Public Speaking (1)

On Monday, I posted about how we can develop more confidence. Today’s blog is all about how we project it while speaking.

Projecting confidence while speaking or on stage is possible the most important thing that a speaker can do. It makes you more interesting, more believable and more genuine. It really is the silver bullet for being persuasive and being taken seriously. If it’s that important, however, why do many people miss their opportunity? For my money its because they haven’t worked through enough of the steps outlined in Monday’s post, but if you have, and you’ve built real confidence, here my top five ways to project it on stage:

Take The Stage With Energy

By stage, I mean the front of the room or whatever the speaking area is supposed to be. Attacking the stage with energy shows a willingness to accept the challenge and will be seen as confidence. It’s also a great way to start if you’re not entirely there yet, as the motion will create the emotion. One word of caution, however, use appropriate energy. Rushing the front of the room to deliver a eulogy won’t be taken nearly the way taking the stage to introduce a new product will. Use your best judgment about what the appropriate level of energy is for the situation.

Step Up To Speak

When  most people are given the microphone or an opportunity to address a group, their first instinct is usually to back away. That’s because public speaking isn’t a normal act and we all approach it with a certain amount of trepidation. To project confidence, take a step toward your audience when your turn comes. This is a subtle way to show how confident you are in your ability to command the room.

Look Them In The Eye

Don’t fall into the belief that just because you aren’t looking down, that you’re making eye contact. As you make your points, take the time to actually look your audience member in the eye. One of the lessons that my mentor gave me was “talk to one speak to all.” This means to single individual people out of your audience and talk to them while you are speaking, but do it in a way that everyone can hear you. It takes a lot of confidence to look people in the eye when you talk and everyone will feel it.

Talk to one, speak to all

Pause. Like. You. Mean. It.

One of the most difficult things a speaker can do is get comfortable with silence; those breaks in the conversation that allow our audience to digest what we’ve just said. The less confident we are, the more we get scared that we’ll be seen as incompetent or out of control if we stop speaking. It’s the reverse that’s true, however. The more confident we are, the more in control we will seem when we take our time and pause between thoughts. Commanding the room means knowing that your audience will wait for you to finish. Take your time and enjoy yourself.

Be Yourself

I used to coach my clients that the single most important factor in giving a great presentation was being authentic.  I still believe that it’s a critical component, but it takes a tremendous amount of confidence to be yourself in the front of the room. It can only happen when we’re comfortable enough in our own skin that we don’t have to pretend to be anyone else. When we are secure enough with who we are to stop playing a role and simply be ourselves, however, we make an honest connection with our audience and that’s the kind of confidence that people respond to.

Confidence is often the difference between a good performance and a great one. If we take the time to build it, and are able to project it on stage by taking it with energy, stepping up to speak, making real eye contact, pausing and being authentic, we’ll be well on our way to commanding the room.

One of the best ways to be confident is to be prepared. Click to download my Presentation Preparation Cheat Sheet. ppcs (1)

 

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When it comes to great public speaking, confidence is king. This is true of virtually anything, but when it comes to being great in presentations, there’s nothing that can set one apart like confidence, but where does it come from?

 In one of my favorite Facebook videos last week, Grant Cardone made the point that confidence is built by doing what makes you uncomfortable over and over again.

I would argue that this is true, but only partly so. Being scared to be on stage and going anyway will make you more confident, on stage. I’m not saying that the confidence built there won’t transfer, I’m saying that it’s only part of the equation. For my money, confidence is built in the following ways:

Keeping Commitments Made To Yourself

When I lost 100 pounds, I noticed that I had more confidence in every area of my life. Was it because I looked better in my clothes? Maybe, but it had more to do with the fact that I had proven to myself that I could keep a commitment to myself. Every time I followed through on my diet or went to the gym, I proved to myself that I keep my promises. This is a kind of confidence that transfers to every thing.

Being Prepared

In many ways, confidence comes from knowing that you’re prepared to speak. I’m not talking about a script to be read. I’m talking about knowing what it is you want your audience to remember and the story that you want to tell. Knowing you gave it your best in preparing for your presentation will give you confidence when you walk to the front of the room. Like the old saying goes, proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Knowing Your Audience

This might seem like an extension of being prepared, but it deserves to be mentioned on it’s own. When we know who will be listening to us and what they’re expecting, we can develop a strategy to meet that expectation. With the proper strategy, we will walk to into the room with confidence. Knowing your audience will also give you the confidence of knowing that your material has been tailored to their needs and that you should be able to find a friendly face. Know who you will be addressing, and it will make you instantly more confident.

Looking The Part

It may seem silly, but I see the suit that I wear every day as my modern day suit of armor. When I put it on, I feel bulletproof. Looking the part lets your audience know that you’re a professional, but more importantly, it lets you know it too. It might not be a suit for you, but make sure the fit is right and that whatever you put on, it gives you the bulletproof feeling of looking like a professional.

Do What You Fear

As Mr. Cardone mentioned, doing the thing you fear will make you conquer it. There’s a reason The Dale Carnegie Course has changed so many lives in the last 80 years. It forces people to get in front of their fears twice a week and talk and everyone feels some fear of doing this. When fear is conquered, confidence follows. I save it until last because it has to be a part of a bigger strategy. Getting up in front of the room unprepared and getting laughed at, will not make anyone more confident. However, following the other steps and then making the leap, will build tremendous amounts of confidence every time.

No matter the challenge, confidence is king when it comes to becoming great. If you want to become a great pubic speaker, I highly recommend keeping the commitments you make to yourself, being prepared, knowing your audience, looking the part and slaying your dragons. Your confidence will skyrocket and your performance will go with it.

To help you prepare, look for my Presentation Preparation Cheat Sheet available for download later today!

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In writing this blog, I realize that my grandfather is now spinning in his grave. His always said that he wanted the words NEVER VOTED FOR NIXON inscribed on his tombstone.

Despite what would be my grandfather’s objections, Richard Millhouse Nixon is absolutely worthy of mention in a series on persistence.

Born to a poor Quaker family in California Richard Nixon rose quickly, fell dramatically, rose again only to fall further.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that there are no second acts in American Life. I doubt Richard Nixon ever read that. After graduating from Wittier College, serving heroically in the Navy and obtaining a law degree from Duke Law School, Nixon was first elected to congress when he was 33. Ironically, it was the same year as his future nemesis, John F. Kennedy.

While in the House of Representatives, Nixon’s rise was sharp due to his service on the House Un-American Activities Committee and the outing of Alger Hiss as a communist.

Using his newfound fame as a springboard, Nixon ran for the Senate in 1948 at the age of 35. He ran a great campaign labeling Helen Gahagan Douglas (a former mistress of LBJ) as pink right down to her underwear. One need not agree with his tactics to see the brilliance of shifting attention away from his lack of a record and onto his opponent’s weaknesses. This shift helped him win the 1948 election and beat his then friend, JFK to the Senate.

Young, charismatic and with a reputation as a street fighter for conservative issues, Nixon was a logical choice in 1952 to help balance the Republican Party’s Presidential ticket with the older, moderate Dwight D. Eisenhower at the top.

From the beginning, his rough personality ruffled feathers and he almost suffered his first big fall when he was accused of taking kickbacks and establishing a slush fund. It was only a televised speech when he once again shifted attention away from himself and on to his family pet, their dog named Checkers, that saved him from being dropped from the ticket.

At the age of 38, Richard Nixon became our second youngest Vice President in our nation’s history.

It was quite a remarkable rise for a man with such humble beginnings. In the ten years between 1942, when Nixon first came to Washington DC to work for the Navy Department and 1952, he was elected to the House of Representatives at when he was 33, Senator when he was 35, and Vice President when he was 38.

And Then he lost.

The election of 1960 should have been the crowning of Richard Nixon’s career. The popular Vice President of a popular President should have easily beaten the catholic Senator of Massachusetts. But John F. Kennedy was no ordinary candidate and edged Mr. Nixon in a very close election.

In 1962, defeated, Nixon ran unsuccessfully ran for Governor in his home state of California. He lost again and this time added insult to injury by holding a disastrous press conference when he announced that the press “wouldn’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” Before he was 50 it seemed that his star had burned too brightly as the media once again wrote his premature obituary.

Then, in 1968, using a strategy that had become a hallmark of Nixon campaigns, he was able to find the right issue to distract, divide and discourage enough voters to make himself a viable candidate for President: Race.

As American cities burned over civil rights, Richard Nixon proclaimed himself to be Law and Order Candidate of America’s Silent Majority and with Hubert Humphrey refusing to distance himself from an unpopular President and an unpopular war, and George Wallace taking enough  white working class Democrats away, it was a message that resonated. He carried states that hadn’t gone Republican since Reconstruction and was elected President.

One might pick up on my cynicism in writing of Nixon’s victory. I do little to hide it. I believe he as able to exploit some our worst fears by appealing not the better angels of our nature but to something darker to win election to the Highest Office in the Land. I have very little respect for the tactics he used to get there and those are reasons why my Grandfather despised the man so much. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a tremendous amount of respect for the perseverance and yes, persistence that he showed in overcoming one of the biggest falls in American Political History.

Once President, his crowning achievement came in 1972 when he was reelected in a landslide. He was for a time, validated. That was until the Watergate Scandal forced him to resign in disgrace.  This was a fall to big that no amount of persistence could save him from.

His methods notwithstanding, the resourcefulness and hard work that Nixon showed between 1962 and 1968 is impressive and makes him a true Profile in Persistence.

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Public Speaking

In working with countless people looking to improve their communication skills, I’m always amazed at some of the completely untrue beliefs that dominate the area of public speaking. The following are the top five myths that need to die ASAP.

Myth # 1 I Can’t Speak, I’m an Introvert

During my Personal Branding workshop, one of the major points we cover about positioning ourselves as industry experts is speaking. Just about every time, someone will tell me, that can’t do it because they’re too introverted. Here’s the truth: introverts make the best speakers.One of the hallmarks of introversion is an increased amount of empathy and when that empathy is properly channeled, introverts can make a much stronger connection with their audience.

Myth # 2 Great Speakers Are Born

This fits hand in glove with is Myth #1. Public Speaking isn’t a natural act. It isn’t something that even the best come out of the womb ready to do. It’s true that some people are born with better tools than others, but learning the skills of using those tools takes instruction and practice. Great speakers aren’t born, they’re made.

Myth # 3 I Don’t Want To Sound Rehearsed, I’ll Just Wing It

Stiff and robotic speaker are boring, of this, there is no doubt. Do you what’s worse, though? Someone who wastes their audience’s time by not being prepared. There is a real difference between tightly scripting the movements and words of  presentation and being prepared. I coach my clients to script their opening and know how they will capture the attention of their audience and script their close so that they know the exact words they will leave their audience with and then know their points and the stories that back it up. This kind of plan will keep the speaker on message but still sounding fresh. Winging it is a recipe for disaster.

Myth # 4 My Slides Are Presentation, I Just Have To Narrate

PowerPoint and programs like it are a tool, they aren’t a crutch. Too many of my clients come to me with the belief that preparing means creating their slides. It’s like trying to chop down a tree with a hammer; it can be done, but it’s much more effective to use an ax. Slide presentations can enhance a presentation, but they can’t make one. I’m still looking for a law making it illegal to read slides to the audience. It’s just-just boring, it’s insulting. You are the message, your slides are just window dressing.

Myth # 5 The Audience Is Expecting Perfection and if I’m Not Perfect, They’ll Hate Me.

This myth is a big reason why speakers fear their audience. They’ve somehow convinced themselves that the audience is expecting perfection and will accept nothing less. The truth is, your audience doesn’t expect perfection, it just expects authenticity. They want you to be you and add value. This means you’re going to stumble. You’re going to miss a word here and there, all of this is expected and acceptable. Your audience wants you to do your best and give them value. What they won’t accept is someone that wastes their time  or is obviously fake. If you show up prepared, be yourself and add value, your audience will love you.

These myths are the proverbial tip of the iceberg, but they are to me the most glaring ones. If I’ve missed one, please leave a comment and remind me.

Also, if you struggle with your preparation, check back Monday as I will be releasing my Presentation Preparation Cheat Sheet. It’s the tool I always use to prepare for a presentation and I’m sure you will find it helpful.

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On Monday, I posted a blog about using this time of year as a second new year. Back to school season is a great time to reevaluate where we stand with our goals for the year and if necessary, make a new plan. I recently took  a good inventory of where I stood and realized that I had to get better at a couple of things if I were to achieve my goals for 2016.

One of the tools that helped bring me a lot of clarity was a recently released book by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy titled Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want.

It’s a terrific book that advocates creating a plan for your life that will serve as a navigation device to get from where you are to where you want to be.

I have to confess, I’ve never done anything like this before. I usually spend a couple of days every December creating a strategic plan for the coming year and I’ve found the plan to be incredibly valuable, but I’ve never created a lifelong plan.

I took a day last week and followed the steps outlined in the book and found a tremendous amount of value.

For one thing, the idea of fighting drift appealed to me. Drifting through life is something really easy to do and it’s something that I know quite a bit about. Not having a plan, eating whatever I wanted, allowed me to drift my way up to 330 pounds. No one sets out to be fat, broke and stupid, but without a plan, that’s where I found myself when I was 30. Without officially calling it a plan, I took control of my diet and my life and simply started paying attention. It was when I saw results, that I knew that I was on to something.

Using the process outlined in Living Forward, we can determine what’s most important to us, determine what we want our legacy to look like and uncover the action steps we must take to make that legacy a reality. In short, it’s like goal setting on steroids.

Goals and PlansNot only is the book worth the time to read and a value in and of itself, there is a host of online resources that are available to anyone for free. There are assessments to help you identify your priorities and take a measure of the balance in each of your life accounts as well as a Life Plan template that makes it easy to draft a complete plan. All of the tools are there, all you have to do is use them.

If you’ve felt drift at all in your life, or feel like you’d like to have a little more control of where you’re going, I highly recommend checking out Living Forward. The writing, the concepts, and the tools make the time you spend reading, thinking about and developing your plan an investment that will pay dividends for you in the very near future. 

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It will come as no secret after naming this series in homage to John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage that I have a great deal of admiration for our 35th President.

We have had few Presidents as debonair, charismatic or eloquent and for all of these qualities I look up to President Kennedy but his courage and persistence are characteristics that worthy of discussion as well.

It’s tempting to see a rich, handsome, and articulate politician and assume that his meteoric rise was a given, but that’s not the case with President Kennedy.

Popular lore is that Kennedy went into politics to please his father after his brother’s death and in certain respects, that’s been proven to be true, but it’s just as likely that if Joe Jr. had lived, John Kennedy would have sought some avenue of public service.

After returning from the Pacific a war hero, and following his brother’s death, John F. Kennedy was able to use his father’s money and connections as well as his own ambition to win election to The US House of Representatives at the age of 26.

When he was 35 he beat a powerful incumbent Senator with a name legendary in Massachusetts, Henry Cabot Lodge, and became one of the youngest men in the Senate.

It was a fast start that was capped off in 1956 when his name was placed in nomination for the Vice Presidency Of The United States and while he did not win the nomination, he did become the freshest face in Democratic politics.

And then he fell.

Unlike his hero Winston Churchill’s fall which was mostly self-inflicted and political, JFK suffered a fall much closer to the one suffered by his father’s nemesis, Franklin Roosevelt.

Despite going out of his way to display health and vigor, John F. Kennedy had never been a healthy man. Suffering from the autoimmune disease Addison’s Disease and a bad back that was mostly the result of a war injury, it was his health that almost knocked him out of politics in 1957.

Kennedy was warned of the risks that someone in his condition was facing having surgery when he opted for back surgery in 1957. It would be nearly impossible to control infection due to his other ailments but he decided to risk it anyway.

his father tried to talk him out of the procedure, but Kennedy was determined to have the operation saying he’d rather die than spend the rest of his life on crutches.

At first, the operation looked like a success but then infection set in and more than once before he recovered, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was administered last rights.

It was unknown for weeks if he would live. It took longer still to know whether or not he would walk again. He contemplated retiring from politics because he saw not future for his ambitions.

It was during this dark period in his life when his wife suggested he write and while a way from the Senate he ad Theodore Sorenson wrote what would become the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles In Courage.

Buoyed by its success, little by little JFK got stronger and in 1958, was reelected to the Senate in a landside.

During the 1960 Presidential Primaries, he fought back discrimination over his Catholic faith and won his parties nomination for President. Then defeated Vice President Richard Nixon to win the White House.

On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as President Of The United States. He was the first and remains the only Catholic to ever do so.

Yes, President Kennedy was given an advantage that helped him to succeed early in life, but nothing could insulate him from the problems his health caused. It was by sheer determination, hard work, and persistence that he was able to overcome the impossible odds to hold our nation’s highest office and it’s this climb back from the brink that makes him a true Profile In Persistence.

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I have outlined before my belief that everyone should be writing and putting out content, but I always get pushback that consists of either 1. I don’t have time or 2. I don’t have anything to say.

When I encountered this discussion with a client last week, I realized that I hadn’t shared  the number one key for blog content. Here it is: Write It.

The number one key for blog content is to be consistent with writing content. When people tell me that they don’t have time, I ask what they’ve written. Most of the time, they haven’t, they just use their reason. When they tell me that they have nothing to say, I ask them, what they’ve written and they tell me again that they haven’t. My point is that they don’t know if we have the time or if they have some thing to say because they never try, to begin with.

Being consistent is simple but it isn’t easy. Here are five things I do that keep me consistently writing.

Block The Time

When I wrote about winning the morning, I wrote about the importance of blocking time because what gets scheduled gets done. Block yourself 30 minutes every day to write something. Some times it will be good, a few times it will be great and some times it will be worthless, but do it every day and it gets easier.

Minimize Distraction

20160817_153023-1I write just about every post from this position with this laptop. I have the wifi turned off, I face a wall and I stand up. I do these things because it keeps me focused on the task at hand and allows me to make the most the time I block out.

Keep a List

Google Keep is the best application you aren’t using and this is why a lot of people have nothing to say. Every time an idea hits me, I record it in Keep. If it’s good, I play with it, if it’s bad, I dump it, but I always record it and give it time to live before letting it die from neglect.

Rethink Your Reading List

It is my firm belief that if you have nothing to say its because you aren’t consistently feeding your mind by reading. Start with books, but also checkout the website and mobile application Bloglovin.com with will help find for you all of the blogs available on any given subject. I’m not advocating  plagiarism, but when we feed our minds, ideas grow.

Expect It of Yourself

Every personal development guru talks about raising our personal standards.  For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what that meant. That was until I started simply expecting more from myself. I do not expect myself to write War and Peace four times a week, but I do expect that I will put my best 500 words together about a topic that I’m passionate about. It happens because I expect it from myself.

I have written before that there are fewer ways for someone to establish themselves as an expert than by posting a blog. I still believe this. Too many people will read this and think that it isn’t for them, but I know that if their fingers could hit the keys with more consistency, they’d amaze themselves with their progress.

