Category Archives: Leadership

How to Lead People Anywhere, Anytime

I was watching this really whacked out cartoon the other day. I rarely watch cartoons, let alone whacked out ones. These two spaceships were fighting each other, and they kept pulling out these different weapons. Each time they shot all their “bullets,” or whatever they were, the enemies ship would lose its shields. But for each weapon that the “good guy” ship would pull out, the enemy ship would come up with a new force field/shield specifically to combat that particular weapon. It was as if the same manufacturer of cartoon space weapons was colluding with the manufacturer of cartoon space weapon defense shields.

For some reason it reminded me of a book I read once on personal auras. It said that people’s auras have many layers. The layer that most people can see is the outer layer, and that is the layer that interacts with other people. Depending on how “in tune” the person in question is, the subsequent layers of their aura are congruent, or matched in aura frequency. I’m not sure of the physics behind it, but it sounded pretty interesting. When a person is really congruent in whom they are, personally, physically, spiritually, their auras will all be in alignment and they will project a powerful presence. It will have an incredible attractive quality to it. If you’ve ever been around somebody that you just could feel really good in this person’s presence, they likely had fairly congruent set of auras. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. The person that when they walk into a room, everybody just kind of pauses in their conversation slightly, and says “whoa…”

The generally overlooked aspect is that people can be powerfully charismatic without regard to their “moral” outlook. Charles Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones, that crazy Korean cult guy that has a thousand wives. All these guys are incredibly charismatic and attractive, but they are kind of dangerous. OK, really dangerous. Because their underlying message is ultimately one of self destruction. Simply because they are incredibly congruent with their self-destructive message, they come across as being somebody that many people will naturally follow. They are a great example of the fact that whatever ideas you have, whether they be an idea to save the world, or to lead a band of crazy drug crazed hippies into the jungle, if you are consistent with your beliefs and how you present them, people will follow you.

I think one of the strengths, and weaknesses of human nature is that we will follow a leader at the drop of a hat. If somebody stands up and presents a seemingly congruent message with an easy to understand call for action, we will likely follow them. Even if they are a little bit crazy. One of the interesting phenomena regarding this is despite the members of the group; there will always be one that is the de-facto leader. It’s one of those leftover traits from evolution. When we lived in hunter/gatherer bands out on the African Savannah, we needed to rely on a leader. Otherwise we’d wander cluelessly around and get eaten by tigers. It can be a great resource, both to be a follower, and a leader. Especially if the leader is kind and honest and really is concerned about his or her people. Many great leaders in history demonstrate this.

It can also be dangerous to follow somebody if they happen to be the only one you’ve got. It’s hard to ignore the million year old programmed desire to follow an authority figure. It’s much easier to give up rational thought and go behind somebody. Sometimes, though, we need to accept the fact that one of the responsibilities of being an evolved human is to always question authority, and always be on the lookout for your own interests. Always judge how they match up with the interests of the current leader. There are too many horrors of history that illustrate what happens when people have neglected to do this.

As far as auras go, I’ve never really been able to see them. I even bought a special pair of goggles, that were supposed to train your eyes, but I didn’t have the discipline to practice consistently. Maybe I’ll get lucky someday.

Unfortunately, the warring cartoon spaceships never resolved their issue. They each had to return to their respective space colonies to recharge and repair, so they could meet again. I think my friend told me that in the next episode they have to become friends, because they have to unite against a common enemy. We’ll see.


How to Create a MasterMind Group

I was re-reading Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” the other day. I was reading the part where he was describing his “imaginary master mind group.” If you haven’t had a chance to read that fantastic book, or if you haven’t read it in a while, I can’t recommend it enough. There are several free versions of it online, or you can go buy yourself a hard copy to take with you. Lately I’ve been reading snippets whenever I’m on the train, or hanging out in a coffee shop. I think it’s a great idea to always have a good book such as “Think and Grow Rich,” or other books of that nature to pull out and read this whenever you get a chance. It can really be helpful.

