With a health pandemic wreaking havoc to nations, physical distancing is one of the greatest things we can contribute to humanity. However, such proximity does not imply disconnect but a chance to reconnect with those we value most. Bringing in optimism and leadership during fear, Steve Farber and guest co-host Jodee Bock share how we can lead with love in these dark times, sharing the most effective ways to make social connections in times of physical distance. With the current situation, leaders are prompted to function more efficiently. Steve also shares his four dimensions for leadership including how we can cultivate love in others by starting with loving yourself.
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Leading With Love In A Time Of Fear With Jodee Bock
I want to bring to you an interview that I did title Leading With Love in the Time of Fear. These days, at least the days in which we had this conversation, we’re living in a time of physical distancing. We have to figure out ways to reconnect with each other. Sometimes it’s not reconnecting, sometimes it’s connecting, to begin with, with each other at a time where we’re not sharing the same physical proximity. The world in many ways seems to have ground to a halt. We live in a time characterized, at least by uncertainty, but I think more pervasive, we live in a time of fear and love is more important than ever. I thought, “Why don’t we jump online with a few folks and talk this through a little bit and share some ideas?” We had about 100 people on this call and the conversation or dialogue was very inspiring and uplifting. We kicked around some great ideas. This is our conversation, our dialogue about how to lead with love in a time of fear and joy.
I’m Steve Farber. I’m the Founder and CEO of The Extreme Leadership Institute. I’ve written a few books, The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge, and Greater Than Yourself. The book isn’t that big because the font would be ginormous, but Love Is Just Damn Good Business is my latest book. I’d been in the field of leadership development for many years. One of the things that we do at The Extreme Leadership Institute is we certify folks to facilitate The Extreme Leadership Workshop, which is based on the principles of Extreme Leadership, the Radical LEAP, which stands for Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof.
There are many people on this who have been through our certification. We had our annual event. We got that right under the wire. If it were weeks later, it wouldn’t have happened, but the Extreme Leadership Experience is something that we do every year. We had about 150 people in the room. It was fantastic. Many of those folks are on this conversation and lots of new faces as well. One of our certified facilitators is Jodee Bock. Jodee and I have known each other for a while, since around 2004, 2005. She read The Radical Leap and we connected. I’m in San Diego, Jodee is in Fargo.Our opportunity is to make a social connection in a time of physical distance. Click To Tweet
I was up there to speak. We met each other face-to-face for the first time and had lunch together. Jodee is the first person to ever say to me, “Do you think maybe you would consider certifying people in your workshop?” I’d never considered it before. Maybe I’d consider it like, “Wouldn’t that be something?” I remember what I said to you is, “Do you think they would be interested in that?” She said, “Yes.” That conversation at that restaurant, at that hotel on that day, was what started the ball rolling in expanding this Extreme Leadership network and the way that it has. Jodee does a lot of work in personal development, leadership coaching and organizational stuff. She’s adept at communicating online. She has a lot of Facebook Lives and all that. She seemed like the combination of her brilliant mind and her facility with facilitating in this kind of forum made it obvious that we should have this conversation together. Jodee, do you want to say a couple of words and then we’ll get rolling?
I didn’t realize how important it was going to be to follow that nudge inside of me in 2004 when I read Steve’s book. I went to an event where he was speaking, I don’t know if you remember that, Steve. It was on the weekend. It was a Sunday in a little college in Minneapolis. I drove from where I live in Fargo, about 3.5 hours to this little college in Minneapolis because I needed to meet him.
I do remember that.
If you have those urges inside of you, especially as things are shifting around us quickly, follow them because you never know where it’s going to end up taking you. The people you’ll meet and the person you’ll become by listening to that voice. That’s what happened to me since I met you, Steve, in 2004. You don’t even know all the things that I’ve been doing in the background around your work, what I’ve learned, and who I’ve become because of you. I’m excited to see some of my friends on this conversation because they’ve trusted that I’m not going to lead them astray by introducing them to you. That’s a lot of pressure on both of us, Steve.
I have to say because this is the way my brain works. “It all started one day in a little college in Minneapolis,” is a great first line for this story. I want to say, “Here we are in the session that we’ve called Leading With Love in a Time of Fear.” I want to set the context for this. First of all, to state the obvious, I didn’t want to hop on this conversation with you guys because one day, I had this startling revelation and realize that I’ve got this all figured out. This is a dialogue. We’re figuring this out together. This is the so-called new normal, although I’m not sure how I feel about that phrase. If you take the title of this session, Leading With Love in a Time of Fear, the three key words there to me are lead, love, and fear.
That might be obvious, but we need to pay attention to all three of those for different reasons. Leading with love means to me, it’s not only managing our own anxiety and fear and all that in these bizarre times but how do we lead others? How do we keep people engaged, focused, encouraged, and moving forward towards a better future in a time where we get caught up in the present and leading in any circumstance? This has been at the core of my work. What attracts you guys to this work, to begin with, in any context that comes down to our ability to cultivate love. Love for the people that we work with. Love for the enterprise that we’re responsible for. Love for the future that we can create together. It’s always true.
