Leslie Ungar, The Inner Brilliance of Electric Impulse, Inc.

The Tale of a Tail

Leslie’s Articles

100 Tips in 100 Days to Communicate Your Competitive Edge

Mexico is the land of iguanas, gekkos, and anything with multiple legs. In Mexico, it is considered charming when a gekko gets inside your villa and chirps incessantly. In America, when a creature gets inside our home we call the exterminator.

On this day in Puerto Vallarta, a baby lizard was crawling around the dining room. Art galleries, stores and every boardwalk vendor sell whimsical wooden, beaded, and silver lizards. But somehow, when you stare at a live one in your house, it is not so charming.

So we stood around contemplating available solutions. What we decided was to pick up the lizard by its tail and re-locate it outside. That way, so the thinking went, the lizard couldn’t bite the hand that was saving its life.

Like many good ideas in the laboratory, this idea had a surprise outcome in the laboratory of life. When the lizard was picked up by his tail, the tail simply broke off leaving us standing there holding the tail as the lizard scampered away. Locals assured me that the lizard would re-grow a tail and continue to lead a healthy life.

In watching the tale of the lizard’s tail, I wondered about how we go about solving problems. Do we attack the real problem? Or do we figuratively pick up the tail of the problem and think we have it solved, only to be left holding the tail?

In January 2010, I committed to write a Tip a day for 100 Days. The tips would include any aspect of communication that anyone could use to communicate their competitive edge to win a promotion or a point. Days would be weekdays, so this project would take five months.

I thought the “problem” would be to write the 100 tips. Each Sunday I wrote five tips for the week. I held on to the belief that I would be able to conjure up 100 bits of useful information. The Tips flowed and by the time Spring had sprung in Ohio, I had collected 100.

As it turned out writing the tips was the “tail.” In other words, writing the tips was the easy part. When I decided to make a book out of the hundred tips, I found the whole lizard. The real problem was in the publishing.

Requests that were do-able before I signed the contract became impossible after. Revisions that were clearly outlined in the contract before it was signed were slowed to a stop. The real problem was the publisher.

I had a book signing with no book. Now talk about challenges! I found out at the last minute that the books would not arrive in time for the planned event. To cancel or to go ahead? Was it really a problem to have the book signing with great guests and great food and no book? I had to correctly identify the tail.

Like the lizard, I was able to grow another tail and scamper away almost in one piece. Here are three tips from the now published book 100 Tips in 100 Days: 100 Tips to Communicate Your Competitive Edge:

Tip #17 Communication is an Umbrella NOT a Spoke

Communication is like an umbrella. While the coverage is wide, there are many different spokes: Formal speaking, PowerPoint presentations, Small group dynamics, One-on-one meetings, Phone, Email, Media, and Debate.

In today’s world to be an effective 21st century leader, you need to excel at most of these individual spokes. It is confusing to your audience and therefore a challenge to your ability to move an agenda forward when your effectiveness at each spoke varies.

Tip #34 Know What Confidence Looks Like

Confidence is key for this country, a quarterback, and you. What does it LOOK like? We talk about, notice its absence as well as its presence. How do we recognize IT? Confidence is a firm control, it is the non verbal and the verbal CONSISTENT message that says FOLLOW ME.

Confidence is the belief that you can solve a problem.

Arrogance is the belief you have nothing left to learn.

Tip #100 All Tips Apply to You

Whether you are a CEO or a recent graduate, all of these tips apply to you. Neither your title, bonus, years of experience or degree of distinction exempt you from the consequences when you follow or ignore the role of communication.

Wherever you are in your career or life, your ability to move your agenda forward is enhanced when you apply these communication tips. Your job today and everyday is to use these tips to help you Get Out of Your Way, give your Inner Brilliance a voice, and present your Competitive Edge successfully in all communication scenarios.

Communication is apart of every challenge, every problem, and every opportunity. When you are struggling, ask yourself if you have the problem by the tail or the lizard?