Welcome everyone to this latest episode of Freedom Fridays. So my guest today is, according to his website, is a Scot with an Irish name, and an English accent, who's an Aussie. And so I'm Scot, with a Scottish name, with an English family, who's got Aussie passport. So welcome to the show, Conor O'Malley.
Fantastic. Thanks very much Pete. A kindred spirit, I'd fear, that we're having a conversation with today. And thank you for the opportunity. And I hope what we share is of interest to your listeners,
You're welcome. And, you know, we had a conversation prior to the recording, and there are quite a few connections that we've got, you know, given our backgrounds, and so we may get into that space in the conversation. But as I said, Conor I start these with the same question, you know, Freedom Fridays, in the line of work that you do, what does freedom mean?
Great question, what a good one to start with. Freedom, for me in this context, is in two domains Pete. One is, I'll say an internal freedom. Is how do we free ourselves to potentially do our best work? How do we free ourselves to be our best self? How do we free ourselves to be the best person and partner, father, husband, the friend that we can be? So there's an internal freedom, which then potentially gives us an external freedom, which is the way in which we do things. And you know, you mentioned looking at my profile, and you'll know that I bring this distinction to the world again through my learning and standing on the shoulders of others and my learning, of our way of being and our way of doing. And as soon as I heard the notion of freedom, it it brings that that distinction of being and doing.
Okay, thank you. I'm already assuming this could go on for quite a while. This is, you know, this is both in our sweet spots here. Let me start by when did you come to this conclusion?
When did I first learn about the notion of way of being? Was which I know is not the I'm not trying to do that. Now. The question you meant to ask Pete was, I'm not gonna will answer your question, I will answer your question. But I feel it needs a wee bit of context, which is, in 2017, I left the executive world of corporate leadership, essentially, in the supply chain, to move into the world of coaching. And through that, I came across a particular philosophy of coaching of which was around our way of being, and there's a core learning that I kind of, was privileged to learn through. But in answer your question, I now make a slightly different distinction myself through my experience of not only that learning journey, but also my coaching and my life journey now, between way of being and way of doing. So when did I actually make this distinction? Maybe 12 months ago, after I wrote my book, but even in my book, it still is, I'll say more of a theoretical distinction of this philosophy of coaching called ontology. And I would say now, which is why I guess I'm doing my second edition of the book, because I feel it needs tweaking to now my distinction of what his way of being and way of doing, which is internal freedom and external freedom using the language of earlier on. So maybe a year.
Okay cool. I'm going guess, though, that that philosophy, or that conclusion has been whispering to you for years?
What's the distinction of years, I would certainly say not up to five years ago. Because we talk about stories. So an argument of an internal freedom, in our way of being is freeing ourselves in our internal language from the stories that we've lived with. So for me that would be an internal freedom is freeing ourselves from our previously held stories. Now, first of all, we got to recognise them, I would use the word observe. And then we've got to choose to shift our narrative. Which I believe we can. I believe strongly that you can choose to re-narrate your stories. And my story, as I mentioned earlier on to you, was up to five years ago unless, you know, I'm the CEO of a, you know, many multimillion if not a multi-billion FMCG third party logistics business, maybe a wholesaler that I in my career and not a success. It was very binary. And I thought through that success would come, you know, the way that you can support your family and so many other things. Driven by ego, yeah, in part for sure. Not proud of saying that, but I can now recognise that that was a story that I was living with, all the way through school life, through university, and so on, so forth, let's say had to be the captain, the leader. That that no longer is, is the story I carry. And I'm absolutely reconciled and at peace with that, which I would say is, has given me a personal freedom to do what I do, and provide a different way of doing coming from that internal freedom of letting go that story.
Conor my experience of, and I'd be the same in many ways, but different ways, of falling for the ego traps. So let's, let's accept that we're many people fall into. What I'm interested in - I don't know if you've then had any thoughts about this - usually, our ego is masking an unmet need. And I'm wondering if you've reflected in being the captain of the rugby team, the football team, the multimillion dollar industry, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, do you recognise now what need in you was unmet?
