Thursday, January 18, 2007


While I get high scores in a survey of several hundred stakeholders, e.g., elected officials, other government officials, university and business leaders and visitor sector leaders, I have a small group of important people with whom I’ve had problems. Thanks to the generosity of my governing board, I retained a coach who anonymously interviewed some members of this group.

It always takes me a day or two to absorb anecdotal input like this. What can I change? What do I really want to change? What change will have any effect on perceptions? What can I change without undermining an overall strength?

The input is useful. I can do better at explaining research, which is the only way I know how to recommend spending millions of dollars. How can I continue to be a critical thinker without people feeling I’m negative? How can I be more tolerant of people who make their decisions from the gut with nothing whatsoever to back it up?

One comment was particularly amusing. “Reyn expects people to be accountable for what they say.” This was under challenges. Duh! I have spotted some things I can easily work on, although the temptation is to try to improve everything. One is to explain research by summarizing it first…. I don’t have to always give the “why.”

I can improve speaking in phrases or sentences vs. paragraphs. I don’t have to respond to every request. I can just let some go by without appearing to be unresponsive.

One area I can’t improve: Some people noted concern that my hands have a tremor, and now it is moving into my voice on occasion. I’ve had this since I was eight… diagnosed since I was 18. I’ve always known from the initial diagnosis that, while not degenerative, it will get worse and worse. There’s nothing I can do. Even the medication that helps for a while will become ineffective.

It’s a bit embarrassing to see people distracted by it. It’s rarely because I’m nervous or because of something or some issue in discussion. The coach recommends that I explain it up front. That’s good advice if it’s a new group each time. But what about the people who’ve heard it ten times….will they think I’m making excuses?

You know what? Feedback like this is useful. I can always improve. But I didn’t get to where I am by worrying about what people think. I can’t lose sight of that.

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