Chris Cuts the Cake
I ran across this photo of Chris Maddock and me. It was taken 17 years ago.
Chris has been helping Wizard Academy students become better writers for the past 19 years. One of the secrets of his success is, “Show. Don’t tell.”
Zig Ziglar stood at a whiteboard smiling at me and the 19 other young managers who were trembling with excitement at having been chosen to be in that room with him. I was 26 years old.
Zig was a legend.
Marker in hand, he said, “Name for me every attribute of the perfect employee.” As we called out attributes, Zig wrote them down. We had nearly 90 on the board before we began to slow.
“Can you think of any others?” We struggled to name a few more.
“Think hard. I want you to describe the perfect employee. I need every attribute.” We studied that whiteboard until we began to sweat. We got to 114.
Pointing at the first word on our list, Zig asked, “Is this a skill or an attitude?” We said it was an attitude. Zig wrote a big “A” next to it. Pointing at the second word, he asked, “Skill or attitude?” Another big “A.”
Twenty minutes later, Zig tallied the final score: of the 114 attributes on our list, only 7 could be classified as “Skills.” Five were “Skills/Attitudes,” and a whopping 102 of them were purely “Attitude.”
Zig could have saved himself 30 minutes by just blurting out the punch line: “Employees don’t lose their jobs because they lack skill. They lose their jobs because they don’t have a good attitude.”
But Zig didn’t try to convince us. He wanted us to realize the truth for ourselves.
Zig knew the power of “Show. Don’t tell.”
And now you do, too.
– Roy H. Williams