Are you “performing” or “expressing”?

After being on the road the past two weeks, I’m reminded that I have some incredible clients and when I’m working with them, I inevitably learn as much as I teach.

One of my insights this past few days was the difference between “performing” and “expressing.”

One audience I was very familiar with. I had been in front of this organization many times, and the group of leaders who knew me well were introducing me to a new division of the company. They built me up to those who hadn’t heard me before and told everyone to expect “amazing things” from my presentation.

With my ego bolstered, I stood up on stage, proudly determined I was going to exceed expectations and went into a “performance” mode for my presentation. I did well, delivered a good message, and inspired the audience.

But I’m not sure I had the same kind of impact there that I did the next day with an entirely difference audience. In that presentation I acknowledged (within myself) my nervousness and fear of failure, that otherwise would have been covered up with false pride, went into my heart, and “expressed” my message – with what I felt was a deeper connection, impact, and authentic power.

I find it interesting that we call feedback in the workplace a “performance” review. What if we called it an “expression” review? What if we focused more on expression and less on performance? What if we concentrated as much on our “to be” list as we do on our “to do” list? While performance has a place, what if we realized that our most powerful impact comes from our presence, not our performance?