October 2008 - The Encore Effect
Power of Encore Performances
by Mark Sanborn
In Shakespeareís comedy As You Like It, Jaques seems to think we move through life controlled by a preordained script, with little or no control, making our "exits" and "entrances" by divine cue. I couldnít disagree with him more. While I wholly subscribe to the idea of the divine in our lives, I recognize that my life is a performance that Iím in charge of.
We all have roles to play. Our performance at work, and in every other aspect of our life, is a public display of our very best self. And if weíre true to ourselves, we never have to remember what part we played with whom. We donít have to check our notes to see what the people are expecting from our callback performance.
To make your performance better, according to the legendary founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, you "change your practices, not your principles." In other words, you donít have to change who you are. Different people can be successful in very different ways.
"My best lesson in leadership came during my early days as a trial lawyer," says Kelleher. "Wanting to learn from the best, I went to see two of the most renowned litigators in San Antonio try cases. One sat there and never objected to anything, was very gentle with witnesses and established a rapport with the jury. The other was an aggressive, thundering hell-raiser. And both seemed to win every case. Thatís when I realized there are many different paths, not one right path. Thatís true of leadership as well. People with different personalities, different approaches or different values succeed not because one set of values or practices is superior, but because their values and practices are genuine. And when you and your organization are true to yourselves ó when you deliver results and a singular experience ó customers can spot it from thirty thousand feet."
We all perform various roles in our lives on the stage of life. But those roles should be different expressions of our best self.
Our performances matter. They can have a powerful impact on those around us. As parents, our performance shapes and influences our children. As employees and managers, our performance can make our company better, move a project forward, spark ideas among colleagues, and influence customers.
When I was sixteen, I learned that Og Mandino was scheduled to speak in Akron, Ohio, about a ninety-minute drive from my home. Og is one of the best-selling self-help authors of all time, and I had already devoured several of his books, including The Greatest Salesman in the World and The Greatest Miracle in the World. Rookie driver or not, I was determined to go hear him speak.
In the course of the speech, Og talked about his troubled past; at one point he seriously considered ending his life. He spoke about the influences that had lifted him out of despair and set him on the road to remarkable achievement.
His delivery was low-key, but his message was powerful and sincere, and it inspired me. I came away determined to work harder and better in my own life. Others seemed to feel the same way ó at the end of his talk, the audience gave Og a standing ovation. I was witnessing the Encore Effect in action.
The ideas and passion with which Og Mandino spoke planted the seeds of change in me. The performance made me act.
And that is the potential impact of a remarkable performance. It can change the lives of those around you. That is the kind of experience we all want to have. And thatís why creating a remarkable performance is so key to personal success.
Since that day spent listening to Og Mandino, I have observed performances of every kind throughout the United States and abroad. From Broadway to corporate boardrooms, Iíve learned that every remarkable performance affects us. They:
Only the most incredible performances accomplish all four, but over time, Iíve learned that every remarkable performance achieves at least one of these four impacts.
Iíve seen plenty of performances that have disappointed me, and Iím sure you have too ó in corporate offices, restaurants, department stores, and churches, at car rental agencies, at ticket counters and security lines at airports, and in every other conceivable venue or location.
And, yes, Iíve been guilty of disappointing performance. In college, I ran for a major office in an organization to which I belonged. I was defeated.
In the aftermath, I was asked to chair an important committee. I had no passion for the work of the committee, but I didnít want to look like a sore loser so I accepted the role. I am ashamed to say that I did a terrible job. I did, however, learn an important lesson: it is difficult if not impossible to be remarkable at doing something you donít have your heart in.
But coming face-to-face with my own disappointing performances has spurred me on to act differently and better the next time.
A remarkable performance, on the other hand, moves us and makes us want more.
My vocation as a professional speaker puts me on stages several times every week. The issue of performance is a front-burner reality for me.
But in fact, all of us, like Broadway performers, are called to be "on" all the time ó to give our best performance as individuals, spouses, parents, employees or bosses. Whatever stage we find ourselves on, most of us are called to perform every day. We need to be remarkable, regardless of how we feel.
If I asked three people in your life ó for example, your boss, a customer and a family member ó to use one word to describe your performance in life, what word would they choose?
Would they describe you as . . .
These responses run the gamut, from the negative to the positive. But there is one response that I donít hear very often: "His (her) performance is so amazing that I would do whatever it took to keep him (or her) on my team."
What kinds of words might describe such a performance?
Those are the kinds of words we might use to describe the performance of an artist who is called back for an encore. And they are the kinds of words we should want others to use to describe our own performance in life.
There is one word that embodies all of these adjectives, with no need for an exclamation point: remarkable.
I believe all of us would like to have our performance described as remarkable. All of us would like to excel at the things that matter most to us. And it is by giving such performances that we achieve the Encore Effect.
From the book The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © Mark Sanborn 2008. Mark Sanborn is also the author of the national bestseller, The Fred Factor.
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