Saturday, May 9, 2009

Obama - Living in His Strength Zone

Two years ago when the race for the leadership of the democrat party (and ultimately the presidency of the US) really began to heat up, I asked one of my American colleagues who he thought would win. He told me he was sure it would not be Obama....not because of the color of his skin but because his name was Barrack Hussein Obama and there was no way the American people would pick a leader with a name that was so similar to two of the most recent and most insidious US arch enemies. Not to mention that fact that most Americans had never even heard of him before.

Note that the colleague I talked with is well informed, highly educated and highly intelligent and was not alone in his prediction. Many people anticipated that Obama would be lucky to win the Democratic nomination and would definitely not become the next president.

But, here we are two years later and Obama not only beat out Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination but also beat out John McCain to become President of the United States!

So what happened? How did Obama overcome the negative publicity surrounding his name, his color, his religious orientation, etc. and prove everyone wrong as he became the president of the United States.

I know there are many reasons for Obama's success including his branding and marketing team, his campaign team, the celebrities that endorsed him (Oprah, Ted Kennedy, Colin Powell) and the massive funding that he was able to raise.

However, I believe that one of the biggest reasons Obama was able to pull off this underdog win was because he worked within his Strength Zone. He knew exactly what his strengths were and he stuck with these strengths as much as possible....and still is.

Obama's biggest strength has to be his communication skills. This truly is his Strength Zone. He is an amazing, charismatic, smooth and inspiring speaker.....when presenting a pre-practiced speech. When he has to communicate in an "off-the cuff" format, he is not nearly as impressive. Obama had very few election stumbles. In fact the only ones I remember were related to questions being asked of him where he did not have a pre-planned response. Some of these questions resulted in immediate bad press and a follow-up press conference was required to clarify his previous statements...sometimes the clarifications were 180 degrees different from the original statement.

To this end, when the Republicans were challenging Obama to a town hall format presidential debate, where the questions would be unpredictable and Obama would have to think on his feet and provide off the cuff answers, the Democrats pushed back and did not allow this. They wanted Obama to work in his Strength Zone....and he did excellent during the debates and for every other pre-prepared speech opportunity! The public has almost always seen a well prepared, smooth and charismatic Obama.

I believe this is one of the biggest reasons Obama is now the president of the United States....he stuck to what he did best and worked in his Strength Zone.

Defining and living in your Strength Zone is critical to your success no matter what your role in life. There is no telling what you can accomplish if you follow this simple little strategy!

A graduate from the University of Alberta in 1989 with a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, David M. Taylor is a professional engineer with nineteen years of electrical engineering and project management experience. Over the past ten years, he has held project management and leadership roles, working with management and staff to improve overall performance in the development and implementation of business and project execution standards in North America, Europe and Asia.


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