What’s happening is because of our circumstance, it’s taking its place in the forefront, love more than others than ever. It is one way of saying it. Leading with love and the context in which we’re doing that is characterized still, for the most part, I would say. I don’t think I’m exaggerating it, but it’s characterized by fear in a way that we haven’t experienced it before. This is what I think is the positive side of this whole thing. We are All, around the planet, experiencing a similar kind of fear together. Under normal circumstances, we get scared about finances, about health, and any number of things. As human beings, we are good at finding things to be afraid of.
What’s unusual is that we’re all afraid of the same thing, which to me says and maybe this is because I’m a perpetual optimist, but what it says to me is, “As human beings, as species, we are good at screwing things up. We are also good at solving problems.” In a circumstance where we’re all facing the same problems, I have to believe that we’re going to solve this in ways that the vast majority of us can’t even anticipate. It’s not about denying the fear. We need to acknowledge it, but then as leaders, we also need to find a way to use old pop psychology, NLP stuff and reframe the reality. That’s the context. I have a few thoughts on this. Jodee, I’d like for you to say a little bit about what you’re thinking.
What I’m learning about LEAP, there are nouns and there are verbs to this. I’m an English major. I should know this. Cultivating love is the L. Cultivating love, generating energy, inspiring audacity, and providing proof. I want to stay on that audacity because Steve, what I’m thinking of when you talk about inspiring audacity, you’re talking about doing something that is way beyond our constraints. If you stop there, that would be a bad thing. Disregarding any old rules and old constraints in order to change the world for the better as the way you described it. When you talk about the world in that context with a small W if we feel overwhelmed. You tell us, don’t think you have to change the whole big, fat, wide world, but why not? Why would this not be a time to have an “oh crap” moment that’s bigger than we’ve ever had before? Because we’re talking about the whole wide World with a capital W. I see that being a great opportunity because we’ve got people from all over the globe on this conversation.
Isn’t that both interesting and a little bit ironic that what’s forcing us to think about our impact on the entire world is a situation where we are having to isolate or distance ourselves physically?
You talked about social distancing. Steve, it’s not social distancing at all, is it?
I think many of you saw the introductory or the invitation to this conversation and it occurred to me, as I was making that introduction at the moment that I’m not crazy about the term social distancing because that’s not what it is. It’s a physical distancing. Our opportunity is to make a social connection in a time of physical distance. That’s the reality. On CNN, my wife Veronica saw this and said, “Come here and listen to this.” Sanjay Gupta said almost verbatim, it’s the same thing. “We shouldn’t call this social distancing. It’s physical distancing and we need to connect socially.” I was like, “I don’t know if that’s plagiarism or our minds are thinking alike.” That is an ironic opportunity. Here’s what I would like you to do if you’d be willing. Everybody who’s on this conversation, in the apparent reality, if you’d be willing, jot down a couple of words or a phrase about what you’re scared of. What does fear look like for you at this moment?
While you’re doing that, I noticed that John said, “I heard it too from Dr. Gupta. Stacy Williams says, “Dr. Gupta said the same thing on a show with Stephen Colbert way back when he could still have guests.” I think it was the last day he could have guests when he said that, for sure. Here are some of the answers that are coming up, Steve. Stephanie says, “Losing my purpose.” Dana says, “My beloved boy lives alone in LA. I hate that it would be nearly impossible to get him if I needed to.” Fay says, “Losing people I love. Slowing down my business more financial. Isolation, fear of losing my ability to lead with LEAP. The economic fallout from this. Losing connection. My business going under. My COBRA insurance has been canceled. Our small business’ viability. Fake news. My mom is alone in Florida and we are in New York state.”
We will get through this, but I am worried that people will see the fear of contact as the new normal. Staying motivated and social isolation. These are great guys. I’m glad you’re voicing this. I’m scared of not being able to take care of my team and their families. Losing hope, fake news, losing the business that was already in a vulnerable position, lots of small businesses, I’m afraid of the unknown. Seeing people I love and care about dying. I’m losing jobs, feeling disconnected, financial issues, people not taking this seriously. The people that we are likely to lose to this virus. Those are where we are, mandatory vaccinations that I don’t trust. There’s another one. Finding ways to make a deep impact and deep connection, oil pricing being manipulated worldwide by two countries. People reacting in a negative way out of fear. Trusting the narrative.As human beings, we are good at finding things to be afraid of. Click To Tweet
As you let that list wash over you, is there anything in there that you heard that makes you say, “You’re afraid of that?” Probably not because we’re all having similar fears. Those are very primal, fundamental human fears and it’s perfectly natural. This part is part of the human condition. I go back to the word lead. Lead and love in that time of fear that’s characterized by many and even more of the list that we have there. As leaders, it seems to me that our job is not to deny the fear as in, “Get over it. Everything will be fine. Put on a happy face and move forward.” That’s not our job. Our job is to acknowledge it and then begin to think about how do we move forward in spite of it, but ultimately, how do we act in a way that solves for that fear, that mitigates that fear, then ultimately dissipates it at least in the way that we’re feeling it.
Steve, don’t you think that putting words to it and being able to feel that you have space where you can speak can help mitigate it? Otherwise, it’s underground and we’re not talking about it.
Here’s a framework that I’ve been thinking about in order to lead. There are four different dimensions that I’m considering. One is the inner landscape and the outer. The inner is our internal environment. The outer is our connection with others. The other two primary dimensions that come to mind for me is dealing with the present and also, creating the future. Inner and outer, present and future. The inner landscape is something that we all have to manage and the beauty here is that we have the time to manage it, explore it, and all that. It’s not about trying to stuff down the fears that we have and try to deny them. It’s acknowledging them, but then managing our internal landscapes.
