Brian Eno is a brilliant conceptualist, a founding member of Roxy Music, and a self-described "non-musician." His take on creativity speaks volumes to me. Have a read, then read again.
"Beautiful things grow out of shit. Nobody ever believes that. Everyone thinks that Beethoven had his string quartets completely in his head - they somehow appeared there and formed in his head - and all he had to do was write them down, and they would be manifest to the world. But what I think is so interesting, and would really be a lesson that everybody should learn, is that things come out of nothing. Things evolve out of nothing. You know, the tiniest seed in the right situation turns into the most beautiful forest. And then the most promising seed in the wrong situation turns into nothing. I think this would be important for people to understand because it gives people confidence in their own lives to know that's how things work. If you walk around with the idea that some people are so gifted - they have these wonderful things in their head, but you're not one of them, you're just sort of a normal person, you could never do anything like that - then you live a different kind of life. You could have another kind of life where you say, well, I know that things come from nothing, very much start from unpromising beginnings, and I'm an unpromising beginning, and I could start something.”
Take heart. You have great ideas in you. The shit (Eno’s term) is there. Believe in it, feed it, give it room to grow and develop. You are one of THEM. © GB
Taken from: Daniel Lanois & Brian Eno (Producers of U2's The Joshua Tree and No Line On The Horizon) talking about creativity in "Here Is What Is."
"Often all it takes to live intentionally is to pause before you proceed." This is a line from a book I read this week, The Bullet Journal Method by author Ryder Carroll. To live an intentional and fulfilled life, we need to know what’s important, have a plan to get it done, and an opportunity to reflect. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to get their life sorted. Many of us roll from week to week, month-to-month, year-to-year without any apparent intention of what’s essential. The Bullet Journal Method is an actual system to getting organised. I have been using the method for years, and one of the most powerful things is that you can adapt the system to your liking. That’s what I have done. Apart from that, the book is beautiful in its style, production, and artistic direction. © GB
Many great leaders I interview point to Stoicism as a significant influence on how they approach each day. Seneca is one of the great Stoics. Seneca reminds us to be more frugal with our time than our money: "You will find no one willing to share out his money, but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” It’s true. Some people will get five quotes on a piece of furniture, walk the mall looking for the cheapest cup of coffee, buy beer and wine only when it’s on sale. Yet they flit away their time on social media, watch rubbish television, read books that add no value or endure arduous meetings that have no purpose. These same people are the first to complain that they haven’t got time to read, listen, plan, learn and get ahead. I think the quote from Seneca is so powerful, that it’s worth re-reading, "People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy." © GB
Jason is one of the most disciplined and focused leaders I have met in quite a while. I was delivering a keynote on leading innovation when we initially met last year. When Jason called this week, he said he had the PDF of my speech on his desktop. Each quarter he reads it to refocus himself on the fundamentals of leading innovation. He said, “I just run the routines.” He knows what works; he runs it, day in day out, month on month. It’s not about the next inspirational video, workshop, keynote speech, or new trend - that goes away. We know what works, but instead many of us seek the next magic bullet. You know what to eat to be right, you know what exercise to do to be on top of your game, you know to disconnect, you know to look people in the eye when speaking with them and to give them your full attention (especially your kids). We know these routines, it's a matter of running them daily. Yes, it’s boring, but that is what builds discipline. © GB
Clint Eastwood was playing golf with Country singer Toby Keith when Clint said that tomorrow was his birthday. Toby asked him what he was doing on his birthday? He said, "I'm making a movie." Toby asked what keeps him going at his age (88). Clint said, “I get up every day and don't let the old man in.” Time and time again you hear people using age as a reason not to have a go at things. As the new year gets underway, put no boundaries or imaginative barriers between you and your dreams. If you think you are passed it, don't let the old man in. Toby wrote a song about that conversation with Clint called “Don’t Let The Old Man In” which featured in the film. There is a line that is worth pondering -- “how old would you be if you didn’t know the day you were born?” GOLD! © GB
Many people roll into the New Year without much thought as to what they will do to make the following year better, more enjoyable, more successful, happier, and most importantly, more fulfilling. Sure, some will make promises to themselves, only to find that by the end of the first quarter, they are back in a rut, feeling burnt out, struggling to keep up and wondering, "who stole my mojo?"
