How to Learn Charisma (17 Specific Practice-able Tactics)

What is charisma?   Charisma means “special gift” in Greek.  It is something that allows some people to magnetically attract others to them and their projects.

Is it innate or can it be learnt?  According to John Antonakis, Marika Fenley and Sue Liechti in the Harvard Business Review June 2012 article “Learning Charisma”, it is learnt.

How to Learn Charisma

“After executives were trained in these tactics, the leadership ratings observers gave them rose by about 60%.” John Antonakis

Learn these 17 Specific Charismatic Tactics

  1. Metaphors, Similes and Analogies
  2. Stories and Anecdotes
  3. Contrasts
  4. Rhetorical Questions
  5. Three Part Lists
  6. Expressions of Moral Conviction
  7. Reflection of Group’s Sentiments
  8. The setting of High Goals
  9. Conveying Confidence in High Goals
  10. Animated Voice
  11. Facial Expressions
  12. Gestures
  13. Create a Sense of Urgency
  14. Invoking History
  15. Using Repetition
  16. Talking about Sacrifice
  17. Humour

Practice these tactics with video (check out my email based course to lead you through 10 weeks of practice).  Practice these tactics with your peers.  Practice leads to doubling the usage of these tactics in everyday life.  Use of these tactics led to ratings of competence increasing by 60%.

These tactics work because they create an emotional connection between speaker and audience.

Check out the HBR June 2012 article Learning Charisma.

3 Steps to Improve Your Concentration

I recently shared a TEDx talk from Dandapani on How to Concentrate.  This is a follow up post, with 3 specific steps to improve your concentration (here Dandapani refers to it as willpower).

Image: A recent Dandapani workshop with the EO Organisation.

3 Steps to Practice that Will Improve Your Concentration

Dandapani tells us that there are 3 steps to practice that improve our concentration:

  1. Finish that which you begin
  2. Finish it well, beyond your expectations
  3. Do a little more than you think that you are able to do

Use these 3 steps in every area of your life: from making the bed in the morning, to tidying the kitchen, to reading to your child, to writing emails, to writing blog posts…

And so, how do I do “a little more than you think you are able to do” on this blog post?…

A Little Bit More…

I could embed a tweet:

I could embed a facebook status:

I could ask a question:

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Have a great day.

Need an Easy Win?

Some days feel harder to get going than others.  The big mission feels a bit too big for today.  I need something else, something smaller: An Easy Win.

What are my easy wins?

One is a blog post.  I never allow myself to take more than 20 minutes before I hit publish, and there is some pretty instant feedback as readers start to register on the wordpress statistics.  A blog post doesn’t change the world, but each one helps me clarify my thinking and become more articulate in expressing myself.

An even lazier win is to check my latest view statistics on youtube.  This probably shouldn’t be counted in the category of win, but it makes me feel like my work matters (100,000 views per month…  makes me feel very important for a minute).

Another easy win is to call a friend and listen, and thank them for their work.  This always leads to me feeling better and having energy to get back onto something important.

What are your easy wins?

Do you have a list of easy wins?  Some days you need a little kick to get you started on the day and a simple list of easy wins can make the difference between a day spent playing playstation and a day spent making tomorrow slightly better.  Some easy wins we can achieve are:

  • Go for a 15 minute walk around the block (health)
  • Phone a friend: listen and help someone (build a relationship)
  • Make a short video explaining a project to practice your communication (growth, mastery)
  • Practice the piano (mastery)
  • Review your bucket list and set a date for an adventure (vision)
  • Write a positive recommendation for someone that has helped you on linkedin (relationship)
  • Watch a TED talk (growth)

What are your easy wins?  Any good ones will go onto my own list!  thanks 😉

Engagement – Is it really the employer’s responsibility?

I have sat through many presentations over the last 3 years listening to experts telling company leaders how they can make their company an engaging workplace; how they can increase employee engagement.

Is it really the employer’s responsibility?

Engagement is a Choice

Surely a basic requirement when you accept a job is that you engage and commit to doing it well?

Apathy is a practiced habit.   You don’t start life as a child expert in curiosity-less disengagement.  You practiced.

Your Apathy is Nobody Else’s Fault

Why should the fault be directed to your manager or to company HR?

It is not their fault.

It is not anyone’s fault that you are not engaged.

It is you.

It is you who is apathetic.

It is you who has to commit.

It is you who has to engage.

It is you who has to become responsible for your life as an adult.