Exercise, breathing, meditating and all of those things that we already know we should be doing, it’s the opportunity to explore that. I started meditating and TM when I was thirteen years old. I’ve been a “meditator” my entire life. I’m meditating more than I have for a long time and it’s making a huge difference. However you choose to do that, whether it’s prayer, meditation, exercise, yoga, or a combination of all of the above, the reason, the end reflection, and asking the question, “What is it that I want in my life?” Regardless of what the circumstances are, that inner reflection is important under any circumstances, but it’s particularly important for leaders because this is our raw material.
It’s difficult to cultivate love, generate energy, inspire audacity, and provide proof unless we’re doing all those things internally. It’s hard for me to cultivate love in others if I don’t have it in myself. It’s hard for me to generate energy if I’m completely depleted. It’s hard to tell people. I can tell people to be audacious and be bold and all that. I can tell them that all day long, but unless I’m leading by example, it’s not going to have a lot of credibilities. I prove all of this through the actions that I take, which starts internally. This is a great time for introspection.
That’s where the proof will come out if you can’t prove something that’s not inside of you. You prove it by being something other than what you’re saying. When we get right down to it, everybody, you recognize that in a heartbeat from other people, don’t you? When they’re trying to be something they’re not.
That’s right. That starts with ourselves. The outer portion of that is what we’re doing, all of us together on this conversation and the variations on that theme. It’s a connection with others. What am I doing to manage, deal, and process internally, but then at the same time, I have to be paying even more attention to how I’m reaching out to other people? The context that we’re making, a lot of you are doing this already, picking up the phone and calling people that you haven’t talked to for a while to say, “How are you? How are you doing?” To do that individually with folks, but also to look for opportunities to do that with your team, Zoom calls, GoToMeeting, FaceTime or whatever you use to take advantage of this time to connect with people. The phone, email, texts, and chat are great, but nothing will ever replace face-to-face.
Through technology, for those of you who have your cameras turned on, we are looking into each other’s eyes. Our brain is telling us that that’s what we’re doing even though we’re not physically in the same room. As our friend, Marti Glenn is on the conversation with us here, shared with us at the Extreme Leadership Experience, we tend to have in response to stress, we have fight and flight, that most of us are familiar with, but there’s a third and that’s also connection. There are fight and flight and more than ever, there’s this sense of and need for connection. Managing the inner and on that platform, reaching out to other people in whatever way we need to do that. In that, I want to add these other dimensions and then let’s kick it around a little bit. There’s also the present and the future.
If I’m connecting with you and having that conversation about how you’re doing, it’s an important conversation to have. It’s always an important conversation to have under normal circumstances. It is important to say, “How are you? How are you feeling? What’s going on? What are your challenges? What are you dealing with? What can I help you with?” That’s all oriented and it’s still important. Here’s what I think we need to anticipate as leaders because we’re early on in this new circumstance. We have a tendency to forgo the future because we’re dealing significantly in the present. As leaders, we need to acknowledge the future, the present, and help people through it, but at the same time, invoke, and describe and encourage people for the future that we want to create together.
Have this conversation that says something like, “What do we want to come out of this on the other end of this thing?” The fact of the matter is this is going to end. This is not the new permanent. That’s why I struggle with the phrase new normal because normal tends to imply eternally. It’s a new present that’s going to pass and none of us can accurately predict what this is going to look like on the other end. That in some ways is cool because the question then becomes, what do we want to create out of this? In that future state, what do we want to do differently?
For people who have teams, who are still intact and still doing their work from home, for example, the question then becomes, “What we can do to prepare for that?” In other words, what do we want to have accomplished by the time we can go back and be in physical proximity with each other and things start to heat up again? It’s acknowledging the present, but then also leading towards the future in those conversations that we’re having through connecting with people on the basis of what’s happening internally. That’s how that all fits together for me. What do you think, Jodee?
That’s brilliant. What happens if we’re not present, they keep saying it’s a gift. That’s why they call it the present. We’re in the present and if we’re not in the present because we’re worried about the past and we’re worried about, “We’re never going to get back to the way it was.” Good people because if we’re trying to fix things, fixing puts things back to the way they were. Let’s acknowledge the fact that the way things have been working especially when we talk about leading in a time of fear with love. Steve, I know you will admit at some point, it was difficult for you to put those two in the same sentence because we weren’t sure how people were going to hear that. I’m telling you, we have no other alternative that I want because I don’t want to fix anything to put it back to the way it’s been.
Brenda Levos said, “I believe that it’s important to be able to be authentic with our children and our clients. Talk about the fact that we don’t know how this is all going to go and then we can take this time to dream about the opportunity that this challenge can provide.” That’s critical because we run the risk of abandoning our dreams, and what are we without our dreams? Our great opportunity is to inspire people to keep dreaming. I’ll speak from my own experience. I have a whole vision as I’m sure many if not all of you do for your business. I have a vision for my business and my place in the world, and for the things that I want to do. The particulars of many aspects of that vision are based on people moving about normally and going to events and coming together. All the way the world was before. I find myself going, “Is that dream? Are those dreams? Are those goals still relevant or have I crossed over into Pollyanna land?”
