Back to Classicism

07/11/2011
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After an unusually busy summer I decided to take a week off and go for a training camp in Croatia. I was hoping that physical exercise would oxygenate my brain and help me see things clearly again. A year of sixteen-hour work days had started to take a toll on my creativity, quality of labor outcome, health and my personal life. I arrived to Croatia hungry for a gulp of energy and clarity. Later I realized I was in a quest for balance.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one with the same goal in the camp. “I’ve recently received a Gold card for a local sports club. They measured my physical condition and told me I’ve got too much muscle mass, and that particularly my legs are too strong. Because of that I am not using other groups of muscles that I should employ during exercise. I’ve lost my balance,” a good friend told me, a tae-bo trainer who conducts her own lessons twice a week.

I was surprised by her statement. One would say that somebody who trains regularly is closer to mental and physical balance than many of us who forget ourselves in our offices. However, even with physical activity, you can lose your balance if you focus your energy too much on one part of your body. You are the result of where you direct your energy, the old saying goes. So, who are we?

Hard to get, easy to lose

The discussion with my friend made me realize two things. Balance is a lifelong work and achievement. It’s a matter of awareness and constant conscious effort to pour the right ingredients in the right quantity to keep things on the right track. Last year I thought I had found my balance. I was wrong. I thought my balance would stay with me without effort. After prioritizing work since September 2010, I smoothly arrived to the point where I had to look at myself in disbelief, acknowledge the loss I was experiencing, and ask myself: how on Earth did I get here? In short: balance needs constant consideration and pro-active time investment. We need balance between our body, soul, brain and heart. Otherwise it’s the life that lives us, not the other way round.

Back to classicism 

The second conclusion is that, in some sort of convoluted way, we’re going back to classicism. What was the fundamental principle of classicism? Focus: one thought at a time, in one place and in one segment of time. Intoxicated by the amount of information we receive and must process daily, we go back to the simplicity and elegance of classicism. The most painful tragedies of classic literature were solved with a stoic view of the world, and the understanding that we need to flow with the water and accept what we cannot change. Conscious of our duties, we need to accept our limits – of our body, mind, and spirit – and live with it. It won’t make us less worthy of respect and love. It won’t mean we are failures. The winner of today is the stoic leader who understands the need for balance and acts based on focus and lean principles. It’s a lifelong mission and work, but somehow, deep inside, I feel it’s worth the effort.

What does it mean for communication?

When I talk to fellow reporters for media audits that I conduct for my clients, there is one thing that constantly comes up. “We need to receive information regularly. Press releases are good as long as they have a story and context. On the other hand, we need personal contact, physical meetings with the company representatives and informal talk. We need to understand what’s going on in the life of a company on a regular basis,” reporters say.

The basis of any relationship is trust, regular contact and support. To build trust, you need to know each other face to face. To ensure regular contact, it’s not enough to cannon fluffy product press releases twice a week, then for two weeks nothing. Direct phone calls of pure human interest and informal meetings are highly recommended to bring balance into your media relations.

Last but not least, when reporters need something, you need to be able to support them consistently and timely, with the right materials and information at the right moment. Those companies that believe in the power of media relations and receive most coverage are those who invest in long-term personal relationships with media reps. It’s not just about pushing a story through. It’s about pitching the reporter a good story idea even when it doesn’t expose you directly. It’s about giving and receiving, constantly. Quality media relations are a matter of balance.

Maybe I should go to Croatia more often.

THIS TEXT HAS FIRST BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE COLUMN MEDIAPOWER BY LEADERS MAGAZINE ON NOVEMBER 7, 2011 http://www.leadersmagazine.cz/2011/11/07/back-to-classicism/#.UuCsU7RNyM8

I focus on strategic communications, emotional and systemic intelligence and personal and organization leadership. I help leaders and future leaders to develop their strategic communication skills, to build reputable personal brands and to boost their team and organizational leadership. I support individuals, teams and organizations through advisory, training, coaching and mentoring services.

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