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.
The most common response I get from the audience when I speak on the topic of leadership, anywhere in the world, is a sense of relief and hope as if to say “Thank goodness! Somebody understands!” I see it in how engaged people are during my talks and in the comments they share with me afterwards. I believe this is primarily because many people feel they are hindered by their bosses or the complex web of policies and politics at their workplace; the environments in which they work in are not conducive to them truly living up to their potential, being able to make a difference, and being fulfilled in what they do. Want to know how I know that? It’s not only because of all the research that points to the fact that only 30% of people in workplaces are actively engaged. It’s because the second most common reaction I get from the audience is a desperate plea for some way that they can get their boss to change his/her ways. They often ask, “…But what if you get this and your boss doesn’t? What do you do then?”
I have had my share of cross-cultural experiences. I grew up in Iran, moved to the U.S. on my own when I was 16, and have lived and worked in a few places in the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia since then, and I have been married to a person of a different race and ethnicity than my own for over 35 years. If there is one thing I have learned during my extensive travels, it is that deep down, we are all the same. As the saying goes, “What’s most personal is most general.” There are tons of similarities between us, regardless of our nationality, religion, race, political persuasion, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, etc. There are also tons of superficial differences between us that really do matter and should not be ignored. The fact is, however, that all these differences between us are only meaningful precisely because they are situated within the context of an underlying unity that we all share. My experience is that understanding and accepting our sameness is the pre-requisite for sustainably and genuinely valuing and celebrating—not just tolerating—our differences.