As independent consultants, we typically steer our own ships – we choose what to focus on, and where to spend our finite time. While it’s easy to get bogged down in the tactical, it’s important we not forget to look at the big picture on occasion. Is what we’re doing in keeping with our values? What will our legacy be?
I recently had the opportunity to hear a keynote from Kim Bearden – winner of numerous prestigious awards, including Disney’s American Teacher of the Year, Ron Clark Academy co-founder and best selling author of Crash Course: Life Lessons My Students Taught Me – and found that this well-known teacher had many lessons for our businesses. It opened my eyes to the fact that seemingly unrelated disciplines still have things to teach us, and that best practices can reach across industry lines.
Top takeaways include:
1. It’s not what happens to you that defines you – it’s what happens through you.
“If you define power as how much you control things, none of us have very much of it,” says Bearden. I believe the longer you live, the more this sentiment will likely mean to you. Fate tends to play a role in everyone’s lives, often shattering our illusions that we have complete power and control over our destiny.
Bearden suggests that a better kind of power is when you empower others.
“Long after I have left this world, the people I have empowered will be empowering others. That’s how you leave a legacy.”
2. Seek Significance
Our culture and education tends to focus on achievements, and as a result we’re somewhat wired to seek them. But Bearden advises we instead seek significance.
“If you seek significance, the achievements will still come,” she says. But you’re looking at the big picture of what you’re trying to change and have an impact, which helps keep us from becoming distracted.
3. Surround yourself with helpful people
Bearden acknowledged that sometimes you’re forced to work with “misery evangelists” (a term I found hilarious!), but you can be intentional about surrounding yourself with people who feed your soul. Making this a conscious goal helps you put your time where your priorities are, and it helps you find people who want to lift you up.
4. Celebrate each others' success
“Sometimes we think there’s only so much success out there and we have to grab some. This is not true – there’s unlimited success.”
5. Engage others
What really matters most to people is- I see you. You matter. Bearden mentioned that at the Ron Clark Academy they focus on the following:
- Engagement – make everyone feel important
- Rigor – challenge people intellectually
- Positive climate and culture- balance the rigor with passion, enthusiasm and joy
Aren’t these the same elements that work with our clients? In the communities we manage? In our own businesses?
In many ways, the best teachers and businesses are trying to accomplish the same things – engaging our audiences (whether students, employees, colleagues or the public), helping people feel like they have a voice and are important. Stimulating human beings’ natural intellectual curiosity while fostering an energizing, uplifting environment can also be a universal goal.
As PR professionals, we play a key role in how our clients’ organizations deal with the public. Keeping these lessons in mind can help not just in our own businesses, but also as we work toward more positive communications on behalf of our clients.
I saw Kim Bearden speak at Wind Enterprises’ Quest for Success Conference. My friend Toby Bloomberg recruited me to serve as one of the Social Media Ambassadors for the event, for which I received a free ticket. Thanks Toby!