Self Leadership Blog
by Andrew Bryant

Freedom, Free Will, and the Paradox of Choice

Americans celebrate their freedom on July 4th, whereas Indians celebrate their freedom from British Rule with an August 15th independence day. A quick web search of National Independence Day reveals a long list of countries that celebrate their freedom from some form of prior government or oppression. 

The dictionary defines freedom as, The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved, but it is also:

The power or right to act, speak or think as one wants.

How Free are You?

Reflect, for a moment, on your own freedom to act, speak or think as you want.

You were not free to choose the time and place of your birth. You were not free to choose your parents, their economic status, religious leanings, political affiliation, or educational background. You had little or no freedom in where you went go to school and the ideology of your teachers.

We all imagine we have free will, but so many of our choices and decisions are influenced by things we have no freedom over and are unaware...

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Dealing with Bad News - Self-leadership Strategies

It often starts with a phone call or a message. Suddenly the world is different, and you must reorient yourself, or be overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness.

Whatever the bad news, financial, relationship, reputation, or health, with the application of self-leadership we can apply strategies. Self-leadership strategies to intentionally influence our thinking, feeling, and actions. To once more become the ‘Captain of our Ship’, or the ‘Master of our Soul’.

Getting Cancer and Not

Four weeks ago, I visited my family doctor, and as I’m just turning 60, I asked proactively for a full health screen. I did this because I knew it was the right thing to do, given my age and family history, not because I was experiencing any symptoms, quite the reverse in fact. My frame of mind was, therefore, “this is one more thing to check off the list”.

Then the phone call came, and my world changed.

“Andrew, this is Dr. Seah, your blood shows a Cancer...

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Who am I to think I am better than others?

coaching self-leadership May 06, 2021

Nathan, my coaching client, was asking how to deal with a monthly meeting that frustrated him.

“Have I told you about, Kenneth?” He asked and then went on to explain how Kenneth would throw verbal jabs like, “Your department loves to create procedures”.

I listened carefully about how Nathan had become triggered by Kenneth’s words and actions and explored why and how Nathan chose to be triggered.

As we peeled back the layers, it became clear that Nathan was frustrated by Kenneth’s tactical approach in a meeting that was supposed to be strategic.

“Do you think Kenneth is capable of being strategic, or is he just acting from his programming?” I asked.

Self-leadership Coaching

Now to understand why I asked this question, and its impact, you need to appreciate my self-leadership approach to coaching. Neuroscience and Psychology have concluded that we do not have as much free will as we think we have. Many of our decisions and actions are...

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The Cost of Speaking Up – Conflict and Communication

You probably have first-hand experience of conflict and issues with communication, and you have likely struggled with whether you should speak up, or not.

As an executive and leadership coach, I regularly hear of the problems people face in getting heard, the ‘right way’ and I even teach a class on conflict and communication at Singapore Management University, but if you think this means I don’t mess up, you would be mistaken. In this post I will share a framework and my own experience because I have come to realize:

“We teach best what we most need to learn.”

Culture, gender, age, and personality are just some of the factors that complicate communication and lead to conflict. I am a nearly 60-year-old, university-educated, white male, whose personality is high on directness and only moderate on diplomacy. I work with both Asian and North American clients and yet the challenge to speak up without causing conflict is a common problem.

The Cost of...

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Personal Branding - How to build your Brand

Jeff Bezos famously said, "Personal Brand is what people say about you when you leave the room", but without a personal brand, there are many rooms that you won't get a chance to enter!
 
If you are not known for something, or otherwise forgettable, you can forget career advancement or financial success.

Boss-Level Personal Branding

The key to personal branding is that you clearly communicate your value, and that value is relevant to your audience (clients, colleagues, senior executives).

I was recently coaching a fellow Professional Speaker, who was struggling to find his 'tagline', that value statement that follows your name. Do you have a tagline?


Ironically, this speaker was an expert on communication, but calling himself, 'The Communication Expert' was a bit too generic, so I challenged him to articulate, his Message, his Methodology, and his Market. I asked him what problem he solved for people and what they said about him after he solved it for them?
...
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10 Questions for Creating Change

When creating change, whether personally or within an organization, you will encounter resistance. People will tell you they are on board with the new vision but then engage in behaviors that sabotage objectives.

The first key to creating change is to acknowledge that every behavior has a ‘frame of mind’, constructed of values, beliefs, identity, and intentions. This frame of mind can be conscious or unconscious but will act like a gyroscope, always bringing your behaviors back towards a programmed destination.

Let’s take an example of creating change that most of us are familiar with – dieting to lose weight. We have a vision of ourselves fitter or thinner, and we set a goal to lose X number of kilos by Y date; but what do we do? We cheat, we make exceptions and before long we are eating as we have always done.

Why do we default? Because our eating behavior, like all our behaviors, is controlled by a frame of mind. What are some common frames...

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Remote Work, here to stay or part of a Hybrid Model?

Remember back in 2013, when an employee (Bob) outsourced his job and was fired?

Before being fired, Bob was considered a ‘model employee’, his work was above par, his code was clean, well-written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, Bob’s performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.

In many ways, Bob was a 'man before his time'. He chose to spend one-fifth of his salary to free up his life, reduce his stress, and ensure he hit his targets. Companies in 2013 had different criteria, they liked to ‘keep an eye’ on who was doing the work, for both productivity and security reasons.

With the pandemic hitting in 2020, and most people working from home, ‘keeping an eye’ on people seems less important, and keeping employees healthy, well-balanced with manageable stress is much more so. Security will remain a concern, but solutions have been found for that.

The Future of Remote Work is Hybrid

The future is...

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Business Leadership, Virtual Speaking and Audience Engagement

Would you take free advice from a man worth more than $86 billion?

If that advice would increase your worth by at least 50 percent, would you act on it?

Do I have your attention?

Legendary investor and billionaire, Warren Buffet freely gives advice to improve your communication skills. He says,

“If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark — nothing happens”.

Billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson agrees.

“Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you also have to be a storyteller”

The Benefit of Audience Engagement

Buffet and Branson clearly understand that even if you have the best ideas and, or the best product, to be successful, you must confidently communicate in ways that engage your audience.

Consider the success of Steve Job’s Apple product launches. Books have been written about Job’s presentation style, and many CEOs have emulated his stagecraft.

The good news is that communication,...

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Why Being Nice is Not Helping You

Being ‘nice’ is a behavior we teach our children, and as adults, we like it when people are nice to us, so what is so wrong with being nice?

If you value being, considerate, pleasant, friendly, and well-mannered then by all means behave that way and encourage others to do the same. But it may surprise you that being nice does not mean these things.

The Real Meaning of Nice

I have painful memories of learning the true meaning of ‘nice’.

At school in the U.K, my English teacher detested the inexactitude of the adjective ‘nice’. He thought its use was lazy and sought to expunge it from my vocabulary with a smack across the back of the hand, with a steel ruler, if I ever used it. This left a lasting memory on a 9-year old boy and to this day, I cringe when I hear it.

As barbaric as this education sounds, my English teacher was correct in his understanding of the etymology of the word ‘nice’. Its origins are from Latin nescius...

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3 Presidential Leadership Lessons

At the time of writing this, the US Election has been called by the Media, for former Vice President, Joe Biden, with Senator, Kamala Harris as his Vice President. Regardless of your personal preference for the outcome, this is a historical moment.

Right now, Biden and Harris are making speeches about unity and healing and putting together a transition team. It won’t be easy. Rhetoric alone will not get the COVID-19 Pandemic under control or get buy-in from the 70-million Americans who didn’t vote for them.

What strategies can the new President use, and what can we learn that we can apply to our own leadership challenges?

I was born in 1961, the year President Kennedy (JFK) took office as the 35th President of the United States of America. Kennedy, a Democrat, took over from Eisenhower, a Republican, and inherited the containment doctrine of the 1940s and 1950s.  This doctrine founded on the belief that Communism was a threat to the United States seemed archaic to...

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