Habit Hacking with Shawn Johal

Shawn Johal is a scale up expert, entrepreneur, business growth coach, author, and leadership speaker. Hack into the key leadership and personal success habits with Shawn on this show including:

  • Scaling up mentality is a mindset
  • The four laws for “The Happy Leader”
  • Habits at the start and the end of the day
  • Unlocking the value of “community”
  • Plus load more habits to hack!

Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore the theory of gratitude. Now the pandemic has made us wary, and while it might be cathartic to make a list of all that we’ve lost, all that we’ve tried and all that we want to leave behind. Expressing gratitude is actually a better idea. And it’s a powerful, positive force. Far from a fluffy or frivolous concept. It has real impact on physical health, emotional wellbeing, motivation, engagement, and performance. So, here’s why gratitude is good and how to bring more of it into your day.

Most of us are impatient with the pandemic and 2021 has arrived and the pandemic is still here. We’re thrilled to usher in a new year, but we’re going to need to wait a little bit longer to get life back to something closer to what it was before. The good news is that gratitude itself can actually reduce impatience and a study published in the Psychological Science found that when people focused on being thankful, they were more likely to able to demonstrate patients. In addition, the study published in The Review of Communication found that gratitude has a positive impact on our mental health and emotional state. Optimism, as an example, as well as physical health, it also predicts behaviours such as helping others and exercising. All of this means that gratitude may just be what we need at the moment while we’re either hanging on to what comes next or we’re attracting towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Regular listeners who have listened to episode 18 with Nic Marks, Hacking Happiness. We’ve also found that gratitude is the root of all happiness. It tends to focus on what you have and replace a sense of what you might be lacking. According to some philosophers, you can’t feel both grateful and unhappy. So, when your mind focuses on all, you’re thankful for, you’re more likely to feel joy. In addition, when you’re more grateful, you tend to focus on being more present, appreciating them now, and this of course can reduce to a sense of yearning and anxiety about the future.

Philosophers have also suggested that it’s a gateway emotion and it’s suggested as the greatest virtue because it tends to lead to so many others. For example, an appreciation of someone can grow into love, gratitude for what you have can lead to greater satisfaction over you, loving your work and can lead to improve performance. So, here’s my five top tips and how you can build and cultivate gratitude.

  • Number one, begin and end with intention. Start each day by thinking about all you appreciate and expect from the day. And as you go to bed at night, think and consider all you’re grateful for.
  • Number two, give continuous attention. Throughout each day, find those small things that you can be thankful and grateful for. Perhaps you’ve made yourself a great cup of coffee, or you’ve had a really nice conversation and avoid taking those things for granted, make everything count.
  • Number three, be expensive. Ensure you’re focusing on being grateful and not just grateful for things, but for people and the environment and conditions around you. Perhaps you particularly appreciate the headphones that you might be wearing to listen to this or the ability to walk, see, the senses that we take for granted around you.
  • Number 4, write it down. Research at Kent State University found that when you write down the elements that you’re grateful for, that simple act can foster the happiness and wellbeing in itself. And this is probably true, because it causes us to pause, focus, reflect, and reinforce our positive experiences.
  • And number five, express yourself. Gratitude is both an individual and a team sport. So, when you share what you’re grateful for in a team environment, it holds even more power. Thanking a co-worker in a team meeting or providing positive feedback to colleagues during the project as an example. So, when gratitude is expressed and shared, it helps both you and the group.

And let’s just remember gratitude is good, it has plenty of positive effects. It could be what you, your family and your team need just to stay present, be attentive through the next stretch of this pandemic marathon that we’re all experiencing, so here’s a challenge. Head over to our social media and let us know what you’re grateful for today. So that has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any insights, stories, or information, please get in touch.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Our special guest on today’s show is Shawn Johal. Shawn an entrepreneur, a business growth coach, a leadership speaker and author of The Happy Leader Guide. Shawn, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Shawn Johal: Thank you so much Steve. Very excited to be here today.

Steve Rush: Me too. We’ve had an opportunity to get to know each other over a couple of conversations, and I’m incredibly excited about sharing some of those conversations with our wider listeners, but before we do that, perhaps you’d give them a little bit of a backstory as to how you arrived to doing what you are doing?

