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Copy-paste behaviours is a big mistake

I’m writing this on a Friday morning from my mother’s house in South Wales. I have the pleasure of working with a businesswoman for a 3-day immersion, beginning later today in the city I grew up in, Swansea. Since meeting her back in the autumn of last year, I noticed how fast her thinking was, and I know that if and when this speed slows down, life will become easier, more enjoyable and she will be able to access a deeper level of success in her work. While this is all in the future right now, I know when she sees more about the nature of thought and how it works, the above benefits will be inevitable.

A week ago, I returned from coastal Washington State in the USA, visiting friends. It was a wonderful trip: re-connecting, slowing down and spending lot of time staring in awe at the beauty of the seascape. Witnessing a bald eagle swoop down to catch its prey which was too big and heavy to fly away with it, then use its wings to swim to shore, reminded me how incredible nature can be. Less enjoyable for the eagle’s prey of course and a reminder that there is always more than one way to see the same story.

A few weeks ago, I was with a client for our fourth session via zoom. He’s recently joined a new company and is on the board for the first time. I was hired to help bring his strategic thinking to the fore and to remove the "imposter syndrome" view of himself. During this conversation, he was bringing me up to date on how the last month had been. He’s got clearer on his role, how his new company works, the strategic plan he’s written for the department he heads up and has got to know the team members he directly manages. He noted how well these conversations were with his team and how much more present he was with them, how well he was listening and how easy it was to develop the working relationship. “I now need to make sure I copy these behaviours with the rest of the team to make sure I do as well with them” he said. I said: “And that would be a big mistake.” He was stopped in his tracks and a look of confusion filled my computer screen. “What do you mean?” he said after a few seconds’ pause. “It was your real-time responsiveness and presence in the moment that made those interactions go so well,” I said. “Attempting to copy that will lower your presence to them and will put you in your head, blocking that real-time responsiveness that is you at your best.” Again there was silence and I saw a furrowed brow in front of me. His face then relaxed, became reflective and after a few moments of silence his mouth opened, then closed again. He sat back and pondered a little longer. I was enjoying watching this leader think, process and ultimately have an insight into human beings at their best. “I keep forgetting that,” he said after about a minute’s reflection. “I am naturally great with people until I let my thinking, my judgement of them or my judgement of me get in the way.” While I know there’s more for him to see about his innate (born-with) ability to connect with people and what’s going on in every human being when they are their best in every task and endeavour, this was an impactful moment that will play out in unknowable ways in this man’s life. I’m looking forward to learning how this has unfolded when we have our next session in the coming few weeks.


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