Most people can’t handle the truth

One my dear friends, an established speaker and executive coach, posted a note on everyone’s obsessed with shortcuts and life hacks. As you know, it’s my favourite topic, so I riffed a little, sparked a few responses, and have my friend reply back tongue-in-cheek, “telling people to work hard won’t get you speaking gigs.”

The sad part is that he’s telling the truth. People really want to get entertained and hear life hacks that will shortcut their road to success. If you can’t do that, forget about getting invited for gigs let alone building a career as a speaker.

But have you ever wondered why shortcuts are a hit? I think we love the idea of visualising ourselves in the someone else’s shoes. We love the feeling of having “achieved” someone and experience success through our mind’s eye. That’s one of he reasons why speakers, coaches, and facilitators use stories — to stimulate, captivate our minds, and make us believe.

That said, I believe the best way to serve people is by telling them the cold-hard truth and some tough love. If that’s what it takes to get them going. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not letting people know that their thinking, planning, strategising won’t get them anywhere if they’re not willing to take action.

My responsibility as a coach and a teacher is to observe, identify, and highlight what’s going on. For me, that’s adding value at the expense of entertainment, motivational stories, and a riveting speech. Not that I don’t appreciate these fundamental aspects of communication, I prefer to use them as tools instead of a medium. Truth and perspective remain the centrepiece of all interactions.

There’s a reason why coaching and mastermind groups work — accountability is built right into the process. (And that’s the reason they’re not the right business models if you care about making money.) You can’t hide nor would the coach and other members let you off the hook. And that’s so darn comfortable for most people! Why? A fulfilling a commitment is so damn harder than getting stimulated by a riveting speech.

(Of course, it goes without saying, the above can be achieved through speeches and workshops. But like my friend said, you probably won’t be called in again.)

I don’t have much to say about the alternatives here as it’s pretty black and white — you can either choose to commit and work hard or keep dreaming.

What will you choose?

P.S. If you’re a speaker or facilitator, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And the onus is on to you as a professional to make sure that the audience/participants not only learn something but do something about it. This could inviting them for a sharing call a month from the event and gauge what worked and what didn’t. Something like this should give you a sense of your content’s effectiveness and your audience’s commitment.

P.P.S. If the response wasn’t great, it’s time that you ponder on this — what can you do to take your content’s effectiveness and the audience’s commitment to the next level?

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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