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Edited Feelings…

A few weeks ago, I was asked by an executive to give a “motivational” talk to her direct reports. She had first seen me two years ago as I gave a talk on ‘why Change Management is important in organisations’ at one of their company year-end events. Our account executive in my previous job had asked if I could volunteer to do this talk as it would assist with stakeholder relations and assist us in maintaining and gaining more business. So, I agreed and thought it would just be a quick talk. Little did I know that post that event, I had touched a few people’s heart. This same executive, called me last year and asked if I could give a talk to a group of managers. I got the call again this year and by the look of things, the demand for this has increased as the managers insisted that I should also give the talk to their employees and not only keep it at the management level.

Why am I sharing all this? Reality is; if it were up to me, I would not do public speaking. I get super nervous and often feel inadequate, but a lesson I have learnt is that, it’s not about me. It’s about releasing what’s inside of me for the betterment of humanity.

For some odd reason, few days before this year’s talk, I was extremely nervous. The executive only gave me a three-day notice and because of my work deadlines I didn’t have much time to prepare. But the afternoon before, I found a space, put on my music and started attempting to put a message together. I always tell the people I address that, I am not a motivational speaker but rather I consider myself a vessel who shares insights. So, I prayed to God and asked that he would speak through me. Ideas started flowing as I began to put together the presentation. The day finally came; as I drove there I was praying and did heavy breathing exercises to calm my nerves down.

I arrived at the meeting, they called my name and as soon as I stepped onto that stage, it just felt like wisdom began to pour out of me effortlessly. After the talk, everyone was so amazed and some provided such great comments. All I could think about was ‘if only they knew how nervous I was and how inadequate I felt before stepping onto the stage’. I did what needed to be done, who knows perhaps some of the words I shared made someone’s life better and to think I wanted to cancel because I didn’t “feel” confident and felt that there are much better people than me who can do an even better job.

But we must realize that our feelings and thoughts are not always a true reflection. I’ve grown more in spaces where I felt inadequate. If you don’t get into the habit of editing your feelings; you are not going to achieve anything significant. What do I mean by edited feelings? Just because you feel nervous about doing something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do that thing. Get to the root cause and don’t miss opportunities because of how you “feel” and “think”. Talk back to how your feel, if you feel scared and nervous it’s okay, it’s part of being human. But talk back to those feelings and do the absolute opposite of what you feel, especially if the thing you need to do is necessary for improving society.

Obey all laws no matter how foolish you think they seem…

A few days ago, I was heading to a session and I had to GPS my way to the venue as I didn’t know where it was located. So, my GPS routed me to this very quiet road where there weren’t many cars. There were a few STOP signs on that road and as I was driving, approaching one of the STOP signs I quickly looked around and saw that there were no cars coming and I just drove pass the sign without stopping. What a big mistake as I didn’t realise that the police were in the vicinity and one of the officers stopped me. He asked me why I didn’t stop at the STOP sign and really reprimanded me for endangering the lives of others. I did realise I was very wrong and poured my heart out apologising, as he was about to write a ticket for me, he decided to rather give me a lecture about being more careful and let me go. As I drove, I really felt bad about what I had done and remembered the words a friend once shared when someone was narrating a story to us. Her words were “always obey all laws no matter how foolish you think they seem”.

The background story for the above words goes like this: a group of friends went on a safari and the signs that were all over the animal park were – “don’t go near the lions and don’t feed the lions”. But of course, in this social media selfie and “it didn’t happen if it’s not on social media” world, one of the people in this group wanted to get close to the lions. Maybe at the back of their heads, they reasoned that ‘I’m sure nothing will happen’. The sad turn of events is that when they got close to take a picture next to the lions, the lion attacked and this individual was severely injured. As we were all in shock and feeling sympathetic about the incident – the words “always obey all laws no matter how foolish you think they seem” came.

I was just reflecting that as people we are always quick to complain about how lawless our politicians and police officers are and yet a lot of us in many ways are law breakers. Some of the lawless deeds we commit are: We don’t pay for our vehicle license disks on time; we go over the speed limits and don’t pay for our tickets. We don’t pay for our TV license; we pay people who work for us less than the basic minimum wage as stipulated by the law. Some don’t pay TAX and at work, we “cook-up” information in our reports so that we are seen to be hard workers. The list is endless and if we are truly honest with ourselves we can all find an area where we have broken the law.

Not obeying the law does something to the human heart. We often judge criminals, the reason criminals are criminals is because their conscience has been seared, but it started out small. If you trace the history of most criminals you will realise that their journey to crime started with disobeying small everyday laws and that eventually graduated to disobedience of much bigger laws. The more you get used to breaking these simple everyday laws, the more you will fall into a trap of breaking “bigger” laws as your heart will not see anything wrong.

If you break the normal citizen laws, you will eventually break the law in your career, business and other personal relations – (that’s if you haven’t started already). Let’s not be hypocritical, if we going to hold our political leaders accountable for justice – lets also in our private moments be law abiding.

Forensic Positives…

The SA Idols music show is amongst the few television programmes I really enjoy watching. Season 13 is underway and we have witnessed so many dreams being shattered at theatre week and so many dreams coming true with the selection of the top 10. I believe if season 13 is top season 12, the standout stars will need to start shining fast.

