I recently dropped my daughter off for her freshman year at the University of Arkansas. The five-hour drive down allowed the opportunity for some daughter/daddy talk time. The conversation wandered a bit, but one observation from Emily really struck. She commented that we are so hard on ourselves because we live in our own “backstage” world, but have to witness everyone else’s “main-stage performance.”

That was a very powerful analogy she shared. We witness this all the time, but, for me, that description summed it up perfectly.

How often do you go to a conference and hear everyone talking about their great accomplishments only to walk away feeling completely inadequate by comparison? You are forced to view their 5-star, main-stage moment and compare it to your 2-star, backstage, everyday reality.

I saw this play out just recently. One of the members in our network asked me to review a Broker Services RFP he had put together. Like too many of us, he completed the RFP just fine, but was overly reserved in his response. I took the opportunity to dress up the responses a bit. They were completely accurate; I just described what I see from my “outside” perspective.

After I sent him my edited suggestions, he replied, “Awesome!!! This makes me want to do business with myself. What a boost to my confidence!!” The funny thing was we were both describing the same production, but his backstage perspective of himself kept him from seeing the “main stage, opening night” performance I see from him on a regular basis.

We are our own harshest critics.

Here are some suggestions that I think may help us all.

Role play your presentation with your team – When your team gets to hear you describe what you do, you will likely be shocked at the positive feedback you receive. And, if by chance you’re not yet ready for “opening night,” this is the place to figure it out. Either way, your confidence will be greater when you are in front of your prospect.

Find a peer group – Not the kind of peer group that only brags about how great they are, but the kind of peer group that will show you their backstage (not that backstage!) and offer honest feedback on your performance.

Complete an RFP – Not necessarily for a prospect, but just for the exercise of having to explain yourself. Keep editing and pushing your descriptions until you feel the same sense of confidence and desire to work with yourself that I shared above. And, if you can’t answer the questions in a way that gives you the confidence and desire, then at least you know what work needs to be done.

Find a critic – Ask someone whose opinion you respect to give you some honest feedback.

I realize that not all of these suggestions are going to move you from a 2-star view of yourself to a 5-star. In fact, they are likely to expose and validate some weaknesses.

However, what it will show you is that not everyone else is truly the 5-star they may appear to be. And, more importantly, you are not the 2-star you see in your mind. Follow these suggestions and you will come away with a greater sense of reality and, if you don’t like your reality, you’ll have an understanding of where you need to improve. You can give a performance that will get rave reviews, you just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I really want it?”


Photo by vadymvdrobot