Practice Apathy at Work, Become Apathetic in Everything

Show me someone who is apathetic and disengaged at work, and I will show you that he is apathetic and disengaged at home, with friends and a superb cynic of anyone who makes an effort.  When we practice apathy, we get better at it in all areas of our life: work, family, hobbies, friends, studies, spirituality, community.

Here’s a short guide to putting the practice of engagement and responsibility into your life:

Engaged Life 101: How to be actively engaged in life.

  1. Intention: Start every day by stating your intention for the day.  As soon as you wake, write down the sentence “Today, my day is about _________”  (today, I wrote self-compassion…  yesterday I wrote listening better)
  2. Read: Next, read something inspiring.  (ie, not the newspaper, not your email)  Here’s my list of great books: Personal Leadership Library
  3. Think & Write: Decide on your Most Important Action for today.  Write it down.  Do 10 minutes action to move this Most Important Action forward.  At the end of exactly 10 minutes of focussed attention, stop and go have your breakfast.
  4. Now, you can let the day happen…  but you have already taken personal ownership and responsibility for your day…  good practice for the rest of the day.

The Dean of EO Leadership Academy, and highly successful businessman and person, Warren Rustand first taught me this process.  He calls it the 1-10-10-10 start to the day.  1 minute intention, 10 minute read, 10 minute write then 10 minute think.  Ideally followed by 29 minutes of physical exercise and then you’ve given yourself the best possible first 60 minutes of the day.

Imagination defines humanity

It is imagination that makes humans unique in nature.

Genetically we differ 2% from chimpanzees and 3% from worms. It is not our genes that have us living in penthouses and connecting on facebook.

Our difference is the human cortex, the layer of brain that is most highly developed in humans.  The cortex is where we begin to live intentionally. We have a choice.  We don’t have to just respond to the world, but can begin to imagine a better world and thus plan and act accordingly.

The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind.

What is the Purpose of Human Life?

2,300 years ago in the Greek city-state of Athens, Aristotle asked himself “what is the purpose of human life?” Aristotle defined the purpose of an object as being that which it can uniquely do.

A human is alive – but plants are also alive – so that cannot be human purpose.

A human feels – but animals also feel – so that cannot be human purpose.

The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind: to imagine solutions before putting them into practice.

Aristotle concludes the Nicomachean Ethics with a discussion of the highest form of happiness: a life of intellectual contemplation. Reasoned imagination is the highest virtue.

Leadership Requires Imagination

A leader must see a future that is not yet here. The clearer you can see and touch and feel this potential future the more compellingly you can communicate it to others.  The more you practice your imagination, the better you will get.  How can you practice your imagination?

How can you develop your imagination? Here are some ways:

  • Spend time bored.
  • Read fiction. Write a new ending to a classic book. Make a hero into a villain, and a hero into a villain. Write yourself into the book.
  • Throw photos on the floor and then explain the connection between them.
  • Watch TV in another language and explain to a friend what is happening.
  • List 10 small improvements you could make to the seat you are sitting on.
  • Tell bedtime stories to your children…  let them create the characters as you go.
  • Develop 2×2 matrix on an area of interest… and develop scenarios for changing positions.
  • Go to an ethnic restaurant and order something you have never had before.
  • Go to a railroad station or airport and take the first train or plane to depart.
  • Imagine a world without oil, cars, telephones, internet… fill in the blank…

What other ways can we develop our imagination?

 

Culture: by Design, or by Default?

“Only 3 things happen naturally in organisations: friction, confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership” Peter Drucker

Mediocrity is effortless.

Excellence requires effort.  Excellence requires a culture of excellence.  In the absence of cultures of excellence I will find an excuse to let myself slip from my best.

Do you surround yourself with cultures of excellence?

“Great leaders create culture by design, while average leaders allow culture to evolve by default.” Mike Myatt

Personal Culture

Are you clear on your values and purpose?  If not, you are bouncing from one opportunity to the next.  You take today’s good opportunity to lay bricks rather than building the great cathedral of your life.  The clue to the existence of a clear personal culture is that you say “No” to most things.  You are not bouncing from one interesting distraction to another interesting interruption.

The ability to start things is a good step towards a positive personal culture.  The ability to finish things is the goal.  Are you better at starting things than you are at finishing things?  (I am.  It takes real effort for me to declare a project finished.)

I have my own explicit written personal culture.  I first wrote it down 7 years ago as I emerged from a very difficult time in my life:

  • 17 Daily Personal Habits for a Fulfilling Life
  • I have a much updated version that I keep with me today.  I don’t share it publicly, but have often shown it to those who have shared their own personal mission, vision and values with me.  You can find my email if it is important to you.

