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How to break your robot mindset

Last week I was on BulletProof radio talking to Dave Asprey about what I consider to be the hardest part of our Business Coaching: how do you break out of your robot mindset?

As you read the following, ask yourself if you want to be a better leader or you wish people in your company were better leaders. If the answer is yes, then I’d love to talk to you.

What is a leader?

Let me give you my simplest explanation of a business leader.

It doesn’t mean CEO or manager, although you hope those positions know how to lead.

It means everyone.

The thing is that every business has problems.

A problem can mean something was working and stopped. Or it could mean it never worked but life would be better if it did.

Now, to get more personal, think of the problems that you see every day at your own job? Does something take longer than it should? Are customers complaining? Are you leaving money on the table? (I answered yes to all three.)

Now ask yourself, who is going to figure out how to solve those problems at your work?

If the answer is “MY BOSS” then you’re just like 99% of the work world. You’ve been trapped in a robot mindset where your job is just to do what you’re programmed to do.

I bet most of you at least suspected where I was going and thought, “hmmmm, maybe I can fix it.”

That’s the definition of a leader:

When faced with a problem, a leader is the person who takes the initiative to solve it.

Why we act like robots

When we were growing up we were called a good child if we did our chores, did our homework and generally did what we were told.

That’s the origin of why we act like robots.

That mode of thinking lasts through college and your first several jobs.

When I first started working my boss knew exactly what I should do.

Then one day I was on a failing project and nobody seemed to be doing anything about it.

Day after day I would come in to do what I was told. But nothing I was told to do was going to save this project.

So one day, I wondered, “Why not me? Maybe I can save the project?” (I did — but that’s a different story.)

And here is the part where I’m completely and totally confused. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me what leadership was? Why weren’t leadership skills something I was taught as part of my job?

It’s crazy, right? At every company your first management job turns out to be a real shock.

To me it felt like Neo in the Matrix waking up to the real world.

How to break your robot mindset

The above is to setup the hardest part of breaking the robot mindset: realize how much of your life is based around doing what you’re told.

The other parts of breaking the mindset require new skills. This is what our leadership coaches coach:

  • You need a way to organize your time. Robots react to what’s asked of them. Leaders prioritize their time based on what’s important.
  • Thus, you need a way to determine what’s important. Robots have no idea why they do what they do. Leaders develop prioritization systems.
  • Robots say yes. Leaders don’t always do what they’re told. A jerk is a leader with no communication skills. Don’t be a jerk.
  • Robots have leaders telling them what to do. Leaders lead. How you facilitate the people around you defines your ability as a leader.

Below is the full interview with Dave. We cover a lot of great stuff. And, of course, if you want to boost your leadership or get your team to take more initiative, let’s talk.