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).

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?

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!

Making Committed Decisions

…is much better than making “correct” decisions

On making Committed Decisions…

A committed decision is much more powerful than a “correct” decision.

A committed decision takes full responsibility.

A committed decision knows that there are risks and challenges that you will have to find a way to overcome.

A committed decision changes your life.

More on making great decisions…

Are you overwhelmed with problems?

Are you overwhelmed with the weight of the world? Are too many problems weighing you down and making life feel heavy? Are you tired?

I heard this story on the Tim Ferriss podcast recently, and I found it quite profound for such a seemingly “simple” story.

It reminds me of another video that I made several years ago – on the most important lesson I have learnt in life.

The most important lesson for me is the Wisdom prayer of St Francis of Asisi…

Give me the strength to change the things I can change,

Give me the patience to accept the things I cannot change,

and Give me the Wisdom to tell the difference.

Here’s the old video (from Paris): The most important lesson.

Be careful of Lazy thinking

We have a wonderful capacity to mess up our lives through lazy or fantasy thinking. We make blanket black and white statements… rather than seeking the shades of grey.

“I hate my job” -> what parts exactly?

Life is richer than black and white. You don’t hate every single part, activity, person in your job… be really specific – what do you like, what do you not like.

Solve the solve-able problems. If you don’t like something find a way to do less of it. Find someone who enjoys it. If you do like something, find a way to do more of it. Spend more time with the people who give you energy.

I love the approach of “Design Thinking”. Stay with your curiosity and take time to get the question correct. How do I improve my job, make a greater impact, feel like I am doing meaningful work, while being paid well, and enjoying my social life and with a family that is supportive of each other… you need messy questions to start to clarify what constraints, what changes, what problems you will stick with.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

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