I have always wanted to do a good job, do things right, and to know that others approve.

I check-in with myself regularly – and with others too. Although valuing others’ opinions over your own can be a little confusing and at times downright debilitating. Using others to check-in on self-progress allows Mr Doubt to walk all over what I am doing and thinking.

When we try to become everything to everyone, we become nobody to ourselves. The trick I have learnt is to first become somebody to myself, then I will be someone to others.

It’s important to get valuable feedback…

As a leader you don’t get much of it, right? So why not do it for yourself.

You know time is a great healer – things don’t always seem that bad. You put things in perspective. But, have you ever noticed that time can fundamentally alter your outlook on life?

Think back to the last time you had an argument with a colleague or a stranger. Maybe it was someone in a call centre. At the time you were fuming. And for hours afterwards you were thinking of all the clever things you could have said to put down your opponent.

The after-effects of the argument probably ruined your whole day. I know this to be true for me. Later in the day the Sting has gone out of my turbulent emotions. The event still happened but I remember it from a different perspective.

Changing your perspective can transform your experience of leading…

The trouble is, as in life if you rely solely on outside circumstances to change in order to be happy you have to wait a very long time. If you are constantly seeking feedback on your performance you end up not knowing truly how good you can be, measuring your success and self-worth through another’s eyes.

I am not saying don’t get feedback. We are all needy, need affirmation. Want recognition. I am saying, pay attention to the degree to which you seek approval of “your audience”. I see this as getting easily caught up in doing mode – getting the feedback from others and making changes.

Make a shift in your perspective and feed-forward on yourself. It is an alternative to fueling the doing mode and entering the being mode.

Build Internal Reference Points

Your measure of success is yourself, and not where others believe you lie in relation to them. It’s a different way of knowing, that allows you to see your mind not distorted by another’s reality.

I have found I am able to change my internal landscape irrespective of what’s happening around me. Then I am no longer dependent on external circumstances for my contentment with what I have done. I use my own values as my standards for measuring my success.


Henry, a brilliant CEO of a very famous global drinks brand asked for my help recently.

“Deon, I need help with being concise. I talk too much, and lose my audience.”

“How do you know you lose the audience?”

“Well, they look bored. They fiddle with their phones and look down.”

I thought to myself do I just tell him here – these people are auditory processors – or should I get him to try it. I went with the latter.

Henry went to the bar, we were in a function room in a restaurant in New York in Greenwich Village – very cool.

At the bar, he was to ask for some bottled water, and have a conversation with the person serving him. (It’s the middle of day and we are working. No need for gin. Yet). He was also meant to notice what he thought and did whilst talking to the person. I too was present, observing him.

When we got back to the function room. We feed-forward…


“Henry what did you notice?”

“I spent the whole time in conversation, thinking about what she was thinking. Whether she was listening.”

“And so what did you do because of that?”

“I become more and more self-conscious. And preoccupied with my brief.”

“And what effect did that have on you?”

“I was uncomfortable. I wanted to stop talking. Get out of there. Then I tried harder to speak to her. I started to act. I was acting interest in her and what she was saying to me.”

“You become something you’re not? Untruthful? Fake?”

“Yes, I did. I noticed how I became so fixated on a result I wanted because of the brief– making her engage with me, I lost why I was speaking to her.”

Doing things right

When we use others’ perception, and their apparent non-verbal and verbal cues as our measure of success we lose sight of who we are. Why we are there. Our purpose.

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