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VOL. 129 | NO. 13 | Monday, January 20, 2014

A Whisper or a Shout?

By Susan Drake

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Susan Drake

This month as I watched the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships, I thought of someone who has true personal power – TV sports commentator and winner of multiple Olympic gold medals, Scott Hamilton.

In my work as an event producer, I’ve been honored to meet some astonishingly awesome speakers. One was the late Keith Harrell, former basketball player, known as Mr. Superfantastic, who overcame stuttering as a child to become one of the most loved and successful inspirational speakers in the country.

Keith forced people to pay attention, starting his show by running on stage (he was about 6 feet 5 inches tall) to blaring sports music, jumping up and down and generally working the crowd into a frenzy. He loved the call-and-repeat: How are you? Superfantastic. I said, ‘How are you???’” SUPERFANTASTIC! Keith demanded your attention with his big presence and his sheer energy.

And then, there’s Olympic Hall of Famer, 5-foot-4-inch Scott Hamilton, a tower of a man, who overcame a growth-stunting illness as a child, and several bouts with cancer, including a brain tumor. Unlike in his wildly entertaining skating routines, when Scott took center stage as a speaker, he stood with his hands by his sides, quietly telling his story of courage. The house was quiet, everyone hanging on his every word. One man in a darkened ballroom and one spotlight. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

Both of these men used personal power to imprint people’s lives. One came with a whisper, one with a shout. And both made an unforgettable impression.

As you consider your journey toward personal power, which persona will you adopt: a whisper or a shout? Both can be successful, as long as you’re consistent.

This week, as you go through your life, notice the people who are whisperers or shouters (oozing enthusiasm, that is). Which ones are you drawn to and feel most comfortable with? Are you like them, or do you prefer your opposite type?

Now try this experiment: If you are the quiet type, try to talk more openly and participate in conversations. If you are the Superfantastic! type, try being quiet and listening – and by that I mean truly hearing what others mean. Keep a few notes on how you felt in these role-reversal exercises, and see what you learn by trying the opposite role. I’ll bet you’ll gain a lot of awareness of how personal power influences others.

Susan Drake is a marketing and communications professional. Contact her at susand@spellbindersinc.com.

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