It’s a scary thing to face so what I’m reminding myself of is maybe the particulars might change a little bit, but the essence of what I want to create and what I want to do is more important than ever. What can we do? How can we create that? What scares us oftentimes is that most of us, particularly business people, but it’s true for most people, we want the fast answer. We want to be able to ask the question to get the answer. We’re all having to face a good amount of ambiguity in what the answer is and the danger there is, if we’re not careful, then just abandon the questions altogether. That’s where we start a downward spiral that becomes dangerous.
We’ve got many great conversations, I can’t remember who said it first, that you were working with the client instead of asking how are you, but asking how are you now? If we still often respond with fine, then we’re going to be back in the old way of being. If we can present to how are you now and acknowledge that, I love that and you’re talking about this. There’s a lot of jumping-off points from that one conversation. Brent says, “In a time like this, the difference between how are you and how are you now is huge. It opens that door for the responder to talk about what they are feeling right then that day, that moment.
It’s even more than, how are you now? How are you at this moment? That answer can change. One of the things that I’m noticing, I’m curious if anybody else is seeing the same thing. I’m discovering something about myself that I’m a lot more susceptible to other people’s thoughts and perspectives than I would like to think I am. In other words, one moment I could be feeling good, optimistic, and I’m feeling productive and I’m doing the things that I can do. I then hear somebody make some dire prediction about the future that’s not based on anything other than extrapolating the worst-case scenario, which intellectually is not necessarily a bad thing to do if you take action to mitigate that like what we’re doing in California.
The governor of California said, “If left unchecked, half of the people in California are going to have this virus.” It’s easy to latch onto that and say, “What?” The point is that’s why we’re doing this, sheltering in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s a healthy way to think about it. What I’m finding of myself is that when I hear somebody comment like that, it changes my internal environment, whereas I was feeling pretty good and now I’m stressed out. My point is, that question how are you now versus how are you doing today is a powerful question because that answer can shift. I know I’m not all that unusual so this is going on for me. I’ve got to believe it’s happening for a lot of people but shifting from minute-to-minute.
They’re not aware of it, Steve. Luckily, we’re aware of it. That’s subconscious conditioning where it’s subconscious. We don’t know. It’s below consciousness.
That’s why engaging each other in the conversation about the future we want to create is healthy. It’s helpful because it does help to change the present state and it gets us engaged in productive thinking and actions. It’s a different kind of context. One of my favorite examples, I have several colleagues on the conversation here. Christy Tonge and Peter Alduino and a couple of other folks that are on there. We all worked together once upon a time at Tom Peters’ company. We’re grounded in The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes, and Barry Posner’s work. James was President of Tom Peters’ company and all this is sounding like blah-blah to a lot of people. My point is that Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge often referred to Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech as an example of a compelling vision of the future. There’s a difference these days. The power in that is that vision inspired people to take action. The vision of I Has a Dream speech is to paint a beautiful, vivid picture of a free and equal society, which was not a reflection of the current reality.
It’s a reflection of a future state that we can work towards. Therefore, the call to action was let’s all start acting now as if that was already true. If we lived in a free and equal society, there would be no white section, black section. What did people start doing? Rosa Parks famously refused to move to the back of the bus. People would sit at the whites-only lunch counters because we are a free and equal society, you can sit wherever you want. The activism was let’s take action as if that future state was already a reality. There’s an element of that’s true and that’s not true now. If we’re thinking forward to a time where we can all gather together at a conference or restaurant, it doesn’t mean we should start doing that, acting as if it were true. That can be a little confusing.
On the other hand, if we think in terms of the characteristics of what we want to create in the way that we are together as human beings and businesses and beyond, what do we want that to be characterized by? We want it to be characterized by love, by connection, by compassion, and by innovation. We could start practicing all those things. Those are the things that we could do. We can act as if that world was already here. In many ways, it’s starting to happen. We’re seeing the lovely clips that are coming out of Italy, for example. People singing on the balconies and playing tennis across the front window to another. These are wonderful things. We shouldn’t be doing that under normal circumstances. Wouldn’t it be great to have a spontaneous song throughout a neighborhood because, in some ways, we can act in what we want that future reality to be, which requires us to define it? We have to get clear on what it is that we want so we can start acting.
We’ve got so much chat going on that is brilliant. Let me start with John Kent. I love what you said, John, when you said, “Innovative change requires disruption and we certainly have global disruption. Ideally, there will be creative design thinking, artsy iterations for the future state. We are in a creative iteration.” Yes, so much so and sometimes you need to destroy before you can create. Think about that. You destroy a blank piece of paper when you paint on it. You destroy the silence when you play music, Steve. You have to destroy in order to create.
Mark says, “I agree. John, can’t we have recreated school in three days? Think about that, people. It is nothing short of amazing. This disruption will create a positive impact because of amazing people iterating due to necessity.” Would we have slowed down if we wouldn’t have had to do this? Would we have been playing tennis across the balconies? Would we have been breaking into spontaneous song? I would like to believe that would be possible. Yet, the possibility of that is much smaller than the probability of it happening. There’s a huge opportunity I see in this. I don’t mean to discount any of these amazing comments. I’m trying to pick and choose here.Inspiring audacity means doing something that is way beyond our constraints. Click To Tweet
For those of us with kids at home with us, we are given an opportunity to be leaping leaders with them. I’m home with a high school junior and a freshman. They are both aware of what the situation may do to their futures. I’m given the opportunity to help them both to keep their dreams alive. How are they right now? They are watching my wife and me see how we are. We are given a chance with our homebound kids to connect with inner, outer, present and future. We’re not only business leaders. Love is just a damn good life.
These are universal principles that apply in any context, certainly. The discussion about the future with our kids is always as important as parents. I don’t know how often we remember that because it’s all transactional. “Get your homework done. Clean your room.” Some of you know, I raised teenagers for 25 straight years, so I have some experience.
Part of that, Steve, might be the distinction between discussion, which is what we think we have to have. When you break that word down, it comes from the same root as percussion and concussion. “I’m going to tell you to make your bed. I’m going to tell you to do this.” What we’re forced to do is to engage in dialogue, which means we suspend any previous assumptions we may have had in order to learn from each other in the present.
Jodee, I want to build on that. I want to call on my friend Peter Alduino. Peter, this dialogue element is something that’s always been important to you. I’ve always loved the way that you’ve framed it up. Can you say a little bit about that?
The dialogue requires us to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes as opposed to discussion, which is about breaking down or debate, which is about beating down. You all know this for ourselves and somebody else’s shoes. For a moment, try to understand why they might be saying what they’re saying. That doesn’t mean that they agree with us all.
In terms of practicing that, it makes sense intellectually in what might an application of that be in reaching out to friends, family teams, colleagues and coworkers. What’s a good way to start a dialogue versus lecturing people?
As you started, tell me what’s going on internally. Tell me then what your biggest fear is. Tell me how you want to lead through this? Towards the future, what do you want to paint with the people who are near and dear to you? That is important always to keep an eye on the prize and get people to articulate themselves what that prize is so they can take ownership of moving there too. We are vulnerable. I’m spooked. We’re all spooked. That’s the beast. How do we contain this beast because we’re all wrestling with that same beast?
First of all, it’s making an effort to establish that connection simply. It’s outreach. I’m not calling to give you advice. I’m calling to hear how you’re doing? In the questions that I ask you, I can help you acknowledge and manage your internal landscape. I can also lead us towards the future by asking, what are your dreams, your hopes, and your aspirations? What do you want to create? What does the ideal future look like for you? It’s encouraging people to imagine.
In addition to that, ask them what do we have working for us already? What are our talents, our skills, our resources? What do we have helping us move towards that future so that we know we have resources available to us? We have the tools. We have the artillery to be able to punch forward.
Even in that to think about, you guys are doing this so well by demonstrating this. Your demeanor is calm. You’re leaning in even on this platform we’re in because people are not breathing. They’re panting, upset, reactive, and they’re not slowing down enough even to hear the questions you’re asking typically, I think. By stopping, I had a conversation with somebody who was, “This is wrong. This is blah-blah.” They were coming like this through the screen. We had the first call like, “What’s happening?”
Peter, anything else you want to say?
Thank you, Steve, for putting this all together.
There is this propensity that a lot of us want to teach and there’s a value in that. The greatest teachers are the ones who draw out, draw forth and I think it’s to underscore this is important to be great listeners and the degree to which we can manage our internal turmoil is that it has a direct impact on our ability to hear and listen to others. One of the beautiful things about being human is that in that conversation that helps lift other people up, we lift ourselves up as well. There’s a counterintuitive element to this. I wrote about in my book called Greater Than Yourself, and the premise behind Greater Than Yourself is that the greatest leaders become the greatest leaders by making others greater than themselves. They don’t shine the spotlight on themselves, try to grab all the attention and the credit. They’re always looking to raise people up so that others will achieve more and reach higher levels or however we define that.
That book came out in 2009. If you remember back to 2008 or 2009, it was not the greatest environment to launch a book because the world was in a financial meltdown at that time. The publishing world was going crazy. Random House went through three reorgs in the time that book was being launched. It was craziness. I came out with a book at that time when people were inwardly focused and survival-oriented. I came out with a book that said, “You should help people.” It was hard to get traction for a book like that in those circumstances and that is the tragedy in this. A sure-fire way out of the things that make us more inwardly and me-oriented, and a sure-fire way out of that is to extend ourselves to others, then our ability to help lift other people up will be the thing that lifts us up as individuals as well. That’s the beauty of that.
You said, “Why does it have to take a tragedy to remind us of the things we should’ve been doing all along?” Do you think that there’s a reset that needs to happen for each of us? Maybe we can be individuals in coming up with ideas to do that so that we don’t have to wait for a tragedy to happen outside of us.
I don’t think it needs to be a necessity. It’s the way we are. That’s the beautiful thing about a challenge. The challenge has within it as an opportunity in it. The challenge gets us to refocus and rethink and it’s not about the challenge that’s thrown our way, but it’s about how we respond to it, learn from it, and rise above it. I would like to think that we don’t need such a severe challenge in order to rethink things. It is the nature of human existence. This is a matter of size and scope more than anything else.
