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Home » How Legendary Leaders Speak: Robin Sharma (Transcript)

How Legendary Leaders Speak: Robin Sharma (Transcript)

Robin Sharma

Hi, this is Robin Sharma, author of the Leader Who Had No Title, founder of The Titan Academy. And welcome to this Mastery Session called How Legendary Leaders Speak.

So this is what I call a gargantuan opportunity for you to out-communicate, out-connect with, out-influence everyone in your marketplace. The reality is, and I’ve been working with senior leaders across the planet for well over 20 years, most leaders, most business people, most entrepreneurs, most human beings, have never learned to be masterful communicators. And the very nature of influence and impact, which is the leader’s job, is communication.

In school, were you given a communication course? Very few people have been taught that. In your personal relationships, have you read books on communication? Well that leads to, in an intimate relationship, or even just with a friend.

It’s the little miscommunications that over time stack into loss In your intimate relationships, it’s the little conversations that you could have had in five minutes if you had the tools to communicate and the awareness to speak.

So literally, you could release the anger and build understanding and speak out your needs and feel the need to be heard, all those little things. If you had learned how to do that and done it in five minutes with your intimate partner, you might not have lost the relationship. And in your professional life, learning to communicate inspires your teammates.

You know, if you look at the great leaders of humanity, the Nelson Mandelas, the Mother Theresas, the Martin Luther King Jrs, the John F Kennedys. If you look at the great business builders Steve Jobs, great example. He would be on the stage at the product launch and then that favorite line, “One more thing.”

And that’s when he would reveal the latest piece of technology that would create industry dominance when Steve Jobs was at Apple. Well he was a masterful communicator. And Bud Tribble over at Apple called it his reality distortion field.

Steve Jobs was a master salesman. He knew exactly what to say to get people to believe in the impossible. To allow their I can’t to be less valuable than their I can.

So point number one or insight number one, to be a world class communicator and a legendary leader in terms of your influence is precision of languaging. Spend a lot of time on airplanes, you probably do as well. I was on an aircraft last weekend.

And here’s what I heard someone say. The flight attendant walked down through the cabin and said to one of the passengers, “Oh, I’m so sorry I didn’t ask to hang up your coat.”

And here’s what the reply from the gentleman was “Oh, don’t be silly. Don’t be silly.”

And the way that landed on me was I know he was trying to be gracious but he literally told someone that they were silly. And I see this everywhere.

Someone very close to me who was a little sloppy with her languaging said, “Oh, I forgot to do this. Punch myself in the face.” And I very lovingly said can I offer an insight. Look at the words you just used. Think about that.

Here’s someone saying, “Oh, I forgot to do this, it’s not on my to-do list. I should punch myself in the face.” If you say that every day, what’s that doing to your self esteem? If you say that over a lifetime, what’s that doing to your self identity? And as you know if you followed me on previous episodes, your income is a function of your self-identity.

And your performance is a reflection of your personal story. And the way you build your self architecture, and the way you see yourself in the world, is in part through your words. You’re never going to rise any higher in terms of your impact in the world than the way you see yourself.

If you see yourself as average, well you’re not going to read the books, go to the events, do the study, put in the training time, find the mentors, do the work, to rise to world class, because you’re running an interior psychological story that says you’re average and the A-Players are somehow different from you.

If deep down inside you’re coming from scarcity and you think you know what, I’ll never have more than the salary that I’m making because of the story that you have through the words you’ve used, well then you’re not going to go out there and ask for the big order.

You’re not going to go start the big business. You’re not going to read the books on financial mastery because deep inside you would say, “What would be the point, I’m not one of those people.” And if you want to re-wire your self identity, so you go out in the world and you’re literally operating at legendary, then you absolutely must dial into this first point of what legendary leaders do in terms of the way they speak, which is get your precision of languaging right. I’m no master. I’m not perfect. I’m flawed. I’m a human being.

But one thing I get right is I’m very calibrated about the words I use. Because like I say, the great leaders, how do they transform humanity? It was through their words. How did the great military generals get their armies to go out there on fire? It was through their words.

Words can free nations. And as we know from history, words from evil leaders have destroyed humanity, caused brutality. Words are that powerful. They not only affect your interior psychology. and your identity, they have a profound impact on the world around you. So I don’t call autumn fall. I don’t want to say we’re going to have a great fall.

Because I don’t want to affect, influence my subconscious to say to my team, hey we’re going to have a great fall. Because they’re going to go, okay got it. But subconsciously that’s suggesting a fall, a failure. So I say we’re going to have an awesome autumn.

I can’t wait to execute on our deliverables and our big five for the next three months. When I communicate with my children I’m so careful because one phrase spoken to a child could set up a wound and a limiting belief that destroys their potential over the course of a lifetime.

Little kid is singing and you say, “Shut up! Your voice is terrible.” That could set up a core belief and an emotional wound so that they never sing again. You say this to your child in a moment of frustration and irritation because you haven’t worked on your gracefulness within.

You know, “You’re not very smart.” Or, “You can’t do that.” If you’re a teacher, and you say, “You know what, you can never be an astronaut. You can never be an empire maker. You’re not smart enough to do this.”

And some teacher said that to me along my journey, you’ll never finish university. And just to share the reality, I not only finished university with a science degree, but I did a law degree and then a masters of law degree, and I only share that, which is, I haven’t had it easy. I’ve been put down. I’ve had teachers who didn’t see my potential. That’s just reality.

You want to block out the noise and listen to the signal. Which is you’re built to be a possibilitarian, you’re built to be great. You have genius within you. So calibrate your languaging so your words to yourself are world class. And also the words you use to your team, to your customers, to your loved ones, so incredibly important.

If you look at the 95% card carrying members of the cult of mediocrity, they’re so sloppy with their languaging. Don’t be silly. Punch yourself in the face. I hate that customer. This job is going to make me sick.

And they repeat it over and over, and then they’ll wonder why they have an illness 10 or 15 years down the road.

Second element, in terms of how legendary leaders speak, is they’re masterful listeners. Another gargantuan competitive advantage. How the great leaders do it, is they’re just so comfortable in their own skin, they’ve worked on their ego so much, they’ve turned down the volume. Most people’s idea of listening is waiting until the other person has finished talking so they can start their own monologue.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ll have a walk with someone, I love walking meetings, one hour walks, I learned it from Steve Jobs. And through the entire walk, they’re just sharing their story, and they’re sharing where they’re at, and they’re sharing their frustrations, and they’re sharing their insecurities. And they haven’t asked me a single question. And I’m happy to help. I’m happy to listen.

Someone asked me the other night, “Oh, when that happens what do you do?” And I say you know what, most people have a deep need to be heard. And someone who talks and talks and talks and talks is generally a child who had parents who didn’t give them a lot of time. And they didn’t give them a lot of attention, and they certainly didn’t give them very much listening.

And so adults are nothing more than deteriorated children and adults are often children in grown up bodies. And I see that and I simply am very happy to be a listening ear for them.

I’m very happy to give them the listening they are longing for. And I just feel in that hour, I can be an instrument of service to them, and helpful to them by listening.

Point I’m trying to help you calibrate and hardwire in is a daily protocol. Be one of the rare few, one of the top five percent leaders on the planet, who really have dialed in to listening not from your head but from your heart. Listening at a cellular level.

And here’s the thing, when you do that for your team, they grow bigger right in front of you. And the real job of a leader is to grow people. Real job of a leader is to build more leaders. Real job of a leader is to leave a blazing trail of epic producers behind you. That’s when you know that you’re leading versus following.

So get seriously genius at listening. And that’s going to take a lot of inner work. And if you’re interested in how to do that, I’ve got Personal Mastery Academy online, and Personal Mastery Academy as a live event. We will teach you at that event how to release the insecurity and fill the holes inside of you that are causing you to talk too much and have this need of approval where you have to tell people everything that’s going on in your life and where you’re winning. That’s coming from a hole inside of you.

And when you fill the hole, you experience the being, and the joyfulness, and the confidence, and the security that is your true nature that you have actually lost because you’ve been hurt by life. And so you want to find the tools needed to fill those holes so that when you’re in front of another human being, there’s no need to fill the hole by talking and being liked and people thinking you’re cool. The hole is full. The wound has been healed.

And so you can actually be in front of another person and listen to them. Lot of people don’t teach this in leadership training and elite performance training. But I believe a lot of the reasons for toxic behavior in business are emotional.

And so at my live events, and my online courses, and books like the Leader Who Had No Title, I actually spend chapters where I teach that. Because if you’ve got these holes and you’re not aware of them, then you’re not going to be a legendary leader, you’re not going to be an epic performer, you’re going to be like a little child, out in the world, full of these wounds, insecurities, needing approval, chasing these social statements, like bigger cars, more cash, pounding your chest because your ego is so loud, because you’re terrified. That’s the truth.

You’re terrified. That’s why a lot of leaders, they’re pounding their chest, they’re so loud, it’s the bigger jet. Need a new Gulfstream, need more money. But the true heroes were different. You know what, Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi died with less than 10 possessions.

Why? He didn’t need possessions. He found true power versus fake power. I was in Mother Theresa’s apartment, her room at her mission. That’s the correct word. Guess what I saw? One desk, one chair, and a little bed, like you’d see in the most spartan of dorm rooms.

Last summer I was in Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. Totally spartan. What did I see? A wash basin, a small desk, no chair. He used to actually have to be on his knees They wouldn’t give him a chair. No bed, a concrete floor with a blanket over it. And he had to fight for the blanket.

And because of his color, the color of his skin, until he fought for it and the jailers agreed after a period of time, he wasn’t even allowed trousers. And it was bitter cold on Robben Island. I was there in their winter. I felt the cold.

And he only had short pants a very thin shirt. The great heroes didn’t need a lot of things because their lives were devoted to a larger cause.

Number three in terms of the way legendary leaders speak, or influence, or communicate, the have a great sense of social acuity. So the person who talks too much, the person who gets too close to your social space, the person who is too demanding in a restaurant, the person who at the office is listening to their music right off their phone without having the courtesy to plug in earphones.

I was a nature walk a little while ago, and I kid you not, this is one of my favorite forests to walk in, and I love nature walks. I was in one my favorite forests on the planet to refuel after a week of intense creativity and there was a man who had a hard copy radio with him and he was listening to the news. Unbelievable. He’s in nature so in his own bubble, so caught up in his own ego, in many ways so self-focused he literally didn’t think other people would be walking and perhaps some people want to get to nature because it’s solitude, and it’s quiet, and it’s beautiful, and it’s soulful.

I don’t know about you, but I go in nature, I crave it, I long for it. I come alive in nature. After I work, there’s a concept I teach called The 5 Great Hours Concept. You don’t really need to work more than five intense world class hours. I teach the concept at the Titan Summit and a lot of my online training and in my new book.

But the larger point is after great hours of monomaniacal focus in your tight bubble of total focus, what do I do? I get on my mountain bike when it’s autumn or summertime, and I go fly through the woods.

And I kid you not, as soon as I enter the forest on my mountain bike, something in me shifts very deeply. Because fundamentally we’re all animals. We need nature.

So the point is that gentleman listening to the news with his, I mean he could have listened to it with an earpiece, headphones. The point is he didn’t have a sense of social acuity.

There’s a lot of people who don’t have any social understanding of their environment. And you’ll see it in their body language. You’ll see it in their behavior. They just don’t get it. Not judging them, just reporting. Not complaining, just saying.

So the legendary leaders in terms of the way they communicate, they’re very aware of, “Oh that person looks bored, ” I’m not sharing something interesting. “Oh, this is enough time in this meeting. Oh, my salespeople don’t feel very inspired right now, I’m picking up on a vibe. Let me shift gears.”

The best communicators in their speeches are so viscerally, emotionally, soulfully connected to their audiences, they know when the audience is up, they know when it’s down. They know when it’s time for a story, they know when it’s time for some tactics.

Number four, legendary leaders are terrifyingly transparent. Terrifyingly. They literally are so clear about who they are they’ll say, “Here are the sales numbers. Here’s what’s going on for me.”

The great CEOs I’ve worked with that I’ve coached one on one, I’ve helped them become so transparent with their teams that their teams fall in love with them. If you look at the great military generals, I think it was Alexander the Great, he was facing, people were saying, “We’re not going to do this. We’re not going to go on this next military campaign. We have lost our trust in you. We are exhausted, we are starving. We want to go home and we want to be with our families.”

You know what Alexander the Great did? He said, “Fine.” All his men were looking at him. He stripped his shirt, and you know what he did? He showed his scarred body. And the men looked at the scars and they were horrified.

And then he turned around and they were even more terrified. Because they saw that every scar on their great leader’s scar ridden, wound filled body, was at the front. He never turned his back to the enemy. And he was there fighting with him.

And the men felt this incredible love for him. Because when you are vulnerable, people will fall in love with you. When you are transparent, people will say “She’s not a salesman in a world of salespeople.” One of your winning advantages is your authenticity in a world of so much superficiality. Be real.

Say to your team. Say to your intimate partner. Share it with your kids. This is who I am. This is the life I’ve lived.

With my children, we recently had a conversation over this big wooden harvest table and a great cup of Italian coffee. You know my love of Italy. You know my love of coffee. By the way, another episode, but it’s a great cognitive enhancer and it’s one of nature’s top antioxidants. Please don’t knock coffee.

Key point is with my children I shared my life’s journey, I shared my failures, I shared my insecurities, I shared my limitations. You want to be a fly on the wall for that conversation between me and my two children.

Now you want to be appropriate. My children are older so that was a very appropriate conversation at this age that they’re at. The key point is transparency wins as a legendary leader.

Point number five, legendary leaders communicate with compelling courage. The conversation you are most resisting, and I write a lot about this, there’s a whole chapter on it in The Leader Who Had No Title, and my book that I wrote over 20 years ago, Leadership Wisdom From the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, so if you’re interested in going deeper, you can read those books.

And I also wrote about it in a book I wrote a long time ago called The Greatness Guide. The point is the conversation you are most resisting is the conversation you need to have now. You are giving away your power to that conversation you need to have that you’re not doing because you’re too scared.

How do you get your power back? You go have the conversation. And guess what? Here’s what I’ve found. Nine times out of 10, the conversation you’re so scared to have with that teammate, that supplier, that top client, that loved one, when you have the conversation, boom, it’s like a balloon being released, the pressure being released. You just feel fundamentally different after you’ve spoken your anger in a respectful way. Again, we’re not taught to do this.

You can speak whatever you want so long as you learn how to say it with respect. Don’t rage at the person. Don’t dump at the person. That intimate partner is not your therapist. That teammate, you’ve gotta speak to them with respect.

They deserve it. But you can speak what you want as long as you learn to language it with respect. But we’re not taught this. We’re not skilled at this. So we minimize people inadvertently.

Most of us are so sloppy, we’re so unaware of our languaging. Here’s what you could say to your teammate. You know what in that meeting, I want to applaud you for these things. And when you said this, this is how I felt. You’re not blaming the person.

It’s I language versus you language. In your intimate relationship, don’t say you did that, and when you said that to me, and you didn’t take out the garbage, and you didn’t think about my needs. Say when I experience this, this is how I felt. And I just wanted to share it with you because I love you and because I believe in our relationship.

When you do that, you protect yourself, you fortify yourself, you feel phenomenal, you release the pressure, you don’t carry it so it doesn’t freeze into anger or disappointment that blows up inevitably down the road professionally and personally.

Instead you release it. You’re clear. You’re not carrying that anger or frustration or sadness in that relationship. And here’s the great thing, the beautiful thing, the gorgeous insight. The other person trusts you more.

The other person, nine times out of 10 actually says, “Thank you for being so honest.” They start to realize how honest you are. It builds trust. In business trust is the alchemy of mastery. Incredible, right? You’re honest, you feel better.

They realize how honest you are. They trust you more. And here’s the great thing, they even respect you more. Because most people don’t do this. So have the courage, let me put it to you this way, I was in my hometown, Halifax, Nova Scotia, east coast of Canada.

I’m a small town human being. Come from very humble beginnings. No silver spoon in my mouth. And I remember being in Halifax, Nova Scotia, near Dalhousie University where I went to law school, and a car drives by, and there was a bumper sticker on the bumper, and it said, “Speak your truth even when your voice shakes.” Hope I’ve been of service to you, hope this has been helpful to you, hope this episode has been a needle mover for you on your rise to becoming a legendary leader and an A player in every single thing you do.

And I think there’s been a lot of information I’ve shared with you over a lot of experience with working with senior leaders and from my own life, in terms of communication in your personal relationships. If you’ve loved this episode, if I’ve served you well, if I’ve done my job, then please share this episode over the next 60 minutes. All I ask, share the episode over the next 60 minutes with your team, with your friends, with your loved ones, so we start the conversation about legendary communication.

As well a lot of people wonder, “Robin, I hear this all the time, I see it on the social media. Give us some information please on your live events. We wanna go 100 times deeper in this kind of information.”

I’d absolutely love to have you at one of my live events. Information is all pretty simple. You’ll find it at And then finally if this episode was valuable to you, and you’re really ready to multiply your productivity, become an empire making in your business, live a life that is legendary, and live in such a way that when you die you make history.

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