The Weekly Word: Moment

For anyone stuck in a snowdrift without wi-fi, please allow me to inform you that yesterday was the annual ritual known throughout the world as the SuperBowl.  Some watch for the competition and some for the commercials.  I watch for the pure entertainment of the whole spectacle!

The game launched dozens of water cooler-worthy conversations (dancing sharks, that crazy catch, the Chevy ad that made everyone curse their televisions, the fight), but one of my favorites is the story of Chris Matthews.

Chris Matthews is the Seattle player that exploded from relative obscurity into the limelight with a few perfectly timed catches and 100 receiving yards.  Just a little over a year ago he was working as a security guard at a Foot Locker in between seasons in the Canadian Football League.  Yesterday his name was on millions of lips. Had the Seahawks won, he might’ve ended up on a Wheaties box.  Who knows what the future holds for the promising young man.

Now let me make something very clear.  The Chris Matthews on your television screen is the exact same man as that security guard.  He has the same potential, work ethic, stamina, and prowess.  The only difference between the guard and the star is the MOMENT.

A moment is a door of opportunity between your current reality and the dream that you’ve been fighting for.  A rare occasion when the spotlight falls on you and your performance, right then and there, determines if you will be given access to the next level.

For Chris Matthews one his moments came in the form of a phone call.  The Seahawks wanted him to fly in for a tryout the next day, but he’d never make the flight after working his full shift at Foot Locker.  He almost hesitated.  It took the encouragement of his agent to convince him to take the risk and make the flight. Clearly, when the spotlight fell on him, he was able to deliver.

What about you?  What moments have you already conquered?  Were you asked to deliver a critical presentation?  Did you get an audition for an important role?  Did you network your way into a meeting with a prominent investor?  When it was your turn at bat, how did you do?  A poor showing hurts, but won’t break you.  However, a win is game-changer, and can be your shortcut to the good life.

You can’t manufacture a moment, but you can be ready when one appears.  Every moment consists of three parts:  Opening + Selection + Preparation.

  • Opening:  The situation that causes the spotlight.

Unfortunately, luck plays a big role in the openings that you encounter, so there isn’t much you can do to control them.  However, not every opening is worth the effort.  By getting very clear on your personal and professional goals, you can best assess the openings that arise to ensure that the potential rewards are worth the reputational risks.

  • Selection: Being chosen to step into the spotlight.

Rarely is there a cattle call for moments.  Instead, when an opportunity presents itself, people are usually handpicked to step up to the challenge.  If you aren’t on the short-list, you may miss your chance to show the world your fabulousness.  Keep your network of sponsors, mentors, and allies well maintained so that they can be in the position to nominate you when applicable.  That means more than the occasional “like” on Facebook – help them understand your strengths, experiences, and goals so that they can effectively advocate on your behalf.

  • Preparation: Being able to deliver high performance when the spotlight appears.

You can’t predict your moments so you must be ready at all times.  Be brutally honest about your gifts (talents, knowledge, abilities) and continuously work to improve them.  Stay current on company or industry news.  Build up your confidence. Develop your critical soft skills – influence, communication, conflict management, etc.  Polish your presentation and your presence.  When the spotlight finally shines on you, make sure that your inner light is strong enough to dazzle anyone who is watching.

What are you doing to be ready for your moment?

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