Complete Coherence’s CEO Dr. Alan Watkins’ TEDx Talk: Being Brilliant Every Single Day (Part 1) at TEDxPortsmouth Conference (Full Transcript)
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Dr. Alan Watkins – CEO of Complete Coherence
Thank you very much, Lee. So I’m going to talk to you about you, and how you can be brilliant every single day. So, big ask. I spent the last 15 years working with some of the best CEOs and executives around the world and one of my observations is some of them were absolutely fantastic. But the problem is they can’t be fantastic every single day. Which reminds me of the story. I was sat on the couch at home watching the TV about five years ago. Not that I’m a golfer, but I was watching the British Open, and a very good golfer called Sergio Garcia was playing and he had been brilliant all week, dominating the field, and it came to the last round and he was sort of fantastic. And on a Sunday morning in the front nine he scored 39 shots. And the previous day, on a Saturday, he’d scored 29 shots, on exactly the same holes. So, overnight he’d lost 10 shots on the same hole.
So what happened was Padraig Harrington came past him and won the British Open. And very interestingly, exactly a year later Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia. I think it was in the US Masters. Sergio played brilliantly all week, he got to the Sunday, and something went wrong. He was leading the field by six shots and on the Sunday, again, Padraig Harrington came past him. So that was sort of really interesting to me and Peter Alliss, the famous golf commentator is watching this and says, “It’s a funny old game, golf.” As though it’s a complete mystery why these things happen, as there was a complete loss of form. So I’m there shouting at the television, it’s no mystery to me. Actually I know why that happened, and I know why Sergio Garcia basically between 2007 and 2008 really didn’t learn that much. Because he made exactly the same mistake in 2008 that he made in 2007.
So I’m going to share with you the secret about that. Some of the things that we’ve been teaching executives, bringing in some neuroscience which is my background and going to reveal some secrets as to how your system works. So we’re going to go through that and then I’m going to break with TED tradition at the end of the talk and we’re going to have a bit of live demonstration of something.
But I want to just give you the sort of model that we work to that starts to explain why Sergio or anybody may lose performance or why you may lose performance and what you need to do to maintain your brilliance every single day. So if we’re all after the same goal, we’re after improving our performance in some way, or the results in some way. And it doesn’t really matter what kind of results we’re talking about, whether we’re talking about sporting results, whether we’re talking about business results, academic performance, relationship performance, sexual performance — I don’t know why I’m looking at Simon when I say that.
But whatever we’re talking about, what is going to improve our performance — Well first and foremost, in order to change the result you’ve got so focus on people’s behavior. So we’ve got to do things differently in order to get a different result. So most performance appraisals in industry focus on what you’ve been doing. So you go in and you see your boss. And he said, Oh, I’ve got some 360 data. You’ve been doing these kind of things, that’s really good. These are the things, not so good, so a bit less of that please and more of that. So I want you to do that, and less of that. And sometimes that actually works, and then you get a different result.
But an awful lot of times it doesn’t make much difference or it will only make a difference if the leaders stood over that employee cracking a whip and making sure they do this. So it’s necessary but insufficient, and the reason being is that even when people know what to do, sometimes they just don’t do it. “I know I want to make another 1000 calls to 1000 customers, but, you know what, it’s Friday afternoon, I’m not going to do that.” So it’s not enough just to focus on what you can see on the surface, on the behaviors. You’ve got to really get to grips with what’s on the inside of individuals. Why do people do what they do? If you really want to change performance permanently, and be brilliant every single day, you’ve got to get to grips with the inside.
So first and foremost what’s actually driving behavior, it’s how people think. So how you think determines on what you do. So when I’m coaching a CEO, if he thinks I’m an idiot, he’s not going to do what I say, why would he? Or if he thinks what I’m saying is rubbish, he won’t do it. So I’ve got to get a grip of what he thinks about. In fact, that requires me to ask him some questions, which is a lot more complicated than just observing the behavior.
But our view is if you don’t get to grips and start to ask some more detailed questions, you won’t get a sustainable change in the results. It won’t last, you’ll get this variance in performance — this form loss. So you’ve got to get to grips with how people think about you, about what you’re saying, about the world. But even if you did, it’s not enough, because it’s something more fundamental driving how people think.
So how you think is really hugely influenced by how you feel. In fact these two things affect each other. Thinking affects feeling and feeling affects thinking. It goes back and forward in a loop. But the dominant factor really is feeling. So for a whole bunch of neuroscientific reasons we haven’t got time to explain. Actually if you want to change what people do, you’ve got to change their thinking. If you want to change their thinking, you actually have to change how they feel. This is a much more significant impact on that than the other way around.
So if you feel anxious, for example, it’s no good me saying to you, “Don’t worry.” You’ll have experienced that doesn’t work. Or I’m doing this exam. “Don’t worry.” “Oh, you know what, I hadn’t thought not to worry. That’s the answer then. Ah I’m not worried. Oh good, how much was that? There’s the check.” It doesn’t work like that. You’ve all experienced that if you feel anxious, you feel anxious and no amount of “don’t worry” is going to help you. In fact, it often makes you worse. “All right, you say ‘don’t worry,’ I’m worried.” So the real active ingredient is you’ve got to change this. Still not enough.
There’s something more fundamental driving how you feel and that is your raw emotion. So you’ve got to change the emotion in order to change the feeling in order to change the thinking. Now you maybe sat there wondering, “Well hang on a minute. Feelings and emotions, that’s the same stuff, isn’t it?” It is not.