The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.
I have decided to stop regularly watching the news!
By drastically reducing my intake of news (electronic and print), I feel much happier. Now some might accuse me of simply trying to ignore the reality of what is going on in the world in a selfish attempt to focus upon my own little world.
My simple response to that is, "What proportion of the 'reality' out there is even being drawn to our attention by the mainstream media?" (In fact, what proportion of reality, is it even POSSIBLE for us to know about?)
Last week I went to the dentist for an overdue check up. I'd had no problems with my teeth in the last year and as I he looked in my mouth, the dentist could see no problems. However, we agreed it was time for an x-ray to make sure. This showed something else. One tooth had a lot of decay beneath the surface. The dentist was a little surprised I not had any problem with it and recommended I book in for a filling ASAP. I said to the receptionist that perhaps I could wait until after my 3 week trip to Australia. She said it is not worth the risk. .... She was right.
Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck noticed the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset". Now people may vary in their innate abilities and potential, but which of these mindsets they choose can have a huge impact.
People with a fixed mindset assume their capabilities are already set. They therefore place a limit on themselves and will miss opportunities.
Those with a growth mindset recognise that application and experience enables them to achieve more in life. And so they usually do!
The very next day, I was having lunch with a friend and former client, Will Freeborough. Will is the Managing Partner of Orchestra (www.orchestra-agency.com), a fabulous marketing and advertising agency in central London.
In 2000, I had to take an honest look at myself when a colleague said this to me: "Peter, sometimes in meetings you say things that don't need to be said."
Upon reflection, I could see myself trying to justify my existence in the organisation. I was wanting to show how "clever" I was. In fact, what I was doing was making "noise" that wasted time whilst revealing a lack of deep confidence and self-awareness!
Not wanting to make a fool of myself again in this way, I made an important decision. Whenever I felt the urge to speak I would ask myself ONE SIMPLE QUESTION.
There may be some truth in this broad generalisation.
If we look at cultural/social conditioning, men tend to be socialised to appear strong, confident and in control. It is considered more acceptable for a woman to question herself, whether it is around professional competency or physical attractiveness.
We can experience the imposter syndrome when we find ourselves in a situation and then start to question whether we're actually good enough to be there, and whether we'll cope with any challenges. There is a little voice inside our head telling us that we may fail because we are trying to do something we've not done before. We can feel like a fraud, waiting to be found out!
How we relate with that little voice makes all the difference.
Here are 3 different ways (illustrated by examples from my own life):
If you have teenage children you know that they can start to get more expensive.
We were keen to see James start doing some part time work. Not just to give him some extra money but to help him: (1) gain experience working with others to create value in exchange for payment (2) appreciate the value of money (3) build confidence in his capacity to go out to work.
James was interested in getting some part time work (especially as some of his friends have started part time jobs while they study) but was perhaps a little fearful of the unknown and/or rejection, like many of us are.
I must confess I was unaware of how King George VI (father of Queen Elizabeth II) had to overcome his affliction of stammering, particularly after his brother Edward VIII abdicated from the throne, leaving George with no alternative but to step into the crucial figurehead role when Britain was entering World War II.
Childhood trauma carried into adult life was clearly a factor behind his afflication and it was the unorthodox methods of an ex-actor from Australia, Lionel Logue, that helped prepare him physically and mentally for leadership and speaking powerfully.