Lasting Excellence

Weiss Advice Issue: 235,  February 2023

It’s interesting being a lector in church from a purely process perspective. That is, everyone is absolutely quiet, no chatting, no cell phones, they’re paying rapt attention, and their usual experience is so poor that I’m elevated because I know how to speak. (One woman who stopped in the back of the church before services and found me reading the passages in advance said, “No wonder you’re so good, you practice!!”)

We need to keep our perspective. Some audiences, or readers, or buyers don’t expect much, but some do. We need to do more than simply “be better than the last person.” (Remember the old instructions on escaping from a bear? You don’t have to be the fastest person, only the second slowest.)

I recall early in my career speaking for GE where a participant told me at 8:30 that the guy who spoke yesterday was so good that I’d never be able to gain the same appreciation from the group. I did so by being me, not trying to outdo him. I remember my wife being very nervous when I delivered a general session at the National Speakers Association annual conference. The speaker before me was outrageous and profane. She was afraid I would try to outdo him on his terms.

Instead I walked out in a shirt and tie and delivered original, highly relevant material and the group went wild. (It was often called “the Alan Weiss convention.”)

Focus on being great on your own terms. That’s how to be consistently successful no matter what group is in front of you, or watching you, or reading something you wrote. That’s lasting excellence.

© Alan Weiss 2023

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