During a leadership communication workshop last week, I asked the participants to think of a time when they were effective and powerful – when they felt the most energized and proud of an outcome that they themselves had a hand in orchestrating. I then asked them to share their story with a partner. Within seconds the room was alive with voices and laughter. As I was walking around the room, I noticed one participant sheepishly raising her hand. When I approached her she asked, “What if you can’t think of anything?”
For a brief moment I was dumbstruck. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that a person over the age of 18 could not come up with one example of personal efficacy. Then I had a flash of insight and asked her if I could share her question with the whole group. She agreed.
When I re-convened the group, I asked the participant to repeat the question, after which there was a collective sigh. I then asked her a series of questions with the help of the audience and we uncovered the fact that she was an owner of a small construction company with 40 employees and several new contracts. I then asked her where in that entire description of a successful business owner could she not identify a peak moment. Her response, which elicited another sigh from the audience was, “I just figure that’s the bare minimum and it’s nothing to be proud of.”
Successes come in all shapes and sizes. And they are force multipliers, providing evidence of what we know and can do. If you are unsure of your personal triumphs, then find a group of people that can help you identify them, because if you can’t summon the energy that comes from feeling successful, how will your staff or your audience react to you as a leader?
Effective communicators use their accomplishments to build their confidence. Confident leaders make us want to listen to them and even work for them.
What’s your personal triumph story? How do you use it to fuel your personal presence?