18 things that will make you a better leader: Chris Hanley

There's no magic road map in our life to lead us down the path to success. Instead, we each have to find our own way. Chris Hanley from First National Byron Bay explains how to find and trust our internal GPS, plus 17 other ways to improve ourselves.

  1. Don’t ask successful people what they do now; ask them what they did back then to go from there to here. What did they change and what did they implement?
  2. I have found most people know what they need to do to be a better leader or salesperson or musician. When tested on what they need to do, most people score well.
    The real question then is why aren’t they doing it? If you want to get better at something, then answer this question for yourself. What am I not doing that I know I should be doing?
  3. To grow you need to be able to emulate the world’s best tennis players after they lose a point. They immediately delete the losing images from their head, and they move on. There are no blame games. No getting caught on small hooks. Improvement only happens if the lost point (mistake) stays in the past. Don’t dwell on the dumb stuff because we can’t change the past.
  4. Success does not have one path – just your path. Lennon and McCartney couldn’t read music, but they made music that changed the world. Find your way and stay on your track.
  5. Nothing good happens quickly; only bad things happen swiftly. Be patient. I was born devoid of patience, so this was a big one for me to learn.
  6. No one gets rich on their own. No one. Growth is stronger and more sustainable if others help you and it also feels more worthwhile. Team success has a different taste – a ‘team’ taste, which is a much sweeter taste than an ‘I’ taste.
  7. Be OK with chaos. A little bit of chaos is good in all our lives. Even if you don’t like chaos don’t let it frighten you. There are people you work with who shower in chaos every day before they come to work. They love it. They are not bad or mad, so learn to work with them. Chaos for some is a type of energy.
  8. Sisu is a Finnish word for grit, resilience and never giving up. Never giving up is the most essential ingredient in getting better at anything. Everyone needs to make sure their sisu levels are always topped up. Remember: improvement is a war, not a battle. You will lose some fights but it’s the war you need to win. Just get back up and start again.
  9. “Sometimes if you want to win, you have to be something you are not” is a line from the movie The Fighter. To get better at anything you sometimes need to do things that make you feel uncomfortable – at least at the start. We all have to wear-in new shoes sometimes.
  10. If anger lives in you and is your constant companion you will struggle. Angry eruptions destroy teams and prevent growth. Put your rage somewhere safe and lock it away. Angry, brilliant people never quite get what they deserve.
  11. In Get Smart, the original television series, Max often used the cone of silence to speak with The Chief. It rarely worked, but the idea is the real story here. Cones of silence in your life are like closed office doors, noise- cancelling headphones or off-site workspaces. They don’t work either unless there’s a cone of silence inside your head, which is a focused concentration that blocks out all noise and distractions. Successful people seem to be able to work anywhere, anytime. They use the noise like a cone of silence.
  12. Those who commit to betterment have a fondness for the tough stuff – an attraction to the difficult. Most of us gravitate to the easy things in life because it’s just easier. But here’s the thing: There is no growth in this place, only comfort. “The wound is the place where the light enters you,” the Persian poet Rumi says, and this is why we need to go to places that challenge us for our real lessons in life. If you are involved in a train wreck, don’t run away. Stay around to see what went wrong. This is the space where impactful learning takes place.
  13. You have to understand what you are good at and not so good at to move forward in your life. Then you find people to help you who are good at the things you are not so good at. For many of us, admitting that we are not good at something is the hard bit; after that finding help is easy.
  14. Most of us do not like to admit we are wrong or that we don’t know something. However, saying ‘I do not know’  is one of the most wonderfully liberating moments in life. Do it and see what happens. People everywhere start helping you and you learn a myriad of things you would never have learned before.
  15. Don’t waste your ideas as they are unequivocally the best ideas you will find. My desks are covered in ideas, written on pink and fluorescent yellow sticky notes, that have popped into my head as I walked to work, or exercised or sat on a plane. Collect, collate and implement them.
  16. You cannot park your life. You and your life are either improving or going backwards.
  17. There’s no road map for the hard things in our lives. We all have to work it out for ourselves. Find and trust your internal GPS. Your tummy compass. It’s your best friend.
  18. Getting better is better if you stay better. Improvement is all about practise because only with practise does improvement become permanent.

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Chris Hanley

Chris Hanley, OAM is the principal of First National Byron Bay