July 12, 2010

Grow or die... or not?

I love making speeches! I am a freak, I know. Like a songwriter who will tell you that the song must be sung, that it is bursting from their very pores, I get the same way with a speech.

But everything has a time and a place. Barbra Streisand would probably not be well received at a Tattoo Festival. In a few months from now I am scheduled to make a keynote speech at a women business owners conference in Detroit. For me, this is something of a homecoming appearance and frankly, I want to knock it out of the ballpark. My old colleagues wonder what the heck happened to Mary after she moved up north? I'm sharing with you my thoughts about preparing for this in hopes that it will help you in how you approach your own communications, be they one-on-one or one-to-one thousand. My second reason is to get some feedback from folks I know and trust who may want to tell me to re-think this.

My experience as a public speaker has taught me:
  • Speak from the heart. You can never fool a crowd
  • Give your audience information or inspiration that they can use that very day
  • Speak for the benefit of your audience not yourself
My heartfelt message these days is to enjoy the place (emotional, physical, financial, etc) that you are in, so as not to overlook the joys that are yours while scrambling to figure out how to be bigger and better than you are right now, right here. Could you find yourself in your sweet spot and not be living the life of a millionaire? Find yourself living where the ranking of your priorities match the energy expended.

A few years ago, when I was scrambling for career and business growth, I had a conversation with a businessman who was new to the area. He wanted to work with local companies to help them expand into new markets. He shared his frustration with me over local folks satisfaction with "enough". He told me that he found himself actually having to convince people (plumbers, insurance agents, small manufacturers, etc...) that they should want to grow. I completely sympathized with the guy! "You're kidding! Grow or die, baby!". They told him they made more money than their parents ever dreamed of, had a nice house, 2 cars in the driveway, went to Florida for a week each winter. Why grow? They would have more work, more worry, and less time to spend enjoying things that really mattered to them. They had enough right now. The poor guy was left speechless.

I feel compelled to share this message because I have spent a great deal of my time in "scramble mode" and I can practically smell the burn of it on others. We are programmed to expand, grow and win. 

I suggest that you re-examine your assumptions of your own priorities, your own goals, and then decide if ambition is your driving passion. If it is, go for it! If you adopted in from the ad managers at Proctor & Gamble or More magazine, I say hit the brakes. 

Personally, I feel like Alice in Wonderland when she drank from the cup labeled "Drink This". I see things from a very different perspective these days. I am fully committed to do the best at what I do, but not in a bigger, splashier, more recognized way. I love what I am doing right now. Yes, I could make more money somewhere else, but then I would have to give "this" up! I love this. Right now, right here. And that's okay dammit! Maybe next week I'll want to conquer the world. But not right now.

This might sound like a message of giving up your dreams and that is when I get nervous about ending a major address on this note. Keep in mind, I will be speaking to hundreds of women running businesses in a cut throat depressed economic market. I am the first speaker of the day before the conference goers spend the morning at various workshops on business marketing and finance and technology. Is it unrealistic to ask frightened business owners to take a moment to smell the roses, celebrate their accomplishments and maybe (just maybe) accept this time as a season of maintenance and not growth?

Am I creating this message because I want to give it OR because it could be inspirational to the women I'll be speaking to. Am I ignoring the reality of their daily life?

Your very satisfied friend,
Mary Rogers

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