Leadership Learning Personal Development

What if we’re wrong?

dunce kidIt starts at school. Our pathological fear of being wrong. We are taught that being wrong is embarrassing, undesirable and will get us into trouble.  We learn that being wrong is bad. Our desire to be right has some pretty nasty consequences.


What’s wrong with wrong?

Absolutely nothing! As a species we are obsessed with getting it right, seeking perfection and avoiding mistakes at all costs. This is simply not possible. I’m not advocating that we deliberately give up… I’m suggesting that being wrong about something isn’t an indication of your value or worth. It is a part of being human. The only thing wrong about being wrong is how we fear it, avoid it and punish ourselves and others for it.

Challenging assumptions that make us right

Even when we are wrong, we will justify that we are right. This introduces some assumptions that can play havoc in our lives. When people disagree with us it is natural to assume some things…  like they are ignorant; they are idiots and just can’t connect the dots; or they know the truth but disagree because they are bad. Thinking that other people are wrong, and we are right, can cause us to treat people unfairly, not to mention some indignation, irritation and unhappiness. It can also prevent us from experiencing some great learning that introduces new possibilities! Imagine your reaction if you were to realize that you were wrong about something. Now imagine that instead of beating yourself up, feeling miserable and retreating into a cocoon of isolation; that being wrong opens a door to possibilities you didn’t even know existed. That isn’t so bad, is it?

Help break the stigma of wrongness

The next time you catch yourself, or someone else, (and especially your kids) doing, thinking or lose the fear of being wrongbehaving a way that you decide is wrong – pause! Instead of trying to correct them, challenge yourself to see it from their perspective. If we work out how to separate the doing, thinking or behaviour from the person, it becomes possible to provide a learning experience for ourselves and others. This approach is only effective when we address it without anger, frustration, irritation or contempt. I invite you to try this just ONCE. Really give it a go. I’m pretty confident that you will be surprised at the results –  if not, does it matter if I’m wrong?

There is nothing wrong with trying to get it right. It drives our intention to improve, push boundaries, innovate and grow. Being right isn’t a bad thing… it’s just not the only thing. The message is that we are all going to be wrong, sooner or later, and that is ok.

If you are interested in learning more find an inspirational TedTalk video by Kathryn Schultz on being wrong in our video inspiration section. She uncovers some surprising consequences and inspires us to embrace our very human nature.

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Leadership Personal Development

How we sabotage our own success

self sabotageWhether you ride a bicycle or a Ferrari you are able to experience success. I posed a question to the founder of the Neurobusiness Group, Dr. Srini Pillay, on whether he experienced what I perceived to be ‘the height of success’. His response was humbling, with far reaching implications.

Depth – not height – of Success

When asked whether he experiences, from my perspective, the ‘height’ of success, he responded “I don’t think success has a height – maybe an endless depth.” Once again I am struck by the power of words and meaning on our experiences in life.   All of a sudden, success becomes accessible to everyone. Think about the word height. Does it feel far away, reachable only with effort, almost like something you have to ‘do’? Now think about ‘depth’. Does this feel easier, deeper and almost like a natural consequence?

Mine your own Success

Many of us feel that success is a consequence of achievement. Very often it is measured in wealth, status and power. The very measure is enough to trigger our ‘that’s impossible’ internal dialogue, and once we believe that it is impossible – it becomes impossible. But what if we could adjust the way we measure success? What else could success look like? What else could success mean? This allows us to explore internal frames of reference for success. We are looking at how we are able to experience success, as opposed to what we have to do, to achieve it. Where we are isn’t as important as how we feel about where we are.

A little goes a long way

Dr. Pillay prescribes ‘imagining’ our way to success. Imagining strengthens our brains GPS system to navigate toward the things we want. Feel lost, stuck, blocked, empty or just ‘off track’? Harness the power of your subconscious mind to steer you where you want to go. All you have to do is uncover what you really want. It sounds simple… but it is pretty challenging. Are you clear on what you really want? Can you imagine what it will look, smell, feel, taste and sound like? If you believed that anything was possible – what would you dare to allow yourself to want? Unless you send your subconscious GPS clear signals of the destination, it is not able to direct you there.

We are all navigating an uncertain and turbulent future. We are expected to improve results under increasingly complex conditions. It is very easy, under these conditions, to lose sight of our own ability to influence our direction. Decide what success means to you and go for it!

For more information, find this Tedtalk by Dr. Srini Pillay on Wired for Success – The Science of Possibility in our collection of inspirational videos. Dr. Pillay is the founder and CEO of The NeuroBusiness Group, a part time assistant professor at Harvard and author of ; Your Brain and Business; The Science behind the Law of Attraction and  Life Unlocked.

We are interested in your success stories! Please share your experiences with us, and if you found this article useful – share it with your networks.

Change Leadership

How are you ‘showing up’?

show upI had an insightful conversation with a new client about ‘showing up’. It was a refreshing take on leadership development, not from the perspective of training leadership skills, but empowering individuals and teams to ‘show up’ in a way that is meaningful, relevant, inspired and engaged.

What is ‘showing up’?

How do you perceive your value in the workplace? How do others see you? What difference does your presence make? Showing up is about owning your space. It is about standing up for the value you are trying to achieve. It is easy to get distracted by meetings, office politics, reports, productivity and many other things – but how much do you allow these things to influence your purpose within your role?

What if I’m not ‘showing up’ the way I want to?

Congratulations. Awareness is the first step to ‘showing up’ the way you want to. It means you can see a gap – and where you can see a gap, you can close it. It’s helpful to go ‘back to basics’ here. Where is the possibility in your role? What are you delivering that has personal value to you? When you connect with what you are doing, when you believe in why you are doing it, it has a tendency to motivate and inspire you, as well as those around you. Passion is key here. Find your passion and ‘showing up’ powerfully becomes possible.

Why does this matter?

When we are personally invested in what we do, we find work more meaningful and rewarding which has impressive results on performance. It is the difference between doing a job you get paid for and doing something that provides learning, enjoyment and an extension of purpose.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give – Winston Churchill

So, what now?

Once you have made a choice to ‘show up’ more powerfully there are several things that you can focus on to build some momentum. The first is to gain clarity on your current reality. How engaged are you on a scale of 1 – 10? The second step is to decide where you would like to be. How engaged do you want to be on a scale of 1 – 10? Once you know the gap you are able to experiment with various ways to close it. Find what works best for you and prepare yourself for a little discomfort on the way. It really helps to develop a ‘possibility’ mindset here. Another great motivator is to surround yourself with people who are ‘showing up’ the way you would like to.

How we experience the workplace, and our lives, is a choice. Our attitudes, perceptions and assumptions all play a role in the quality of our lives. Remember – reality is just a construct of the meaning we associate to everything, to our predisposition toward potential and the way we choose to see the world.

Watch this Tedtalk by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who talks about show up, speak up, look up, never give up and lift others up as a way to positively effect change.

We are interested in your success stories! Please share your experiences with us, and if you found this article useful – share it with your networks.


What if I’m a really terrible leader?

bad leaderLeadership has taken on dimensions that require a full time focus. Unfortunately, there are other requirements in the workplace – and almost no time to concentrate on becoming ‘the best leader that ever lived in the universe’. So what now? Do we pack up our stuff and resign ourselves to the cubicle next to the toilets? I think NOT.

 Play to your strengths and OWN your weaknesses

If you are in a senior role that supports a team there is likely something that got you there. Whether this is technical ability or problem solving genius… you’ve done something that stands out. That doesn’t go away just because you can’t ‘motivate’ others to jump into the fountain at the company year-end party. If you struggle to nurture or develop people, if you struggle to empathize or support – it doesn’t make you a bad person, or a useless employee.

Lower the bar

Overachievers don’t accept anything less than ‘the best’. When we set standards that are virtually impossible to achieve, we aren’t doing ourselves any favours. In fact, the pressure of achieving ‘The Best’ status prevents us from acknowledging improvements… because we are still so far away from where we want to be. I’m not advocating giving up – I’m saying ‘get real’. What is really possible?

Don’t be a jerk about it

Just because we aren’t able to achieve our goals of being a super hero leader, doesn’t mean it is ok to act like a jerk about it. Admitting that you struggle with something might just allow people to see that you are human. They might even be willing to go the extra mile for you. Don’t mess up this kink of human nature (cheering the underdog) by becoming a tyrant. A boss can get things done by power – don’t be THAT boss!

