Who you are speaks so loudly . . .

The great American essayist and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, held a particularly accountable view of life and living and one of my favorite quotes of his is:

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying!”

In other words, the character of a person is very often revealed in their speech.  Think of two people, one who talks incessantly about themselves and another who spends most of the conversation asking questions about you.  Their words and conversation reveal their inner most thought habits – the self-centered individual versus the humble, curious person.  This quote also gives us insight into the Shadow of the Leader concept, where the actions and behavior of the senior team carry much more impact than their words (and powerpoint presentations).  The shadows that leaders cast is one of the determinants of corporate culture.

A few blogs back I introduced you to one of my tutors and teacher when I was a young man, Thomas D. Willhite.  Tom was always teaching but he also understood that most of his teaching feel on deaf ears.  He would often say, “I’m just looking for one person, just one who will take what I have taught them and carry it further than I did.”  Each one of his students hoped that they would be that one.

One of Tom’s “pearls of wisdom” that always rang true for me was a variation on the Emerson quote:

“Small-minded people talk about other people, average people talk about events, great people talk about ideas.”

I suggest the next time you are in a conversation, use this screen to determine the value of the time you are spending.  Are you growing ideas or just burning up verbal calories?

Tight Lines . . .

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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