Great Leaders (and Coaches) are Zeroes

The other day I was in conversation with an inspiring coach I know. We were discussing the importance of having no limiting thoughts about what your client can create.

“What is zero times anything?” he asked me.

“Zero,” I answered.

He stared at me and nodded softly. It was a very zen-like moment. I may have even heard the sound of a gong in the distance.

One thing I have experienced, both on the receiving and giving end, is that the coach having ‘zero’ limiting thoughts makes them more effective at empowering their clients to create.

This week, in thinking about leadership, I got clear on how, like great coaches, really great leaders also lead by having zero limiting thoughts.

What may appear on the outside as an incredibly powerful driving purpose, is actually just any old purpose, except that it is unlimited by any contradictory fearful beliefs.

We see the purpose as powerful, but really it’s just that there is nothing in the way of it. When there is nothing in the way of a person creating something, this thing gets created. That is human.

Actually, that is LIFE.

But how does this translate to leadership?

When we are around that nothing-ness, when we see it up close, when we engage with someone who is a ‘zero’ – it rubs off on us.

By experiencing a zero, we become a zero too. It’s almost like magic how it works.

I’m sure you’ve experienced it. You have spent time with someone who has total certainty about something and as a result, just being with them, melted away any doubts you had.

Great leadership (and great coaching) is multiplication. 

If YOU want to be less limited, spend time with a zero.

If you want YOUR PEOPLE to be less limited, be a zero yourself and do some multiplication with them.


Zero times anything is always zero. 


  • Where are you as a coach or a leader NOT being a zero for your clients?
  • Who is a zero that you could spend time with that, through multiplication, would help you to be a zero too?

What if Your Life was an Adventure?

You know that thing you want to be doing, but you are hesitating on really diving into because there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not you will succeed in it?

Maybe a new project, starting a business or a entering a new relationship?

Well, I’d like you to consider something for me…

When was the last time you went on an adventure?

Maybe a road trip, a vacation abroad, or even just out on a Sunday drive exploring a part of town you’d never been to before?

When you embarked on that adventure, did you have total certainty about what was going to happen? Or did you have some uncertainty about how things would unfold?

I imagine you had uncertainty.

You see, uncertainty is what makes an adventure, an adventure.

The primary characteristic of adventure is a crossing from the known into the unknown.  In order for something to be an adventure, you need to NOT know what is going to happen.

The moment you know what the outcome will be, the adventure dies.

Now…what if you experienced that new project, business or relationship as an adventure too?

What if, instead of letting the uncertainty be something that stops you – what if you had the uncertainty be the reason why you do it?

What if you did it BECAUSE you didn’t know what was going to happen?

In fact, what if you lived your whole life as an adventure?

What might you create then?

Leadership is a Way of Being

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…”

“How many?”

“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.

My insight:

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?

You Can’t Want What You Don’t Understand

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’.

Who wouldn’t?

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?


Is Your Mission Statement Empty Words?

Too many organisational ‘mission statements’ I come across are empty words drafted only to sound intelligent on a website or the cover of an annual report.

Is your organisation’s purpose and mission a part of the consciousness of everyone involved?  Or is it something you have because you’re ‘supposed to’ have one?

Organisations that excel do so for the same reason that people do – they have purpose within them that drives them.

Some will call this ‘organisational culture’. Culture isn’t strong enough though. I like ‘organisational religion’.

What is your organisation’s religion?

Do you know it? Do you believe in it? Does everyone believe in it?

If you want to lead a wildly successful organisation, then it needs a religion.

Every powerful and lasting religion has a purpose – this is your organisation’s mission. Every great religion also has rules to live by – these are the principles your organisation stands for.

Your work as a leader is to bring everyone into the faith. To have them be devout followers of that religion. To live it.

How do you do this?

Wear the robes. 

Be the example of faith in your religion.

Create a mission for your organisation that you will die for. Create principles for your organisation that you will live by, every day.

Live for this mission and by these principles even when nobody is watching.

Because the god of your organisation – the potential to succeed or fail – is ALWAYS watching.


  • What are YOUR beliefs and values?
  • Where are you NOT living them?

Be The Creator of Everything

The Victim believes she is at the mercy of circumstance. She is an unfortunate slave to the whims of the world. The world wins and she loses.

The Controller believes she creates her own destiny. She rises up in defiance of the world’s whims and through force and effort, she exerts her will against the world, making her own destiny. For her to win, others must lose.

The Participator sees life as a dance. Recognising that all creation is co-creation, she asserts her will at times, but she also allows the whims of the world to move her too. She aims for a win win, concerning herself always with the world’s win first.

The Creator also recognises life is a dance and yet she chooses to lead the dance. She understands the world has whims and desires of its own. She is empathetic to these whims, but only to inspire her own next step. Win-wins happen because you are always leading a dance.

When you Be The Creator, your reality is that YOU CREATE EVERYTHING you experience – both desired and undesired.

