Listen to the teaching, not to the teacher

“Listen to the teaching, not to the teacher”

I heard this quote in Washington from George Gan. I have had the privilege to teach together on the EO Global Leadership Academy with George since 2015.

I have always listened more to teachers that inspire me, and I have often ignored lessons when the teacher has not inspired me.

I am missing out.

Anyone can teach us a valuable lesson.

Don’t reduce your learning to only the most perfect of teachers.

If you liked this post, you will also like the best teacher I had in school and 10 rules for students (and teachers).

Don’t Make This Mistake: Good Intentions but No Actions

“The road to hell is paved by good intentions”

Be careful that your good intent results in good action.

Only action changes our world.

We see our Intentions, Others see our Actions

We should evaluate actions by their consequences, not their intentions.

Soft intentions, often create unintended consequences.

We judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us by our actions. We are often so clear on our intent, that we are blind to how our actions might look to another person.

“Could do” vs “Will do”

Could vs Will – “I could do what you are doing!” – could = anyone “could”; doing it is the thing.

Anyone could make a call

Anyone could define a vision

Anyone could…

Could changes nothing.

An action (even half a step) begins the change.

How we spend our time

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) provides nationally representative estimates of how, where, and with whom Americans spend their time, and is the only federal survey providing data on the full range of nonmarket activities, from childcare to volunteering.

Recently I came across a series of charts shared by Sahil Bloom about how we spend time with people across the course of our lives.

How our Time is spent over the course of our lives…

Check out Sahil’s tweet series to learn more and reflect on his conclusions.

If you liked this post, you will also like Happiness is the quality of our relationships and how to build trust and deepen the quality of your relationships.

How To Handle The Painful Aspects Of Leadership During Economic Recession

I get a lot of value out of the Arete coach podcast run by Severin Sorensen, who has a background as a CEO and then as a Vistage CEO group mentor and coach (Chair).

I was interviewed by Severin in May 2021 for episode 1037 on his podcast: Arete Coach Podcast 1037 Conor Neill “Powerful Stories Stimulate Action”

Last week Severin brought together an experienced group of CEOs who are part of the Vistage Chair community.

How to Prepare for a Probable Recession

In the Panel Discussion, we explore:

  • What is a recession? [1:13];
  • What Does A Recession Feel Like? [10:38];
  • What 10 Things Would You Take Into A Hard Recession? [29:07];
  • Final reflections from panelists [1:13:23]; and lastly,
  • Severin summarises the session [1:17:50] and ends with a few inspiring quotes to consider.

This is episode 1095 of the Arete Coach Podcast with Severin Sorensen and his executive coach guests Michele Barry, Ben Griffin, Barry Goldberg, Phil Holberton, and Conor Neill.

In this episode, Arete Coach podcast presents a panel discussion of senior executive coaches that explores how to prepare for a Recession, and specifically, 10 things to take with you into a hard recession.

The purpose of putting this episode together was to provide valuable counsel for CEOs, business owners and coaches who are coaching other business owners on how to prepare for a probable recession, and one that may indeed be a hard recession.

Share this episode with executive coaches, business coaches, leadership coaches, business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs, Key Executive teams, and anyone wanting to have a head start in preparing for what looks like more than a portent of stormy weather ahead.

Why People Take Action

There are two things I need to believe if I am to take action:

  1. Is it worth it? (Rewards)
  2. Can I do it? (Confidence)

Dan Sullivan says that “Selling is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result that is good for them and getting them to emotionally commit to take action to achieve that result.”

The skills of an Influencer:

  • help others visualise a better future (for them)
  • help others emotionally commit to action

How do we help someone visualise?

Asking great questions:

  • What is going well for you?
  • What is not going well for you?
  • What needs to change for you to be fulfilled?
  • What is missing in your life?
  • Who are your role models? What would they want for you?
  • Who are you? What achievements, projects and relationships show the world who you truly are?

How do we help someone emotionally commit to action?

Asking great questions:

  • What is the impact on you of this problem persisting in your life?
  • How much is this costing you? in money? in lost sleep? in difficult relationships? in distraction from what is most important?
  • How long have you been living with this?
  • How much longer can you see yourself living this way?
  • What would it be worth to you for this to work out?
  • What sacrifices are you willing to make to make this change?
  • If yourself ten years from now could speak to you today, what would you hear? What will your future self be grateful for?

Where opportunities come from

Jim Collins says that “Return on Luck” is one of the significant factors in extreme success.

It is not that successful companies or people have more luck… it is how they follow through on their lucky breaks that makes the difference.

One person might meet someone who could open a door of massive opportunity… but doubt and confusion mean that they don’t pursue the chance.

Another might meet the same person… and have the motivation, vision and competence to take the opportunity and turn it into a gold mine. Whether you are lucky or not today, you can invest in developing your clarity of vision, your competence, your network of trusted relationships – to be ready to maximise your return on luck when an opportunity comes to you.

Where Opportunities come from

“Stand in the traffic”

Prof Paris de l’Etraz, IE Business School, Madrid

Whilst luck is not controllable… there is something that I can do to increase the chances of lucky breaks occurring.