When you think about 9/11, I know in the US, we talked about that being a monumental time in our history where we came together and things happened and it didn’t last that long. When you look back on it, I think we were great for a while and then we went back to the way we were being. This is interesting. If you look at it less about a scared fear mentality and you look at the situation and you say, “We’re learning from China.” We can either look at China and say, “It’s your fault China,” because something happened in China or we can go, “What can we learn?” It’s not what happens, it’s what we become in the process. We can look at Italy and we can say, “What are we learning? What do we see from this? Why are we doing this?” Steve, we never had this conversation publicly like this before. What are we learning about this that we can continue to do even when we can come back together and hug each other in person?
Marissa Friedman is on the conversation and I was talking to her. She’s been recommending to her clients that they use something that she called the worry clock. In the spirit of not denying reality, but dealing with it, a worry clock is like you don’t brush your teeth all day long.
I have a five-minute timer I have on my desk.
What do you do with that?
You turn it, you go five minutes to worry. Five minutes of complaining. I have a friend who calls it sport bitching, “You get five minutes. I’m going to turn it over. Here’s your time and that’s it.”
Whatever the time frame is, 5 or 10 minutes, you just don’t want it to be 24 hours where you give yourself permission to worry all you want and then the rest of the day you don’t. She’s already getting feedback from her clients saying how much more productive they are for the rest of the day. What I love about it is not only it is practical, it’s a little bit symbolic. It’s also actionable and it’s on a psychological level saying, “Don’t deny it. Wallow in it for a little bit and then let’s move on,” because there are other times during the day where we’re focusing on the outer connection. As leaders, that’s going to clear us up to be able to more effectively listen and dialogue and have a conversation with other folks.
Ladies, you can probably relate to this. Maybe you can too guys, but if you buy a new pair of shoes and you try to shove them in the closet when you haven’t taken an old pair out, eventually it’s not going to fit. We can’t put new stuff in until we purge some of that old stuff. That’s what we were talking about creating a new opportunity here. If we continue to keep the old stuff that’s brought us here in our fear mode, we can’t fit the good stuff in. It’s a time for us to take some literal time. I’m being literal, Steve, and I’m using that literal time to say, “This is my five minutes to wallow,” or however long you want it taken. Ken said, “Before you give them the timer, make sure they’ve been heard. They feel safe.” The timer is great for us personally, but not to go, “You’ve got five minutes. Get it all out.”
That’s great anticipation of this thing because you can take any great idea and use it as a club or as a weapon. Not the club that you joined, but the club that you beat people over the head with, it is like, “Here are your ten minutes. Get that out of the way. I want to hear it.”
Maria is asking to talk.
Let’s do that.
I want to thank you for the Extreme Leadership Experience that I had in my life and this is a game-changer. Jodee knows it and I cannot explain how grateful I am to you for what you did during this Extreme Leadership Experience. I know that before going to the Extreme Leadership Experience that it was the best decision of my life. I came back with such confidence, with such face, and strong energy. Deep down, when you speak about fear, I come over the fear. That’s my experience. I do not fear anything because I see my future. I know that it’s bright and I know that I have a mission. I’m empowered and I am full of this energy with me. That energy that I didn’t have before. This is the first point.
The second point, when you speak about creating the future, it was the birthday of my daughter and we did it in a different way because we had the video. It was quite difficult to be together because it’s not recommended. I read a text to her because I prepared something to speak on the video. In the end, I said, “In this world, we are in this chaos.” I said to my daughter, “I want you to know that I’m determined more than ever bring my contribution to make a better world so that my grandsons can flourish and they can make their dreams come true.” This is what I want and this is my dream because everything doesn’t happen by coincidence. If we are not able to take the learnings and the insights about what’s happening, then we will go nowhere. I’m determined to make it happen to put some contribution to my family and this is what I wanted to share.
I think that’s lovely. Thank you. That is fantastic.
Ed says, “I love the saying on your wall, Maria. Let today be the start of something new.” Isn’t that awesome? That’s great.
We have John Kent.
I want to make a point about problem-solving and when we find problems in companies and in our lives. It’s important to go back and find the root cause of the problem. I want to say, China realizes the root cause of this global disruption and its part of their deep-rooted food culture. It’s hard to change a culture. They’re trying to do that. They have outlawed wild animals. We’ll see how that implementation works out, but my point is, for the rest of the world, they realize the root cause of this problem they have already implemented in some ways. The only way they can do for their society to solve the problem. Hopefully, the problem solved, at least for this particular reason, I don’t think it will happen again. A little credit where I think credit is due.
Thank you, John. I want to build on that a little bit. One of my dear friends and brothers, David Corbin, who spoke at the last couple of Extreme Leadership Experiences, the Wall Street Journal best-selling author. My favorite book of his is called Illuminate and his whole process is applied organizationally and it’s true in any context. He calls it to face it, follows it and fixes it. Whenever there’s a problem, you face it instead of trying to deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist. We’ve been talking about that a lot here. Follow it is what you’re saying, John, follow back to the root cause. It’s not about trying to eliminate the symptom. It’s tracing all the way back to where this originated. That’s the follow it, face it, follow it and then fix that root cause problem.
That’s where the solution comes in it. If we are companies, that’s what we have to do. If you’re an event-based company and there are no more events. If you’re a speaker or you’re running conferences or whatever, if you’re in the travel industry or the hospitality industry, you’ve got to face it. This is a new reality. Follow that back and then is there something we can do? We can’t necessarily change the root cause of what’s disrupting the industry, but is there some other fix for the time being? Maybe the answer is no. It’s putting things on pause for a while in terms of the enterprise as we know it. The question then is what can we do in our connection with the people who are being displaced or whatever? It’s that willingness to go there. That willingness to pursue it and to do it together. That’s the beauty in this.
