In order to do, you must be
A few weeks ago I heard an inspiring interview with Tim Ferris and Terry Crews. I am a huge Terry Crews fan. Great guy. Turns out Terry Crews has a lot of wisdom to offer. The interview gets really deep and Terry talks about his motivations and how he has pushed through life striving for greatness despite being surrounded by difficulty and tribulation. He talks about always having a picture in his head of how he wants a painting to look, or how he wants the scene to look, or how he wants to look physically but he can never achieve it – it is always just out of reach. For Terry, chasing this vision and trying to attain it is his driving force. One of the ways Terry chases these visions and goals is to embody them in the present and be who he wants to be right here, right now.
During the interview Terry mentions a book called “The Master Key System” and highlights an interesting concept that is gleaned from the book:
In order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do” you must “be”
Mumbo-jumbo right? Essentially what this is saying is whoever and whatever you want to do, just do it now. Embody the mindset of that future you, now. If you want to be a leader in the future and you aren’t there yet BE a leader NOW. How do you become something that you currently aren’t? Well, what would a leader do? How would a leader act? What habits would a leader exhibit?
Personally, I think this is really powerful. If you understand the mindset that you are striving for and try to embody it, you will soon become it. It isn’t “fake it till you make it”, it is “fake it till you become it”.
Without even thinking that this is what I was doing at the time, I can see many instances where I have done this. I am always one who seizes opportunities so there have been plenty of times in my career where I have been asked to do something, I have had no idea what to do, but I approached the task with confidence as if I knew what I was doing. In the end, I just became good at the task.
A lot of people have an idea of what they want to be or the type of person they want to be in the future but don’t actually do anything about it now. In a way, most people act as if they think that one day they will just wake up and they will be successful, or generous, or kind, or rich. Instead, they should ask what would a successful person do? What would a generous person do? What would a kind person do? What would a rich person do?
I have read hundreds of personal development books, but this is the one that clearly showed me how to visualize, contemplate, and focus on what it was I truly wanted. It revealed to me that we only get what we desire most, and to apply myself with a laserlike focus upon a goal, task, or project. That in order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do” you must “be” — and this process is immediate. Although it takes time for these desires to manifest in our material world, you must see the thing you desire as completed, finished, and real, now. The better you can do this, the more you can accomplish. I have bought several copies of this book and distributed it to family and friends. I also reread it probably once a month to keep my vision clear.
The practice of BE
Time to give this a go and see what I come up with…
What do I want to be in the next few years?
A leadership expert
What does a leadership expert look like?
A leadership expert is confident. They have a breadth of knowledge and know what they are talking about. They have read various books from different respected authors. They have an understanding of how other companies lead – what works and what doesn’t in which circumstances. A leadership expert will give talks. A leadership expert will write books.
What can I do now to become a leadership expert?
Be confident. Know my stuff. Read various books from different respected authors. Understand how other companies lead – what works and what doesn’t and in which circumstances. Give talks. Write a book.
Wow OK. Looks like I have a goal and a plan of what to do to get there but instead of having a milestone based plan I have something immediate. I can, right now start to “be”, “read”, “understand”, “talk”, “write”. Definitely a great exercise to do and a great practice to do regularly. What I am doing is visualising who I want to be, then I am asking myself what does that person do that makes them who they are and then I take that and say I will do all those things right now, therefore this person I want to be is me in this very moment.
Your body language can change who you are
Interestingly there is some science behind being to become. A social psychologist called Amy Cuddy has a famous TED talk in which she discusses how the act of physically doing something can change our minds and how we feel. She runs various experiments where people do different poses, some do power poses
and some do the opposite, a lower pose.
What Amy found was that in situations where people did power poses their cortisol (stress hormone) went down and testosterone (dominance hormone) went up. The opposite was true for those who made themselves small and subdued in a lower pose. So this means that even when we don’t feel confident and powerful we can use our body to trick our brain into thinking we are. Awesome.
I have been a best man twice and thinking back to my speeches I remember being pretty nervous. I was determined that this nervousness would not be displayed. In fact, I was going to ensure that I would beam out confidence with my body, actions and the way I talked. Each time, as I started my speech in this way I felt confident – maybe not at the start but now I am certain that my chemistry changed. When I got feedback about those speeches people thought it was great, funny and most importantly – confident. When I told people I was actually quite nervous about it they would say “you sure fooled me”, or “you didn’t look nervous”. I have taken this approach in every speech and presentation I have given since and it definitely works.
Next time you have a big presentation, or interview or sports event just take a couple of minutes and do a power pose (raise your hands in the air like you just won a game, sit like you own the room, or stand like Cristiano Ronaldo taking a free kick). Make yourself big and confident. Where your body leads, your brain shall follow!
Amy found that doing something now, trying to embody confidence and power using our bodies can change us. We become what we want to be. Check out Amy’s book on Amazon, it is a great read (Get it on Amazon: UK / US).
Are you letting your team be who they want to be?
It is all well and good focusing on ourselves but we also need to think about those we lead. I am sure you agree that everything I have said so far sounds pretty good – you want to be all that you can be and you will give yourself every opportunity to do that. However, what about your team? Do they have the opportunities they need to grow and become who they aspire to be?
Look at some of the top reasons for employees leaving work in a study conducted in 2017 by the Work Institute:
Top reasons given by employees for leaving their jobs: career development (22%), work-life balance (12%), managers’ behavior (11%), compensation and benefits (9%) and wellbeing (9%)
The top reason for someone leaving their career is career development, the opportunity for someone to develop themselves and grow into the person they want to be. So as a leader, you need to ask yourself whether you are allowing your team to grow. Do you even know what they are striving for? Who do they want to be? What are their goals and passions? I believe it is crucial to understand your team and what trajectory they want to grow in so that you are in a position to do something about it.
Normally I ask for a 5-year career goal from team members and what I could do to support them in achieving it. Some people have asked for regular candid reviews, some have asked for more training, some have asked for the opportunity to try something new. Who am I to be selfish and work on myself without also presenting that same opportunity to grow in my team? My father-in-law always says “look after your shoes and they will look after you” – I am saying, look after your team and they will look after you and the organisation. Your team are the vehicle to your success, but your success should not outweigh the value of your team.
In mentally healthy organisations 69% of employees were offered professional development opportunities (Mental Health America)
If one of your goals, like mine, is to be the best leader you can be you need to focus on how to create a good company culture and one of the best ways to create a good company culture is to give your teams the freedom to grow and develop. Empowerment is key.
42% of employees feel that executive leadership does not contribute to a positive company culture (Execu-Search)
- As always you must start with self-reflection – who do you want to be?
- What does the person you want to be like do?
- Do those things now. Embody the be with your do.
- Use your body to change your mind and become confident. Spend 2 minutes before doing something scary like an interview or presentation in a power pose (hands lifted high and wide apart).
- Make sure you let your team(s) grow into who they want to be too. Understand who they want to be and how you can help them get there.
I leave you with this lovely infographic. Good on you for reading this post and wanting to learn and grow to be the best leader you can be – keep at it, you will be one of the sought after minority.