There will, however, be the few who set their vision, form concrete plans, set higher standards, and understand what it takes to have a cracking year and lead a life of intention. For the first time in a few years, I am taking on recruits to the Mojo MBA Program. We will work together for the year ahead to ensure you create the year you deserve. If you want an authentic, caring, brutally honest advisor who will challenge you, hold you accountable, enrich your learnings, open your mind and bring new ideas to the table, then this might be the opportunity you’re looking for in 2019. We will cover everything from creativity and idea generation, rituals and routines of world-class performers, creating your business strategy and brand, wellness, the legacy you will leave, and your life plans.
I will keep notes of what we discuss, what will happen next, and things to consider for the next catch up. I will send you the latest new thinking and ideas that I come across. Places are limited as I want to be able to dedicate time to anyone I work with, so if you’re interested, don’t wait too long to put your hand up! The Mojo MBA won’t suit everyone as I've designed it explicitly for those who want to make things happen. So if it sounds good, let’s get after it and make 2019 a cracking year for you and your family! Your future is in your hands. For details of the program, how it runs, what it costs and how to sign up, email Justina today at email@example.com. © GB
Do we buy into our company values? Do we genuinely believe in our company purpose? Do we even believe in our dreams and aspirations? Peter said to me that a mentor once posed this challenge to him, "you’ve got to convince me you are convinced." This is such a profound piece to use with any leader to ensure that their values, purpose, dreams, aspirations or simply what they believe is real. Convince me that you are convinced. When you have to put forward a proposition and convince someone with conviction, it means you have to embody and believe what you’re saying at the core of your soul. It’s rare to find someone who can with conviction convince you they believe in something. It happens, but as a leader, it needs conscious thought, focus, repetition, consistency, and a desire to see it happen. It starts from within. So convince someone... © GB
Teddy was wiping down the desk and equipment when I struck up a conversation with him about his cheerful manner. He said, “gotta keep the place clean. A team comes in each night to clean each product, positioning it properly and wiping down the entire place. Another team comes in each morning before opening to go over everything and check it. The screens all have to be at 70° to each other and line up with this line" he said pointing to a seam in the timber. I asked Teddy whether he thought it was over the top when he started. He said, "I’ve been here three months, and at the start, I thought it was kinda odd. Now that I’m here I understand." When I asked him whether this was a side hustle or a full-time gig, he said he was studying at Uni to be a nurse. However, he like this place, the opportunities to travel with the company are great, and the discipline and standards are something that inspires him. Teddy then said, “I'm not sure if I’ll go back to being a student of nursing again. This place is great.” Now do an audit of your work environment, your standards, and the precision of knowing what is expected and how to deliver on it. There is so much gold in this three-minute conversation with Teddy. Is it any wonder that he works for one of the most valuable brands in the world? You can knock them, ridicule them, or even despise them; however, the one thing you can’t take away is their standard of precision with how they have changed the fabric of retail shopping and lifted their staff to share tribal values and standards. Can you guess which retailer Teddy works for? © GB
One of my all-time favourite interviews was having Joe De Sena, co-founder of Spartan Race, on The Mojo Radio Show. A listener wrote to me after the show to say, “Fantastic show. He's a guy that makes me feel inadequate." He then went on to highlight the lessons he learned from the show. It got me thinking that how we read, see, and hear about success can make us feel one of two ways. We can feel inadequate and compare ourselves to these successful people saying, "oh, I would never be able to do something like that." Or we can look at their example and say, "what is my version of that? Where can I apply the same discipline, hunger, desire, and focus?" Joe would be the last person to say, "do what I do." Rather, he would encourage you to take the same attitude and discipline and see how much more you have to give in life. Apply that approach to YOUR passions, YOUR dreams, and YOUR purpose. As fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld said, "never compete, never compare." Take these learnings and create your desires and get after your life. To hear this fantastic interview with Joe De Sena, go to iTunes or click here. © GB