Family Culture

“A family culture happens whether you’re consciously creating it or not. It’s up to you and your wife to determine whether that culture is of your choosing. If you want a positive family culture, you must commit yourself to years of constant planning and teaching. A culture isn’t something that’s created overnight; it requires daily investment.” Brett McKay

The family culture is the first culture we experience.  Your earliest experience of co-existing with others was in your childhood family.  If your parents were clear about their values; the behaviours that express those values, the non-acceptable behaviours; and the rituals that keep these values visible: then you had a great start.  If your parents did not work to jointly define and live this family culture, you still had a culture…  but with unclear and unsatisfying results.

There are 3 pillars of group culture:  Values, Norms and Rituals.

Values – Each family’s set of values will be different and shaped by different education, religion and country values.  Some families see competition as positive, some see it as negative.  Some see position as giving rights (“You’ll do it because I am your father!”), some see dignity and agreements giving rights (“You’ll do it because we value kindness.”)

Norms – explicit and implicit rules of engagement.  For example, how do we resolve conflicts?  Shouting and passive-agressive stand-offs?  Calm discussion and seeking to understand the other?  How do we share chores?  Does one person work while others sit watching?  or does everybody find a way to help when clearing the table after a meal?

Rituals – routines, sanctions and celebrations.  Family meals – are they in front of TV when each individual is hungry, or does everyone gather and share?  Weekends, mornings, nights…  what are the regular routines?  Rites of Passage – what way do you celebrate the passing of the seasons, the reaching of an individual goal, the birthdays, the local and religious festivals?  There are 3 levels of ritual: Daily, Weekly and Life Changing.

These elements exist whether you chose them consciously or not.  There are no accidental cultures of excellence and meaningful community.

Resource: The Art of Manliness blog on Creating Family Culture:

Business Culture

“If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could.” Jim Collins

Business differ from families in 2 ways:

  1. they can remove individuals and
  2. they can hire pre-prepared individuals.

Jim Collins in Good to Great (my favourite business book of all time) tells us that it is all about people.

Last week in Washington I heard Dr. Evian Gordon ask “How many people does it take to ruin a team?”  Answer?  You already know…

One.

Verne Harnish told me that the important people question is “would I enthusiastically re-hire this person tomorrow?”  If there is doubt, then you must act.  Ken Blanchard told us how in 3 steps:

  1. Establish explicit goals together
  2. Publicly praise immediately when you see good behaviour
  3. Individually reprimand immediately when you see poor behaviour (“you are great, this report is not worthy of you.”)

A summary of Jim Collin’s book Good to Great is available on his website.

Community Culture

The country in which you live will have a major impact upon your implicit sense of what is right and what is wrong, the right way to behave and the right way to treat others.  Geert Hofstede told us that there are 6 major areas of difference between national cultures: it is worth knowing these 6 and where your own country is on each of these 6 in order to appreciate yourself and those who come from other national cultures.

Resource:  Geert Hofstede’s 6 Dimensions of National Culture

Rome (and Cultures): Not Built in a Day

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Your personal, family and business cultures were not built in a day, and cannot be changed in a day.

Changing for the better is not a project.  It is what life is about.

The first step is to describe your personal culture.  The next step is to create, jointly with your family members, a description of what family means to them.

Mediocrity is the easy path.

The smarter you are, the better your reasons for being mediocre.

An inspiring life requires hard thinking, hard discipline and hard patience.  Do you have the patience?  Do you have the discipline?  Do you have the desire?

Better the poor man with dreams and desire, than the great man with no dreams and no desire.

“The significance of man is not in what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain” Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam

“Always Busy” is a Decision

You don’t find time, you make time.

“Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” Debbie Millman*

Anything worthwhile should take a long time.  The myth of overnight success is just that… a myth.  Acorns take time to become great oaks.  Nothing that comes easily will feel worthwhile, but I chase the quick fixes and the rapid results.  There is no other path than committing to the hard labour of the path.  A mountain climber uses his own strength to reach the summit, he knows that a helicopter and a parachute does not count.

I find myself so often searching for a few more facebook likes, rather than writing and rewriting chapters that put my ideas into an improved form.  I need to remind myself that hard work on what matters is both rewarding in and of itself, and the only real path to somewhere worthwhile.

*I found this quote over at Maria Popova’s brainpicking blog.

How Self-Discipline will make you a Better Leader

Self-discipline is the foundational habit that makes all other good habits possible.

Self Discipline

What is self discipline?

It is the ability to do a chosen action even when you don’t feel like it.

Anyone can do the action when they feel like it.  It is the ability to do it when you don’t feel like it that really marks the difference between having a large positive impact in the world or just dribbling away all your days.

