Thanks for coming back for the second and final part of this interview series. If you haven’t heard the first part you can find it here.
Interview Part II
Listen Here [powerpress]
Bryce: As a follow-up, with the way that it is so easy to get online now and start a blog, what kind of advice do you have for people that feel like you described, they can’t lead because “I don’t have anyone with me right now? How can they get started?”
Dave: I think it’s a lot easier said than done, but you have to begin somewhere. There will never be a “perfect opportunity. There will never be a “right time.” That’s just life in general.
You know if you want to start a family there never is really a perfect time. You could always imagine it getting better.
You really do need to start where you are, and it starts with baby steps. One of my favorite quotes is from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzsu, who said, “The journey of 10,000 miles begins with one step.”
Really, if you could take one step today, if you buy a .com, that’s one step. If you can say, I really enjoy writing about these things, do a video blog, or do this or that, or even just have a color scheme in mind that’s another step.
And the more that you keep walking the further you’ll get. And it’s really just a constant process of trying new things and going out on a limb. It’s a cyclical process. I still find myself going through this process of revising, and honing my message, my vision.
Really you just have to begin where you are. And not knowing all the uncertainty and fear that you see before you is natural and normal. But it’s a good sign because it means you are going in a direction that is worthy of your time. So just begin and take that first step to see where it leads you.
Bryce: I really like that. I’m a big fan of that too.
I think every professional can benefit from having a blog or a site or a tumbler, whatever it is. Just so you can share whatever the value is that you can bring to this world.
And it doesn’t even matter if your mom, your sister, or your family are the only one’s reading it at first.
Dave: Yeah, and you never know what it’s going to become. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits started a blog that was for him, himself, his wife and mother. I think that’s how he described it. It was three readers. And one of them was him himself, and now he has one of the top 25 blogs in the world according to Time Magazine.
You never really know what it is going to become. And if you start leading, this is an example, you never know who you are going to attract and what effect you will have on people’s lives.
Bryce: Yeah that’s great! Another thing I wanted to talk about was egos because we look at leaders today like Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs and you just see huge ego’s out there.
And your book kind of kicks that in the face saying, “Don’t have an ego, get rid of that!”
So do you see any benefit to ego’s, is it all bad, how do we balance that?
Dave: Yeah, it’s not black and white. It’s not all bad.
The ego is a sense of self. As human beings, if we didn’t have an ego, we’d be like grazing cattle. We wouldn’t have a sense of self, we wouldn’t understand our place in this world, where we are among people.
So the ego itself isn’t bad. But an ego left unchecked is what brings on greed, jealousy, anger, fear, resentment, attachment, addiction. All the bad things that ultimately in life cause a lot of problems but especially with leaders. Especially when we associate political leaders as having those things today, can ultimately cause their downfall because it changes the way they behave. It changes what made them leaders in the first place.
I say this in the book Bryce, that a lot of leaders, especially political leaders have very good intentions when they start out. They want to do good, they want to help people, but what happens is, what occurs over the process of their careers, what makes them succumb to bribery, scandal, and corruption is their ego left unchecked.
They get an inflated sense of themselves. They love getting patted on the back, shaking hands, having a sense of power and status.
As a leader without followers I try to keep the reader’s ego in check.
It’s kind of like food intake or something. Food, when left unchecked will make you fat, will make you unhealthy. But if you keep it in check, then it’s fine.
We can’t say that food is evil, cause look at the rate of obesity in our country. Food isn’t the problem, it’s the people in how they deal with food or their own ego. So it’s a matter of knowledge and introspection and understanding the role people ego has in our lives.
So the ego isn’t the problem. In a lot of cases, I know some people, athletes especially, their ego is what gives them their competitive edge. “You’ll never be better than me.” “I’ll prove it to you!”
Which is fine if they want to do that. The ego isn’t really the problem it’s just that it can become the problem. So I try to encourage people to understand what the ego is and keep it in check, and I think we all will be better for it in the end.
Bryce: I always like a good food analogy. I think we all can relate to food at one point or another.
One of the points you hit on is that we need to understand our values and talents, and that’s something we preach over and over again here too.
We have DISC, Motivator Assessments, Value Assessments, Skills and Talent Assessments, that we use with executives for the same exact reasons you share in your book.
Can you go into how those fundamentals of values and talents go into making you a better leader? Or at least can guide you on that path?
Dave: Absolutely, I think another perfect analogy for that would be if you are building a house or something bigger than what you already have you would need a foundation.
To me, as human beings a very natural want is to understand our identity, and what makes us unique among everybody else.
Beyond our biological differences of being a unique compilation of DNA, we want something that compliments our ego really, which is our sense of self, and understanding our talents, gifts, and abilities. And what makes us unique amongst people.