There is something I have noticed from the contestants in every season that runs like an invisible thread.

During the audition stages when the judges go to various provinces, most of the people wait with mixed anticipation to receive Randall’s feedback. Over the years, Randall has been the one judge, who I can say “judges with an iron fist”. He is not easily impressed no matter how good someone may sound and he gives very honest, sometimes brutally honest feedback. Some people perceive him to be very difficult and harsh in his feedback.

During theatre week and live performances, I’ve noticed that, if the other judge’s praise a contestant’s performance and Randall comes with a negative comment, the contestant leaves the stage a bit down-cast. However, if they receive very positive feedback from all the judges, including Randall, they are overjoyed.

So why does Randall’s feedback matter so much to most of the contestants? I think the answer lies in the wisdom; someone I consider a “Thought Leader”, Paul Scanlon shared. You see, we constantly encouraged in various spheres of our lives to ignore the critics. But Paul shared that, “the reason the things ‘our’ critics say carry so much weight, is because they are forensic with their negatives”. What this means is that, in most instances the critics pay extremely close attention to your “flaws” and when they give feedback it’s not “wishy washy” because their aim is to make sure that feedback stings; makes you think and perhaps makes you change your behaviour.

Paul’s power line was that, “If we intend on growing people sustainably, the positive feedback we give cannot be “wishy washy”, but it also has to be forensic”. Perhaps the reason why people take Randall’s comments so seriously is because intrinsically they know that he thoroughly thinks things through before saying them. And over the years I have come to appreciate Randall’s feedback even more because in most instances when he says someone will not make it, they don’t and when he says someone will make it, they usually do. What I love most about Randall’s judging technique, is that when he judges people, he doesn’t judge them solely on whether they can sing or not but he wears a big picture hat and to him it’s always about “are you going to win the competition or not”. There are a lot of people who can sing, but singing and winning are two different things. Over and above musical talent, winning encompasses things like discipline, being strategic, being adaptable, being teachable, being consistent and as much as someone may be able to ‘sing’ they may not always possess attributes to win. I believe Randall, looks at whether a person will have longevity in the music industry; an industry that gives so much and takes away much.

The lesson I am learning in all this is that, if we intend on raising great leaders and impacting people positively – we need to give people feedback that’s not short sighted but feedback informed by foresight. Our positive feedback can’t only be applicable for the here and now, but we should be forensic and sometimes the feedback may sound tough at the time but I think in time, if your motive for providing feedback is pure – than that should be underscored as a forensic positive.

Lessons that touched me at the Leaderex conference…

I was so excited to receive an invite for the Leaderex conference. I had no idea that my encouragement and clarity of life’s journey would come from the various nuggets of wisdom the speakers I listened to shared. The profoundness of what was shared was not anything new, but they reminded me of simple life changing truths I had forgotten and shared new insights on ordinary concepts. Allow me to care and share with you my interpretation some of the nuggets below:

  • At school, we are taught how to read, write, comprehend etc, but we have not been taught to listen well. Some of the biggest issues in relationships whether personal or in the work space stem from a lack of active listening.
  • Question to leaders – do you listen to allow your team to solve their own problems or do you listen to give a quick solution? The speaker mentioned that sometimes when you listen intently and deeply to someone you will notice that the wisdom they need to solve their own problems is within them and it will come out. This reminded me of the proverb that says, “Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.” Proverbs 20:5-7 (NLT).
  • We cannot seek to address the social issues of the marginalised population sitting in big city conference centres and boardrooms. That’s like providing a prescription/medication for a problem you have not thoroughly diagnosed. We ought to co-create solutions with those we are attempting to help.
  • We live in a world where everyone wants to be right, but not everyone wants to be understanding of other people’s views. We all should understand that the world is filled with different kinds of people and they all have a right to live because the creator deems it fit.
  • If you are the leader of your business – continuously communicate your vision with your team. Don’t assume that since you have mentioned it before and it burns in you that everyone else is on the same page.
  • The relevance of the MBA? MBAs are very useful but you need to know what to get out of it. An MBA should not be used as a token of status but rather as an effective tool in shaping your business idea.
  • Wisdom is all around us – Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; we can learn from the different business models who have made it to build a successful empire.
  • Choose your business partners very carefully – make sure there is vison alignment with the partners otherwise your vision will be “contaminated”.
  • When you start something, don’t expect perfection in the beginning. Start with enough and other things will become clearer and better as you go along.
  • Focus – know what you are pursuing, there will be other people who will want to add to what your dream should be, but be unrelenting in your pursuits.
  • Prepare to learn about yourself, the good and the bad stuff and be okay that it’s part of your daily life walk.
  • You should keep learning, its hard but not learning and growing is dangerous.
  • To keep learning, you must be comfortable with failure. How you handle failure determines how successful you become.
  • Have shameless persistence – keep knocking on doors, don’t give up.
  • Story telling is an underestimated, but effective communication mechanism. In fact, story telling should be default for communication as the things people remember the most are things told in stories.

Hope you find these nuggets useful…let me know your thoughts?

 
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