We know that growth comes from getting uncomfortable. Often the stories relating to discomfort come from the world of sport, endurance, or some sort of physical challenge. Let me give you a perspective of discomfort in the corporate world. The next time someone asks for a volunteer at a conference or meeting - be the volunteer. When the facilitator asks for a volunteer and everyone else looks sideways or looks to the floor to avoid eye contact, be the person who stands immediately and says I’ll do it. Stand up before your brain gives you all the bullshit excuses to not get up. I promise that the more you do it, the more you will feel comfortable being the person who steps away from the herd to lead. Leaders are comfortable with discomfort - they know that if they're not standing on the edge, they're taking up too much space. The more you embrace discomfort, the more you feel comfortable embracing it. It’s funny how these tiny acts of courage build over time until one day you are called upon to draw upon great courage, and you can because you did. © GB
How do you get the most out of the time and money you invest in books? For me, I try to optimise my learnings. Many of us are so busy looking for the next concept or idea, that we forget that we have not used the ones we've already learned. The same is true of books. So here’s what you might think about doing. Set aside a bookcase of your best books, the best 20 or maybe 50. Then each month revisit one of the best out of that bookshelf. I've started doing it this year, and I've been surprised to find learnings highlighted in the books that were never executed. Sometimes when you read a passage, the timing was just not right, but by the second or third time around it's gold. Set a target to re-read one of your best passages or books each month. It’s a good way to maximise your investment in time, learning, and dollars. © GB
"Innovation is not relevant to me." What!? You lead a company, and you are in a business environment where the only constant is CHANGE. Don't you think innovation is relevant to your business? This guy would be the perfect leader at Old Spice, Polaroid, Blackberry, Darrell Lea, Toys R Us, or Blockbuster to name a few. Regardless of your title, role, or responsibilities, we must all put time and energy towards finding the next great idea to solve our customer's problem and stay ahead of our competitors. Understanding how innovation works, studying who is doing it well, experimenting with ideas, and taking the time to think through how we might apply it to our work are essential elements to great leadership. To say that leading, learning and creating a culture of innovation is not relevant to you, means you deserve a gig with Borders or Dick Smith. © GB
“I’m the overcoming guy,” said former Navy Seal Lieutenant Jason Redman during last week's Mojo Radio Show. He continued, “I would have something go wrong, be challenged, start to get pissed off, or begin to doubt myself and then I'd think - wait - I'm the overcoming guy. I got this.” Jason became the overcoming guy after being shot in the face during active combat in Afghanistan. While undergoing extensive medical treatment, he put the sign pictured above on his hospital room door. That sign is so well-known that even a former US President commented. Identity has been a dominant theme on the show for the last few months. What do I take away from Jason's story? That identity comes from how you see yourself based on the stories you tell yourself. When you strip away the jargon and get down to who you are as a person, your identity is mighty enough to get you through the hard times and reinforces the good times. If you can’t articulate to yourself your identity and the values that make up that identity, then it’s worth taking the time to journal and think about who are you. If you haven't heard this episode of The Mojo Radio Show with Jason, take the time to tune in - it's an amazing story of a true hero. © GB
In Rollo May's book "Man’s Search For Himself," May writes that the opposite of courage is not cowardice -- it’s conformity. We know that any successful business has to have a point of difference. If it conforms with the industry, then it has no point of difference. As a country, we are unhealthy and unwell. One wonders whether that is because we conform to what big business and society say we should eat or do. If you’re looking to start a business, you can't conform. If you're looking to be employed by a company, you can’t conform - otherwise, why would they pick you? Not conforming is such an essential element in our lives if we want to stand apart from the herd. It can be difficult though. You will be labelled disruptive, disagreeable, uncooperative, and yet you will make your mark, be heard, be noticed, and ultimately move yourself to a place of confidence where you speak up for what you believe. © GB
