If a good leader can admit to their own weaknesses and work hard on addressing them, the entire team will surely benefit as well. When Wayne Dumas desired to unlock a better version of himself, he turned to the Optimal Being Program. Joining Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D., the COO of Network Data Systems shares the fruits of being part of this particular program. He explains how he learned to handle his emotions accordingly, started to get into meaningful conversations, and become a more confident leader who doesn’t second guess. Wayne also talks about the optimal tools he gathered from the program, allowing him to set better goals and perceptions as an effective leader.
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Wayne Dumas On How The Optimal Being Program Changed His Life
Wayne Dumas has worked in the IT industry for many years in a variety of roles but has always focused on operational support. He is the Chief Operating Officer for Network Data Systems in Schaumburg, Illinois, an IT consulting and managed services organization. He continually seeks out opportunities to enhance himself as a person and a leader. Over the past years, he’s read books on leadership, self-help books, and attended dozens of conferences. Having participated in the Optimal Being program, he wants to share his experiences with others. Wayne is a husband and a father who has lived in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago for many years. He has been married to his wife for 35 years or so. He has three adult offspring, Ashley, Kelley and Chris, and one grandson, Glenn.
Thank you for being here, Wayne. It’s great to see you face to face.
Nice to meet you, Dr. Tim.
Can you tell us a little bit about what would make a guy like you in business at such a high level want to interact with or entertain something like the Optimal Being program? What got you started on this journey?
First of all, a mutual business colleague of ours brought to our attention the whole Optimal Being program and it was intriguing the way that they approached it to us. They approached it in a way of it could bring greater efficiencies and making your teams happier and more efficient, which is aligned with our culture here at Network Data Systems. We had a conversation with Mark and discussed a little bit more about the program.[bctt tweet=”If you change your negative mindset and the way you approach things, you will have a more positive output. ” via=”no”]
What we decided to do as a starter is to have me, as an executive, go through this to understand the values that it brings and make sure that it’s in alignment with the culture that we bring here at NDS. Our primary culture is around people first and making sure that we’re doing the right things for our customers. This program, all in all, is aligned with those types of cultures and that kind of thinking. We decided that we would go ahead and take a step into this by having myself go through it and identify the different areas where we think it could bring value back to our company. That’s how we got started with the program with Mark.
It does make sense since whenever you’re dealing with people, you need to communicate. Whenever you’re communicating with people, you’re likely to trigger emotional states. When you trigger emotional states to a certain degree, it disrupts communication. It is a powerful set of tools for the individual but when you think about it, companies and corporations are made up of individuals. What was your experience of engaging in the program?
That program was phenomenal. I keep telling Mark it almost like he planted the seeds along the way for me. As I was going through the content, I was coming across some real-life experiences that we’re matching up very closely with the content, the tools, and the exercises that we are going through. It was helpful for me. I’ll give you a couple of examples. First of all, when they first start off, you do this personal code assessment where it identifies how you rate in the ten different buckets that are rated for this program.
The three things that came out for me were the three things that were the lowest on the list that we stress and work on. They are stress management, nutrition and diet, digestive system, and then the presence of truth. It was quite comical because I’m all about truth. I always think that one of my big pillars here for our company is that we all speak the truth. That’s what our morals and values are all about. It’s being truthful and honest with people.
It was intriguing to me that that was one of my lower scores. After speaking with Rex and Mark as my mentors, it came out of the conversation that it wasn’t necessarily about me speaking the truth. It was about me believing in what people are speaking back to me. Sometimes I have problems dealing with what people are conveying back to me. A lot of that comes from my background. I’m an operations person by nature and operations people are typically very pessimistic. They need to see things as opposed to just hearing things. That’s where that came from.
They took me down a path of digging into my background and trying to understand, and peeling back an onion to understand what is it about truth, believing people, and trusting in people where I’m lacking. In using the tools that we did, we were able to dissect my issues with belief and trusting people. It got to a point where now I am a much more open person. Not that I’m always believing and trusting in people, but I’m more neutral going into conversations, as opposed to before, I had these perceptions in my brain of certain situations because I’ve been there and lived it. If you got burned once, you’re not going to go down that path again. I was coming to conversations and having conversations with people with these perceptions.
In the program, they call it the actuality. The conversation is going down a path and everybody hears the actuality but your reality is your perceptions taint what the actual conversation is about. After learning about that and understanding what it was that I was doing in these conversations, now I am a much more neutral grounded person. When I’m coming to conversations, I’m open and listening to the present conversation, not rehashing things that have come up in the past. That alone for me was a major shift in the way that I think and the way that I operate now.
That’ll make a big difference in the flow of communication between you and the people you work with.
Yes, because now it’s a two-way conversation as opposed to me already coming with a preconceived notion of how this is going to end, and not trusting and believing in the truth that’s out there.[bctt tweet=”If you want something, put it out into the universe and it will respond.” via=”no”]
Have you gotten any feedback from anybody else you work with or team members that they’ve noticed a difference in the way you’re approaching these conversations?
My teammates as well as my family. On Father’s Day, I was together with my kids. We were talking about the past and the present. My one daughter brought up that she felt like I was much a calmer individual and much more open to listening to conversations. I then told her about Optimal Being. This is my daughter who’s a yoga instructor. A lot of the practice that we have in the Optimal Being is similar to yoga and meditation. The fact that you’re supposed to be calm, use your breathing and center yourself, and not come with preconceived notions like I was talking about. She was the one that caught on to that and understanding that I do feel like I’m coming off as a much different person to her. I’ve heard the same thing from people that I work with as well.
That’s why I look for validation first within myself if I feel it’s a value, and then I go seek out people that I trust and respect to see if my perception is in alignment with them. One big challenge for you was in honoring truth. If I’m hearing it correctly, you had a filter that was expecting negativity or betrayal or falsehood from others as you were engaging in these interactions. What’s another area that you felt the Optimal Being program was able to help you with?
The other area was I have this issue where I didn’t feel like I was worthy of the position that I’m in with my career. I couldn’t explain it. We went through several different tools that we had in dissecting the issues that I’m having. Rex did an amazing job of taking me through the mind shifter tools and dissecting where I come up with this, “I’m not worthy of the position. I haven’t paid my dues enough to get to the position that I’m in.” It all came back into my childhood. As we continue to drill into the problem using the tools that we have, we dug into why I’m feeling as though I have to speak up. I can’t be the person that’s sitting back, waiting and listening for conversations. I should be more direct and action-oriented as opposed to listening to people within my team.
My parents were both blue-collar workers. When you grow up in a family where that’s who you are, you feel like that’s where you’re going to live up to. I’m going to live up to just being a blue-collar worker, and that’s where my bar was at. As I continue to go through my career and advance, I always tend to look back and wonder, “How did I get here? Do I deserve to be where I’m at?” After speaking with them and working my way through this, now I understand that the trail that I blazed to get to where I’m at makes me worthy of being in the position that I’m at. I can feel a lot more comfortable and confident in who I am, how I manage and lead people, as opposed to always second-guessing myself.
In the back of my mind, I always had it where I felt like there was something more that I needed to be doing. I needed to prove something to people as opposed to I’ve earned this and I’ve proven it over the years so I don’t have to prove it moment by moment. That was another thing that opened my eyes within this program. It allowed me to understand more about things that have happened years ago that are still adversely affecting me and even the personal and business relationships that I was having now because I still didn’t trust in myself.
It sounds like a similar pattern is when you were talking about communication, you would go into an interaction with people prejudging that they were going to be dishonest or in some way, covering something up and hiding things from you that you would need to do your job. In the second category, it seems like you would approach situations and evaluating your worth based on a prejudgment that you’re not worthy and you’re only capable of that blue-collar level. That looks like the filter that you were looking at everything through is a false belief like a core belief. When that gets understood, seen directly and dismantled, then you’re free to relate more to your job based on what you did to earn it. It’s like a dismantling of a bias or a false belief.
That’s where the value in this program came for me, is after years and years of building the person who you are, sometimes you have to tear all that apart and you have to look at yourself and understand who you are and why you’re the way you are. I mentioned my operations background, and then in operations, everything is always broken, you’re always trying to fix things. That’s the nature of the job. It does tend to get to a point where people start to believe and even talk in negative statements. In the program, it was clear that if you’re starting with a negative, you can expect to have a negative outcome. Where if you change your mindset, the way that you think, and the way you approach things, you’re going to have a more positive output.
