I had a very interesting answer to a question during a recent speech. The title of my speech was ‘Why Settle for the Balcony? How to get a Front-Row Seat in Life!’. I talk about how people have choices to where they sit in the venue of life. Balcony seats are not good. They are in the back, sometimes in view-obstructed seats. They can come and go and no one would really notice, so they could get away with not being engaged.
General admission seats are not bad, but not great either. These are seats where most people sit – sort of a comfort zone section. There is some truth to that coffee mug that says ‘Life is lived right outside of your comfort zone.’
And then there is the front-row! I believe life is lived in the front-row! That’s where you are most engaged, most stimulated, most involved. And, if you ask me, you meet other like-minded people who also believe life is lived in the front-row.
When I speak about this topic, after explaining what I mean by the venue of life, I ask my audience what is it that prevents most people from sitting up front. If you have been speaking as long as I have, you know the responses that you will typically get and you are prepared for them. For this question, the answers are inevitably: Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown, fear of what people would think, fear of being called on, general insecurity, self-esteem etc.
Imagine my surprise when I heard for the first time, ‘Maybe people perceive that the folks who sit up front are greedy and unethical and they don’t want to hang around those kind of people.’
Wow. That one threw me for a loop! It really made me think that if people perceived front-row people as being greedy and unethical then there is no way they would even think of venturing up to the front-row. I know I didn’t want to let this comment throw me off and then obsess about it all day. You know how you receive evaluations and everyone loves you and one person thought you were a hack? That one person’s opinion seeps into your brain and it’s hard to let that one go. I wanted to make sure I didn’t stay obsessed so after my keynote and before going to lunch with my client, I went to find this person. Thankfully, he gave me a very nice comment on my keynote. To which I said, ‘thank goodness you still don’t think that only greedy and unethical people sit up front!’. Then, he clarified his comment by saying that I was asking for audience feedback and he wanted to contribute, but his comments were just in general not his personal feeling. Again, wow. So glad I didn’t walk away with all of those thoughts running through my head.
Here’s the nice learning opportunity for me. In my next presentation, I may be able to use this. And, I could probably do a better job at explaining that I wholly endorse getting a front-row seat as long as it’s done ethically and with goodness in your heart! After all, one of the best front-row seats is being an usher to help someone to THEIR front-row seat. And, like I always say, with the right attitude and perspective ANY seat can be a front-row seat!
From your sitting in the front-row right now motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman