They say that knowing your identity helps you live a life filled with meaning and purpose. However, many people meander around not knowing their identity. But how do you identify your identity in the first place? On today’s podcast, Jen Du Plessis brings on Chris Westfall to talk about how people can have clarity about who they are, what they want, and what’s meaningful in their life. He also discusses how we can make the shift and reinvent ourselves along with the changing times. They also touch on what leadership means and what comes next after starting with your why. Chris is a sought-after business consultant, communication coach, keynote speaker, author, co-author, or publisher of eight books.
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Finding Yourself: How To Discover Your True Identity With Chris Westfall
I have a really fun guest with me today. I just can’t wait even to get started, but I have to take a moment to introduce Chris Westfall to you. He has created multi-million dollar revenue streams for companies in four continents with innovative new strategies and leadership communication. We know that this is a hot topic. As the US National Elevator Pitch Champion, which is so intimidating to me, he’s helped clients to land on Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, and Shark Tank Australia, which is awesome. You probably know Kevin Harrington. Maybe, you do. I don’t know. Kevin’s a friend of mine as well. He is a consultant to financial leaders in Fortune 100 companies, and it has helped entrepreneurs to launch a broad array of businesses and successfully rebranded products and services around the globe. Without further ado, I’m going to introduce you to him. He’s an author. He’s got all kinds of accolades and you’ll see that in his bio, but, I’m so excited as I said. Welcome, Chris to the show. I’m happy to have you.
Jen, thank you so much. I hope I can live up to that introduction. That was fantastic. Thank you for that.
It’s funny you say that because it is funny how we have bios and stuff and I’ll stand on the side of the stage and they’re reading and reading and I’m like, just get it over with. Let me come up there, right? I’m the one who did it. It’s pretty impressive. Especially right now, we’re now running into our second year of COVID and there’s a lot of reinvention going on. There’s a lot of leadership questioning happening. Do we have a brick and mortar office? Do we go virtual? Do I need the big team that I had? Do I need to grow a team because my business is growing? There are so many questions right now that people are having. I hope that what we can do is just take the time to dissect this a little bit and figure out what people may need at this particular time and point in. With that said, tell us a little bit about how did you master this whole reinvention and the pitch and making sure that people have clarity about who they are and what they want. Let’s start there.
Mastery for me came from necessity. I wish I could say I had a deliberate six-step process and when I implemented it, magic happened, Jen, it was fantastic. I suspect maybe a lot like you that I found myself in the course of my career, looking back, I go, I didn’t have any business doing that. Things that I achieved, things that I was able to accomplish, that I look back and I went, how did I do that? I decided to take some time to sort of reverse engineer and look at what is the nature of success? In other words, not just what are the strategies and tactics, but going upstream from there and saying, where does success come from? For me, what I’ve discovered, especially during times of quarantine and isolation and all the challenges that we’re facing is that results come from a change in identity. A change in identity, that may sound, that may sound outrageous but for me what I have discovered is that when people recognize who it is that they really are, that from this place, they’re able to achieve some amazing things. For me, I was too naive to know who I wasn’t so I developed an identity that was something that really helped me to succeed. Now what I do for my coaching clients and what I hope to do in this call and in every possible opportunity that I get, I want to help people to see who they are so that they understand that from a place of commitment to who they are, they can create new results. It’s really a question of identity.
Why do you think we kind of meander around not knowing our identity? Many people do it. Do you think it starts from childhood and that just became your identity or an undertone of your identity regardless of what you’re doing in your adult career? Or do you think that we sort of fell into it and it works, so we’ll just go with it until it doesn’t work. As soon as you mentioned that I’m like, gosh, do I know my identity? If someone said, what’s your identity? I don’t know that I can describe it, my identity. Give us some deeper thoughts there on assessing this.
First of all, how do you identify your identity? It’s very simple is to simply say, I am a blank and fill in the blank. What is that thing that you are and it’s easy to go? I am the thing that I do. I am my career. I am a husband. I am a wife. I’m a daughter. I am a son, right? The thing that we have to look into and you ask about the deeper level is looking in the direction of values. What it is that we value that really matters to us. Why does that make you laugh?