The one comment that I remember from some of the videos here is don’t start by saying, “Let me see if I can’t accomplish something. Let’s talk about what I want to or let me see how I can accomplish something.” It’s just that simple. When somebody says, “Don’t look at the blue shirt that’s right in front of you that Tim is wearing.” The first thing you’re going to do is look at the blue shirt. You’re creating a destiny for yourself if you start with those negative conversations. Turning all of that into a positive has helped as well.
It’s being more conscious about what I’m focusing on. Whatever I focus my attention on, I’m going to be more aware of. When we talk about the creative power of thought, I’m going to create more of whatever I focus most on.[bctt tweet=”Without the right mindset to undergo a huge change, you will struggle to get down to the root of your issues.” via=”no”]
My daughter is a yoga instructor. She’s always taught me over the years in her yoga practice that if you want something, put it out into the universe, and the universe will hear it and respond. That’s true as far as putting those positive thoughts and actions out there. It makes people see you in a different light and makes you feel better about yourself. It’s a powerful tool.
There are some wonderful tools within the Optimal Being program that are very specific that I can pick up and I can use without having to know all of what I might discover. I don’t have to figure it out with that conscious logical part of my brain. I can just recognize that I feel stuck or I don’t like the feeling I’m having, and then apply these practical tools. I would imagine that one of the attractions to someone like you is not just, “Go meditate on this.” It’s, “Here’s a tool to use.”
One of the things that came up through the program is now we’re into using the optimal tool. There are a lot of other tools and toolsets within it, but the optimal tool and the way that I’ve decided to use this is 3 or 4 times a week, I’ll sit down at the end of my day. If there’s something that’s bothering me and something that hasn’t come to a good or a positive conclusion for me, I’ll write that down. I’ll run it through the optimal tool which is a segment or a bunch of separate sections, asking questions and looking for responses.
It allows you to dig into what it is that’s bothering you and figure out what you need to do to change that outcome or change the way you’re thinking about that. Is it a goal that was set that was too high that you’re not comfortable with? You need to go back and realign that goal that you have with reality or something that you believe that you and your team could be successful at? The tool allows you to take a problem that you can’t come to a conclusion yet and work it through there. I’ve heard that there are some people that have been through this program and if you continue to practice that over time, you can almost do that on the fly with people. Having the tools in the booklet that you can walk through that process helps train your mind in deducing what these problems are. It helps you to have better clarity as to what the problems are, how to fix that, and make it right for yourself and others.
I have several years of experience doing therapy and getting different training. One of the things I appreciate about this program is it starts with observing how our minds, thoughts, bodies, energy systems and emotions work. In the Optimal Being program, the hope is that if you take that program you learn about how your thoughts affect your emotions, physical sensations, goals and perception. Once you’re empowered with how that dynamic works, some of these tools are the actual step-by-step, “Here’s how to correct it if you don’t like the results you’re getting.” It leaves a space for everybody to create whatever kind of life they want. I might be a little bit more laid back than the next person. Somebody else might be more focused and driven and it’s perfectly okay. They can pick up the tools and get whatever results they need based on their personality because they’ll understand themselves better.
The other thing about the mind that I would add is it was intriguing in some of the videos and some of the data that they presented in that your mind is a powerful tool. It takes millions of data bits at any given moment of things that are going on around you, but your mind only focuses on eight bits of data at a time. There is all of this information that’s coming to your mind, but your mind is only able to focus on certain things. That’s why it’s important when people talk about being in the present, being attentive to the conversation, and being one on one with the conversation, as opposed to multitasking and doing something over here while somebody is talking and thinking you’re catching all of that.
Even if you’re 100% focused, you’re not going to catch everything. Being present and focused on that conversation gives you a much greater chance of success in understanding what the person is trying to convey, getting their point across, and making that clear in the conversation. A lot of the things that they went through wasn’t like it was the first time you’ve ever heard it. It reinforces how you are and how your brain works, why you do some of the things that you do, and understand how you’re going to have to shift to become that optimal being.
The idea that came to my mind as you were finishing up there is that when you understand that and you’ve got some tools for working with it, you’re back in a place of choice. Whereas when you don’t understand it and things are stirred up in you, you’re automatically reacting. That’s how many of our people find that we have the same arguments with our team. We get stuck over the same issues. I heard somebody talk about how as a couple, they’ve realized that they’re having the same five arguments over and over again. One is on money, one is on food, one is on privacy, and my stuff versus your stuff. They’ve been married for years and they recognized they’re stuck having the same arguments over and over again. When you understand, after the Optimal Being program, some of the patterns that have arisen in you, now you can go in and make some changes in them.
