I think we have a big problem within the “leadership” community and I think one of the biggest problems are people like me.
I have been a professional unprofessional speaker for about 2 years now and I love what I do. I have literally dreamed about it since I was 12 and it’s sometimes still surreal. Though as much as I love it, I have realized more and more that I think leadership presenters, ASB advisers and motivational speakers are causing sometimes a lot more bad than good.
See I have found that in many classrooms, conferences or even YouTube videos, we are all really good at getting all hyped up. It’s really not that hard in a one hour period to feel all ready to love and make a difference. Yet so often, a speaker leaves the assembly or your school leaves the conference and for about 2 days everything is amazing! But then after that, everything goes back to normal. And I think the simple solution is to change our approach.
Often stories and lessons are specifically designed to talk about the importance of loving others and very few go even further to outline how to actually show love to others. The fatal flaw however, is we rarely acknowledge how hard it is going to be.
We all get together and get the adrenaline flowing only to step back out in the real world and get smacked in the face by this crazy thing called LIFE and then all of a sudden, have no way to deal with it. We have to begin to remind ourselves that LOVE IS A SKILL.
I think it works a lot like this, one time I was at a local conference in Washington and I asked “Does anyone here play any instruments?”
A young man raised his hand and stood up to say “Yeah I play electric guitar.”
“How long have you played guitar?” I asked
He looked up into the ceiling and said “Uhhh like a year and a half.”
“Awesome!” I responded. “So imagine this. I come up to you and I am the director of halftime entertainment for the Seattle Seahawks. Tonight I need you to play guitar during halftime! You have exactly 35 minutes and I need you to fill that full time. The crowd will be about 70,000 people and oh by the way, we’re playing the New England Patriots so there’s a chance we won’t be doing so well, fans might be angry already so I am counting on you to flip the mood in the arena.”
He kind of just stared at me and a few people chuckled around us.
I then asked “If I came to you and said that right now, how would you be feeling?”
He looked at me, look around the room and said “Yeah, no I’m good.”
And I think the same thing happens when we talk about love. We walk into classroom or events and begin to share about how important love is and what a difference it can make in your life and the lives of all those around you. And then we rush to tell them to go out and hold open the doors and write thank you notes and give compliments and learn new names and sit with people that are alone in the hallway and invite people you don’t know to events and so on and so on.
I think a ton of people when in the class or at the assembly or attending the conference hear this and are like “YEAH, let’s do it. Let’s love people!” It’s easy to say when we are all feeling good, but then we send people back out into the messiness of life where people don’t like them, where people judge them, we send them out to do all this work and expect them to “professionals” at loving people and more rather than not, the response we see is…
“Yeah, no I’m good.”
And it’s not because people don’t want to, it’s because we need more practice.
“Okay so brother you said you played guitar for like a year and a half, well I played guitar for a few years, so once were done here let’s play a little. Then soon you get better than me but I know a really good guitar teacher so we will visit him. After that, he can probably point us to some other teachers. Then we do some local talent shows. After talent shows, some open mic nights at local coffee shops. Then say you join a little band and travel a little bit. Soon after that a label signs you. Now you have been playing guitar for years and have practiced with some of the best in the world and I come back to you with the same situation.”
“Hey tonight I need you to play guitar during halftime at the Seahawks game! You have exactly 35 minutes and I need you to fill that full time. The crowd will be about 70,000 people and oh by the way, we’re playing the New England Patriots so there’s a chance we won’t be doing so well, fans might be angry already so I am counting on you to flip the mood in the arena. NOW, how are you feeling?”
The young man looked at me, smiled a little because he saw where I was going with this and said “Heck yeah. Let’s do it!”
I think we need to realize that LOVE IS A SKILL just like anything else. And if we want to get better, we just have to practice. We have to stop hiding behind the excuses that we are shy, awkward or just don’t know how. Even the most charismatic and loving people once were not confident in their craft.
And the simple truth is, the world needs your love a lot more than you may realize.
If you are not good at meeting new people yet. PRACTICE. Work on ways to introduce yourself. Practice shaking hands. Be willing to sit in uncomfortable conversations knowing that one day you will be more comfortable. If you suck at giving compliments. PRACTICE. Look up guides online and practice giving meaningful compliments to your friends first then work on complimenting others. If you are not comfortable standing at the door yet. PRACTICE. Ask friends to be with you. Turn on some music so its more fun. We just have to practice love.
Let’s remind ourselves that love is not easy, LOVE IS A SKILL. And let’s continue to find ways to turn
“Yeah no I’m good” into “Heck yeah. Let’s do it!”