As the terminology implies, human-centric leadership is founded upon the principles of genuine human connection. Being that leadership is one of the most intimate kinds of human connection, leadership must play to those connections in order to be as effective as it can be. Jim Bouchard speaks internationally and coaches leaders to inspire through human-centric leadership. Jim speaks with Paul Higgins about the factors that make human-centric leadership vital in the modern world. Thinking about shaking up your leadership style a little bit? Take a few tips from Jim, and you’ll find yourself in a much better position as a leader.
Our guest is someone who was a drug addict for three years early in their life. They truly hit rock bottom, but we’re lucky to have a batch laced which broke the cycle and turn them towards a better life, including martial arts, which became a positive outlet for him but will let go in 2008 and went full-time into martial arts. He now leverages both experiences to guide leaders in human-centric leadership. Why listen? One is what it takes to be a human-centric leader. It’s important in these uncertain times. Two, had a bridge of business model from live to virtual events. It’s important for a lot of speakers at the moment. The third one is how to be focused in these uncertain times. They’ve given free resources, which are mentioned in the interview. What I’ll do is hand you over to Jim Bouchard from TheSenseiLeader.com.
Welcome, Jim Bouchard. It’s great to have you on, Jim. How are you?
I’m wonderful, Paul. Thank you so much for having me. I love visiting with you.
It was brilliant to be on your show, Walking The Walk, episode 64. I thoroughly enjoyed that. Over a year repay the favor by having you here. Something we always start with is what’s something that your family or friends would know about you that we wouldn’t?
A lot of the people in the public probably know more about me than my family and friends sometimes because ironically, my story that I started this whole adventure from life was being a drug addict and a dropout. A lot of them, they didn’t know that about me at the time. I kept that well-hidden from a lot of the people that were closest to me. That is a little bit of the reverse of the question.
I know we’re going to go deeper into your story, but how long were you on that path?
I say it this way. I lost a good 2.5, 3 years of my life to that where I functionally wasn’t much good to anybody. There’s a lot of that. Honestly, a lot of it I don’t remember. I remember bits and pieces of things and some highlights and lowlights. About 2.5, 3 years, which is plenty, I’m telling you, every day is precious. You don’t want to lose three years of your life.
How much in contact with your family were you through those three years?
Not much at all. I wasn’t close with my family, with my mom. As I said, I kept that well-hidden. I lived quite a ways from them. It wasn’t like they saw me every day. They saw me a couple of times a year. That helped manage that I suppose if you want to call it that.
What was that turning point? What took you on the right path?
The short story is this. There are a lot of little bits and pieces along the way. I finally got to the point where we had a party. We lived in an old 1950 style trailer. It was one of those things with the louvered glass windows. It was quite a relic. The only reason that’s important is because at that time, I’d probably started doing 6 to 8 bong hits a day to stay high. That’s a water pipe for people that don’t have that experience. I wouldn’t smoke a joint or a marijuana cigarette. I couldn’t get high in a joint. At this party, somebody passed me one. I kept it to myself. We call it bogarting the joint. I kept it for myself, smoked it all down as much as I did. I did a lot of other drugs to keep the party going, to go up to get down all that stuff.One day, you look in the mirror and ask yourself where you want to go from there. Click To Tweet
I was usually pretty mellow but that particular night after I smoked the joint, I was running all over that trailer. Apparently, I was trying to dive out through that louvered glass window. I would have been cut to shreds if I had made it. My friends got me calmed down after a while, got me to put to bed and when I woke up in the morning, I looked like I went a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson. That was the day I said, “That’s it. I can’t live like this anymore.” It’s a good thing what happened is whoever sold us that marijuana, the joint was laced with angel dust. Several times during that period, but especially that day, I’m lucky I even survived that and came out of it hopefully without noticeable brain damage. That’s debatable. That was it. There were those moments, you look in the mirror and you say, “Where do I want to go from here?”
When did you find martial arts?
A couple of years after that. I always say this, quitting drugs is easy. Most of us that do it, we get a little bit of practice at it. It takes a couple of times but staying off drugs is difficult. I had some friends and my brother was involved with martial arts and boxing as well, and they said, “You should give this a try. It would make an impact on your life.” It certainly did. From there, I didn’t realize I was going to make a life out of it. Here we are years later and after that, it’s amazing. That was a real turning point for me. It gave me a sense of structure, discipline, recognition. A lot of healthy things.
