It’s Go Time with Jill McAbe

Jill McAbe is a bestselling author of “It’s Go Time: Build the Business and Life You Really Want.” Jill’s recently been ranked #1 in Entrepreneur Magazine’s inspiring education Entrepreneurs to watch in 2022. We dove into a bunch of topics in this awesome conversation, including:

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: We all know leadership can be tough, right? Despite the success. And sometimes a glory leadership can bring, the lows can be incredibly low. The job can feel quite lonely at times, especially when you have to make unpopular decisions. As leaders, we must all deal with stress, but the very best leaders handle the ups and downs with ease. They let things slide off their backs with resiliency, grace and grit, and it’s not easy to do. Leaders can’t afford to break down, lose their cool and be oversensitive. Instead, they must be steadfast, tough, no matter the up and downs. 

In an article from Entrepreneur Magazine, Kerry Siggins talks about five things that can make a big difference. Be determined. Determination is often overlooked as a leadership attribute but is needed to get through the difficult situations. You must be resolute in your vision, decision making and resiliency. During the early days of the pandemic, the uncertainty was unbearable. Like so many of the leaders many had to make difficult decisions about expenses and staffing. Kerry Siggins planned and kept one thing in the front of her mind, her determination to succeed. And that grew stronger than as she arrived in into the pandemic in the first place, determination helped drive her decision making and kept her focused and resolute. Know when to let things go. The flip side of determination is knowing when to say enough is enough. And when things aren’t really working, and resiliency is not about consistently pushing through. Resiliency is also about letting know when to let things go to move on. There are times when you must be tough enough to back down, let go, change your mind, pivot, whatever words you want to use. Just because you think you are right doesn’t make it so. So, when people around you and the evidence suggest that you are moving in the wrong direction, make the toughest decision of all and let go. T

It’s quite natural to get defensive when you receive tough or unpleasant news through feedback, but it doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to go there just because it’s a natural response. If you want a toughen up as a leader, you must handle yourself with grace and hearing hard things as being part of the way we do things. Kelly’s trick for doing this is to look for the truth in the information. She recently hired a consultant to perform a leadership competency assessment for her executive team. When going through the results, she was told. The reasons you haven’t got grown the company faster is it takes you too long to assess and tell the people on your team that they haven’t got what it takes. You let things is slide for too long. You must give this type of feedback faster and more directly. It’s a problem for you. She was hurt by the words. She was inclined to defend herself and going to say that she did give people feedback all of the time and she wasn’t afraid of those conversation. But instead of vocalizing those thoughts, she analyzed what was shared by compartmentalizing, the feedback. She could see that the individual consultant was right and gave her an opportunity to reflect and adapt her approach. She looked for the truth in his words, and face to feedback with action,

Find gratitude. When most people think of gratitude, they envision what they’re grateful for in life, such as family, health, and possessions. A more profound gratitude practice considers being thankful for the hard things in life as well. So, if you want to be stronger leader, you must look for the good that comes out of difficult situations. What are the hardships you’re grateful for? What are the challenges that you’ve been faced with that you’ve now are faced and overcome? In her article Kerry talks about the overcoming addiction has been something she’s really grateful for. And even though it causes pain is suffering for her life. She wouldn’t change anything. And she’s grateful for the lessons it taught her.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. It’s harsh but true. Exceptionally leaders require us to stop feeling self-centered and sorry for ourselves. Being a leader is difficult at times and can be really thankless, but that’s what you’ve signed up for. We can’t allow ourselves to take things personally. We need to let things slide off our backs. We need to make sure that we face into every opportunity. That situation with passion and energy, our job is to make good decisions for our team and our company. Not necessarily to manage people’s opinions. Our job is to lead, so lead with confidence. With leadership comes great responsibility, responsibility to make good decisions, be transparent, give good feedback, with standard our setbacks and to be a great leader we must toughen up. So, the leadership hack here is finding the sweet spot between awareness, compassion, and self-care. Getting that right means you can focus on the things that matter. Thanks Kerry, for sharing the article. Thanks all for listening to our Leadership Hacker News. Let’s dive into the show. 

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: My special guest on today’s show is Jill McAbe. She’s a bestselling author, teacher and coaching the business success and finding one’s purpose, particularly around the science of high performance and change. Her bestselling book. It’s Go Time. Build the Business and Life You Really Want. Teaches the order of operations for building expertise-based businesses. Jill’s also been recently ranked in entrepreneur as magazine as top 10 inspiring education entrepreneurs to watch in 2022. Jill, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Jill McAbe: Thank you very much, Steve. I’m really happy to be here.