Great, great question. Another way of looking at is is a concern. So a concern that we need to take care of, or as you say, an unmet need. Difficult to answer, specifically with one thing. I think the concern that I had to take care of or the unmet need was, which doesn't feel like it's the answer question, but it feels like the answer the question is being the leader, and always having to be the leader. Now, for me, here we go. Okay. I think a distinction is merging for me, even in this conversation. And this might be a revelation in itself for me, if therefore, not for anybody else, is a capital L versus small l. So for me leader, was capital L, leader of people, leader of others, which therefore meant that you were kind of at the arrowhead, if you like, which certainly leadership is changing, so that's no longer necessary, you know, that you have to be kind of at the arrowhead of leadership to be a leader with a capital L. As opposed to, you know, there is a notion of a thought leader, for example, or, you know, you might say that, that you can be a leader of your profession without necessarily being a leader of others. So I think the story I would have been carrying, and what I had to let go of, was that leadership is simply leading others leading a team, leading a business, being the captain. And it comes in many, many other forms now.
You certainly - we both talked about our kind of love of sport, and you see in sport, certainly, many, many different forms of captains, people that lead the team. Very different. And, you know, I certainly see that in organisation's now and I'm not saying one is necessarily better than the other, you certainly see different. Some, I would say, aren't equipped for it, necessarily, because they've gotten the job because they're good at the job their subordinates do. You know, the best salesperson gets the sales manager's job and you lose to good people. And so I'm wondering what your experience of that is, if we maybe jump into corporate for a second, I'm going to move around a little bit. You said leadership is changing. What's it changing from to, and why?
Thank you. So the thing now, my definition of what is a leader is a person who others choose to follow. Now I know I've read that somewhere and I've heard that so, I can't remember where I heard it, but that really resonates with me. So this notion of capital L small l it with a small L and a leader is a person who others choose to follow. In other words, putting in their discretionary effort, or that person takes care of their unmet needs or their concerns and therefore they choose to follow that person. So that's my definition, if you like, of what is or who is a leader or what a leader is.
Leadership is changing, in my view in a couple of core ways. At the C suite level, I think leadership is changing where leaders have now to be more leaders in society, then solely off their business. And that actually comes to the notion of trust because trust in the classic institutions of state, of media, of church, ironically, even not for profits, is lessening, and that specifically comes from the Edelman Trust Barometer, you know, 2020,21,22, for the last three years and more, but certainly last three years, each year, that there is an expectation that leaders or business need to are more trusted than other areas. And therefore, I'm drawing the conclusion as they do that, those leaders need to be more leaders in society than was previously the case, because there's a, there's not trust in the other typical or classic, I should say, institutions that were. And I think that in itself heightens the importance of leaders being more self aware, having a greater understanding of purpose, and where they stand on certain issues, because they will be expected to speak about those particular issues. So they better have a position. And I think that comes from within that comes from their being that comes from their narratives, their values, and so on and so forth. So that's one area is changing. And the other area is changing for me is is the how of leadership. More empathy, more curiosity, more co-creation. You know, here's, here's a question I believe leaders now need to be able to ask, is not only - So, Pete, you know, what do you think? They now need to ask - Pete, how are you feeling? It's a completely different question. And they also have to have the competency to respond to the person who answers the question how they're feeling. As opposed to what do you what do you think. So, and who's who's looking for that? I think, you know, millennials are certainly looking more for, for they're not looking for the ego fueled my way or the highway style leadership. That, you know, that is the leadership to a degree I was brought up in, especially in trucks and sheds and distribution centres and unions. So there's still importance of decision making, there's still importance of creating a vision, there's still importance of alignment. But not the ego fueled my way or the highway, this is the way we're going to do it. And then, you know, to other areas, thank God for this, there are more women who in my view, are becoming more and more empowered, in leadership in general in business, and certainly more women in the C suite. Not enough. But certainly, you know, we want more, or I certainly want more, I believe the world and business wants more. And then they're also you know, the minority groups without going into all of them who should have and need their voice to be heard. Now, that takes a different style of leadership, in terms of empathy, in terms of listening in terms of curiosity in terms of co-creation. That was not the case. Certainly 10, but certainly 20 years ago, but even five years ago, it's changing, and then it would bring in COVID. And the notion of trust and working from home and what is culture? You know, it's it's, it's changing. And then if you bring the last one in, you might say with regards to, you know, the amount of information that is being piled on leaders, I mean, that's a metaphor almost, or an image piled on leaders. They've got to cut through it. And I love the question with Karen in one of your previous podcasts raised, and I forget who she said it about, or who said it is the currency of knowledge is not what I know, but it's, you know, it's around the currency, being able to ask the questions. And I think that is that is so true. So here's how leadership is changing. And I hope that the work that I do, serves those leaders shift elements of their way of being to support them being more effective in their way of doing as a leader.
I've often said, again, sometimes I have, I feel like I have to be careful with certain clients because I'm trying to meet them where they're at. And if I find the right space, I would often say things like we've over glamorised knowledge and diluted connection. Nice. So by me, knowing more me telling you more and sharing it, you know, I disconnect from actually what's going on with you hence why I kind of circle back to my question about unmet needs. I think COVID has piled on people even more unmet needs. As in, so many people aren't seen, aren't heard, aren't held - just for who they are, let alone what they could be. And then that's creating all sorts of issues separately that that's probably another podcast Conor. I'm going to plead contrarian, if you don't mind just for the purpose of the conversation. And, I actually quite like your simple, but not simplistic, definition of leader as in someone you choose to follow. So how does that reconcile with Tic Toc influencers? Because there's many, many millions of people choose to follow those. Are they leaders? And if they are, why? And if they aren't, why? Because I love the simplicity of choose to follow.
I'd say they are leaders now whether we want to acknowledge that they're leaders, given our distinction of what we might see as a leader in a particular realm. But yeah, I would say that the person who is the kind of new beut, kind of TicToc, kind of dancer or whatever they do. Are they a leader? Yeah, yeah. I'm comfortable. Small L so so again, this distinction, you know, in my see, even in my own head, my own language of large L small l, but you know, yeah, I think I'm quite comfortable. Now, what am I comfortable in what they're leading? Maybe not. But that's, that's, that's my, that's our judgement, right? That's our judgement, our assessment, that that's not a thing of value that you're leading. I may or may not feel that. Yeah. But is that say they're not a leader? No, I don't think it is.
And it's a slightly off tangent, off piece comment that kind of backs up what I think we're both seeing here is I was listening this morning to a podcast. I don't know if you know, Sam Harris? He's a US neuroscientists. He's got Waking Up is his app. And he does podcasts he does a kind of show with Ricky Gervais. And you know, he's pretty, pretty well known. One of his mates is Joe Rogan, who, as you may know, has the biggest podcast on the planet. And I was listenign to Sam Harris's podcast about the apology that Joe Rogan had to make or felt he had to make about a couple of things, using the N word 10 years ago, in some of his comments. And the interesting thing I felt that Sam Harris was saying was Joe Rogan's only recently become fully aware of the impact that he has. He has more reach than any of the news agencies combined. What was interesting, he said, he kind of gets away with it, because he 'Oh, I'm just a comic'. I'm not a scientist, I'm not a doctor. So I'm just going say it. And more laterally, what I'm hearing Sam Harris saying, given his reach, given his multi million people following him, he might have to tighten the reins or tighten the, the spread of his opinions based on you know, we know the power of words. All it takes is it's not a race. And suddenly, you have an impact on society. And so I do wonder if those that do have followers, whether it's corporate or Tik Tok, or Joe Rogan, really fully understand the impact have a phrase, a word, full stop?
I agree. And it was resonating for me is a couple of couple of things here, Pete, if I may. One is, rightly or wrongly, but in my listening, it confirms that they are leaders of and in society, and therefore there's a responsibility that comes with that, that they at least need to acknowledge. And then they can have a choice as to what they want to do with that. So that's the first thing. So is leadership changing people, more leaders in society than before, that kind of proves that thesis for me in my listening. And the other one is, the notion of ally ship, which I don't if you've done any work, or in that?
I've heard the phrase.
So at a headline level, the notion of ally ship can come in different domains. So for me, I have been, I have been told that I am a ally for women in leadership, given the work that I do in the space of mentoring women leaders, especially in the supply chain space. And my understanding of that is you cannot call yourself an ally, it needs to be conferred on you. That's the first thing. And it's conferred on you because those people of whom you may wish to try to be an ally for or of that only they can determine whether you are or not. And the other core element of being an ally, and this really resonated for me when you were sharing your story there about the podcast, is is a recognition of one's own place relative to those who see you an ally. Now, I know I had a privileged upbringing. Very, you know, I'll say posh English boarding school, parents living around the world, home up in the Highlands of Scotland. Absolutely a privileged background. What I now realise is, that it was even more privileged than I realised it was relative to so many others. So my lens of what privilege was has, has massively expanded and now I believe, and I hope I can say this appropriately for for those listening, that as a white middle aged bloke, that in itself gives one privilege in today's in today's society, then add on that, you know, tertiary education, then add on kind of posh private school then add on kind of a life as an expat child. Living in the Highlands of Scotland, it's layer on layer on layer of privilege. Now, I didn't see that. So now I can appreciate far more that there's, there's a, there's a place that others will see me that I never saw myself, I'm only now starting to see that. So that in my reading of ally ship are the two core areas that are critical, then it goes into being a learner. So then really is around understanding and having an empathy and being a learner of those who see you as an ally. That's that's where your story of the podcast and that those two individuals took me to.