Was that your first business where it turned from a hobby into a business?
That happened out of necessity. People are worried very much now that we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus epidemic. It was a recession that was going on and a severely impacted broadcast industry. I was working at a television station at the time. I was studying martial arts, but I hadn’t taken it seriously at that point. Music was my life at that time too. In addition to the television station, I was a musician almost full-time at that time. I got laid off from the television station and I started hanging around the Dojo most of the time. Music was at night and on our weekends. I hung out in the Dojo most of the day. Finally, my master, my sensei said, “You’re hanging around here, you might as well do something.” He got me into teaching and a couple of years later that evolved into my center and then we grew from there.
What was the instrument that you play?
Back then, I played drums and had a lot of good adventures at the time. I was on the road full-time for a little while and I got to play some major shows. It was funny, we would play a little pub with a 20, 30 people in it and then the next weekend we might be in an arena with 6,000 people and then back to the pub again. That’s the nature of that business when you’re trying to make it. There were lots of good adventures, I met a lot of good people there. It’s ironic because music played a part in me getting involved in drugs in the first place, but I continued the music through there. I do it as a hobby and I play instrumental surf guitar. That’s a lot of fun.
As you said, we’re in COVID-19 at the moment. It’s probably, unfortunately, the biggest pandemics since the Spanish Flu, which never started in Spain.
I didn’t know that.
It was American soldiers that caught it and spread it because of the countries that were in the war at the time, they couldn’t communicate and Spain was neutral. They communicated some cases and it then became the Spanish Flu. There are sadly going to be some people laid off at the moment permanently. Going back to your experience, what advice can you give about losing your career or maybe changing your career?
I’ve been through that a couple of times and what got me into the speaking and leadership training field was 2008 I was starting to scale out because I was starting to speak a little more. I still had one Dojo that I owned and that was my headquarters. It was the first one I had my heart there too. A lot of people had been with me through the whole thing. In 2008, we had a big recession. The town that I had the school in also had a Naval Air Station, which ended up closing. That was more than half of our membership. I couldn’t sustain it anymore. All the money I was making, speaking was going into keeping the school alive and talking about stupid business decisions. One afternoon, I walked into the Dojo and I had already talked with my wife. We were considering closing at that point.
This young mom came up and she was in tears, and I didn’t know what was wrong. She had an autistic son and she said he had gotten the first real good report from his school that he was making friends, his grades were up and he was paying attention better in school. She said, “That’s because of the program here.” It touched me so much. I went home and talked with my wife. We ended up taking out a second mortgage on the house, which was a foolish business decision and we kept it going for a little while longer that way. Eventually, we got out. I understand what people are going through. It’s painful, especially if it’s something you built. I hope this doesn’t come across as trite, but because I’ve been through those things and been in a situation where I’ve lost everything, you have to make a decision.
It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to be emotional. You’re going to shed some tears. You’re going to maybe throw a fit here and there, but make the decision, “What am I going to do from here with whatever I have?” If I can dial back a little further back to the drug thing, this is where I learned the art of appreciation, if you want to call it that. When I had nothing, I didn’t know whether I was going to eat the next day. For a little while, I was living out of my car and somehow, and I think this did come from my mom where I looked around and started to be thankful for what little I did have. No matter where we’re going tomorrow, it starts with whatever we have here and now. How many great successes have been made up from that point out of nothing? There it is. I try not to base my happiness on things that can be taken away from me because we never know what can happen.
You talk about your mom, but who has been some of the other biggest supporters for you in your life?
One of the biggest influences on my life, and I call him my brother by choice, he was my guidance counselor in high school. From there, a lifelong friendship. We were roommates off and on for several years. He was the best man at my wedding. Sadly, we lost him a few years ago to cancer but he was one that always encouraged me. Interestingly, because in my adventure in the martial arts and then certainly now in leadership training and speaking, he always encouraged me to be a teacher. He said, “I believe you should be teaching.” I always think about that because no matter what shape it takes, that’s what I do. That’s what I am, is a teacher.
As you said, you’re speaking and I want to dig into how your business has changed. When people say, “Jim, what do you do at the moment?” How do you answer that?
