist anywhere I am – stay or go”

    The risk of staying can be the same or greater than making a move. There is always a risk of doing nothing and staying where we’re at.

    I’d like to suggest you are probably closer to being able to make the move you want to make. You’re more of an expert than you think you are. Certainly, more of an expert than those you will be helping.

    Do you see this as an independent business out on your own, or working for another firm as an employee working inside an organization?

    An “amateur-expert” is still an expert. Remember, “in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king!”

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