Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project Your Personality

There's an American football coach by the name of Eric Mangini. He used to coach the New York Jets a few years ago and was fired after a disappointing season. Some of his players called him the Penguin - perhaps referring to his round belly and frosty demeanor. The New York sports press lambasted him regularly for his terse answers and lack of any discernible personality as the team's performance inexorably deteriorated. Many folks thought he was mimicking the equally frosty demeanor of his mentor, a Super Bowl winning coach named Bill Belichick.

This year Mangini came back to New York as coach of the Cleveland Browns to play his old team, the Jets. He made the rounds of all the radio and TV media outlets and did the requisite number of interviews in the week leading up to the game. Low and behold, a different Eric Mangini emerged. He was expansive, expressive, open and approachable.

Many observers attributed the change to his maturation and added experience as a head coach and losing 70 pounds, plus being off the hot seat in the New York . All true. Cleveland has tough winters. New York has tough sports writers.

A funny thing happened though. I listened to three separate interviews and heard him use the same words in each one. I realized a big part of the change was his decision to be different by design. It wasn't that he didn't have a personality in his previous New York incarnation. He simply chose not to show it - perhaps in some vain attempt to project professional power by withholding any clue to the warm engaging person behind the icy and inscrutable facade.

What can we learn from this?

Life's way too short to waste time showing the world a facade. When you are speaking to any kind of audience, you may succeed or fail - just do it as yourself. Not some phoney baloney projection of what you think people want to see or the standard version of what your role requires. Be the real you. A) the world will like you; and B) if they like you, they will listen better.

There's this crazy notion that there are certain "born speaker" people in the world who possess charisma and the rest of us are destined for dullness. I say nonsense!

To me, charisma is all about connecting with your audience and being totally authentic in front of strangers. If you can do that in front of any audience large or small, you got charisma, baby!

So I respectfully submit to you the advice I gave in the very first post in this blog almost two years ago - Unleash the Real You! I've coached over 2000 people now on videotape. When the people I coach decide to switch from their "presentation" selves to their "real" selves; it's pure magic. Try it. We'll love you for it and you won't waste precious energy putting on a false face.

P.S. If Coach Mangini gets fired in Cleveland after the season (very likely) please note two things: 1) He should be more comfortable communicating as his real self for the rest of his life. 2) His old mentor, Bill Belichick, got started on his Super Bowl-winning run in New England after getting unceremoniously fired as the head coach in Cleveland.

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