If you had one minute in an elevator with someone, why would you want to spend it talking about yourself and your idea?
Why not spend it focused on the other person, being curious about them, connecting with them?
In a world where everyone is focused on themselves and their thing and their idea and getting everyone to love them – you will stand out much more by being interested in a person than by trying to get them to be interested in you.
In fact, you are much more likely to create the opportunity to spend MORE than one minute with a person if instead of trying to ‘wow’ them with your song and dance, you connect with them on a human level.
Deep human connection will serve the creation of your vision more than an elevator pitch ever will.
What the world needs is not another pitch. What the world needs is people willing to listen.
If you have been working on your elevator pitch, please stop.
(I know I’ve been mentioning ‘yoga’ often recently. What can I say – I’m hooked! Going almost everyday now.)
After saying ‘inhale’, instead of saying ‘exhale’, Jessica said a made up word: ‘out-hale’.
Upon hearing that, my mind wandered to the explanation of ‘inspire’ that I like – that inspiration is the inhalation of spirit – in-spirit. In other words, when you feel inspired, it is because you have breathed in spirit that resonates with you deep inside.
If that was what in-spire is…then would what out-spire be?
It struck me quite quickly that out-spire – the breathing out of spirit – is exactly what I do and what I help my clients who are coaches and leaders to do.
I was reminded of how a mission to ‘inspire people’, which I often hear people proclaim, always strikes me as a bit misguided and even controlling.
How could I possibly have any control over whether or not a person is inspired? I can’t force spirit down into their hearts. I can’t ensure the spirit I have access to will resonate with their heart.
For example, try as you may, you will likely find it very difficult to inspire me with your demonstration of skills at bird watching (people have tried and I’ve fallen asleep).
What I can do instead of trying to inspire people is focus on ‘out-spiring’. I can focus on breathing out the spirit that resonates with me. I can focus on speaking and doing the things that give me the strongest feeling of inspiration.
And maybe this is all we are supposed to do.
Referring to trees again (another great teacher for me recently), trees ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide and they ‘breathe out’ oxygen. They don’t try to ensure that YOU breathe in their oxygen.
Imagine a tree saying, “I want to give people MY oxygen.”
That would be nuts! (Besides the fact that a tree would be talking.)
Trees don’t give a shit who breathes their oxygen. They are just doing what they do. Breathing in and breathing out. And during that process, through their uniqueness, the air is transformed a little bit.
When you breathe in spirit and it connects with you, it transforms a little bit too. It gets a piece of you with it.
Your job – your only job – is to ‘out-spire’.
Breathe it out. Do your part. Speak your truth. Do what you love.
My father was a policeman. Once he went to a house where the owner hadn’t been heard from for days. He had to break in to check on him. Sadly he found the man passed away on the bathroom floor. He had given himself a heart attack from pushing too hard on the toilet.
Dad told me about this when in my youth I had gotten a haemorrhoid and didn’t know what caused it.
“Don’t push so hard. Be patient. It will come eventually,” I remember him saying.
His story certainly got me to relax in the loo. The burning pain of the haemorrhoid together with the imagined image of me dying on the toilet did the trick. I haven’t had a blowout since.
As a bonus, this insight from my Dad’s story seeped into other areas of my life as well.
Whenever I find myself pushing hard at anything – an unconscious tendency that I still have – I’m reminded to be careful and weigh the risk.
Success isn’t always worth pushing hard for.
Even more importantly, just like on the toilet, success can often be effortless when we relax and have some patience.
Don’t get me wrong – I get that there are times to push hard. For example, there are few greater blisses than collapsing in nauseated dizziness after an intense physical workout.
At the same time, when in my work and relationships I push hard to get something to happen, it usually becomes more difficult. Sometimes I’ll even blow a gasket and end up with a bigger problem than I started with!
It is in those instances of work and life, where noticing my over-zealousness, I suddenly picture myself laying dead on the bathroom floor and I ease off and just let things be.
I get patient. And I wait.
When I do this, the thing eventually happens all on its own.
What are you pushing too hard for?
What’s the risk of pushing so hard?
Is it worth it?
How could easing off actually help it to be more likely to happen?
For me…the only thing worse than being disciplined by other people is being disciplined by myself.
To achieve things in life, instead of using ‘self-discipline’, my focus is on removing the obstacles between myself and the things that I would love to create. These obstacles are sometimes things outside, but usually though they are my own thoughts.
What if I fail? What if I don’t have time to also do X? What if people don’t like me? What if my wife gets upset?
When I clear these obstructive thoughts out of the way, creating becomes effortless.
What is it that you would like to create?
How are you stopping that from happening?
If you do not know the answer to the first question, ask yourself every day until you do.
If you know the answer to the first but not the second question, then email me. Talk to me and I will show you how you are stopping yourself.
Once you know the answers to both these questions, you can then remove the obstacles and get on with creating.
This is a common challenge that comes up when I suggest people just do whatever they love to do and nothing else.
The suggestion is that the world would fall apart if some people didn’t do the ‘dirty’ work. And even more so, that our world would cease to function if at least some people didn’t do stuff that they don’t want to do.
In case you are thinking this way, I’ve got two counter-challenges for you:
1. Can we really know there aren’t enough people in the world who would love to collect the rubbish?
No. We cannot.
However, for the sake of discussion, let’s pretend there just are not enough people who would love to collect the rubbish. If everyone did what they loved, we would then have a rubbish problem! Which brings me to my second challenge…
2. Do you really want to live in a world whose sustainability depends on some people NOT doing what they love?
Personally, I would prefer to live in a world where everyone does what they love.
Other than for us humans, this is actually how the world works.
