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David Diana
Dec 13, 2011

Speaking in Symphonies

We are all swimming in noise. Of course you know this already. You experience this overload on a daily basis and you think of ways to not be part of the problem.

How do you engage others and connect them to all the incredible goodness you do? What gets you over the threshold and into the realm of real possibility?

As you ponder these questions, consider the college admissions work of MIT professor and author Cal Newport. He discovered that many students accepted into top-notch schools were not necessarily “ideal candidates” in the traditional sense. They didn’t have all the extra-curricular activities and over the top test scores. What these students did have was a true passion and vision that gave them depth of character and made them truly “interesting people”. More importantly, rather than getting bogged down in the act of “doing” just to pad their resumes, they allowed themselves space to explore and uncover areas in their lives that they found truly fascinating.

What happens when this occurs? Newport notes, “They don’t use activities to signal their qualities, they use them instead to transform themselves into more interesting people. In other words, what’s important about an activity is not its impressiveness, but its impact on your personality.”

He goes on to say, “Most students, when interviewed or when filling out their application, fall back on emphasizing their activities and the traits they signal. ‘Running my church youth group,’ they might say, ‘is another example of my leadership ability’.”

However, there are those who follow a different path. They don’t emphasize their activities or stress the qualities they supposedly reveal, instead they follow their true interests, and share that aspect of themselves. When you interact with students who are on this kind of journey you notice the genuineness of the interaction. It has the ability to create a powerful human connection that leaves a lasting impression.

I can think of no greater example of the intoxicating power of passion than this short video from conductor, Benjamin Zander. He offers a moving demonstration on how to inspire and change people. His passion gives him the ability to share his message, connect with his audience, and offer an experience that opens you up to the value and beauty of his work.

There may be hundreds of things you are good at, that you find interesting, or that you feel people want to hear, however, I recommend you step back from all of that and begin anew.

What do you get lost in? What are you truly amazing at? What is the vision welling up inside you? Connect to those pieces, and give yourself space and time to learn and grow. Deliver your message from that place of knowing and you’ll speak in symphonies.

David P. Diana is a counselor, author, and a director for a behavioral healthcare organization. He writes a weekly blog on sales and marketing for counselors (

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