Steve Rush: Jill. What’s really great about your backstory is it’s not followed traditional path to get you to where you got to. In fact, there’s lots of bumps and twists and turns along the way. And we’d love for you to maybe just share a little bit about the backstory that led you here?

Jill McAbe: Oh, wow. Alright. The super quick backstory that led me here, I would have to say as most stories do started when I was young, probably trying to figure out what I was going to be or do when I grew up, but that was a really difficult decision for me because I was very unsuccessful in school. I struggle with fairly significant dyslexia and what was called ADD now often termed a ADHD growing up. And so, I really struggled in school and my grades were poor, which made me realize that a lot of my options were limited at that time. It just felt like I wasn’t going along a traditional track. And I very exceptional siblings. I like ridiculously exceptional siblings, you know, one scouted for professional sports, I’m Canadian. My older brother was invited to be a U.S. citizen upon the submission of his masters because it was so brilliant. And I had a sister who excelled in the arts and sports and academics and looked a little bit like Marilyn Monroe. So, it was really tough growing up. And my goal was simply to learn how to be successful because my mother used to, you know, worry about me and she’d say to me, Jill, some people are good at school. Others are good at life, and you’ll be good at life. You’re wise.

Steve Rush: That’s a great lesson. Isn’t it? Wise words though seriously. At such a young age, because it would be really difficult to disassociate that, you know, some people just aren’t academically gifted and others are, right?

Jill McAbe: Yeah. It’s interesting because when I ended up going back and doing my masters, I got (A) plus pluses across the board. So, the academics, it was really about not fitting into the way of learning that the schools liked to taught and my brain needing to comprehend information differently. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: And I think that led me. So, what got me here was frankly, a very bumpy road of trial and error. Sometimes I’d hit and I’d, you know, and I’d get a home run and I’d do really well. And other times there was a lot of hit and misses and I have spent a lifetime really studying and understanding and creating tools that help me be smarter than I am [laugh]. So, I love creating like tools to make decisions or tools to make things happen. And I love taking all this research and turning them into practical tools. Had a scientist tell me once, he’s like, you’re like a translator, you take our work, you make it very easy to apply.

Steve Rush: Nice. And the tools that you created along the way, is that also a bit of a coping mechanism to help you with your dyslexia?

Jill McAbe: Yeah, I’m sure it is. You know, what I understand. So, I was very fortunate, much more than many people who might have been in that situation because my mother actually is at the forefront of research at that time for how to rehabilitate people such as myself. So, I had a great deal of support and rehabilitation that a lot of people might not have access to that kind of help, but what I come to understand about people like me, and I’m sure there’s some listeners who are going to relate is that I like to dive deep into things and the tools are actually a result of that. So, you know, I’m the person in class who sometimes annoying asks a hundred questions. So, if the teacher says something I say, but I read this other thing and no that’s not consistent with.

And if you look at this person’s information, so I’ve always been someone who will find the question in something and dive deeper and explore it rather than accepting. Instantly what’s been said, if it goes up against something I’ve heard that that doesn’t fit with, but it’s also allowed me to find consistencies from very diverse places. So, I found consistencies from leadership research you know, Neuroscience, Daoism, Christianity, you know, any of the religions really with, you know, business teachings. Like I will actually spot the through line and go how fascinating. And that’s when I create the tool, when I see it come from all sorts of different directions.

Steve Rush: Nice. What a gift too.

Jill McAbe: Yeah. Yeah. You see, there you go. It’s one of the things, it didn’t feel like a gift growing up. 

Steve Rush: Right.

Jill McAbe: But it can be used as a gift.

Steve Rush: Definitely so, yeah. Now you had a moment in your life, which in your book, you actually called it, your involuntary life reset. Tell us a little bit about what happened? That was so significant and how would that then set you on a different path?

Jill McAbe: Yeah, I was 40 and I thought my life was humming along really. In my early thirties, I found my first sort of calling, which was a restaurateur, and I opened a restaurant with my brother in Toronto and we actually became internationally successful, which was, you know, really, we just had a lot of passion. He was the chef. I was very good at operations, management, and leadership. And those two things together really brought together an incredible business and ended up selling that. Because this is a leadership podcast, I’m actually going to veer off a little Steve and just going to share something really fun. 

Steve Rush: Go for you.

Jill McAbe: So, restaurants are known for having a lot of turnovers because they’re known for having very transient workforce, but we had sort of high-end food and, you know, the sommelier where our servers. So, we had sort of a more educated staff and we were known for being, you know, a group where people didn’t leave. When we sold it after seven years, the average person was with us for six years.

