My grandmother was a very beautiful woman – and I remember her as a child as being absolutely lovely in every way. When I think about how I remember her as an adult though, I notice a definite contrast in my adult versus child perceptions. In reality, my grandmother portrayed many human traits, not all of them so lovely. My point is that when I think carefully about my differences in perception I realise that these differences were less influenced by my age than they were by my grandfather. My grandfather fought in Egypt for the Allies during World War 2 and then returned home to Johannesburg where he met my grandmother at a local dance. From first sight, he was captivated and continued to be until the day he died, in my early teens. In every way, he saw her, and every way he portrayed her, he magnified her loveliness to the extent that he and those under his influence saw little else. I got pretty out of touch with her humanness which came as a bit of a shock to me as an adult.
Magnification has been present since the beginning of time. We magnify our religious Gods, our media magnify whatever and whoever sells their news and now, through social media, we magnify ourselves. But does magnifying equal magnificent?
The simple answer is no because through magnifying we focus on one aspect of the whole and by doing so we lose our vital connection to the whole.
Magnification might be appropriate for Gods, for celebrities and for horrifying news and events, but it’s a step too far away from reality for meaningful business connections.
In my own journey as a business speaker, I have often been encouraged to “magnify”. We do this by placing words such as “expert, experienced, well- traveled and sought after” into our bio’s and website information. We think that this will “get us in” with the right people and into the right places – but this is seldom the case. Often during my talks, I overhear comments such as “she is so down to earth” and this seems a genuine surprise to many. In these cases, I am always most surprised because it’s due far more to my failures that I can teach what I do than my successes.
A few weeks back I was presenting to a group of final year school boys about the development of Entrepreneurial Intelligence. It was an enjoyable and interactive session and they were about as interested as could be expected from a large group of young men about to go on break until one of them asked what my annual profit was. I am not used to sharing this so I told them what my annual turnover is (on average – across companies) and based on my presentation material they could do the maths quite closely. The energy in the room changed in an instant from politely interested in my work to connected to me and committed to learning what I knew. This is a great example of the difference between magnifying the bits you want others to see, or think they want to see and being magnificent in your entirety.
Magnificent connects all the relevant parts of who you are and what you know to the right people, instantly. So my message is, pay less attention to magnifying – think carefully about where you might be doing this, and how well it really is working for you. Moving forwards, focus more on being magnificent. Magnificent requires us to be the sum of all of our parts – so that they are all available for meaningful connection when needed.