The Most Underrated Skills of Leadership and Life (Part 3)
(The last and most important piece)
The final installment of the "The most underrated skills to leadership and Life" series deserved an entire blog by itself. I highly recommend you read parts 1 and 2 of this series, here is a quick rundown of what we touched on thus far.
The Most Underrated Skills to Leadership and Life
- Curiosity and Humility
- Metacognition and Rapid Skill Acquisition
This leads us to #8. Now, remember these are skills that I believe are underrated in terms of leadership and life. There are a plethora of other skills that I could be added to this list. Everything from communication skills, time management, prioritization, organization, etc.
But I wanted to dial in on the skills that were a bit underrated and give you a deeper look at how important each skill is in terms of your overall development as a leader.
Now let's get to the final skill that will round out the "Great Eight." The most underrated skill you can develop to change your business, your sport, your relationship, and your life is probably not what you think it is.
Whenever you look at any top 5 list for success/leadership you might see words such as courage, resiliency, honor, integrity.
And those lists wouldn't be wrong. Those qualities are woven into the cloth of any great person or leader. Those characteristics are injected into their DNA after years of living a life dedicated to excellence.
But there is one glaring skill that is often overlooked. And in many cases it is just as important as any of the cardinal virtues that have been highlighted thus far.
That skill is….
In my humble opinion, mastering the art of objectivity is the act of stepping outside of your current situation to create a new situation.
After all, you can't write your own story if you are too busy being a character in the story.
You can't run your business if you are too busy being an employee in the business.
You need to polish the lens of the third person. Enhance your ability to see things through a different pair of eyes, a different hue.
You can't rebuild your life or reinvent yourself without the ability to reframe a situation.
You must step outside of yourself to create yourself.
You need to see the gaps between the lines, so you can piece things together.
You need to see things for what they truly are, instead of what you want them to be.
The lack of objectivity has the power to ruin a career, break up a family, tear down an empire, and ultimately cripple your potential.
On the other side of that coin, the possession of this skill has the power to save your career, your business, your family, or your life.
Above anything else, we all have a moral obligation to be a leader to ourselves, our family, our employees, and our community.
Mastering the art of objectivity will be a vital piece to figuring out that puzzle.
But enhancing the skill of objectivity goes far beyond self-awareness.
You need to tap into different roles to see things for what they really are.
In some cases, you need to become a method actor.
- Think Jaime Fox in "Ray".
- Think Daniel Day-Lewis in "Gangs of New York".
- Think Heath Ledger in "Dark Knight."
My point is, you got to go deep.
So in this final article, we are going to do just that by mastering the art of Objectivity.
"The Four roles to enhance your business, sport, relationship, and Life"
Role #1 "To succeed in business, think like a consultant"
As an entrepreneur, you will experience a myriad of challenges.
You have to manage personalities, cash flow, operations, appointments, deadlines, and adapt to the changes in an industry that is constantly evolving.
It is a 24/7 game of adjustments and advancement.
And as you play that game, there will be multiple times where you lose all objectivity that will compromise your decision-making.
Here are just a couple of instances:
- When you are hemorrhaging cash or swimming in cash.
- When your personal relationships with employees blur your leadership style. (Aka hiring your friends, family, or working with your spouse.)
- When your product, service, and operations are below par, broken, or inefficient.
- When you believe your product, service, operation or vision is better than it actually is.
I remember when I experienced all four of these things as a business owner. We were at a crucial point in the company's development process, and every decision was almost life or death. This is when the art of objectivity mattered most.
I told my partners we need to think and act as "Consultants." Consultants who were hired to fix the company by any means necessary. If we were in that role, what advice and suggestions would we emphasize to the owners?
Let's walk through the doors of our own business and dissect every aspect of a company. Let's evaluate the core drivers of our business through the eyes of a high-level consultant.
We need to be brutally honest and objective about...
- The leadership style
- The cash flow
- The operations
- The product
- The customer service
- The team's skillset
- The communicational flow
- The end goal of the company
- The foundational mission of the company
How would an elite group of consultants or valuators critique the company?
Are those 9 things even working in alignment?
- Would an elite consultant be ok with how we are managing the employees?
- Would they be ok with our protocols?
- Would they be happy with our customer service or how we develop our employees?
- Would they think our company is ready for scale?
That ruthless and raw objectivity led my partners and I to a place of clarity. It sparked the changes necessary to save our company.
It humbled us in the right way. I personally knew where our company was headed, and I was scared to death of what would happen if we didn't make any changes soon.
Thankfully, we did it before it was too late. Don't let that happen to you.
Role #2 "To succeed in your relationship, become the Counselor."
What is the one thing a counselor does better than 99% of people in the world?
"They listen and make suggestions with no judgment."
They listen to both sides of the story and give them a platform to be heard. In fact, sometimes an entire therapy session can be dedicated to the client speaking, the counselor won't say a word.
It's because the counselor is only focused on what that person needs. Discovering the underlying truths beneath their words.
Then they might ask them, what were some other ways the client could have approached their situation. Then they might top it off with some insight and action steps on how to avoid a stressful situation moving forward.
No relationship is easy, marriage, business partners, family, etc.
We all have egos, agendas, and different mindsets that make things problematic. These issues can lead to explosive exchanges and broken trust that could eventually cripple a relationship to the point of no return.
But if we focus on having massive intent to listen, while taking a deeper look at the underlying truth and emotional state of the other person. Couple that, by being non-judgemental, and you and your partner will be headed to a path of peace instead of war.
Counselors can seek and accept a situation for what it truly is. They have no emotional attachment to it, so they can call it as they see it. We need to adopt that skill.
It sounds impossible, especially when you are in love with the other person. But it can be done.
"The truth hurts in the moment, but it heals over time."
You need to go deep and dive past the layers of the superficial. This is what exposes the root of the problem and how to fix it.
You can't achieve any of this without objectively listening and detaching from the situation emotionally.
It sounds absurdly simple, but it's extremely hard. And it has the power to salvage a relationship. There is a reason why certain grudges last over 10-15 years. And it is usually because they can't let go or accept the brutal truth.
Don't be the person who makes matters worse. Don't be the person who makes the relationship toxic or volatile.
Just listen deeply with the intention to repair or improve the relationship. Not to simply prove that your right.
After all, It's not always our job to expose if someone is being foolish. They will learn in due time (hopefully). Sadly, some people have to be in complete darkness before they can see the light of their actions.
Most people start to realize what they have when it starts slipping out of their grasp. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Don't get it twisted though, we all are human.
We all want to feel appreciated, supported, inspired and heard from our significant other.
We all want to feel like we are doing the right thing and seeing things from the right perspective.
But you must look far deeper than the surface. There is a much bigger picture that needs to be seen to build a special relationship. Focus on that.
I am not saying to bite your tongue, or turn your cheek. Not at all. I am encouraging you to see things from the viewpoint of someone who is trying to listen, mediate, and elevate a relationship that is hopefully worth saving. Special emphasis on the "hopefully".
After all, even a good counselor should tell you to burn a bridge from time to time.
Role #3 "To succeed in sports, become the coach."
Arguably the greatest olympian athlete of all time Michael Phelps would always "Watch the tape."
A visualization practice given by his legendary coach Bob Bowman.
Bowman told Phelps to visualize the perfect race every morning and evening leading up to competition.
The tape would include flawless execution from start to finish.
From his walk to the starting block, to the 10 second shoulder stretch before he gets in his starting stance, to the sound of the gunshot as he dives in and feels the initial shock of the water swallow his long frame.
Then he sees and feels every stroke, every breath, and every turn as his body as he mentally rehearses the perfect mechanics and rhythm during every meter of the race. Moving swiftly and effortlessly on swimming's biggest stage.
This practice was never more critical than during the Beijing Olympics when Phelps got a flood of water in his goggles that blurred his vision.
He swam blind for the majority of the race, only going off feel and muscle memory. He couldn't see in front of him, nor his peripheral vision to react to surroundings. He couldn't see the pace of his competitors, he could only feel them.
He could only trust his natural instincts. He had to lean on his years of preparation, his elite skill, and his overall mastery of the event. If there was a moment when he had to master the art of swimming, it was now. Phelps had to paint his "Mona Lisa" in the next 60 seconds.
The daily visualization of the "Perfect Race" prepared him for this moment.
When his outreached hand touched the stone wall, he rose from the water and glanced at the clock to see his name next to the words "1 Michael Phelps (New world record). By the way, did I mention he captured his 10th Gold medal. That is one BAD man.
Every great athlete in any sport is forced to watch tapes of their performance in one way or the other. Be it through visualization or past history. They study the game, their habits, their tendencies, their pace.
They identify every weakness and strength of their game. It helps them read the defense, see the opportunities and fill all the gaps.
They can sense when they are fatigued, scared, tentative, or locked in based on their body language, or the look in their eyes.
No one knows what you are feeling in those moments better than you do.
This is when you step into the mind of a coach. You start giving yourself the mental cues in the same voice as your mentor, your sensei, your trainer, your teacher.
- What would they tell you to do?
- How do they approach the game?
- How do they prepare their teams for battle?
- How do they motivate their star to be a leader and exceed their potential?
And you apply those answers in real time.
You hear the stories of legendary coaches like Pat Riley who spends thousands of hours watching tape. Creating schemes and strategies to dominate the opposition.
As painful as it may be, you need to "Watch the tape" of all your games; the games you went 5 for 20 with only 2 assists, where you made 4 turnovers in the 4th quarter with two missed free throws in the final minute that cost you the game. Those are the games you learn from most.
You end up coaching yourself and being your own master motivator.
Replay your week leading up to the game, your pre-game ritual, your emotions during tip-off. This is exactly what a coach would do if they wanted to help develop a player. Become the coach and the star player in your own mind. Understand that dynamic from every angle and perspective.
