OYM Jeff Sucec | Higher Level Leadership

 

In this highly competitive day and age, it can be easy to regard humans as a cog in the machine. We forget the functioning human working in the middle of our business and organization. This episode’s guest is making the switch to viewing the person as a whole with a variety of needs. Jeff Sucec, the principal and co-founder of Performance Potential Incorporated, joins Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D, to tell us about this shift and how it is related to productivity today. Employing a behavioral approach, he talks about higher-level leadership and integrating honesty and openness to be an effective leader. Jeff then shares some of the most effective tools you can use to foster an environment that values your people, sees them as their whole selves, and improves their productivity and satisfaction.

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Higher Level Leadership: Integrating A Behavioral Approach To The Whole Person With Jeff Sucec

Jeff Sucec is the Principal and Cofounder of Performance Potential Incorporated. He has many years of experience working with a wide range of organizations, helping them move to the next level of performance. He’s a thought leader in the alignment of business goals and strategy to employee productivity. Jeff is often the highest-rated keynote speaker at business conferences.

The topics he covers include leadership, employee engagement, using innovative approaches for maximizing performance, identifying and migrating best practices, creating a culture of creativity and innovation, and implementing client-focused sales cultures. He’s a published writer on organizational behavior, performance improvement, sales, and sales management effectiveness.

Jeff, thank you for being here. It’s delightful to see you.

It’s truly a pleasure. I am very respectful of the kind of work that you do. I’m sure it touches the lives of many people in meaningful ways. First, congratulations to you on a lot of your efforts.

I was hoping you could let us know, from your perspective, how things have moved from viewing the person in the workplace as a cog in a machine to viewing that person as a whole person with a variety of needs and how that’s related to productivity nowadays.

That’s a great opening framework because a lot of times when people ask, “What are you doing now to maximize someone’s productivity?” It’s good to have a context because you could almost talk about a kaleidoscopic way history of human motivation in the workplace in about three minutes. There are four substantive evolutionary buckets. The first one had to be with looking from the perspective of left to their own devices, the worker will be unproductive because they will be inherently lazy, so the leader has to hover over them, and then there was an evolutionary flow that said, “No, what I have to do is make the worker satisfied.” I gave them a lot of things noncontingently, hoping that a satisfied worker would lead to a productive worker.

There was a realization that, “No, what we need to do is view things from a behavioral perspective of we are renting a set of behaviors on the job, so I have to create an environment conducive to high levels of performance. My role is strictly defined in terms of those on the job behaviors, not necessarily the mind and how individuals think.” What happened and is very refreshing is there’s a realization that we need to look at the whole person, that what they bring to the job, have at home, and in other settings is all germane to their productivity.

It’s just not renting behaviors. You are looking at their thoughts, attitudes, motivations, and emotional states, and we have to look at the whole individual if we are going to be fair to them and be representative of what they are bringing to the workforce on a day-to-day basis. That’s why I was trained more in the behavioral psychology realm and did a lot of work in there and said, “The only thing that is relevant is what we see in terms of overt manifestations of what’s inside.” Now we realize, “You better do a deeper dive in terms of that whole framework of an individual.”

How long have you been working in the field?

I started undergraduate work in behavioral, experimental, learning, and motivational psychology then, it was a deep passion of mine to understand human behavior, “What maximizes productivity? Why are there people who plateau? What about variability? What about regression?” I did graduate work in organizational behavior and also in business. I started in the consulting field many years ago in terms of what we do to maximize performance using a variety of techniques. It started as an undergraduate passion in Psychology, and it has manifested for many years now in terms of consulting.

How long ago would you say you personally were introduced to the switch to looking at the whole person?

This is fascinating, and I believe that at some point, we will talk about synchronicity. It’s overtly doing that versus knowing what you are doing behind the scenes and realizing it has always been a passion. The variety of books behind me is always a wide variety of business-related books and an equal number of personal transformation books. Many years ago, I started following Jon Kabat-Zinn and, “Wherever you go, there you are,” or full catastrophic living, where he started to look at the effects of meditation on cancer patients and realized that the ones that meditate had a greater chance of recovery.