Steve Rush: Wow. That’s quite unusual in catering and hospitality, isn’t it? Yeah.

Jill McAbe: Yeah. And at the four-year mark I got, you know, I had these new ideas and so I started saying to the team, hey, you know, hey, let’s try this, let’s try this. And I thought I was this great leader, you know, because we were so successful, and my team was so happy, and they really resisted. And that Steve, I understood that there is a different kind of leadership to forged straight ahead than one who wants to turn a corner. In fact, that became, I didn’t talk about this in my book. Because it wasn’t, you know, necessarily just a leadership book, but that became my lifelong quest to really understand what does it take to turn a corner? How do we make a change? And my team would say to me, we’re so successful. Why do we need to change? And I’d say, because we’re successful because we forged ahead four years ago.

Now everyone’s copying us. It’s time to be fresh again. And I started going to all sorts of courses and studying leadership. And I went to act my team who didn’t want to, you know, try anything. And I said, listen, guys, I’m bored, I’m bored. And I need to be able to try this. So please will you please try these things for 30 days? And if you nix them, they’re next. But if we like them and we enjoy how things are running, then we move forward. And I basically made this bargain with my team. We had about 30 staff just to give you a sense of the size of the business. It was small and that became my leadership lab. And then I’ll fast forward. So, we sell the business and I really want to move off in this like leadership growth direction. And I got pretty good at understanding what motivated individuals and people and off I was going to go into this consulting direction, and I’d sold the business and clients were coming to me from all sorts of industries.

And I’d say, what do I know about your industry? I’m a restaurant person. And they said, Jill, you know, we watched your operations for years as clients, they were tight. We’d like you to work for us, for sure you can help. And that’s how my career started. But the involuntary life reset, I was hit by a car. The driver was talking on his cell. It was a very serious accident, both on his side and mine because he critically injured a couple of his children because they were not in seat belts and me. When the ambulance drivers came to my car, you know, one of them remarked they didn’t think they were going to find a live body inside. So, it was 18 months of recovery. The life reset was that prior to that accident, I was pretty excited about being good at leadership and good at operations and good at cleaning up businesses. But after that accident, and it probably was relevant that the client that I had at the time was really horrible to his people. And so, he was sort of truly one of those people who was making money on the backs of others, there was thousands of people in his organization and the way he treated people was terrible. And so those two things at the same time really, really got me thinking about, am I just going to help people like that make money?

Steve Rush: Right.

Jill McAbe: I have to do something more meaningful.

Steve Rush: And from the first time that you and I met, one thing that really struck me is you have a laser focus to serve others and it’s unwavering. And I wonder how that moment shaped how you think about things now?

Jill McAbe: Wow. yeah, I think, that’s a great question. I think I was ashamed to be helping this man make money. There were people in his employee for 10 years making minimum wage. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: And he was so happy with the operational you know, one thing I have with this, I’m really good at mathematical. Like figuring things out. I have a real creativity to see solutions. I’m exceptional at it. And I was with his company for months and he offered me a lot of money to stay. And when I saw people who had worked in his employee for 10 years, it was a food manufacturing facility, and they were making minimum wage, which you can’t live on in Toronto. And at the end of every day, if there was any, you know, food or any waste or whatever, all went in the garbage, he wouldn’t let them take it. I was so sickened. So, I think growing up sort of sitting on the outside, not fitting in, made me someone who just watched people and cared about people. And I just realized I couldn’t do that.

Steve Rush: Yeah, yeah. And then fast forward to all of the experiences you’ve had, you managed to kind of collect them together and you created a real system now that helps people achieve high levels of motivation productivity within their work and their lives. At what point did you recognize that, you know, what you had was a thing?

Steve Rush: Yeah. I created a tool called mind code, and I think that’s the thing, you know, when I think about what the thing was that really changed the game because there was a lot of, I did all this research. I mean, for over a decade on, you know, goal setting or planning. And then I ended up getting certified in changed leadership. And then I did my master’s in leadership. And I looked at all these different things. The behavioral science aspects really became powerful. A lot of us are looking at goal setting, planning, and implementation as different skill sets. And I realized, well, any project needs all of that. I’d studied project management but that was often overly complex for the needs of a small department or team.

And I think I realized when it was a thing. First of all, when I would apply change leadership in organizations, and despite the fact that the organizations would look at me and say, this is not going to work, like point blank. I’ve had that said to me so many times. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: And we have succeeded anyway. And it’s like, you’re powerful to stop this? Or you’re beyond saving. But the truth is, you’re powerless to stop us when we understand change leadership. And Steve, I know you get that. 

