Sometimes it takes time and perspective before the true impact of an idea or an action is fully realized, especially in our dizzying culture. The Greek philosopher Socrates was charged with “corrupting youth,” and he was sentenced to death by hemlock. But today he’s regarded as one of the giants in Western philosophy and a forefather of the scientific method. We’re probably not willing to wait that long for a payoff, but you get the idea.
Did you ever notice that the most famous quotations use only small words?
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Confusion abounds from the candidates themselves, giving new meaning to the term “Etch-a-Sketch,” a colorful description of the erasing-and-ever-shifting positions of a particular presidential candidate, who shall remain nameless.
Most of us cannot deliver a speech like President Obama. But we certainly can learn a lesson from him on the power and impact of the spoken word, whether you’re addressing thousands or just a handful of people. In one shining moment, a well-executed speech brings people together on an issue or idea and summons them clearly and persuasively to act. Not so coincidentally, this is a fundamental requirement of leadership, from the chief executive to line managers throughout an organization.
My friend Gil has a problem that appears to be typical for these economic hard times. No he didn’t get laid off, but he had to let go several of his creative staff. Gil is a marketing guy – a group marketing director at a consumer products company, to be exact. And while he has talent and experience and understands what he needs creatively, he has relied on his team to develop presentations, proposals, speeches, marketing materials and even targeted email messages. With cutbacks, the work can’t be delegated anymore.