When’s the last time you saw an animal doing something it didn’t want to do? (Unless of course at the hands of a human.)
Just as water runs along the path of least resistance, life unfolds in the direction of its greatest desire.
By insisting that not everyone can do what they love, we are supporting the ongoing creation of a world that is inconsistent with the harmony of life.
Such inconsistency creates tension. It is a pendulum rising higher and higher, bound eventually to swing back.
So if YOU are not currently doing what you love – please do us all a favour and stop creating the wrong world.
Stop pretending it has to be this way.
Start creating from your own unique desire.
What are you doing that you don’t want to be doing?
How is doing what you don’t love creating the wrong life for yourself?
How is doing what you don’t love creating the wrong world?
When in my mid twenties, I told my Mom that I was going to spend some time staying at a monastery in northern India to meditate and study Buddhist thought with monks, she said, “OK, have fun. Just don’t come back as anything weird this time.”
I think she was referring to the six months I spent as an evangelising born-again Christian after a college-roommate fed me stories about the coming rapture and the elite’s conspiracy for a one world government (I should have seen it coming considering he was using heroin and kept a loaded AK-47 under his bed!).
Anyway…I loved learning about Buddhism. It is one of the simplest philosophies I’ve come across for living an enjoyable life and a lot of my personal philosophy stems from it.
One idea has always niggled at me though: it is the idea that desire causes suffering.
The reason this niggled at me is because elsewhere I honour desire. It is the orientation of that which you have the potential to create. When we follow our desire, we can make a better world and a better life.
So how is desire both a good thing and a bad thing?
Buddhists make the distinction that it is ‘attachment’ to a desire that really causes suffering. Until recently I wasn’t seeing how a desire typically becomes an attachment.
There seemed to be ‘good desire’ and ‘bad desire’, and I couldn’t find an answer to how one becomes the other.
What I now think it is, is something very simple: ACTION.
Desire without action is frustrating. The time and distance between you and that thing you want gets longer and this begins to cause suffering.
Desire acted upon is satisfying. The time and distance between you and that thing you want gets shorter and this feels blissful.
The less we act on a desire – the more we yearn for it from a standstill – the more that desire hurts.
The more we act on a desire – the more we indulge ourselves in the journey – the more that desire fulfils us.
And so, it is within our will to decide whether our desire will cause us pleasure or pain.
It is your choice to act or not act that determines whether your desire will bring you suffering or bring you bliss.
Earlier this year my coach Rich asked me a question:
“Are your clients people who are searching for passion and purpose?”
He was challenging my continuing to do talks and videos on the topic.
My immediate response was about to be a ‘Yes’, but since he was asking me what seemed like an obvious question, I paused and considered.
“Well…not all of them I guess…”
“Ummmm….hmmm…,” I scanned my mind through active and recent clients. My brow furrowed. “Geeze, I guess there is only just ONE really.”
We talked and a new awareness about who I actually coach unfolded. My clients call me their ‘executive coach’, their ‘leadership coach’, their ‘secret weapon’. They were all already on a mission and leaders of some sort, either of their own projects or a business.
It wasn’t obvious for me before because I was afraid to see it.
“Who am I to be a leadership coach? I’ve never run a company with 100’s of employees like my clients do.”
However, once I could see this thought, I could see it wasn’t true.
“You are a leader too, John” said Rich.
“I am not a leader. How am I a leader?”
“Thousands of people follow you, John. You are a thought leader.”
My coach was right. I AM a leader.
But how did I become one without ever trying to be? How did I become a leader without even meaning to?
All I have ever really done is two things:
1. Do what I love to do
2. Share that with the world.
Somehow being a leader happened as a result of this.
Leadership is NOT something you do. Leadership is something that happens as a result of you being true and self-expressed.
When you do what you love and you share it with the world, people follow you.
People follow you because, like moths drawn to light, humans are drawn to truth and freedom.
More simply, leadership is not something you DO, it is something you BE.
What I can see now is that it is my BEING LEADERSHIP that has the people who show up as my clients also be leaders.
How are you holding back your own uniqueness?
What could you start doing do that would have you ‘being leadership’ by being more who you really ARE?
The other day I was in conversation with a COO who was complaining about his sales team not performing.
“They just don’t want it bad enough,” he told me. “I wanted it so much more when I was selling.”
We talked and he could see that his sales people were coming from a ‘victim’ place. They were complaining about circumstances (the irony of the COO being a victim by complaining about his sales team’s victimhood did not escape me, but I choose not to go there).
He could see that when he was in sales, he came from an ‘owner’ place. He created what he wanted instead of complaining about what wasn’t working.
I asked him how he was going to empower his team to be owners.
“They don’t want to be owners,” he said.
“How the…do you know that?” I snapped, biting back an f-bomb.
“They just don’t or they would be owners already.”
“That’s bullshit. Have you considered the possibility that they don’t know the difference between being an owner and a victim?”
What I shared with him is that he had a distinction they don’t have. He had a conscious understanding of the difference between two ways of being.
Furthermore, I had him see that a conscious understanding of difference is required before someone can want something.
“You can’t want what you don’t understand,” I said.
His eyes glazed over and our conversation fell silent.
I could see that he was seeing how not wanting it bad enough wasn’t really the problem. The real problem was that his team – his people – didn’t consciously understand the difference between being an owner and a victim.
If and when they could really see this difference, they were almost certain to want to be an ‘owner’.
But first they needed to see it. And so he knew exactly what he needed to do.
What are your people not wanting bad enough right now?
What distinction are they missing that would give them enough perspective to want something else?
How are you creating this – how are you stopping them from having that distinction?