Be the Guide, Not the Show: 10 Wisdoms

I grew up as an only child and an introvert.  In my third year of college, I had to take Public Speaking and I remember thinking about dropping out, because of it.  I went to that class against my own will and with a bad attitude.  Oh, I was kicking and screaming like a three-year old.

I remember the first day of that class: It was icy, cold, and snowing.  I just drank a gallon of coffee, so I stopped in the men’s room just outside the classroom doors.  It was a large facility with a bank of urinals and stalls and it was empty.  Sweet!  I took the far urinal against the left wall and just then, the door opened.  This older guy comes in whistling.  Whistling!

As if that wasn’t enough, he broke rule number 2.5 of section 1, under man-code “A” of the manual.  He took the urinal right next to mine!  Are you kidding me!?  That urinal isn’t supposed to be used at all.  In fact, it’s just a buffer to the next one.  There’s a whole bank of urinals and you want to rub shoulders with me!?  And then … this: He stopped whistling to speak to me.  Why?

It went like this: “Good things, these.”

Um … what?

“These.  Urinals.  What a great invention; am I right?”

Uh … sure.  I guess so.

“Cold out there.  Have a good day.”

And he left.  Skipped the whole hand washing bit.  That was weird.

I washed my hands and headed into the classroom where I met my Public Speaking instructor.  Yep … you guessed it: Urinal guy.  Ugh!  But, as it turned out, it was one of the best course experiences I had and he was a great instructor.  Never shook his hand though.

He challenged and pushed me and at times, I hated him for it.  Now, I love him for it.  It’s been many years since that class and I’ve built my career on being a really good guide.  I’ve been, and some I still am, an instructor, teacher, trainer, host, guide, mentor, speaker, writer, marketer, brand manager, sales director, business development manager, director of corporate culture, and presenter.

I’m not a yogi.  Not yet, anyway.  However, if we’re going to be yogis, teachers, instructors, leaders, managers, speakers, hosts, or have any human interaction whatsoever, I’d like to share some practical real-world wisdom:

It’s not about us.  It’s about the audience and each of their individual experiences.  It’s our job to be the guide, not the show.  Unless we are the show and if that’s the case, we better be the damn show.

  1. Be credible. Know your shit.  Learn, train, practice, research, and prepare.
  2. Lose the ego. They’re looking to us to lead, guide, or teach.  That is all.
  3. Be real. Be you.  Be authentic, down to earth, and relatable.
  4. Check your bad day at the door.
  5. Be present and engage with the audience.
  6. Get a sense of humor and relax.
  7. Be alive, enthusiastic, and energetic.
  8. Never stop learning and growing. The journey is ongoing.
  9. Speak clearly, understandably, and audibly. And … listen.
  10. Be, flexible and adaptable, because shit happens.

What we’re teaching, presenting, hosting, writing, sharing, or instructing is the show, not us.  We are only the guide.

Be a great guide.

Photo by Severin Hoin on Unsplash

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