How Would You Walk?

by  Tara R. Alemany  |  Leadership Development

Benjamin Zander is an incredible conductor, teacher and speaker. He believes strongly in the Art of Possibility, which is the subject of a book he co-wrote with his wife.

Towards the end of a talk on music and passion at TED2008 (around the 17 minute mark in the video), he asks the audience “How would you walk, how would you talk if you were thinking ‘3% of the population likes classical music. How do we move it to 4%…’ vs How would you walk, how would you talk if you thought ‘Everybody loves classical music! It’s just that they haven’t found out about it yet!’”

This statement stopped me dead in my tracks. Yes, I enjoy classical music. But what was profound to me was the fact that this applies to more than just your taste in music. As a leader, we can limit ourselves and our teams by short-changing by our goals (expanding 1%), or we can set our teams free by reaching for the stars (everybody loves it)!

Ben goes on to state that he suddenly realized one day that his job was to awaken the possibility that lay in other people. So, how do you tell whether you’re doing that or not? You look into their eyes! If their eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If their eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. “Who am I being that my followers’ eyes are not shining?” Ben’s definition of success isn’t about wealth and fame and power. It’s about how many eyes are shining around him.

As a leader, are your followers’ eyes shining? Are they nodding their heads in agreement as they hang on your every word? Have they embraced a passion for your shared purpose that will enable them to reach for the stars? If not, who are you being that your followers’ eyes aren’t shining? And what are you going to do about it?

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Tristan Bishop  |  17 Feb 2011  |  Reply

I love this, Tara. Thank you.

I think two keys to lighting the fire in the eyes of another are to:

1) Believe deeply in all they can become
2) Relentlessly speak that vision into their life.

Most of us have nagging self-doubts that extinguish the sparks of hope that flicker through our trying days. The encouragement of a leader like Zander can fan these sparks into flame.

I appreciate the reminder.


Tara R. Alemany  |  17 Feb 2011  |  Reply

I’m glad you enjoyed it, Tristan! I totally agree that people need to have someone believe deeply in all they can become and relentless speak that vision into their life. That’s one of the things I love about Lead Change. We’re all committed to seeing the best in each other, and shedding light into the darks places of our doubts. This encouragement, whether from someone like Zander or someone like the KnowledgeBishop, is powerful!

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