Three Habits for Success
As part of getting to know me, the folks at A-Speakers asked me some truly awesome questions. One question that really got me thinking is “What are three habits for success?”.
While I was prepared to argue there a lot of habits for success, having to narrow it down to three got me really focused on what’s most important.
What are my 3 habits for success?
1. Always be an aggressive learner. I got to present with Ronnie Lott of the San Francisco 49ers who shared with me that Joe Montana told him to “always act like a rookie” when it comes to learning. I love that advice
I’ve had the honor of working with some truly accomplished people in addition to Ronnie – CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, senior officers in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marines, Surgeons, athletes and many more. What is so humbling about these people is that even though one might think they have reached the top of their game, most of them are open to learning more.
And it makes sense, because being an aggressive learner is how they got to the pinnacle of their fields in the first place, so why would they stop now?
And here is what Ronnie said after our Emotional Intelligence session:
“Talking to Bill about Emotional intelligence got me jacked up – now I want to hit someone! EQ is what great athletes and coaches like Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Bill Walsh tap into.”
Ok, so normally after speaking I don’t leave people wanting to hit someone! For Ronnie though, that was the highest form of compliment. And he is a lifelong learner.
2. Balance Heart and Edge. Often when people hear the term “Emotional Intelligence”, they think it’s something soft. While there is hard brain-science to learning to manage emotions, it is true that being emotionally intelligent does include being able to learn the skills of compassion, empathy and servant leadership – what we’d call “Heart”.
But there is something else to leadership that is just as important, and that’s to combine heart with “Edge”. When we say edge, we mean the ability to step into high pressure situations – having difficult conversations, taking meaningful risks, standing up for an idea and doing the tough things you know you need to do. A quote I like is “nobody is admired for doing the easy things”.
One of the greatest things I admire in the best leaders I’ve met is to how they find the right balance of Heart and Edge – to listen, to be caring and empathetic, while at the same time expecting greatness from people, giving feedback when it’s needed and standing up for what they believe in. Finding this balance is also the key to being a great spouse/partner, friend and parents.
3. Take care of yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Too many people I work with are struggling with work/life balance. And it’s not just the number of hours one is at the office vs. home (lots of us have their offices in their home!), it’s the 24/7 nature of e-mail and technology.
People often feel their work invade their personal life outside of work hours. If this is happening to you over an extended period, it can lead to burnout, anxiety and negative health outcomes. Ultimately this impacts your performance (which can lead to a vicious cycle) and personal relationships.
Having been in that place personally early in my career (before e-mail!), I can tell you it’s no fun. We all know it’s important to take care of ourselves, but sometimes it’s hard to do by ourselves. If that’s the case, find a coach, mentor, pastor, friend, etc. who can help guide you to focus on all the important aspects of your life – physical health, family, emotional health, and let’s not forget we can all use guidance for our work and career too!
Huge thanks to our friends at A-Speakers for asking such thoughtful questions. Asking great questions is actually one of the strategies we teach in our leadership development programs!
Interview with Bill Benjamin
How did you begin your speaking career?
I started out as a client of IHHP. I was working in the computer software industry (I have degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science) and quite frankly, I was struggling as a leader. I had the good fortune to attend one of IHHP’s Science of Emotional Intelligence training programs and I loved the brain-science aspects and the practical strategies.
I spent the next 6 years applying the learning and it helped me immensely – both professionally and personally. I knew the founder of IHHP – Dr. J.P. Pawliw-Fry – and told him I wanted to do this work for a living. I joined (and invested in) IHHP as a partner in 2002. I’d had some experience presenting, and I got a lot of great mentoring from JP, who is a phenomenal speaker. I also got a speaker coach who helped me learn how to leverage my strengths on stage.
What is the most unique experience you have had as a result of your job?
I’ve had the honor to deliver our Science of Emotional Intelligence and Performing Under Pressure training to some really amazing groups: the U.S. Marines, Surgeons, Intel engineers in Russia, rockets scientists at NASA, student athletes, U.S. Army commanders, a charitable foundation that works with oppressed and trafficked people, nurses, teachers – and many more amazing people across all industries and all walks of life.
Why do clients typically hire you to speak?
With my degrees in Math and Computer Science, I am often asked to speak to highly analytical audiences – engineers, auditors, physicians, lawyers, plant managers, etc. – who struggle with leadership and how they impact people. Taking a scientific approach to topics like Emotional Intelligence and being honest about my struggles with leadership, opens the analytical groups up to recognizing some of their own less than skillful behaviors and inspires them to want to improve. Clients also like the fact that the programs I deliver are highly interactive and people leave with strategies they can apply to be better leaders – at work and at home!
What are 3 habits for success?
- Always be an aggressive learner. I got to present with Ronnie Lott of the San Francisco 49ers who told me that Joe Montana told him to “always act like a rookie” when it comes to learning. I love that advice.
- Balance Heart and Edge. Learn the skills of compassion, empathy and servant leadership – what we’d call “heart”. Then combine that with “Edge” – the ability to step into high pressure situations – having difficult conversations, taking meaningful risks, standing up for an idea and doing the tough things you know you need to do. A quote I like is “nobody is admired for doing the easy things”.
- Take care of yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You are no good to anyone else if you are burned out, unhealthy and anxious.
What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?
The first thing is that I can’t stand up in front of a group of people and talk about how to be a great leader without evaluating myself and wanting to hold myself accountable to the same standard. I can’t be perfect, but I always want to try to get better and speaking helps me do that. Second, I love making a difference for people who struggle with the things I used to (and still do!). Life is hard, Leadership is hard and I know that the insights and strategies that I share can help people have a greater impact and live with more ease.
Who or what inspires you most?
My girls. They are 14 and 11 and test my Emotional Intelligence every day! I know that if I can be model for them, they will grow up with the skills to lead a life of passion, kindness and strength. They let me know when I am not behaving skillfully and hold me accountable to being my best. There is no greater motivation than that of being a great Dad.