I know because I talk about this all the time. One of the things that I say a lot is, and that I created was a life of values, adds value everywhere in your life. Having that clarity of what are my values, what are the things that I hold that are my principles. Most people can’t figure that out. A lot of people will say, what are your core values? They say family? I don’t know, is it a question or is it a core value? To find that sometimes you have to go the opposite direction, find out what you don’t like to assess, what is a core value.
Interesting. That our weaknesses point us toward our strengths in other words, right?
Absolutely. If you don’t like people not being ethical, then ethics are a value. Being honest is a value. It’s just simple that way, but you do have to slow down and think through it, but no, I love it. It’s just so in alignment with me, so that’s what I love.
What do you think that indicates, Jen? Great minds think alike? What are you trying to say? I couldn’t agree with you more and you have excellent ideas. Excellent taste, Jen. I’m certain of it because we think the same way.
I love it. No, I think, and so I didn’t mean to interrupt you by giggling, but it was a good giggle.
I see, it is a good giggle. The thing that shows up for me is that people are not afraid to admit, they’re not unable to access their values and their identity. Sometimes they’re afraid to admit it and to step into it. I’ve been there because if I step into my identity is, am I bragging? Am I going to offend someone by the thing that matters to me? Is someone going to look at that and go, he’s taking from me by claiming his space?
It’s your conviction. It’s always open to scrutiny. Especially in the United States, because we have freedom of speech. We are always looking at that. Value obviously, and that creates your identity. You would say then to someone listening, please take some time to figure out what is meaningful in your life. What is truly meaningful, who you really are, not who you think everybody else thinks you should be, not who your grandma thinks you should be going back deep and looking at that and saying, who am I? Who am I in this one individual over billions and billions of people?When people see who they are and understand that from a place of commitment, they can create new results. Click To Tweet
Sure, and so many times we look back at the way that we were raised or how we were brought up or what it is that we’ve gone through or what we got for our birthday when we turned nine or whatever or didn’t get.
The impact it’s had, right?
Sure, and not to deny any of those experiences. Here’s what I know and I like to look in the direction of things that I know to be true, not just things that I believe are faith-based things or things that occurred to me because of my personal experience, but looking in the direction of the human experience that we all share, I am who I am because of my experiences and also despite them. At the end of the day, I am more than my experiences. I am more than the way that I was raised, and yes, I have had disappointments and I’ve had victories in my life. If I choose to live in the defeats or the victories, neither one of those perspectives is true. Meaning it’s not right now. In other words, if I’m busy patting myself on my back for and I look at it and I read my bio and I feel how impressive I must come across. It’s like smelling aftershave and being like, wow, it’s delightful. It’s just fantastic. That is not helpful. The reverse is true. Being trapped in the challenges. There have been times when life has thrown me up against a fence, I have had a lot of challenges in my life that I’ve had to overcome more than others, not as much as some. I understand, but the point is we always have the ability to rise above our circumstances and our experiences and that’s not motivational, that’s how human beings are wired. We have that capacity and when we get lost in the thoughts of the past, when we get lost in the thoughts of an identity that’s been created for us, by someone else, my question is, how long do you want to hang on to an identity that’s not serving you? How long do you want to live with a self-image that doesn’t create the future that you want? Because in my work, I’m not interested in fixing the past. I leave that to the therapists, but as a coach, I am very interested in reshaping and creating the future and changing our relationships with who we are, are our identities to create new opportunities. That’s really the basis of what my work has become, and a lot of people come to me like you and I were talking about. They made it like Chris, I need a really good hook. I need something to say, if I just had that one that 15 second phrase. Yes. Then, I would be, and I, then you would be what? Desired? Irresistible? Wealth beyond your imagination? Does that really look true? The fact of the matter is that success isn’t a script and being compelling and persuasive, doesn’t come from just the words that you choose because you and I both know, people can say the same words, but different people saying the same words, it doesn’t come across the same way.
No, not at all. I love that. That leads us to this how do you get out of that funk if you’re in that funk? A lot of people are in that now with COVID, because of circumstances that have happened around them and sometimes because they’ve had enough quiet time to be silent and know, from the Bible to be quiet and know. Now they’re saying, maybe I don’t like my identity was and maybe I do need to change that. What are some things that people could be doing now? We are thinking about making the shift and that’s what it is and reinventing yourself. What are some things that they can be doing to get out of that status that feel they’re in their self-status and say, I want to emerge from this cocoon of COVID as a butterfly and I want to be something different. What can they be doing to get out of the state that they’re in now and move themselves to and shift it and transform themselves into a new state?
What a fantastic question. What can you do to shift to a new state? I read this incredible book that I love, and the book is called The Rich Man’s Secret. I am going to save you and everyone listening to the sound of my voice, 254 pages because I’m going to reveal the rich man’s secret. It points in the direction of transformation. The Rich Man’s Secret, it’s a story of a man who travels with his wife. His wife has won a sales contest and she’s involved in a conference during the day. He’s wandering the small town while his wife is involved in meetings and he happens to stumble across a diary, a diary that was created by the guy who founded the town. It’s like a time capsule story. The diary is that’s the rich man of the rich man’s secret. He was the founder of the town and he goes through it. He reads about how this guy founded the town. He happens to meet an old woman who lives in the town and knew the guy when she was a little girl. Anyway, I digress.
The rich man’s secret is this, and it points in the direction of reinvention, always take the first step. Nothing more, nothing less, and the next will reveal itself to you. This is the theme of The Rich Man’s Secret. If you find yourself being stuck like a stick in a stream that is stuck, the stick doesn’t need therapy. It just needs a nudge. It just needs a little push in a different direction. What is that first step? Because it’s so easy and look, I’m the first to raise my hand and say quarantine crazies, it’s real. I feel it. I feel exactly what you’re describing, I’m up in my head. I’m an extroverted person by nature. I like to be around people. I haven’t been able to fulfill that. Although, thanks to Zoom. I do, but it’s not the same. My point is in terms of how do I go about reinventing?
How do we go about reinventing ourselves? What’s that little nudge? What’s that little action? What’s the first step that you can take? People say I’m not sure what that step is. I don’t know what that reinvention might be. Then, I would give you two words that can help you to identify that. Not only to identify your identity and what’s missing and how to get unstuck, but this will help you to be a better partner to your spouse. This will help you to do a better job of washing the dishes. This will help you to make a decision more effectively. Here are those two words. Slow down. Slow down long enough to see things in a new way. if I’m sitting here and I’m saying to you, I’m stuck. I’m all up in my head. I can’t think about anything else I’m trapped and dah, dah, dah, and you can hear the mental chatter, right?
One of the things I say all the time is slow down to speed up. This is to be quiet and know. Be silent and know. You have to just slow down. I thought you were going to tell me, stop it from the old Bob Newhart Saturday night live show, the psychiatrist. The girl comes in and she’s like you know what? I’m afraid someone’s going to bear me alive in a box. And he’s like just stop it. Stop thinking that way. Stop it. It’s just a really funny thing. Yeah, you’re right. It does require slowing down.
There are a lot of people who are slowed down now. Now, they’re at that fork in the road and they’re thinking do I want to go back to that job at that office in an hour commute and all the other things? Or should I stay here or should I be an entrepreneur? Should I start philanthropy? What should I be doing? The slow down, I totally get but if someone’s listening and they’re seeing that I’ve been slowed down and I still don’t know what I’m going to do, what advice do you have for them?
Look in the direction of what’s not quarantined. What is it that hasn’t been shut down, taken away? We’ve all experienced a sense of loss, but what is it that can be a pathway to possibilities, and by looking in that direction and looking away from what’s quarantined, what is it that you can see in a new way? That’s where I would.
I was talking to my coaching clients the other day. We had a coaching call and I’ve sort of been preaching this for a year to them, but they’re like, what I was going to do is this, but because of quarantine, I can’t. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why you can’t do something because of quarantine because we can still meet one-to-one. We can still have a call like this, a video call, and an audio call. My husband and I double date with our friends via video. I cook my meal, they cook their meal. We sit and we chat. Now, we have a double date. You can still do networking. You can still do Masterminds. You can still do a sales call. You can still present. You can still negotiate. There’s absolutely nothing that you can’t do because of COVID when it comes to moving your business forward. It’s not always the desired way of doing it, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.Our weaknesses point us toward our strengths. Click To Tweet
Looking at that desired way is I think where the conversation starts. I don’t know if you run into this, Jen, I suspect that you do. People want to jump into the how-to. How do I do this? How do I what you’re describing Jen? There’s, how do I create that? How do I do those things? Which is like, how does Zoom work. We’re asking. We’re asking questions that we already know the answers to. It looks like the how-to is the mystery, but it’s not. It’s the want-to. The want-to that leads us to figure things out. That’s been what I’ve been on a journey of discovery to find out as I’ve restructured my business and pointed my business in a new direction because the world has shifted. We have to adapt to the way the world works now.
A lot of people are still saying when it gets back to normal. This is normal. This is the new normal. It has made a dramatic shift in the world to another new normal it’s like when the internet came out. They said, it’s a fad, it’ll go and people today that are still saying, I still don’t believe in it, but I don’t get it. This is the new normal. That’s a great segue into leadership because that is a big buzz word right now. Taking leadership of your life, or demonstrating, or going on the journey of leadership to lead others. Tell us a little bit about, or a lot about leadership and how you see that going forward for corporations and entrepreneurs and people just generally, what do you think that’s going to look like? Because it’s a new type of leader nowadays. It’s not a general patent anymore. We have got five generations in the workforce at the same time, never before seen.
Let me ask you, I know you’re asking the questions, Jen, but when you think about leadership and the essence of leadership, what shows up for you that people are missing when it comes to leadership?
For me right now, what’s showing up is collaboration. I think that leadership is more collaborative than it ever was. It’s not a dictatorship. Because of the different generations that we have now, no one wants to be told what to do and especially in our lower aged group generations. If it’s very much a community, it’s very much lead by example. It’s not pushing a string from behind and telling you what to do. It’s pulling the string and leading from the front. I have tried to be as innovative as I possibly could be in my gratitude, in my communication, in my follow-through, in my leading by example, and making sure that if I’m early, I’m on time if I’m on time, I’m late and if I’m late, don’t bother. Just making sure that I am climbing to a new altitude for myself as a leader of my team, as a leader of my family, engaging more, as a leader in relationships, with everything as a coach, leading people is helping them see what’s possible.
No doubt and helping point them toward their own resourcefulness and their own potential. For me, a couple of things that show up as being really important to consider, especially in the context that you’re talking about this empathetic leader, that nobody wants a general patent. Nobody wants to be told what to do, and yet we still have to communicate that. How do we do that as the communications coach helping to persuade and influence people from a place of authenticity and caring, which is really what you’re talking about is vital to me. The great book that Simon Sinek wrote, Start with Why? I read that book. The first time I saw that title and I actually had the chance to meet Simon Sinek when the book first came out and I read that title, I thought Start with Why. That is brilliant, but what comes next? You know, what’s next.
When most people can’t figure that out, that’s cool. That’s the values as well.
It is and that golden circle, that video will help you to do that. I don’t disagree, but for me, I’m a practical man and I’m very process-oriented, I’m like, what is step two? Step two is where I think we are right now. I think we’re in phase two of leadership. I think that we all have to start with why and look at why we’re doing what we’re doing, but if you wish to influence others, consider the classic answer to the question why, and when your kids were little and they’d say, why? What would you say? Some people say because I said, so there it is. It was a little gentler in my house, Jen. I don’t know.
If I said so, go do it.
In this day and age, I think that we need to look in the direction of because, and not because I said so, but always offering a reason why. That reason is what drives behavior and the folks listening, I would consider what is that because that you can share, what is that reason? For those of you that are in leadership positions, you can look, I don’t owe my team an explanation, and because I said, so it feels about right. I would just raise my hand and say, is that all you got? Are you open to another way of looking at it? Because your team hopes, the answer is yes. Sharing a reason in a rationale is what makes a leader impactful. It is that rationale, the way that you explain your because that helps people to see your thought process, your leadership and that you’re doing the things that you’re describing. It’s one thing to say, I’m a caring, empathetic leader, and it’s quite another to just demonstrate it in the words that you choose and the actions that you take. That’s very powerful.
I was going to say, I think very powerfully. I have a couple of people on my team that are Jen wise. I get all my things from there. Because disease just entered the workforce, so we are twenty-five right now but that’s where our fifth one just came in. I think about the whys because that’s my kids. My kids are that age and they’re very successful kids and things, but they are, whereas other generations just it’s out of duty, it’s out of work ethic that I’ll just do it and not a question, which is part of my generation. It’s just like the boss said to do it. We just do it. Like it or not, you got to do it, they’re your boss. We carry that with us and I think that those that are still working in that arena, I’m a baby boomer, people that are in that arena are going to lose out dramatically. I’m concerned about it because people may be saying I’m going to be an entrepreneur. I’m going to manage the way I was managed, not the way that this new generation is expecting to be managed, and that is with communication and collaboration, which was the first word that came out. Recognition, community involvement, empathy, care for people. These are things that are important to these young kids these days.
You just could never be in a position now to say, because I said, so. You just can’t because you’ve got them in your audience of people, a team that you’re talking to. Of course, you have to be sensitive to the fact that there has someone else in the audience who isn’t used to this collaboration and just said why are you whining? Why are you whining Jen wire? It’s silly, just go do the thing. There’s a book called Six Thinking Hats and I love that book because it’s a great book, but we almost need six hats for leaders right now. You have to wear these five different hats plus your own personality. Six different leadership hats where you are becoming a chameleon to be able to resonate and get the most out of everybody, by making sure that you’re communicating with them in a way that resonates with them.
I didn’t mean to take your thunder that, but that’s why I was saying that. This is to spotlight you. Let’s say you’re 57 if you’re 57 and you’re a baby boomer and you come from that, do, do, do. What would you want to tell someone that helps them recognize that they’re not? It’s not that way anymore. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur and you want to be successful, there’s a new leadership rule in town.
Absolutely, and it goes beyond the Six Thinking Hats. It goes beyond trying to shift from a baseball cap to a cowboy hat, to a toboggan hat, it’s outgoing upstream. Let me explain because if I’m constantly trying to position myself so that I’m in alignment with who you are, and I have to change like a chameleon or shift my hat so that I can talk to someone of a different age or to cross a gender boundary or whatever the case may be, that’s going to be exhausting. To me, leadership is about going upstream beyond our differences to find our place of connection. Let explain, that’s where collaboration starts is with our humanity and recognizes, of course, we have different personalities. Of course, we have different Myers-Briggs profiles and all those kinds of things, and I’m not here to deny disc profiles or their value but I am here to say that in my experience, when you speak like a leader about those things that are universal, that people know to be true, I’m talking about things that work, whether you are nineteen years old or 49 or 57 or wherever you’re from or whatever your background is, I’m talking about those universal things that we all know to be true.At the end of the day, we are more than our experiences. Click To Tweet
I speak with my coaching clients and are write about it in my books. These universal truths, I call them high concepts. They’re ideas that connect us all, and when those ideas are presented in a way that shares these principles so that people understand what you’re sharing is not a matter of belief. You’re not trying to get people to believe in what you’re telling them or adapt to a boomer mentality when that is a fit for them or to, for that matter, adopt a Western mentality when that is not a fit for them. There are all kinds of different differences. To welcome as many people, which is a message of collaboration, which is a message of inclusion, if you want to be a more powerful leader, look in the direction of our humanity, look in the direction of things that you know to be true that are irrefutable like the law of gravity. I mean, I may not like the law of gravity, but if I trip and fall, I’m going to hit the ground and that’s how it works. Everyone gets it.
It doesn’t matter if I believe in it or not. That’s how things work and leaders talk about the way things work and how people can make things work for them. From that place, I think that’s much more powerful than trying to consistently adapt and play this game.
Maybe individually you’re doing that, but as a collective whole, it has to be more universal. Can you give us an example of what you mean by humanity? Walk us into an office and somebody is a brand-new leader in an office. They have this brand-new leadership role, this management role, they’re the CEO of that company. They’re pulling everybody together and they’re going to have a big team meeting. They’ve got all of this diversity in front of them. What’s something that comes out of their mouth that demonstrates what you’re talking about? Having gone upstream, the way everybody comes downstream, or they have all different paths that they come downstream, but going back upstream so we can all start together. What are you saying?
As the meeting begins for this executive, because I just had a coaching session with a senior executive at Facebook yesterday, where we were talking about this same thing. In the coaching clients that I work with, this comes up a lot because we’re looking in the direction of leadership and executive presence. The question is before the conversation begins, where do you put your attention? Because where you put your attention is where you find your results. If your attention is on, who’s the high D in this conversation? Who’s the I? Where are my SS? I need them. I need them to be on my team right now. Now I’m lost in thought,
Yes, and we’ll go home that night and go, I wish I had said
Right. Or I knew that I lost it for her because I didn’t address it the way that. Is there a way to communicate that reaches across age, gender, and experience, and lifestyle boundaries? The answer has to be yes. Do we always find it? No, that’s why I stay so busy, but anyway, I have done, but here’s where we looked in my coaching call, we looked in nature, the nature of influence because this individual had to influence as a leader. How can I lead and influence my team? By the way, that means people that he reports to as well as people that report to him on the call. You got it going both ways, right? Across all generations, up and down. How do you do that? The answer is you look at the nature of influence and I asked him, where do you think influence comes from? Here’s where we arrive and I don’t know if you see this and you may say, this is crazy, but this is what we discovered that true influence that cuts across boundaries starts with service. The leader stands in front of the group and looks in the direction of service. It’s like the old Zig Ziglar quote. If you help enough people to get what they want. You’ll get what you want.
Serving them, serving the clients, serving the vendors, serving the community. There’s like all of those things. It’s funny. I liked that. I don’t know if you arrived at it or help them arrive at that word, or if they happened to arrive at that particular word I’m trying to. Is that your methodology or did they arrive at it for them for that particular event?
Jen, my methodology is collaboration and what shows up at the moment.
I usually don’t do political any things, but I’m looking at a new president who’s going to be sworn in a week or two or whenever it is. How does someone like him walk out onto that stage, and I live near DC so I’ve been down there before, walk out on that stage, and right in front of the Capitol and talk to millions and millions of people and be able to influence them so that all listen, because we’re so dissected right now. I wouldn’t want the job. I want to be a leader, but no, thanks. I don’t want a bad job because that’s the epitome of diversity and what we’re experiencing right now in our country and everyone’s going to be looking to what is he going to say? He going to talk to me and you’re right. He can’t go, and when you live in this in Midwest and you’re West coast and East coast and you’re purple and you’re whatever. Is his word service or is he going to come up with something else?
I don’t claim to know what lies ahead, particularly at a political, but from a leadership standpoint, I do know this. The way to cut across all the various boundaries that you described for any leader and that’s a bold statement is to look in the direction of service and the service that our new leaders provide will show us what they value, will show us how they think things through will be the source of their credibility as their promises come to life or not. We will know their service and through their words and their actions as they take the first step, the next will reveal itself. The reason that I think it’s so valuable to look in the direction of services because when, when we see leaders that we admire, we’re able to see the service that they wish to provide, whether it’s serving a market, integrity, values that all shows up. I wonder for the folks, how they might answer this question, how can you serve at a deeper level? That’s where the coaching call went, and that’s service with a capital S I’m not talking about getting somebody dry, cleaner, and washing their car for them. That’s important stuff, but that’s not the leadership.
I have all the right words, but for me, it’s showing care and that goes to the old thing. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I do think that’s important but showing the care that you have for the personal growth of that individual, showing care, patience, and presence you have to help that individual do a great job so that they can be recognized for doing a great job. I always said leadership is not pointing the finger because that’s what a lot of people do. Your, your fault, your fault, you didn’t do this right. You didn’t do that rather than doing some pointing saying I didn’t explain it properly. I didn’t ask enough questions. I wasn’t curious enough. I asked you if you knew what to do and you just said yeah, but I didn’t say, are you sure? Is there any, is there a loophole here? I didn’t have the curiosity to ask it, and yet if it went wrong, it’s just finger-pointing, and that gets back to service, but you’re saying, and I served them well
I serve them well. Because if you’re looking in the direction of service, truly service with a capital S big service that helps people to be more than who they are right now or who they may even think they’re capable of. What you’re talking about from that place of inserting that value, that intention. Now you see that closing the loop is important that making sure that the message is received and understood so that there is no discrepancy, there’s no unmet expectation. You look in the direction of an agreement so that that expectation can become something that’s not kept inside, but that’s articulated. These are the kinds of tactics and strategies that I go into but the foundation of it is what is it that you want to do and how can you support people more deeply. I’m not a political guy, but the success of any administration, any new leadership team depends on the service that they provide to help people to win, to help people to come through difficult times, whatever those difficult times are. Whatever it is that your chosen profession is, the service that you offer, how can you offer it at a deeper level? How can you offer it more richly, more fully? I’m constantly looking in that direction.
I remember a time when I was talking to a guy, a coaching client in Europe, I think he was in Germany and his name was Eric and he spoke, I believe it was five languages. I asked him a stupid question, Jen. I said Eric, let me ask a stupid question. Why is it that we’re speaking English today? He goes Chris, that’s the only language that you understand and I thought, you know what? That’s an absolute answer that I was looking for. I think that effective leaders, instead of trying to get people on their page and speak their language or waste time, trying to do some kind of verbal jujitsu to guess who it is that I’m talking to. Why not speak to the thing that you know you can count, which is our humanity, and the things that you know to be true like the way gravity works or the way that a fulcrum works, or the fact that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, these are principles and facts.
When we establish our leadership credibility by discussing those things that are irrefutable, we create credibility. We create influence. We create an atmosphere that allows people to trust in our thought process, because what we’re talking about is not trying to share a lie with somebody and help that they believe in it, tell that lie is pretty, a way as possible so they believe in it. What we’re dealing in is truth and whatever that truth might mean in your business but looking in that direction of principles that allow people to say he or she gets it. Sees the forest and the trees, this is where credibility comes from. When you speak and act and move towards this value of discussing irrefutable things, your impact as a leader increases exponentially, and how you show up your identity changes from the things that you say and the way that you say them, and the actions that you take on the back of the things that you say, which is really, that’s a discussion about integrity. That’s a discussion about being who you say you are. All of these things are vital to leadership, but if you want to collaborate in a greater way, talk to people about what it is that they know to be true before you share your expertise before you share your insights, what is it that shows that you see the forest and the trees?
That’s powerful. As you were saying that, I think it also brings in the word that you just throw away, commitment because when people see you approaching them in that way and, you know, uh, meeting them where they are, rather than having to pull them to where you are trying to pull them to where you are. I think you get commitment and loyalty in everybody that you’re working with, it doesn’t matter if it’s a networking partner or family members or somebody in your job. It really invokes a lot of that commitment to the relationship into your success too and then becomes a law of reciprocation or reciprocity, and people are saying now that you’ve helped me, how can I help you?
That is the true, push-pull that happens. At least I see it when I do it right, sometimes they don’t even know if I’m doing it right. It just happens but when I’m doing it right, I see it reveal itself in the way that my team might to me and say I know you said this, but I think there’s a better way, and I say, great. Let’s talk about it. Tell me about it because I want to know if there’s a better way, and there’s not a fear of going to the leader and suggesting a better way.
What happens if that fear exists? What that means is you cut yourself off from new ideas.
Absolutely. It’s just a big smooshing thing. You are just smooshing everyone’s everything. Everything about them, their spirit, their goals, their growth as if it’s going to be like this with everybody, I won’t do it at all. That’d be so sad for some people. Let me ask you this, Chris, as we kind of end up our time here together, I know you’ve written some books and things like that, but what can our listeners do for you?
The thing that listeners can do for me is to explore what leadership means, not in an academic sense, but in a personal sense. Because it’s like this, if you know all the rules of boxing, the sport of boxing, and the history of boxing since 1871, that’s not going to help you when you’re about to get punched in the face. Life is a contact sport. If you are interested in being better at playing the game of leadership and the game of life, then investigate not from an informational perspective, but from a transformational perspective, if what we’ve said today resonates, and you want to be the person that you know you are, but for whatever reason, you aren’t able to get there, look in the direction of transformation and how can you create that change. I’ve developed several resources that can help point in that direction. Not the least of which is the links that people will be able to receive and to find out about the programs that I’ve created but also there are several free resources that people can look at, like my YouTube channel, which is Youtube.com/WestfallOnline. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter, @westfallonline. My last name is like the direction of the season.
You’ve probably said that a bunch of times, haven’t you?
I have but I still managed to screw it up. Jen. I don’t know.
We’ll make sure we have all the links in there. I want to ask you this. Do you have a quote that you would like to share with everyone that we could share with them?
Sure. This quote from Mark Twain. It ain’t what you don’t know that can hurt you. It’s what you think you know, that just ain’t so.
I love that quote, thank you so much because that’s exactly what it is. It definitely, we know knowledge is power, but the application of it is more powerful and, action, as you said, is a context for it. You can go and learn how to be a cardiologist online. You can learn how to perform a heart to heart surgery. You can watch it, but until you do it and you practice it, you won’t become that heart surgeon and you won’t become that leader in the same manner unless you’re doing it. I love it. Amen. Listen, thank you so much, Chris, for joining us today, we really appreciate it. This is such a timely topic. I think this is the year of everybody working on each other.
I’ve said for two or three years now. This is the soaring twenties. This is the opportunity for people to soar to new heights in every capacity possible to really become better humans all the way around. Everyone’s fussing and trying to figure out how to do it and I think that’s why we’re seeing what we see in our world right now but everyone’s working on getting better. I don’t know anyone who’s not working on getting worse. It’s just stumbling through it as we try to figure it out. I’m excited for the next decade. I think this will truly be the soaring twenties for us. I think that your contribution will help others be leaders for leaders to be able to take to, to those new places, and those new transformations. Thank you for what you’re doing.
Thank you, Jen. It’s so good to be here. It’s a pleasure.
Thank you for being on the show. I appreciate it.
I just want to say to everybody, thank you so much for listening in, and be sure to get, write us a review and give us a great five-star rating. We hope that we have done something today, said something today. There’s one little ounce of something that you got today that will help improve your life or your business. We look forward to seeing you the next time. Take care.
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About Chris Westfall
Chris Westfall has created multi-million dollar revenue streams for companies on four continents, with innovative new strategies on leadership communication. As the US National Elevator Pitch Champion, he’s helped clients to land on Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, and Shark Tank – Australia. A consultant to financial leaders and Fortune 100 companies, he’s helped entrepreneurs to launch a broad array of businesses, and successfully re-branded products and services around the globe.
Working with thousands of business leaders, he’s helped launch over 50 companies, while raising over $100 Million in investment capital – and counting. He’s coached teams to victory in the Intel Global Capital Conference, the Harvard Executive MBA Pitch Competition, and the Rice Business Plan Competition 2016 (the largest and most lucrative pitch competition in the world). Chris’ clients include HP, Cisco, Unilever, DISCOVER, Great American Insurance, The Jewish Federations of North America, American General Insurance, Old Dominion Freight, Experian, EY and many more.
Focused on the leaders of tomorrow, Chris has worked with a number of universities across North America. An award-winning MBA instructor, his latest book is called Leadership Language (Wiley). He’s published seven books, including the international best-seller, The NEW Elevator Pitch. Originally from Chicago, Chris resides in Houston, TX, with his wife and two daughters, and is an avid supporter of the performing and visual arts.
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