Before the virus hit, I would spend a lot of time out on the road doing conferences. I do a lot of conferences, keynoting workshops, workshops for conferences and associations and businesses directly. That’s changed a lot. We moved a lot of that online. Thank goodness we have this technology. It’s still in the process and for people that are struggling, that was tough. We were looking at potentially our best year ever and we saw that go to absolute zero in a matter of about four days where the schedule was completely canceled or postponed.
Our entire year was wiped out but as I said, you look in the mirror and you’ve got to make a decision. Our decision was, we have the tools and equipment. Thank goodness we have the desire, the content. Let’s take advantage of this technology. Do what we can do and move it online. People have been responsive. It’s still a long way to go. I’m only sharing that, not for anybody to feel sorry for me, but because I can say from the heart, I am one of those people. If I say something like that, it’s because I experienced it and if I can do it, you can do it. I’m not the most brilliant person in the world. School of hard knocks and roll up your sleeves and get to work, that’s the university I attended.
What have you learned around this pivot? I suppose it’s the bridge more than the pivot, but what have you learned about taking things online? What are the key differences between doing a live speaking and virtual?
You and I talked about this. I love being in a room with people. I love hugs and handshakes. What I help people discover is human-centric leadership and expand on that. To me, leadership is the most intimate human relationship there is. To do that without being in the same space as other people is strange. I’m hearing a lot of people that are making this transition feel the same way. It’s nice that we have the technology but it doesn’t replace it in person. Having said that, what we’re learning, and I don’t know if I’ve learned it or we’re learning it, is how do we simulate that as much as possible?
How do we try to preserve an intimate connection? The story goes to the way you and I connected. There were a lot of people that work in your space that have been approaching me and you were the first one that did a personal video and sent me a personal video. In that video, I knew you had looked at my profile. You’d looked at my material and that you knew a little bit more about me. That was incredible. You can use this technology to make a real connection. I’m thankful that you did because the first time we talked, I thought highly of you and that you were going to be an important person in my life going forward.
You talk about human-centric leadership. Give some examples of how you make that change for leaders.In the face of a crisis, you get to make a decision. Click To Tweet
We’ve created this character of an evil manager. There’s a great difference. Admiral Grace Hopper said it beautifully, I couldn’t say it any better. She said, “You manage things, you lead people.” For too long we’ve gone overboard on management. Management’s important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not leadership. Leadership is what we’re talking about when we’re dealing with people. For instance, a manager will motivate or try to, and that’s not complicated, but you can bribe people with incentives. You can scare them, you can threaten them and they’ll get to an expected point usually. Leaders inspire if the motivation is about reaching expectations, inspiration is about destroying those expectations and going beyond them.
A manager will delegate and there’s nothing wrong with that. You need to do that match people with tasks. A leader will empower, make sure people have the resources they need, everything. All the tools they need to perform at their best. A manager will push or drive while a leader guides. There’s the connection and the imprint with Sensei. If you take it from there, sensei’s job’s simple to inspire, empower and guide people. That’s what the best leaders do as well. That’s what you do when you’re at your best as a leader, you’re inspiring, you’re empowering people and you’re guiding them. That’s why you can see it. To me, it’s an intimate process and the best leaders approach it that way. It’s about putting people first.
In these times, I suppose it’s easy to get busy in the managing part of it. I come from a corporate background. I know what it was like. Often, you’re faced with decisions that it’s easy not to make the tough call. At the moment, there are people have been forced to take a tough call. As you said, you’ve got to make those decisions. What are some advice at the moment for those leaders that’s the first time they had to stand up?
First of all, reach out and make sure you’re connecting with people. Don’t be an undercover boss. You have to connect with people on a human level and that speaks to this directly. To backtrack a little bit, research is clear on this. People perform at their best when and only when they know their leaders care. We needed research to tell us this. At any rate, what people need from you the most right now is just that, it’s caring and transparency. It’s understanding that we’re up against something tough. You don’t want to hide it from them. You want to be as transparent as you can and don’t be afraid to be a little bit vulnerable. They don’t want to see you crying in your soup all the time but there’s nothing wrong with coming out confidently and saying, “I’m worried too. I’m scared too. We’re facing these challenges.”
Share those challenges with people. It was General Patton that said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what needs to be done and they’ll surprise you with their ingenuity.” That’s a perfect sentiment for these times. You never know where the best solutions, the best ideas are going to come from. It doesn’t always come from the C-Suite. It might be the janitor, the person on the front lines. I’m sure you’ve run into this in your work, especially as a corporate executive and whatnot. Most of the intellectual, experiential and I’d say the cultural capital of an organization exists where it’s not in the C-Suite, it’s on the front lines where people are doing the work. You want to stay connected as much as possible and reach out and show people you care.