Steve, can I have Brenda? She puts something out there that was interesting. Brenda Levos, could we hear from her?
I was listening to a press conference that they were doing in Fargo and the phrase they use where there’s a meme going around that says, “Ask not what sitting on the couch can do for you, but what sitting on the couch can do for your country.” What I said is that it doesn’t necessarily mean inaction and being complacent. It’s a moment to recharge and refocus and take inventory of those unique talents you have and approach it more as though you are worthy. Silkworm that went in the cocoon and inside the cocoon you are brewing something bigger and better to become that butterfly once we’re able to do that.
This is why Fargo doesn’t feel crazy because Brenda, we’re in Fargo and this is what we’re up to. This is good. Thank you so much.
Has Fargo ever felt crazy?
No, you’ve been here.
When I think of crazy, Fargo is not the first thing that comes to mind except the movie.
I had the opportunity to share this with my husband because it’s about leading with love not only in business but in marriage. When you are not used to being around each other all the time and having the utmost respect for the teachers that normally have my children for the majority of the day. We are all learning at our house to lead with a bit of love and grace. To be fair, he’s in the closet on a conference call. We need to provide time and space, it’s the only quiet place in the home. I can be honest and I’m sure some of you guys are in this position. I didn’t realize how much I’m not around my spouse and don’t understand. I think empathy and love are going far at this time for everybody. I know me personally, we’re here at home and normally we get home.In a time like this, the difference between “How are you?” and “How are you today?” is huge. Click To Tweet
We’d guess what people are doing at work, but we don’t see it. I know that I had no empathy for my husband who happens to be in the travel insurance industry. Having some good understanding and then also improving our communication and managing children, who are themselves, we forget that the children with the devices, they’re leaning into a lot of fear based on what they’re talking with their friends and teaching them to ask questions. Google isn’t always the best way to get information. Let’s have a conversation. These are things, as a parent, we should have been doing a long time ago. We’ve had dinner together and lunch as a family and it’s almost like getting to know our children and each other again. I think this is a great time. I love the idea of leading with love in life and business.
Thank you. I want to pick up one. It went by there. It’s something that I think we see play out again. The phrase was in life and business. That’s become part of our vocabulary. We make a distinction between those two things. Life and business. In another variation of that theme is work-life balance. What are we saying that work and life are different? It’s not that balance isn’t important. It’s not that the different contexts leading with love and a family leading with love in a business, there are differences and it’s an important distinction, but the phrase work-life is what I have a problem with because the implication is that work is not life. If work is not life, then what is it? What we’re experiencing is because we’re all working from home, we see, “This is life.” Some of how I spend my day is work-related and some are family-related and some are personal and those are all fine distinctions, but what is life? When watching life just works in life.
“I do a conference call for work in my closet because that’s what I have to do.” I love that. That’s awesome.
When you start thinking about your closet spaces as a productive workspace, your home got bigger, didn’t it?
Jen says, “I want everyone to know how thankful I am for the physical distancing you are doing. I work in public health and thankful to know all of you are trying to face this challenge using love. It’s comforting to feel part of this virtual community around the globe.”
I want to posit a couple of ideas for you and that I have one thing that I would like to do for you. At The Extreme Leadership Institute, we do all kinds of things, training, culture, and process. We have clients that we’ve worked with for years and more and coaching and all the above. We’re still doing business as best we can and figuring out the new normal. Here’s what I would like to extend this invitation to you in the spirit of connecting. If you would like to talk a little bit about what you’re facing and what help you might need in that if at all, let’s have a conversation. Let’s talk. You could do that if you go to SteveFarber.com/call. Book a time and we’ll have a chat.
Take him up on this because I don’t know if you realize how valuable you’re reaching out when you feel that you need a connection can be. If I hadn’t done that with Steve many years ago, Steve, you’re my friend. You’re not somebody I’ve read about. Steve has endorsed my books. You’ve written a little blurb for my books. We’ve created things together. Please reach out. I think if you didn’t know Steve before this call, I hope you have an idea of how this is not just talking. Steve is what he’s talking about and reach out. I would take him up on that if I were you. I’m just saying.
The other thing is and we’ll bring it in for a landing here. If you know people that they would like to join us, please spread the word. One last thing before we say our farewells. As many of you know, I’m a musician and I write songs and I like to play them any chance I get. I thought we’d end with a song. Thank you, Jodee, for suggesting that I do this. As I started thinking about it, there’s a song that I play a lot. I play it in many of the keynotes that I wrote initially a number of years ago as advice to my kids and advice to anybody about how we live our lives going through challenges. As I revisited this song, it was, “This is a song for right now on a lot of levels.” As we were talking about here, it’s not that we don’t want challenges, we face a challenge. We look at the challenge. We try to think of it in a different light. It is how we come back from a downturn. It is how we come back from crashing and burning.
