The Enemy is Us
© By Jack Bogut
All rights reserved
He was a very confident, handsome, young man, maybe even a little cocky, but the difference between “cocky” and “self-confident” is sometimes hard to discern. In any event, he was very good at most of what he did, both socially and professionally, and he knew it.
Because he was so confident, he was spontaneous to a fault. You never knew for sure what he was going to do next. People loved to be around him because he generated fun and excitement. Because he was capable of spontaneity within acceptable limits (sometimes slightly outside), he was a natural born leader. He did things other people wanted to do second— not first. They waited to see if things were possible and then followed his lead. And because he was confident of himself, he could tap into his imagination and trust his judgment. That’s why he was such a good trainer—he commanded attention and communicated instinctively. His current project was Computer training for some of America’s largest Corporations.
He had been out late the night before the first training session for a new client. He knew he should have gone to his hotel early and gotten a good night’s sleep but he ignored his instincts and partied until the wee hours because he knew he could pull it off, even if he was a little off-balance. He overslept.
He was not in a panic when he arrived at the large meeting room in the hotel but he was a little frazzled. He had a routine that never varied and was a large part of his platform confidence and success:
· Arrive at least an hour ahead of time
· Personally supervise the equipment set-up
· Personally test the sound system and projectors
· Put on and test his wireless microphone from all corners of the room (he liked to wander around in the audience)
· Be standing by the doorway when the first person arrived and try to read their mood by engaging in some good-natured banter when they came into the room
This morning he arrived only twenty minutes instead of an hour ahead of time and quite a few people were already in the auditorium with more pouring in through the double doors at the back of the room. Nervously, he asked a technician standing on-stage if all of the equipment worked and the guy said,
“I hope so . . !”
The young man hurriedly did a quick test of the sound system:
“Hello, testing, one, two, three, four. . . can you hear me?
People in all corners of the room turned and looked at him. He checked the overhead projector—everything seemed to be OK, so he put a new battery in his wireless mike, pinned it on, and all of a sudden, didn’t feel so good. He glanced at his watch and saw that he had just enough time to go to the washroom across the hall.
Perhaps if the washroom had been a little farther away, the wireless microphone might not have worked so well. Or if he’d known it was on, he might have turned it off. . .
Nervous laughter greeted him when he opened the side door and stepped back into the auditorium. It followed him all the way up on stage. He didn’t understand why until he cleared his throat and heard the sound booming out of the speakers.
The audience tried to be polite and got very quiet when he rather tentatively opened the training session. And then the laughter started again. He was totally mystified until a woman in the front row mouthed the words, “Your fly is open,” and he, force of habit, repeated for the whole room to hear:
“My fly is open?”
And the entire audience answered,
Humility sometimes tastes bad.