Steve Rush: Mm-Hmm.

Jill McAbe: It’s like, no, you don’t understand. I can rearrange your environment. I can add people and subtract people and you’ll change and not even know you did. Steve, you know what I’m talking about, right? With change leadership.

Steve Rush: I totally do, yeah.

Jill McAbe: Yeah. Change is a equation. And once its supplied, change happens.

Steve Rush: Right.

Jill McAbe: So, I became sort of amazed at the power of this tool. When people would say, Jill, this will not work, and I will not do it. And I’m like, it will work anyway. One of my clients was like, oh my goodness, you can move mountains. And I’m like, it’s not me. It’s this tool. It’s amazing [Laugh], you know, what’s good about me is I’m willing to follow it. I’m willing to go through the steps. So really the system is not mine, you know, it’s what I’ve learned. And my willingness to apply it, one of my clients and their organization did about 40 million and we’re having a chat one day and I’m feeling pretty chuffed, you know, look at the great job I’ve helped you guys do this year.

And he was not happy. Like he was visibly not happy. And I’m thinking what is going on? And he just said, yeah, yeah, no, no, no, it’s good. I’m really happy with the organization, but I’m personally not happy. And I said, well, look, you know, we just use this tool that got an entire, and this was about 300 people that just got a, you know, a massive shift occur in your organization. What do you say we rework this and make it a personal transformation tool? And I later found out Steve, that the reason a lot of people don’t create these tools for personal transformation is because there’s no money in it. 

Steve Rush: Of course, yeah. 

Jill McAbe: Organizations simply pay more for that. And I’ve learned that the hard way because I tried to sell it. And I went from doing very well to not doing very well. So, I did learn the hard way. There’s some truth in that, but yeah, I reworked it for a tool that individuals or teams can use. And that’s a tool I called mind code and I share aspects of it in my book. And I think that’s the moment when I realized when I reworked it, we used it on him first, it worked, then I used it on me. And now I’ve worked with dozens of people. I sell it as a standalone tool. I work closely with clients and use it and time and again, I mean, people have breakthroughs in their performance, and they have it fast.

Steve Rush: Yeah. And a lot of breaking through performance is about decoding, almost our neurological pathways and our thinking that causes to get where we need to get to. And you have spent an enormous amount of time, energy, studying and focusing around behavioral science and neuroscience. And how has that really shifted your perspectives on the art of the possible?

Jill McAbe: Wow. You know, what comes to mind? So, I’ll say it is, my research started with behavioral science, which is, you know, really for the listeners, it’s really thinking about what are the aspects in our environment that lead us to behave the way we do. And behavioral science would look at, you know, our social influences, our influence, our beliefs from growing up, our abilities, our personal abilities and our environment. And that was the first really profound. That was very profound research for me. I guess it goes back to this nurture versus nature question. 

Steve Rush: Right. 

Jill McAbe: And really understanding just how much in our environments, socially and physically were really causing us to be the person that we are. Like I used to think I was this autonomous thinking in control person of my life. And when I studied behavioral science, I understood, I was like a pinball in a pinball machine. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: I went wherever the people who had control of certain social and physical aspects of my reality wanted me to go. And we’ve seen that, you know, we’ve seen that in social media, like, come on, we’ve seen it over and over how fake news and environments and people can pull some levers and absolutely change.

Steve Rush: Totally

Jill McAbe: Yeah, absolutely change belief systems. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: So, I think that was when I realized, that’s what got me interested there, but then there was this problem and this problem was, I couldn’t seem to do it for me [Laugh]. 

Steve Rush: Right. Expert for everybody else, yeah. 

Jill McAbe: [Laughing] Like why isn’t my life going the way I want to? You know, and when I got really honest with myself, there were some big things that I didn’t seem to be able to do for myself. And honestly it was a fluke. My dyslexic brain wanted to, why, why, why, why, why does everybody talk about goals? Why does everybody talk about vision? And I decided to study the neuroscience underpinnings, and I’m fortunate to have a good friend who’s a leading international academic, which means I have access to leading international academics, which means that somebody who had not normally give the time of day to someone like me, actually, you know, would sit down and have several conversations and guide me to cutting edge research that was, you know, just being published. And hadn’t gotten down to the levels of press yet and consultants. I wanted to understand what was it about a goal that would make it work?

