Fear, doubt, uncertainty, self-criticism. That’s how it feels. Leadership can suck. That’s why I am putting my hand up for this. And you can too.
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I did something really weird in Melbourne last week. It’s a bit embarrassing. You see- I turned left. And by doing so, I was reminded of the biggest mistake I continue to make, in my life and career. Do you make it too? If ‘yes,’ then STOP! And turn left, like me. Here’s why.
The day started early. Emails and calls, even while walking to the six hour intense training session for 30 of our up and comers that I then led. As soon as the session finished, it was back to urgent emails and phone messages, and a quick sit down at a sidewalk café to make one particularly challenging call. It was now 4 pm, and I knew I could get back to my hotel with a fast walk in time to get in two more hours of ‘to do’ list before a dinner engagement. I started walking. And then it happened.
I turned left.
Instead of crossing the bridge to the city and my hotel, I turned left into the Victorian Art Gallery. Not sure why. Just did. Moments later I was in stillness, looking at Picasso, Pissarro, Turner and the Orientalists. Then I spent half an hour in the book shop there, bought some pencils and cards, and a book on line drawing. I turned left for an hour, but it’s impact was profound. Here’s why.
I am most times the oldest guy in the room. And I am only 53. Where did everyone else go? What happened to all those colleagues who somehow are now somewhere else- off the radar? How did I survive to still be in the room, contributing, learning? Here’s how. Simple. Powerful.
The burning question for the 80 or so businesses I am involved in, and with the people I lead, is this: how do we stay relevant through the massive change that is upon us? The answer is so simple, yet so powerful. Here it is. Are you doing it?
This ‘change’ thing is pretty damned confusing, and frightening. When the rate of change inside a company is slower than the rate of change outside that company- then the end is in sight. So too with our careers- if we are not evolving our ‘value proposition’, then the clock is ticking before we will no longer be ‘on the team.’ Harsh- but true.
But stay calm- here is one idea to help shape the way you respond to the challenges of change- as a business, and as an individual. It’s very simple. In fact- just two words. Here they are…
I was in the taco queue prior to the Bruce Springsteen concert last weekend when the guy behind me said something totally inspiring. It reminded me of what makes for an exciting life – and an awesome career. Do you have it?
My colleague R was frustrated last week. “I was sitting next to a dull man at lunch. There is just no excuse for dullness. DO SOMETHING! Stand for something! Believe in something! Fail massively at something! Have something to say!!! Just whatever you do- don’t be dull!” It struck a chord. Then while queuing at The Boss, an American voice behind me said to his queue companion: “Oh yes, I was here last night. In fact I travelled here from Hawaii for these concerts. I am a huge Bruce fan. Tonight is the 152nd time I have seen him live.”
And that is what inspired me. That Springsteen devotee had something in his life that we all need. It’s what Rose was looking for. Without it, we are dull- in life, at work, in everything. Here it is. How do you score?
I was reading a book written by Facebook for its staff when I saw something that genuinely excited and inspired me. It endorses everything I believe about leading high performance teams. It’s a habit Facebook embraces: it underpins excellence. It’s an approach that will make your team a winner. Here it is.
Facebook and the great Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson have one thing very much in common.
Sir Alex would focus less on training technical skills, and more about inspiring players to strive to do better, and to never give up. He recruited what he calls ‘bad losers’, and demanded that they work extremely hard. Over the years, this attitude became contagious- players didn’t accept teammates not giving it their all. The biggest stars were no exception. Facebook’s mantra is similar, and hugely inspiring. Here it is:
Like to earn more money? A promotion be nice too? Understood. But for many, just knowing they are making a BIG contribution and are genuinely valued is the most powerful driver. So- how do you get all three? Appreciation, more money, bigger roles? Well, read on for a simple idea that works, and will help you.
One of the key pillars of whether we have great roles is the answer to this question: “Do I make a valuable and powerful difference?” I mean, what a bummer if we turned up every day and our contribution to our businesses was marginal. Making sure we add real value, consistently, to our roles needs constant reassessment. It needs to become a habit. It is easy to get ‘lost’ in the trench warfare of what we do every day, lose focus and get stuck in marginal ‘value’ activity. Sure happens to me. Here is one way to building a habit which will help protect and maybe even super-charge your career. It actually is very simple.
Ask yourself this question regularly, and then deliver hard on the answer, and you can rest assured that you will continue to deliver a valuable and powerful difference. Here it is:
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