Shawn Johal: Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. Excited to talk about it. Basically, on my end, I immigrated from England over to Canada when I was a much, much younger. I bring it up because I think it’s important to put it into context. And I grew up with a family who was very much believing in loyalty, staying at the same company for many, many years. My father worked for Rolls-Royce, England, and he transferred to Rolls-Royce Canada. My mother worked for Nortel before the big crash. And I remember my parents always telling me when I was growing up, that it would be very important for me to find the very stable job, something that I can stay at for, you know, 25, 30, 35 years. And I even remember my dad showing me his gold watch when he had done 30 years of service at Rolls-Royce. Saying that, you know, one day son, you may have the opportunity to have, you know, get the same type of watch as I have if you stay at the same company forever. And so, I kind of grew up with the mentality that I needed to find a stable job and work in the corporate world and not necessarily adventure in through entrepreneurship. So that was my mentality growing up, you know, trying to find something a little more stable. And then I met my wife, my future wife, we’re married to now and her family were very, very entrepreneurial. And they started teaching me a lot about business. You know, being a business owner, understanding how to launch a business, how to own a business. And that was really where things took off for me. And I started realizing there was this whole other world out there. And so basically, after leaving the corporate world, I was working at Rubbermaid. I’m sure that a lot of listeners know about Rubbermaid, pretty large global company, $8 billion dollars. I was a district manager there.

I was invited to join the family business and it was and led lighting business. My father-in-law had taken it public and it was fast growing, very fast growing, mergers and acquisitions. And so, I came in there as a sales manager and not part of ownership, but really having more of an entrepreneurial feel to it. Unfortunately, what happened was that during the 2006, 2007 recession, my father-in-law bought a company that probably wasn’t the perfect fit for the business. The recession hit, which was terrible for the business and for the family. Within a year, our business that I’ve grown to 50 million in revenue, came from a crashing down. It was a very, very tough time for the family.

Steve Rush: Wow.

Shawn Johal: But the good thing was that during, you know, in every big challenge there’s opportunities and my brother-in-law and I, at that point had a chance to buy back three of the different divisions. We were able to relaunch this led lighting business in our own way, and we’ve been growing ever since. So that was in 2009 and the businesses are continuing to go strong today in 2020.

Steve Rush: It’s through that kind of scaling up mentality that you’ve really started to deploy all of your learning. But now also share that as an entrepreneurial and business growth coach with other people, right?

Shawn Johal: Exactly. In 2013, we hit a really bad wall as a business, so many things were going wrong Steve, I can’t even tell you. We had no processes. We had the wrong people in the wrong seats. We had absolutely no strategy, no product development. And it really became ethically clear to me one day when we were sitting in our office and we had two customer service people who were working at a desk, but we didn’t have enough money to afford a receptionist. And basically, they would look at each other when the phone would ring and neither one wanted to answer it because they were both really disgruntled employees and not, you know, at the right seats. And so, phones would ring. I knew they were customers and the phone would ring 10, 12 times, and neither person was willing to answer it. And that’s when my business partner and I looked at each other and said, you know what? We have a really big culture problem in this business. At the same time, our biggest competitor launched a product line. They basically took our catalogue, stole all 150 products that we had in the catalogue and priced them at a dollar less in the market using the same suppliers as we use. And these were people that were part of the previous business. So, it was probably the worst backstabbing feeling I could ever have imagined in my life. These people are like brothers to me.

Steve Rush: I bet.

Shawn Johal: Yeah, and that was when we decided to take on scaling up. And we had an opportunity to read the Rockefeller Habits. In those days the scaling of book hadn’t come out yet. And we found a coach and then we implemented the methodology successfully in our own business.

Steve Rush: And it continues to grow to this day, and as part of that Shawn. One of the things I’ve known about you for a while and come to really respect is the discipline, rigor and habits that you apply in order to make your life successful. And I wanted to get into a couple of those. So, in terms of scaling up. There are kind of four pillars to that, aren’t there? That’s strategy people, execution and cash. Maybe just tell us a little bit about how that plays out in your business today and how you coach others?

Shawn Johal: Absolutely. What we noticed is that those four pillars really represent every business. The four key things every business owner should be really paying attention to. When we go into businesses, as much as my business, as any other business, we’d like to do a diagnostic where we go in there and really understand, okay, what’s going well and what’s not going well, you know, do you have a long-term goal that’s nonfinancial? Do you have the right execution in class with being methodologies and processes? You know, how’s your cash flow? Do you have good liquidity and everything that you’re doing? Really those are the types of things that we go in and we analyse right from the beginning. And most importantly, do you have the right people in the right seats? And that’s something that becomes incredibly clear very easily. So, once we get in there, we do that diagnostic. It’s really easy for us to understand where the business is strong and where the business has certain weaknesses. And usually, we’ll start off with a couple of strategic days to really build the vision of the business. You know, we’ll go with that BHAG from Jim Collins, the big, hairy, audacious goal. We’ll build that really cool vision long-term then get into three-year capacities, one-year priorities and the 90-day plan, really helping the business focus on execution the right way. And we’ll start fixing things little by little, you know, we can’t take it all in one big bite. We’ve been doing scaling up for seven years in our business, and we’re still going strong. I’ve never seen a business not succeed by doing scaling up. The only times it doesn’t work is when a business owner is either too stubborn to let other people share and have their own ideas or the business owner doesn’t have the discipline required to implement the methodology. So those are the only two times where it doesn’t really work.