Who do you love to work with? Who are you working with at the moment?
It’s interesting because we were doing a lot of work in the healthcare space. Those people are pretty busy right now. A lot of those organizations have put training on hold for at least temporarily. We do a lot of work with credit unions. We do a lot of work with credit cooperatives and whatnot. Here in the States, we call them credit unions when we’re working with people in Africa and the Caribbean Islands they have a little bit different names for them, but they’re community organizations. Anybody that has that same philosophy that, from a leadership perspective, is focused on putting people first, their people and the people that they serve externally their customers and clients, it’s more of a philosophical thing that way if they’re in alignment.
Ironically, we’ve been doing a lot of work with the trucking industry in construction and we see that same mindset too. I said ironically because the truckers are very important to us. You never noticed them until right now. Everything that we need to eat to survive, to get through this a pandemic, it all comes to us on a truck. Thank goodness they have the courage and the stamina to stay out there and serve us. That’s leadership right there.
A lot of people are leading virtually for the first time. What are some tips you’ve got for leaders that are doing that now?
As much as possible, try to connect through the technology. What I mean by that is a lot of people will use this technology and hide behind the lens. We can’t do that. It’s harder to work. There was an interesting article from Harvard Business on the stressors of people in the Zoom meetings because it’s not the same as being in the room. Even if you can see the person on camera, it’s not the same. You have to work harder to read them and understand their moods, where somehow there’s a lot of nonverbal that goes on when we’re in the same space and that doesn’t come across through the camera. You do have to do that. Make it a discipline that you’re connecting on a human level. Don’t open that Zoom meeting by saying, “Let’s go take down the to-do list and see where our project status is.” Ask people how they’re doing. Ask them if there’s something you can do to help them facilitate, make their life a little easier and do the job a little better.
We’re not having that face-to-face, but there still is a video. I did send you a personal video and I do that. Even with my welcome messages on LinkedIn, it’s all my messages. How can leaders use video more to help lead at these times?
I’m going to defer to you because you used it better than anybody that I’ve seen since I can remember. That was special to get that. When you meet Alex, she’ll say that. She’ll never hear me come downstairs out of the office and say, “I got a message from somebody I don’t know who’s running a membership program and I’m excited.” She’ll never hear me say that. I came down and I said, “This guy, Paul Higgins, sent me this special video. I’m impressed.” You were the only call I took out of about 50.
There are some great platforms out there. Loom is a good one. Also, Dubb is the one that we prefer to use, but it’s making those hard decisions as you said. It’s easier to send a text. It’s easier to hide behind the text. What I have as a default is to do video first. Use video a lot more and that helps with that human connection. I’ve been in lockdown for three years because of my health and I’ve got used to it. The only way that I can communicate with people is through video. There’s no better time to start it. Yes, it will be rough at the start. It’s like anything you start with. I know with martial arts that first class I took and I was petrified at looking at all these people and what they were doing, but you end up getting there and videos are the same. I don’t know how many, as you said, you don’t get many, but still, it’s an underused thing. I randomly do a video for my team members. My team members are spread around the world. It’s not that difficult to do and that’s what creates those human connections at the moment. What were you thinking as you went through that?
You’re not making an Oscar-nominated movie either. I’m guilty of that because I have a broadcast background. What I’ve learned with this type of format, people like an organic message. I like doing the Facebook Live streams. People like that. It’s okay to stumble and bumble a little bit. That’s what we do when we’re in front of people, we’re in front of each other. They don’t expect it to be perfect. Don’t let perfection stand in the way of it. Open the camera and go for it. Believe it or not, I remember my first day in the Dojo. I put on those silly pajamas and stumble around not knowing what you’re doing and then to make it worse, you’re in front of a bunch of mirrors. The camera’s the same way. People look at themselves in the camera and if it’s any consolation, I’ve been on camera one way, shape, or form for most of my life. I still don’t like the way I look on camera. If you don’t like the way you look on camera, you’re not alone.
