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A blog by Ryan Quinn, Robert Quinn, Shawn Quinn, and Amy Lemley

How to Introduce Yourself: A Surprising Experience in High Performance

In the last few blog entries I have been writing about how we greet others, and what happens if we choose to self-elevate.  I committed to do this.  What happened was surprising.

I had to go to a routine meeting.  I drove to the parking structure at the university and as I got out, I saw a man fixing a light.  I made it a point to walk close to him then greet him with great warmth and to express appreciation for the work he was doing.  He responded well and I concluded that it was a nice but very small event.  I was wrong.

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I went to the building.  Three people were there waiting.  They each looked a little gloomy about the prospect of sitting through another routine meeting.  I greeted them but not as enthusiastically as the man in the parking structure.  The meeting started and something surprising happened.  At the beginning of the meeting I cracked a joke.  A few minutes later I cracked another joke, then another and another.  This is not the normal me.  It was like I was standing outside my body watching a stranger.  The jokes were not forced, neither were they designed to call attention to me.  They were spontaneous, timely, part of the workflow.  It was quite extraordinary. 

We finished the meeting and everyone left.  That was the end of the story until the next day when I wrote in my gratitude journal.  As I wrote, I became aware.  I first noted that the meeting ended twenty minutes early with all tasks completed.  I then noted that the three people, who were a bit gloomy at the outset, left the meeting in an upbeat mood.  Finally I asked myself where my unusual humor came from.  The answer was the parking lot.  In the parking lot I went out of my way to give away positive energy.  That gift looped back on me.  Because I was elevated by my attempt to elevate someone else, when I went into that meeting, I began to spontaneously operate beyond my normal limits.   

What do you think happened?  What implications do you see?  What positive thing could you do today to push yourself outside your comfort zone?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  On Friday I will close this discussion with some research findings.

2 Responses to “How to Introduce Yourself: A Surprising Experience in High Performance”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Toby Elwin and Ryan Quinn, achristoffersen. achristoffersen said: Autoshared: How to Introduce Yourself: A Surprising Experience in High Performance: In the last few blog entries… http://bit.ly/ha3W8b [...]

  2. Howard Parrish says:

    Thanks for the “How to Introduce Yourself” discussion. Great timing and a neat synchronicity. I say so because I’ve just discovered your blog and just last week I introduced myself and my company very differently to 25 employees with a new consulting customer.

    On the way to the job I decided I would try something new, and introduced myself twice. The first time, I called it reading off the page of my resume….and shared the formal education and experiences that qualified me to be “in the door”. Next, I introduced myself in what I called a “journey context”, and shared 5+ key events/experiences starting in 7th grade and leading up to the present.

    As I explained it, my first introduction established what I did to be allowed in their door; the second introduction shared how my heart got there, and established why I care. Which guy do you think they’d rather have a cup of coffee with? lol

    From there I posed the question, “what would it look like for all of you to come out of your roles and off the pages of your resumes with one another? How might that improve the quality of both your work and your life”?

    I will be with them again in two weeks in a 4-hour workshop on “Authenticity”. Right now I sense some nervousness.

    My observation is that most people have managed the lives and rehearsed the stories that appear on their resumes, but have a hard time presenting who they are off that page. As you’ve suggested about complexity theory, we are all human interest stories waiting to connect at that next, higher-quality level from out of which new possibilities and next social-and-organizational systems will emerge.

    The challenge is not only to create the time, space, and context that grants people permssion to engage more authentically, but it is also to help people piece together their stories so that they can present a deeper self more confidently. For most, our only cohesive narrative is the one with our name, address, and career objective at the top of the page.

    This is the narrative we give time and attention to because this is the one that is valued by the world. As we succeed at creating more spaces/experiences for people to enter into in which our deeper narrative is valued, we will give more attention to developing and telling it effectively.

    To me, we all have two stories. The first one is the story of the person we are trying to fit into, even survive in, the world. The second is of the soul who is here to change it. Our land creature and our sea creature, I call em. Our lives are determined by which one we give the most oxygen to. And when we give the ocean’s oxygen to others, even in the simplest of moments as you did to the man fixing the light, we help them come alive.

    The man fixing the light? Hmmm. Seems a bit symbolic. Pretty cool.

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