I feel comfortable sharing a very complex concept about essence in this short space. Please bear with me.
Essence is a difficult word to define. The meaning can range from the basic (the real and invariable nature of a thing) to a substance obtained from distillation (maybe bourbon later this evening?). I also like the philosophical definition – the true substance, the inward nature of a thing. The constitution of something.
What is your essence?
By way of example, in the speaking profession a popular coach, Lee Glickstein, teaches a process to obtain essence feedback in which audience members report back on the essence of the speaker in one word. They do this with no content feedback. In other words, what did you feel from the speaker beyond what they said? It might be something like authentic, comforted, motivated, mad, etc.
Exploring this essence, beyond the words is very telling.
For instance, have you ever described someone as accessible? What made you think that?
How about powerful? Commanding? Masterful?
As leaders our words and our actions as well as our presence leave a residue. Long after the words or scenario is forgotten people have a sense of us.
Can we control that essence? Hmm.
Each person is different. Each person may experience us differently. True. We also play a big part in the residue we leave behind. Our moods, level of pressure, etc. all come into play.
Step 1 is to be aware of your essence and get some feedback. Once you’re aware of the various feelings you’re generating, you can use this knowledge consciously as you do your work.
For example, I learned something about my interactions with one particular co-worker. I have high expectations for this person. They are really talented. Not fully realizing it, the essence of my interactions with this person was impatience. Knowing that allowed me to make some adjustments.
To do this week: Designate a confidante to follow you around this week. Explain essence feedback to them and have them provide the one word essence they observe for each interaction they witness. Give us a call. We can help you interpret what you’re hearing.
Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.