Simon Sinek in Amsterdam

by | Nov 13, 2019 | Leadership

When I went to the Denk Producties conference on Forward Thinking Leadership last year, I did a write up including the key insights from each of the speakers.

At this years Purpose Driven Leadership conference with Simon Sinek headlining, I planned to do the same: share the key learnings from each of the speakers.

But something happened when I spoke to Simon that changed everything.

Warning: contains confessions of fangirl moments so please laugh along with me. I was ridiculous. In the best way.

I’m a Simon Sinek fan. I could listen to him talk all day. I’ve spent a lot of my YouTube time listening to him, and Alain de Botton.

I admire the clarity, eloquence, and the turning of ideas on their heads. So when I had to choose between a standard ticket and a VIP ticket where I could meet Simon, I chose the VIP. (first fangirl moment)

I totally blew my learning and development budget (you do have one of those right? If not, allocate some for yourself for 2020) and I knew I would have to make sure it was worth it.

How would I make it worth it?

  • have meaningful conversations with the other attendees
  • follow up with people I found really interesting
  • follow my urges to say what I was thinking
  • ask Simon a question at the VIP session

(Note to you, reader: when you go to events, decide how you are going to make it worth your time and money to go. Then do that. My plan is not amazing. It’s basic, simple, but above all it’s what I need.)

So the VIP moment arrives.

A small group of fans/eager learners/people with too much money get their moment with someone they admire. We were having a conversation based on a Q&A format.

I was determined to ask my question. I kept putting up my hand, he kept picking other people.
after a while I decided “This is my moment!” and shot my hand up in the air.
The five people around me had the same idea, creating a military style salute with the fervour of the far right. Simon recoiled with a “woah” and picked someone from the back. And of course, he did. We were being manic, fervent, and off putting.

I thought I’d blown my chance. He’s going to stay away from the crazy I thought.

But I really wanted to ask my question. Raising my hand to ask questions at events like this was part of my bigger game play to go for it.
So I kept putting up my hand, not expecting to actually have the opportunity.

Then he softly turns to me and whispers “you”.
(ok, this sounds way too sexy for what actually happened. He had a cold, he was clearly tired. So he was soft spoken. But feel free to add whatever interpretation you want to this.)

I squeaked. Literally.

I was busy waiting for my moment, ready with a question, but not actually thinking it was going to happen.
Then bam. It’s my turn.

I forgot my question. Then I did what all leaders need to be able to do: recover in the moment.

So with a voice that was an octave higher than normal, I asked my question.

“What advice would you give to leaders in business about navigating both the “one wrong turn could end us” and the “being light enough to stay in flow so you can make a decision from a purpose/values/positive state?”

My context for this question is my own experience of being a parent and medical carer for my daughter when she was chronically critically ill.
So we knew that the smallest thing could make her condition deteriorate rapidly to require an emergency trip to the hospital, and she could still die. And at the same time, she was a baby who need love, laughter, and play.
So how the heck to you stay alert but also loving? How do you stop fear getting in the way?

I’ve figured some of this out and wanted to know what he thought.

And Simon’s answer pierced my heart. It took my breath, and I could no longer speak.

“What you’re talking about is being human”.

Now I know he said more. But this is so simple and so profound, that I don’t want to clutter the message with the other things he said.

Being a leader is to be human.

There are very real dangers and fears, and the imagined kind. There are joys and pleasure to be had. Laughter to be shared. To be human is to be able to flow with all of this.
We will fail and succeed, but we stay in the game.

And while the game of our life is finite, for there is an end, to be human is infinite.

Want to know more about The Infinite Game? Buy his book, watch the YouTube videos, come chat with me (and we can be crazy fans together).

Want to know more about my question and what it means? Let’s grab a cuppa and talk.

Want to know how to recover in the moment? Find out how I can help you with that.

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