Sing the Song of the Unsung Hero

I’m an avid podcast listener. I listen in the car, out on walks, waiting for planes. One of my favorite podcasts is Hidden Brain, an NPR show that “helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain's host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.” The introduction alone explains why I’m a fan. The entertaining and rich conversation about what exactly makes us tick is fuel to my fire.

While the education I get is always valuable, I want to focus on the really small and special little “something” the show producers include at the end of each episode that always makes me smile.

Right before the credits, they highlight a person they call “the unsung hero.” This person is an individual behind the scenes who, unlike the stars of the show, doesn’t always get the recognition and attention for the work she does. Her work, however, is critical to the development, production, and distribution of each episode. Critical in creating the entertaining and educational episode that I, along with many other fans, have come to love. The highlight of the unsung hero is no more than 60 seconds. It’s a quick but sincere shout-out to say thank you for her key contribution.

How lovely is that?

What’s really interesting is how Hidden Brain publicly tells a story about why someone on their team is important. In other words, the unsung heroes are recognized for what they are good at.

One of my core messages is to impress upon you the importance of articulating what you do in a bold, authentic, unique and compelling way. I iterate this at pretty much every workshop or speaking event I give. If every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room that you’re not in, then you MUST make sure the conversation about you is one that articulates why you are uniquely awesome. Once you can articulate why you’re awesome in that authentic, unique and compelling way, you can share it with others. And when you can share it with others, they now have the language to articulate why you are uniquely awesome. They may even articulate why you are uniquely awesome in that room you’re not in.

And what are the team at Hidden Brain doing? They’re articulating why one of their team members is awesome. And not just in a room that person is not in, they’re telling everyone who is listening.

Again, how lovely is that?

Being “lovely” is lovely, but there needs to be more to it than feel-goods for a business to be efficient and effective.

Acknowledgment and understanding of your employees' unique awesomeness are tied to retention and a healthy, productive workplace.

Having this vital information about each team member allows you to talk about someone, when they’re not in the room, with the most compelling and bold story about her that you can. Why is this important to articulate someone’s awesome, beyond the emotional impact? It matters her, and is thus, more she is more likely to stay. You are listening. You recognize her contribution. You notice she is unique.

If you’re in a leadership role:

  • Figure out how the people who work with you are authentically and uniquely awesome.
  • Make sure you’re aligned with each individual about how they are authentically and uniquely awesome.

I’m also about acting on my own advice whenever possible.

So here’s to today’s unsung hero at The Amplify Lab: The editor of these posts, Lucy Heston. No, I don’t create these articles alone, like everything else it’s a team effort. She has this uncanny knack of reading my mind, understanding what it is I’m trying to say and re-arranging my words to sound better than I’d originally thought. We all should have a great editor in our lives right?

Bravo to Hidden Brain for reminding me that just knowing someone is awesome is not enough.

For Your Consideration:

  • Who are the unsung heroes on your team?
  • Can you clearly articulate why?
  • Have you told them "thank you" recently?
  • Better yet, have you sung publicly of their awesome?

You need to broadcast it too once in awhile.

Do you live in a world of "and"?

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