The values aspect comes in at the very early stages, and I try to encourage people to use values as a core sense of identity rather than the egoic perception of themselves. I think the values that we have, we live by every day whether we realize it or not, cause there are a lot of different values we have been taught by society, cultures, our parents, really make us who we are more than even our names and our faces.
They are the guiding forces we try to stick to everyday of our lives. When we compliment those values with strengths and talents and the things we understand to give us a little more of an edge, and a little bit of a fire, you know something that’s passionate and reinforces to us that we have a unique offering to the world.
We have a value in this world, because if we weren’t here, no one else could provide that value in the same way we could. That’s a really strong force for pushing people to pursue their dreams.
I think in terms of leadership the effect that we can all have collectively upon each other, is like a ripple effect. Every little drop makes a much bigger ripple.
I think when we are talking about leadership we want to inspire more people to call themselves leaders because, they become a ripple and it’s possible endless the effect that we could have.
Bryce: You brought up foundations here, and I know one of the foundations you talk about is “gratitude.” Why is that such a key to being a good leader?
Dave: In the book I say perspective is everything, if not the only thing in life. And gratitude we use fairly flippantly that gratitude is just a matter of saying “thank you.”
The more I explore gratitude, especially in other cultures, gratitude is a way of living, a way of being, than it is just a matter of saying “thank you.”
I think that’s such an important concept, especially in this country where we have all the material benefits and social and political benefits that we have, to understand that gratitude is more a way of life than a fleeting emotion.
Gratitude really is happiness. It’s almost as if the two shouldn’t be separate words because when you are grateful for what you have it’s a natural inner peace and contentment for everything around you, of the things you have and of the things you don’t have.
And I think gratitude is a natural propelling force for leadership because when you see and take note of all the things whether it’s in your room, or your office or wherever you are, that you are grateful for, it kind of crops up as a natural urge to help people realize what they are grateful for.
It also compels you to help people top get those things. Those material comforts, rights, and privileges that we are thankful for having and actually help them to get those privileges.
Gratitude has a natural two pronged effect that not only helps you feel better but pushes you harder to try to help other people. I think it’s a very natural human want and need. It’s almost a very evolutionary aspect of the human psyche.
Not only of wanting to better your own life, but to want to help others ensure our collective survival and progression.
Bryce: It’s a good point, and one of the reasons I liked it was that one of the things we do in our meetings with the whole team here and it involves everyone from the owners of the company to everyone down at the very bottom.
We start off by doing a gratitude moment. Where Jim and Lori, our owners can talk about why they are so thankful for some of us individual contributors who don’t think we might contribute as much as they might.
But it’s one of the qualities I really like about them as leaders. It shows that there is appreciation, they see value in others. They are true leaders because of that too.
Dave: Absolutely, it’s a very powerful grounding force, and I think it’s one of those things that keeps you true to your values and your unique sense of leadership.
Bryce: We talked a little bit about the Occupy Wall Street stuff that’s going on. I just wanted to get your ideas and opinions on what kind of advice you would give leaders and future leaders today?
And how do you see it evolving with all the emotion going on right now?
Dave: I think collectively from top to bottom, from the richest person in the world to the poorest person in the world, to the one’s occupying Wall Street, to the one’s working on Wall Street, I think what’s absolutely imperative to our progress today and tomorrow is to make a concerted effort to recognize our similarities more than our differences.
We naturally, as one of our pragmatic systems to ensure our survival was to see things that were different than us and were potentially dangerous, to either run away from them or to fight them. Sadly that’s kind of what we see today in politics.
In the divisive state where economics are hurting so many people, we tend to look at people who are different than us, have more than us, have less than us, we take note of those differences far more than our similarities.
In Lead Without Followers, what I’ve come to realize, that to become a leader, is to be the most human that you can be. Part of that is recognizing that we all are human. That we are all looking for mostly the same things in our lives. And when we begin to bridge those gaps, stop being angry about our differences and looking at them and start looking at our similarities, that’s when the real forward progress happens.
That’s when we begin to build momentum and building the change we wish to see. I think, for our leaders today, I think it really begins with seeing our similarities over our differences. That’s a lot easier said than done, but the more we can relate to one another the easier it will be to discover middle ground and to establish the change that we would ideally have.
Where You Can Find Lead Without Followers
Thanks to everyone for listening or reading through the interview. I came away with some profound insights after talking with Dave.
If the interview was interesting to you, check out Dave’s book. You can find it here.
Yes this is an affiliate, but you are more than welcome to buy it however you prefer.
Dave has some new and different ideas about leadership. Do you agree? Is it something inside each of us? Are we really leaders if no one is following us?
Chime in on the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
image courtesy of room317