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I’ve stated before that all of us are in the persuasion profession. Every one of us, in order to be successful, must at some point sell our ideas. This is why I believe that all of us need to sharpen our communication skills and be able to use language effectively to tell a compelling story and inspire action.

The one skill however that I believe will take you further than any other however isn’t learning to speak well. I believe that the most important skill to master above all is effective listening.

I say effective listening because that’s not what most people do. Most people listen for space in the conversation so that they can add more of their opinions. Mastering the skills of truly effective listening has three parts. Check them out and see how many you’ve conquered

Basic Listening:

This is where it all starts. We’re in the game and in the conversation. we hear what’s being said and we’re able to process enough of the conversation to keep it moving and our partner talking.

Active Listening:

The next level of listening has us observing more than just the words. At the active stage, we pick up on the tone that’s being used and the speaker’s body language. We begin to use more than one of our senses to color the context of the conversation.  We hear the words, we hear the tone and we see the gestures and expressions that tie it together.

Engaged Listening:

To be a truly effective listener, we must be engaged. True engagement takes both of the previous levels and adds something that’s hard to teach. The most effective listener hears not only what’s being said, but what the speaker doesn’t say as well. There’s an old saying that says that there are three sides to every story, my side, your side and the truth. Often times, speakers will purposefully not include things we they speak so that they can hide their truest feelings. Fully engaged and effective listeners hear this too. Hear isn’t really the right word, so much as feel it. I’ve been in the position myself when my price was right, my terms were good, but I still missed the sale. There was another reason, but I didn’t hear it because it wasn’t said.

Becoming and Engaged Level Listener requires tremendous discipline. It requires us to become comfortable with silence in the conversation and adept at asking questions that keep the speaker comfortable and talking. Most of all, it requires practice.

Mastering the art of listening is the most valuable skill we can develop. While most of us give a great deal of thought to how we present our ideas, we give comparatively little thought to how we hear others. Start really listening, hearing and observing today, though, and everyone you speak with will notice.

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When I was writing Friday’s post about being a Corporate Athlete, I spent some time reflecting on my own “athletic career” that other than being the best right-handed first baseman in Little League, consisted on High School Basketball.

What I remember more than anything about basketball in high school was playing on the same team as the best player in our league. His name was Ben and he wasn’t the tallest, fastest or even the most athletic guy on any team, but he scored the most points, got the most rebounds and carried our team to victory.

The crazy thing about Ben was that he wasn’t good at a lot  of the skills important to being a great basketball player. He wasn’t a good shooter and was a terrible ball handler. What made Ben great was rebounding. He had a great instinct for where the ball was going to go and how to get it. Once he got it, he was really good at putting it in the hole from three feet. He made a great career out of being in the right place at the right time and making the most of it. While that’s a great skill to cultivate, it’s not the point of this post.

The point is about how Ben practiced. How much time do you think he devoted to doing the things he was bad at in practice, the shooting and ball handling? Zero. Ben knew that he helped our team best when rebounded and put it back in the basket and that’s where he focused his energy.

If he had put all of his energy into shooting and ball handling, Ben could have made himself average. Average wouldn’t have helped us. Average wouldn’t have won us games. By throwing all of his energy and focus into what he was already really good at, he became great, and it was his greatness that carried us to victory more times than not.

The unfortunate truth is that most of us when we train, try to better develop our weaknesses and ignore our strengths. We practice really hard at the things we aren’t good at and forget about those that we do really well. Worst yet, some of us don’t know what it is that we do really well, to begin with.

All of this focus on our weaknesses most of the time leaves us average when we had it in us to be great.

We all have something that we do really well. It may be a head for numbers, a way with words or an ability to inspire your team, regardless of what it might be, we should spend our energies and our focus on those things. Take our good and make it great. That’s how the greatest in history made it. They found what they did well and then hustled like crazy to make themselves the best at it.

What’s your skill? What are you really good at doing? Once you figure that out, spend your time learning, developing and practicing it until you’re great and don’t worry about your weaknesses. That’s what the average people do.

