As a leader in your firm, your job is to tell your story. However, identifying your theme is often really tough. Even if you are able to identify the singular point you want to make, we often confuse our audience by meandering around, trying too hard to make our point. Or, we are so sure something will resonate with the audience, only to find out it really is a miss!
This is a lesson I was reminded of a few weeks ago. In my continual quest to live a balanced life and forever be a student, I recently completed yoga teacher training. Although I have no interest in quitting my day job, I have been given a wonderful opportunity to teach yoga to kids ages kindergarten through sixth grade.
In most yoga classes, everyone ends in a pose called savasana. It requires you to lay on your mat and relax, and you are encouraged to let your mind rest. In many instances, the teacher will share a poem or read something inspirational. Since I wanted to make sure savasana resonated with the kids, I went hunting for a good story. It starts by asking everyone to close their eyes and imagine a little man walking around their mat with a jar. His job is to pick up worries, fear and stress from their bodies as they drop it on their mat. When I read the story, it seemed simple enough and I really thought it would appeal to my audience. However, when I debuted my story to my kids, I learned that it went down the wrong path. One little girl sat up and said she didn't want the little man on her mat. Another boy told me he was scared of the little man. Yet another kid asked if the little man was going to give his stuff back. From there, the peaceful children quickly erupted into mayhem as they shared their concern about the little man. This, my friends, is an example of a story that seemed to make great sense on paper, but didn't work in reality. Fortunately, I was able to redirect and everyone ended with peaceful smiles (and I was invited back).
What can we learn from this? Although my goal was simple - I wanted the kids to relax - my message got lost in my story. This happens to us in the business world too. We are so focused on telling our audience everything we can about our products and services that we take them on a journey with too many billboards.