Steve Rush: And of course, scaling up will never stop if you have the right mentality and the right disciplines and right approach.

Shawn Johal: Exactly, you can just keep going and going. Now, obviously it really depends on what you’re looking for. I think some entrepreneurs get a little afraid when they see scaling up. Everybody wants to grow, but I don’t believe in growth for the sake of growth. I think you need to have what I like to call profitable growth. I really believe in profitable growth since we’ve been doing scaling up in 2013, we’ve never had a month in the red. We’ve never once in those seven years.

Steve Rush: Wow, that’s great.

Shawn Johal: For us, that’s what’s most important. But even though we’re growing at a really great pace, you know, anywhere between 10, 15, 20% a year, depending on the year. We’re very careful to make sure that bottom line is always staying where it needs to be.

Steve Rush: That’s consistently 15, 20% growth every year, which for many businesses, they can only dream of that. If you have to kind of peel that layer back and peel all the layers back, is there maybe one thing that is the standout action activity that you would maybe apply to that success?

Shawn Johal: 100% and it’s going to sound familiar. I’m sure your listeners have heard this, but I cannot emphasize it enough. You absolutely have to have the right people in your business. I’ve noticed that systematically, I go into companies and I see right away from the strategic team all the way down, I can pinpoint right off the bat, how many people are not the right people in those businesses. And you and I spoke about this in an earlier conversation. I always ask this one key question. Would you enthusiastically rehire every single one of your team members? And it’s shocking that the percentages I get, you know, you would think the percentages would be fairly respectable because these are business owners who have built their own business, right?

Steve Rush: Right.

Shawn Johal: But the percentages are always closer to between 20 and 50%, which means that there’s more than half the company that the business owner would not rehire enthusiastically. So that means you have about 50% of the people that are not the right people in your business. It’s just kind of shocking when you think about it, right?

Steve Rush: Stark, isn’t it? Really stark.

Shawn Johal: So that to me would be the number one thing. I have a very specific methodology when I go into businesses and it’s been based a little bit on the whole top rating and Who methodologies for anybody who wants to read those books, the two great books, both the top rating and Who, their based a lot around talent and how to hire. But a lot of the people spend time on how to hire the right people, but they don’t spend enough time on development and retention and development and retention are the two, what I would say most overlooked superpowers is that every business owner has, are you developing your people internally? And what are you doing to appreciate them? Show them recognition, make sure they feel really, really welcomed and you know, recognized every single day of the week. And what are we doing to make sure that they 10X their development and leadership and get to the next level, because if your team is not taking that next step, your business never will. That’s for sure.

Steve Rush: It’s one of those things that sounds pretty obvious when you say out loud, but still many businesses. And in fact, many of the clients that I speak to still fall into the trap of not developing their team and retaining and growing their talent. What’d you put that down to?

Shawn Johal: Business owners, you know, this cash with liquidity, there’s so many different things that could happen in a business that are problematic. And I think that what happens is we end up taking our people for granted because our people are coming in, you know, our amazing employees or team members are showing up every single day. And we just assume that they’re happy. When I go into businesses, I always ask the business owners, are your people happy? Do they feel recognized and appreciated? I always get the same answer. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re good. You know, we do a few little things here and there and I’m sure they understand what we’re trying to accomplish and I’m sure they’re happy. When I asked the employees and the team members, the same question, I get a very different answer. The majority they tell, well, no, I don’t know what the vision is of the business. No, one’s really communicating that to me. I’m not sure what we’re trying to accomplish. I’m not sure exactly where we’re going. So, I get very, very different answers from the employees than I get from the business owners. And so that’s why it’s so important for every business owner to understand, who are my A-players and how am I going to recognize them systematically?

Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely so. And you’ve taken your learnings and you’ve pulled that together and you’ve written The Happy Leader. Tell us a little bit about what The Happy Leader is?