That makes a difference. Funnily enough, this song was based on an old Italian proverb and that proverb goes something like this. “The house is burning so let us warm ourselves.” Is that not goosebumps stuff? Look at what’s happening? As we talked about, that the beautiful video I’ll have that is coming out of Italy, “The house is burning, let us warm ourselves,” where we’re stuck at home. Let’s sing to each other. That’s the essence of this song. It’s called Blaze of Glory Ball of Fire. I happened to have a guitar right here. That’s because I always happened to have a guitar wherever I am. I offer this song to you as a way to help, a little therapy. The other theme that you’ll hear in this is that we’re all writing our own story. Any good story has an arc. Any good story has a challenge that the heroine overcomes. That’s what makes it a good story. That’s what human life is. That’s where we are.
Is this the guitar?
I’ll tell you the brief version of this story. This guitar is called Gurian. They don’t make them anymore. Michael Gurian, the luthier is still around, but he shut down his guitar company. I bought this guitar in 1977. It’s my first good guitar. It is a beautiful handmade guitar. I went to college with that. I wrote my first songs on it because I was going to be a musician. In 1981, I graduated from college and got married. I had to feed people. I needed money, so I sold this guitar in 1982. How on earth is it that I’m holding it? Years ago, the woman I sold it to found me online, reached out to say hello. She said, “I still have that guitar you sold me.”
One of the hardest things I ever did in my young life was selling this guitar because I needed the money. I always loved this guitar so much. Over the years, occasionally, I’d have a fantasy that one day I’d find this person and she would still have it and I’d get it back somehow. I never imagined that it would happen and it did. She wrote to me and said, “I still have it.” I said, “Can I have it back? Would you sell it to me?” She sold it back to me for the same amount of money that I sold it to her back in 1982 and I got it back. This song I started writing before I got this guitar back, finished it after. It’s got some history with this. It is called Blazing Glory Ball of Fire.The dialogue requires us to put ourselves in the other person's shoes as opposed to discussion, which is about beating down. Click To Tweet
“Where the house is burning, let’s warm ourselves and the river is rising, let’s fill up hills. Where the storm is blowing, let’s raise our sails. That’s the way it is. It never fails. It’s always a dramatic story and it’s always down the wire. May you go down in a blaze of glory, come back in a ball of fire. The earth is shaking, let’s learn to dance. Our hearts are breaking, let’s find romance. The battles are raging, let’s put our stance. That’s the way it is. It’s not by chance. It so is a dramatic story and it so is down to the wire. May you go down in a blaze of glory, come back in a ball of fire.
When the tree is falling, let’s hear the sound. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. The Phoenix rising for one more round. That’s the way it is, lost and found. It’s always a dramatic story and it’s always down the wire. May you go down in a blaze of glory, come back in a ball of fire. Don’t say it to me. Take a pen. Take a napkin, write your next chapter. Fill them with love, give them some anguish to rise up above and at the end of the story, at the close on the scene when the obvious things are not what they seem.
When the villain is anguished and the hero redeemed and the bounty is granted for all your good deeds. When you climb on the back of your mighty white steed and hit for the sunset at the end of the pole, ride away, ride away, ride away home. Where the house is burning, let’s warm ourselves and the earth is shaking, let’s learn to dance. When the tree is falling, let’s hear the sound. That’s the way it is. We all fall down. It’s always a dramatic story and it’s always down the wire. May you go down in the blaze of glory, come back in a ball of fire. May you go down in a blaze of glory, come back in a ball of fire.”
Steve, I don’t even know how I can articulate it. When people share their gifts in a way that allows all of us to spontaneously share who we know ourselves to be deep down, the whole world benefits. I don’t know if any of the rest of you are feeling a little teary about this whole thing, but I’m feeling a little teary about what happened here.
As I’ve said many times, I am not a multitasker. There was one time when I looked and I saw something on the chat bar and it distracted me for a second. Lesson learned. Thank you for joining us. I do get a lot of requests for that song, which is gratifying. You can find it. It’s on Spotify and iTunes and any streaming service you use, just search for my name, the name of the album that it’s on is called There is Not a Dream I Wouldn’t Keep. I recorded that album with my friends, the Brothers Koren, who are amazing musicians. I recorded it in their studio. There are six songs. It’s an EP. That song is one of them. Most of the other songs on the album, I wrote 40 years ago on this guitar before I sold it. I recorded the album on this guitar. It all comes full circle. As a sign of the times, I don’t know how often it is that I sit at my desk in my office playing the guitar.
You weren’t by yourself here. The Indigo Girls did a concert on Facebook Live. I hear a little request there. Am I the only one who would ask Steve to do a home concert? What if you did a home concert through Facebook Live?
That’s a cool idea. I would love to do that. There’s a friend of mine, he’s experimenting. He’s running an open mic on his Facebook Live. I’m curious to see how that works, but that’s a great idea. I would love to do that. Maybe I can get a couple of guests. Next time, you guys can all come over and we’ll do a real hometown.
If you’ve not been to San Diego, I haven’t been to the Rooftop. I’ve been to the Poway Home for the beach party for the barbecue. You might want to become a certified facilitator of Extreme Leadership and get a chance to go to the Rooftop Deck in San Diego and hang out with Steve in real life.
That’s what we did on the last day of our certification. We bring everybody home. I know that sounds incongruent. Thanks for reading. Thanks for participating. Thanks for engaging in the dialogue. We love you and we’re here anytime you want to reach out and you’ve got the link. Book a call. Let’s talk.
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