Can you just explain that a bit Conor of what is being a learner of those you are ally-ship with? Actually what does that mean?
It means understanidng their stories. At a headline level - It means understanding your stories. There's there's in the coaching practice, the philosophy of Ontological Coaching that I bring to the world, you know, and it's actually one of my hashtags is #legitimateother. So there's this notion of how do I hold the other person, who I'm in a conversation with (you and I now) in a relationship with kind of big R or small r, relative to the extent of that relationship. How do I hold you as the legitimate other? And it's headline level for me, that means understanding your story as best as I can. Listening to where you're coming from. Being curious and asking questions. Now. I don't have to agree with it. I don't have to agree with your assessments or you know, your your views. But I have a responsibility to hear you. And this is where I've just heard of the word Ubuntu - so I hear you, I see you. That is fundamental, as I understand it, to somebody seeing you as an ally.
And I find Conor that, part of my messaging to the leaders I work with, is often Ubuntu is enough. It's often because it's the biggest thing missing. No one hears me, no one sees me, no one holds me. So just someone else another human doing that, in a purely authentic and genuine and real way is like, well, that's, I'm getting goosebumps even thinking about that.
Likewise. And then you talk about language and the importance of language, which is then is how do we as leaders and as humans, but in this context, leaders give the space through our language, for those to be heard? For those to be seen? And arguably, a way that we do this is by being very purposeful with the type of conversation that we have with other individuals, and the type of conversation that we create, for others to have. And again, there's a topic in itself in the notion of, you know, of types of conversations and how arguably, I'll make a statement here, that every conversation that we have, can be labelled as a particular type of conversation. Every conversation. And it's being purposeful and knowing that.
In the work I've done over the years, I'm a firm believer that every relationship succeeds slowly or quickly. And so you know, you and I just connected for the first time you know, we've had a few exchange over email we've connected at least on Zoom. And, you know, if we meet up face to face that relationship will continue slowly until it gets faster. Whereas we might kind of go nah, Pete I'm not sure about him. I don't like to be organised his books and blah, blah, blah, blah, and it might just dissapate for whatever reason. And I wonder how often that happens in corporate beyond, and I'm tagging something else on here, beyond the hierarchy? Most of the organisation's I work with are still, still to this day, which I believe in a little bit of reading I've done, you know, the boxes and lines. Here's the org chart. That's a 100 year old philosophy. And yet we still use it. Because we haven't found a different or better way to signify, visualise, what does the organisation look like? So let's go to the old boxes and wires, boxes and lines. And so there's some hierarchical aspect. Oh I report to Conor so therefore, I can't do this, and I have to do that. And I'm wondering, how often do you see that show up and are there any antidotes to it?
Well, there'd be those listening who would argue the antidote is agile working and scrums, and, you know, different structures there. And I have, I'm going to say I have not worked in that space where I can actually say it is an antidote or not. However, my sense is that it's simply another structure, which creates some of the same challenges that we're referring to. But I acknowledge that it may well be an antidote, and it certainly is emerging as a potentially different way to the hierarchical structure. So, that having been said, if we go... So, again, I'm going to this distinction, a way of being way of doing, I firmly believe that language, the audible language that we use, is a way of doing. So I do not subscribe to 'Action speaks louder than words', per se, okay. I would have done I get it. And I even get the notion of it, but I actually choose not to subscribe to that. Why? Because used effectively language is action. So in part for me, it is how we, as leaders are aware of the language that we use, you know, that that we hear in our own way of being in our in our own inner listening. And then how do we construct the environment, bit of repetition here apologise, how do we construct the environment, such that facilitates us having purposeful conversations? That, you know, feel is drifting maybe into the domain of psychological safety, and again, Ubuntu - to people being heard, you know, that they can share in a safe environment, what it is that they're thinking. That then leads to seeing possibilities. So again, you know, how is leadership changing? It is being open to more possibilities, it is allowing the space for those possibilities to emerge. Again, I know I've used it at least twice, maybe this a third time and Co-create outcomes. But then some of the old, kind of good stuff kicks in. Right. Okay, have we got a decision? Yeah, we do. You know, are we going to deliver on this? How are we going to deliver on it? What's the KPIs? What's the objectives? What's the milestones? None of that changes. That doesn't change, we still need to, to get stuff done. Kind of have that paradigm of, you know, gosh, what was the RACI model if one of your one of the fields in project management of the 1980s. I mean, it still works, but how we get there is now different.