Because if a goal worked, then all goals should work. So why were only some goals working? And that’s when you know, I used to have the popular neuroscience of, you know, reticular activating system that almost infuriating neuroscientist, who’s one of, you know, William Cunningham. Who’s a leading neuroscientist in the area of goal cognition and the brain. And he just, please, don’t talk about that. And, you know, because they really care about specifics and accuracy. And for some reason, it just really helped me to understand what created the kind of goal that was likely to be achieved? And then I was able to modify. And as I talk about in the book, I describe there’s a popular system of goal setting called smart goals, which is you know, specific, measurable, attainable. I think realistic and timebound, and or something like that. Sometimes people change the acronym.

Steve Rush: You’re absolutely spot on. But it’s commonly taught, isn’t it? When you hear goals, they have to be smart.

Jill McAbe: They have to be smart and smart goals have a critical flaw in that. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: They’re not often meaningful and gives to the willpower of peace, but they’re actually good for strategy. They’re actually good for developing strategy, interestingly, strategy, fancy word for plan, right. But they’re not a good tool for developing goal or outcome statements. And what do we want to be true at a later date? And that was really a flaw. And I ended up getting to speak to, I actually ended up getting to speak to, you know, one of the foremost goal researchers in the world as well and look at his, you know, 2000-page book on goals, like no joke. I’ve really got into studying this. I was so fascinated and really started to understand how we need to change the way we think about the outcome slash goal development piece to make our brains naturally want to work. And so, one of the things that’s made mind code such a powerful tool. Mind code is an acronym that stands for eight steps of goal setting, planning, and execution. And one of the main things that makes it powerful is the act of doing it helps whoever uses it to automatically program their brain to want to work on it, which of course is very important for any goal is the application of your energy behind it.

Steve Rush: Yeah. And you call these hot goals in your book, right?

Jill McAbe: I use a term that I learned from a neuroscientist. So that’s a term from a group of neuroscientists actually, oh, gee. I want to say his name was O’Reilly, but it’s not, it might not be fresh at the moment, but it is a group of neuroscientists who studied the kind of goals that are the ones that determine how you behave. And so, it’s a term from neuroscience that describes the trigger of action. And so, if you’re hungry, for instance. The hot goal might be, you know, life, right? Like I want to keep living, so I need to eat. So, it’s sort of the top goal. And if you’re making a decision between two things, it’s, you know, whatever it is that you’re spending your time on or moving yourself toward, that’s currently the hottest goal. So, it’s a neuroscience-based term for what it is that’s actually leading your behavior or triggering your behavior.

Steve Rush: And what I particularly like about this focus, and certainly the focus you put on this is, it’s actually directly correlated to mindset as well. So, you talk about having prevention and promotion goals. Well, I have often referred to mindset as being a prevention and promotion mindset, which I direct behaviors away from risk averse to protection. That’s a prevention to promotion, which is, you know, what can I do next? What can I explore? What can I find new? what’s alluring? How does that correlate to helping people get that depth of clarity in their goals?

Jill McAbe: Absolutely. I think mindset is, this is sort of the prevention and promotion is really what I was looking at there, which fits beautifully with what you were saying is the biological push/pull 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: Of why we do what we do. So biologically we are really moving ourselves. There’s a part of our brain that we don’t have cognitive access to. That’s making decisions about our behavior. And that part of the brain is making decisions about, what we see, say, and do. Millisecond, up to ten seconds in advance of us even becoming aware of what we’re going to see, say, or do, which is incredible. And it’s basing those decisions about action on prevention goals, which is preventing us from harm. So, and that could be emotional or physical threat. And so that tends to be automatic.

Our responses tend to be very automatic that prevent us from harm. And I actually share one with your listeners in a second, that I think will really help them understand an aspect of their lives of something that they might feel held back in at the moment, whatever it is. And then there’s promotion goals that the brain is using, are to move us towards more life. And the promotion goals, the big one is to have babies, right? And so, it’s like more life. Preserve humanity. And so, the problem with promotion goals is that more money, more happiness, a lot of the things that we strive for just aren’t biologically understood as necessary to live. And so that’s why we have to put a little more effort into forming our goals and outcomes and objectives so that they are understood biologically sort of by this part of the brain, the amygdala.

So that the action center of our brain is actually going to automatically take action. And so, I really used it from this level of, so if I was going to link it to the mindset of the promotion things and what we want, what would be important is taking those things that we want and really deepening our clarity about what they are, so that this part of the brain that you can’t. I talk about these two parts of the brain, having two different languages, one’s using ideas and thoughts and concepts, and the part that we need to program, if you will, hot goals with promotion things, what we want, it doesn’t understand words. So, we need to give it images. We need to give it emotions. We need to give it feelings, which is why we really need to create clarity around our future desire state in terms of visuals and emotions.