In a lot of cases and it sounds like even in the case that you’re talking about, people are trying to fix the symptoms as opposed to understanding the core of the problem. Another conversation that we had about myself is as we were dissecting some of these problems, I was thinking that it was one thing that was off in the left field. As we dug in, the core of the problem was that I was upset that I wasn’t being heard. I was presenting something and I thought I had a lot of good data behind it. After presenting my case and all of the facts that I had researched, all the time that I had put into it, my suggestions were discarded and then we went in a different direction. I was showing that I was upset with the direction we were going in when in reality, it wasn’t the direction per se. It was that over here, I was talking and I was not heard during that whole conversation. That’s what I was upset about.
My anger and everything was showing toward the new direction and the new goals that were being said. It had nothing to do with the goals per se. It was more about the core and understanding what the crux of the problem was for me. Once I understand that, the next time these types of things come up, now I know how do I need to present myself and what do I need to say differently to make sure that I’m heard in a respectful way, but also making sure that you’re getting your points across and being heard.[bctt tweet=”You can connect better with people if you live in the present and be completely honest with yourself and the people around you.” via=”no”]
I would imagine that when you become aware of a situation like that or a pattern like that in yourself, it gives you the ability to step back and evaluate, “How many times has this happened in the past. Is it happening with one of my co-workers where they’re not upset with the direction we’re taking, but they have an emotional issue that’s triggered?” If I can tune into that, I might be the sounding board for them to help them release their upset, and then be able to refocus on the path we’re taking. They might realize just as you did, that they weren’t upset with a new path. They had some emotional upset they needed to dispel. Is there an example that’s come up in your work, either for yourself or as you’re interacting with teams of people where you think what you’ve learned so far from Optimal Being is making a significant difference at a business level?
It’s helping my entire team. We read lots of books together. We do many activities together to try to build a stronger team. One of the books that we live and die by over here is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. It’s all about building trust and based on a pyramid where trust is the bottom. If you don’t have that trust level, you can’t get a fully functioning team together. There are times that we see, hear and feel different things. There are a lot of pressures in businesses right now because of the whole pandemic thing. Not that the pandemic itself is the cause of the problem, but the real problem that we’re experiencing is that business isn’t moving at the speed of business anymore.
Things are much slower in evolving because people are remote. They don’t have time to get together and huddle and make decisions as quickly. Things have slowed down for businesses altogether. On the sales side, we’re seeing and feeling the pressures of not getting those new customers, accounts and contracts lined up as quickly as we’ve seen historically. As we were going through these problems, it was creating a stir within my team because we’re getting to a point where the service delivery team is a little bit angry at the sales guys because the sales guys aren’t producing as quickly as everybody would like them to do. I was able to use some of the tools and conversations that I’ve had and experienced through the Optimal Being. I’m using that in a way so people can now better understand and put themselves in the positions that the other people are put in.
When the service delivery people are angry because things aren’t happening as quickly as they are or they should have been happening in the sales side, we can put each other in each other’s shoes and let them know the experiences. We talk through and walk through the experiences that they’re having and the results that they’re seeing, which makes people understand the problem that we’re all experiencing. It’s easy to not hear that part of the conversation and to judge quickly as to, “Why can’t you do that? We were doing that before.” We’re saying that the pandemic is over and we think that we would just flip the switch and we’re back in it again. Now, everybody can walk through that because we all believe in each other, we all trust in each other, and we can have those conversations using some of the tools that I’ve learned through the Optimal Being.
That in itself helped eliminate some of the dysfunction that we were seeing within our team and allows us to be a much more aligned team and working to accomplish the goals that we have. While we may not be accomplishing the sales goals that we have in the charter that we’ve initiated, there are other things that we’re able to divert some of our people and our attention to, so we can accomplish those. It’s more the pushing and pulling of different levers so we know that this isn’t working right now, but we can dedicate some of our resources to get something else accomplished. When we do come out of this and sales kicks in, we’ll be ready for different opportunities and different clients as well.