A peaceful picture of a bench, a tree and some tranquil water. Seems appropriate.

All habits are developed by repetition. If you repeat something bad for you, it will become a habit. If you repeat something good for you, it will become a habit.

Resolve to stick through the important tasks that you chose to start.  As you repeatedly finish what you start, it will become more and more natural to you.  Blogging was hard for me at the beginning, but now I know I will publish within 20 minutes of starting a post (I am coming up to 500 posts out there on this blog and other online resources such as forbes, lifehack, IESE, Active Garage, slideshare, venturebeat, venture village)

Three Step Guide for Better Productive Days

Here is a morning guide for being intentionally productive:

  1. Write down the top 5 most important tasks
  2. Pick the #1 most important task.
  3. Work on it until it is done. (THE HARD BIT!)

If you aren’t thinking of an important bigger picture, you will be distracted by easy interruptions.  It is hard to stay the course when you don’t feel like it.  Your life gets better when you get better.  Your leadership gets better when your habits get better.  Facebook, email, twitter are so instantly addictive that I will be distracted by them every day that I am not working on something that is of importance to me.

All important success comes from finishing projects.  If you get better at finishing, you get better at life.  Do the projects today that the “you” of tomorrow will be thankful for.

Start and complete a task every morning before anything else.  Dandapani taught me to start by making my bed first thing in the morning.  I start by reminding myself that I finish what I start (and making the bed is not so difficult).

Further Resources

Photo:

Tranquil bench and lake photo credit: Matt Champlin 

Put somebody on a treadmill and I’ll tell you how good they are at any other thing they do in life.

Will Smith (photo from Esquire)
Reading an interview with Will Smith (he is deep and a keen observer of the human condition), I came across this statement from him:

“Put somebody on a treadmill and I’ll tell you how good they are at any other thing they do in life.” Will Smith

Harsh.

Brutal.

but… is it True?

I think he’s right.  Verne Harnish thinks he’s right – he says “How you do anything is how you do everything

And Will on Resilience…

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure go to your heart”? Daphne Maxwell Reid, Aunt Viv on Fresh Prince.

Will shares his experience of failure:

“After Earth comes out, I get the box-office numbers on Monday and I was devastated for about twenty-four minutes, and then my phone rang and I found out my father had cancer. That put it in perspective—viciously. And I went right downstairs and got on the treadmill. And I was on the treadmill for about ninety minutes. And that Monday started the new phase of my life, a new concept: Only love is going to fill that hole. You can’t win enough, you can’t have enough money, you can’t succeed enough. There is not enough. The only thing that will ever satiate that existential thirst is love. And I just remember that day I made the shift from wanting to be a winner to wanting to have the most powerful, deep, and beautiful relationships I could possibly have.”

Will says that in his house they have this quote up on the wall:

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” Pema Chödrön

Will summarises the meaning of these words for his family:

“We call it leaning into the sharp parts. Something hurts, lean in. You just lean into that point until it loses its power over you. There’s a certain amount of suffering that you have to be willing to sustain if you want to have a good life.”

The Single Worst Question you can Ask yourself

Do you know what is the worst question that you can ask yourself?

It is a powerful question If you intend to avoid living a life that is fulfilling at all the levels: safety, risk, connection, significance, growth and contribution.

What big goals do you have for yourself?  (You do have them, whether you have taken the time to write them out or not.) What is the next step?  The step that takes you from where you are today towards where you need to be for your goal to become realised.

Now, when you look at that step, there is a question that is guaranteed to kill the chance of you achieving the goal.

It is guaranteed to stop you taking action.

It might be fitness action, it might be relationships action, it might be learning reaction, it might be better eating action… but this question is guaranteed to stop you.

The Kill-Joy Question

It is a simple question, it seems a reasonable question to ask oneself.

I hear it all the time.

It gets into every nook and cranny of our lives, it seeps in to every effort.

I use it too often myself.

The Small Life Question

What is the question?

“Do I feel like doing this?”

Each day is an opportunity to make an incremental difference in how your journey in life pans out in the long-term.

Every day that you do “what you feel like doing” is a day that doesn’t build you a better platform for tomorrow, nor does it give a sense of a day used for fulfilment today.

Do I feel like writing now?  No.

Do I feel like going for a run before lunch?  No.

Do I feel like calling my accountant and getting our accounts closed before year end?  No.  (Definitely no).

Do I feel like making a detailed plan for 2015?  No.

Even the things that make me happy, are things that I don’t feel like doing just before I start.

PS You probably already know this, but this is an important reminder to myself this morning…

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