It happened in that amazing venue in the fashionable city of Düsseldorf. A canny restaurant with a cozy training room underneath the dark roof tiles. That whole place is part of a picturesque horse farm. Everywhere peace, everywhere Zen, everywhere droppings. In that amazing ambience a training participant said something completely out of the norm.
It was a typical Death-by-PowerPoint-presentation on day number two. Right away, I knew something was different. That guy didn’t really care about the slides. Instead, soon after starting with his presentation, he looked all of us straight into our eyes. After a long and painful pause, he asked the killer rhetorical question: How can you change others, if you cannot change yourself?
This one question – cliché or not cliché – made me reflect a lot.
To date, July 2018, I have been working with more than 80 clients from 30 industries. One thing most of my clients have in common is that darn digital transformation. Change, rapid change, is an undeniable fact.
How can you change others, if you cannot change yourself?
A simple but tough question, isn’t it?
I thought about four of my peers. Have they changed themselves?
My friend C
Formerly a business consultant who became an entrepreneur, built a Learjet selling company, got bust, got divorced, drowned in misery, refocused, made himself a global leadership guru. C can talk about change.
My friend J
Lawyer by definition. All his life. Toronto, Geneva, the Middle East. Found his passion to perform. Speaker, trainer, improv theater – you name it. Leaving all his established comfort zone at the age of 52. J can talk about change.
My friend O
She has been everything. She got cut in halves in a Mexican circus show, became a BBC top show producer in the UK, ended up in the Berlin Internet scene, then figured out that public speaking was her thing. O can talk about change.
My friend T
He worked with prisoners and terminal patients, wore black, highway to Cardinal in Rome, then left priesthood. Now he is a happy father, trainer and speaker. T can talk about change.
If you happen to be a corporate leader, I do not want you to try and hire C or J or O or T – it would not work.
But why not reflect on the people you want to trigger change in your organization? Check their lives. Check their CVs. Have they undergone change themselves? If not, I doubt that they will be capable of changing your teams and your culture.
In the end, if you bet on the wrong horse, there will be no peace. And there will be no Zen. There will only be droppings.
Photo by @knl_photo