Left Behind When Opportunity Strikes

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I’ve been asked by creatives over the years how they should prepare for their big break, whenever it may come. My answer is always simple. Practice your craft. After sharing, young hopefuls typically drop their shoulders, pout, and walk away feeling dejected. Why? Because they want an easy answer that doesn’t require weekly work.

When I was in grade school, I set a cup-and-ball pencil on my dresser and pretended it was a microphone. I placed a turntable next to it with a stack of records (called vinyl today). During the next two hours I practiced being a radio DJ. I talked about all kinds of things, then would transition my comments to introduce the next song and faded up the music.

I don’t know if it gave me the right skills, but it did make me comfortable in front of a microphone. By high school, I had my own radio show that was broadcast on an FM signal to a five-town area. I took requests and developed a small fan base. While taking mass communication classes at university, I produced several radio talk shows and an award-winning radio drama complete with music and sound effects.

It was never my intention to be a radio personality. But I did want to be ready for my big break in a different area, so I’d be able to do well in interviews.

There were side benefits to learning the skills. When my family was young, WGN Radio had an audio competition. Families could create and enter their own radio drama based on the new Disney Fantasmic show. The top winning families would not only have their show play on WGN Radio, but they would receive an all-expenses paid Disneyland trip to watch the premiere of Fantasmic. My family loved that vacation.

Since those days of practicing, I’ve looked back and considered how many of my skills have been increased and polished. People who see me use multiple skills across a breadth of experiences often ask, “How many skills do you have?” Again, my answer is simple—as many as I practice.

I’ve hosted three podcasts with a couple hundred episodes over the past few years and have been interviewed on television, radio and other podcasts. The skills I use were developed over time starting back in grade school. Even then I knew that one day I’d have to speak into a microphone as if it were second nature.

Over the past months, several people have talked about doing live streaming shows with me. I typically give them a shot if their ideas sound good, practical, and inspiring. Unfortunately, most people have great ideas, but they never practice for the day. Not even for a half hour at a time over the seven days leading up to the pilot.

When their opportunity comes, they aren’t able to show even a hint of preparation. The show is scrapped and they are left behind as I move forward to the next possibility.

I’ve never been able to figure out why so many people during the making of a pilot feel awkward when they hear their recorded voice. Everyone can harness their phone to record and playback daily practice sessions until they become accustom to the sound of their voice. The sessions don’t have to be anything more than reading a book out loud followed by listening to it.

When a person’s shot finally comes, those who practice can embrace the opportunity with a smile as they give their full effort to the project. Don’t be left behind. Take time this week to prepare for whatever hope you are expecting.

2021 by CJ Powers

Leadership is Choosing to be Responsible

Leadership is all about making a choice, while management is about following orders or a process. A leader comes along side of their team to inspire, motivate, and care for them. A manager broods over their team with a critical and analytical eye. These perspectives are not taught per se, but they are driven by two distinct cultures and how each addresses responsibility.

In a leadership culture, the individual leading a team chooses to be responsible. It is their choice. No one forces them to be responsible. They know what it takes for their team to be productive and effective—Productive work is work that matters for someone who cares. It requires some form of inspiration, the proper motivational environment, and the team of workers to care about the customer.

In a management culture, managers choose to do what is required, not necessarily taking on any responsibility. In some cases, a manager is forced by various pressures to meet a measurement and they funnel the same pressures and expectations to their team. The atmosphere is charged with critical and analytical business views that rise above any personal attention or care for a customer. Regardless of the process, hitting the final required numbers are the end-all and be-all of the job.

When a new family comes into play with a child’s birth, the parents must immediately act as a manager to protect their kid from danger. For some it means baby-proofing the house and setting strict rules such as do not cross the street without holding a parent’s hand. As the child grows and learns the differences between right and wrong, the parent must shift from being a manager and become a leader to guide the child through future years as a teacher, then coach, and finally as a friend.