Could you explain if possible, I know people listening will think they might understand and some will and some wont, the distinction between being and doing. And you said at the start, you know, freedom from, you know, internal freedom from how you were being and leads to external freedom to what you can now do. So paraphrase. What's the difference between being and doing?
So I'd ask yourself and the listeners to think of two Venn diagrams. The best way I can describe it two Venn diagrams. Way of being - the first circle is our language in our own head. So what are we saying to ourselves? What are our stories? What is our internal narrative, our internal dialogue? The second circle is our moods and emotions. Or as Dan Newby says, the energy that moves us - an amazing person who works in emotional literacy and emotional awareness. I do not use the word emotional intelligence. So the first, so way of being the language in our head, the stories we tell ourselves, our moods and emotions, what we feel. And then the third circle is in the domain of cymatics and body. Which is, and the way I make that distinction is what we sense and what we notice. We don't try and put a label to it. It could literally be shoulder, nose, toenail, ear, forehead, eyebrow, heart, tummy, knee, that sense notice. So those are the three domains of our way of being. The way I describe way of doing is our start again with language, the audible language that others hear. How we make meaning through language for others in a purposeful way. That to me is a doing. The other circle in the Venn diagram of doing is our behaviours. How we behave that is manifestly evident to others around us. So it is what they see and, to a degree, what they might feel is our behaviour. And then the third circle is the action that we take. Which covers everything else really in the domain of in the domain of doing. So hopefully that makes sense two Venn diagrams, inner-language, moods/emotions, physiology in being. Audible language, behaviour and action taking in doing.
Now I know, I'm going to guess that you're faced with the same questions. Most people I think, would then ask, well, how? And I'm not sure it's necessarily the best question. However, it will get asked. How do you make that switch? Do you have to do all three to fix/change all three? Does one trump the other? Can you maybe explain if someone comes to the same conclusion that you do and go, Oh, hang on time for a pivot, I need to change my way of being so I can change my way of doing how do you where do you start?
Well, I wouldn't use change as a strong word. So a word that might suit or sit more with the listeners is shift, shift, I mean, shift and change they could be the same but in my listening shift is more subtle. Changes, maybe an outcome of multiple shifts. So that's one one element. And my answer to the how is actually my I will say life and my coaching philosophy and framework for my coaching, which are these three words - observe, choose, act. So first of all, I must observe my way of being. What's way of being? Okay, I can observe my stories, I can observe my energy, my moods, my emotions, and I can observe my physiology. So that's observe internally, and then I also must observe the external environment within which I am living and or leading. And I do believe that our external observation comes from within. So it's an inside out observation, not an outside in. So by observing self, and being a different observer of self, we can see the world differently. So that's what I mean by observe. Some way of self observation and or observation of the world in which we're living / leading in. And we make some shifts. So for example, in the domain of our moods, we shift from a below the line to above the line, let's say from a mood of anxiety, and we shift to a mood of curiosity. Is that possible? I believe it is possible. That means that we will probably be more open to possibilities. We will be more effective in dealing with uncertainty. We will be more open to knowing as opposed to not knowing. So that will open us to more possibilities, which is the notion of choice. We're still going to have to choose some, we can't choose all the possibility we're going to have to make some choice. Okay, great. And then if we've made our choices, alright, what action am I going to take? And that's both in the domain of what and how so what action am I going to take? And how am I going to do it? And the how comes in your behaviour and comes in to how you use language. Hence, observe, choose, act is my life and coaching framework.
Lovely. I can see in that definition, Conor that it's... Maybe this is our challenge as executive coaches, I can see it's very obvious to me that someone needs someone alongside them to help them, remind them, cajole them, push them, pull them, cuddle them, hold them, you know all / whatever adjective you like and yet people don't. Any thoughts on why?
