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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Be Interesting When You Get On Stage… Harder Than It Looks

Of all the Interventions I’ve tried so far this year, Be Interesting When You Get On Stage is the easiest for me.  I’ve been in the habit of being interesting for decades, and although there are venues where that’s more challenging for me – small crowd of powerful people I want to impress – I generally leave my mark.

But it ain’t as easy as it might look.  For whatever reason, each interesting remark costs me something.  If I try to pay mindful attention to it, there’s a very brief flash of longing, longing that these people will like me, like what I’m saying, reward me, praise me, then a flash of fear that I won’t be able to be heard, that they’ll ignore me, then finally a flash of angry contempt, for them for scorning me (in advance, so to speak), but also contempt for me for wanting their good opinion.  The anger stays with me, largely as anger at myself, and it’s not uncommon for me to recall with self-contempt charming things I’ve said at a dinner party on the way home: my wife and I call them Bad Thoughts.  The Bad Thoughts crystallize all the contempt for myself without the intervening longing and anger at the others that make the contempt more comprehensible.

Easy to see why the roomful of powerful others is so challenging, given this internal play.  But it took years to decode it and I’m still not seeing it all in the moment, which is probably the key for harnessing these charming interventions in the service of Greater Chutzpah.