CEO TalkBack: Finding The Courage to Act


By Natalie Michael, CPHR

By definition business contains risk. It’s in everything—the market conditions, the product and service launches, the environmental landscape, human resources and finance. There is no escaping risk if you want to play the game in business. Given this, leaders who want to win need resilience to succeed, rise to challenges and face risks.

Welcome the Warrior Mindset System
Sean Bacon, is a CEO coach and the president of Dynamic Shift Consulting Inc. He served 12 years as a paratrooper and as an instructor with the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy. Now he teaches the “Warrior Mindset System,” and the 12 commandments of mental toughness to corporate leaders, organizations and athletic teams.

For Bacon, mental toughness is the ability to be operationally resilient in any situation or environment, something he learned first hand in the military. He believes that resilience is paramount for success, and to understand it you must consider how fear, courage, and resilience work together.

“When people experience change fear, stress and doubt, they start to over-think and become pre-occupied with failure. They focus on the worst case scenario, replay negative “what if” scenarios and become paralyzed. In an attempt to avoid risks they freeze, and stop taking action,” Bacon explains.

Accordingly, to be highly successful during high stakes missions you need to break this cycle. The military trains soldiers to keep moving forward despite these negative emotions. It teaches soldiers that to be resilient you must keep action in play.

Connecting to Core Beliefs and Values
Feisal Dedhar, is an entrepreneur who owns a private equity firm in Vancouver. He agrees with Bacon that resilience is essential to meeting and working through challenges in business. He goes on to explain: “Throughout my career as an entrepreneur I have had my share of obstacles. To be resilient I have had to develop mental strength, understand my risk tolerance, and continuously reconnect with my core beliefs and values.”

Feisal believes that proposed business solutions must be congruent with personal values for the resilience to come through. “I believe mental toughness can be developed, but in order to do so, you need to be open to new experiences and other people’s points of view. You can’t be rigid, or inflexible, and you can’t separate business from values and relationships,” he says.

Remain Mindful in the Moment
Resilience is also connected to mindfulness. To be resilient, it’s helpful to stay present and not get emotionally hijacked. “When you encounter stress and obstacles you have to understand what moment you are in. Don’t think too far ahead. If you focus too far in the future you will experience anxiety, or at worst, depression,” shares Bacon. “To be resilient and mindful look at the moment and what you need to achieve to move through it without emotions ruling the show.”

In Bacon’s view, emotions are part of being human, but they do not need to impede performance. Just think of a star athlete at the Olympics. The athlete may feel nervous, but they still need to go forward with focus. Those athletes who are able to do this are the ones that win the gold.

The Reality of Embracing Risk
When it comes to workplace cultures it is helpful to send the message that educated risks add value. Feisal advises: “Many people try to avoid risks all together. In my view, this leads to stagnation. It is more productive to identify the risks and find ways to manage them.”

Bacon concurs, advising his own executive and human resources clients to consider this cultural motto: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the perseverance that matters most.”

Natalie Michael, CPHR, is a partner with Waterfront Partners, an executive coaching firm focused on coaching C-suite leaders. She is the author of Your CEO Succession Playbook: How to Pass the Torch so Everyone Wins and The Duck and The Butterfly: Coaching Questions for Leaders at Work.

(PeopleTalk Fall 2017)

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