Dr. Warren Bennis, distinguished professor of business administration, University of Southern California & Peter Guber

What You Focus On Grows

One of the greatest aerialists, Karl Wallenda of The Flying Wallendas, who’d performed death-defying feats on the high wire for more than fifty years, tragically fell to his death at age 71. It was mystifying.

Wallenda’s capacity for concentration on his intention was so legendary that at first, no one could understand how this accident could have happened. However, Wallenda’s wife later reflected that he’d been anxious before taking the wire, a tightrope without a safety net. For the first time in all the years she’d known him, he was concentrating not on succeeding but on the risk of falling.

Warren Bennis, distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at USC, told this story at one of our conclaves which illustrated just how powerful one’s state of intention can be. Bennis asserted, it was Wallenda’s fear of falling that more than likely made his fall come true.

Athletes aren’t the only ones who perform exercises to get themselves in state before going onto the game field. So do masters of telling to win, whose game field is wherever they tell their story. Getting in state involves focusing your whole being on your intent to achieve your purpose. This state is vital because your intention is actually what signals listeners to pay attention to you.

And just as likely, Bennis said, Wallenda’s concentration on success had acted as an equally self-fulfilling prophecy all the many times he’d triumphed on the high wire. A clear takeaway from this story is, what you focus on grows.



blog-telltowin-linkTo validate the power of telling purposeful stories, Guber includes in this book a remarkably diverse number of ‘voices’ – master tellers with whom he’s shared experiences. They include YouTube founder Chad Hurley, NBA champion Pat Riley, clothing designer Norma Kamali, “Mission to Mars” scientist Gentry Lee, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former South African president Nelson Mandela, magician David Copperfield, film director Steven Spielberg, novelist Nora Roberts, rock legend Gene Simmons, and physician and author Deepak Chopra.
After listening to this extraordinary mix of voices, you’ll know how to craft, deliver – and own – a story that is truly compelling, one capable of turning others into viral advocates for your goal.


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