The transition from manager to leader is critical to the success of the family structure and the emotional and mental wellbeing of the child. In households where the parents never transition, the children become cynical and rarely take responsibility for their actions. The kids grow into adulthood without ever understanding who is responsible for their life. This drives an entitlement that expects others, or the government, to take care of them—Welcome Generation Z.

The key is that management is ideal during a crisis or major market shift, while leadership is best for the remaining 95% of the time.

When the COVID crisis hit, government officials stepped up as managers in the name of saving millions of lives. Once the actual death toll (not accounting for inflated numbers and numbers never reported) became known as a fraction of the original concerns, the officials should have transitioned from managing the people to leading them.

Thanks to politics and the officials who loved their new-found power, the transition back to leadership did not happen. The officials did not want the responsibility of the health or financial issues of the people. In fact, most pushed the responsibility down to local small businesses stating that all future deaths are on the businesses that chose to stay open during the pandemic.

Regardless of the bad choices of others, or who wins the battle of survival between government officials trying to save lives by shutting down businesses and small businesses trying to stay open to care for their numerous employee families, each individual needs to decide to be a manager or a leader. Both are the right thing to do at the right times, and also the wrong thing to do at the wrong times.

Difficult decisions like that require us to take on the responsibility to make the right decision for such a time as this. The thing that makes this decision easier is knowing that 95% of the time taking the responsibility and leading your team or family forward is the right choice. We just need to be careful to switch to a management style during the onset of a crisis, and purposefully shift back to a leadership style when the initial wave of the crisis has been abated.

To be a leader we must take responsibility for our actions and decisions. Also, we must never expect anyone else to take care of us, especially if they don’t have our best interest at heart. Here is where Generation Z struggles, thinking that government has their best interest at heart—but that topic is for another day.

Take responsibility for your choices and actions. Manage when you must, to get out of crisis, but get back to leading again as quickly as possible. And, don’t be a follower only, for all too often you might wake up to the realization that you are following the wrong person, plan, or politics. It’s your life, so go after being the best you that you can be by taking the risk of being responsible for you.

Copyright © 2020 by CJ Powers

Church Strip Clubs and the Media’s Truth

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I read about two churches, in two different states, that were ordered by government officials to close in the name of COVID while those same officials allowed local strip clubs to remain open. Based on the specific language in the orders, the churches decided to notify the authorities that they were now strip clubs—One stating, “Where we strip the devil of his hold, power, and authority over people’s lives!” Yes, the churches stayed open in spite of the orders and have pending court dates.

The Supreme Court of the United States prevented the state of New York from upholding lockdown restrictions on houses of worship, writing, “Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”

In the meantime, the media has gone nutty in our area with over hyped fears that led up to Thanksgiving Day. Their exaggerated warnings focused on making it politically incorrect for families to share a meal and churches to have services.

The media’s main fear-based message highlighted the skyrocketing tests (up to around 150,000 per day at that time). The story swelled with references to a huge wave about to crash down on our society and overburden the hospitals. They did not report that large numbers of the people being tested had no symptoms and just wanted proof that they didn’t have the virus so they could get together with family.

Nor did the news share that the number of actual positive cases during this time was between 6-12%, depending on the day. That’s right, out of the 150,000 tests, less than 10% of the tests were positive. The news didn’t broadcast that information.

In fact, when the media started the fear hype, they didn’t inform the public that the number of confirmed positives was at only one person for every 20 tests, the lowest recorded in COVID history. That’s right, when the number of confirmed cases were at the lowest, the media started their fear hyping campaign.

While the hype continues, the media also leaves out information about the fatality rate. During this big Thanksgiving season hype campaign, the fatality rate dropped down to 2%. In fact, it’s been on a steady decline since May. Yes, a steady decline—so why the push for more lockdowns? Weren’t the lockdowns to reduce the death rate?

By the way, you can read all the data points at ourworldindata.com.

The numbers that haven’t been broadcast make it clear that the media is filtering out the truth. Or, as social media would express it, the networks are sharing “their truth.” Maybe it’s time for a new media company to step up and present just the facts and allow us to interpret them for ourselves.

© 2020 by CJ Powers