He was asked by host Charlie Rose, “What is the most important lesson you have learned in the last ten years as the CEO of GE?”
Without hesitation Jeffrey answered.
He said, “I think it’s humility and the curiosity that comes with it. In other words, the big mistakes you make are when you stop asking questions, but if you’re hungry and humble and you are always digging for that extra piece of knowledge…that’s how the world works.”
While it is somewhat fashionable for CEO’s and thought leaders to list humility in leadership as one of the most desired qualities, I think there is a kernel of truth in it.
Here are the three powerful words that sum up this type of humility : “I Don’t Know”.
Any influencer should seek to balance the “I know” – i.e. confidence in yourself, your team, your vision – with the “I don’t know”.
The “I don’t know principle”, or humility, says this:
- I could be wrong.
- What I know is not from me.
- Where I have arrived is not because of me.
- I have been given so I can give.
- I am not better than any other human being.
- I am not invincible.
- We are all stupid, but in different things.
It’s both scary in it’s authenticity and powerful because of it’s affect on others.
That type of authenticity and humility is magnetic and pulls people together. And it builds HUGE levels of trust with others.
“I don’t know.”
So take the pressure off of yourself. We don’t need to be the the smartest person in the room.
Tap into the genius of others.
I’m sitting in a hotel room, traveling for some coaching appointments scheduled for tomorrow.
I bet you can’t guess what I did right before writing this?
Is your guess “lifting weights” because I’m huge? I appreciate that, but that’s not what I was doing.
Prior to sitting down to write this short blog post, I was watching clips of the best blind auditions on the show “The Voice.” (Did you know Keith Urban is a judge on the Australian version of the Voice? That felt like he was cheating on American Idol.)
Why was I doing that? Because I needed to get inspired to write.
I spent the day traveling from home to nice southern town in Kentucky…but it was a dreary, grey day and writing is the last thing I wanted to do.
So, I went to one of my standbys for a quick hit of inspiration, Voice auditions.
Is that a little weird? It is.
So is watching the, “How you do you like dem apples” scene in Good Will Hunting.
I do a lot of weird things, but here’s a secret. They work. Getting motivated isn’t a science. It’s an art, a messy art.
On any given day, there are about a billion things that can bring you down.
Arguing about politics.
Your bank account.
That sound your car started making that you pretended was just other cars near you but you can no longer deny it. The list goes on and on. Demotivators, not technically a word which in and of itself bums me out, don’t play fair. Why should we?
So do something weird until you get your hype back.
The truth is, it’s not weird if it works.
I have a friend who is about to walk away from his $100,000+ per year job.
They’re considered a successful leader. They’re team loves them….and they get phenomenal results.
The sense of mission and passion has never waned. There’s no problem being avoided.
Why are they about to call it quits?
He’s burned out. Tired. Completely drained emotionally, mentally – and it’s now affecting his close relationships.
When good people leave, I find that key decision-makers hesitate to ask the hard questions.
Instead, we make excuses vs. making changes that would have sustained good people.
Extracting value from people is often justified because there’s a fear of someone sitting idle, “Rusting Out” so to speak, and not being efficient.
Usually the opposite is the problem….the best and brightest drive themselves so hard they go past the point of no return.
The only cure for sustainability is a restoration of energy: emotionally, mentally and physically.
If you and I truly care, it requires an emphasis on driving health along with driving results.
It’s always about relationships and results. Never “Either/Or” but always “Both/And.”
What can you do to restore your own energy levels?
Einstein said “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
Exceptional things can happen with minimal talent.
In culture, we idolize talent, titles and temporary fame….confusing what’s exceptional with ego.
However, I’ve seen exceptional people shine when others’ have dismissed or discounted their potential.
Here are ten that have huge impact on our potential and performance:
- Be on time
- Work Ethic
- Body Language
- Being Teachable
- Doing Extra
- Being Prepared
Real influencers are leaders before others recognize them as a “leader.“
You don’t have to have a higher degree or a large “title” to impact those around you.
The most commented and “liked” tweet I ever sent happened several weeks ago.
Actually, October 8th to be exact.
I was surprised, honestly, of the response on social media including my personal Facebook page.
Here’s what I said: “I’ve decided to never burn bridges. Ever. Even if the other person attempts to pull away, seek to repair it if it’s within your power.”
Now I understand. We’ve all blown up relationships, either personally or professionally.
And, we’ve had others do something (or say something) towards us that completely destroyed the trust required to continue the relationship.
Could be a spouse, a friend, a coworker or a leader in our life.
But Bridges can be rebuilt.
How do you rebuild a bridge you’ve blown up?
And, how do you know when you can trust the other person enough to “rebuild” the bridge?
Here are four questions to ask:
1. Do they keep their word? (and am I willing to keep mine?)
This is where it starts. We have to count on them (and people have to learn that they can count on us) to deliver on promises. If you commit to following up on something, do it. No excuses.
If you can’t do it, proactively let the other person know.
For example, “Terri, last week I told you that I would get back to you with a proposal. However, I am waiting for a bid to come through from an outside vendor. It looks like that might add a week to my schedule.”
People are usually very forgiving if you take the initiative to communicate. However, if they have to chase you down, you lose points. Your reputation will take a hit.
2. Do they tell the truth? (And, am I willing to be honest with them moving forward?)
This is harder than it sounds. Most of us like to think of ourselves as truth-tellers. But it’s easy to round the numbers up, spin the facts, or conveniently leave out the evidence that doesn’t support our position.
But if we are going to build trust, then we have to commit ourselves to telling the truth—even when it is difficult or embarrassing.
People are more forgiving than you think. (Witness all the celebrities who have publicly blown it, apologized, and received a pass.) They don’t expect you to be perfect. However, they do expect you to acknowledge your mistakes and to come clean when you screw up.
3. Are they transparent and authentic? (Am I willing to be real with them first?)
People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. You have to take a risk and be vulnerable. This creates rapport and rapport builds trust.
However—and be warned!—you can’t use this as a gimic or a technique. If you do, people will see it as manipulation. Instead, you have to be authentic. The reason this builds trust is because you are demonstrating trust. You are taking the initiative to go first.
In essence, you are saying, “Look, I trust you. I am taking off my mask and showing you my true self. Some of it isn’t very pretty. But I am willing to take that risk, believing you will still accept me.”
4. Do they Give without any strings attached? (Am I willing to give first?)
Nothing builds trust like love. What does love have to do with the workplace?
As Tim Sanders points out in Love Is the Killer App, everything. You have to be willing to share your knowledge, your contacts, and your compassion—without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give, the more it builds trust. Giving lets others know that you know it’s not “all about you.” From this, people learn that they can trust you, because you have their best interests at heart.
Bridges can always be rebuilt.
Granted, in some situations, it can take years.
It takes doing the right things over a long period of time.
But in most cases, it won’t take that long. Relationships can be turned around quickly if both will take the steps needed to rebuild trust.
Nothing can replace Connection.
Connecting with friends.
Connecting with family
Connecting with God.
When we stop feeling connection, we slowly shrivel up on the inside.
When we don’t experience authentic connection, people quit. Quit marriages. Quit Friendships.
Quit their leaders and their jobs.
Building connection with others is our lifeline. It’s their lifeline as well.
In my humble opinion, “dis-connection” has become an epidemic: driving people to desperately find incomplete substitutes. Resulting in broken hearts, broken bodies and broken futures.
Yet, re-connecting restores the human heart. And nothing else can do that.
Studies are now showing that addictions and self-destructive choices are often driven by our unmet need of Connection.
No one strategically chooses a life goal to eventually live in depression or addiction (food, sex or drugs) or a deep distrust of others. This is all an attempt to heal the pain caused from dis-connection.
I watched the video below and it floored me. It explains so much about why people slip into addictive patterns to deal with personal pain.
And it presents a whole new perspective on the real cure for the human heart.
All of us fail.
In a difficult season several years ago, I learned that failure doesn’t have to be permanent. We can learn to fail forward.
Here’s the difference between permanent failure and temporary failure: Successful people fail often and learn more from that failure.
However, these two habits keep us in a never-ending failure cycle:
- Getting good at avoiding responsibility (and therefore blaming others).
- Acting on the urgent things in life at the expense of the important.
While it may seem like these two choices increase your chances for survival, in fact they merely insulate you from worthwhile failures.
Here are six random ideas that will help you FAIL Better, more often and with an inevitably positive upside:
- Grow yourself by doing hard things. The results? You grow both your competence and your character. You become a master at your craft.
- Find your “Why”. Most people get so focused on “what” they’re doing in life, they rarely focus on “why” (which is walking in purpose). You’ll eventually become excellent at your “what” because it’s empowered and inspired by your “why”.
- Engage with others. Bring people along with you. If you fail, they provide support and direction when you need them most.
- Be really clear about what the true risks are. Ignore the non-fatal risks that take so much of our focus away.
- Concentrate your energy on initiatives that you can influence, but prepare for external circumstances that could derail your plans.
- When you fail (and you will) be clear about it. Call it by name and outline specifically what you learned so you won’t make the same mistake twice. People who blame others for failure will never be good at failing, because they’ve never done it.
If that list frightened you, you might be getting to the heart of the matter.
If that list feels like the sort of thing you, your team, and colleagues could adopt as part of your culture, then perhaps you’re onto something……
People who make a real difference lead out of Influence, not Title.
And that person can be you.
Ever wish to really add value to others? Have more friends than you know what to do with?
It’s part of our make up to want acceptance and approval from our piers.
However, few ever fully understand the real things that make us attractive to others. This is absolutely vital as we seek to be gain influence in the lives of those around us.
Artie Davis defined the term “Craveable Leader” and shares several habits that actually make people “crave” to be around you:
- Listen to others’ ideas.
Nobody likes a “know it all.” So get over your own ideas, and actually become interested in someone else’s ideas. We all like to talk about ourselves and what we think. So, when we find a person who cares what we think, Bam! We love to be with them!
- Speak only good things about others.
Let me tell you a little secret. If you think talking about others, just the things, “you heard” is going to win you juicy friends, you are in for a world of hurt!
