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008: Dan Rockwell: I’m afraid I won’t matter

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Podcast Show Notes with Dan Rockwell (Leadership Freak)

Dan was identifying himself by others and as a people pleaser,he eventually became lost with needing to define himself by others. Then Dan had an epiphany where things became clearer and he realized he had more in him and he began to turn to his strengths, talents and gifts. Listen to this episode and learn how Dan Rockwell transformed into the Leadership Freak.

Dan Rockwell is a farm-boy from Maine who lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife of 39 years. He says she is the joy of his life.

He prefers country to city living. He thoroughly enjoys looking out the window and seeing deer in the field. He has three children and four grandchildren. He believes Grandchildren are one of life’s compensations.

Dan’s leadership career began with a leadership position in the nonprofit world at the age of nineteen. His experience, over thirty-five years, includes business ownership and fifteen years as a Workforce Development Consultant for a regional Penn State Special Affiliate.

Dan’s contribution to the leadership community includes writing the highly recognized Leadership Freak blog. Leadership Freak was the most socially shared leadership blog in the world 2012, 2013, and 2014. Leaders in every country on the globe gain encouragement and insight from his writing. Over 300,000 subscribers have opted into Dan’s social media channels.

The American Management Association lists Dan as one of the Top 30 Leaders in Business (2014). INC recognizes Dan as one of the top 50 Leadership and Management Experts in the English speaking world (2014). INC also recognizes Dan as a TOP 100 Leadership Speaker.

Currently, Dan coaches leaders, consults with organizations, and delivers corporate and community presentations.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Check out @LeadershipFreak sharing his story and fears on @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“The logical extension of Servant Leadership is being a coaching leader.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“There are some misconceptions about being a coach.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Once you make a decision curiosity ends.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“A coach is a person who maximizes the talent and skill of another person.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“When you tell someone what to do you enhance their helplessness.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“You are going to maximize your performance and I am the person to help you.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“If you’re going to talk about it, do something about it.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Don’t talk about it if you’re not going to do something about it.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Are we moving toward action and behavior or are we just chasing our tail?” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“You are not the person to find the answer, they are.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Wanting to please people is a good thing; needing it is not so healthy.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Love people and serve people but don’t do it to gain their approval.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“When you are a deep people pleaser it’s hard to disagree.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“What you see now is a drive to matter.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“I made a lot of mistakes, so I have a lot to write about.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“I want to matter and I’m afraid I won’t.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“My word for this year is extend…my service to others.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“How can I find new ways to serve people?” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Stay curious and open your heart.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Seek other perspectives and be a learner.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“You got to pour more into yourself than you pour out.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“Success doesn’t depend on me, it depends on them.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“My performance is really about their performance.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

“When I was young I thought it was all about me, now I realize it’s all about them.” -Dan Rockwell Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Dan was identifying himself by others and as a people pleaser he eventually became lost with needing to define himself by others. Then had an epiphany where things became clearer and Dan realized he had more in him and he began to turn to his strengths, talents and gifts. Listen to this episode and learn how Dan Rockwell transformed into the Leadership Freak.

Leadership Epiphany

Needing to get approval and pleasing people is not so healthy. Wanting to please people is a good thing. Needing it is not.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Insecurity and the fear of failure, and the need to succeed.

Best leadership advice ever received

If we do it your way we’ll end up with nobody. Stop cutting people out.

Secret to Success

Being a learner. Pour more into yourself so you can pour more out.

Best resources in work or life

Listening to others

Recommended Reading

The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations

Contacting Dan

Leadership Freak blog: https://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com
Via email: dan [at] leadershipfreak.com

More Resources

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Click to access edited transcript
008: Dan Rockwell: I’m afraid I won’t matter