Even if you’re shooting every day and it goes to nobody, leave yourself a little message. It’s the art of getting used to it. It’s no different. You and I are podcasters. I won’t even go back and listen to my first couple of episodes, but you get more comfortable with it. I do think this virtual world is here to stay in a lot of senses. A friend of mine, a senior executive said, “We won’t go back to people flying around as much as what there was.”
Not as much. They did a poll and showed that people are craving it. People are afraid we’re going to lose that. Don’t be afraid of that. We’re not going to lose that but you’re right, it’s going to take a much different shape. More often we’re going to be working virtually and even for bigger events. We’re getting a lot of interest with promoters that are putting together conferences virtually. I don’t think it’s going to replace it, but it’s going to change. If you don’t adapt, if you don’t transform, you’re going to be left behind in business for sure.
Before we go on to the live section, I’d like to help you to build your authority on LinkedIn in these uncertain times. Go to BLGClick.com and watch a prerecorded free Masterclass. You will learn three secrets. You’ll learn the formula used by 1% of LinkedIn users to 10x their views. You’ll get seven killer steps to turn views into likes and comments by your ideal clients. You’ll also convert likes and comments into relationships by getting 80% response rates to your LinkedIn messages. As Jim and I have been talking about, it is about human-centered connections. Our method is much around relationships first. I know there are a lot of activities that happen within this, but what I recommend is you can get your virtual assistant to do a lot of those. If you don’t have a VA and you would like to learn about getting one, go to BLG.com/VA. Jim, the next section is the live section. What are some of the daily habits that make you successful?
One of the things that I’ve learned how to do is to try to turn off the noise at the beginning of the day. I can’t say I’m an altar boy. I make a lot of mistakes and I’m a disciplined person, but sometimes I get off track. If that makes anybody feel any better. The general routine that helps me be productive in the day is to get up. I do some exercises called Qigong. It’s a Chinese exercise, gentle stretching and moving, get the circulation going, get the lubrication and these old joints and meditation. I have a simple program. It’s called Sit Still, Shut Up & Breathe! and that’s all you need to do. Meditation doesn’t have to be complex, but the research behind that is terrific.
Even 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a difference in your life. These days too, it’s also good to note that it does boost your immune system. As far as the context with what we’re talking about, it turns off the noise. Focus is not a process. I’m sure you’ve tried to force yourself to concentrate. How good does that work most of the time? This is what I learned in my life as a martial artist, the focus is a process of letting go largely. There’s a beautiful story from the Asian traditions. They’ll take a jar of water out of the Lily pond and put it on the table. What can you do to clear that water? Nothing. If you agitate it at all, if you try to move, to manipulate it, it’s going to make it worse. You have to let it sit.
That’s one of the lessons here. Let go of these distractions and there are plenty of them. To bring it down to Earth, I updated and say, “There are enough people trying to screw up my life. I don’t have to be one of them as much as possible.” We’re not immune from that. It’s the way our minds work. It’s when something comes up that bothers you, pay attention to it. The masters I studied it with even says to embrace it and then let it go, turn it loose and that’s good. Other than that, it’s a process of exercise and it’s strange because I’m a disciplined person, but I’m not the best person to learn scheduling from. I can work in a very flexible schedule and feel comfortable. A lot of people can’t do that. I’m not the best role model for that thing.
What are some of the habits that you’ve learned through this experience of COVID-19 that you’ll probably maintain on the other side of it?
I’m going to say learning again, not learned. I’ve been through it before, but for some reason didn’t access my experience like I would tell someone else to do. That is in these times we can get such a sense of urgency that we have to make changes fast. We have to bear down. We do to a point, don’t get me wrong, especially if we’re responsible for other people. You do have to take the time. You have to carve the time out so that you can take this time for a break, whether that’s a walk or exercise or meditation. If you don’t if you start getting to a point where you’re frazzled and you’re stressed out that you’re not performing at your best, then what value are you to the people you serve? I’m including family in that too. Family, your friends as well as the people you’re responsible for in your business or your job. We’ve got to take care of ourselves. As I said, I’m relearning that lesson again but that’s the process of discovery in life. Sometimes we have to keep relearning these lessons.A lot of people will make use of technology but hide behind the lens. Click To Tweet
A lot of the people I’m talking to is about how simple life has become and they’re enjoying it. Particularly here in Australia, if you’ve got children, some children do four sports and school. You’re always on the go as a parent. In these times, life’s become a lot simpler and I’ve found that people are a lot happier. There are great lessons to learn through this and to maintain the other side. We talked about Alex earlier, who’s both your life and business partner. What would you like to say to her about the support she’s given you?