I started to read those books and did not assimilate them into my consulting until many years ago I realized, “These are the things that need to be fully integrated to talk about higher-level leadership and how to maximize performance.” I started the integration process from the behavioral approach to the whole person many years ago.

Applying that in your own life and having that as an undercurrent to what you are doing, you were probably implementing some of those things even many years ago.

I think so, and that’s very fascinating that you would say that because independent of that, I thought, “For stress reduction techniques, I find different ways of meditating, breathing exercises or slowing down, so you are not always a type-A kind of individual.” I try to use those things independently for personal transformation and reading a wide variety of authors that you would rattle off to like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Michael Singers, and Jon Kabat-Zinn individuals.

Looking at all of those people for personal transformation and realizing a light bulb going on and saying, “That is integral to total development in the workforce too.” I hate to say an advocation but that has always been at times when I didn’t have to work around the clock. These were the ways that were giving my own downtime and replenishing the reading of the amalgam of those authors.

What has been the receptivity that you are experiencing when you present these ideas to corporate leaders who want to improve their performance?

That’s fascinating because, in the first step, you have to make sure that people don’t think, “That has its own domain. That’s a little ephemeral to me,” but there are a couple of people that helped out with that. For instance, there’s more receptivity now when you can see an increase in productivity through meditation and mindfulness, which was introduced by Jon Kabat-Zinn many years ago. The lynchpin to that was Daniel Goleman when you were able to say that you could be an extremely bright leader and you could have all the experience but there was a lot of research to support that many leaders weren’t successful because they didn’t have EQ or Emotional Intelligence.

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People begin to say, “Four dimensions of emotional intelligence, a great self-awareness, emotional control, ability to be empathetic to others, and interpersonal flexibility,” were beginning to realize, “The good leaders had internalized those elements.” The receptivity came when there were bridge individuals like Goleman who had interviewed the Dalai Lama but at the same time, via viable consultant with a variety of his books like on EQ that bridged the gap, enhanced the receptivity, made it palatable and acceptable to business CEOs to start with.

As you are talking about that, I keep seeing in my mind the book titled, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership and how actively they have integrated many different things about self-honesty and openness right into their leadership training and teaching people that if you want to be an effective leader, you have to embody these things.

That’s a great point because before, when you looked at leadership traits and attributes, a lot of them were things associated with sturdiness, discipline, and fair and honest feelings. When we got to the issues, for instance, when we had the Great Recession, one of the hallmarks of a successful leader was transparency, “Let me exactly tell you. You will still have a job if you do this, and you might not if you don’t do that but I’m going to tell you what’s behind the curtain.”

Brené Brown introduces concepts of vulnerability, your ability to say, “I need help too,” the leader says, which creates the bond with the worker to say, “We are all in this together. There’s interconnectedness.” Those initially viewed as soft and intangible skills or attributes became the hallmark of success and integrated, which means that you can’t have that if you don’t embody some level of self-awareness.

The concept that I always try to use because people need tangible analogies, metaphorical things or visuals, “Picture yourself in an interaction, and you are both the actor in the play and the observer of the play. Simultaneously I’m in it but when I’m in it, it’s hard for me to be removed, so can you remove yourself and also see how you are interacting in that interaction?”

The kind metaphor of you both in the situation and above the situation helps leaders know that they can’t just plow through things, they have to stop down to the pace and look at the whole situation. That opens the door for receptivity or what skills, approaches, and techniques you need to do to allow that awareness to unfold in a substantive way.

That whole thing about that awareness brings to mind the book, Leadership and Self Deception by The Arbinger Institute and The Anatomy of Peace. This whole idea that our culture teaches us that our emotional state is created by what people and events outside of us do. Whereas people who study this understand, “I create my emotions by how I choose to interpret and respond to events.” It’s an inside job. If I don’t have that awareness, I keep charging out, trying to change people and things outside of me to change my internal state, that’s difficult and unproductive enough if I’m an individual. If I’m at the top of a leadership team, it’s devastating.

That is a great insight into being able to take human behavior that’s complex and realize that it’s also very straightforward and simple if you break it down. For instance, in Michael Singer’s book, Living Untethered, you take the whole book down to three basic principles with one action step. There are only three things that exist in the world, an amalgam of experiences that are mostly neutral until we posit our own overlay on that. Our thoughts lead us to our emotions. Statistically, 80% or 85% of thoughts are either repetitive or negative by nature. We have to actively engage in changing the equation. The fourth dimension of that is choice. We have a choice to reframe those thoughts and explore those emotions.

OYM Jeff Sucec | Higher Level Leadership

Living Untethered: Beyond the Human Predicament

By that, it gives us more control to know that, as a leader or an individual, we have more personal control over the outcome by how we reframe things than we think. Getting rid of that victimization mode and realizing as a leader also the concept of mirror neurons. The people that we oversee or interact with obviously mirror consciously or subconsciously the emotion and the approach that we bring to the table.

If we want to create anxiety, frenzy, and disharmony, all we have to do is overtly demonstrate that. Conversely, if even in a state of crisis or difficulty, we have calm or sturdiness subconsciously, the other person starts to engage in it, even if they don’t know why they are doing it but because they are mirroring what we are exemplifying. That’s another level of awareness that has utility.

As you are coaching, consulting, and working with these various businesses and their leadership teams, what are some of the most effective tools that you use, teach or ask them to get access to?

Let’s start with the most basic thing that’s probably the most difficult to do, as you would know, is staying in the present moment. That’s step number one. The past is done, so let’s not ruminate about it. In the future, why do we have worry and anxiety? Be present at this moment because that’s all there is. That allows you to have some level of awareness of what’s going on.

The second step is the tool that could be like Tara Brach a lot of times calls about the RAIN process, which says, “Leader, can you Recognize what’s going on? Could you Allow her to unfold? Can you Investigate why you are feeling and thinking that you are? Could you Nurture it and let it flow through you so that you can stay present and aware as much as possible right then?” That’s one of the things. I also tell them about a lot of people still feel uncomfortable with mindfulness, word or meditation. Could you take pauses even five minutes in the day to walk outside, regroup, use the bathroom, “I don’t know whatever,” to try always to stay fresh and available as much as possible? That’s another level.

This is another element, and let me give you an overlay of this. For a leader, I always talk about eight foundational substantive things that you can bring to the table that makes you a substantive catalyst for change in your organization. I always say they are eight. It’s a powerful number but if you turn outside, it’s like infinity. It has that marketing appeal.

The first is to focus on the time for exercise. Number 2) Make sure that you have a sleep you need. Number 3) The optimal levels of nutrition. 4) Mindfulness meditation at some level. The other 5, 6, 7, and 8 are interesting because it also talks about the issue of the importance of getting outside in nature because that’s a microcosm of life in some way, making sure that you always have multifaceted, meaningful relationships that can further enhance your development because they don’t bring you down when you have a choice.

I also think about the importance of being a lifelong learner and never being bored, and there’s always something else to learn, having the beginner’s mind. The eighth that brings it together is always having a feeling of gratitude. It’s like saying thank you when the day starts. Being appreciative because a lot of the people that I deal with are very financially well off.

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They’ve got to higher levels of success. Never take that for granted. Remember where you started and be grateful for virtually anything. There’s a variety of other tools too but I always start with those things that, in the absence of those being integrated, you haven’t enabled yourself to maximize your potential to use even skill-based techniques.

That’s a great list of eight things, and it’s very close to what a functional medicine specialist might say, as these are the things that are necessary for a healthy, fulfilling human life. If you expand what you said about relationships, you can encompass everything in the functional medicine list for a healthy, fulfilling human life if you talk about love, connection to community, etc. in your relationship piece. The functional medicine people studied this and said, “It’s not rocket science. We know what it takes to have somebody feel good within themselves, comfortable in their own skin, and have a rewarding or at least contentment in life or rewarding life. It’s almost everything that you just put in your list of eight.

What that does is because people will say, “Yes, of course,” but I view those as enablers to be able to deal with either as an employer or as an employee, the issues that you are dealt with like crisis situations or difficult situations. How do you right-size the fear? Many people get immobilized by fear but how do you step back and say, “Is that so? I’ve encountered that situation. I know what it’s like viscerally. How do I deal with that situation when the stock market goes down 25%? My immediate response is to sell everything,” instead of rightsizing the fear and saying, “life is cyclical in nature. It’s always gone up and down. If I don’t have a sphere of influence of 30 days but if I have a sphere of influence of 30 months, then that is ebb before it goes up again.”

You wouldn’t be able to do that if you don’t use those foundational eight because those allow you to be able to stay above the fray in some way. That’s one of the elements or how do you then take a difficult situation and dilute it by asking a question like somebody says, “That’s a key person in my organization, I can’t afford to lose that individual?” Therefore you have knee-jerk responses to them like you are concerned you might lose them, and instead of asking the question, “What are the wide variety of things that you need to do to make this such a nurturing environment. They will never want to go because it’s a destination?” Turning the knee-jerk response of, “I have to react,” to a global question seems to dilute the magnitude of the angst. Therefore, it allows you to make more appropriate decisions.

OYM Jeff Sucec | Higher Level Leadership

Higher Level Leadership: What are the things you need to do to make this a nurturing environment that they’ll never want to go because it’s a destination?

The word that comes to my mind is perspective. If I can step back, get that broader view, The Seat of the Soul by Michael Singer or that 30,000-foot perspective, if I have a thought like, “I can’t afford to lose this person,” maybe I’m thinking that because they are good at what they do but maybe I’m thinking that because I see them as an integral part of the whole system working but they aren’t performing very well. They are causing personality ripples or drama and trauma in the workplace. If I see it from, “I can’t afford to lose them. There are no options,” and I keep them in there, I’m thinking of the book, Necessary Endings.

If I can’t say, “This life, job or business I have is bigger than any one person, and if one person is not willing to change, fit to help the whole system grow, then then I need to end that relationship or some aspect of that relationship with them.” Often in our world, if we have that myopic view you were talking about earlier, that very narrow field of view, I can’t see any way to end that and keep everything moving.

I need to get that perspective and say, “If I have those eight pieces in place, I realize this life that I have that gratitude for is bigger than any one thing. I don’t define myself simply by the productivity of the company, the bottom line or my one relationship with this one person. It gives me the flexibility to start looking at a variety of options. This field of view provides many more options for solutions than this field of view.”

You probably made the umbrella comment in terms of a sense of perspective because the analogy would be, “We can look at the trees or the rings of the trees but if we got in a helicopter and looked at the entire panoramic view of the forest, we could say that myopic focus of that one issue is just one in the amalgam of all of these.” That perspective setting that you are saying, “Dilutes the emotional knee-jerk reaction,” doesn’t make you act based on past tapes that were dysfunctional and gives you the sense to say, “Either this tool will pass or let’s look at that. Even from an insightful perspective of even momentary adversity is something that has utility because it gives you a sense of perspective that will add.”

Henry Ford goes, “Fail your way into success.” I remember it was the pediatrician and psychiatrist T Berry Brazelton who talked about touchpoints, who said all the times when you see children and all of a sudden they don’t talk or walk as fast or as ever that he said, “That regression or slowing is sometimes a precursor to phenomenal growth.” Therefore, don’t look at myopically, “I’m in a deficit situation.” That could be building up all of that or the child could be sitting there and internalizing, not saying anything, and all of a sudden, they come out with polysyllabic words all over the place because they’ve internalized and not vocalized.

Why can’t we look at that from that perspective when we look at an employee who’s not doing the things we want or from a leader’s perspective to say, “Why aren’t you right-size the situation,” and therefore say, “That’s a precursor to maybe phenomenal growth of productivity?” Your word of perspective is a great umbrella concept that capsulizes a lot of what we have been talking about so far.

Are there any specific ongoing assessment tools that you recommend for people, individuals or leaders? There’s a one million minds project that put this thing online where you can do a mental health check-in. They encourage people to come in here and fill this out. They will give you a status check about all these various aspects of your life, how you are doing with your focus, nutrition, sleep or mood regulation. Are there any tools like that that you use or recommend for these leaders or their individuals?

There’s a variety. For teachers and adjunct faculty members at Notre Dame, I used to do it on a regular basis and now in selective courses. One of the things that I give them is an introductory session with leaders because it has entry points for people, in the beginning, at the start of their careers, and later. It is the 40 questions associated with IQ. In each of those 4 areas that I mentioned, there would be 10 behaviorally rated questions that are an entry point. There will be 10 questions associated with your ability to have good self-awareness, 10 on emotional control, 10 on your ability to be empathetic in some way, and what interpersonal flexibility do you have.

That’s a tool that I use on a pretty regular basis as an entry point. Other tools that I have personally developed talk about leadership and management like your ability to give feedback, positive reinforcement, coaching, and goal setting because if you don’t have the ability to know what goes into those and how people perceive you on a 360, then you are missing the mark on that particular level. Some are very managerial and leadership-specific, and other tools that I utilize are more in terms of making sure that you are aware of the dimensions that impact your emotional intelligence.

It’s either an enabling factor or constricting factor for my relationships at every level. I was having a conversation with somebody, and they were talking about how they tend to either hold everything in or overshare and can’t find that middle ground. We were talking about, “What’s happening with you when you are either all clammed up and can’t share anything or you are pouring out too much information?” It’s always going to be a discomfort inside the person. If they can’t tap into that and dissipate that, then they can’t connect with the other person and be in that flow. That comes from the balance of the energy exchange or what the other person might have as their interest field.

That is critical. You are almost getting into the concept that’s fascinating. It’s harder to introduce this in the business world. It’s almost like heart math, where instead of coming from your head, you are realizing in a lot of ways that the heart is almost like a thinking instrument. If you are not in tune with that, some people refer to this as, “Is it heartfelt? Is it your gut feeling, intuition or all of that?” where a lot of people dismiss that. That’s the central focus. I try to always bring into other things like this. It’s interesting.

OYM Jeff Sucec | Higher Level Leadership

Higher Level Leadership: In a lot of ways, the heart is almost like a thinking instrument.

 

I would be remiss because I almost view it as an indirect mentor. There’s a gentleman who you would call either a poet, someone highly spiritual or philosopher, Mark Nepo. He is very well known for the Super Soul Sundays with Oprah. He has a book, Surviving Storms, and The Book of Awakening. It’s all about finding your way back to your authentic self. Many different people are always telling you what you are and what you should be.

Where do you find it as a leader or an individual in the quiet of your own mind of the cues you get to know what is your authentic self because presenting that has a concomitant value to everybody else because it allows them to the freedom to want to divulge who they are and want to do that more proactively. I try to bring in tools and techniques and approaches along those lines that are atypical to what you would see in the business world so your business and personal life are not disparate but inextricably tied together in some way.

I try to introduce people to that concept that you were just talking about, the authentic self and that balance. I put my left hand out with my palm up, “I would like to tell you three things that might be true about you. I want you to observe this for yourself. I don’t know you. If you are like most human beings, you might have an intellectual, logical, and emotional side of your mind. That’s point number 1). Point number 2) If you are like most of us, you will make your best decisions when you’ve got good access to both pools of information. These parts of your mind are constantly interacting with the energy field and your past, and your hopes for the future.

