“Stupid is as stupid does.”
These words above, from the fictional title character of the film, Forrest Gump, have amazing clarity and truth. Think about it as it applies to you. We all do stupid things, mostly by accident, sometimes by omission, and other times strictly due to a lack of concentration. But, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Let’s take a closer look.
I feel safe in venturing that few, if any, of us wake up each morning with the singular goal of, “Gee, what stupid things can I do today and still live to tell about it?” Yet, we manage to do more stupid than brilliant things without really trying. The fact that we are not aware of our own propensity for stupidity may be more of a curse than a blessing. The fortunate end of this is that most often the stupid things we do are little things which, when taken individually, have little or no effect on our life each day. Yet day after day we still do the stupid without regard to the cumulative effect it has on our lives as a whole. While some consider doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result to be a definition of insanity, I like to think of it a dose of good ole homegrown stupidity. This type of behavior will eventually call into question the foundation of Respect we have for yourself.
RESPECT AND THE SPEAKER
As a speaker, you must be ever aware that your authority to speak rests greatly and precariously on the foundation Credibility you established for yourself. A large portion of your credibility is impacted and shaped by the depth of respect you have for yourself, your foundational message, and your relationship to the audiences you serve.
In many cases, as a speaker, it is what we do when we are saying nothing that can easily betray the depth of our credibility and the level of respect we maintain.
You’re at the airport on the way to a speaking opportunity when you step into the newsstand to pick up some water and a snack for the flight. As you walk down the aisle you cross in front of another shopper who is tortuously deciding which chewy snack will hit the spot and you do so without even offering a courteous, “Excuse me.”
“So, what,” you say, “they probably didn't even notice!”
You might be right. But, that’s not the question you should be asking yourself. The real deep question here is. “Did you notice?” And if you did notice and did not offer a polite, “Excuse me” you may have committed a double offense, one to the person you offended and two to your personal dignity and respect.
When you walk in to your speaking engagement the next day, you are greeted by the very person you were rude to at the airport. You feel stupid for having acted badly in a situation you can never undo. You cannot NOT communicate and the message you have sent through your action is a sign of disrespect and questionable credibility.
RESPECT AND YOUR SPEAKING VOICE
“Actions speak louder than words” and growing your speaking voice is less about what you’re saying and more about the foundational base from which are speaking. While you are diligently digging to discover content that matters to you and will impact your audiences, your actions throughout the process will help solidify a platform with the integrity to support your message.
The more actions of respect inward and outward that you perform, the stronger your experiential base as a speaker will be. Not only will what you say grow, but the strength of conviction within the voice behind those words will grow as well.
SPEAKING OF RESPECT
The general point here is that it is more than just a common courtesy so say “Excuse me” when we infringe on another’s space. By doing so, we acknowledge there are rules of conduct which we ascribe to as a civilized society. These rules help us to create order while they relieve us from the potential rule of chaos.
Saying, “Excuse me” not only bestows a measure of respect on the infringed, it bestows a measure of civility on the infringer as well. This behavior can and will establish an atmosphere of mutual respect between each person involved in the encounter. Respect makes our world a better place to live. It makes our common efforts rewarding. It makes us understand the basis of our common existence.
My challenge to you is to try to be courteous and respectful in all situations. Particularly those when you are about to knowingly do something stupid. Give yourself a break. Take yourself off of autopilot and take command of your vessel. At the end of the day, acknowledge the stupid little things you have done and make a conscious effort not to repeat them.
Remember, the most important person in the world is you. If you don't show yourself the maximum amount of respect you deserve, it's quite possible no one else will either. If you keep on going day after day repeating one small stupidity after another, it will have a cumulative effect on your reserve of self-respect.
“Stupid is as stupid does,” but stupid does not have to become a standard of performance or an excuse to be rude.
Thanks for your support as a reader of my blog and I eagerly welcome any comments on this post or suggestions you might have for a future blog on a topic near and dear to you in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz