So… anyone who knows me knows I do a so-so impersonation of the Cowardly Lion of The Wizard of Oz. I found out I could do the voice in high school when I was practicing for my audition for the Wizard of Oz play. I practiced the lion voice for weeks in front of the mirror.
I studied everything I could about the cowardly lion. I watch the movie at least 20 times, repeating every line and gesture that he did. But I was scared. No, not just scared, I was super-afraid.
Part of my lack of courage came from the fact that it was my first year at the school, and many of the other auditioners already had years of drama experience. When it came time for the audition… I was first in line. I didn’t know how my classmates would react.
I was so nervous I thought I would pass out. Still, I stood up there and told myself that I had to do it and that afterward I would be glad I did. I remember the scene: where Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tinman meet the lion… after the lion gets slapped in the nose and starts to cry.
“I didn’t bite him! You didn’t have to hit me! You hurt my little nose!” After I got done performing, the entire auditorium burst into cheers. I about fell down to the floor. The girl beside me grabbed my arm. “Oh my god, are you alright? You’re shaking,” she said.
Shaking was an understatement. I was in the full-blown-super-jitters. I could barely stand my knees were so weak. I put everything I had into delivering the best audition I could… And then I had to wait. And wait. And wait.
And finally the results came back the next day: I got the part! They said I did the best lion out of like 12 other people. I was stoked. This was my big chance to show myself and everyone else that I could be an entertainer. So… I did the Cowardly Lion, and I got a lot of praise for it.
To tell you the truth, I’ve never felt as loved and appreciated in my whole life. The experience showed me that a little talent, practice of skill, and the right opportunity can lead to huge results. I always had the ability to do it in me, I just had to push myself and focus on doing the best job I could. 3 Years later, I was goofing around and did a YouTube parody of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” called “I Kissed Dorothy” …
Well, I won’t spoil it for you… but it got over 20,000 views or something. I couldn’t believe that it got that many views in such a short time, and it wasn’t even advertised. Actually, I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you this or not, but YouTube liked the video so much that they wanted to share advertising revenue with me for each view of the video. I turned them down. Now, before you go all “what the heck” on me, let me explain.
I used the background instrumentals of the song and some of her lyrics, so the whole video is not an “original” compilation. It’s a parody that uses elements of her song, but the copyright to the instrumental is Katy Perry’s record company… so I didn’t want to have to deal with any legal implications of accepting payouts from YouTube. Sorry, but that’s just not for me.
Anyways, I constantly get hounded by people I see out in public to do the lion impersonation. At first I thought: Seriously people? Don’t you have lives? Can’t we move on? Then I realized: Apparently not. And, because a good leader talks in terms of what people want, I decided to make this special, exclusive, Mass Influence Leadership blog readers only, YouTube video of me doing the lion impersonation.
Warning: I don’t think I’m “That” good at it, but apparently everyone else finds it’s funny. Maybe they’re just laughing at me, rather than the impression? I don’t know. You decide: Anyways, now that we got that out of the way… This whole post was supposed to be about “Secret Skills.” The thing is: As a leader, you have the ability to achieve your goals.
You just have to uncover what makes you unique, and hone your skills to showcase your unique abilities. In my case, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be playing the cowardly lion, or that I would be hounded to do the impression all the time… but lo and behold, that’s what people wanted from me.
My secret skills came to the forefront, and suddenly I had something of value that people wanted. Here’s the kicker: You have secret skills of value that when unlocked, will make people want your attention and thus make them susceptible to your leadership influence. You just have to figure out what value you can offer, and then find opportunities to apply your value.