Disguised Decay

“Status quo is disguised decay.” -Pete Wilkinson

The truth is, status quo is a facade. You're either improving or decaying. Some have put it that you are either growing or you're dying. True. There is no in between.

What’s your goal as a communicator? To improve specific behavioral skills? To develop your communication skills to the next level? To be a highly-sought after speaker? Or are you at the top of your game - the pinnacle of your capabilities? You think?

We're all moving along the continuum of effective communicators. Even when you reach your goal as a communicator, the journey continues.

Perfection is a dangling carrot, serving as a motivator to lean forward and do it. Whatever you have achieved, there is always more work to be done. This is especially true when it comes to your image as a communicator. At a Speaker's Roundtable meeting last year, Don Hutson - a great speaker, good friend and author of The One Minute Entrepreneur said: “The image of a person, company or product is never a constant but an ever-changing variable.

Your image - and the substance behind it - is indeed an ever-changing variable. And you don’t define it – others do. What you do and how you do it are constantly under scrutiny. There’s no end to the evolution of your reputation. It’s dynamic - interpreted by people in real time, all the time, every second you're exposed to and interacting with others.

To rest in the confidence that you have secured for yourself a favorable image or reputation is to rest, period. There's no room for inertia in a highly competitive world of constant motion - not when your objective is excellence. There is no capturing a dangling carrot. To be an excellent communicator, you must continuously solicit feedback. Ask, listen and learn. What they see is what they get. Learn what they see; then make sure what they're seeing is what you want them to get.

Get on video. Often. Observed behavior changes.

Keep your eyes on the carrot and your ears peeled for feedback, and the communicator you seek to be will align with the communicator others see in you. Over time...

12 thoughts on “Disguised Decay
  1. This is right on the money. Speaking is like golf. It you don’t do it often — and with improvement in mind — your game will lose its edge. Or deteriorate completely.
    Speaking is all about habits and it takes effort to develop and sustain them. Plus, you don’t really know how good you are until you see it for yourself. Video!!!

  2. One thing I admire so much about my pastor is the culture of communication-evaluation he has created. Immediately following the first-run of ANY of our teaching-pastors, we hold a debrief session WITH the teacher and 3-4 (diverse, trustworthy) debrief-ers. This debrief keeps us, the teaching pastors, in a constant state of growth. I am so grateful for this culture that Pastor Troy has bred at our church. I’m a better communicator because of it.

  3. When I ask people the “What’s your goal as a communicator?” question, I usually get a blank stare. Maybe followed by, “to be great!” Most people have never considered what great looks like or how to get there.
    If I want to be a golfer, I hang out with people who golf. Well.
    If I want to be a pilot (I am!), I hang out with pilots. Safe ones, preferably.
    If I want to be a better communicator, I read what good communicators have to say, and follow their advice. And I speak. A lot.
    I don’t think we have it in us to see ourselves as others do. Video — and others’ unfiltered and loving feedback — is the only way to see it. And the first step to better us.
    Anyone want to go flying? Golfing? Speak?

  4. The effort to constantly improve is the essence of success. I often get frustrated because I have the desire to be successful at so many different things (presenting, blogging, golfing, martial arts, among others) but realize that there are only so many hours in a day to practice them all.
    Excellence is never in your grasp. Excellence is the knowledge that you’ve done as much as you can and realize that you’ll continue to do that day in and day out. You can never, ever stop. Larry Bird never said “Okay, I’m one of the best basketball players to ever live. I can take it easy on the practicing.” He would shoot hundreds, if not thousands, of shots every day to continually improve.

  5. Great stuff, as always from the man (& family) that understands communication well!
    My take-away from this post:
    Our success and survival does not depend upon exposing ourselves to organized, pre-planned packets of information and the way we’ve always done things. Our success and survival depends upon chaotic, reactive information gathering experiences. That’s why one of our best attributes is the ability to learn through a series of increasingly self-corrected ideas.
    Power to the life-long learner and those that embrace exploration!

  6. I agree that you are either improving or decaying – there is no standing still. However, standing in front of a video camera on one’s own is no substitute for standing in front of a live audience. The dynamic is totally different.
    I do agree that the video camera is a powerful tool – when used to record a live presentation. That’s when the real performance issues become apparent.

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