At a public gathering...Do you take a seat at the back because you are scared that the speaker may ask you questions? or is it because sitting at back is helpful in quiting the meeting if required? Consider this scenario...
Your boss forwarded a meeting invite to you. Meeting is with the CXOs or senior leadership team. Your boss explains the agenda to you and informs you that you may have to present or talk about one or two key supporting points. On the day of the meeting when you enter the meeting room you see a center table with few chairs at the table and then you see another set of chairs kept adjacent to the wall. Few chairs on the center table are already occupied and few are vacant, you look around the room to see if your boss is around? He isn't. As people start to step in the room you get under pressure to pick a seat. What would you do? Where would you sit? Will you pick a seat at the center table or will you play safe and pick a chair adjacent to the wall?
Your decision to pick a chair in the above scenario tells a lot about your character and your self image. It reveals a lot about your behavior and the way you deal with tricky situations. More than anything else it tells whether you believe in being a spectator or whether you really push yourself to be a participant each and every time you attend a gathering of people (meetings, seminars, town-halls, workshops etc.).
Here are few more scenarios...
1. Your manager calls for a team meeting. You enter the room and see that most of the seats are vacant. Where do you sit? Do you occupy the seats in the last row or do you go and sit in the front row?
2. You are attending an award function to support your friend or family member. Do you leave the function as soon as the award for your friend or family member is announced or do you attend the event till the time last award is announced?
3. One of your friend invites you as a guest to attend a toastmasters meeting. When you attend the meeting you get an opportunity to speak at the table topics event. What would you do? Would you take the opportunity to speak or let it go because you think you are not prepared and wonder what would people think of you?
4. Your department head is giving a speech about how the organization will progress in the next 2 years. Once the speech is over he opens the forum for the audience to ask questions. What would you do? Would you ask your query? or Would you look for someone else to ask the question on your behalf?
Developing a front bench or front row attitude requires lot of practice and focus. Here is my suggestion: Whenever you attend a gathering ask yourself: Are you only a spectator or is there a way you can become a participant and make a mark in the event or gathering? Here are some tips that may help you become better at making your mark as a good participant...
1. Always carry a notepad and a pen when attending any public meetings. This will help you in taking notes of the key point discussed.
2. Always ask for the meeting agenda and the list of attendees in advance.
3. Make sure you reach at the venue 5 to 10 minutes prior to the meeting start time.
4. Knowing the meeting agenda and the list of participants in advance should help you prepare some questions that you may ask in the question and answer session.
5. Avoid arguing with the speakers during a public meeting. There is always an option to connect offline if you don't get a suitable answer.
6. Always pick a seat in the front or the second row from the front. Make sure you don't occupy a seat which is marked as reserved for other guests. Avoid siting towards the end of the hall.
In general, the point I am trying to make is that with a little bit of presence of mind and preparation you can elevate your status from being a spectator to being a good participant. Your attitude to make things happen matters a lot. This reflects in a lot of small things that you do on a day to day basis. Developing a habit of making your presence felt is a key attribute of successful people. You don't always need to take the center stage or be in the limelight but if you are smart you can make your presence felt in a small but effective way, which is equally important. At last remember that just talent may not be enough for you to succeed. Never under estimate the power of doing small things. God is in the details.
Bonus: If you are interested in getting better at setting goals you may want to read this recommended book for setting high goals...