How to survive as a leader in 2020

What worked before, won’t now

Moving from the management consulting space into real estate over the last five years has been a real eye opener into the way we do business in Australia.

In my life before real estate, as a business consultant, I was invited into boardrooms to solve big hairy problems.  Kinda like the problems you are dealing with.  Business problems.  People problems.  Leadership problems.

And, the interesting thing is that while it was great fun; we always came up with a solution, together.  Simply because we talked face:face and took the time to understand each other.  Importantly, the client always left with a solution that felt right. For them.

Fast forward to the real estate world and life is very different.  Imagine my surprise when a disagreement about the cost to cut a set of keys for a rental property ($20) could blow out to a week long argument and hurt feelings all round.

For a long time, I assumed it was my incompetence, the market, property management, the fee structure, the anything.  And, then it finally dawned on me.

Sales Agents.  Real Estate Agents.  People selling anything have taught their buyers and customers a lot of dirty tricks.  And, what I mean here, is the high pressure sell.  The do it now sell.  The don’t worry about that sell.  Tricks that were learnt and worked in the 80’s.

Which makes our customers, in the land of real estate sales, on edge.  On guard, for the trick, the bite, the pain.

Humans are smarter

Culturally, our customers, and indeed ourselves, have got smarter.  Our customers know exactly when we are bullshitting them and are after the quick sale.  Because, collectively, we have taught them.

Just pause and think about your last visit to a big box furniture store or a car yard.  How did it feel when the sales person, no matter how friendly they were, asked if you needed some help?

Like your skin was about to be set on fire.  Right? Yes.

It is all about them

Like your car yard experience, our customers, feel before they even see, when someone is acting in their own interest.

My absolute best days in real estate have been when I have managed to get my consulting hat back on and understand what the customer really wants and needs.

And, this is the reason why I just love an ‘off market’ sale where I can match a buyer to a seller.

It is inside these conversations, that I can take the time to understand what the next chapter is for them.  What are they trying to achieve.  An upgrade, a downgrade, a change of lifestyle, an ending or a new model?

Build trust

Building this level of trust and openness takes some time and patience.  Even just trying to get past the automatic ‘guard up’ is tough.  And, this is becoming tougher in the internet driven world.  Because, now we are teaching our customers about clicks, speed and new tricks.

What we need now, more than ever, is a relationship based conversation.  A conversation that is genuine and all about understanding the needs and motivators of the humans behind the transaction.

Lead from the heart

For any of us to survive and thrive in the new decade, we must approach our customers from our hearts and seek out the human that exists in all of us.

Absolutely, the internet gives us the gift of connection.  It allows us to find like minded humans.  It allows us to research, shuffle and sort, but the real work of 2020 is in finding opportunities for empathetic connection.

The sales will sort themselves out.  The lists.  The clicks.  The numbers.  They will happen.  Because what we really need are leaders in the next decade that commit to leading from the heart.

Heart felt, empathetic leadership, is the only thing that will cut through the noise and the pace.

Leadership that says ‘I hear you’ and ‘I understand what you need and want’; not transactional leadership that says ‘I know what is good for you, buy this’.

As we prepare for 2020, let us pause and reflect on the realities of leadership in the trenches and the importance of heart felt leadership that drives real connection and change.

 

An eat shit moment

It was late 1981, and I was a skinny nine year old kid, with freckles, red hair and poor coordination, when I lived the first of many of my eat shit moments.

The sun was already baking the asphalt in that tiny country town school yard when I stepped out to face my Armageddon.

Today was bike skills day at school, where the Education Department of day had decided it was in our interest to learn how to navigate traffic in our one horse, population 1,000, town.

It was hot.  Australian hot.  And, a trickle of sweat rolled down my back.

But it was nothing like the heat that I was about to feel.

Because these were the days before political correctness and every player gets a prize for trying.  These were the days when you were expected to just know.  And, just do.

‘Righto, grab a bike and line up!’ shouted the teacher.  Already hassled with the effort of juggling a big mixed level class with a hangover, Mr Smith had no patience or time for softness.

‘Now listen to what these instructors say and follow the bike course around the basketball court, and shut up you fella’s in the back’ Smith bellowed.

The terror gripped me.  Like a physical wave it washed over and momentarily blacked out the sun.

As the youngest in my school group, and a farmers kid, I was about to be exposed as ‘The Kid that Couldn’t Ride a Bike’.

Somehow the choice of pretending to be able to ride a bike was better than putting up my hand and exposing the real truth.  I couldn’t ride a bike.

So there I am.  The skinny, unco, kid with Mum’s home job, hair cut.  I dragged out a bike and lined up.

Of course, I had no idea that simply jumping on a bike and pedalling wasn’t going to cut it.

As I wobbled my way from the start line, the sun and the sweat intensified.  And, so did the quiet.  Gradually, the big noisy, messy gaggle of kids and teachers got real quiet.

You know that quiet before the giggling starts.

Somehow, with red hot shame, I made it around the course and I don’t remember much else except for that sense of complete isolation.

Fast forward about 40 years and I now define it as an eat shit moment, not for the terror and how I felt at the time, but for that moment when a choice is made.

A choice to go away, get real quiet and eat shit.

Metaphorically, in my world, to eat shit is to simply to take the feedback from the universe and use it to empower myself, my learning and my growth.

Of course, that Christmas there was a bike under the tree and I learnt how to ride, but what I really learnt was the power of being different.

Standing out in a country school, because I was the only kid that couldn’t ride a bike meant that, in a heart beat, I became the kid who was different.

And, I am sure that each and everyone of us has had a moment like that.

The power of that moment, though, is what you do with it.  You can let being different define you.

In my world, you can eat some shit and let the moment create you.

KJS xo

If you are keen for change, but don’t know where to start, I am always up for a chat.

Living your best life starts the day you make a choice to take the scary, creative, and audacious road.

I have spent a lifetime making choices that take me down the scary road.  It has been bumpy, scary and the best thing I have ever down.

I have also spent a lifetime solving problems.  Business problems. People problems.  And, of course property problems.

So if you are up for a no obligation, free chat, flick me a line and we can find a space in our worlds where the stars align and we can chat.

Yes! I would love a chat!

 

SMALL THINGS. BIG RESULTS.

If you have been struggling, for a long time, or are just feeling depleted and focused on how ‘unfair‘ life is; then this is the book for you.

Seven simple ways to change your life is a small collection of the things that you can do to create big results.

If you want to be challenged or want to find a better way, this simple read will provide you with ideas to bounce off and it also has simple wisdom from a range of masters!

Download the book here: Seven simple ways to change your life?

 

Self Discipline equals Self Love

Here’s an interesting thought. What if the practice of getting yourself out of bed to go to gym was actually an act of self love rather than punishment.

As parents, mothers, partners and husbands we are often caught in the martyr trap. The trap where we are too busy. For exercise. For study. For rest. For contemplation.

And, culturally we have been conditioned to accept this as part of our lot.

A way to challenge this approach is to simply equate self love with self discipline. Meaning, that we simply put our own oxygen masks on first and take a step towards our own needs.

Or, in the words of Brene Brown, Academic, Researcher and Leader “in a society that says ‘put yourself last’ self love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary”

 

 

SMALL THINGS. BIG RESULTS.

If you have been struggling, for a long time, or are just feeling depleted and focused on how ‘unfair‘ life is; then this is the book for you.

Seven simple ways to change your life is a small collection of the things that you can do to create big results.

If you want to be challenged or want to find a better way, this simple read will provide you with ideas to bounce off and it also has simple wisdom from a range of masters!

Download the book here: Seven simple ways to change your life?

Move. Breath. Exercise.

In any leadership role. Family leadership. Community leadership. Business Leadership. Stress can take it’s toll.

And, there is plenty of evidence around to remind us that stress makes us dumb. It has everything to do with our caveman origins and the fight/flight response that triggers off when we perceive that we are under threat.

But, more about the brain chemicals another day. Simply put, stress makes us dumb because it sends a message to our brain that we are in survival mode.

So rather than creatively solving problems our brain is not-so quietly freaking out. The good news! The best antidote to stress is to move.

Move in any way that suits you. But, put down that computer screen for a bit and get outside and busy.

Stress can eat away at you. You need mechanisms to over come it. Run. Rest. Breathe.’

Mark Bouris 2019

 

SMALL THINGS. BIG RESULTS.

If you have been struggling, for a long time, or are just feeling depleted and focused on how ‘unfair‘ life is; then this is the book for you.

Seven simple ways to change your life is a small collection of the things that you can do to create big results.

If you want to be challenged or want to find a better way, this simple read will provide you with ideas to bounce off and it also has simple wisdom from a range of masters!

Download the book here: Seven simple ways to change your life?

 

 

No F@#%! given

Mark Manson was onto something when he wrote his book ‘The subtle art of not giving a fuck‘ in terms of conserving our life energy.

And, while you could accuse him of being somewhat crude, the basic philosophy gets our attention straight up. Manson’s premise is simple. Life is short. Life is precious. Make sure you focus your energy on the things that matter.

So, for me, the importance of this approach is really simple.

It reminds me to honour both ourselves and our mates, especially those that are no longer with us, and live a good life well, doing the things that matter.

Manson in his glorious brutality sums it up in his quote below by encouraging us to choose wisely and consciously where we invest our energy.

You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

Mark Manson 2016

 

 

SMALL THINGS. BIG RESULTS.

If you have been struggling, for a long time, or are just feeling depleted and focused on how ‘unfair‘ life is; then this is the book for you.

Seven simple ways to change your life? is a small collection of the things that you can do to create big results.

If you want to be challenged or want to find a better way, this simple read will provide you with ideas to bounce off and it also has simple wisdom from a range of masters!

Download the book here: Seven simple ways to change your life?

 

 

 

Leadership in the trenches

Give me a gritty, wounded, leader any day.

 

I am not interested in the polished, perfect, take no risks model of leadership.

 

Give me the messed up, made mistakes, didn’t quite get it right leader any day.

 

Nor am I interested in the stand on the fence and point fingers style of leadership.

 

Give me the leader prepared to lose it all.

 

For they have taken their shit seriously, they have been prepared to put themselves out there, to be vulnerable and to be proven wrong.

 

Because I know that this leader, in the trenches, covered in mud is clear about one thing.

 

This leader is clear about what drives them.

 

Their North Star, their ‘why’ might include a better school.  A better business.  A better organisation.  A better community.  A better country.

 

A leader in the trenches is clear about their ‘why’ and they know that ‘better’ comes with effort.

 

Want to chat about business, life and leadership.  No pressure. Just a life health check?

Flick me a line and let’s compare stories and see what we learn.

10 things that I wish I had known before starting a business

Are you caught in start up hell?  Or some sort of small business purgatory?

Do you even remember why you thought that going into business for yourself was a good idea?

Perhaps you thought that business was going to give you freedom?  And, a lifestyle that dreams are made of?

Here is a list of the ten (10) things that I wish that I had known before starting my real estate business five years ago.  I am sure that you may have some others to add to the list; but I hope that it gives you some comfort that you are not alone.

1. You will need to be resourceful

The skills that supported me during the startup phase, proved to be useless in the next phase.  My ‘excellent’ technical skills became redundant once staff and customers arrived.

You will need to find a better way.  A better option.  A better answer.

2.  You will need to be abundant

Being in start up phase was terrifying for me.  I knew what needed to be done, but my ‘to do’ list didn’t match my bank balance.

It is in these moments, when money is tight, and it will be, that you need to keep your eye on the big prize and have faith in what is coming.  Hard work and an abundant mindset will fix most things.  Better days are coming.  I promise.

3.  You will need to be mindful

Start up is, and was, lonely.  In this phase, I found myself catastrophizing the worst of the worst.

Practice mindfulness and deep breathing.  Otherwise your monkey mind will chatter to you about all of the problems.  Tell it to be quiet and keep focused on the big picture.

4.  You will need to be creative

I let my creativity run screaming out of the building at times.  Usually when the bank was demanding something from me.

But, simply, the same thinking that got you into the mess, will not get you out of it.

5.  You will need courage

Over and over again.  I found that starting the business was the easy bit.

That rush of blood to the head and excitement during start up won’t last long.  Keeping going will be the tough bit and when you need your courage the most.

6.  You will need to be tough

Some how, in the early days, I didn’t understand that the ultimate responsibility stopped with me.

No need to be an arse about it, but no-one else is going to make the hard decisions that will need to be made.

7.  You will need self belief

Starting out, I made use of the social media arena to get our message out.  Guess what?  It wasn’t, and isn’t, always kind.

Leave the critics to their job and get on with yours.

Truly, there are enough people ‘out there’ that will find fault with your work; back yourself in with an unwavering self belief.

8. You need a North Star

During my darkest moments, and on the days that I want to quit, I will bring myself back to my ‘North Star’ or ‘why’ I started this journey in the first place.

Getting clear about your big arsed ‘why’ will help you.  Especially on the hard days.

9.  It’s actually nothing to do with ‘them’

When times were tough, I found it really easy to fall into the blame trap and find fault with ‘them’.

Really, it comes down to you.  Each and every time.  What are you going to do about it?  How are you going to fix it, influence it, change it.

10.  And, it is the singular best personal development journey

I love learning.  Full stop.

But nothing prepared me for just how much learning there is small business.

And, I am not talking about technical stuff, but all the big stuff.  Stuff about you.  Stuff about humans.  Stuff about growth, decision making and leadership.

Truly business is the singular best personal development journey of a lifetime.

Nothing can ever beat what I learnt about myself, other humans and business in the five years since launch.

Want to chat about business, life and leadership.  No pressure. Just a life health check?

Flick me a line and let’s compare stories and see what we learn.

The real truth about leading people

Are you leading or managing people and feel like a juggler in the circus?

Or perhaps you feel like, when it comes to your team, that you are the proverbial duck gliding on the water but madly paddling underneath?

Want to know the real truth about leading people?

It’s actually nothing to do with them

It’s all about you.

But, here is the thing. We tend to get what we expect.

Meaning, if we expect that this person is going to be difficult to manage, likely they will be difficult to manage.

Your insecurities are going to be challenged

Or looking at it another way.

Your fears, challenges and choices are going to be exposed when you are a leader.

Meaning, instead of avoiding that tough conversation with your team, leaning into it will be scary (for you) but so important to the growth of you all.

You need to stay out of your head

As a leader of people, we can choose to make a whole bunch of assumptions about what is going on for our team; or we can have a conversation.

Meaning, if we spend too much time in our head in an unregulated way, we will tend to create a series of stories to justify our beliefs.  Stop it.  Have the conversation and find out what is really going on.

It’s going to be scary

Humans are herd animals.

It is wired in our DNA that we want to stick together, because there is safety in our numbers.

And, really, while we all want a bus driver to take us home.  As a leader, our job is to jump on the bus and take our tribe somewhere.

It’s going to be lonely

Yep, at times, it will be incredibly lonely.

Your health matters

The best version of you, helps them be the best version of them.

Investing in your health helps everyone.

And, finally, the real truth, it is all about you

It’s actually nothing to do with them.

Your leadership journey will be more about how you cope and how you are able to manage your fears and insecurities.

Your leadership journey will be more about your health, your resilience and your ability to choose the tough road.

Your leadership journey will be one of the most rewarding games you have ever played.  The real trick is to find the support crew.

 

Keen for change?

If you are keen for change, but don’t know where to start, how about seven simple ways to change your life?

Living your best life starts the day you make a choice to take the scary, creative, and audacious road.

I have spent a lifetime making choices that take me down the scary road.  It has been bumpy, scary and the best thing I have ever down.

I have also spent a lifetime solving problems.  Business problems. People problems.  And, of course property problems.

And, along the way I have found a number of #lifehacks that have helped me to make change.

I have outlined these simple #lifehacks in my free book 7 Simple Ways to Change Your Life.

7 Simple Ways to Change Your Life is a small collection of the things that you can do to create big results.

If you want to be challenged or want to find a better way, this simple read will provide you with ideas to bounce off and it also has simple wisdom from a range of masters!

Jump onboard here for a free download 7 Simple Ways to Change Your LifeAnd, let me know how you go….

 

 

How to create a life you love?

Do you feel unsatisfied? Unsure?  Not clear on where you are going or why?

Simply, have you thought there just must be something more?

 

I think we all ask ourselves this at some point in our lives.  Usually, this reflection comes when something bad has happened.  Like losing a job.  Like losing a loved one.  Like missing out or falling short on something important.

It is at these times we are more likely to ponder the meaning of life.  But, how to create a life that you love?

George Bernard Shaw probably summed it up best when he said:

Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

Kerry Swan How to create a life that you love

Identify what really matters

When we lose someone special, it is really easy for us to identify what matters most.  But, what about the other days?  How do we craft a life that we love, when things are going good?

This is where the tough work kicks in.  Recently, I have been challenged to identify my values by a colleague who specialises in leading change.

Now the easy bit is to rattle off veneer thin value statements like ‘I value integrity, hard work and creativity’.  Nice.  But what does that really mean?

The real challenge is to identify what I value by probing my belief system which translates into my day to day actions.

Mmmmmmm.

A belief system that says ‘hard work is important’ could translate into compromising health, rest and social connection.

Not that this is wrong or the place to pass judgement; but rather it means a whole lot more when we do the hard work of probing our beliefs.  Beliefs translate into actions.  Actions translate into our realities.

So, if we want to craft a life that we love.  We start by examining our pre-existing beliefs, so that we can identify what we need to create or change to achieve a life that we love.

And, then we can identify what really matters.

Kerry Swan How to create a life that you love

Back yourself

If we are to create a life that we love, we need to get our heads around a fundamental truth.

We are the Captain of our own ship.

Meaning, that if we are waiting for someone to save us or fix us.  Or if we are waiting for the right moment, the right advice, the right relationship; life will probably pass us by.

I am the master of my fate:  I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Simply put, we need to back ourselves into the race, because no-one else will.  And, a person that knows what they want and how they are going to do it, has a far great chance of creating a life they love.

Kerry Swan How to create a life that you love

Be passionate

If we are to create a life that we love.  Well we are going to have to give a shit.  We need to identify what truly moves us and get passionate about something.

Living our lives through Netflix binge sessions, small town gossip and a series of excuses about ‘why I can’t’ does not make for a life that you love.  It is a life that is fueled by the easy path and the short term trade off.

A passionate, full on life means that you get up in the morning and do the hard stuff, because it matters.  It matters to you.  And, it matters to the world.

Kerry Swan How to create a life that you love

Stay in your own lane

Life will fill you up with diversions, distractions and energy thieves.

When you are working at the highest version of yourself, you do not have enough room, time or energy to explore what happened in the car park at school.

If we are to create a life that we love, we need to stay in our own lane and focus on our journey.  Not the journey of others.

Kerry Swan How to create a life that you love

Hold the vision.  Trust the process.

Truly.  The hardest and scariest part to creating a life that you love, is that the responsibility sits at your feet.

It’s on you.  It’s your choice.  That’s the scary bit.

BUT, the solution.

Craft your vision for your life.  Identify what you stand for.  Identify what you want.  Take action.  And, then trust the universe.

For what is the alternative.  Netflix binging and chocolate?  Or a life well lived?

 

If you are keen for change, but don’t know where to start, I am always up for a chat.

Living your best life starts the day you make a choice to take the scary, creative, and audacious road.

I have spent a lifetime making choices that take me down the scary road.  It has been bumpy, scary and the best thing I have ever down.

I have also spent a lifetime solving problems.  Business problems. People problems.  And, of course property problems.

So if you are up for a no obligation, free chat, flick me a line and we can find a space in our worlds where the stars align and we can chat.

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