Getting Into The Zone

 “Communications is about self-control and staying on message. But it’s also about letting go…”

Although I slightly altered the opening quote of David Ignatius of The Washington Post – since he used ‘Politics’ instead of ‘Communications’ –  his great article is really about communications, not politics. There is some great learning value here in this column – and worth reading in it’s entirety.

Ignatius is ostensibly talking about Obama’s need to regain his fire (after all he WAS the #1 communicator last year!), but putting politics aside he is really talking about the ability to connect – and he references several of our past Presidents and would be Presidents:

“(Great Presidents) have the ability to enter into the moment so totally that they lose themselves and bond with their audience. Franklin D. Roosevelt could create a sense of easy intimacy even back in the days of radio. John F. Kennedy was “graceful” precisely in his unscripted moments of irreverence and wit. Ronald Reagan, too, mastered the art of controlled spontaneity; people accused him of reading his lines, but his real gift was an actor’s ability to improvise.”

And as he talks about Robert Kennedy, whom I knew and described in one of my first blogs about a similar experience and also blogged about here, Ignatius describes “another tightly wound politician who found a way to let go– and in the process moved his candidacy into a different gear. RFK is such an icon now that we forget how cold and calculating he was through most of his career, the opposite of his elegant and witty older brother. But something happened.

A turning point was a speech at Kansas State University the day after the brooding Kennedy finally announced he would run. “His voice flat and stammering, his right leg shaking, Kennedy began tentatively, but then cut loose,” Thomas writes, and an aide said “the field house sounded like it was inside Niagara Falls.”

Thomas quotes campaign reporter Jules Witcover on how Kennedy fed off the roiling response: “He himself seemed to be pulled up on it like a  small boy on a towering seaside breaker, riding it willingly, daringly, with evident exhilaration.”

Read the entire article in The Washington Post here, or if you don’t want the free sign on, you can get it by just continuing on here…