Last year, I attended a session on how to successfully market oneself for speaking engagements or other public appearances. On the heels of releasing my first book, I thought the session might offer some helpful guidance that would enhance the impact of my message regarding the pursuit of healthy life balance.
During the session, the presenter conveyed that an unrelenting commitment to, and confidence in, a particular approach to a problem is the key to success. He even tested his reticent audience, coaching them to share their ideas with full conviction when they expressed the slightest doubt or openness to other opinions. In other words – Pick a side. Embrace it fully. Profess it at every opportunity. And NEVER waver!
Am I to believe that in order to be heard one must be 100% certain that their way is the only way? Are all issues black and white? Is one side right and the other side wrong – always? I had just published a book that presents Life Balance, along with most so-called problems in life, as a tension to manage rather than a problem to be solved.
In the spirit of respecting other views, I have to admit that the approach of the presenter has some merit. Strong, opinionated protagonists and antagonists (depending on your own perspective) seem to dominate news commentary, hold political office, preach behind lecterns, and dominate social media trends. The more controversial and confident you are, the more exposure you get.
With more exposure, comes more influence. And since such exposure is given largely to those who take the extreme view on any individual topic, consumers are forced to make a choice. We choose the side that aligns to our initial belief. These same tendencies pervade the books we read, websites we visit, podcasts we listen to, and news we consume. Whether conscious or not, our beliefs evolve in accordance with the certainty of the view as expressed in that which we read, view, listen to, or otherwise consume.
Is this healthy within the churches, political rallies, or neighborhood gatherings that we attend? Is this healthy with the businesses that we lead or serve?
I will take the advice of the over-confident presenter and answer those questions with an emphatic … NO! Our dominant exposure to extreme views coupled with confirmation bias – our tendency to only consume that which confirms established beliefs – is unhealthy. Could it be a reason why your organization is divided, and your employees disengaged?
If you desire a culture that embraces new ideas, honors diversity, and promotes creativity, embrace the gray! Consider dissenting opinions! Beware of those with an unwavering certainty in the right and wrong way to do things at work. Recognize that most issues are not a problem to be solved, but rather a tension to be managed. Foster and select leaders with strong, values-based convictions…who are willing to be tested in those convictions. Open your mind and CEEK a Better Way.
Are looking for a compelling guest speaker who will challenge you to think independently? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or stop by the Leadership Best Practices Conference in Arlington, VA where I’ll be delivering a keynote address on September 24. Register today at https://leadershipbestpracticesconference.com/.