Deb Sofield


Business, Politics and Pageants Have a Lot in Common!

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For many years I was a rock star pageant interview coach…I know I know your probably surprised to know that at one time I was one of the Southeasts top pageant interview coaches for Miss America, Miss USA, Little Miss, the Rodeo queens, the cow queens and watermelon queens and the list goes on… at one time I had more winners on the stage than any coach in the Carolina’s and probably the Southeast.

But what’s interesting – as I learned early on… it’s really not me but by coaching my clients to dig deep within themselves and learn to speak without fear… being true to themselves – they win every time.

The reason I tell you this is that the rules apply to all endeavors in life with or without a crown.

Most people know me as a coach for presidents of corporations to political candidates to sales teams – but trust me business, politics and pageants have a lot in common!

So, I want to spend a few minutes on three areas that can make or break you in business, politics or pageants.

  1. Always tell the truth
  2. Don’t degrade others
  3. Be careful of what you say

In the pageant business probably the most important lesson a kid must learn as simple as it is – is that it’s not the question… but the answers that win. And to that point you must Always tell the truth…

Answers that are true and honest to what you really believe.

I know most people think there is a right “pageant” answer that the judges want to hear but the fact is the answer that wins is the one the is true. Because when you speak your truth you really don’t have to think too hard – because in most cases you’ve already thought it through and now it is a part of your thought patterns for life.

Just like in your everyday life if you’d say what you really mean you could by-pass a lot of heartache. Not just answering what is easy or gets you by – this time – but what the truth is – because the old saying is right – the truth will set you free. Now you know that I’m not suggesting you ever be mean or unkind in your words because we know that “soft answer turns away wrath” and remember – you never have to over-think if you tell the truth the first time.

It’s hard to convince people that speaking truth to power is the best way to go. We live in a society that seems to value double talk – and it is a southern tradition to say one thing and mean another – bless your heart – but in life wouldn’t it be better if we dealt with one another in the most honest and caring way we know how. And I have found that the one way you do that is by Always tell the truth

Another lesson is Don’t degrade others

One has to be very careful what they say in front of others. And this is two-fold. I had a mother who dropped off her daughter at my office and from the minute she pulled into my parking lot – stopped the car and rolled her window down she told me everything wrong with her kid from her point of view. In the 15 steps from getting out of the car to my office front door that kid was destroyed…and it took me 20 minutes to put her back in the right frame of mind for success.

I know the mother wanted me to “fix” a few things (after all she was paying me a good wage to work with her daughter) but after that happened – I called the mother and told her to never do that again…it wasn’t productive – it wasn’t helpful, and it added an un-needed burden to her kid.

Let me just add that from where I stand – a lot of kids have it hard nowadays – now I know it doesn’t seem that way – but the pressure that social media is placing on our kids is more than anything we ever had to deal with… so much for whispers on the school bus – now days an email blast can ruin the best of kids.

I see the degrading of people in business a lot – someone gets angry and lets loose and the damage is done. You may not see the result for a while but trust me one day you will, and it will so be overblown by their bottled up reaction – because they took it until they decided they wouldn’t take it anymore and then they blow their stack and you’re left wondering what caused that… we’ll buddy – you did. You picked and picked and pushed and pushed and most likely embarrassed them and then they probably felt shame and is shame is hard…and when someone feels shame – all they can do is hold back until one day they punch back with such force it will take your breath away – if you live through it.

I don’t know how to say it – but you need to be your kids, your family and employees ally – their protector – you need to have their back every time… just as family needs to protect family – you need to claim your people…build them up – care for them – be their advocate and Remember Don’t degrade in front of others…in fact how about you don’t stoop so low to degrade them at all…. it’s not worth it and damage could be lifelong.

Another point is to Be careful of what you say

In the pageant business you need to understand that when your daughter hears you bellyache about the money this pageant is costing (and they do cost a lot of money the first time) – she begins to think she is not worth it.

Silently – she may even do something not to win – in order to not cause her family grief… unfortunately I see it a lot as a coach. And what is interesting to me is here is an opportunity to be the rock on which your kid stands – the place that cheers her towards success – the one group who is supposed to have her back – and all they do is complain about money, time, and ad book sales. I tell parents if you hate that much – you should have never let her enter because now you’re proving that your love and acceptance has a price.

Imagine that… your parents insinuate that you don’t have value. And friend let me tell you – that when that happens, and the silver thread is broken – it will be a lifelong battle for that young person to find hope… a lifelong struggle to believe that they are worthy of love and acceptance.

I see it in the business world every day in my professional coaching

You’ll pay for the boys to play every sports but argue over a dress that makes her feel like she just might be beautiful… oh friends Be careful of what you say

I am sure that there are many reading who can remember with clarity the time when a comment or off handed remarks left the deepest scars. I understand that this is a two-way street – some folks really don’t have the extra resources that they would wish for their kids… I get it but I ask is there something that can be done – a truce that still values that young life but is a fair acceptance of limited resources… a fair trade off for what you can afford.

I’m just asking…

And it’s not just I the pageant business – I have friend whose business is in a perilous time and every time I see him – he is talking about how bad everything is and how bad the economy is, the time of year, his employees, his ex-employees and because he says it so much – his current office staff is on pins and needles because they didn’t cause the trouble but are paying the price due to his constant chatter about all his woes.

When your staff lives on the edge you are not being the leader of the pack – you’re being the weak link. And don’t think you can fake it – they know – they always know… Be careful of what you say.

Your responsibility as a parent, leader, coach, boss is to guard your words and even in hard times – being realistic – know that every word you say is being magnified – cut and quartered – with kids, family and staff reading into it what they perceive the truth to be through their eyes and limited understanding… You have a responsibility dear listener to Be careful of what you say.

I told you when I started today that pageants and life have a lot in common… either way it is my hope that your name is called, and the crowd will cheer and you’ll wear the crown with pride because your hard work paid off and you were the people choice.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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