This TED talk has now had over 500,000 views on YouTube. I started writing this post 3 years ago. It’s sat in my drafts folder, simply because there are so many things to say about it. And I wanted to get it right. I wonder how many critical business breakthroughs have got stuck, and then died, in someone’s email drafts folder?
Benjamin Zander talks about ‘one buttock playing’ – being pushed over by what you are doing, what you are communicating. There is a point at which what we are doing takes over our thinking about what we are trying to do. To a professional communicator, that might sound bad, uncontrolled even. But it is the point at which you connect with the passion, and that is the point at which what you are doing makes an impact. So much communication is killed by a lack of passion, a lack of conviction, and smothered in doubt.
We have to do the things we are uncomfortable with enough times that we get beyond that discomfort, beyond the conscious thought, and into a state of flow in doing it. Be it blogging, emailing, running meetings, playing music, whatever it is, push through the discomfort to find the place where you can just do it. Be practiced enough to be confident in your capability that you don’t look up (or look down) and drop your flow.
But there is something else in Benjamin’s talk. Notice how he is aware of what he is doing, and able to explain it, very coherently and eloquently. That comes through observation. In teaching others, and watching them practice, we learn even more – and learning from the mistakes of others is usually less costly! As we practice, we spot pattens that work, and patterns that don’t.
In short, we need to practice to get things right, that’s hopefully obvious, but that inherently means being comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have to make mistakes, and watch other people making mistakes, to get to the point where, in Benjamin Zander’s words, we are playing on one buttock. It’s a difficult one to explain to the boss, but ultimately, we need those shining eyes to make a great business.