The “imaginary mastermind group” that Hill was describing was a modified version of his Mastermind Group idea. I don’t think the idea was his, most likely several people over the centuries have discovered the concept of synergy in a group. The basic idea is to get a group of people together, and collectively solve a problem. Business problems, social problems, political problems have all been solved in the past with the application of a mastermind group. The original framers of the United States Constitution is a particular good example of an effective and powerful mastermind group. Their efforts have proved to be valuable to many people over the years.

Sometimes, though, you don’t have a group of powerful individuals at your disposal to collect together and figure out how you are going to pay your rent, or write that report at work. Sometimes, you have to go it alone. Which is how the imaginary mastermind group comes in. You look through history, and get a collection of real, historical figures that you admire. It’s good to have a wide variety of disciplines. Doctors, scientists, orators, mystics, magicians, politicians, whatever. Come up with as many different specific fields as you can, and then choose on person from each one. I think Napoleon Hill had Darwin, Lincoln, Henry Ford, and Emerson, among others, in his group. Just choose anybody who exists, either currently, or historically that you’d like giving you advice and counsel.

Then at night, just as drifting off into sleep, gather your imaginary mastermind group together and have a meeting regarding the day’s issues. Make sure you are in charge, and each can only speak when you give them the floor. If you want, you can ask them questions regarding different problems you are having in your life, and the best way to solve it. You’ll be amazed at the insight they will offer. It’s important to release any weird feelings that you have about doing this, and allow your imagination to speak through them. It kind of gives your brain permission to look at things from a different perspective, and think of ideas you wouldn’t normally think of.

You can also imagine key members of your mastermind group going with you into certain situations. For example, if you have a big meeting with your boss, you can have a meeting with your mastermind group the night before. Whoever seems to give you the best advice, take them with you, and imagine they are standing behind you, whispering into your ear. (Just make sure not to turn around and say “Huh? What was that?” to them during the meeting.)

Hill even went on to say that after a few months of regular meetings with his mastermind group, they began to take on distinct personalities, and he had to stop because he feared they were becoming too real, even for him. So be careful, and don’t let your imagination run away with you. You don’t want to end up like that mathematician in “Beautiful Mind.”

Your brain is a fantastically wonderful and barely understood part of you that can offer up many different ways to get what you want out of life. The imaginary mastermind group is but one way to tap this fantastic source for whatever pleasure you want to easily achieve in life.


How to Accept and Benefit from Criticism

I bumped into a friend of mine last weekend. At the time, I wasn’t going anywhere in particular. You know those days. You don’t really feel like hanging out at home, but you don’t really have any major things you want to accomplish. The weather is nice. You have the day off. Most of the important stuff that you usually do on the weekends, laundry, straighten up your desk, all that stuff is done. So you pick a few destinations that you’d like to explore. Bookstore, mall, coffee shop. You take your time because you just want to enjoy a lazy day of wandering around. Content to float around with no real pressing need to hit all your semi important maybe get to destinations. Which is exactly what I was doing when I bumped into my friend. And which is exactly I immediately agreed to go and grab lunch, even though I’d already eaten, and it was four o clock in the afternoon.

He stated telling me about this interesting problem he was having. It seems there was a new manager at his job. She had been brought in from a different division. He worked for a manufacturing company that made large parts that were then sold to various automobile manufacturers around the world. They were largely non-moving, machined metal parts, that were very versatile, so they could be sold to a number of different companies, both domestically and internationally.

The problem he was having was that his new manager had no real experience in this particular area. She had worked in the head office her whole career, in the accounting department, and really didn’t know anything about the companies operations other than what she saw described on a balance sheet. Because of recent economic problems, she was brought in to see if there were any areas where they could save money, so the company could still remain profitable. My friends company sold to a diverse enough group of carmakers than the collapse of one, two, or even three major U.S. manufacturers wouldn’t necessarily cause their business any harm. So she was brought in just to make sure that they could stay in the black, and nobody would have to loser their job.

