After six weeks of Myron, six weeks of The Science of Getting Rich, seven days of TB and a comprehensive study of the Four Agreements, I was really ready to rock. My wife, kids and coworkers have all commented on my calm demeanor and upbeat attitude. What’s really cool is that I’m starting to work out again and instead of getting up a couple of times a night I’m sleeping straight through until the alarm goes off.
As I walked through Myron’s door he could tell that things were working for me. While he poured us some tea and we got comfortable, I could see by his smile that he was pleased with me and it made me feel a sense of pride.
“So Robert, how’s life treating you?” He sat back in his chair eager to hear my response.
I felt myself sit up straighter as I raised my chin, “It’s more like how am I treating it. Our work together is really starting to make a huge difference; in my business, with my family and especially in me.
“Excellent, so now what?”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean,” I said as I leaned back into the sofa.
“Well, what are you going to do with all of this new found knowledge?” Myron took a slow sip of his tea and then looked at me probingly.
My confidence was suddenly evaporating as I tried to determine an appropriate response. “I plan to just keep improving and getting better.”
“Isn’t your Worthy Ideal to make a positive difference and be of service to as many people as possible before you die?”
“Then share it.”
“What do you mean, share it?”
“Well, in addition to your immediate family, don’t you have over two hundred people in your company?”
“What would be the impact to your company if your employees had the same knowledge and experiences you’ve had over the last seven weeks?”
“That would be a dream come true.”
“Would you like for that to happen?”
“Absolutely, but do you actually have the bandwidth to implement such changes in my company?” After all, this little guy was in his late nineties and two hundred people would be extremely taxing on anyone let alone a person of Myron’s age.
“No, nor would I want to.” He took another sip of tea. “That’s your job.”
I practically fell off the sofa and spilled my tea. “Me?” I said incredulously. “I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“Well then, let’s start with you,” as he handed me a napkin and refilled my cup.
“Business is essentially about profitability and a strong bottom line — that is a given. However, building a sustainable, growing and profitable business requires much more than just financial acumen and having people turning out the work. Business leaders like yourself are faced with constant and unrelenting pressures. These pressures come from a wide array of sources including maintaining market share, interpersonal, cross cultural governance and maintaining profitability just to name a few. There’s no time for developing your people… right?…Wrong!” He set the teapot down and held his cup as if getting ready to sip.
“Great Leaders are constantly looking for newer and better ways to empower and leverage the passion of their employees. They know that irrespective of the circumstances, increasing the return on investment of their human capital can make a substantial difference in their bottom line profits over and above the products and services they sell.”
“I never looked at it that way.”
“Well, I would suggest that you start. But don’t feel bad because very few leaders have this empowered perspective and consequently struggle because of it. Studies have shown that highly motivated employees are up to 127% more productive than your average employees in highly complex jobs. I would also suggest that motivated employees turn up to work because they want to, not because they have to. I would even go so far as to say that motivated employees are more cost conscious and have less sick days. That all adds up to a lot at the end of the year.” He takes a sip of tea and continues.
“Research has found on average that 70% of the employees are looking for more meaning in their work. That means that only 30% are relatively happy in their job. To me that says that there is a lot of underutilized human capital in the workplace. It makes sense to me Robert, that if you want to break away from the pack of the unempowered to the empowered, you had better implement modalities that create passion in your employees.”
I felt a rush of energy; a wonderful feeling of lightness slowly flowed through me as I began playing “what if” scenarios in my imagination. I knew that a change of this manner was possible if I wanted it to be so and I was excited about the possibilities as Myron continued to elaborate.
“And I’m not talking about a short lived blip of motivation typically provided by books, tapes or an off-site meeting at the beach. The passion I’m referring to is a conscious choice to live a life of meaning where at the end of the day you know you have made a contribution, not only to your own life but in the lives of your employees and customers. How does that hold up to your Worthy Ideal?”
“It’s dead on.” I looked at him and then down to my cup, “But I have no idea where to begin.”
“Again, Robert, it all starts with you. First you must know how to feel.”
