Contribution Is Key
March 2, 2016
The Spring book is right around the corner and regardless of your job title, you are likely preparing to go into battle and win! Programmers are tightening up the music library. Morning shows are refining their content. Imaging directors are producing promos for the upcoming cash giveaway.
But stop for a moment today and ask yourself WHY you want to win? What drives you? What need does being #1 fulfill for you?
According to Tony Robbins, there are 6 basic human needs that we all have. Every behavior we exhibit, both positive and negative, is in some way trying to fulfill the following needs:
- Certainty - The assurance we can avoid pain and gain pleasure
- Uncertainty - The need to experience the unknown; to find new stimuli
- Significance - Feeling unique, important, special, or needed
- Love/Connection - Self-explanatory, although many of us fear love and just settle for connection.
- Growth - An expansion of capacity, capability, or understanding
- Contribution - A sense of service and focus on helping, giving to, and supporting others.
The first two needs present an interesting paradox, because while uncertainty is a need for every person, most of us try to live life in our comfort zone and avoid it at all costs. Thus, if your desire to win is motivated by certainty (that corporate will love you, that you will stay employed, that you will keep cashing those checks), you will eventually find yourself frustrated since ratings will never stay the same for long. Audience share is always increasing or declining. So the minute your competitor gets a PPM panelist and sees an increase in numbers, it's going to stress you out. As a result, you will try to find certainty by artificially controlling your circumstances and the people around you. That typically doesn't end well.
The "significance trap" always hindered me and left me feeling unfulfilled. Through much of my career, I attributed my feelings of self-importance to ratings success, bigger job titles, and market size. If this is your biggest need, what will happen when the ratings decline? What happens when you don't get the big market job you applied for? Does it make you any less important? Of course not! In fact, you are likely the same programmer or air talent when you're in fifth place as you were when you were #1.
If work is your primary source of significance, you aren't alone. We live in a culture where we all look externally to find meaning. If we're not finding it through our job, then it comes through getting the most social media likes. We're addicted to feedback. The new Facebook "like system" actually led one female friend of mine to publicly post that it was no longer good enough for people to like her selfies, they now had to love them. I'm not sure that was as much of a joke as she wanted everyone to believe.
And perhaps that ties into our fourth need for love and connection. For many air talents, getting the most listeners and the biggest number of followers equates to love. It's also why you see so many radio people who always have to be "on," even when there are no listeners present. As I learned first-hand, when your on-air and social media persona become your primary means of connection, you will eventually lose track of who you authentically are. And being authentic is the most important element to building relationships that go beyond surface level.
The challenge with the first four needs that I just described are that they are needs of the personality. They play to our ego, which never leads us to lasting fulfillment. It's once we experience growth and contribution that we begin to satisfy the needs of the soul.
As Tony Robbins says, "if we aren't growing, we're dying." This is true in business and in relationships. If your desire to be #1 in radio is based on a need to expand your own knowledge and capabilities, you are on the right track! However, is there a deeper meaning that we really seek when we push ourselves to grow? I think so. I believe that when we grow, we actually find more that we can give.
The quality of your life will radically shift when you realize the secret is not in getting. It's actually in giving. Thus, your fulfillment and final legacy will be determined by your contributions.
You can contribute in a variety of ways, including passing on your skills and knowledge to the generation who are coming up behind you. For all of the things I'm proud of in my radio career, the most gratifying is when I see the people I mentored go on to achieve the highest levels of success in major markets.
Contribution can also yield success when you focus on giving value to listeners rather than shareholders. How are you serving your listeners? Is your major spring promotion just about fishing for more social media likes? Or do you have a strategy to make a difference in the community? Are you resting on your "50-minute music hour?" Or are you out making the 1-to-1 connection with your audience?
As author Steven Pressfield says in his book, The War of Art:
"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got."
Struggling to figure out your greater contribution in life? I'd love to help. I'm giving away a FREE, 25-minute, "Discover Your Strengths" Clarity Session to the first 5 All Access Readers to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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