In this episode of The Transformative Leader Podcast, I am excited to bring you a conversation with a fellow kindred spirit, leadership coach and speaker, Farshad Asl. This is a fascinating and entertaining conversation with a captivating storyteller, and he certainly has some stories to tell! Having immigrated to the U.S. from Iran at the age of 29, with just $400 to his name and without knowing English, Farshad understands the potential transformative power of struggling to make a life for yourself from nothing. As a result of his experiences, however, Farshad came to realize that, as long as he was holding on to excuses, success would be impossible. This was the birth of his “No Excuses Mindset“ philosophy of leadership, which he has used to great success in his life as well as his coaching and speaking practice.
We live in a world that is increasingly obsessed with quick fixes and instant gratification. We don’t have time to stop and get gas, even though we are running on fumes, because we left late. We don’t have time to stop and sharpen the saw because we are too busy trying—and failing—to cut the tree down. We don’t have the money to save or invest in retirement because we have to have that car/phone/vacation right now, instead of waiting until we can afford it. Examples abound, and I’m sure you can think of some of your own. The bottom line is that we end up being so focused on efficiency that we often end up sacrificing effectiveness as a result. All too often, we judge the potential solutions and strategies on how quickly and how well they are going to address the symptoms that we see right in front of us, while completely ignoring the cause of our discontent. This feeds the perpetual focus on fixing problems rather than creating a discontinuous shift in results, i.e. we ignore the roots of transformation to pursue the fruits of change.
This is the week that the United States celebrates the Thanksgiving, and, in fact, this blog is being posted on the exact day this year. Although to many Thanksgiving is a great occasion to take some time off from work and enjoy some good food with family and friends, it also provides a great opportunity to reflect on and give thanks for the many blessings we have in our lives. Even more than that, it is an invitation to examine our lives and try and appreciate the things that we take for granted, and to cultivate gratitude not only for what we consider the good, but also for things that we have complaints about and may be dissatisfied with.
Can you imagine if you didn’t have access to a mirror? Those who are not so concerned with their appearance might be thinking, “That might not be so bad!” But consider how you might feel if you were a model of some kind and your livelihood depended on making sure your appearance was just so. If you needed to make sure that your hair, clothing, make-up, etc. were just right, all in order to make a living, you wouldn’t ever want to be without some way of knowing how you looked and what adjustments you needed to make, right? That would be unacceptable. Now imagine having that same lack of awareness of how well you were doing and what adjustments you needed to make when it came to developing mastery in a certain field or learning to lead other people. What if you never received any feedback on your effectiveness, your performance, strengths, or areas of opportunity you needed to address? For a leader, that situation would be no less acceptable, and yet it is a reality for many of us.
The defining moments of the culture transformation journey are those moments when someone decides to sign up, go beyond compliance, and truly commit to a cause greater than themselves. These moments can come about when someone reads something, hears something, engages in a conversation, or has a certain experience, and suddenly feels a connection to the movement. These defining moments have the possibility of occurring all around us every day, but we can only seize those opportunities by keeping ourselves open to them by keeping ourselves in the right conversations and frame of mind, connecting with the person or groups we are speaking to, and by being on the lookout for reasons to choose to offer up our own genuine commitment to the cause. To convince others to join the cause, they need to know that we are not just interested in going through the motions of implementing programs and checking boxes while skirting the real issues and avoiding the real conversations. Unfortunately, most of these opportunities are squandered while we are too busy talking about them but not really saying and doing anything that makes a real difference. More often than not, it is the corporate leadership that has difficulty conveying and cultivating these defining moments, if for no other reason than the fact that they often take bird’s eye view, while frontline leaders are in the trenches and can quickly tell what works and what doesn’t.