Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475 - 1564) Italian Renaissance Sculptor and Painter
I really appreciate the work you’re doing with the blog. I’m passionate about communication and, at its heart, public speaking is about communicating – connecting with people through language. A LOT of what shows up on the blog really resonates with me. This quote from Mike (cheap, I know) is really wonderful for its timeliness and truth. I think it’s so easy to diminish the accomplishments of great performers (I’m talking about effectiveness/quality of output, not fame) by attributing their results to innate ability. As romantic as it may seem to us, it does them a disservice because it minimizes the, often colossal, effort required to accomplish what they’ve accomplished. The other tragedy is that we let ourselves off the hook. We excuse ourselves from the effort required to achieve truly exceptional results by over-emphasizing the role of innate talent and under-emphasizing the role of deliberate, focused and regular practice.
As a child I was incredibly self-conscious. I have red hair, I was always big for my age and my parents named me Everett. It’s not ‘Sue’ but it stuck out enough to inspire regular comment from the other kids :-). Thankfully it doesn’t rhyme with anything. Anyhow, you can understand how speaking to people, let alone in front of a group might have been difficult for me. Today I probably do more public speaking than the average person and I occasionally get a bit of positive feedback. I make it a point now to express my appreciation and then talk a little about what kind of effort that went into the preparation. I attribute any success I might have to the spirit and sincerity of the work done to prepare and NOT any innate talent and I want other folks to see that same potential for themselves. Grueling effort isn’t as romantic as innate talent but I find more inspiration in what’s possible with the right kind of effort than in what could have been possible if I only had the right genes :-). Innate talent is obviously real but I think it plays a much smaller role in great achievement than we often think.
Anyhow, thanks for what you’re doing and for doing it so well!
Thank you so much for the thoughtful and poignant comment. I appreciate your taking the time and for opening yourself up a bit for readers by sharing some very personal experiences and thoughts. Your message immediately brought to mind a recent post that I did about Canadian indie folk-rock singer and songwriter Dan Mangan. You certainly epitomize that spirit.
I spoke at an event in Lisbon, Portugal last year and had the opportunity to hear a keynote speech by Darren LaCroix, the 2001 Toastmasters World Champion. The thing that impressed me most about his talk was when he showed a photo of his closet that was packed from floor to ceiling with cassettes and videotapes of speeches that he had given in preparation for the contest and that he had analyzed over and over in an effort to become better. I like Darren and enjoy his speeches even if his speaking style is not my favourite. But I respect him tremendously for his incredible work ethic and it is that same work ethic that Michelangelo was thinking about when he spoke those words.
Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I am glad that you enjoy the blog and look forward to meeting your expectations going forward.
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— John Zimmer
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