Random Thoughts

Thoughts on Another Personal Hero – Condoleezza Rice

But before I get to that – FYI: The Cardinals ARE in 1st Place in the National League Central Division! Just wanted to pass that along just in case you hadn’t heard…..

Last week in my posting, I talked about how events in our lives can come alive again. I shared a story about Jack Buck, one of my personal heroes, and how his connection with young boy at a scary time in that boy’s life came full circle in a few different ways.

Another one of my personal heroes has been back in the news recently. She is a person that inspires me with her intelligence, perseverance and successes. What is also inspiring about her is the manner and grace she demonstrates while meeting these ongoing achievements.

Condoleezza Rice is easily one of the more accomplished people in the United States, or the world, for that matter. As an African-American woman born in the Deep South during the 50’s, she had plenty of opportunity to see the negative underbelly of racism in the United States. With strong parenting, personal commitment and sacrifice, she went on to get her BA, MA and a PhD.

As a child, she had hoped to become a concert pianist. While her professional life has taken her in other directions, she still practices and has performed with many world-renowned artists and for multiple heads of state.

If all of that wasn’t enough she holds the distinction of being:

  • 1st Female African-American to be U.S. Secretary of State
  • 2nd African-American to be U.S. Secretary of State
  • 2nd Female to be U.S. Secretary of State
  • 1st Female National Security Advisor for U.S.

With all that said, that isn’t what draws me to her as a hero. It is the grace, confidence and humility she demonstrates in her public life. We often see confidence demonstrated by successful (and many not nearly as successful) people. But all too frequently, that confidence and poise is held until there is challenge or disagreement. Then, that “confidence” sometimes turns less graceful. One of the things I find most impressive about Condoleezza Rice is the humility in which she handles herself.

With all of her accomplishments, no one would question her if she came across a little more arrogant or smug. Instead, she is always polite, professional, smiling and trying to understand the other person’s point-of-view – even if she disagrees. And she does this without personal attacks or compromising her own beliefs and principles.

This, I think, is one of the most important lessons to learn.

I’ve written a few times about the importance of good communications in business and in our personal lives. Communications challenges come in many forms today – oral, written, social media, etc., and all of them have lasting impacts. One of the most important things to remember is that the information itself is not the only message, but the manner in which it is conveyed can change everything.

Consider what a leading Professor of Psychology stated about a message concerning feelings:

  •  7% will like the message based on actual words
  • 38% will like based on tone of voice
  • 55% will like based on body language

Most of the time, how we communicate is more important than what we communicate in the text itself. Experiment with that on your own using a simple response with the word “what” in the sentence in different tones and postures and see the results.

George Carlin (once again, I’m dating myself) would do a entire monologue sometimes just using the different interpretations of a single word or phrase – but conveyed in different manners.

Observing “Condi” promote her latest book (Democracy) the past couple weeks has allowed me to get reacquainted with her qualities as a person and communicator. In the course of her book tour, she has been questioned on a number of topics ranging from President Trump to the North Korean threat to domestic situations. She has handled all of these with dignity and honestly – without sacrificing the integrity I’ve always appreciated from her.

As I’ve stated many times, clear and timely communications is a foundation for all of our success, personally and professionally. I’m always looking for examples of good communications to use inside and outside of my team, and Condoleezza Rice continues to be an excellent source.