Steve Rush: And of course, the bigger and deeper that emotional connection is the more likely of achievement of those goals, right?

Jill McAbe: Yeah. Because the part of the brain that’s determining our actions, milliseconds up to ten seconds in advance of the action being taken is the part of our brain that’s connected to our emotional center. So, it’s like a way of translating because if it can’t understand ideas and concepts like success, what’s that, right? Oh, you want a blue, two-story house, three blocks from the ocean. I can get that. So there needs to be a concreteness to what we want in a way that we can see it in another little hack is to see how it’s good for others. 

Steve Rush: Hmm. Yeah. 

Jill McAbe: So, a lot of times we look at, you know, in my case where I’m helping individuals build businesses. But even when I was working with leaders and their team is to really take the time to explore the benefits to the group is actually very motivating for this part of the brain, because social, you know, being a safe part of a social circle is critical. And so when we understand something we want to achieve is going to be good for the collective that makes it more motivating. And what I see happening, or, you know, what I know when happens with groups and leaders is that we think that that’s just a given, we have an objective and we’re like, well, it’s just a given that that will be really good. But unfortunately, that would be like saying, you know, going to a country where you don’t speak a language and saying, it’s just a given that they understand everything that you want. No, it’s not just a given. We have to really make an effort to translate our concepts into the kind of images and emotions that the parts of our brain who will decide if we do this or not [Laugh]. 

Steve Rush: It’s great perspective. 

Jill McAbe: So, we have to take a minute and onboard that part of the brain

Steve Rush: Love it. It’s a really interesting perspective. So, if we get our goals, we’re really methodical about this. I’ll say that again. Does willpower play into this?

Jill McAbe: Yeah. So, I have a cheeky chapter in my book, you know, who needs willpower? So, no, right. It’s just an easy home test. Everybody can do this. If you have a stated goal and you’re working toward it, then you know, it’s a hot goal. It’s something that you’re automatically working on and you’re good. You’re just going to keep moving in that direction. However, if you have a stated goal for yourself or your organization, and there is not regular progress being made on that goal, then you know, it’s not hot and you know, you’re not going to, which is a problem. So, willpower is not needed once you’ve properly established a goal.

Steve Rush: That’s fascinating. I think it’s a common misconception that people think you must have to have willpower, but to your point, if you’ve articulated it so well, and it’s got all of the right drivers that are neurologically linked to you, then it’s just going to happen.

Jill McAbe: You can’t stop yourself, Steve. 

Steve Rush: Right.

Jill McAbe: You actually cannot stop yourself once you have properly established a goal. I work with some organizations, one of my passions is helping companies develop vision and strategy. That’s my strength, who I use sort of a bigger version of mind code for that. And we’ll do their strategy for the next three years or five years. And when we’re revisioning, that’s why it’s so important to be careful about the goals so that because when they’re set properly, you actually can’t stop yourself from working. You physiologically impossible to stop yourself from working on them because you’ve literally coded yourself. Because again, I think it’s more than 90% of our action is triggered milliseconds up to ten seconds in advance. So, like that was the moment Steve, when I realized we have to stop focusing on the actions we’re taking and start focusing on programming, the part of our brain that’s taking action.

It’s like, we were looking at the wrong thing all this time. No wonder there are so many frustrated initiatives in the world. And so that’s like one of my, you know, I get really excited. And then that’s when I say, hey, be very careful what you decide to program in your subconscious, because not only do you not need willpower, you’ll have to use willpower to stop working on it. Just so I’m accurate, because like my brain needs to be sort of accurate. Sometimes you need willpower to program the goal. So, you don’t need willpower [laugh].

Steve Rush: Yeah, I get it.

Jill McAbe: That’s where you can use some willpower.

Steve Rush: So, willpower becomes part of the goal setting process.

Jill McAbe: Yes. It’s part of the goal setting process. 

Steve Rush: Once it’s set up. 

Jill McAbe: Yeah.

Steve Rush: You’re off. 

Jill McAbe: Yeah, exactly. 

Steve Rush: Got it. 

Jill McAbe: You’re off. You’re done.

Steve Rush: Excellent. I love that. And I’ve never really, until I’ve read it in your book, I’ve never really had that aha moment that actually if you program your behaviors and you’re thinking right at the outset and they’re strongly aligned and they’re hot goals, it just takes care of itself.

Jill McAbe: Yeah. And it’s not so instant to do that, but it is so worthwhile.

Steve Rush: Yeah. So, you often hear people saying, you know, unless you’re all in, it’s not going to happen. So, when you hear somebody articulate the words, you have to be all in, what does that really mean for you?