If you talk negatively about someone else around someone, they are going to ask themselves, “what are they saying about me?” Gossip will ruin your reputation and sabotage trust in a friendship, don’t go there!
- Give generously when you can.
Nobody likes a “mooch!” Don’t develop a reputation as the “cheap-o” of the group. There is a Proverb that says “everyone is a friend to him who gives gifts.”
Generosity makes people feel valued, and not used! So always pick-up one or two more checks, bring something to dinner. Be the one everyone knows will be generous. Not an issue of amount, but rather attitude!
- Initiate with others.
If you are sitting by the phone, waiting for the invitation.. you are in for a long wait! Get over yourself and make the contact. I know it is hard, always feeling you have to make the first move, but that’s just the way it is.
People feel appreciated and valued when we make the first move, but don’t keep score! Just always make the move. Done!
- Authenticity is irreplaceable!
Don’t put on a mask. Don’t try and be several different people around different groups. You will always be found out! Be yourself. Trust who God made you to be.
If they don’t like you, you don’t need them. Find, initiate and love those who love you for you! They are the only ones that will be there when you need a true friend!
These are some things I have noticed that make me attracted to others, even makes them “craveable.” As I reflect on areas where I am growing as a leader, I keep coming back to a few seemingly basic –yet foundational habits.
These are things I am still very much learning, so I don’t pretend mastery. Any others you have noticed?
Over the years, we’ve seen lots of changes in both high school and college sports. Better equipment, stronger pads and helmets, even better rules to foster sportsmanship among the players.
But in my opinion, the last move made in Wisconsin is a well-intended mistake.
Author and speaker Tim Elmore commented on this decision. He states: “The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association stated that certain chants are officially banned at games. Now, on the surface, this rule may sound logical—such as excluding off-color remarks or profanity. But this ruling goes far beyond inappropriate language. The ban prevents chants like:
- “Air Ball.”
- “You Can’t Do That.”
- “We Can’t Hear You.”
Why has the WIAA officially banned such words from the fans?
Well, it might hurt a player’s feelings.
They’re called “infractions” by the WIAA. The fans are not even allowed to sing the popular song, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” song.”
Why I Don’t Agree
Yes, we need to build empathy into the values emerging leaders.
However, whenever we solve teens’ problems by getting other people to do it for them, it simply weakens their resolve. They become conditioned to look for rules from the outside to make life better. It actually fosters entitlement. Teens eventually find themselves saying, “We need a new policy,” or “It’s the school’s fault that I don’t have good self-esteem,” or “I deserve a reward, since I’m a victim.”
It’s a victim mindset that later produces an adult who looks to someone else to solve the problems he or she has internally.
We prepare the path for the child, instead of the child for the path.
Today, I am concerned we’ve cultivated such a fragile generation that they will need special rules on the job, or special favors or personal days, or special perks because they are… well, special. This is not a good thing.
Roll Back the Tape
Tim Elmore goes on (and I agree) “If I was a coach in Wisconsin and heard those banned chants from the crowd during an away game in a gym, I would meet with my players afterward and teach them the right way to respond to such chants:
- Reflect – What can we learn from this?
- Resolve – Let’s decide we won’t let it happen again.
- Resilience – Let’s bounce back and succeed.
The WIAA gave no indication it intends to change the rules, but state representative Dale Kooyenga — a former basketball player in the system — wrote the association a letter, urging it to do so. The letter is logical and heartfelt, and the best line of his letter, in my opinion, was, “If you think a high school student section is rough, try playing basketball on a playground on the south side of Chicago.”
Let’s go build some future leaders who are ready for the real world.
No, you didn’t.
You wanted to ask and there’s a big difference between those two things.
Your personal influence is really your leadership in all types of relationships -regardless of title. Relationships sometime involve “transactions” – when we sometimes give and also sometimes receive.
And, your Relationships are not just something -they are everything. Why? Because in your professional life, relationships often get you the first opportunity. Someone will take a chance on you because they know you and trust you. Someone will give you an opportunity your skills might not have earned yet because of a friendship. And phrases like “I had to ask” tend to wear away at relationships.
Author Jon Acuff states “If you say, ‘I had to ask,’ it removes the responsibility from you. Some outside force made you ask. Your hands were tied, there was nothing you could do except ask.”
So you did and the person you asked for a favor said no. You responded to his/her no with “I had to ask!” Or, instead you said, “Well, there’s no harm in asking,” only that’s not true either.
There can be harm in asking. Maybe the person you asked feels used. You barely know them and have jumped gigantic intimacy levels by overreaching with your favor request. Maybe they felt manipulated by the ask. Maybe they’ve now quietly moved you from, “People who are my friends” to “People who just want favors” bucket.
Don’t kid yourself. There’s harm in asking, especially if you do it the wrong way with the wrong person.
Does that mean you shouldn’t ask anyone for anything? Of course not. Your friends want to help you. They’re excited to help you. The time you’ve invested in that relationship completely changes the request.
Asking is hard but it’s not complicated. Jon Acuff states that there’s a simple way to remember the right way to do it:
Ask friends for favors. Ask strangers for friendship.