Because it's tough, it's bloody tough. It's tough to open yourself up to that because a couple of words I didn't hear I know that you you do this also but would be 'challenge'. So you know, executive coaching, you know, the person who is the coach will and should challenge respectfully. Hashtag the legitimate other, but at the same stage, asking really searching questions as to you know, the narrative a person's hearing their head or what they're feeling or what's happening within their somatic and their body. So, it's hard is one response. And here's here's the other response, which comes from a place of, you know, what isn't the question you've asked, but I'll come back to kind of why it's taking me there. The ultimate reference point for me, whether I can work with somebody or not. Now they've got lots of reference points, whether they choose to work with me or not, but my ultimate one is, are you a learner? And if the person who I'm working with is not a learner, and open to learning, and being in a, I will use the notion of a way of being that is a learning way of being? Pete, I don't think I've got I don't think I've got anything in my toolbox that can really help a person who's not open to learning.
I'll give you a frame that I would use in that circumstance. But I'm also interested in how do you probe that because I'm going to guess I'm going to make a big assumption here that most of the people we're spoken to are probably, you know, they've got some background, whether it's privileged or not, whether it's education or not, it almost doesn't matter if you ask, most of us will be working with adults, do you like to learn? Yes, is the answer. Are you a learner? Yes. Is the answer do you like to learn? Yeah. I'm going to guess that most of the answers would be in the affirmative. Of course, I love to learn Conor. Oh, of course I'm going to do this. How do you probe to find out how serious they are? Because you and I both know, it's so easy to say it. And actually bloody hard to do it?
Well, I think it comes from the distinction of what is being a learner? And just because, you know what I mean, was I a learner at school? Absolutely not. Was I learned at university? Absolutely not. And was I a learner through most of my career? I would say, Absolutely not. Now, did I learn heaps? Absolutely. Was I have a way of being that was a learner to be the joy of learning and the joy of finding out for no real. Because it's catching my words here, but I'm going to go with it for no overall purpose other than to be a learner. I learned for an outcome I learned for an outcome. And I'm not saying you shouldn't. So you should. But I think there's a much bigger as well as. So, you know, this is where the notion of being curious comes in. Is is up, you know, maybe I could ask, Are you are you curious? But again, I, when I've asked that question before, people think I'm curious to learn, it's a to. So there's, there's almost a chicken and egg going on. So people will say, a learning mindset. So you know, that's typically what a lot of people would say, you know, I would, in the work that I do prefer to see it as a almost a mood, an energy, a way of being that is being a learner and open to learning, almost with no consequences, then, yeah, that there's a different level, there is this notion you want to take here, there is a notion of second order learning, which actually gets into the domain of existentialism, and actually being an observer of self. I don't, I rarely would go there in the in the notion of an explanation. I understand second order learning and extensionism. And, but that's really a lot of what it could come down to is being an observer of self, and an open observer, you know, of those around you in the world around you.
I'm playing with this myself, Conor, os, I, you know, I'm spitballing a little bit here. You know, if I asked that question, are you a leaner? And, you know, obviously, if the answer was no, I go, well, we're done here. Let's assume the answer is yes I'm a learner. The next question I'd probably asked is, so how do you position yourself as a learner? Yeah, exactly. And that almost gets some trans derivational search going on. What do you mean? I don't understand the question. And that's partly my point. And then if they're able to answer that question, you know, when it's not about actually the answer, it's how the answer the question for me. Then I might go down very binary. So learn what? Because if they're then interested in and only interested in learning knowledge, yes. And learning stuff. Yeah. Then I'm not really caveat, I'll come back to it. Not really that interested in what I've come across as things this distinction between single double and triple loop learning. Where a single loop learning is simply we did something, we got it right, got it wrong, what can we adjust for next time? Okay. Whereas double loop learning and triple loop, or double loop is more I think what you've said in terms of secondary, where it's whether we got a right or wrong, what did we learn? Yeah. And what can we apply in the for the next time so it's a deeper level. Triple loop learning is then even deeper looking at some of the assumptions we make the first place. Beautiful. And when I've explored that when leaders and groups it's not. And partly it will be my explanation. It's not as simple or as easy as it could be. But most say they're interested. But either they don't want to. They don't make the time. They've got lower levels of awareness, they're too busy focusing on the surface level stuff.
Yeah, no, that's fantastic. And you've put it far more eloquently than than I was able to. And I'm certainly going to do some research and tip you up after this around triple loop learning, because what I think I failed to do effectively was the notion of I understand it of first and second order learning is what you've described as first and third. So I'm very interested to learn more about that without it just being stuff.