When you’ve got good access to both parts, you make your best decisions. The third thing is if you are like most of us, if you are emotional intensity, whether it’s a positive or negative emotion, is anywhere within the range from 0 to 10, 0 to 5, maybe 6, your logic is still online and you have good access to both pools of information if you choose to tap into them. If you get your emotional intensity, positive or negative, up to about 6 and a half or 7 on that scale of 0 and a 10, instantly, your logical mind is now sitting in the back of the bus where it can’t reach the wheel or the pedals, and the emotional intensity is making all the calls despite the fact that you might be sitting back here watching saying, “This isn’t going to go well.”

If that is the case and you observe that, I ask people, “If that’s true for you, what would be one of the most important skills you could learn?” They quickly say, “How to calm down?” I say, “The problem is if you hit that 6 and a half or 7 if you get that triggered point, the part of you that would calm you down can’t reach the pedals or the wheel.” The skill to learn is to be in this mode where I’m observing myself more day in and day out, every moment of the day, and more moments of the day when I first begin. When I notice myself rising in intensity from a level of 1, 2 or 3 on that emotional scale, then my logic is still online.

I activate some of the tools I’ve learned. I do the breath technique. I take the time out. I do the yoga pose and the five-minute meditation you were talking about. I prevent myself from reaching that triggered point where I’ve lost this capacity to engage the tools, self-control or logical mind I’ve learned. It’s an oversimplification but it’s a nice way to get people introduced to all that stuff that Mark Nepo and others will say when you are talking about heart math and the deeper level. This is a good intro for me with my clients.

That’s a great example because the most difficult thing always is to take something as you are indicating from the conceptual level where people nod and say, “How do I put that into practice?” You gave a very good example of a key attribute of, “How do I engage in regular during the course of the day observation of me while I’m leading my life so I can know how I’m being buffeted around or not? What’s impacting me? How it’s affecting me viscerally and what thoughts are coming into my mind that I put there versus automatic thoughts, and how do I reframe them?”

That’s a great example of that and how you bring yourself back to that observation in a fray of the daily thing. The one other thing that I try to look at is that this is a harder point to land but some people who are moving along this path are appreciative of it. I look at how you are making progress if you have been able to quiet yourself and not recognize synchronistic events that are happening for you that you wouldn’t be aware of if you didn’t slow down to be open to that.

The most pedestrian example is you are thinking of someone, and they call you. That’s an extreme version of that. I had one where I didn’t know something about somebody that I had known for 30 or 40 years. I opened it, and he passed away. I saw an article in a magazine three pages later that was something about him but if I hadn’t read that previous article, I wouldn’t have gotten to that. When I got to it, I learned a wide variety of things that set many things into place.

Slowing down to read that and to be appreciative led me to something else. I view that as a synchronistic event because I slowed down my pace of living and was reinforced by the universe that led me three pages later that made something totally else unfolded that gave me insight into another person. I write those things down.

Here’s another example of that. That tells me I must be on the right path because I’ve slowed down to the pace of where I’m at at the moment for that to unfold, appreciate and acknowledge it. Synchronistic events that you are aware of and write down or do something give you a benchmark that starts to employ some of the things we have been chatting about.

In that mindfulness state, you can get an increased awareness of what’s happening in your energy field with thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations if you have been introduced to the concept that much of that is internally created, and then you can have some tools to start to work with it. We have the self-calming, shifting of focus, canceling of goals, and reorganizing of priorities, all of these different tools done with breathwork and with the, “I can take control of my breathing now.” If I focus on things I don’t have any control over, I start to feel more agitated and out of control. As soon as I shift my focus to things I have control over, I feel better. At any moment, what might I have control over my breathing?

I don’t always have control of the focus of my thoughts because things might be happening rapidly, and people might be demanding my attention but I can take a breath and get this energy system back into that parasympathetic response rather than that stress response or fight or flight response. It’s those simple things that I can practice.

That married with the idea that I’m questioning, “Has my culture been honest with me when it tells me, ‘You make me angry. You hurt my feelings. You are scaring me,’ or is that an inside job? Can I learn how to step into that volitional, that voluntary control of my thought process, which has a calming effect, opens my field of view, and provides me with nearly an infinite range of options compared to what it was when I was emotionally excited, stressed or raging?”

Two things. This is fascinating because you got back to the issue of perspective. It’s interesting because, over time, I’ve written two quote books from people that I admire. One was called Become Who You Are and Coming Home, both saying, “You go through your whole life to get back where you were.” The 1st quote in the 2nd quote book, Einstein quote I put in there was, “The first decision you have to make is if you live in a hostile or a friendly universe because if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” which is like a double entendre or a double meaning that, “I will look at the same things differently or I will start to look at different things.”

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To me, without all the things that we have been talking about, I don’t know how you ever fully embrace all aspects of the serenity prayer without this because being a type A-oriented business leader to accept the things I cannot change, what could those possibly be? To have the courage to change the things I can but that wisdom to know the difference therein lies the Shakespearean rub because without all the things we are talking about, what’s your sorting mechanism to know the difference between the things we can’t change or change? That’s an ongoing struggle.

That’s where the beauty of that prayer comes from because with all of these tools, techniques, and mindsets, how do you equip yourself and the quiet of your mind to have the wisdom to know the difference where you affect change versus you let life unfold because that’s the nature of life? Go with a Zen, “Is that so when something happens?” as opposed to trying to evoke a change. That delicate balance, to me, is a lifelong challenge.

It’s resonating that question with a nice deep breath, and I hold it at the top. I slow the exhale and ask myself, “What am I making this situation mean? It only has the meaning for me that I give it,” which is why some people can stay calm in the midst of a crowd that’s erupting in either anger or fear. Some people can stay calm and focused because they are making this moment or this situation means something different. It brings up the poem If by Rudyard Kipling, which has many excellent lines in it.

That begins with keeping your head when others think about you losing theirs and blaming it on you. One of my favorite lines in it is, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors the same.” I used to tell people I would write this in one of the exercises that I would give people as an option that they could choose as an observation for themselves.

My successes and failures in any area do not increase or decrease my value as a person. That comes right from that line in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If I can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same, realize that’s not me,” This is an event in time. This is this interaction with the environment. It’s not my essence. That’s what came to mind.

We have many similarities. If I took you downstairs to one of my rooms, I would have something on the wall. In my earlier years, I used to read a lot of Carlos Castañeda Books, who was a cultural anthropologist, about A Yaqui Way of Knowledge and Don Juan. The highest esteemed person was the warrior, male or female his famous quote, very similar to yours, is, “The average person in life sees everything as either a blessing or a curse. The warrior sees everything as a challenge,” which is analogous to what you are saying, “Can you deal with both adversities and great things and treat them on the same ends like the fulcrum in the middle and going back and forth. That’s how life goes.” That’s the insight that goes back to your comment about having a sense of perspective.

That reminds me of the story of the three umpires. They had a long day of calling games, and they were meeting at a bar for some drinks afterward. The one says, “There are balls and strikes. I call them as they are.” The second one goes, “There are balls and strikes. I call them as I see them.” The third one goes, “There are only pitches until I call them.” The other one that came to mind was when I was a senior in high school. I was asked to make a banner for the religion class. It got me a D or an F. I was so clueless at the time but I was into reading Native American Anthologie, the saying that I chose for the banner was, “I seek strength not to be better than my brother but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.”

That’s the whole aspect of life always unfolding, and why do you look at that and you say, “How could someone ever feel bored because you have a lifelong pursuit of wanting to make more incremental personal development insights and improvements?” As you look at it from a global perspective, every time you do that individually, it resonates with other people around you. Your personal growth has a concomitant positive impact on other people.