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Jim Rembach: Thanks Kimberly. Okay Fast Leader Legion you’re going to want make sure that you go to iTunes and that you subscribe, rave and review this episode so that everybody gets a chance to hear it. Because I’m going to introduce to you today a farm boy. Not just any ‘ole farm boy he’s a farm boy from Maine and lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife of 39 years, and he says that she is the joy of his life. He prefers country living than city living because there’s nothing like looking out the window and seeing a deer running in the field. He has three children and four grandchildren. And he says the grandchildren are one of his life’s compensations. When he’s not enjoying good books and his family he delivers keynotes, workshops, and coaches’ leaders and he writes—and man he writes a lot. I have Dan Rockwell on the show. That’s right the leadership freak himself.
Dan’s contribution to the leadership community includes writing a highly recognized leadership freak blog. Leadership Freak was the most socially shared leadership blog in the world, three years in a row. Leaders in every country around the globe gain encouragement and insight from his writing. Over 300,000 subscribers have opted in to Dan’s social media channels. The American Management Association list Dan as one of the top 30 leaders in business. INC recognizes Dan is one of the top 50 leadership and management experts in the English-speaking world. INC also recognizes Dan as a top 100 leadership speaker. Dan Rockwell, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Dan Rockwell: Let’s rock ‘n roll.
Jim Rembach: I love it okay. So, I’ve given our listeners a brief introduction can you please tell us what is your current passion so that we can get to know you better?
Dan Rockwell: My current passion is developing coaching cultures in organizations. I believe in servant leadership. I believe that the logical extension of servant leadership is being a coaching leader and that means developing the organizations that are embracing a coaching culture where people understand what it means to be coached and what it means to coach.
Jim Rembach: It’s really interesting that you say that in the context that you say it because I think oftentimes as a society we get very confused between the difference of training, counseling, coaching, mentoring—for you when you say coaching, can you help us a little bit more to understand what that means?
Dan Rockwell: I think there’s some misconceptions about a coach. I’ll tell you a quick story. I coach my wife, and I used this story when I talk to people about how to coach. As soon as I say I coach my wife, the eyeballs roll the eyebrows go up it’s like, “Wow, that must be an interesting kind of experience.” And the reason our eyeballs roll and we go, “Oh, wow.” It’s because we still have this idea that a coach is a person who knows more than I do, a coach is a person who has all the answers and can tell me what to do, that’s not the case all. Think about Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods has a golf coach that golf coach is not a better golfer than Tiger Woods. So, when it comes to coaching I think about—a coach is a person who maximizes the talent and skill of another person, helps them find their strengths and helps them figure out what their path forward is to exceptional performance.
Jim Rembach: I think there’s some really important things for me that’s resonating when you’re talking about that. One is discovery, being able to discover. Interpretation being able to interpret. Encourage being able to do that and apply, four critical components right there when you start talking about coaching as you defined it. What else would you say?
Dan Rockwell: I think it’s important in a coaching culture that the people who are being coached understand the process. There’s a traditional view of what it means to be a leader. And so now here comes the coaching leader and the traditional view would be—‘Well, tell me what to do and I’ll go do it.” And so now if a leader comes and was the coach an employee through a process to find their maximum performance the person being coached is like, “What are you after? Why you asking me these questions? Why don’t you just tell me what you want me to do? We experienced this kind of resistance in organizations where we try to help develop the coaching culture because people want to be told what to do. But here’s the thing, when you tell someone what to do you really are enhancing their helplessness and their dependency. So what we want to do when we think about coaching is maximize your strength and focus on your abilities and put responsibility for performance in your lap, not in the leaders lap, not in the coach’s lap in the sense of you’re going to make the decisions you’re going to maximize your own performance I’m the person who was helping you do that.
Jim Rembach: That was fantastic advice thank you for sharing. Those insights are so valuable to help us get better definition of what is coaching and what isn’t. Now, Dan I have to say that I’m quite intimidated to ask somebody like you my next question but it’s something that’s important to us in the Fast Leader show because inspiration we all need it and we look to leadership quotes in order to help us.
Some people have passages or things like that, but I’m sure you’re volumes of things that you’ve read, because people who write a lot typically read a lot, is there something that stands out to you as a reminder that you always hear in your head and it replay’s like a song that never gets out that gives you inspiration and drives you from a leadership perspective? Can you share that with us please?
Dan Rockwell: Wow, that’s a tough question. The first thing that comes to mind, I’m not sure it’s a quote anywhere—if you’re going to talk about it do something about it or say it the other way, don’t talk about it if you’re not going to do something about it. I just get so frustrated with all this conversations that are not going nowhere and so that for me is a sort of a guiding principle, I keep that with me a lot. I’m listening to myself talk and I listen to conversations and I’m asking myself, are we moving toward action and behavior? Or are we just chasing her tail?
Jim Rembach: Oh, I love the quote. It resonates for me so much but I have to share with you and be transparent and say that that’s one of the frustrations that I have as a husband. I wonder if there’s a gender difference when it comes to that because my wife often tells, “Look, I don’t necessarily want to do anything about it, I just want to tell you about it.” And so, sometimes for me like I’m like, “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know because I’m going to do something it.” Do you see that fall on gender lines or is it more of personality traits?
Dan Rockwell: Well, in building a relationship with my wife I know what you’re saying. I’m glad you brought it out because there is this bias to action that if you’re not careful it short-circuits just some of the necessary conversation that needs to happen. I would say this though, I think back to—I been married for almost 40 years now, I got married when I was 19—“it is by the way I hear you, let’s talk through, let’s just listen, let me just listen” and part of coaching my wife, she says she can tell when I’m trying to fix her and when I’m just listening, so there is some value there.
But I think also I love to ask the question, like say we have maybe a tense conversation, I love to ask a question toward the end of it well “what do you want? Let’s think about what you want?” and kind of put that in behavioral terms. So maybe the fixing thing is not so much she doesn’t want me to fix her but let’s work on what the relationship looks like behaviorally, but anyway I hear you it’s good thing to bring up.
Jim Rembach: I want that you brought up that coaching concept piece and the framework and all of that that kind of helps me a lot because I need to make sure that I’m putting that hat on sometimes and just really listen do a better job of active listening.
Dan Rockwell: I’ll give you a tip. It comes to me from John Stoker who wrote overcoming fake conversations, he’s a coach, and he taught me that the way to tell whether you’re trying to fix or whether you’re just listening and being a coach and helping someone else find their way forward is that sense of tension, anxiety or frustration you feel in your heart. As soon as that starts to bubble up you know you’re trying to fix.
Jim Rembach: Gosh, I feel that often. [Laughter] Dan Rockwell: I know, and I’ve learned to just monitor my own emotions and as I see it start to heat up I realize breath let it go, you are not the person to find the answer, they are.
Jim Rembach: Again awesome, sage advice. Just to let you all know, we go through and we pull out a lot of the different tidbits of information and put them in quotes on our show notes page and Dan has already dropped so many, I wanted to make sure that you know that. You can find those on the show notes page which will be fastleader.net/Dan Rockwell. Okay Dan, life we know is not always a piece of cake. We often have humps that we have to get over and there’s so much teaching and learning and probably coaching that goes in those moments, can you think of a time where you’ve had that hump to get over and you found a situation where it kind of define you or help you set a new direction, can you share that story with us?
Dan Rockwell: I think the story of life is that we start off identifying ourselves by others. There comes a stage in life where you start to move away from that and start to define yourself by yourself and who you really are, that’s a long process. I’m a people pleaser and so a large part of my life has been spent pleasing people and identifying myself that way.
About five years ago I took a month off, or maybe six years now, I remember the day it was one of those midlife crisis moments—and I’ve had many midlife crisis I’m a huge fan of them we all have lots of them—and it was then that some things came clear I just said to myself “you have more in you” and I realize I was defining myself by others. And it was in that moment that I said, “You know what, I don’t need any of these. I don’t need any job that I have. I don’t need any of it.” It doesn’t mean that you turn mean and nasty, what it means is you turn to your strength, you turn to your talent, you turn to your gift and you begin to bring that authentically versus doing it to get approval and pleasing people. I still love to please people and so do you and it’s a good thing but needing it is not quite so healthy.
Jim Rembach: So, can you tell us about the situation as it occurred? What happened?
Dan Rockwell: I think our lives kind of drop in to ten-year segments, I think it’s more of a timing thing than a specific situation. For example, when you go off to college, 18, 19, 20, you’re going to have a crisis an identity crisis. And then somewhere around the 30’s probably got married and so there’s going to be some of that and then the kids come. Researchers showing that you really almost on the decade markers, and for me it started just before the 50’s or just around the 50’s and it was about a two or three-year period of frustration then it they finally boom it just came clear for me and then things changed.
Jim Rembach: So, what did you do differently?
Dan Rockwell: First of all there’s an attitudinal difference and that’s the biggest thing. You still love people and you still want to serve people but you don’t do it to just gain their approval and so there’s great freedom. I think there’s freedom to serve and there’s freedom to speak your own heart and mind kindly when you disagree, for example. When you’re deep pleaser it’s hard to disagree so you stuffed down some of things really think. So for me one of the changes is to kindly speak to have candor. I just talked to Jack Welch last week and he said his mom taught him to be authentic early on, he’s known for candor and I said, “Tell me is this the foundation for candor?” and he said, “Absolutely.” Just knowing who you are and sticking with that it allows you to be candid. So, anyway, one of the things that change for me is freedom and the kindness and candor that comes out and then I started writing Leadership Freak, I tie that to that experience as well so I started writing Leadership Freak and then rest is history.
Jim Rembach: So, that refocus and rededication—when you start talking about writing of Leadership Freak and the proliferation of it is just amazing to me how much volume and variability and in that content that you actually can generate. With that change did there also come a different sense of discipline, focus, habit that you can allude to being more concrete, structured then, ‘Hey, I just did something different?’
