Coffee Conversations Ep. 11: I Am the Message

June 16, 2021
  • David VanderMolen
  • David VanderMolen
    Learning Sensei at Barry-Wehmiller
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We’ve all heard the phrase “Don't judge a book by its cover.” 

It suggests that we should look for more than what is obvious externally and go beneath the surface to find the true nature of something. It’s a timeless saying and wise words to live by. People are more than what they appear to be on the surface. Way more!

In contrast, there is something to be said about the “cover” or the observable traits we see on the surface of people we’re around.

Of the many concepts we teach within Barry-Wehmiller University, one is primal and foundational – it is what we affectionately refer to as “I am the Message” model. In short, the model speaks to the ideas that we are all messages to the world around us. We are messengers with a message per se. We are our own message, the message of Barry-Wehmiller or the message of that which we wish to perpetuate here on the planet. We are the message 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, for 365-days a year!  

Since we are constantly the message, there is one question to consider in pursuit of personal growth. “Am I “on” message or “off” message?

This is one of the most challenging questions to ask ourselves in life and leadership. Since it’s assumed we’re all going to be a message, the transformative question for growth is what kind of message will I be to those in my span of care or the community at large today? In the next hour or over the course of next several minutes?

Since our behaviors, postures and intentions, along with our tone of voice, word choice, demeanor and ways of relating to people come together to form my message, what we do, how we behave is rather important.

In leadership, those around us have both license and liberty to evaluate and assess leadership based on the observable and immediate information they have at hand, which in most cases is my observable behavior. When I am “on” message, it favors my leadership. When I am “off” message, there can be many unfavorable consequences to my leadership. 

When you realize you are “off” message, choose to return to the behaviors that define you and align to your message. When you recognize you are “on” message, choose to reinforce those behaviors with even more on-point behaviors to amp up your message. 

Reflect on this...

  • What is “my” message?
  • In this moment, is my life and leadership “on” or “off" message?
  • What one action, choice or task will I take to ensure I return to being “on” message?
  • What one action, choice or task will I take to ensure I reinforce or amp up my message?

David VanderMolen is a professor in Barry-Wehmiller University and the host of Coffee Conversations. You can find all past episodes here.


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