Over lunch last week with a friend and fellow business owner, my skills as a…
Passion Will Run Out if It’s Not Supported by Expertise
Passion must be supported by expertise if you want to create real impact.
What does speaking truth to power and your small business marketing have in common? They each depend upon your ability to influence and capture the hearts and minds of the listener, if just for a moment.
Speaking truth to power
Speaking truth to power always has consequences for the speaker. It’s dangerous. And it’s unusually hard work.
For many small business owners, speaking truth to an otherwise disengaged market is what we do. Cutting through the fog of apathy to achieve a commercial result, is our constant challenge. We use our freedom to speak with frankness and truth, compelled by a dream that can feel more a moral duty, than just a commercial venture alone.
Have a plan beyond the shouting
Wielding the power of influence in business is so much more than just being the person who does all the talking. Or the group who does the most shouting.
So how do you communicate a message to an audience holding all the positional power when it feels all you have is the emotion?
Speaking to Positional Power
Some positions come with influence built into their job description. These people are usually easy to spot because they’re mostly the ones dominating the conversation, doing all the talking (and the interrupting) and setting the agenda.
Emotion alone is never enough
An emotional response to a complex problem is always ineffective. While we all may pause and glance at a commotion for a while, rarely do we stop and weigh up the information presented – we tire quickly of what we perceive as an unstructured mess that’s simply too hard to deal with at that moment.
The trouble with an emotional outburst is it can leave its hearers vaccinated against our further emotional outbursts. Likewise, even deaf to any future variations of the message – if there was one – to remember. Surplus emotion alone is not known for its ability to consistently produce a useful result. And success in business is all about the useful result.
Expertise alone is not enough
Many experts have great ideas. But if they sound dry and unable to be packaged into useful, digestible, connectable messaging, expertise alone can leave the audience further disengaged. It can leave them struggling to decide what to do with this newfound information.
Expertise without passion is always less effective, and just waiting for a new contestant with both, to enter the market.
Passion with Expertise speaks any message powerfully
Passion supported by expertise can speak truth to power in a very effective way. While it might not on first blush overcome positional power, it can suspend its domination of the conversation for a while and achieve a level of equality – while your new idea is shared and its message felt. This is often the value of a dissenters opinion.
Our appetite for passionate arguments fused with expertise reflects in our love of courtroom dramas; where passionate expertise speaks and the jury is moved by compelling, suspenseful evidence. These same arguments have us questioning the evidence, and echoing the words of Colonel Jessop under cross-examination in the drama, A Few Good Men, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’
Passion with Expertise and its Dream
In August 1963, Dr Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Most importantly, he stood before a crowd of 250,000 people declaring, ‘I Have a Dream’. And ever since, those worlds have hung in the air as a declaration to positional power.
In November 2008 a 47-year-old, asbergic, unemployed Susan Boyle, appeared as contestant number 43212 of Britain’s Got Talent. And subsequently, she sang, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from the musical Les Misérables.
Susan was unemployed, unmarried, living with her cat named Pebbles and faced a clearly condescending audience. In addition, she appeared as one who had perhaps overreached in her dream. A dream to be as successful as British singer and theatre icon Elaine Paige, OBE.
But for those of us who witnessed her onstage performance, Susan masterfully displayed her passion and deep expertise for the song; silencing her patronising critics.
In her offstage pre-interview, she captured our hearts with her genuine empathy. Empathy for those, in her words, ‘ignored by the world’. And in the words of the song, those whose ‘Life has killed the dream, I dream.’
And we found ourselves becoming invested in her anticipated success.
Susan’s recorded performance is now one of YouTube’s most popular videos ever posted, reaching 40 million views to date and climbing. Susan went on to release her debut alburn in November the following year. And it became the UK’s best-selling debut album of all time. With a new personal wealth of $40 million, the success of Susan Boyle is also a joyous reminder of the power of capturing the doubts – and hopes – of millions with a passion supported by expertise and empathy.
Influential Conversations start with empathy and lead to a result
Influential conversations are powered by empathy – the willingness and ability to understand and share the feelings of the listener. Whatever your message, whatever your product, the gateway to communicating beyond the shouting, is empathy – because we never automatically understand the picture we never get to see.
The problem of mislabeled passion
For some people, the ‘passionate label’ has been more a mislabel; an anticipatory rather than a truly representative and useful description of what’s actually in the can. A quick look at most LinkedIn profiles could leave a prospective employer believing, the entire available workforce is labelled as passionate, driven, creative, motivated and authentic. And of course, such overused labels tell us nothing about anything.
Mislabeled passion at its worst is the equivalent of crying wolf.
When communicating our message to the market, we need a plan that goes beyond the shouting (or the flag-waving, or occupying) or the trending clever hashtag. Passion supported by expertise can stir our emotions and illuminate our insights. It naturally opens otherwise closed mental doors and allows us to suspend our current opinion and dream, as we consider an alternative.
Whether your business is speaking truth to power or communicating your value message about the goods or services you bring to an overcrowded or ambivalent market – success depends upon your ability to capture, if just for a moment, the hearts and minds of the market and dream their dream.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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