“Feel what?” I asked, slightly frustrated.
“If you have to ask then you better really take a deep breath, step outside the vortex of normality, and step into the world of leadership from the heart. Feeling is another way of listening to that small voice within. That voice, or as I like to call it, the ‘Gollum,’ a character in the Lord of the Rings, is the balance between good and evil, right and wrong. It’s the voice that most people don’t listen to, the voice that gives you that ‘gut feeling.’ And when you follow this voice, you take ownership and responsibility for every thought, decision and action that arises both personally and professionally.”
“You mean I can’t blame other people, I can’t delegate the fallout?” I said jokingly.
“The answer is that great leaders, passionate leaders, take full responsibility for the outcome of their leadership. Great leaders constantly interact with their employees. They get out from behind their desks, and ivory towers and interact with those who are in the trenches.”
“But I’m constantly asking my people about what’s going on.”
“No one is ever going to tell you the truth if you ask them how things are going. But if you’re intermingling with your employees directly, you’ll be able to see the truth first hand.”
“I guess I see what you mean. To be honest, maybe I didn’t really want to know the truth. I just wanted to hear that everything was working well.”
“If you want to be a great leader, you must learn to build trust. Francois De La Rochefoucauld once wrote, ‘The trust that we put in ourselves makes us feel trust in others.’ To build true and meaningful trust you must first learn to trust yourself, then and only then will others learn to break down the barriers of skepticism and trust you.”
“Wow, I never looked at it that way. You know, this is all a little overwhelming but I know I can do it. Where do I start?”
“Robert, a change in your company starts with you. The desire to change is paramount due to the intestinal fortitude you’ll need in order to withstand the many blows from critics who’ll ridicule and try to put you down. Remember though, the majority are only willing to make a difference if it benefits them and their bank accounts. Working to the contrary is the stuff from which legends rise. Just ask yourself, how do I want to be remembered, what legacy do I wish to leave and how do I want to feel when I look back on my life at the end of it all?”
Myron picks up a hand written piece of paper next to the teapot. “The following is a general checklist I put together for beginning your journey of becoming a passionate, heart-based leader,” as he reads aloud:
“Take a good look at yourself—the good the bad and the ugly. Understand and learn from the many benefits and lessons that lay within any pain, hurt or suppressed experience. An executive coach or mentor can be of tremendous help in this self evaluation process.
Promote personal responsibility and ownership within your company. Always starting with you first.
Pursue an impactful purpose for your organization that results in a positive sustainable difference within the company while still creating a strong bottom line.
Promote personal growth, organizational leadership development and identify, nurture, recognize and reward your people and emerging leaders and those people with hidden talents.
Open up the positive feedback channels within your company, your family and your friends.”
He then handed me the paper and said, “Now, do a quick mental audit of how many of the above steps you are actively planning, encouraging and pursuing within your company?”
I looked at the page and quickly accessed it. “I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not doing any of these things. Up until now, I thought I had a pretty good company.”
“And Robert, I’m sure you do, but how would you like to have a world class company that really makes a contribution?”
“I’d love it.”
“Well it all starts with a single thought that develops into an idea that transforms into a plan that gives birth to a proposal that with care and commitment will mature into a fully blown embraceable cultural shift.”
“Wow, that was nicely stated,” I said in awe.
“Now Robert, the question is, do you think you have what it takes? Is your company ready for such an incredible challenge? What have you got to lose… your job? Forget about the college tuitions, the mortgage and all of your other financial responsibilities just for a moment. When you have a Worthy Ideal that is warmly embraced and your primary aim is to be ‘of service’ you won’t have to worry about where the money comes from, it will just manifest and flow to support you on your leadership journey. “
“Thanks to you, I believe that I am ready, Myron. In fact, I can’t wait to begin.”
“That’s what I want to hear. You have a lot of information to assimilate so let’s call it a day. Next week we’ll pick up where we left off.”
As Myron walked me to the door I felt that a new page was turning in the evolution of my company and more importantly, my life.