Jill McAbe: I personally use the term all in for my book. Probably what it means to me is faith. I mean, that’s what it means to me. There was a point at which I was wondering, you know, am I going to be successful in developing my own education company? Or am I going to have to work as a consultant, some nice clients, some less nice clients, you know, what’s my future look like? And there was a moment at which I really needed to make a decision if I was going to follow my heart and really try to make a go of my company, or go back to a world that I knew I could succeed in. And I guess having the life reset of the car accident, the stakes were a little higher because my life felt very empty after that car accident, I really felt like I lost it all. And I wondered what I had lost. I’d really gone into this 18-month rehabilitation but also significant depression and real questioning of what was the point of life. And all in for me was, like, well, I had to give it all.

I had to try my very best. I couldn’t go back to just tolerating things and it meant going all in on my dreams and that’s what it meant to me. And then it was also having the faith because I noticed that I was very good at helping organizations make striking advancements and teams make striking advancements when we’d work together. I’m very good at bringing forth the power of the individuals in the room. And then I thought, what is going on with me? Why have I been so successful at their businesses? And then in my own been, you know, lackluster result. Because after that crummy client, after my car accident, I only accepted clients who I really, really, really believed in. And I realized, yeah, I get results for people because I’m all in for them. And I have a hundred percent belief in them, and I was not taking action as though I knew I would succeed, but yet when working for my clients, I would take action with a singular focus that we would succeed.

Steve Rush: Yeah, that’s great. And now you’re all in for you. How’s that changed?

Jill McAbe: [Laugh] most days. It’s still harder. It’s still harder when it’s me! 

Steve Rush: Uh huh.

Jill McAbe: But how has that changed? No, it’s changed a lot. I’ve had, you know, is really, every day could be a slightly different answer. Some days I’m definitely feel like, you know, I can achieve anything and other days it’s still running your own business is so challenging and there’s lots of ups and downs. I think what’s changed for me overall. Oh, well, I mean, the big picture is, when I really went after my dream. I mean, now I haven’t established business. Back then I was not paying my way, you know, I’d gone from a fancy consultant to, you know, not being able to buy cereal and having my partner supporting me and you know, it was very humiliating for me. And now, I do, I mean, I have a business that, Entrepreneur Magazine is recognized as number one.

Steve Rush: Exactly. 

Jill McAbe: You know, to watch in 2022. Like pretty important, actually. I’m pretty excited about that, but it’s the people I also get to call, you know, it’s the relationships that I’ve built along the way. There are so many extraordinary people who I call up and say, hey, you know, would you teach, you know, my people in BOOMU, would you teach them the stuff that know and they’re like, sure. And that gets me every time, how many people I’ve reached out to and wanted to speak to or asked for them to do something for my community. An they say, yeah, and honestly, that’s been one of the most exciting things is that I’ve been building something somewhat secretly. And even just now were sort of forming the outer view of the world. A lot of people who are only in our, like clients and students only see this because we are in a building phase, but it’s truly a collection of incredible people sharing their gifts. And it’s a dream. It’s a dream come true. And I guess, because I almost got taken out of life with that car accident and I think COVID has helped us all see the need to maybe seize the moment. I’m really working towards building something that outlives me.

Steve Rush: Awesome. I love it. So, this is a part of the show where we are going to turn the tables a little bit. We all know that you can’t hack leadership, but I can hack your mind. And the objective of the next part of the show is, I want you to share with us your top tips, tools, ideas around leadership. So, what would be your top three leadership hacks, Jill?

Jill McAbe: My top three leadership hacks. I’d say, this is just so small, but I think one of my favorite things. I teach, but I have a teach a collaborations course, and I think leaders listen first. And I think we know that leaders listen first, and you know, listening is power. Because understanding someone else’s point of view before inserting your own is how to truly guide someone as opposed to speaking first. So that can be as simple as I have a very rigorous rule to always socialize for a moment before jumping into work. And in fact, it got me a quarter million-dollar contract once because I was representing a client and a possible investor came along and he was jumping in, you know, and he was like, all right, let’s go. Let’s talk business. And I looked at him and I held up my finger.

This is the person with all the money. And I held up my finger and I said, just a moment. It’s Monday morning, we socialize before we jump into work, how was your weekend? And he just looked at me like, who are you? We went to lunch, and I did a big project for his organization. And I do think that just taking a moment to be with people is critical. I’m going to say a leadership hack is definitely vision and having a clear vision. When I did my master’s in leadership, I was amazed, you know, I thought I was going to go find the unequivocal way forward in leadership and discovered there are as many leadership theories as there are theorists. So, I realized, oh, there isn’t one rule. And of course, my dyslexic brain wanted it to be easy, but it wasn’t. But then there was the power of vision, which for over a century, nobody had been able to disprove could actually help you know, leaders outperform their competition by two to twelve times, which is staggering. And it got so boring to researchers. They couldn’t disprove it. And vision, by the way, fancy word for big goal, right? 