Above all, a coach holds their team accountable.
You will never see a great coach who lets their players get away with murder. They know what buttons to push and how to make them perform at the highest standard.
There are moments where a coach will say something to their player that could spark the performance of a lifetime.
Find that memorable mantra that makes you feel alive, that creates a controlled rage, a relentless mentality that can't possibly be beat. Because, in the midst of fatigue and pressure-filled moments, we all need those mental cues.
Watch the tape, see the gaps, make the adjustments, hold yourself accountable, and become a master of your craft. Every great player needs a coach. In fact, every coach needs a coach. But sometimes you need to coach yourself.
Role #4 "To succeed In life, think like the director and the critic."
Most of us are familiar with Joseph Cambell's "The Hero's Journey." The classic narrative that describes the painful evolution of building your ultimate archetype (The HERO.)
A 17 stage process that is divided into 3 acts.
- The Departure
- The Initiation
- The Return
It's a story that we can all relate to. Once you dive deep into the Cambell's theory is calls you to do one thing,
"Be the hero in your own movie."
This life-changing sentiment hits the nail on the head. But sometimes before you can be the hero, you need to realize that there are two integral roles that go hand in hand to make the perfect movie. The director and the critic.
As the director you are the main person who delivers the story for the world to see. You are designing the set, altering the lighting, and weaving what characters star in each scene. You manipulate and control every minute detail from start to finish.
You have the ability to make a scene last forever, or leave it on the cutting room floor.
Most importantly, you know who the hero is at the core.
You know what he or she is capable of, what buttons to push, and how to help them pull off a legendary performance.
You know what story you want to tell, and how to tell it. Hoping that the world will appreciate your art, or at least your effort.
But here is the problem. Most of us don't recognize that we are "Scorcese", instead we just act like an employee of Rotten Tomatoes. A trusted movie review site that can be far more harsh than kind. Not to say that most of their takes are not accurate. After all, if you got more than an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, I would say that you are hitting it out of the park.
Sadly, most of us only play the role of the critic who sits in the stands with their popcorn and their soda.
Bashing the lead character for what he or she is or isn't doing. And when they see the protagonist go through the darkness and make a foolish mistake, they scoff and whisper to the person next to them, "Can you believe this guy? What a joke. (referring to the hero)" Acting as if they already have "Saving the world," on their resume.
This is all before they grab our phones and let the world know how sorry the movie was with their overconfident Twitter fingers, becoming a ruthless keyboard warrior on the internet.
How often have we just been the critic of our movie? A relentless and unforgiving critic at that. We just watch things unfold as we assassinate the lead character, demolish the quality of the script, or the integrity of the story.
We do all this as if we are sitting in a powerless position.
But the irony of this is that it's not a bad thing to see things from both perspectives. The critic and the director.
After a director shoots a movie, they bring it to their trusted board who watches the movie from an unbiased point of view. They critique it and decide if a reshoot is necessary.
This is what we can do in our lives. We have the power to be the critic, the director, and the hero of our movie.
As the critic, we grow an affinity or disdain for the lead character.
Things unfold and we start to create an opinion on who the hero is as a person.
We sometimes see ourselves in the protagonist.
Empathizing with their internal battles. Seeing the ugliness of some of their actions, but the pureness of their heart.
We get to witness the evolution of the character.
Watching them walk through the fire, or being swallowed by the jaws of life. Be it drugs, sex, money, abuse, heartache, misjudgement, lack of self-love, etc. The things in life that so many of us fight through on a consistent basis.
This is where I pose you the question, if you were watching a movie of your own life, how would you feel about so far?
- If you saw the way you reacted when your back was against the wall, would you feel inspired or deflated?
- If you saw the way you treated your loved ones, would you feel proud or ashamed?
- If you saw the way you handled your fears and insecurities, would you be hopeful or discouraged?
- Would you walk out of the theatre because you couldn't bear to see the outcome?
- Was it too brutal to watch?
In fact, If you only saw a mini-docuseries of the last 5 years of your life, how would it sit with you?
Now, sit in the director's chair.
You just pre screened your own motion picture, and have the opportunity to go back to the lab and reshoot the ending.
Many movies have the option to watch alternate endings. It's time to create a series of your own.
Create the series of events that will lead the hero to his summit.
- What characters does he meet?
- Who do they keep in their life, who needs to leave?
- What fires do they have to endure?
- Once they triumph, how do they use their power?
- What pivotal event changes the course of the movie, when does it happen?
It's all part of the tragic yet triumphant story of the hero's journey.
The beautiful disaster we call life.
So take a couple minutes, sit back and watch the movie of your life. Become "the critic", take a non biased and emotionally detached look at where you are now, and where you are going.
Then flip the script and go behind the lens. Recreate the lead character, recreate the scene, develop the hero, and create an alternate ending.
Do this over and over and over.
Just keep chasing your masterpiece. The hero will thank you.