Shawn Johal: Absolutely, and thanks for asking Steve. The book is a book that’s written over eight years, believe it or not. I started writing this book a long time ago. I think it’s really the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life, not being a natural writer or author. I really put a lot of time and heart and soul into this book. I wanted to write something that was written a fable format, you know, because I feel like some of the amazing authors out there like Patrick Lencioni and Robin Sharma, you know, some really, really great leadership speakers and authors. I was always very much impressed with the way they wrote their books. And Bob Burg comes to mind as well, The Go-Giver. And so, I decided to write a book that’s written in a fable format. And what I realized Steve, being surrounded by entrepreneurs over the last decade is that entrepreneurs in general seem to be a pretty unhappy bunch. It’s shocking, right?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Shawn Johal: Because we all have businesses. And you think that the dream is to be a business owner, but I speak to business owners and the most of the time they’re unhappy. And I’m part of the entrepreneur’s organization. We have something called, you know, Forum. A Forum is a time where we get together between 8 and 10 entrepreneurs every month. And we share business ideas, opportunities, challenges. We always start with a thing called the one word open and that one word open is always the one word of where you are today, just in your mind. And the words that we hear are stressed you know, stretched too thin, overwhelmed, can’t keep up, unbalanced. It’s almost never positive words. And I really realized over time that entrepreneurs are really, really stressed out. So, my goal was to write a book about someone who is also, you know, a business leader who was very stressed out and whose life was kind of falling apart. And, you know, who meets a really incredible person. Who’s going to teach him how to become a happy leader, really changed his life around so that he really could find happiness, joy, and success in everything that he does. Understanding that it’s the journey and not just the destination.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and you’ve created 12 steps to help people on that journey. And within those 12 steps or surrounding those 12 steps, you have four laws. Maybe we can spend a little bit of time around each of those four laws.

Shawn Johal: Absolutely, I always believe that the first thing that we need to do as human beings is take care of ourselves first, you know, a great friend and colleague Kevin Lawrence calls it, Put Your Oxygen Mask First, which is a great book that I would recommend everybody to read as well. Are we taking care of ourselves before we take care of others? Because if you’re not at the right place in your mind and your heart and your soul, it’s going to be very, very challenging to have the type of success and be able to lead others as well. And so, the first law of happiness is what I call the law of self-awareness. And what that means is you have to be self-aware of where you’re at yourself in your life. And so, the first part of that law is really comes down to what I consider the greatest superpower that we’re not using right now, which is meditation.

You know, meditation has taken a lot more space over the last couple of years. We’re hearing more about it. We’re hearing a lot of incredible business leaders and incredible artists and athletes and people doing meditation. But the reality is that it’s still associated with being something very spiritual. And although I have nothing wrong with spirituality, I’m a very spiritual person myself. I like to bring it back to science. And science has proven that meditation has incredible benefits on focus, on creativity, on energy levels. It literally changes our genes and the inside of our brains. And it’s shocking to me how little people, even in this day and age, when it’s becoming more popular, actually do it.

Steve Rush: It’s very true.

Shawn Johal: Yeah, that’d be something I’d really encourage people to do. Something else that I think is really important that we don’t do enough of is actually what I call, you know, circular reciprocation. And what that term means for me is what are you doing to practice gratitude, appreciation, and kindness every single day and everything that you do? Again, scientifically, they’ve done lots of studies and both writing down the things that make you happy and that you appreciate in your life immediately released the right type of chemicals in our bodies to bring that next level of happiness. And so, you know, doing things like that. Meditation, gratitude appreciation are really part of the first law, which is a law of self-awareness.

Steve Rush: Got it. What’s law number two?

Shawn Johal: So, law number two, now you’ve really taking time to be more aware and you’re taking care of yourself. Law numbers two is the law of self-improvement. So now you’re aware, you know, where you’re at and you know, where your kind of the foundation of your mind, body and soul, and now you need to take things to the next level. And so, the law of self-improvement for me has a lot to do with barrier breaking, which is for me, meaning to commit to a stretch goal in your life, something that’s way beyond what you’ve ever accomplished. This could be anything, it could be, you know, it doesn’t have to be necessarily a physical goal. It could be, you know, some type of goal where you want to maybe write a book or you want to run a marathon, but you want to do something that stretches you beyond the obvious. And the reason that’s important is that, is only when we push ourselves to that next level, that we really get to see our true potential. And I think there’s a lot of people that are not meeting their true potential. And there’s a tremendous amount of self-limiting beliefs out there that we seem to put on ourselves.

Everybody does it, you know, the old imposter syndrome and that, oh, you know, it’s not, I can’t do that. That person can do it. It’s just not true. You know, the reality is that human beings are incredible race and we have so much energy and so much potential. And, you know, we shouldn’t be limiting ourselves. And so, by putting a stretch goal of some type that really forces us to go further than we believe possible when you achieve that goal happens is you open up a new world of possibilities, right? Where now you start thinking, well, if I could do this, I could do a whole lot of other things, right?

Steve Rush: Right.

Shawn Johal: So, yeah. So that’s really comes down to the law of self-improvement, within that law I also have, I like to call habit hacking. So, habit hacking, that’s an important concept that you and I have spoken quite a bit about together in the past.

Steve Rush: Sure, yeah.

Shawn Johal: Whereas you’re going in there and you’re completely revamping all of your habits from morning routines to evening routines to all the way you eat to the way you sleep to the people you speak with, you know, really changing pretty much the you know, the dynamic of your everyday routine.

Steve Rush: Some of it is about unlearning what you’ve already learned. That’s not serving you well and relearning and creating new hacks and habits to create the right foundations, right?

Shawn Johal: Absolutely, Steve. It’s so important. you know, I speak to so many people and you know, business leaders are all different scopes of life on that. I noticed that the majority of them don’t have a very good morning routine, you know, I asked them, okay, you know, what’s happening when you start your day? You know, I wake up and right away, started looking into my phone and I started trying to see what’s happening with emails to get caught up. And, you know, it’s literally the absolute worst way you can possibly start a day. Like you want to start your day where you’re giving yourself the intention of what you want to accomplish in the few hours that you have ahead of you. And once you’ve figured out that intention, you need to take on a few key activities when you wake up that are going to set you up for success and give you a lot of energy.

Steve Rush: Right.

Shawn Johal: So, you should either again, be doing some type of meditation, very quickly reading some positive literature, maybe writing in a journal, really setting yourself up for success before you become a slave to technology, which unfortunately seems to be what a lot of us do.

Steve Rush: You have this approach called 10, 10, 10, don’t you?

Shawn Johal: Yes, this was taught to me by my mentor, Warren Ruston, the incredible, incredible human being. Warren has this concept of 10, 10, 10, where he, you know, 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 minutes. That’s what it represents. You would do three different activities for 10 minutes each. It would be 10 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of journaling, and 10 minutes of reading, positive literature. When I teach this to people, I get a lot of pushback because a lot of people tell me the same thing. You expect me to take on 30 minutes to start my day. I don’t even have, you know, three minutes. And so, it’s a little bit of a challenge at first. So, what I explained to people to do is say, listen, you can take the 10, 10, 10, which is super impactful. If it’s too much for you, what I want you to do instead is do a five, five, five. So, you could just cut it in half and do five minutes of each. And then when I get pushed back on the five, five, five, I tell people, okay, listen, if you can’t even do the five, five, five, just do one time five, pick one of the three activities, do one of them for five minutes. Even that starts your day, so substituting, checking email, and you running right away into fires, you know, fire extinguishing, as I like to call it. And instead doing something much, much more intentional, such as a meditation or journal is completely going to change the way your day is approached and the way you’re going to take on you know, the activities that you have that day, it really makes a huge difference.

Steve Rush: It switches on the prefrontal cortex. It creates you your strong foundations for the day, rather than being emotionally triggered by other stuff that could impact on you, right?

Shawn Johal: Exactly. It really switches the script where now you’re in control of your day. Whereas when you’re just becoming a slave to technology, you no longer control it. And you’re no longer in that circle of influence that you know, was so well taught to us by Stephen Covey, you have to make sure that you can control your own destiny. And if you’re not taking those steps in the morning, you’re always going to be chasing your day and chasing your day is obviously not the type of place you want to be mentally. You want to be in a place where you’re deciding what’s going to happen next, and you’re not really having someone else decide for you

Steve Rush: Exactly, right. And of course, if you’re not in control, that’s when stress starts to creep into the workplace and into our world, which is so counterproductive.

Shawn Johal: Exactly, and I think, you know, as you know, very well, Steve. Stress right now is probably, you know, especially in the virus here, it’s the biggest culprit of most businesses.

Steve Rush: Definitely.

Shawn Johal: Right now, recent surveys have said that, you know, over 40% of employees are currently stressed out and they’re not telling their employer. Stress levels are rampant around the world. They’ve been going up every single year, over the past 25 years. People are really stressed. People are really, really stressed, and we have to find ways to reduce that stress for them.

Steve Rush: So, what’s law number three?

Shawn Johal: Law number three is what I love to call the law of self-giving. So, what that means is, now you’ve made yourself fully aware of where you’re at in your life. You’ve taken on new stretch goals. You’ve changed your habits, you’re visualizing your success, and now you need to help others, you know, to do the same. There’s a concept that I read a really long time ago from an amazing author, and the book was called The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly. And basically, that book is incredibly powerful because it really explains, it’s more in a business concept, but it really explains how you can go into a business and do, you know, dream facilitation and help people really achieve their goals and their dreams, because each one of us, you and I included Steve, we all have certain skill sets and we have certain connections. And if we use those and help others, we would definitely be able to help them take that next step in their journeys and their success. And so, for the law of self-giving, I like to have people do that, that dream facilitation concept for people around them, you know, it could be for family, it could be for friends, it could be for peers.

What you want to do is you want to find someone and you want to sit with them and figure out, okay, what is it that they are trying to accomplish in their lives? Is it something professional? It could be something personal? Now what is a dream that they wish they could really pursue and they’re struggling with, and then you make it a point to actually go and help them accomplish that dream, you use it. I’m not saying it’s financial. You know, I’m not telling people to go out there and, you know, give ten thousand dollars to this person, but you have unique skills and contacts that could probably help this person some way somehow. And so, you want to use those so that you can go and help that person accomplish their dreams, and then you become a dream facilitator for them. And so that would be, you know, one part of the law of self-giving, you know, another part of it for me, which is really important is gifting people every single day in a specific way. That’s something that we just don’t do enough of this. This is one idea that I think people could use really easily. One of my really good friends, Rob Murray, and he’s an entrepreneur in Canada. He sent me an email last week and his email was just entitled. Thank you for being you. And the email was just three lines, very quick and short, telling me why he appreciated me as a human being for no reason, just absolutely out of the blue. And that’s something that I’ve been encouraging people to do a lot, you know, pick people in your network and send them a quick email, just telling them why you appreciate them so much. It does not to be crazy long, does not have to be this whole love letter. Just very simply, you know, telling the person why they mean a lot to you and why they’re important in your life. And just realize that the impact that will have on that person on the other end is unbelievable. It really, really is, and we don’t take enough time to realize the impact our words have. And the intention has when you do something like that.

Steve Rush: It’s very true. One of my previous guests on the show actually, who will remain nameless so they don’t feel overly embarrassed while I share this story. Sent me a note just a few weeks back saying, Steve, you are amazing. I just felt the whole world lift around me in that moment because nobody does that or rarely people do that. And it felt so special to get that message.

Shawn Johal: Absolutely. I mean, it’s just so important. It has to be authentic, obviously, that’s the key, but the reality is that people are amazing and there’s so many people around us that are always doing so many great things and they have so many friends and colleagues. And do we take the time to appreciate them? We, don’t and why?

Steve Rush: Exactly. It’s one of those things. If you think about how we’ve become matured in our ways and our thinking, we’ve unlearned some of the things that weren’t natural and organic as we were growing up, such as saying, thank you, or showing gratitude to people. Dreaming big, as you just talked about it and that facilitation of dreams. As children, we would have naturally done that. But as we become older, we’ve unlearned how to do that effectively. And I think that’s a quite neat reframe that you put there around that whole giving law.

Shawn Johal: Yeah, I think you’re right, Steve, it’s very unfortunate. I don’t know why that happens. It’s a very bizarre thing that society and the world seems to always be pushing us down. And it’s like, dreaming is only now reserved for those very, very select few like 0.001% of people in the world that are, you know, these successful athletes or entrepreneurs or artists, but every single one of us has that creativity within us, we really do. Why are we not using it? I think sometimes beats us down a little bit, trying to get yourself out of that, you know, that little bit of a prison of our minds that we’re thrown into and trying to find that creativity again and everything that we do.

Steve Rush: I agree Shawn, and what’s law number four?

Shawn Johal: So, ending on number four, you know, now you’ve gone through self-awareness, you’re starting to do go through self-improvement and now you’re into self-giving and you’re giving back. Finally, its self-belief. Now is really where you’re taking the time to say, okay, you know I’m going to take things to the next level. I’m really no longer going to have the imposter syndrome. I’m an amazing human being and I can do anything that I want. And so, the law of self-belief as, you know, a few different elements to it, for me, one of the most important things is what I call spinning positivity. We owe it to ourselves to eliminate those things that are energy drains in our lives. Those things that are really negative, those could be people, it could be situations. It could be the environment, whatever things in your life. Should make a list of all the things that drain your energy.

You know, I like to call them energy vampires and really make sure that you’re just getting those out of your way as quickly as possible. And then what I like to call the next step is really the belief building. So, where you’re really building your belief system around the new you, because now you’ve really developed a new personality really, and everything that you’ve done in the first three steps. And now you can take your own personal success, whatever that means for you. It doesn’t mean financial. It means whatever you think, however, you define success for yourself and you can take that to the next level. And then that final step of that last law is really what I like to call, just go big, which again, comes back to the point that we talked about earlier about creativity a few minutes ago. It’s just, why are we thinking so small? Like I just don’t understand it. We have so much potential, any one of us. This is for all of us you know, and again, it’s relative to your own life into what you’re trying to do, but I really encourage people now to really think as big and as bold as possible. You know, it’s funny yesterday, Steve, I was working with my digital marketing coordinator. We were rebuilding our vision and our business on a few different levels. And we were just looking at the why our company exists and we kind of changed it yesterday. And we really put it as empowering business leaders to create and to accomplish their most audacious goals. And we really spent a lot of time on that because for us, the audacious part, we debated it quite a bit. And we said, you know what?

Why not? Like, you know, people need to be a little more audacious. Like you got to, you got to think bigger. When you think about something, I think what you’re going to accomplish you should immediately like double two X that and say, okay, now what I’m going to try to do double what I just thought.

Steve Rush: It’s often our worldview that holds us back though, right? Those biases, those limiting beliefs that we give ourselves that stop us really thinking big?

Shawn Johal: Exactly. I see it all the time going into businesses and with companies, when I work with them, they’ve already given them the cells like a ceiling. They’ve already, most of the time told themselves, okay, we can only accomplish this much as a business. Or I meet individual people who say, this is as far as I can strive for. And it’s just disappointing because I know that they can do more, I can see it. They have so much more potential. So yeah, it is almost getting out of our own mind.

Steve Rush: Which in itself is another habit that takes practice and repetition, right?

Shawn Johal: Absolutely. You just have to be working on yourself constantly. And that’s why things like meditation and journaling and visualization are so important. And again, they’re scientifically proven to work. It’s not spiritual. It’s really science-based.

Steve Rush: Yeah, love it. So, Sean, this part of the show now, we get the opportunity to hack into your mind as a leader, and to really start to think about some of the great things that you can share in addition to what you’ve already shared. So, the first place I’d like to go with you is to find out what you think your top three leadership hacks might be?

Shawn Johal: I would say to you, the first one is the community. When I say the community, we all have access to some type of community around us. I’m an entrepreneur. I have, you know, the entrepreneur’s organization. I have, you know, a lot of friends that are entrepreneurs as well. And so, I’m always, you know, hacking into this amazing network and community of peers that I have, but that applies to everyone. You know, you could be, you know, a business leader, you could be a manager, you could be a frontline employee, you have a community available to you out there some way, somehow. You just have to look, there are like-minded peers that you can share ideas with and surround yourself with to help you take that next step. So, I’m always encouraging people to really get out there and make sure that they’re networking and they’re finding a community for themselves that could really help them take things to the next level.

So, for me, that’s definitely number one, number two would be mentorship. And so, there’s a community of peers that can help you a lot. We all should have some type of mentor in our lives. And you know, we’d probably take a whole other podcast to talk about how to go find the perfect mentor, but I know a lot of people are intimidated by it. At the same time, it’s not as hard as you think. You know, there are a lot of different ways to find a mentor out there. A mentor could be, again, it could be professional, it could be personal. There are probably some people out there that have a lot of wisdom and knowledge to give to you. And it’s not just a take, take, take situation. A mentorship relationship is very much give and take. And so, the right type of mentor will also be getting a lot from that relationship.

And so, you know, when you can find the right type of person to help you out there, it will make a world of difference. I’ve had several different mentors and most recently I’ve been working over the last few years with Warren Ruston, as I mentioned just the amount of learning that I’ve gotten from Warren and the guidance and being challenged on my different ideas has been absolutely inspiring. So that would be an absolutely massive element to look into. And finally, hack number three would be habit hacking. We spoke a little bit before we didn’t spend a lot of time on it. You absolutely need to change how you wake up and what you do before going to sleep. Those are the two most important times of the day when you absolutely need to master your habits. You need to wake up, have a very, very specific way, whether it’s working out with doing the things I mentioned earlier with meditation, visualization and the same thing before going to sleep, you know, I see people are falling asleep to writing emails or to watching Netflix. This is not how you want to go to sleep. You want to go to sleep, you’re preparing your brainwaves because you’re getting into that Theta brainwave. And then you’re going into the deep Delta brainwave. It’s a time of day where we have the most impact on our subconscious mind. And so, do you want to be going to sleep or you’re stressed out and you’re thinking about what you have to do the next morning. Now you’re marinating in those thoughts for about eight hours, you know, maybe five, maybe six, maybe seven, and you’re not putting your brain at the right place because most of the day, 95% of the time we’re living in our subconscious mind. And so, what you put into your subconscious is incredibly important. And so, I always encourage all of my business leaders that I work with, make sure that you have an incredible morning routine, but just as important, make sure you have an incredible evening routine before going to sleep as well.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I love that. It’s really, really powerful, and if you do it every day, then before, you know, it’s just the way it happens for you. It becomes part of what you do, rather than a routine.

Shawn Johal: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: Brilliant. The next part of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is where something hasn’t worked out as planned, or indeed hasn’t worked out at all in some cases, but as a result of the experience, we now use it as a positive in our life. What will be your Hack to Attack?

Shawn Johal: It’s funny, this is something that’s happened to me very recently. I’ve been following, you know, I’ve been coaching a lot of businesses and when COVID hit a lot of the businesses that I was coaching, you know, had to take a back seat and I basically had to work for free for about three months. Now things have come back to normal, but during that time, I learned a lot about online marketing, online courses, you know, launching virtual summits. And I jumped deep. I deep dove into a lot of these, and I followed a lot of influencers. And what happened is that I realized that a lot of these digital influencers make it sound so easy, right? Because apparently the whole world is going digital. And so therefore it’s just so easy to have success in the digital world, which is just not the case.

Then recently I launched an online course. And my first online course, you know, it did not have the success that I was really hoping for and really expected. And it really hit me hard because you know, that kind of lived through that failure and to have to deal with it, was tough for me. You know, it’s not something that I’m used to. I encourage my kids to fail all day, but when it happens to you, it’s actually really hard to deal with. And so, you know, I looked at it and what I realized is that I had completely built it the wrong way. I’d also launched it the wrong way. And it’s giving me a tremendous amount of learning. I’m going to continue pursuing that route and launching an online course over the next year, for sure. And I now have the tools necessary to do it the right way. So, I think I needed that first failure to know how to do it properly in the future.

Steve Rush: And it’s how you frame it, that’s the most important thing, right? To have this principle that there’s only a win and learn, there is no fail, and it’s that framing of the experience that’s going to make you successful in the future.

Shawn Johal: Exactly, and I think most people get caught up in the emotions of a failure.

Steve Rush: Definitely.

Shawn Johal: I do that myself, you know, it’s really tough. I’m not someone who’s had a tremendous amount of failures in my life without a few here and there, and they’ve been tough to deal with. And this one recently hit home pretty hard too, and it stopped, while there is an emotional aspect to it, and you have to be able to get over that emotional aspect as quickly as possible.

Steve Rush: The last part of the show, we get to give you a chance to do some time travel, bump into Shawn at 21, and give him some advice or some words of wisdom. What’s it going to be?

Shawn Johal: It would be so many Steve, so many, but I’ll pick one. I would’ve said master the arts of meditation and visualization at an earlier age. And for some reason it seems to come later in life where we start having more introspection. I think those are incredible tools that allow us to have so much better control of our emotions and of our own vision. And by doing both meditation and visualization for me, it’s been in the last year only where I’ve started doing it. It’s changed my life completely. And I’m trying to teach my kids now how to do it at a very early age, because to me, those are two super powers that are free and that we’re just not utilizing much.

Steve Rush: 100%! Great advice. Great advice. So, if folks want to get in touch with you and learn a little bit more about the work that you do with Elevation and indeed how to get hold of some of your insights, where’s the best place for us to send them?

Shawn Johal: I say two places where I spend a lot of time, obviously my website, which is shawnjohal.com, so S.H.A.W.N-J.O.H.A.L.com and I spend a tremendous amount of time on LinkedIn as well. You’ll always find me posting a lot of things on LinkedIn, trying to provide a little bit of ideas and learning to the community out there. And so those would be the two best places to find me for sure.

Steve Rush: Awesome. We’ll make sure that those links are in the show notes and that anybody who’s listened to today can literally just click on over and get straight to find more about you. So, it’s only left for me, Shawn, to say, thank you for joining us on our community here. It’s been amazing talking to you. You’re truly inspirational guy. I’ve learned loads in just listening to you today. And every time I listened to speak with you, I always pick up a couple of nuggets. So, thank you for being part of our community on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Shawn Johal: Well, thank you, Steve. It’s been a real pleasure. I love what you’re doing and keep it up. It’s really inspiring, honestly.

Steve Rush: Thank you Shawn.

Shawn Johal: Thank you.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handle there is @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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