I wonder if you could take a moment or two, get centered, and think if we are going to wrap up this interview, what’s something about your work, personal development or any aspect of your life teaching that you would like to share that we haven’t even touched on yet?

I haven’t necessarily thought through that but I would want to reinforce this point always to be open to ways of redefining, reinventing yourself or never pitching hole yourself in terms of what you think you need to be or what you are based upon the input of other individuals. The best thing that you can do whenever progress you make is to sit down in the quiet of your own mind or find a quiet place and do a personal stock of what comes to you and say, “Where do I want to go from there?” Most of the time a lot of our lives are in reaction to other people’s expectations or acknowledgments of us or giving us input of where we need to go.

This is interesting about that. My mother was very effective in always trying to enhance my vocabulary from an early age. Even though she could be critical at some levels, a thing that always resonated with me was the little quote from Hamlet of, “To Thine Own Self Be True.” That probably resonates more with me. That is applicable to everybody to find your own self and know happiness is defined as when your thoughts, actions, and what you say all seem to be consonant with one another. That’s where it is. When those are consonant, what you think, say, and do seem to all be consonant, then I believe you found some authentic self, and to thine own self has been true.

Thank you so much for joining us and helping this project along. I’m going to look into those books of quotes that you mentioned. I look forward to our next contact. I greatly appreciate your sharing with us.

Thank you. I applaud as I started out with all the fine work that you do to help other individuals move along their paths of life wherever they are. You should be applauded for initiating this and for having a deep passion for what you do.

Thank you so much.

Jeff Sucec is the Principal and Cofounder of Performance Potential Incorporated. He has many years of experience working with a wide range of organizations, helping them move to the next level of performance. He’s a thought leader in the alignment of business goals and strategy to employee productivity. Jeff is often the highest-rated keynote speaker at business conferences. The topics he covers include leadership, employee engagement, using innovative approaches for maximizing performance, identifying and migrating best practices, creating a culture of creativity and innovation, and implementing client-focused sales cultures. He’s a published writer on organizational behavior, performance improvement, sales, and sales management effectiveness.

Prior to cofounding Performance-Potential, Jeff was a Founder and CEO of FTR, a premier business performance consulting firm serving financial services clients worldwide. Jeff brings a unique perspective to clients as a business owner who has been through all the stages of a company’s life, from its founding through the various phases of growth and ultimate sale to a $3 billion private equity company.

For many years, Jeff has been an accomplished executive coach for both business owners and influential corporate owners. Jeff Sucec has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame since 2001. His progressive business courses have always been rated the highest in his department and near the top for the overall university. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Illinois. He founded the JJS Foundation to help underprivileged children reach their full potential.

 

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About Jeff Sucec

OYM Jeff Sucec | Higher Level LeadershipJeff Sucec, principal and co-founder of Performance Potential, Inc., has over 40 years experience working with a wide range of organizations helping them move to the “next level” of performance. He is a thought leader in the alignment of business goals and strategy to employee productivity.

Jeff is often the highest rated keynote speaker at business conferences. The topics he covers includes leadership, employee engagement, using innovative approaches for maximizing performance, identifying and migrating best practices, creating a culture of creativity and innovation, and implementing client-focused sales cultures. He is a published writer in organizational behavior, performance improvement, and sales and sales management effectiveness.

Prior to co-founding Performance Potential, Jeff was founder and CEO of FTR, a premier sales performance consulting firm, serving financial services clients worldwide. Jeff brings a unique perspective to clients as a business owner who has been through all the stages of a company’s life; from its founding, through the various phases of growth, and ultimate sale to a three billion dollar private equity company. For over 20 years, Jeff has been an accomplished executive coach for both business owners and influential corporate executives.

Jeff Sucec has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame since 2001, where his progressive business courses have always been rated the highest in his department and near the top for the overall University. He received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Illinois. He founded the JJS Foundation to help underprivileged children reach their full potential.

 

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