You highlight another real big benefit to me of the Optimal Being program, which is it is a good set of tools to integrate with all kinds of other good tools. You mentioned The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In that book, there’s a whole series of things that most successful businesspeople have learned over the years and they’re their core tools. They like them and they don’t want to abandon them. What I like about the Optimal Being program is this a set of tools that can fit with practically any other model that I like that’s been helpful in the past. It brings clarity and this simple effectiveness that makes it all better.
The Optimal Being adds to those other tools. Having gone through The Optimal Being program, reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and implementing that process can take you to a certain level. Knowing about centering yourself, trusting in others and listening, making sure that we have clarity in our conversations, and the emotional intelligence that we’ve gained from the tools, those parts of this program all adds to it. It makes you a better person that can process things like the five dysfunctions much better.
When you’re talking about one of the primary five dysfunctions at a base level of trust, here you are, a higher executive who is going into almost every interaction without trusting, with the opposite of trust, with this big doubt, with this filter of, “I’m expecting to be lied to or be deceived in some way.” When you have that operating, you can read that book, The Five Dysfunctions, as much as you want. If you’re not aware that you’ve got an inner filter that pops up that says, “I’m not going to trust what these people are saying,” it makes it hard to live into what was recommended. Is there something about this program that I haven’t even mentioned yet, or that you haven’t brought up yet and you want to make sure that you want to talk about?
The only other thing that I would say is it’s like any learning experience that you go into. Whether you’re reading a book or you’re going to a class or taking certification or whatever, you have to make sure that you’re prepared to go into this in a learning experience and you’re open to learning, looking at and identifying problems and being real about this. This program is even more so than some of the other things I mentioned like reading a book. If you’re not in the right mindset going into this, you’re going to struggle with trying to get down to the root of your issues, your problems, and identifying opportunities for improvement for yourself.
You have to make sure that the people that are prepared to go into this have the right mindset. They’re willing to dissect and commit themselves to this practice. You can get a lot out of it if you go into it with the right mindset. I’ve gotten a lot out of it over the weeks that I’ve been going through this program. It has taught me the importance of being calm and living in the present. It has taught me the importance of being completely honest with myself and everybody else around me. The program itself adds a lot to a person as long as the people going into this are coming into it with the right mindset, and they’re willing and able to make those changes in their lives.
What comes to mind as you say that is a sense of trust and safety would be essential for that to be able to create that atmosphere. I’m hoping that your experience with the Optimal Being team and the mentors were just that, that it was safe to do the work you needed to do.
They took me to levels that I was not anticipating through our initial conversations. I expected that was going to be a little bit of content and conversations. Some of the conversations that we dug into are extremely deep. The team was phenomenal in helping me to identify some of these areas or opportunities for improvement that I have in my life. It was simple for them to identify those. It was comfortable having those conversations that we had. All in all, it was a very good program for me.
My experience with it has been that one of the things that make it work when a team goes through this from the top down is people are constantly reminding everyone involved that we’re all the same. We’ve all got our issues. This isn’t about any level of one-upmanship. If I’m doing one-upmanship, that means there’s an issue for me to dismantle. There’s no need for me to prove I’m better than somebody unless I have a hidden belief that I’m not as good as somebody. That would be my work. That creates that safe environment. I greatly appreciate your willingness to talk about this with us. I hope you continue to see the good results that many others have from Optimal Being. If you’re willing, I’d love to have you back in six months or a year and give an update to see if you have any other stories of success and personal growth.
I’m still writing down all my a-ha moments. I’m sure I’ll continue to have those moments and using the tools. I love to come back in six months and talk about it.
I greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much, sir.
Thank you, Dr. Tim.
About Wayne Dumas
Wayne Dumas is a husband and father, who has lived in the northwest suburbs of Chicago for 26 years. He has been married to his wife, Annette for 35 years, has three (adult) children, Ashley, Kelley and Chris, and one grandson, Glenn.
Wayne likes to spend time with family and friends, enjoys traveling, sightseeing and nature.He has worked in the IT industry for 40 years in a variety of roles but always focused on operational support. Wayne currently is the Chief Operating Officer for Network Data Systems in Schaumburg, IL, an IT consulting and managed services organization.
He continually seeks out opportunities to enhance himself as a person and a leader. Over the years he has read books on leadership, self-help books and has attended dozens of conferences. Having participated in the Optimal Being program, he wants to share his experiences with others.
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