There is an old anecdote about three travellers who came to Rome. They went to see the Pope and he asked the first traveller, "how long are you going to be here?" The man said for three months. The Pope said, "then you will be able to see much of Rome." The second traveller replied that he could only stay for six weeks, and the Pope said, "then you will be able to see more than the first." The third traveller said he would only be in Rome for two weeks, to which the Pope said, "you are fortunate because you will be able to see everything there is to see!" They were puzzled because they didn’t understand the mechanism of the mind. For me, the lesson is that we think we have plenty of time and consequently put off those things which are most important. We live on Someday Isle. I like this parable because it reminds us to wake up with the dawn, with a crystal clear vision of what is important that day, and the motivation to get it done. None of us knows how long we have. Rome was not built in a day, but you can be confident that every single minute of every single hour of every single day was spent contributing to what we know as Rome today. © GB
“Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the CEO,” Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks told the New York Times. This is the classic symptom of what is known as Imposter Syndrome, and I find the higher up the hierarchy you get, the more the imposter wants a piece of your mind. Even someone like Howard Schultz who runs a global company has to deal with the imposter. So what do we do? It’s complicated. However, my first step is to stop and recognise the imposter and ask "why would I choose to believe this voice? What rationale evidence do I have to say this is true?" Often, there will be none. Set the imposter aside and think, "what’s the one thing I can do immediately to be at the top of my game where I and everyone around me will know I deserve this gig?" Then do it! Nothing will put the imposter back in its box the way action can. © GB
A few weeks back I interviewed Benjamin’s Spall on The Mojo Radio Show about his New York Times best-selling books on morning routines. It was a super powerful show for anyone wanting to maximise their productivity and performance. However, it is essential to understand that we can fall into rituals that are negative. Rituals are not always positive. For example, some people think it’s 10 am and I always have a biscuit with my cup of tea, or it’s Friday night and I always have a few too many beers, or I'm away at a conference and I always eat badly. To improve your productivity and move toward your dreams, the first step is to be conscious of not only creating positive rituals but also be aware of the ones that take you down the wrong off-ramp. Rituals can be good and they can be bad. Breaking bad rituals by creating new, empowering rituals comes about when you make the conscious decision that change must happen. © GB
We hear the advice that we need to switch off. There is so much data and science behind the powerful effect that resting, switching off, clearing the mind, and dropping the shoulders can do for performance and productivity. Regardless of what you do, there is no question that in order to be your best you have to learn to switch off. Here’s a thought - actually switch off your phone. I’m sure many people go months without ever physically switching off the phone. It is a challenge. Find the discipline to actually switch off your phone today. Pick an amount of time and find the button to switch it off. If that’s hard for you then we need to fight the resistance. Stephen Pressfield wrote it so beautifully in the book the "War of Art." The resistance is what goes through your mind that justifies why you absolutely need to have your phone on all day every day, and in fact, you need to be on all day every day. Switch it off, fight the resistance, and feel the difference it makes when you take control of your device. Use the off button. Don't give in to it, don't let them win, have discipline. © GB
There might just be a flaw in the 10,000 hours rule. Instead, performance experts suggest purposeful practice. You execute, you review, adjust, and then execute again. Quite often what is missing in our performance and productivity rituals is time for reflection. The reflection can take the form of a simple 6o-second question like, "how did that feel for me -- that meeting, that speech, that conversation, that hole of golf, etc? " Purposeful practice is about taking time to pause for less than a minute to reflect on something that happened and to imagine how it might be done differently to improve. If you find it hard to reflect in 60 seconds, then you probably need 60 minutes. © GB