And then so let me throw the caveat in. It's amazing when you move out on your own. The most popular question I got asked, is what you're going to call the business? You know, apart from Pete Clark associates or Pete Clark Consulting, you know, I wasn't going to get cut, I didn't want to make it about me. Although, you know, as you may have heard in the previous cut past podcasts with Karen. I am the business which is a challenge in and of itself. So, I came up with 21 Whispers for the reason that I believe life whispers to us. But we only tend to do something when it shouts. Now, the 21 is an arbitrary number, it could be four. Could be 22. It could be 647. No idea. But this metaphorical 21st Whisper is when somebody does something based on something I do or say or how or how I'm being and that, that there's a story behind that of an actual event that, you know, creates goosebumps for me, because this woman came up to me and said, you've changed my life. And it was great at the time. On reflection. Now I understand I just happen to be lucky enough to be the 21st respondent. Because on many occasions, I guarantee I've been the 20th. Yeah. Or the first. Yeah. Right. So I now never hear and should never hear of the impact have had because that's led them to go and seek out Conor and Conor does some coaching with them. Conor says something. Oh my god, Conor, you've changed my life. Yeah. Now, what I've reconciled over the years is not all day, every day, because it doesn't pay the bills. But more and more, I'm really comfortable being the third whisper or the eighth whisper, or the 20th whisper, because I'm still contributing with an intent to take you to the next door, or the next place that will allow someone else to help you see your way of being and your way of doing differently. And it's actually for me over the years, it's helped me be okay with not getting the best results externally all the time. Because that's not perhaps why I'm there for that person. So coming back to your question about how do you position yourself as a learner? Are you a learner? I might be in certain situations really provocative. And, you know, I'm saying this very carefully piss them off a little bit. Because they know that the lead them to go somewhere else, to potentially hear the 21st whisper from somewhere else.
Beautiful, beautiful. Well, not every coach is appropriate for every person, and any coach who thinks that they are and in fairness, you know, I don't think many coaches think that they are right, for every person. It's about a, it's about a fit and a match. So my response of your 21st Whisperer is the CEOs caddy. So for me, the metaphor I use and was again conferred upon me by a friend actually, as we were playing golf. He said Mate, you're like the CEOs caddy. And I went, that's it! That's exactly what I feel that I do. And I, you know, for me, the notion is I walk alongside my clients. And I know you're a golfer too, but anybody who's listening to this, and you watch, you know, the, you know, the recent PGA Championship, if you like, you know, you see the caddies, they're there, they're walking alongside, they're having conversations, they're, they're being truly present with their golfing partner, the player and then they step away so you know, the notion of taking the action and actually you know, for any golfer listening if you don't like anything I've said other than observe, choose, act. Well observe, choose, act works on the golf course observe yourself, observe the ground, observe the lay of the land, the choice what club am I going to take, and the action that that you take. So for me, the metaphor of walking alongside my clients is, is something that resonates with me, so hence, you know, my brand if you like, from a business perspective is the CEO's Caddy.
Yeah, I like that. Conor, I know that you have written a book, which is great. I think there's a book and all of us and mine is just sitting on the shelf, still 30,000 words of draft that I was going to pick up February 2020. But then COVID hit. So I will get there. But I'm interested. It's called Trust. And it's essentially about, well, why don't you tell the listeners? What's the essence of it about? Because I want to ask a couple questions about worries, the main premise.
No worries, the main premise is that trust, which is actually the title of something, you know, the title of the book, Trust - begins and ends with self. So that in itself is the direct answer to the main premise. What I hope I've created through the book is some stories to bring context with regards to my own personal story and journey that takes to the point to which I've created a model, which I call the new ordering of trust, which leads the reader through, beginning with self. This notion of being and doing and taking the leader through, in essence, a self journey of trust. Then a way that we can build trust in a one on one relationship. Then a way that we can build trust with our team. And I do then go into this notion, because I do believe leadership is changing about how we can be a more effective leader in and of society. And then very briefly, my goodness, I go into this space of what I call universal energy. You know, might be spirituality might be religion, you know, yeah. I hope this isn't glib. I don't really care what it is for the person who reads it. Hence, this notion of universal energy, you know, is there something bigger than all of us, which ultimately outstrips the ego possibly even outstrips legacy? And I feel that if we if we can feel that energy that somewhere within us, then here's the irony, it kind of comes back to self because we're feeling it within ourselves.
Conor tell me of your views on, why - so the question, you know, we should trust ourselves, you know, it starts and ends with ourselves. Why is that such an issue for humans, that they don't trust themselves?
