Steve Rush: I am, joined today by Simon Tyler. Simon Tyler is one of the most experienced coaches in the world. He’s author of five books and he is now prolific writer and blogger, is the author of the Impact Book, Keep It Simple Book, Impact Code, The Simple Way and the Attitude Book. Simon, welcome to the show.
Simon Tyler: Thank you, Steve. Good to be here.
Steve Rush: Now there are three kind of themes that seem to parallel across your writing, and that is impact, attitude and simplicity. That just happen by chance or is that through experience?
Simon Tyler: Chance you would say, the whole of my journey practically uncovering some of this conversation is I have allowed my life and my journey to unravel and accept whatever shows up, but it started very much with simplicity being called Simon. Unsurprisingly, to some of the listeners, I was a curse for been simple Simon through most of my life. So people call me “Simple Simon” and I railed against it all the way through our member.
My teens, I was desperately trying to prove to people know I am complicated, I am really complicated and pushback against it, pushback against it and I was working with a coach from the U.S. She was in the New England, and she and I did some work together. Her name was Kate, and we jokingly call ourselves Simple Simon and Complikate, which of course is very funny but it was about me accepting simplicity as perhaps the hill on which I stand, and it wasn’t until I was coached by a guy called Drew Zel and that was probably 10 years ago where he simply challenged me. He said why don’t you just accept it. I said, what you mean. He said just accept the fact that you are simple, Simon and there was a stony silence in the conversation and I just allowed it to be there for me, oh, maybe you are right.
And from that point on, I was much easier with that moniker and accepted it and out of that, I thought, well, maybe that is what I do. That is the impact I have with people when I rock up. I tend to ask the really simple question. I try and pull my clients or the teams or whoever I’m working with it, just back in a wall, what is really going on? And that’s always informed me in the way I go about things, if ever I get stuck. I always go back to simplicity. How can I make this a little bit more simple? And that starts the moment again. It is a huge answer to your question, Steve but simplicity was the start and everything else is sort of spun on from there.
Steve Rush: And simplicity is really complicated to get to. We will kind of unpick some of the reasons why that may be in a moment. You talked a lot about being coached. So how did you end up being a coach yourself?
Simon Tyler: A long time back, I was director of a consulting company and one of the big projects for a client, I members putting together as I put together a team of we called them coaches. This was probably in the mid to late 1990s where really the phrase coach was not something that was common in a business setting. And whilst if we were to look back, they didn’t really conduct coaching, as now we would understand it to be, it was more about understanding the skill gap and helping people fix a skill gap. It was quite interesting; coaching then was sticking around me as a word. I left that consulting company in 2000 and in not knowing where to go myself, I engaged the coach again in the U.S. because that is where there were much more supply of coaches and I was coached for a period of time. And once I got over my ridiculous Britishness of not really answering the question that they were asking. I really got so much from it and it was a profound shift. And as we all look back in where the big shift in your life, that was definitely one working with Scott Wintrip and he challenged me or helped me realize that the way in which I dialogue with people, the outcome of the conversations that people have with me, he says, in essence, it’s coaching dialogue. Consider building a coaching practice. Okay, I will, so I began in 2000. I set up and I backed out of quite a lot of consulting client work and thought right, I am a coach. Here I am. Come on, everybody, come and be coached, and that was a slow old journey. Try to convince people what a coach was first before they agreed to coach with me. That is the way, my coaching began and it was a slow process picking up a client here and a client there. Not really known what fees to charge, so therefore not really making it a brilliantly viable coaching business. I carried on going and it just opened up more, more dialogues.
Steve Rush: And it is fair to say if you roll the clock forward, you have now coached hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. If there was perhaps…
Simon Tyler: Indeed.
Steve Rush: …if there was one theme that you can see that is maybe more consistent than not, what would you say that was?
Simon Tyler: Well, it is interesting, what shows up when I thought about, what is it? The dialogues that people have had with me for the bulk of the growth period of me as a coach were around leaders in transition, so they were people who been spotted as talent, as potential for growth in them, in their in organizations. But broadly speaking, the companies didn’t know what to do with them other than give them more training and send them on more workshops and so on and so forth. And it was me in conversation saying, well, these people should be coached at the point that client used the phrase coaching to describe. A remedial action for somebody who wasn’t performing well in their role. That’s really interesting cause that’s not who I coach, I coach people who want to grow, who aspire to something bigger, better, to be more themselves and to have more impact and I said, okay. We will do it and in essence. Risked the first pilot wave, which was a group of 12 people. I coached all 12 and all of them, to varying degrees, had a significant change effect as a result of the dialoguing with me, so I would say one of the pieces, therefore, and lots came from that. Was people in transition, people ready to move or not sure of where they are at all. Exploring what is next and it’s that sort of dialoguing that perhaps formed the rump of the work I did through the early 2000s.
Steve Rush: And that is great to hear, and in my experience also of coaching people in similar transitioning; these are people who have already been identified as talent. They have the raw capabilities it just needs unlocking and through that dialogue, right?
Simon Tyler: Yeah, indeed and again, it goes back to my simple question sometimes just tapping, asking the question that people maybe a half asked in their own heads. And I think the questions that you ask yourself. My observation over the years is that you never truly answer it fully yourself. You might reach a difficult point in the thought and stop or you might part answer it and then leave it there, and it is only when you are in dialogue with somebody. One to one, who like me and I like yourself. I am sure and other coaches will just sit in that space and hold you to that question, that your answer gets bigger, deeper, broader and goes to more places and more gets unlocked.
Steve Rush: What do you think? The reason is that we don’t take it to the 10 degree or that next set of questions, when we try a bit of self-coaching?
Simon Tyler: Well, life is very busy and my clients, I am sure that similar groups, the people that you work with, there is a lot going on. There is one of things I wrote about I think it is in the keep it Simple Book is Control Alt Delete, which is a function that we are all very familiar with on the computer. You press Control Alt Delete, you have a look at all programs that are running any one particular time on your PC and it is the same in people’s heads. I metaphorically try and help people work that through. If we did a Control Alt Delete, there is a lot going on. So thought to try and manage our own thinking. It is a tough ask if we have got a lot on, we are trying to hold ourselves to a particularly deep question.
The brain is going to stop popping around with other stuff and lead us off in another direction. And there are many, I’m so delighted that in years where we’ve got to today. Mindfulness has been grasped by almost every organization. It is a way that we can improve the way that we connect with ourselves and release creativity and so on. Any step on mindfulness will bear fruit and the mindfulness technique is to just be aware of all the thoughts that are going on and learn. Build the muscle up; just sit with just one thought and it’s not standard practice, we human beings tend to take on a lot physically and in our thinking, there’s a lot going on, back to my control Alt delete. If you sit in there trying to think about a profound career-changing question and there is someone knocking at your front door, you are not there; your mind is going to drift away and that is a very simple example, but that describes it if it helps.
Steve Rush: And in the workplace, I guess the same plays out, doesn’t it? So I wonder, what is the reason that people find it so difficult to keep things simple?
Simon Tyler: Again, it is the volume of stuff. That is going on in the world we are in now. People tend to be responsible for many things and not just many different things. Just the variety of them, that needs to be involved in all of their job agreement, it just varies so much from a quiet conversation to support someone to a bit of deep calculation type thinking. And that could be butting up against each other, and asking yourself to make that mental shift all the way through the day and to sit quietly and take on some of these more challenging. Potential breakthrough questions and breakthrough thinking is often it is in the too difficult box and I notice people push it out or I will do that when? When I get my next clear day, I am going to do that. I will clear all the appointments out on Thursday and I will do on Thursday. No, you won’t.
Steve Rush: It is procrastination.
Simon Tyler: Yeah and it is clever procrastination and it is not a bad thing because what is that wonderful expression somebody use many years ago? Which is busy people look more important than important people and there’s a an intense busyness, I notice, because there’s a lot to be done. There is so much to be done, there is never going to be enough time to do everything you really want to achieve. The outcomes of people working with me is. I will get people to just pair some of that back, sounds obvious, but what is really important? What you really want to achieve here? And this lots of techniques I’d written about those sort of things in a number of different ways in all of the books. Just trying to just shift the way my readers and my clients and the listeners to my podcast. Just slowly pare back the noise that is going on then get to the important stuff.
Steve Rush: Thank you so much, that is really insightful and I think our listeners will resonate with that. Where they struggle with their own thinking about how simple they are keeping things or indeed how complicated they are making things.
Simon Tyler: You absolutely know. People will know when they reach that point of…there in a complicated zone, and there is a distinction between complicated and complex. Some things are understandably unnecessarily so complex, but complicated causes stuff inside us. When life has become complicated or our thinking has become complicated. That is when we can’t think of thought for very long or we start to feel less than great. Our creativity gets stifled, just our mood shifts and all of the stuff I’ve written about our attitude changes when we’re caught in complication and it just changes who we are so my alert to my clients is just notice. Just notice that all, there is a moment, let’s come back. Let’s come back, see if I can just introduce a little bit more simplicity and start again.
Steve Rush: That there is a real hack there, isn’t there? The difference between complicated and complex and noticing the difference and being wise enough to act on what’s holding you back versus what can empower you.
Simon Tyler: They absolutely feel different. Complex feels different to complicated. If you tune in to how you feel and the thoughts that are triggered in a complex situation compared to a complicated situation, they feel completely different.
Steve Rush: I suspect that’s got something to do with how we process information in our brain. We will feel complicated, which will trigger some of those neurological threat responses vs complex, which will keep us engaged and thoughtful and energized and looking for the stimulation, the mental stimulation that comes with problem solving.
Simon Tyler: Absolutely.
Steve Rush: So impact has also been a key theme for you in part of your life’s work over the last 10 years. How would you say to leaders that are listening now that are maybe struggling to get the impact that they are intending?
Simon Tyler: Oh, that is a good start. What you have just said there. If they have an intention, that is cool. A lot of people don’t have clarity over their intention. They just have this umbrella word…I want to have better impact. What do you mean by that? What sort of impact do you want to have? What is the footprint you want to leave? What is the change you want to cause in a room to a group of people? To the situation? To the strategy? Any thinking to get a little bit more clarity on what your impact is. Your intention is important. Starting there, I notice and perhaps this drove me around my work with writing the Impact Book. Is people then often jump from, okay, I’ve got the impact I want to cause. Now tell me the actions. What actions do I need to take? And as I unravel in that book, it’s a path. Action almost is the fourth part whether you driving, causing, forcing, action for your impact and it is interesting listening to the other shows you had. Different people, different guest you talk about this in different ways, too and for me, it’s working through the pathway of causing impact and I use four A’s.
The first (A) is Attraction. How you attract people to the way, you think and getting people aligned to the impact you want to cause, more people on board with you, so in essence developing your magnetism as a leader.
The second (A) is creating appetite. So people find you, your message, what you stand for, your purpose alluring.
The third (A) then is advocacy. That is where you start to create people. Who advocate what you stand for, and you nurture them almost in effect as your cheerleaders, but they start to be part of what you are causing.
And then the final (A) action. That is where you start to create change and almost at that point, the change you want to create, you seek to create. It starts to happen anyway, because the previous steps you have taken.
Steve Rush: I love that Simon. Many of our listeners will be familiar with the good old-fashioned impact to action gap and what you are talking about here is the kind of three elements that sit before action. Which you unlock impact, right?
Simon Tyler: Absolutely. Yeah, and I write this, my notes, little impact notes in there, just hacks, if you like, to help people through each of those previous stages. And when you really become desperate to have impact, you’re not going to invest in those earlier phases. Just being more authentic, being more authentic on a daily basis, which is you being you truly, does not feel like powerful enough or fast enough and you won’t do it, and if you don’t invest in that, the end is not going to happen. The action is not going to happen.
Steve Rush: You also wrote about this in your latest book, The Attitude Book, so, how do you see that attitude defines our outcomes as leaders?
Simon Tyler: Well, attitude. I love it. I did not realize it until I said to my publisher. Yep. Next one is going to be about attitude. They went, great, okay. Here is the deadline. Get it written by then. Oh, okay. Yeah, it is a big thing and a more and more I did my research around attitude and how it plays out and look for examples and stuff that had worked. The bigger and bigger it got, and here’s me thinking I’ve just got to settle on 50 pieces of advice about attitude. It was a really the most difficult writing phase of all of my books was for the Attitude Book because it was just so big. You start to get into such a huge area, but I did obviously successfully managed and I use their deadline to get me to conclude, and I cut out almost as much as has gone into the attitude book. Which therefore leads with Oh, I wish I had. I have written about it subsequently, but attitude is the magic, if you like, or the magnet that makes it happen and attitude get affected all the time by what is going on around us. If we’ve got no real sense about what we want to have impact on, our attitude is going to just drift.
And it’s your attitude that attracts people and situations and occurrences to your path. If you are clear, when you become clear and you can narrow your attitude range and I talk about that when I speak at conferences events. The first step is often to become aware of the breadth of the range of attitude that you carry with you and narrow them. Because if you got from your great day attitude, all the way through to a bad day attitude. That is just too great; people don’t know where they stand. You attract a mishmash of stuff that just does not help you. Narrow the range, which takes a little bit of thought to just a little bit more control of your attitude initially, which then allows you to shift your attitude in the direction you want it to, and that, as I say, becomes magnetic and different things happen when your attitude changes. You see things differently, your whole body and mind thought, things you see and feel. The experience is different when your attitude is changed.
Steve Rush: Right – and it might sound a little cliché. But do you think you can choose your attitude?
Simon Tyler: Totally. Totally. At the time when you think, you need to. That is often the time when it is most difficult because you realize my attitude is not helping here. That is a really tough moment to change your attitude. Another lovely expression we would say is the best time to repair a roof is when the sun shining, but most people wait until they realize, ah, it is the winter. Now the time to repair my roof. Not a good time, but you can shift your attitude and it is a choice space thing and it’s checking in, maybe when we get to my three hack’s, we’ll talk about some techniques that just get you back to the middle of you to become more determined and intention full.
And that’s when it starts, and then there’s some other pieces I wrote about in the Attitude Book, which is about your resilience. So your attitude, resilience so that it can withstand the pushback you will get or the counter attitudes or maybe there’s a prevailing attitude in your team or in your company that doesn’t fill up the one you want to have as well. And just like groupthink as people describe it, there is this attitude cluster I see in organizations. Be careful, just notice how that attitude attracts to that team or group or company. Certain situations, certain occurrences, synchronicities happen around those attitudes. If you are the leader, you’re the one that’s going to set the tone, set the attitude and it takes starting with just a few of the people around you who are aligned, That is when you start.
Steve Rush: You referred to in you are Attitude Books as a lot of this attitude starts with self and you have something, in there called the “YOU” BOARD OF DIRECTORS, just tell us a little bit about that.
Simon Tyler: Yeah, I like that one and that’s similar, and again, the people who read all of my work will notice some fairly common threads or clusters around which the notes that I write tend to sit, and this is definitely one the “YOU” BOARD OF DIRECTORS. It is a moment, too, I suppose in any NLP terms they would say you are changing your position to look at same situation from a number of different angles that is all. And this came out of a conversation with a director in a financial company and he was a bit lost and not sure what to do, but stuck. So oftentimes coaches are very useful to help people get going, get momentum again through that stuck period, and the “YOU” BOARD OF DIRECTORS is a board of directors that is you but it needs a Cap change, if you like. I give the example of the chief executive you.
So if you were the chief executive of You PLC, managing you, your brand, what you do, what you’re all about. How would the chief executive get involved? What would their role be? How would they in general terms, look at how you are doing? What results would they want to report about you? How would they talk about what lies ahead? They would be more strategically interested in what you are all about, other roles you may have a chief financial you who would look at the performance, the absolute performance, what is the personal finance? What is the financial implications of what you are up to? What are the risks involved right now? Where my investment may needed? And then you might have other roles, Chief Operating Officer, HR You, Chief Marketing You. So if you build that team and it is an opportunity to perhaps take a moment away from your everyday activity on that. Take yourself away for a board meeting for You PLC, and just work through and always invite people. If you have not got a professional conversation dialogue, you’ve got a range with a coach or a trusted colleague. Then maybe journal this, so put the chief executive You hat on and write as if you were the chief executive of You but just five minutes and it’s a really interesting exercise that always bears fruit, and it just helps people shift the way they view themselves.
Steve Rush: It is really powerful to do that self-exploration thing, isn’t it? And see the world from a different perspective.
Simon Tyler: Yeah, I am sure you have this as a frustration with all of my work. Quite a lot of the time people go, oh yeah, I get that. I really like that. I am going to do that and they never do. The difference is the people that make the grab the hack in your world that works for them, do something with it, work with it, sit with it, reflect on it. If you do that, that makes the difference.
Steve Rush: So, Simon, at this point in the show, we are going to go to think about your top hacks. Now ahead of today, you have written in your books over a hundred and fifty. If you include your blog, you probably weigh over 200 hacks and I know that trying to ask you to distil these down to your top few is going to be challenging for you but what would be the kind of two or three that you think would be my nuggets?
Simon Tyler: Well, there is never one. Whatever it needs to be for that person in that situation. It is the one, the one. I wrote a simple note, but you inspire this in me. My simple note that came out in the beginning of March was called The One or The One Thing which is about this to look at what would the one thing be. So thank you very much for inspiration on that, so I am going to give you three. Two from the books, but one is the overarching one, which I will finish on.
The first one is in the Keep it Simple Book, which is “3-4-3”, which apart from my favourite football formation, is just a very simple way of looking at what you’re all about. And broadly speaking, and I found this in every contact with teams and groups of people through my entire career, broadly speaking of the ten things you’re up to, three you’ll be awesome at. That is the essence of you. Three you will be absolutely painfully detest and not very good at takes too much time and makes you feel bad when you react to those three. And in the middle of the four things that come with the turf of what you’re about right now and you don’t know whether they’re going to be great things or not. The distinction for people that grow the fastest, that have the greatest impact and results, however they measure results, is you spend more time in your top three, the essence of you. Define what they are; make those the priority for your week ahead. Be the best version of you. I know people because their life gets filled. It seems to fill from the bottom end up those bottom three things. If you spend a day working on those three things, you feel rubbish. You don’t like yourself or anyone else around you, and your attitude will change. They do not bring the best out of you and it is a conscious effort. Becoming aware of what my 3-4-3 is and spend all the time, I can pushing to make sure I am involved in my top three. Outsource, pay someone, swap or don’t do the bottom three things. They are not going to grow you. They are not going to make the difference. They are not going to get you promoted. They are not going to have the impact. It is the top three that does. That is my one big nugget.
Brief one is pause, and that is powerful. If I listened to perhaps how I…one of the most common things perhaps I introduced into conversations with clients is helping them feel more comfortable with pausing and inviting them in their heads to count to three and in that pause, it’s almost like an awakening. One, two, three and in that moment, the brain then just starts to relax. You get access to more of your brain’s thinking capacity. You hear the question perhaps you just ask. You have a sense for what the right answer might be. You have a sense of what your other answers might be. It just awakens more, so pause and count to three would be my second.
And then my third hack would be what I ended up writing about and talking about in my podcast earlier March is about awareness. To heighten your awareness for what is going on for you right now and more and more of what I read about, and now I am writing about is about this, which is if you are feeling disgruntled, off-beat, It is okay. Notice it maybe even name it. The act of noticing what you are experiencing and naming it instantly alleviates the power and the grip it has over you. Just by doing that. Second step in there in the awareness piece is just to become ease. I am just not allow that to be, I am going to, except the fact that I fill up that right now. Just those two steps and there are more steps in this. But those two steps will liberate people from the tough situations they might find themselves in as opposed to trying to grit and work it through.
Steve Rush: There is some really fantastic hacks there, practical information and insights people into take away, start practicing. So thanks for sharing those. In my experience of working with people like yourself and others who have developed a huge knowledge base and capability over time is that has not always been that way, so we call this section Hack to Attack and this is to explore maybe time in your life for your work where things did not go as well. Maybe it did not pan out as you had expected, but we are now using that as a tool in our work, in our life.
Simon Tyler: Through my life, there has been a number of really challenging situations and I know looking back on them, they have all delivered something for me. And quite often it took a lot longer than just a few days to realize this is going to help the situation but I’m at a point now, fortunately, where I’ve really simplified my life and I’m fairly chilled about most things and it has come as a result of those situations, and there so many. I could probably talk about this one for the entire podcast in terms of how I’ve used them, how I resisted things going wrong and didn’t want them to be that way, but then just allow them to be.
But the one I will share was a toughie in my speaking business. All of my speaking has gone really well. I have loved my speaking career, I love the challenge of an audience, and I have become a little bit known for not necessarily having content, there will always be a path I will follow my speaking business, but not having content or being able just to move with what is working in the room. That came about as a result of something that went disastrously wrong in a speaking business where I was speaking at a leadership learning group and it was after dinner. The circumstances were not conspiring very well for me. The food was delayed, the drinking was accelerating and I stood up and I had been asked to do something very inspirational for this group of twenty-five, whatever it was. Leaders on this development program, and it did not go well at all to the point that I just stopped and said this is not going well. I am going to sit down now and enjoy the rest evening, and I just stop.
And I don’t know where that voice came from. Some kind of an inner guidance in me, told me to do that and people were shocked. No, no, this is part of your plan. No, it is just not going well. This is not going well at all. Obviously, my drive home, I was there, there was a train I think so, so my drive home then was probably three hours on my own in the car in the early hours of the morning. I scoured myself and I tore myself to pieces like I’m going to sleep when I eventually got home. Thinking, that is it. I am never going to do it anymore. I am never do this anymore. Why? What am I thinking? Was I even thinking? And there’s a whole pieces of dramatic and nasty dark introspection and it took three or four days for me to realize. There is a gift in this somewhere. There is an awesome in this awful as my coach friend Kate would say, and I just sat with it and thought, well, just wait for it to come up.
What is there for me to learn and what it was? It is just confirmed for me that the way I speak events is totally flexible. I am acronym free and arguably I am content ambivalent, and I was trying too hard to push content to a room full of people that was not ready. And that was a great learning for me just to be more fleet of foot and just be me. Just be totally real at speaking events and that served me so well since that time.
Steve Rush: It is a super story and I think many of our lessons can resonate with that moment where it is just not working out. The key, of course, in this is not self-coaching and finding that within most problems there is also a solution. Right?
Simon Tyler: Absolutely.
Steve Rush: So if you could time travel back to when you were 21 and you know how to meet Simple Simon at 21, what advice would you give him?
Simon Tyler: He was having a tough time at 21 I remember and did not really know who he was. I was in work and I was just plodding along trying to please people, and whilst that is still an important part, I think my advice would be to tune in a bit more with who I am. And I think all of my thinking was out there on other people. What did they think? What did they want? What do they want me to do? Who do they want me to be? It was a tough time; I remember 21 was a tough time, so my invitation perhaps to myself would be go to my edge more often. Tune into who I am. What is it I want? The gift now of what we know about coaching dialogues. I would love to have had that then at twenty-one to have had some kind of a mentor or coaching conversation, go to the edge, wherever my edge is? Go to there. I think I played safe and I played inside as much as my career, travelled in interesting directions, and it was great and served me well, I think more could have happened. I want me to believe a bit more in myself. I can remember how self-doubt was a really tough challenge, and that’s sting a little bit, that come up every now and then, even at this late stage in my life I’m at now and perhaps finally just decide, decide what you want and head towards it. Because I don’t think I just started decide until probably my late 20s. I could have had a different time, but who knows? I am pleased with who I am today.
Steve Rush: And that is a main thing, right? No regrets.
Simon Tyler: Yes.
Steve Rush: I should imagine our listeners have been stirred by what you have talked about and they are starting to think about some of the tools and techniques you have described. How can they find out a little bit more about your work? And where would they ideally go to find that information?
Simon Tyler: Well, there is lots, as I say, the simple notes that are not in the books. There are many, many of them that I have written. One every two weeks, so simontyler.com, there is a whole library and click through and the funny titles that hopefully will lead you into the ones that work for you. And also the podcast version of All My Simple Notes is available on Soundcloud. Simon Tyler, search that in Soundcloud. You will find me, so that is probably the best place to go, and obviously the books. Grab a book enjoy the book. Whichever one you choose. I would say there is a number out there for you to grab.
Steve Rush: And Simon last thing for me to say is it has been really super talking with you today. There is so much information, and I’m sure that there’ll be an opportunity for us to regroup and have another conversation about more things that are simple that are impacting their simplicity in everyday life, so, Simon Tyler, thank you for joining us.
Simon Tyler: Thank you for inviting me. I enjoyed the inspiration you gave me, and I hope that happens again too.
Steve Rush: Take care Simon, thank you.