I’m going to quote her. When she introduces me and when we meet in person, Paul, this is what she’ll say, “She’s the power behind the throne. I’m just the product.” She’s a force of nature. It’s interesting because it’s not the easiest thing to be in business with a spouse or life partner. There are challenges there. You think of anything that you would bring to bear in a business relationship, you have to magnify that. You have to be extra careful. You have to be extra caring. You have to reach out a little more and know the support she’s given me throughout my whole life adventure. When she met me, I was at a very low point in my life and we became good friends and she’s been there for me the whole time. I appreciate her.
The next section is the give section. What’s a charity or a community you’re passionate about and why?
Because of my past, my glorious resume, I should have been dead or in jail many times when I was young when I was in my twenties and going through that. For some reason, I got connected a few years ago with incarcerated youth. It’s sponsored by a friend of mine to go and speak at a youth detention facility. Before we left the facility, she had talked me into volunteering as a mentor there. I fell in love with these kids and I saw a lot of myself in them. I saw a lot of my past in their lives and I became more involved there. I still do mentoring actively with them. We do a lot of work to support them. I serve on a board that provides resources for them when they’re getting released or where they’re still inside and they’re going out for jobs or they need something to connect with their family.
We’ve got a leadership program launched at this facility and we’re going to take that to some more facilities. It’s been working well. It’s tremendous work. I hate this because it sounds like a cliché, but it isn’t. That’s one of the joys in my life. It’s been sad because we haven’t been able to be in the room with them. That’s been tough. It’s been tougher on me than them because every day I work with them, I take so much away. Most of the kids I work with are resilient, not all. You can’t save everybody in a situation like that, but by and large, the kids that I work with are remarkable. It’s gratifying to see them embrace this process of transformation and change their lives from some horrible experiences.
Do you think you need to have walked in someone’s shoes to be purely an authentic leader or do you think you can learn it? Because you’ve walked in their shoes, there are an instant connection and trust. Do you think that’s important in a relationship?
It certainly helps in that particular relationship because of my experiences. It gives me a level of credibility with them than someone who hasn’t had that experience might have to work harder to get right. On the other hand, you still have to back it up with caring. I’d say this though, in a general sense, leaders, the age of commander control is dead. It’s over with. We could go on about that for hours. The best leadership has always been human-centric leadership and we can find examples throughout history. Having said that, leaders need to discipline themselves to be compassionate. When I hear somebody say, “I can’t imagine what it’s like,” fill in the blank with your experience, no matter what it is.
You can imagine it most of the time. These days, even the most horrible things you could think of that somebody went through for goodness sake, people have written books and produce movies about it. You don’t have to imagine. You can see it. That’s not the same granted as having lived that experience but it gives you enough information that you can to a degree walk in that other person’s shoes if you choose to. That’s the thing. It takes a little bit of time and sometimes it’s a painful experience to walk in somebody’s shoes as you put it. I do believe that it’s necessary to be an effective leader as much as possible. Whoever is in front of you at the time, put yourself in their place before you start to do anything else. If you can put yourself in their place, you’re going to make a much deeper connection.
The last section is the action section where I ask you some questions and get some rapid-fire responses. The first one is, what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
The first one, and this is probably the greatest gift that I took away from my life as a martial artist, is this little bit of philosophy, “Perfection is not a destination. It’s a never-ending process.” That means we’re continually working on ourselves and I’m sure you continually have this experience. Aren’t the best people you work with the ones that are constantly wanting to improve even more? That’s it. The second one, it’s funny because when I meet some of my black belts once in a while because I haven’t run a school in years and they’ll say, “Sensei, do you miss us?” I said, “No. I don’t miss you. I miss the little guys, my little dragons, 3 to 6 years old.” With those guys, I used to play a game pretty regularly. I’d yell out, “What are the two most important words in martial arts?” They would yell back, “Pay attention.” I’d argue that those are the two most important words in life and business too. I heard this great quote not long ago, “The greatest gift you can give another human being is your attention.” Pay attention and that’s a discipline and that requires a lot. It’s simple, not easy.