It’s not about you

Being a great leader is not about you – it’s about your team. It’s about their goals, their abilities, leadershiptheir experience. For people wired to ‘win’ it is a challenge to put away the ego. It’s amusing to watch people pursue ‘leadership’ the same way they would for presentation skills or reading financial statements. Leadership is about the results you achieve through others (because they want to).  We are leaders when our teams are engaged, developed, heard, supported, stretched and willing. We don’t learn leadership, it is a result of our behaviour. What effect does your behaviour have on your team?


Some people are natural leaders – for the rest of us it’s about taking it one step at a time. We don’t have to go from one extreme to the other. We can improve gradually by making small tweaks. It’s about eating the elephant one bite at a time.

We are interested in your success stories! Please share your experiences with us, and if you found this article useful – share it with your networks.

Leadership Personal Development

How to ‘Fail-Proof’ your life

i can i willFailure – it’s a very FINAL word. It’s demotivating, depressing and avoided at all costs. The problem is: if you aren’t failing – you aren’t trying. If you aren’t trying… what results can you really expect? I would like to invite you to look at failure in a whole new light. Imagine viewing failure as nothing more than a feedback mechanism. Imagine what you could do…. if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Find a new meaning for failure

How we feel about anything is dependent on the meaning we give it. If failure means we are useless, stupid and weak then it makes sense that we will avoid anything that could end up that way.  We naturally want to protect our self-worth. What failure really means is that we haven’t achieved the results we set out for. It means we are working on achieving something. We are stretching out of our comfort zone. We are daring to do something we aren’t certain of. How wonderful! Our self-worth is actually increased when we invite risk, try new things, push our boundaries and challenge ourselves.

Embrace ‘Not Yet’

Traditionally, failure is like saying “The End” after a story. It means there is no chance of success. You can only fail when you stop trying. If you’re still trying – you haven’t failed yet. As long as you can say ‘not yet’ it means you haven’t given up finding a way to achieve your goal. By saying ‘not yet’ we introduce potential, we encourage growth and keep the focus on moving forward.

Mix it up

A single minded approach is bound to cause trouble. When you focus on a single thing, at the expense of other interests, it is bound to be more challenging to keep positive and motivated. The brain is a connection machine – it functions best with variety. How many great breakthroughs were achieved when the individual wasn’t actively trying to solve the problem at hand? AHA moments are more likely when you aren’t trying to ‘force’ your mind to come up with a solution. Give your subconscious space to work on the issue – it is vastly more powerful than our prefrontal cortex (where conscious thinking and problem solving takes place).

Uncover Possibility

Often, when we don’t succeed at something, we learn things that end up being even more important than the original goal. Sticking at something builds resilience, tenacity and strengthens your ability to delay gratification. Delayed gratification is rated as the highest indicator of whether children will grow into successful adults. The skills you learn while TRYING are the skills you need to succeed – in every aspect of your life.

We are interested in your success stories! Please share your experiences with us, and if you found this article useful – share it with your networks.

Leadership Personal Development

Leadership and the Lord Of The Rings

My secret is out. I am a Lord of the Rings junkie.

The overcoming of seemingly insurmountable odds, the breathtaking scenery and the knowledge that nothing will ever be the same again – no matter what happens.

While watching it…. let’s say for the second time….. I came to a realization. Frodo Baggins annoyed the living daylights out of me. My hero was Sam. Sam the dull. Sam the coward who can’t find the courage to talk to the girl of his dreams but faces true terror with a tiny sword to protect his hero. Without Sam I don’t think I could face Frodo’s ‘I wish this had never happened to me’ inner turmoil.

So what about life? Self-help sections are full of books on how to be the best, on how to be a great leader and on how to be better, stronger, faster. It is easy to lose sight of one single truth. We can’t all be Frodo. So when you figure out that you are not going to be the leading character what then? What does it take to be a first rate number two?

Followers, even more so than leaders, have to believe in what they are doing. Perhaps the motivations behind their belief differ from the leader – in the end this is irrelevant. The first rate follower provides the support, dots the I’s and crosses the t’s… cooks the food, carries the heaviest pack and protects the hero – even from himself.

If you are going to be a follower – be the best follower. The leaders have to get the job done but they cannot do it alone. It takes combined effort to face challenges, overcome obstacles and pioneer change. The world is full of average people doing extraordinary things. You never hear Sam complaining that Frodo didn’t appreciate his contribution or argue that his load was just as great. Sam believes so firmly in what he is doing that he does it without question or complaint. What a great gift to any hero.

Greatness can be achieved at any level. In every role.