At the end of 2018 I picked up This Is Day One by Drew Dudley. As soon as I finished the book I turned it over and started reading it again. Yes I, Matt Quinn read the same book twice in a row in 2018.
This post is a hefty wade into the exercise at the end, my values and what I am committed to operationalising in 2019. Strap yourselves in folks. It's an authentic, vulnerable and long read.
Leadership is something that fascinates me.
What makes a good leader? What if we could all lead better? Can I improve the lives of others by leading better? Can everyone lead? Why doesn't everyone at least lead themselves better?
In line with this chain of thought, in 2018 I sought out new books and media and leaders to try and answer some of these questions.
Key books I read last year that contributed to my thoughts (that I would recommend):
The 10X rule
7 Habits of highly effective people
The Big Leap
and finally - This is Day One by Drew Dudley
This Is Day One tells an enthralling story of how Drew a leading teacher of leadership principles found himself questioning everything and having to rebuild his understanding of leadership such that it was no longer a nebulous that some people just "have" into a practical set of actions and principles.
At the end of the book he provides a step by step exercise on how we can identify the leaders that we want to be and how to go about being them.
I took some days over the Christmas break to go through this exercise and am sharing my path and findings here.
If you're reading this, engage with me. I'm putting my whole self into this post. If you find yourself judging, please do reach out for clarification.
If you're reading this:
Assignment 1 - The 3 Key Value Hypothetical
Assignment 1 in the book, is to imagine that someone follows you around for 30 days. They see everything. They see every interaction. They see the songs you sing in the shower. They see the can you don't recycle.
But what do they see?
After the 30 days - what is it you hope they would see about you. What 3 key values do you hope they would identify that you live your life by?
For me I identified these 3 key values (in no particular order):
The next task in assignment 1 is to find a way to describe what the value means in one line, without using the value itself and beginning it with "A commitment to".
This one really made me squirm. You have to appreciate I'm discussing every step with my incredible fiance whilst doing this. As an all around powerhouse, coach and HR business leader, she is picking apart everything I'm saying.
But what does empathy mean to you
I'm getting frustrated. Deep breaths. Does it matter if I can't explain what it means to me? No-one has asked me such an ninja and annoying question before.
Is this story making you squirm? No? You're better than me.
Being asked these things allows us to really understand what values we want to embrace and what they truly mean. I loved how I went full circle, back to where Drew started when someone tried to get him to explain what his career is build upon - leadership.
I pushed through and came up with my commitment statements:
Empathy - A commitment to feeling what others feel to understand and help them better
Resilience - A commitment to keep going as hard as always especially when facing difficulty
Authenticity - A commitment to bringing your whole self into every interaction you have with others and yourself, online and offline
Assignment 2 - The Edge of the Bed Advice
The edge of the bed advice task is simple. We all have wisdom to impart based on our experiences rather than what we've been told. What is it?
Imagine you're putting your child to bed. Tonight is the last night they are living in your house. Tomorrow they head into the world independently. You're perched on the edge, they look up at you and ask "Mom/Dad, what's your best life advice"
What would you tell them? Instead of one big metaphorical and poetic piece of advice, try and impart a number of small pieces of advice. Think about the rules you subconsciously live by. Try and get a number of pieces. Don't try and attempt this in one go.
I came back and put my 25 pieces together over the course of 4 days
Here's my advice
Assignment 3 - Moments of Pride & Disappointment
This is the last input assignment before you get to analyse it all, yes there's a mathematical analysis involved in leadership - Wait What!?
Here's the task:
Reflect on your life.
Identify 2 situations where you are proud of your behaviour. Truly reflect the person you hoped to be at that time.
Identify 2 situations where you the way in which you behaved upsets or disappoints you. Where say, you failed to live up to your own expectations.
2 Of Pride
When I was 25 - I resigned from my safe corporate job. I searched everywhere in the office to physically hand my letter to a partner, but none were in the office to accept it and the next day I was heading on an international business trip. I had to email the resignation out.
Within an hour I received a separate and unrelated email of a job offer from the consulting arm for a more senior position that I had been hustling for, for months. But I was off to build a company. I was so uncomfortable. I had to muster up the guts to physically apologise to a partner who had championed me for months to get me the offer. I really felt like I bucked up and faced adversity and embarrassment at that point to get on with it. I grew. I became the person of integrity I knew I wanted to be.
When I was 28 - I risked time, judgement, and failure to teach myself basic cantonese, sit down with my fiance's Grandfather and to speak to him in Cantonese. He smiled. I smiled. It was the first time in an incredibly long time where I set a goal, found a way to get there. Did it. Got there. And successfully deployed the result in the face of judgement.
2 of Disappointment
When I was 13 - I received wonderful Christmas gifts from my family and I made snarky comments publicly in front of our guests about them. There was no need to be such an entitled kid and it sinks my stomach to think I said those things. They were spoilt, unnecessary, and added nothing to anyones lives. I should have been grateful.
In my 20's - This situation includes other people and I have been asked not to share the details. This is the least I could do. Let's say this, I was in a situation where I didn't communicate well or fairly and didn't address issues that arose with people directly with them.
Time to self analyse
The task here is now to go back, review your own edge of the bed advice and identify the 1-3 key values each piece of advice is imparting or representing. To save copying and pasting pages of my own weird advice I'll just highlight the values I picked out.
You might be thinking - How did I get one from the other, as you don't see it. Well, as covered before these values mean different things to different people and that's okay.
Next we try and extract the values lived by and betrayed in the 4 situations highlighted. You can do up to 6 values for each
Time to count
So now we need to count how many times each value has appeared in the analysis. Values in the edge of the bed exercise get 1 point. Values in the situation exercise get 2 points.
Here's my score tally
Yes I used Excel, and yes I used a CountA function - so I didn't really do any maths.
Drew advises we take our top 3-6 values from the tally exercise. This includes curating which make it and which do not. So trying to equally cover the spirit of the values not included I ended up with:
Drive - 7
Vulnerability - 5
Courage - 5
Empathy - 5
Kindness - 5
Respect - 5
The final chapter
Still reading this? - Cool.
At this point in the exercise Drew points out that 1% of people will see a tallied list that reflects the starting values.
I'm pretty impressed with myself. I see some overlap.
What we're actually looking at here is whether my value perception matches my value reality. The task here is to say, here's my perception, here's my reality, "what do I really want"? And this is key because this is the value framework I'll be furthering in my life and be using to make decisions so that I can lead.
Picking the wrong values, embedding them, using them to make decisions, can lead to financial, emotional and professional pain. You have to go with your gut so that when you look back in 5 years, you don't regret decisions.
Upon reflection - I stick with my new 6 values.
This leads to the final push. Each of these values needs a corresponding action driving question that cannot be answered yes or no and cannot include the value itself. These questions are what we'll use every day to operationalise these values.
These questions should typically start with:
How did I?
What did I do today to?
What did I do today to maintain my direction and acceleration?
What did I do today that stayed true to myself while exposing myself to the possibility of being attacked or harmed?
What have I done today that might not work, but I tried it anyway?
How did I live in and understand someone else emotions today?
How did I give energy away today, that I could have easily kept for myself?
How did I honour someone else views or beliefs today?
Next step - Pick which value you want to start with. Set a reminder on your phone. Seek to answer that question every day for 30 days. After 30 days, add another, and another and repeat until I'm answering every question every day (6 months from now).
And here I'll leave you - It's January 2019 and I'm starting with Courage.
What have I done today that might not work, but I tried it anyway?
I wrote up my entire vulnerable & authentic process and shared it with you. I'm hoping by reading this you understand me better. Did it work? Let me know @mqsley
Loved the journey and thought this was a cool process/read? Share it with somebody you care for and buy the book!
(P.S. Like what I read and wanna share book recommendations? Find me on goodreads here.