Be someone...rather than anyone.
Written by David Pullan
On Friday of last week Eric Berlin was named as the winner of the National Poetry Competition with his entry entitled, ‘Night Errand.’
As I listened to the announcement on Radio 4 I was struck by the comments of Esther Morgan who sat as one of the judges.
What she said was that Berlin’s poem displayed an ‘individual consciousness, a take on the world’ and showed that it was written by ‘someone rather than anyone.’
As a communication coach I often ask the leaders I work with, ‘Why are YOU in the room?’
Essentially I want to find out why people should listen to them. What is it that constitutes their individual take on the world, and how can they talk about it proudly? I want to know why they are someone rather than anyone.
In meetings, presentations, town halls and indeed any form of communication it is very easy to hide behind the corporate ‘we’ or to talk passively about what is going on in your organisation. However, what is braver and ultimately more satisfying for your audience is the moment when you take ownership of your feelings, opinions and viewpoint and speak about them with clarity and energy.
The caveat I would add here is that you should never take ownership or credit for things you haven’t done.
Of course if you’ve actually been involved in producing something then knock yourself out when you talk about it. However even if you haven’t been directly involved in the creation, the reason why YOU are talking is because of your feelings, opinions and viewpoint of what you have observed. In this instance you need to give credit to others and then stand strongly behind your opinion.
Have a think about how you can make this work for you this week. Use the word ‘I,’ own your opinion, and be someone rather than anyone.
In the meantime here’s Eric Berlin’s ‘Night Errand.’
O, Great Northern Mall, you dwindling oracle
of upstate New York, your colossal lot
of frost-heaved spaces so vacant I could cut
straight through while blinking and keep my eyes
shut, I’ve come like the flies that give up the ghost
at the papered fronts of your defunct stores,
through the food court where napkins, unused
to touch, are packed too tight to be dispensed,
past the pimpled kid manning the register
who stares at the buttons and wipes his palms.
If I press my eyes until checkers rise
from the dark – that’s how the overheads glower
in home essentials as I roam through Sears,
seeking assistance. I know you’re here.
For this window crank I brought, you show me
a muted wall of TVs where Jeff Goldblum
picks his way through the splintered remains
of a dinosaur crate. There must be fifty
of him, hunching over mud to inspect
the three-toed prints. I almost didn’t
come in here at all, driving the opposite
of victory laps, and waiting as I hoped
for the red to leave my eyes, but my urgency
smacked of your nothingness. I did it again –
I screamed at the woman I love, and in front
of our one-year-old, who covered his ears.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/16210667@N02/16728213988">Individuality !</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>