I think, the external world, you know, the outside in as opposed to the inside out. There are so many external influences on us. Yeah, especially societal influences. So words like 'should.' Words like 'have to'. Words like 'must'. Those are external words, if that makes sense in this context, because they're societal, arguably, societal expectations. And more and more, you mentioned, TicToc, and, you know, all kinds of social media today, and you know, certainly, you know, we've got, you know, older children, you know, 28, for me, nearly 29 and 26 year old and I know yours, 18, 22 and 25. But even the youngsters today, young teenagers, today, the external influences are far greater. So I think that is a massive challenge on trusting oneself, therefore. How do we find a way of understanding self? And then, you know, I guess I feel I'm about to go on a bit of a rant here. But, you know, the education system of today in the west is still typically a Victorian education system that that was, you know, in the late industrial revolution, you know, and that's still kind of the education today now, you know. I had great joy of walking past a primary school last year and there was this notion of be more self aware, and there was something you know, there were talks about whole body listening. You know, that's fantastic, you know, the starting to bring that into the education system today and being aware of I would say, this wouldn't be our way of being moods, energy Cymatics physiology. You know, I dare say in schools that we went to, we never heard that we never got it. So we're not we're not as typically you know, who we are white middle aged men, but it's a most in the Western world. We're not educated in listening. If somebody's listening to this from a different culture from Asia or whatever, then I you know, I don't have enough knowledge, but I hope that somewhere in those cultures, there's more of an understanding of kind of way of being. I believe, and certainly for me personally, that's what's helped me understand about trusting myself more. And now I've got a framework I mean, you know, does everybody need a framework? I don't know. I found it very very helpful to have these three circles to go I can I can go into what am I telling myself? What am I feeling? Or what's my body telling me? That helped me enormously.
I know you don't mean this, but how would someone therefore make the distinction that they pickup what you're saying you are trusting self. How do you make the distinction and help someone see that's not about being arrogant, that's not about being narcissistic. How do you help them make that distinction?
Well, in so I'll go to the age old one, which many people and you might have heard is the oxygen mask. So you know, as as, you know, the the, the flight attendant, you know, says, you know, what do you do first when the oxygen mask and then put it on yourself, so you can help others. So that's one. And I also had this little thing I've created out of a coaching session a few years ago. And if anybody has a pen and a pencil, if you write a little bit, little little s, and then capital E, L, F, I, S, H. Little s. It's okay to be a little bit selfish. So I think we have to kind of take that notion that to be our best self, we have to acknowledge, understand self be a little bit selfish to then be of service to others.
Conor, I'm really conscious of time and I'm really grateful for your, you know, transparency and insight. I'm going to close if it's okay with a few quickfire questions? You don't you don't know these are coming.
So are you more sunset or sunrise?
Sunrise. I'm a five o'clock in the morning person. Not a six o'clock in the evening person. That's like - that's done, great next. Right?
You said you were a Scot, with an Irish name and an English accent living as an Aussie. So at the World Cup, who do you support?
Which World Cup?
Any World Cup.
Well, so there's an interesting one. So the Rugby World Cup. Yep. Rugby Union World Cup that is Scotland. Without a doubt. At the Soccer World Cup. It's been a long time since Ali's army ever made it to the soccer World Cup. So therefore, I might just sport to sport the English in, in a soccer World Cup.
Right? Okay. What's a rule that you like to break?
A rule that I like to break? I like to break what is emerging for me, I'm going to a body here physiologically, what's a rule that I like to break? I'm not sure I've got an answer for that.
What about the opposite - what's a maxim you like to live by?
Asking myself how the mood that I'm in or the language that I'm using is serving me. So it's so so turning it into a question is - How is what I'm feeling, how is what I'm thinking serving me?
And then finally, what's one of the books or quotes that changed your life?
I'll answer both of them. So the book undeniable, this changed my my life is Coaching To The Human Soul work by Alan Sieler, who's the you know, arguably one of the world leaders of Ontological Coaching and he's written four editions. There's a sequence but in whole Coaching To The Human Soul by Alan Sieler. And from a quote perspective, Alan Watts, who's kind of a philosopher who said, "Waking up to who you are, requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be".
mic drop moment there, I think. I think that's a perfect way to pause. Certainly our public conversation, Conor, thank you so much, one for your time two for your insights. And I look forward to continuing our conversations privately.
Great, thanks very much indeed. And privileged to be on your podcast. Thank you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai