When you say yes amazing things can happen.
I was next. Standing stage left, taking a peak at the audience through a slit in the ceiling to floor curtains. 1500 people being energised, motivated and inspired over the course of two days by speakers from all over the world. How did it come to be that I was on the other side of the world, speaking at the Happiness and it’s Causes conference in Sydney Australia. Well, to understand that, I first need to take you back 12 years where I was at the lowest of my lows fighting for my life.
Disneyland Paris, 2006. I was on a 3-day school trip, enjoying the rides with my friends, when all of a sudden I found myself feeling spaced out and not able to focus on what people were saying. I mean, I could hear words, but I couldn’t digest and make sense of them. Fast forward two days after returning back home and I’m being rushed to hospital, struggling to breathe, unable to make sense of my speech and with blue feet.
The doctors said I was extremely ill and needed a special kind of life support machine. Luckily for me, Great Ormond Street Hospital for children had the last available machine, so I was transferred and I went on to spend the next seven weeks fighting for survival.
The team at GOSH found out that I had three viral infections at the same time and was given a 10% chance of survival, my white blood cells were reducing to zero. I had a seizure whilst in an induced coma and needed to be resuscitated and brought back to life an incredible twelve times. The medical experts said they could only think that it came from the air conditioning on the coach, as 80% or so of students fell sick with flu-like symptoms, but were back to school after a couple of days. My body took such a hit that I had to relearn how to breath again for myself, use hand-eye coordination, how to sit up, stand and walk again without the aid of people and machines supporting me. It took the best part of a year for me to recover and two years after my stay in hospital, the phone rang. It was GOSH.
They asked if I would like to share my story with Morgan Stanley. I agreed, although I did not know who they were (I honestly though it was two people, Morgan and Stanley!) Little did I know it was actually a charity event for the global investment banking firm and the audience would be 400 people! Did I mention that public speaking was my number one fear in the universe? I had a choice to make. Say no and nothing changes, I just carry on my day, or say yes with the chance of amazing things happening. I said yes.
The event was a success and I got a body buzz at the end when everyone started to clap. Did I, did enjoy it, maybe? I was confused how I was feeling but it felt good, I asked GOSH if they ever wanted me to speak again I would love to support them and build my confidence.
The phone rang again. It was GOSH. They asked if I would like to help pitch one of the biggest charity partnerships they have ever had, worth £7.5m with a company called Whitbread PLC and they wanted me to support them. I was petrified, I felt the pressure and I had a choice to make. Say no, and nothing changes and I carry on my day. Or say yes and amazing things could happen. I said yes.
The partnership was one and I was approached by two exec directors at Whitbread PLC asking if I would like to join Whitbread and help support and raise the funds. Decision time..I think you are starting to understand the pattern here. I said yes. It took me on a four year adventure all over the UK, speaking with thousands of amazing team members and helping teams get involved in fundraising. I saw the true power of teamwork and within four years of the partnership we had smashed the £7.5m fundraising target.
I then left Whitbread and decided that speaking was in fact my true passion, I loved connecting with people and inspiring people from many different places. With over 100 talks under my belt I decided I wanted to carry on speaking and set up Anthony Inspires Ltd.
Since I started my company, the inspiration has been rippling outwards around the world. through schools, colleges and universities, where I get to support and give back to the younger generation. Healthcare events, where I have the opportunity to thank the incredible superheroes that dedicate their lives to help save lives and improve the quality of life for people in need. Also, corporate events where I share the true power of what teamwork can do.
Looking back, 12 years ago I would have never of dreamt that my biggest fear would become my biggest passion. Twelve years later I’m glad I said yes. Because, when you say the word no, nothing changes. When you say the word yes, amazing things can happen!
Many thanks to our guest blogger Anthony Bennett @https://www.iamantbennett.com
Guest blog by Brad Revell
I recently participated in an executive education program with INSEAD; a world-renowned business school. The program is called ‘Finance for Executives’ and the participating students were made up of senior leaders from many large organisations. I chose this course due to the university’s reputation, the course’s calibre and most importantly the network of attendees. For example, during one of the breaks during the course I happened to be sitting next to a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. I asked him what has been the one thing that has consistently driven success throughout his career. His response was saying yes to most opportunities that have been presented to him.
After receiving this advice I decided to spend some time reflecting on the opportunities I have been presented with. More importantly on where I have accepted or rejected them. One example would be from ten years ago, where saying yes significantly changed my life. I was driving back home in Melbourne, Australia from an exercise class. While in the car I received a call from a senior executive of my organisation in the USA. He refrained from the small talk and went straight to the point. He had an opportunity in his team which he couldn’t fill from the USA. He identified me as someone who could take on the role and move the team forward. Without much thought or further candour I said yes. Six months later I left Australia and stepped into the role. Since making that decision I have been on the ride of my life. I have lived in three countries, worked for three different organisations and performed four different roles. Moreover I have seen my portfolio career begin and continue to grow year on year.
My life is quite binary; it is either all on or all off with no in between! I love embodying the habits of trying, experiencing, failing, succeeding and reflecting. I am not able to get all of these aspects in my full-time role. I therefore supplement many external opportunities above and beyond my day job to accelerate my learning.
Here are three examples. First, I have been a member of Toastmasters (a public speaking organisation) for 16 years. Two years ago I said yes to taking on a Toastmasters District leadership role where I help support 17 clubs and approximately 600 members. Second, in 2015 I decided to learn to speed read to consume books faster. I identified an organization called Iris Reading, however, they had no in-person courses in London; only online webinars. I then decided to asked whether I could teach these classes for them in London. In this instance I was given the answer yes which has led to me teach speed reading on a monthly basis for the last two years. Third, since being back in London I have been a heavy contributor of my university Alumni chapter in London (e.g. Deakin and QUT in Australia).
You may be thinking about limits with time and/or balancing work and life. You do not need to say yes to every opportunity. Furthermore, saying yes does not mean you take on that opportunity with 100% gusto. Sheryl Sandberg writes in her book that women should lean in, however, within limits and by setting expectations. Improvisation teachers will also suggest you say yes along with the word “and”. For example, yes I will do this AND I have these limits / conditions that need to taken into account. Notice the word but is not used in that sentence.
One of my favourite sayings by F.M. Alexander is this: “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” I have honed many good habits (and some bad ones) over the years. The habit of saying yes has led me to so many adventures in my life. As I get older I am valuing fulfilment more than achievement. By saying yes I continue to honor that value building, moving forward and always learning. I cannot ask for anything more.
Many thanks to our guest blogger Brad Revell @https://www.bradrevell.com
and follow these guidelines...
Guest blog by Sonia Aste
In my last annual review it was pointed out I lack ‘leadership skills’.
I couldn’t agree more. I’m a hardcore FOLLOWER and always will be. If things go wrong I’m one of those people that say ‘I was just following orders’ and point a finger at the ‘order giver’, i.e. my boss.
It’s been suggested I think about applying for a ‘leadership role’. Not mentioning that ‘Never Volunteer’ is also part of my work ethic, I reluctantly agreed to do some research.
First things first – if you’re going to be a leader you’d better define its origins.
Leader comes from the Old English ‘leden’, meaning ‘to direct or show the way’, so make sure you’re not mistaken for the office EXIT sign.
‘Leader’ is also the name of a newspaper in Wales, an IT company, a ballet school, and lord have mercy a funeral service in Hounslow. When people are looking for a leader, it’s not someone guiding them towards life’s last station. Unless you want to arrange your own funeral service which wouldn’t make you a leader, but a ‘hero’ in the eyes of your surviving family members.
Contrary to popular belief a leader is NOT ‘Someone who has the potential to blow up the world in a mushroom cloud’. That’s a ‘Megalomaniac, egocentric narcissist with a bad haircut that happens to be the leader of the Free World’. The fact that another ‘Megalomaniac narcissist with a bad haircut happens to be the leader of the Not-So-Free-World (North Korea)’ is worrying but would solve all cremation service charges.
A leader by definition is simply ‘A person who leads or commands a group, organization or country’. Hmmmm… I can’t help but think of Guyana’s Jim Jones guiding his people to drink his spruced up Kool-Aid, or Harvey Weinstein steering countless women into his bedroom (how he had time to make so many movies remains a mystery) and finally (and most frightening): ‘Los del Rio’ leading millions of people around the world into dancing LA MACARENA.
Then there’s something called the Natural leader, not to be confused with naturist leader … usually an old crumbly that shrivels up in the cold. A Natural leader is someone born into the role. It’s that attention seeking newborn lying among 40 sleeping babies that starts crying thus making all others follow suit. If your baby is the first to howl – rest assured you have given birth to a leader. There is a slight chance he could also be a psychopath who will not rest until he owns the world (think Putin) and avoid taxation (think the Queen).
Don’t worry if you’re one of the wailing followers (like me) because it’s possible to ‘Learn to Lead’. Yup. All you have to do is buy one of the thousands (and I mean thousands) of books on leadership.
From ‘THE LAWS OF LEADERSHIP’ (trust lawyers to get involved when there’s money to be made), to ‘WHERE’S MY SHIP’ (nothing to do with naval industry) and finally the bestseller: ‘WHAT THEY DON’T TEACH YOU AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL’. Call me stupid but where’s the ‘What they DO teach you at Harvard Business School’?
Among the many types of leaders, there is the Introverted leader. This is bound to be a huge success as he (or she) is too self-conscious to give out orders.
Another crowd favourite is the leader that does MBWA (Management by Walking Around). Especially if the individual walks out of the office murmuring ‘I can’t take it I can’t take it I can’t take it …’ as finance directors tend to do on a regular basis.
What everyone seems to agree on is that a leader has to LEAVE A LEGACY – something they will always be remembered for:
George H.W. Bush: ‘Read my lips: no new taxes’ (he lied).
Bill Clinton: ‘I did not have sex with that woman’ (he lied).
Donald Trump: ‘I grab women by the %&&88’ (he didn’t lie).
Perhaps after this exhausting and possibly useless analysis, you will become, like me, more determined than ever to stay true to my ‘followship’ principles.
Many thanks to our guest blogger Sonia Aste a comedian and a proud FOLLOWER @http://www.soniaaste.com