Prof Paris de l’Etraz of IE Business School in Madrid teaches a course on managing your life. One of his sessions is titled “Stand in the Traffic“. He says that it is important to place yourself physically and mentally where many opportunities are likely to flow. Your sofa at home is comfortable… but no opportunities are flowing past. If you spend your days at a business school… a lot of people, ideas and opportunities flow past.

Lucky Opportunities tend to be Stumbled Upon

The author of the Atomic Habits book, James Clear, has a wonderful weekly email newsletter. Here is a thought that he shared on opportunities…

from James Clear…

“Lucky opportunities tend to be stumbled upon, not handed out. 

If you’re waiting for someone to hand deliver an excellent opportunity to you, it’s unlikely to happen. But if you are exploring and moving—if you’re in the mix and engaged—then you’ll stumble upon many opportunities. 

The active mind comes across a lot. Keep tilling the soil and you will occasionally unearth something wonderful.”

Have a great Sunday.

If you liked this post, you will also like How to be Lucky (4 ways to improve your luck) and Serrendipity.

3 Life and Leadership Lessons from my Father

My father is by all accounts a successful leader. There are 3 “superpowers” that he has that I think have helped him have such a positive effect in each of these environments.

My father has had a long and successful career in business leading to a decade as the Chairman of the Board of Accenture, and then as a board member for several public companies, and now as a leader and advisor for arts, culture and universities.

2 years ago, I shared a list that my father made back in the 1980’s on “Leaders and Non-Leaders” which listed 40 contrasts helped him guide his journey as a business leader.

3 of my Dad’s “Superpowers”

  1. Remember people’s names
  2. Decide fast & Don’t think of it as “your decision”, (this allows flexibility to change without emotion/sunk cost)
  3. Never lose sight of the overall purpose & long term

I was in the medieval town of Pedraza again this week, where I made this video.

Other blog posts influenced by my father…

3 things people need from a Leader

Alan Mulally, ex-CEO of Ford, spoke to the Vistage membership recently. He shared his own life story, and his advice to CEOs on how to lead in these times of uncertainty.

People need from Leaders:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Where are we going?
  3. Do you see me?

I share what people are looking for in the video below.

If you liked this video, you will also like Indra Nooyi ex-CEO Pepsi on Leadership in Times of Crisis and Leaders must develop 2 capacities in the people around them.

The $5 Challenge – A Stanford Strategy Story…

Back in 2009, Stanford prof Tina Seelig split students in the school of engineering into teams and gave them an envelope containing $5.

Teams had only two hours to generate as much money as possible. Each team would get three minutes to present their project to the entire class.

Here is Tina’s own article explaining the experience: The $5 Challenge

What would be your Strategy?

Check out the video below to hear how the challenge went… and how to use this thinking in your own life and business…

The teams that made the most money didn’t use the five dollars at all.

They realised that focusing on the money actually framed the problem way too tightly. They understood that five dollars is essentially nothing and decided to reinterpret the problem more broadly: What can we do to make money if we start with absolutely nothing?

In our own lives and businesses it is very easy to limit ourselves to “how do I do more of what I am already good at?” or “How do I use my current capacities to maximise return?”.

How do you do strategy for your life and business?

It feels good to share a video again… it has been 6 weeks of procrastination. Thanks to all of you who reached out with encouragements and ideas!

3 Rules of Great Questions

Most people don’t ask good questions.

I’ve been leading Vistage in Spain for the last 5 years. We coach CEOs to increase their effectiveness and improve their quality of life. We do this with questions. I’ve spent these last 5 years paying attention to how people use questions.

I recently came across a thread on twitter that had 3 good rules for better questions.

John Sawatsky’s 3 rules of great questions:

  • Start open-ended
  • Keep them neutral
  • Make them lean

Effective questions

1. Open

Rule: great questions are open-ended. Open questions invite deeper dialogue. They encourage the person to expand. Closed questions (yes/no) do the opposite.

Open-ended examples:

  • What is exciting you right now?
  • Why do people struggle with that?
  • How would you solve this problem?

These Qs are probing for conversation. They can’t be answered with yes/no.

Closed-ended examples:

  • Did you buy the truck?
  • Is the steak here good?
  • Are you going to the game?
  • Should we go on a hike today?

These Qs are quick and transactional. There will likely be no depth to the response.

2. Neutral

Rule: great questions are neutral.

Neutral questions don’t “lead” the person. They allow them to naturally follow their curiosity. Non-neutral questions are often called “loaded.” Consciously or subconsciously, they are biased.

Neutral examples:

  • What inspired that?
  • What happened next?
  • How did you decide that?
  • Why did you do it that way?
  • How would you explain this?

These questions have no bias. They are objective and curious.

Non-neutral examples:

  • Why do you get defensive so easily?
  • How were you able to show such courage?
  • What made that such a terrible play call?

These Qs carry an assumption or opinion. Positively or negatively, they are “loaded.”

3. Lean

Rule: great questions are lean.

Complex questions are hard to answer. Simple questions produce thoughtfulness and insight. Make it easy for the person to engage.

Lean examples:

  • What happened then?
  • What did you do next?
  • How did it go?
  • What else?

Be simple + direct, then get out of the way.

Non-lean question:

There’s so many awesome people on Twitter. Who are your favorite follows, why and what is one great thing you’ve read from each of them?

See the problem? You don’t even know where to begin.

If this was of use, you can follow Teddy Mitrosilis on twitter.

More from the blog on great questions…

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