Dan Rockwell: Yeah. I’m a farm boy from Maine and so I know what it means to get up and work hard and I would get up before school and work and work has been part of my life all along. I get up very early to write the Leadership Freak blog and that’s a little bit of my nature but I think the thing that’s driving this proliferation, as you put it, is a need to matter. In those years, in those darker years the part of that is I felt like I could matter more and I was disappointed in how far I’ve come and so what you see now is the drive to matter. A lot of people don’t like to hear this but I’m just going to say it to you, people ask me, “Why are you writing so much?” First of all, I’ve made lots of mistakes and I got lots to write about because I made lots of mistakes, but I want to matter. I’m going to put it to you in the negative languages well, I’m afraid I won’t. And there is in my own life some of this fear that I won’t matter. Also sometimes when I think, ‘You know what, why don’t you just sleep today?’ and there’s that voice that says, ‘You know what, you bring it down there’. It’s not the noblest thing in the world but that’s part of the story.
Dan Rockwell: But is the human story. And that’s one of the things that we could go for and really pull out here on the Fast Leader show. For the longest time you and I had talked about this—leadership and leading, I think almost hijacked. And it was hijacked by folks that said that this is only for the elite, this is only for the high potential folks this is only for the people who are above this point within an organization or in this age group. I call hogwash on that. We all have the opportunity to lead if at least it’s ourselves and there’s no way we can ever have followers if we don’t do a good job of that. I think you shared through your story a lot about that self-leadership component which has allowed you to impact so many leaders and others.
Jim Rembach: I thank you for sharing that and really appreciate it. I know that all of the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the best. We want to know what your goals are for the future.
Dan Rockwell: In the short-term my word for this year is ‘Extend.’ I practiced a word for the year, there’s a book called One Word, I don’t really like the New Year’s resolution thing but I do practice one word, and this year my word is ‘Extend.’ I want to extend my service to others. I want to extend my speaking engagements, I’m becoming a little more cognizant of that type of thing. In the long haul, I’ve really enjoyed coaching and that’s important to me. I just look forward to opportunities to serve people that’s what extend means to me, how can I find new ways to serve people.
Jim Rembach: So, based on everything that you shared with us so far—extending and all that, what is one piece of advice you would give to our listeners?
Dan Rockwell: Stay curious. Open your heart. I think leaders can be quick to make decisions and once we make a decision curiosity ends and then we start defending that decision. I would encourage leaders, especially young leaders, to be curious. What that means is to bring the outsiders in, to seek other perspectives and be a learner.
Jim Rembach: So, when you start talking about part of the future and give them back there’s also a business side to it. What is one thing that really excites you about the work that you’re doing today? You mentioned the coaching, what else?
Dan Rockwell: The opportunity to do keynote work for an organization is a wonderful opportunity and is a good business opportunity as well because you get to learn about what they’re doing. The keynote obviously is not going to radically change an organization but a keynote presentation, you gave to align with where that organization is going and speak into it and feel that fire, so I do enjoy the keynote opportunities.
Jim Rembach: That’s fantastic, the entire Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Alright here we go Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the rapid part of our show, and that’s the, Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Dan, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Dan Rockwell, are you ready to hoedown?
Dan Rockwell: I’m ready to hoedown.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Dan Rockwell: Insecurity. The fear of failure and just the need to succeed.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Dan Rockwell: If we do it your way we’ll end up with nobody, it can be hard on people. I had a friend of mine look me in the eye and say, ‘You know what, you’ve got to stop cutting people out.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Dan Rockwell: Being a learner. The ideas is you’re going to pour more into yourself than you pour so keep pouring in yourself and then you have plenty to pour out.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?
Dan Rockwell: Listening to others.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book you would recommend to our listeners, and I know that’s tough, but give it a shot.
Dan Rockwell: The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner.
Jim Rembach: Thank you very much. Alright Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that information as well as to the Leadership Freak blog, if you haven’t subscribed already, and other bonus information by going to fastleader.net/Dan Rockwell. Okay Dan, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again but you’ve been blessed you have all the knowledge and wisdom and you get to take it with you, now your job is to manage a team that is underperforming and disengaged. Now you get up in the morning you go to work, what you do now?
Dan Rockwell: I realize that success doesn’t depend on media it depends on them and that my performance is really about their performance. When I was young I thought it was all about me and now I realize it’s all about them.
Jim Rembach: Age does have something to do with that? But we’re hoping that at the Fast Leader show that are younger listeners can hear that sooner and it’ll click for them sooner and that’s really what the Fast Leader show is about—it isn’t about doing things quickly it’s about doing things right. Dan Rockwell It’s an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?
Dan Rockwell: If you go to Google and type in Leadership Freak you can’t miss me. And if you’d like to email you can e-mail Dan@leadershipfreak.com.
Jim Rembach: Dan Rockwell, thank you for sharing her knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.
Thank you for joining on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over to the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
END OF AUDIO

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  1. […] Dan Rockwell tells his story of how he became lost with needing to define himself by others. Learn how he transformed into @LeadershipFreak. @FastLeaderShow #Leadership #podcast  […]

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