The Two People, and Three Months, that will Change Your Life

In this week’s CBS Money Watch blog, The Most Important Message to Leaders,  I wrote about three factors of iconic leadership: your core values, great gift, and cross-trained intuition.[br]

The challenge you’ll have is that it’s hard—almost impossible—to find these three elements on your own.  The obvious advice is: have a partner.[br]

We’ve studied two-person relationships for years at CultureSync, and the result was shocking to me.  Two person relationships are prone to ripping apart.  One person loses focus, or gets bored, or flakes, and the other gives in and gets resentful.  Two person relationships are so unstable they make great comedies—48 Hours and When Harry Met Sally come to mind.[br]

Before anyone freaks out, I’m not recommending polygamy or a ménage à trois.  A great relationship of any kind—even a marriage—is stabilized by other people—friends and families.  When the inevitable rupture happens, a third person steps in and repairs it.  Said more formally, a great relationship requires three people (a “triad”).[br]

The process of reshaping yourself into an iconic leader is too important to not entrust it to this most powerful relationship.  Also, this process will require tools that my colleagues and I at CultureSync have developed over the past decade.  All the links here are for free stuff, and you can pass them on to others, also for free.[br]

So, here’s what you do.[br]

First, find two friends that you will work through this process with.  Make sure each is committed to one thing: ensuring the other two people in the triad become iconic leaders.[br]

Second, set up a time when the three of you will come together, ideally for three hours, with the option of running a little longer if you need to.  Prior to this meeting, each person should work through two exercises: Mountains and Valleys (to find your core values), and the Seven Scenes activity (to find your great gift).  You might also read what my colleague, Deirdre Gruendler, said about her great gift.[br]

Third, in the meeting itself, go through Mountains and Valleys.  To start, give each person a number: one, two, or three.  Person one’s job is to present their Mountains and Valleys activity to the other two.  Person two’s job is to ask questions, ideally, open-ended questions.  Person three has the most subtle and important job: to make sure that person one finds her core values.  Person one is the client, to use Freud’s word.  Person two is the questioner, who uses friendly inquiry to dig deeper.  Person three is the leader of this process, since it’s her job to make sure the result is met.  It will help in the process if people know the click down technique, which you can learn and practice in two minutes.  Read about it here or listen to it (with me using the technique with someone) here.[br]

Rotate roles.  And then rotate again.  Ideally, take a break—go for a walk, or eat.  I do not suggest drinking for this activity, as all three people need to be sharp.  (You can drink when you’re done, if you’re so inclined.)[br]

Fourth, repeat the process using the Seven Scenes activity.  The goal is now to find each person’s great gift.[br]

Typically, Mountains and Valleys takes about 20 minutes per person to go through, so the first hour is spent on core values.  Seven Scenes may take longer—45 minutes per person is not uncommon.

Fifth, agree to meet back in one week.  During the time in between meetings, each person needs to make sure the other two come back with three deliverables: a statement of his values, and what each means to him (see ours at CultureSync as an example, and a statement of his great gift, similar to Deirdre’s in her blog, or mine from CBS Money Watch.

The third deliverable is a micro strategy that accomplishes something important over the next 90 days.  Click here to watch the micro strategy video, and here to download the template for it.  Your core values go in the center, and your great gift is an asset.

Sixth, in your second meeting go over all your work—your micro strategy, your core values, and your great gift statement.  Again, designate person one, two and three.  Person one will go over her core values, great gift statement, and micro strategy.  Repeat the roles of client, questioner, and leader, until each person is done.

There’s a secret that will reveal itself when you’re done.  If you email me ([email protected]), and tell me that you’ve gotten this far, I’ll make sure you’ve found the secret.  It’s mind-blowing—in part because when people experience it before they have someone point it out, its effect is even more staggering.[br]

Seventh, agree to meet for 15 minutes every week, to touch base on your micro strategies.  Don’t nag each other, just help identify obstacles, and barriers.  Also, in these meetings, talk about what your key influences, hobbies, and philosophies are, regardless of how off topic they seem.  In doing so, you’ll begin to identify the fields that are the basis for your cross-trained intuition.  I had been receiving mentoring from Warren Bennis since about 1996, and only in the last three months, did my early life influences come out: the fact that I was raised in an abusive religious organization that organized itself into roughly 100 person groups (hence my focus on tribes), studied the works of a rhetorical scholar that few have ever heard of (Kenneth Burke), that I’ve meditated ever day for ten years, and that every year, I reread the Odyssey (my father’s favorite written work) and the Biblical gospel of John (which was my mother’s favorite).  The point is: the fields that have cross-trained your instincts are often so close to you that you don’t see them.[br]

As you do identify these fields, list your deep knowledge of them as assets in your micro strategy model.  Mine include: knowledge of how language shapes people’s reality, ability to handle stress (by meditation), knowledge of heroic structures, connection with Christians, and personal experience of tribes-gone-mad.[br]

Eighth, after the 90 days of your micro strategy are over, meet again.  As usual, designate one, two, and three.  When you are person number one, answer these questions: (1) what have I learned about my core values and great gifts during this process, (2) what have I learned about the fields that have cross-trained my instincts, (3) what have I learned about the sorts of issues that really tick you off (remembering that these are the ones that violate your core values), and (4) what would make the next 90 days the most remarkable of your life?[br]

Rotate.  Rotate again.  Then take another break.[br]

After the break, each person will construct a second micro strategy, covering the next 90 days.  At this point, the agreement to meet has concluded.  The three of you can continue to meet if you want, but here’s what’s far more valuable: each of you find two others, and repeat this process with them.  Leaders create other leaders, as Warren Bennis and others have pointed out.[br]

If you make it this far in the process, send me an email ([email protected]).  My tribe and I have a special gift for you to thank you for taking the first steps in becoming an iconic leader.[br]

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