On Saturday I was guest speaker at an event put on by a local PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) organization that raises money for women’s higher education. The event was titled Hogs and Kisses as they’d asked me to speak on the topic of my book, You CAN Teach a Pig to Sing.
If you’ve ever spoken much before groups, you know that the audience is half the battle. If the audience is HOT, even a mediocre speaker can usually depend on a positive response. Well, Saturday morning’s audience was BLAZING HOT, so it was easy to be at my finest as a keynote speaker, practically guaranteeing the standing ovation the program generated.
After the accolades had been shared and the clean-up crew had gone home, my husband, my son and his girlfriend and I headed home.
Sitting on our screened-in porch, enjoying Michigan’s rare late November sunshine, we chattered about a variety of things. Then, out of the blue, my son said, “Mom, I thought your program this morning was fabulous! I was so proud that you were my mother. You made it all look so easy. But I know something all those other people who attended don’t know. I know the years of time and energy you have put into becoming so good at what you do. I know the sacrifices you have made to become one of the best speakers I have ever heard. And I’m not just saying that because you’re my mom. You’re a masterful speaker. I know how hard you’ve worked, and I’ve learned from you. If I want to get good at anything, I’m going to have to work at it. It isn’t just going to happen over night. I may have to work years to get that good. And, Mom, that’s just about the best lesson I think could ever learn. Getting excellent and being successful doesn’t come without effort – and lots of it. And I have you to thank for that.”
Wow! That was the best thing anyone has ever said to me because it came from my son who I never knew was watching. But he was. He was watching, taking in, and learning, not from anything I said, but from all those days, weeks, and years of work put into mastering my craft.
My father who was raised on a farm used to say, “Never worry about how many people there are who do what you do. Just remember, the cream always rises to the top. You just have to make sure that you’re part of the cream.”
I once read: An organization can never be something it’s people are not. Well, it is also true that an organization can never be something it’s leaders are not because the leaders set the bar for the level of excellence expected in the organization, and people are always watching, always aware, always following the leader.
If you want to lead an organization that is known for excellence in every arena, become your own coach, ask yourself:
- At what level have I set the bar for those who follow me?
- Am I expecting more from others than I am expecting from myself?
- On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), where would I rank myself in terms of leadership excellence?
- If I were to select three areas of improvement, what would they be? What would I need to do to develop excellence in that area? What is preventing me from doing so? How will I overcome that barrier?
- If I were to become excellent in every area of my job, what difference might that make in my ability to lead others? What difference would it make in the performance of my organization?