The pull of the whisper

Challenge my mind. Intrigue me. Pique my curiosity. Move me. Make me laugh. Just don’t try to sell or subscribe or impress me before you’ve done any of those things!

I’ve been doing lots of research as I write my next book, which includes visiting new web sites and blogs. On some (too many!) I was bombarded with popups within seconds of opening the page — Enroll! Subscribe! Buy! Don't miss! It was like being in the presence of a narcissistic carnival barker interested only in racking up the numbers. Consultant Steve Tobak calls it “me2me.”

It is a noisy world out there, and we do have to find ways to make our voices heard. Yet, as author Lindsay Buroker writes, “As with most things, there are good ways to go about it [self-promotion] and bad ways, or, as I’m calling them, shameless and shameful ways.” There’s a big difference between tooting your horn and using a 300-member marching band to do it.

Loud isn’t the answer. The pull of the whisper is.

Give me a reason to engage. Being a blind consumer is shameful – why sign-up to receive dozens of blogs only to hit the delete button without reading them? If a site’s content is informative or inspiring, I’ll gladly visit, subscribe or share. But there’s no way for me to know if your message teaches, tests, provokes or exhilarates me without having first had the opportunity to experience it. Let me savor the flavor before throwing the sales pitch (or telling me how great you are) my way.

Go beyond self-interest. Character-based leaders believe you can be a leader without the leader:  being someone who focuses more on “we” and less on “me.” Build a relationship, make a connection, challenge the mind, and inspire the heart. Life is a perpetual teeter-totter ride between selfish and selfless acts. Don’t get unbalanced.

Stop trying so hard. There’s something incredibly mesmerizing about someone who manages to have both confidence and humility. Conversely, someone full of hubris and arrogance is off-putting. One pulls you toward them, the other pushes you away. I’m not interested in the fact (???) that you earned $95,000 last month. I am interested in how your experiences made you a better person or how your ideas made a positive difference for others. Grace and authenticity are irresistible magnets.

Because the world is raucous, people believe they must be loud and pushy to be heard. For me, it’s the pull of the whisper. We all just have to remember to listen for it.

Art by Dennis Wells
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