I have this fear of repeating myself. It started a few years ago when I realized that I was always having the same memory as I was driving past some particular landmark, and would tell Diedra the same story that I told the last time I passed that thing on the road. We’d have a little chuckle–but inside I started to worry: “Oh no! I’m repeating myself!”
I’ve also noticed that it’s easy to feel a bit offended when you need to repeat yourself. It’s easy to think: “Really? Do I really need to say this again? I feel like a broken record!”
Occasionally, when I’ve wanted to share a message with my staff, privately, with each staff member individually–I was surprised to learn that I had only delivered the message to half the staff when I felt like I said it over and over and over again. If you’re not literally keeping a list, it’s very easy to think you’ve made a speech fourteen times when you’ve actually only said it seven times.
Repetition is weird. So are our perceptions of repetition. So are our memories (or lack thereof) of our repetition (or lack thereof).
But leaders are actually supposed to repeat themselves. A lot. It’s part of the job. Here’s a great quote that I find tremendously liberating from the fear of repetition:
Finally, the effective leader understands that the message has to be communicated again and again and again. If you listen to the most influential leaders, you will see that they repeat themselves over and over. This is not the monotonous repetition of a single-track mind, but the intentional, symphonic, and strategic repetition of central truths, cherished beliefs, common strategies, and shared principles.
Those closest to you will hear you say the same things repeatedly. Your closest associates may be able to lip-synch some of your lines and expressions. You cannot worry about that. Your charge is to lead, and this means knowing that you will have to show up again and again with the same clear, consistent, and courageous message.Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead, 96.