With the school year beginning, I thought I might reprint an article from about five years ago, when I had my weekly ezine. In my opinion, the Law of Authenticity, (Law #4 of The Go-Giver), has never been embodied better and more effectively than in this example.
Recently, my fourth grade teacher, Miss Kadlik/Mrs. Mahan was in town with her husband, Mike, who was here on business. While in the area, she decided to visit my Folks, who live near me. She was first my teacher. Then, three years later, my sister, Robyn’s. Throughout the years, she maintained occasional and holiday-season contact with Mom and Dad.
On the first day of fourth grade, Miss Kadlik, a beautiful, elegant “older woman” (after all, she was 23) 🙂 stood in front of us to introduce herself. Her smile was reassuringly sweet, as we would later learn was her personality and entire essence.
The first words she uttered taught me a lesson that, not only have I never forgotten, but would use throughout the years when it came to “Winning Without Intimidation.”
She said, “I just want all of you to know that I’m just out of college, this is my very first class, and I’m very, very nervous right now.”
You could have heard the “proverbial” pin drop. We were silent.
“What?” We must all have been thinking (I know I was). “A teacher…nervous? What could she possibly be nervous about?”
Here was her intuitive brilliance, and how you can utilize this contrarian wisdom in dealing with stressful situations and difficult people.
She admitted her feelings; her fear. She trusted us with those feelings. She made us her partners in what was, for a very young woman just out of college facing a crowd of potential hoodlums, 🙂 a very stressful situation.
And, we responded to it. She immediately won us over, and although we still couldn’t believe a teacher (i.e., authority figure) was nervous because of us, we were determined to make sure she would get through her difficulties.
So often, whether in business or interpersonal situations, we are afraid to admit our fears, to “let our guard down,” concerned that the “dogs and lions” will surround us if we do.
There’s a commercial that’s been popular here in the U.S. for several years now. It’s for an antiperspirant and the catch phrase is, “never let em’ see you sweat.” In other words, if others know you’re not totally calm, cool, collected, and in control, they might respect you less, step all over you, and otherwise take advantage of you.
Typically, I’ve found that not to be true. Ninety-nine times out of 100, if you’ll let people know you are not “all that”, and even that you have your fears and trepidations, they will do their best to put you at ease, will unconsciously root for you to win, and will often even become your partner in doing so (of course, all situations are different so, while understanding the meaning of what I’m writing, judge each situation accordingly).
People relate to those who are “human” and experience occasional lapses of self-confidence, as do they. While the slick person may overwhelm and dazzle, they typically are not as relatable as the “real” human being.
So, while being confident, prepared, and excellent at what you do is a winning course to take, during those times when, for whatever reason, you do feel overwhelmed, under-confident and just a little scared…admit it, and win.
And, thank you Judie Mahan. It was great seeing you again!
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This is such an awesome story. In duplicating the process of leadership, often times people look at your performance, posture & confidence and feel they will never accomplish your level of skills.
What you described is perfect in that people need to realize we are people just like them. We don’t start out knowing all the verbiage, scientific research, statistics, etc. We begin just like them, a student watching the teacher!
BTW…My 4th. grade teacher’s name was Geneva Morgan, & it was a great year! I was referred to as “the Geneva Convention,” by a dreamy guy that according to our Podunk town mentality, came from a very wealthy family, & all the girls went ga-ga over him. He has been an alcoholic for years & I mentor with great men such as yourself, b/c I’ve continued to be a great student!
I appreciate you,
This is a wonderful reminder, Bob, especially to those of who play the confidence card easily. I first heard the term “baring your neck” from Mark Goulston, and appreciate posts like this – the human connection is always a critical element in business or personal relationships.
In my third year of med school my professor asked me to meet a family and let them know that their dad had passed away. During our meeting I attempted to conceal a couple of tears that involuntarily trickled down my right cheek. Lesson: My humanity was often more valuable than my education.
Thanks for such a wonderful post. It really helped me. Sometimes it’s so easy to be intimidated by others who seem to be a “confident guru”. It’s refreshing to know that I can be ME – NOT 100% perfect.
And by the way, my future daughter-in-law will be starting her teaching career next week. Not 4th grade, but 3rd! I’ve forwarded this blog post to her!
Miss Kadlik was terrific. I knew her because she lived in my neighborhood. We were blessed with good teachers (I had Miss Voner that year). I think if we went back over the lessons they taught us, we would realize how very special they were and how very fortunate we were.
And, I would have to say that after doing stand up comedy for longer than I should, I finally realized that I couldn’t hide my true personality. People can sense a “front”. Might as well ‘fess up and enjoy being yourself.
Hi Gang, finally getting caught up and wanted to tell you how much I appreciated all of your comments.
Geneva: Thank you for sharing and for your kind words. “Geneva Convention”…that was cool. 🙂
Frank: That was a profound; a very profound lesson you shared with us. Thank you!
David: Thank you. Great term by Mark Goulston; had never heard that before. Thank you for sharing.
Kim: Thank you. And that’s awesome about your future daughter-in-law. I’m so glad you felt the article was worthy of passing along to her.
Barbara: That’s right. And, Miss Voner was very cool, as well. It makes sense that Miss Kadlik and Miss Voner were friends. Both were a couple of stars!
What a amazing post! I think it´s a total paradigme change, but you are so right. In our days we think we “need” to appear always happy, strong and confident in front of other people, or we are not going to gain their confidence.
Yout story prove that is not true…
Thanks a lot for this!
Best regards from Brazil,
Tiago C. Simões
hi bob loved the story I introduced my son Justin to your book the go giver and the advice has been invaluable to both of us . men tend to have trouble showing their vulnerable side and eventually it can manifest into something much more complicated I see people struggle every single day with their business,s and if they could only get the go giver message it could all be so different always ALWAYS give more than we expect in return thank you NAMASTE
Tiago: Embarrassed that I’m just seeing your comment now. If you’re still following the blog please accept my apologies and know how much I appreciate your very kind comments and thoughtful insights!
Patrick: Thank you. So glad that you and Justin have both enjoyed the book. Please send him my regards. Thank you for your very positive words about the book and its message. Greatly appreciated!