Denzel Washington is a hard-drinking, burnt-out ex-CIA operative named John Creasy who takes a job as a bodyguard to nine-year-old Pita played by Dakota Fanning. Bit by bit, Creasy begins to reclaim his soul, and it has everything to do with Pita. I watched the film on Netflix last week. There is a moment when Denzel is coaching Pita to swim in an upcoming race. He paces the side of the pool as the little girl swims laps. After weeks of training, he crouches down and says to her, "trained or untrained?" You go to the start line trained or untrained - there is no such thing as kinda. It is a great lesson for us in many areas of life. Your presentation tomorrow - will you be prepared or unprepared? Your sports match this weekend - will you go into the match prepared or unprepared? The choice is yours. You either run your rituals, do the work, and practise - or you don’t. Whenever you’re facing an opportunity in anything, think to yourself "trained or untrained?" You either are or you’re not. There is no grey area. © GB
"The One Thing" by Gary Keller is a great read and one of my favourite books of the last few years. When I read a book, I highlight things I want to remember and then I transcribe them into my journal two weeks later. It is the six times rule. Read something, highlight it, go back a week or two later, harvest the highlights, put them into a journal, use colour and drawings to illustrate, and you have taken the best parts of the book and incorporated them into your world six times. Generally, we finish a good book and put it on the shelf. What if you picked up your favourite 6-10 books and read them every year? What if you picked the books that had the most profound effect on you referenced them regularly? What if you picked a book and read it over and over and over so that you became a master of its content? I've begun doing this myself, and I'm now re-reading "The One Thing" for the third time. The ideas in the book are so valuable that it's something I want to get to know better. We plough through podcasts, magazines, blogs and writings, and in most cases, the content goes in one ear and out the other. My suggestion is to pick out the best and master them.
Last week I read the book Focus by Daniel Goldman. He talked about decluttering our minds through stillness and silence, allowing the brain time to ponder, make connections, problem solve and create. Without this space, your brain has a difficult time executing priorities in creativity. Consider this. Where were you and what were you doing when you had your most profound epiphanies? It is when you give your brain space to relax. Epiphany moments happen when you set them up. Distractions, multitasking, busyness, all steal you away from your next epiphany moment.
Phil is a corporate mentor and coach who often uses the phrase “intellectual rigour." What a great statement. What is rigour? It is being meticulous, thorough, careful, diligent, and conscientious. Imagine applying rigour to your thinking, your intellect. It means that you block out the distractions, put energy into your creative thought, say no to unnecessary things, have stimulating conversations, and be conscientious about your learning and personal development. Mastery of self and mastery of your craft comes from intellectual rigour, allowing you to be the best you can be and to be of service to others. © GB
Last week I asked the question, what is it like to be your customer? How does it feel? Here’s something else to consider. I met British entrepreneur Matt Edmundson while doing a series of speeches in New Zealand, and I liked Matt's angle on business. In his keynote address, he asked for us to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers by asking, "what would I want?” If a customer has an issue with your product or service, ask what would I want. If you have a difficult conversation with a team member, ask what I would want? It helps us to walk in the shoes of our customers or team members. By asking what would I want, you can often draw a more empathetic and satisfactory outcome. It helps with understanding, creates a moment to reflect, and bring a quality outcome to the opportunity in front of you. Leonardo Di Vinci said, "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" and this advice is exactly that. © GB
How does it feel to do business with you? What does it feel like to be your customer? What is it like to wait on hold for one of your customer service representatives? What does it feel like to have staff ignore you while they carry on personal conversations? What does it feel like to get excuses when trying to get a resolution to a problem? Last week on a Mojo One-To-One call, the head of a national organisation said he was going to spend a few days with members of his sales team, working the phones, and talking to customers. He said he wanted to remember what it felt like to be a customer of his business. I thought this was a profound question that company leaders should ask. So many leaders get caught up in to-do lists, meetings, emails, and the hustle of business, that they forget what it is like to be the customer or client. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and see how well you are doing. Be honest. The insights will come only when you are authentic and do not sugarcoat what is going on. Celebrate the good, and fix the not so good. © GB