The problem began, when she came in, thinking she was helping out, which she was from a larger standpoint. The overall health of the company is important. But the workers, all the guys that reported to my friend, didn’t see it that way. They saw her as somebody coming in to tell them what they were doing wrong. One thing they didn’t like was they she was what they called a “pencil pusher,” or a “desk jockey,” who couldn’t begin to understand what it was like machining parts on sophisticated machines, all day. Two, she was a woman. And this kind of job had always been a traditional, male dominated job. So straight away they was a large feeling of enmity between them, before they even got a chance to meet.

So my friend had to figure out how to explain to them that criticism isn’t always bad. Sometimes criticism is to help you, even to make your life easier in the long run. He wanted to tell them that those that can accept criticism with an open mind will really benefit in the long run. Many successful people have realized early in their career that criticism does much more good than harm, if taken the right way. You can take other peoples criticism of you, even if it’s mean spirited, and extract from it useful information that you can use to improve yourself. Most people can’t see this, and see criticism only as a personal attack. Few people don’t realize that even if you do receive criticism as a personal attack, you can always “erase the emotion and save the data” to learn something. It’s always important to realize that in almost every interaction, you can learn something constructive.

So what my friend decided to do was to speak with her, and suggest that she come to them with questions, and then let them answer them. She will describe how she is representing corporate headquarters in a quest to save ALL their jobs, and she needs their help in figuring out to do that. Kind of an “us against them” mentality. To figure out a way to work together, without any criticism, and let them not only explain to her how they do their jobs, but to elicit their opinions on how the could do it better, and cheaper.

I thought it was a pretty good plan, and I’m curious to see how this turns out.


Make A Choice – The World is Yours

So there I was hiking with my friend. We had been doing switchbacks for several hours, and were both very tired. We got to a point in the trail where we had two options. One was to veer up the left, where we would have to traverse over several large boulders. If we went up to the left, we would get to our destination in about an hour. If we followed the regular trail, we would get to our destination in about three or four. Normally, something like this would be a no brainer, as one hour, especially after hiking switchbacks all day, is much better than hiking three hours. The only problem is that the “shortcut” up to the left was over several large boulders. We decided to give it a go. After about half an hour, I realized I might be in way over my head. My friend was already about half a kilometer up ahead of me, almost out of earshot. I was getting really nervous and anxious, as every third or fourth boulder was wobbling when I stepped on it. I was afraid if I slipped, I might bust an ankle. I didn’t know what to do.

I had a friend once that was an electrical engineer at a very large company. They hired him for his engineering skills. He was well regarded as an electrical genius, as he was responsible for ironing out the bugs in the machines that they were developing. They were in a meeting, getting ready for the big boss to come from the east coast. They had to decide, as one of their major projects was behind schedule. There was one of two ways they could go. They were fairly divided on what to do, and nobody really wanted to make a choice for fear of repercussions from the big cheese.

Its’ interesting what happens when you make a decision. When you make a strong choice, and you are congruent about it, people will almost always follow your decision without question. It almost seems as if people would rather follow somebody who makes a decision that they disagree with rather than choose on their own. Great leaders throughout history have always said the secret of their leadership is the realization that people want a strong and congruent leader who will stick to his decision regardless of what it is.

So my friend was able to see the clear solution. He raised his hand, and offered it to the management at the meeting. They were impressed, and accepted his idea. When the boss came, and approved of the idea, naturally my friend got all the credit. His ability to make a decision and take responsibility for it launched his career up into management, with more responsibility, more exposure, and of course, more money.

And when I finally decided to go around, it was as if a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders. Even though I arrived at our campsite a full four hours after my friend, I had a great time hiking alone. It was something that I’ve never really done before. Hiking alone, out in the Sierra mountains, with only the beauty of nature around us. All because I was able to make a simple choice.