The final one is timely, it’s one of the strategies that we share all the time in workshops is be flexible, adaptable and comfortable with uncertainty. Pliny the Elder, the ancient Greek said, “The only certainty is uncertainty,” which sounds stupid until you think about it. It’s profound. The world is changing and at a rapid pace and it’s accelerating. That’s part of the reason I share my story as a drug abuser because what has that got to do with leadership? What’s it got to do with good people? I always share, it’s this, and the best leadership now and going forward is transformational leadership. Let’s help people change, adapt, become comfortable with this uncertainty. I came to realize, maybe I thought my resume was a pretty bad one. It’s a pretty useful one because who better to talk about this and share this than someone who had to learn this process to survive. That’s the value that came out of that. Be flexible, adaptable and comfortable with uncertainty.
The next is what is your key piece of technology that is essential to running your business?
I hate to fall back on something trite, but it’s this computer and an internet connection. Thank goodness for Mr. Mac, Steve Jobs.
Your best source of getting new ideas?
Quiet. You’ve got to have a quiet time. There’s a lot of input that goes there. I feel guilty if I don’t read an hour a day and access what I call Dashboard University when I’m driving. If you’re driving in the car with me, you’re usually going to hear shows like yours. You’re going to hear inspirational things but then you have to have a quiet time. One of my greatest heroes, Ben Franklin, Alex bought me a Ben Franklin action figure that’s hanging on my wall here as inspiration. He talked about that a lot. Einstein did too. He said his greatest ideas came when he was walking in the woods or playing his violin. You need that quiet time. That’s where the ideas start to make sense.
I love that analogy you spoke about. I’ve never heard anyone articulate focus as well as that. That visual image really helped me. The last one’s the big one and I always leave it to the end. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
It’s interesting you ask that question because that is something that I spend some time once a year asking two questions. I ask leaders always to ask these questions to take a day and reflect on them. The two questions are, “Who are you? Who do you serve?” Those two questions will answer that. What impact do you want to leave? If I answer those questions, who am I and who do I serve? That’s going to tell you the impact. Every time I’ve done that exercise I named, it might change someday. I don’t know. Who am I? Always comes back to the teacher and who do I serve?
Anybody willing to embrace this idea, particularly now because my focus is on human-centric leadership. That they’re going to do the work to attract willing followers and they’re going to have the will to serve them and discipline themselves to do that. That’s the imprint that I want to make. I’d love if I had to lay down my head tomorrow and believe me, I’ve been close enough in my life as you have to be intimate with that experience. I’m comfortable with the idea that maybe some people, especially young people will go forward as leaders. There are only two types of people in the world, leaders and those who refuse. I want to help people who want to be leaders.
It’s been such an enjoyable experience having you on the show. Jim has also given us a fantastic set of resources that we can all go and use. There’s a free book, a free membership with a monthly live call. Also, there’s a video on courage and as he said, some great techniques on meditation. You can go to TheSenseiLeader.com/BLG. Jim, it’s been such a pleasure. I feel relaxed listening to you and I know that’s come from your two worlds. You’re once a taker and now you’re a huge giver. I want to appreciate what you do for people and appreciate the time you spent on the show.Try to turn off the noise at the beginning of the day. Click To Tweet
Paul, right back at you. I wanted to do this earlier but you want a ‘from the heart’ offered endorsement because you, unsolicited, you shared some tips with me about how to operate on LinkedIn. There was no pitch. You shared tips with me and those tips worked. That was terrific. I thought that was extremely generous. I encourage people to access your resources and your program and take a good look at you. It’s been a blessing to connect with you.
Thanks a lot, Jim.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that interview with Jim and it was important in these uncertain times. I love that analogy, head of the glass of water. The best way that I’ve ever heard anyone speak about focus. If you believe someone that you know would benefit from the show, please share it. Jim would love to get your feedback and appreciation on LinkedIn. You can also go to the TheSenseiLeader.com/BLG to get those brilliant free resources that Jim mentioned in the interview. You can learn the three steps to build your authority on LinkedIn in a free prerecorded masterclass. Just go to BLGClick.com. Please take action to build your business and lifestyle and stay well.
Jim Bouchard transformed himself from loser to leader––from dropout and drug addict to Black Belt and Sensei. The author of “The Sensei Leader” and “Think Like a Black Belt,” Jim now speaks internationally, trains and coaches leaders to inspire, empower and guide their people to their very best––to be Sensei Leaders.
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