On Becoming a “Word Artist” on Stage and Page: How to ASPIRE-2 – Critical Components of “Excellence”

In between working on the Gentoring ™ concept, I’m finishing my essay on ASPIRE-2. Email if you missed Part I which focused on the first six (ASP) “creativity” characteristics —
Aggression & Accessibility
Symbol & Synthesis
Poignant & Playful
Imagery & Irony
Risk-Taking and Rhythm ‘n Rhyme
Expressive & Excellence
To read this essay on my Google Blog:

On Becoming a Leading “Word Artist” on Stage and Page:

How to ASPIRE-2 – Critical Components of “Excellence”

Excellence. Most of us have a common sense notion of “excellence: the quality or state of being outstanding and superior, to have a particular talent in something.” And its foundation, the word “excel,” means “to do better than all others, than a given standard, or than previous personal achievement.” This segment focuses on select factors that I believe comprise “ongoing learning” excellence, especially continually improving upon a “previous personal achievement. Some factors are self-evident, others might be surprising. Here are Four Critical Components of Excellence:

1. Discovering and Designing Your Talent. According to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their groundbreaking book, First Break All the Rules: What the World Greatest Managers Do Differently (1999), “talent” is seen as a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied. It’s not simply God-given. In other words, it’s the love of a certain subject, something your mind-body and head-heart just has to do, or seems to do effortlessly (after hours and hours of practice; see below); it’s the air you breathe. For me, it’s designing ideas and playing with words, especially in a psychological, emotional-communicational and/or creativity context – on the stage or page. Consciously and unconsciously I’m continually soaking this product with “The Four ‘P’s of Passion Power” – being Purposeful-Provocative-Passionate-Playful (email [email protected] for the “Passion Power” Model) to empathically and excitedly engage, enlighten and empower others. Of course, the engagement process is not unidirectional. You must be willing to take in and explore feedback that both affirms and especially questions your broad talent along with its integral components.

The Power and Proving Ground of Talent vs. Skill

As Buckingham and Coffman observe, the power of talent lies in being “transferable from one situation to another; given the right stimulus, it fires spontaneously”; a skill’s efficacy is often more situation or context specific. For example, by knowing his product a salesperson demonstrates a skill; but he may still lack the “emotional intelligence” and “relating” talent for being great at selling a variety of products in a variety of settings to a variety of customers.

As for context, a talent for conveying or facilitating the sharing of ideas and emotions can occur during one-one coaching, in a family therapy session, at a board meeting, in a classroom as well as while leading a webinar. Personally, a commitment to expressing conceptual-communicational talent means developing fluency in keynoting and also keyboarding. The truly talented individual often feels compelled to explore and exercise his or her cognitive-affective muscles in a wide variety of arenas. There may be a need for proof, not just testing one’s own capabilities but also proving others wrong. (I suspect not just the allure of the limelight but also self-challenge in Howard Gardener’s “kinesthetic and musical intelligence” realms are why former football greats like Jerry Rice and Emmett Smith go on “Dancing with the Stars.”)

The Ongoing Path of Mastery

Of course, there’s no shortcut to maximizing your talent. According to Geoff Colvin’s (Talent Is Overrated, 2008), it usually takes 10,000 hours of intense practice to begin to see masterful results. So not surprisingly, after decades of nature and nurture (in a variety of clinical-interpersonal-organizational-conference settings), my “striving, thinking and relating talents” as a “Motivational Psychohumorist” ™ seem to come naturally; it’s now the way my brain’s wired, it’s in my blood (hopefully not Type A+ “tiger blood”; thank you Charlie for providing a conceptual handle for some of my own hypomanic-lite tendencies). And continuous practice and cogitation, affirming and humbling feedback and learning, much to my surprise, still improve process and product. So this is the essence of my talent; what is yours…and are you willing to do your headwork, heart work and homework?

Stay tuned for other components of “excellence.” Until then…Practice Safe Stress!

Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, “The Stress Doc” ™, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is an acclaimed keynote and kickoff speaker as well as “Motivational Humorist & Team Communication Catalyst” known for his interactive, inspiring and FUN programs for both government agencies and major corporations. In addition, the “Doc” is a team building and organizational development consultant. He is providing “Stress and Communication, as well as Managing Change, Leadership and Team Building” programs for the 1st Cavalry Division and 13th Expeditionary Support Command, Ft. Hood, Texas and for Army Community Services and Family Advocacy Programs at Ft. Meade, MD and Ft. Belvoir, VA as well as Andrews Air Force Base/Behavioral Medicine Services. Mark has also had a rotation as Military & Family Life Consultant (MFLC) at Ft. Campbell, KY. A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, The Stress Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress and of The Four Faces of Anger. See his award-winning, USA Today Online “HotSite”www.stressdoc.com — called a “workplace resource” by National Public Radio (NPR). For more info on the Doc’s “Practice Safe Stress” programs or to receive his free e-newsletter, email [email protected] or call 301-875-2567.

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