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It would kill Lyndon Johnson to know that he’s been a forgotten hero in American History. Distrusted by liberals and vilified by conservatives, his contributions to American Life have been diminished by almost everyone. It’s kind of sad really.

The story of Lyndon Johnson is a distinctly American story. In no other country in the world could someone raised in the kind of obscure poverty that Johnson was trapped into, rise to Highest Office in the Land. It’s a story of raw ambition, determination and above all persistence.

Life in the Hill Country of West Texas was a hard one. Johnson’s family at one time had had money but through a series of bad decisions lost it by the time Lyndon was born in a log cabin in 1908.

He was, from an early age, convinced that he was destined for greatness. One of my favorite stories about him is that when he went to school in the one-room building, all of the children had to write their names on the chalkboard before using the outhouse. Most of the children, embarrassed, would write their names very small at the bottom. Not Lyndon. He would scrawl the words L Y N D ON  B A I N E S  J O H N S O N across the entire board.

Before he was 20, he was considered the Wonder Kid of Texas Politics from his work in a State Senate Race. After graduating from the tiniest of colleges and short stint teaching school, he became what was essentially the Chief of Staff to a US Congressman and was running an entire Congressional office at the age of 23.

When LBJ was 26, he was appointed Director of the Texas Branch of the National Youth Administration, making him the youngest State Level Director of any New Deal Program.

At 27 he was elected to Congress himself running on the theme of “Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt”

His passion for FDR and vocal support of the President’s Court Packing plan earned him a meeting with the Roosevelt before he was even sworn in. Riding on train with FDR, he impressed the old man so much that the President remarked to an aide:

He’s the kind of uninhibited young pro I might have been as a young manif I hadn’t gone to Harvard.

A pattern in the life of Lyndon Johnson was a skill at befriending older men that could help advance his ambition but he had never had patron as powerful as Roosevelt. He used his power to climb quickly in the house and especially through the Texas Delegation as virtually all Texas patronage passed through his office.

And then Franklin Roosevelt died.

The bright young man with close ties to the White House lost his influence and at the age of 37 was no longer the young, up and coming sensation.

The young man that so desperately had to stand out, the boy that wrote                             L Y N D ON  B A I N E S  J O H N S O N across the chalkboard couldn’t stand being just one in the crowd and almost faded into obscurity. The years between 1944 and 1948 were the most difficult of his life and he almost retired from politics to return to Texas.

But then he climbed again. In a nasty election for a United States Senate seat that was eventually decided in court, Lyndon Johnson began to rise once again and found himself in the United States Senate.

Following his pattern of finding older men to help him, he began a rise that had never been seen before and likely will not be seen again. Becoming first Minority Leader and then Majority Leader of the World’s Finest Deliberative Body, Lyndon Johnson made the Senate work again and he did it with raw ambition, determination and persistence.

The culmination of his power was the passage in 1957 of the first Civil Rights Act to be passed by the Federal Government since reconstruction. The story of the passage of this bill which was written in Robert Caro’s brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Years Of Lyndon Johnson: Master Of The Senate, shows that he is in fact a forgotten hero. His methods weren’t always honorable, but the results surely were.

After waiting too long to enter the 1960 Presidential Race, Johnson had to settle for the second spot on the Democratic Ticket but his dreams of being the Most Powerful Vice President In History were foiled. It looked like he would once again fade into obscurity until the events of Dallas 1963 placed him in the Highest Office in the Land.

President Johnson has a mixed legacy. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, and The Great Society are darkened by his failures in Viet Nam and the beginning of the trust gap and he knew it.

I left the woman I love, The Great Society, to get in bed with the bitch of a woman, Viet Nam.

Despite his legacy and the forgotten achievements of a poor kid from Hill Country Texas, Lyndon Johnson deserves to be listed as a Profile In Persistence. His early rise, his deep fall and his meteoric rise again show that there are second acts in American Life. He proves that the only limit we get on second chances is the number we are willing to take.

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