Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are these 21 Business Limiting Beliefs Holding You Back?

One of the important exercises we take our clients through is uncovering the limiting beliefs that hold them back. There are literally hundreds of limiting beliefs, but each person and organization has their own unique set. You might ponder a few of these to see if you have them on your personal list or if they're alive and well in your company.
We call them limiting beliefs because they limit personal and organizational performance by sucking the energy out of people. For example, if we believe that firefighting is normal, we never do anything to put an end to it. We just work harder, faster and longer. This may be seen as heroic, but in fact, it just takes us away from building the company.

1. Fire Fighting is normal
2. People don't care
3. Working more hours will make a difference
4. Empowerment is the same as delegation, but with more rope
5. Managing is the same as leading
6. Bad communication is just the way things are
7. Being an entrepreneur or business owner makes you a CEO
8. The boss knows best
9. People just want to be told what to do
10. People don't change
11. Training is the same as transformation
12. Other CEOs know more than you do about your company
13. Emotions have no place in business
14. The customer is more important than your people
15. The customer knows what they want
16. Leadership always knows what to do
17. Business is separate from one's personal life
18. Performance and behavior can be managed
19. While business is about people, working with people, doing stuff, for people, the stuff is more important than the people
20. Profit is the main reason for a business
21. Education and past experience matter more than personality.

Limiting beliefs in an organization are invisible, destructive and persistent. They keep us disengaged. And the interesting thing is, the person or situation that caused the belief to begin with can be long gone, but the belief will live on until called into question. If you find you subscribe to some of these, well, great, awareness is the first step toward letting go of what no longer serves you.

Now, let's take this to the next level; how many limiting beliefs do you have about yourself, your family, your clients? And how are those limiting beliefs holding you back?

Friday, October 1, 2010

To be a 21st Century Leader, be You!

I remember the first time my grandson Chai came aboard Sea Fever. He was so excited that after just an hour of watching me handle the boat, he sat on my lap and asked if he could steer. I explained that the correct way to ask for the helm was, “Permission to take the helm, Captain?” He quickly asked me using his new language and I returned his request with, “Permission granted, Chai.” and stepped out of the way.
Chai turned out to be a great student, but more than just learning the vocabulary of sailing, he had an intuitive sense of it – a unique ability. As he stood at the helm I watched him over-steer a few times but he quickly fell into the rhythm of the boat as it reacted to the wind and the waves to keep Sea Fever on its intended course. It was simply amazing to see a 7 year old, standing on the seat so he could see over the cabin top, handle a 50 foot boat with such determination and confidence. And boy could he keep a course. Much better that some of my long time sailing partners.

What I taught Chai certainly helped him with the mechanics of sailing, but who he is made him a sailor. In other words, he had what he needed already to be a sailor. He had, for example, a sense of rhythm, a sense of well being on the sea, and an internal confidence to stand up to what many adults have told me is an intimidating sport. He also never got seasick. For Chai to be a great captain, he simply needed the opportunity.

To be a 21st Century Leader, be you.

Not a Ronald Reagan clone. Not a Jack Welsch clone. Not a "Good to Great" clone. They were unique. You are unique. You cannot be exactly like anyone else any more than they can be exactly like you. And that's true for companies, organizations and countries as well. Each is a unique entity based upon their purpose, passion, culture, unique abilities and core values. Iraq will never be America any more that you will ever be Bill Gates.

Yes, we all need to be taught the mechanics of sailing, and that’s true of business as well. But who we are as a human being will determine how well we sail and what kind of leader we will be.

We write and read about successful leaders with the hope of being able to model their behaviors. The idea here is that if we do what they did then we will have similar success. And if you think about it, that's what most business and history books do, they describe behaviors as observed from the outside. If we can see the 25 traits of Good to Great leaders then, it is thought, if we follow every one of them, well, maybe we can build a Great company as well. Tom Peters is always finding the 85 things you must absolutely do right now or die. And oh, if you don't do all 85 of them just the way he says, you’re gonna die! Nonsense.

I am not saying the 85 things aren't smart, aren't good things to consider, but you will never, in a million years, do them exactly like the person or company that originated them did, and so you will never, in a million years, be successful exactly like they have been. One person's best practice can be another's disaster.

As a student and practitioner of NLP (NuroLinguistic Programming) I am well aware of the effect self-talk and language has on behavior and subsequent performance. I also know that modeling is a legitimate technology that one can employ to move a person or an organization forward. Sort of fake it until you make it. But there is one question every self help guru asks themselves sooner or later: Why won't they just do what I tell them to do? Why isn't every one of Robert Allen's students a real estate mogul like he is? Why isn't every one of T. Harv Eker's students wealthy beyond belief like he is?

There is no silver bullet. You cannot be someone else, so stop it.

Begin at the beginning. Who are you? Why are you here? What are you uniquely capable of? Answer these questions and you will be as unique and as valuable as any in the world. And you will have a sense of confidence in yourself no one outside of you can ever give you.

According to Patricia Aburdene's recent book, Megatrends 2010, in which she says, and boy do I ever agree with her, "The cornerstone of effective leadership is self-mastery. But that's exactly what's missing in business today." After working with over three hundred leaders across six different cultures, this has been my experience and contention for over 20 years now. The 21st Century leader must begin with self-mastery before he can ever hope to master the power of empathy and relationships much less the ability to then create a game worth playing.

Be yourself, Captain.

Sail On.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Letting Go

Every ten years I take a sabbatical for a year. This one was different. In November of 2009 my wife Frances and I made the decision to leave our home of almost 30 years in Thousand Oaks, California and move to Garden City, Idaho. We live on a farm. An old piece of family property that was no longer being used for anything other than to store a life time's worth of memories for my 86 year old father-in-law. The 1937 F-12 FarmAll Tractor (above, right) only a small part of his memories. The three barns (he calls them sheds) contain the rest.

As I come up toward the end of my sabbatical in November, I am going to be sharing some of the lessons I learned living in an unfamiliar place, a place out of the mainstream, a place that is full of peace, happiness and unexpected challenges to my previous experiences.

Stay tuned.