Everything that happens IS your creation – your job, your relationship, your health, even the weather over your head – you created that.

Yes. You made it rain today. You even made the sun shine.

Indeed, this reality is an illusion, but it is one chosen in the included transcendence of illusions that less served you.

Living inside a reality where YOU CREATE EVERYTHING gives you access to your fullest potential in the perpetual dance of co-creation.


  • What are you currently creating that you do NOT want?
  • What will you create instead?

“Just be YOU” – Silly Advice?

When I used to hear people say things like…

“Just be YOU!”
“You are unique!”
“You are special!”

…it always sounded to me like when a mother tells her child she loves him/her. Sure it is endearing, but it’s not necessarily true. Of course she thinks that – she’s their mother!

However, after years of coaching people to live their truth – after years of working with leaders to act and speak more authentically, to be more self-expressive, to have deeper personal integrity – what I can see is the ‘mothers’ weren’t just under the spell of their parental love.

“Just be YOU”, although highly conceptual and hardly pragmatic, is deeply wise.

What I have seen is that the more you are willing to cut through the BS, the more you are willing to say exactly what you think and feel without holding back and the more you are willing to do life and work exactly the way YOU want to do it – the more often successful results are created.

Here are three reasons I see as to why ‘just being YOU’ is a powerful strategy for success:

1. TRUST – You are in integrity with your truth and this congruence helps people to trust you.
2. PASSION – You are doing what gets you most excited and your passion is contagious.
3. VALUE – You automatically differentiate yourself and in a world of conformists this difference creates value.

This last point, about differentiating yourself, is what the moms mean when they say things like “you are unique” and “you are special”.

If you want to create more success, then listen to your mother.

Just be you.


  • What is one way you know are you NOT being you?
  • How might this be stopping you from creating what you want to create?

Can I Be of Service? [Rant]

I find it off putting when strangers email me saying “Let me know if I can ever be of service.”

How am I supposed to know how or when you can be of service? I don’t even know what you do!

To me, this is a lazy and uncommitted approach serving people.   The intention may be there, but the effort is futile.

If one really wanted to serve, they wouldn’t put the onus on others to figure out they could help – they would get really curious and really present and find out.

I can speak about this because (of course) I’ve been guilty of this approach in the past. The moment I noticed it though, I made it my mission to stop making empty offers of unspecific support.

Are you making any offers like this in what you do?

How could you take some of the responsibility off the person you are offering to serve?

I Am Your Guru

The modern meaning of the word ‘guru’ has come to represent a hyper egoic, self-branded, pseudo superhero. In its worst form is a polished personality selling an empty solution to making money or attaining your dreams.

We’ve become so sick of this though.

In the same way we have lost faith in mainstream media, lost trust in banking and become disenchanted with government, we have a sour taste in our mouths for big personalities selling snake oil.

My message for years has been that you do not need a guru – especially one of the really flashy modern kinds of late.

You just need to follow your own inner wisdom and create your own path.

At the same time, I still stand by this when I say, “I am your guru.”

In ancient times, a ‘guru’ was actually just a regular person who happened to be struck with the unfortunate luck of being a window to ‘God’. They didn’t have any special inherent value…they were just a transparent conduit for ‘spirit’.

We don’t value a window for the light that comes through it. In the same way a window is just a window, a guru was just a guru.

Thus when I say “I am your guru”, it is actually an affirmation for myself.

My aim with my work is to become transparent to inspired ideas and insights. For those things to simply flow through me, to you – my client. The only thing that blocks people from creating what they want are fearful thoughts.

My mission is to clear away those kinds of thoughts within my own head so that by doing so, the uninhibited flow of creativity through me can help and inspire others to experience the same.

I hope you get me now when I say “I am your guru.”

Whose guru are you?

If I’m not Crying, I’m Lying

You know how when you express love for someone, sometimes it is so intense that you tear up.

You say “I love you, man” and your eyes start watering like a baby.

I noticed that sometimes when coaching I have the thought to say something to the person in front of me but then I can feel that if I do it’s going to bring the tears.

Part of me wants to hold back. I used to listen to that part. I used to stop myself from expressing the kind of love for people that has me feel that wave of intense emotion.

I’ve stopped stopping myself through. I think that wave of emotion is actually some sort of existential realisation of our forgotten inherent union. It’s the same feeling as finding your home after being lost, or finding out your friend is going to live. It’s a very happy feeling.

I’ve actually chosen to believe that if I stop myself from sharing the thoughts that have me feeling like that, then I am essentially lying.

I am lying by holding back what’s most true for me – something inspired that is trying to unfold through me.

So this is my new mantra: “If I’m not crying, I’m lying.”

I say it so boldly, not because I want to always be crying, but because as a coach and a leader I endeavour to be creating that kind of depth in all of my interactions with people.

Doing so creates the most powerful connection in the world – the one we have forgotten and which already exists.

Where are you holding back tears?

Let those words roll.

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