The Vancouver leg of The Art of Leadership Conference took place today at the Convention Centre. As expected, it was a busy room filled with people from different walks of life with one common goal: We want to be better leaders. 5 brilliant speakers, 5 lessons.
Milestones vs. Finish Lines
Gretchen Rubin talked about how our habits are critical in building and maintaining our happiness. In forming habits, we tend to set ourselves goals in order to get motivated and focused. The trick is to view these goals as milestones rather than finish lines, otherwise once we achieve our goal we will get out of the habit that we formed because we don’t have an objective anymore. To put it in context, if you are training for a marathon in order to form exercising habits, you need to see the marathon as a milestone in an ongoing journey for a healthy life, rather than a finish line that ends the journey.
You can’t solve new problems with old solutions
It is quite chilling to listen to what Captain Phillips went through with Somali pirates. I would say it was actually more powerful to listen to his first-hand account than to watch the movie, despite the lack of visual representation. One thing he said that we could apply to many other aspects of life was that we need to be flexible to the ever-changing nature of problems. Traditional maritime protocol dictates that the Captain is the last to leave his ship. Captain Phillips, on the other hand, was the first to leave in order to save his crew and his ship from the pirates, disregarding the conventional doctrine. He didn’t do it to be a rebel; he did it because he had to be flexible in an unusual situation to deal with a problem that was changing and evolving as events transpired.
If they don’t care, don’t waste your time
Words of wisdom by Marshall Goldsmith on changing the behaviour of others. Behaviour change is easy to understand but incredibly hard to execute. If you are trying to change someone’s behaviour and they are not interested, do not waste your time; if you are trying to change your own behaviour but you are not interested, do not waste your time. “Life is incredibly easy to talk, but very hard to live!”
The mother-in-law effect
Although it may sound like a rule made up by Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, it was actually invented by Liane Davey to describe a workplace phenomenon. This is the effect that causes us to react differently to a message depending on its source. For example, we will react differently to the same email or text message, no matter how neutral the tone, depending on whether or not we like the sender (a.k.a. best friend vs. mother-in-law).
Early success is a terrible teacher because it reinforces bad habits
The best segment of the conference for me was Commander Chris Hadfield’s memorable presentation. It is hard to compare any achievement to his accomplishments. There are so many things to be remembered from his speech but the message that stuck with me the most was the one about how early success can be dangerous for long term goals. Too much success too soon can lead to overconfidence and reinforce bad habits. Failure is often seen as a bad thing, but it forces us to correct fundamental errors and re-think basic assumptions.