Steve Rush: Big goal, yeah. Yeah.

Jill McAbe: And so, these visions are really critical that they be underscored by purpose and long term and not all visions have that. I do have an article on LinkedIn about the kind of vision that has that. So, I’d say that’s a hack because once you do that and get your organization on board, they’re automatically working to worry about willpower. I mean, you don’t have to worry about procrastination and willpower and people not working. 

Steve Rush: Totally.

Jill McAbe: It’s such false economy not to take that week and bring in a facilitator and get that vision done because it’s such false economy just going to work. So that’s a hack. And then the third one I’m going to say is, I have a tool for decision making. ABC decision. I’m pretty sure there’s an article about that somewhere. I teach these courses as well through my website, but that one really helps us go back and it helps remind us where we are. (A) is aligned to your long- and short-term goals. (B) is broaden your options, always choose from at least three. (C) is compare contenders and do not use pro and cons, those are really bad. And then (D), detach before you decide so that you don’t make emotionally biased decisions. And I think that once you have that vision, you have the ability to use something like A, B, C, D decisions to navigate and stay on course, those are my three hacks.

Steve Rush: Brilliant. I love that last one, particularly because it’s one of the things that we often are knee jerk about making decisions and just being ordered and considered gives you the space to think. 

Jill McAbe: Yeah. 

Steve Rush: Love it. Next part of the show we call it Hack to Attack. So, this is typically where something has not gone well in your life or work. Now you’ve already shared a couple of hacks to attacks already, but was there maybe something else in your work or your life that was maybe an aha moment that you’ve learned from that’s now serving you well?

Jill McAbe: A mistake that I seem to make regularly [laugh], which is embarrassing. In light of the show is, that I think I can outsmart my tools because I created them.

Steve Rush: [Laugh].

Jill McAbe: [Laugh], you know what I’m talking about?

Steve Rush: I totally understand that, yeah.

Jill McAbe: So, I don’t sometimes use them and then my projects don’t go well, it’s totally embarrassing. But I would say going back to really setting, I mean, for me, the tools, mind code and ABC decisions, I use the two of them in conjunction, but for me, it’s going back and creating that second half. For me, it’s that I stop using particularly my goal setting and planning tools, my execution, I’m pre-programmed on execution. I’m excellent execution because I program myself to be, so it’s going back. Yeah, I have big fails or projects that are super lackluster, and then I realized I didn’t start them the way I teach other people to start. 

Steve Rush: It’s ironic. I, however 

Jill McAbe: [laugh] 

Steve Rush: It’s reality. The reason that those tools were created in the first place, because it gave you results, it gave you processes, it gave you a methodology and you know what, we’re human, aren’t we? At the end of the day. And it’s easy sometimes just to leave out some of those foundations, but the fact that, you know, that is a really powerful thing.

Jill McAbe: Yeah. Like they bring out my smarts, right. I think I’m so smart. But the point is, they actually draw forth my smarts.

Steve Rush: Yes. got it. So last part of the show, you get to do some time travel, bump into Jill at 21 and give us some advice. What would your words of wisdom be?

Jill McAbe: So, this one is not leadership related at all. 

Steve Rush: Cool. 

Jill McAbe: Or business related. When I think about this question, I think about what would 21-year-old me actually listen to? And that’s key, right. Because I might say a lot of things to 21-year-old me, but I have to go back and ask myself, what would 21-year-old me actually take action on? And so, with that in mind, I would tell 21-year-old me to go find the course in miracles.

Steve Rush: Mm-Hmm.

Jill McAbe: And I think 21-year-old me who was, you know, not into anything around faith and prayer or meditation or anything like that, I think almost really anti all those things because of how I had grown up. Would’ve been fascinated by a concept that there would be such a thing as a course in miracles. And I think that that would have helped 21-year-old me accelerate my career dramatically faster.

Steve Rush: If only I could have bumped into a course of miracles at 21, in fact, I probably wouldn’t have even listened to anything. I’d have said to me at 21, if I’m being brutally honest, but hey, that’s another show. 

Jill McAbe: [laugh]. 

Steve Rush: So, I’ve absolutely loved talking with you. You are an incredible example of learning by doing and turning it into something powerful that’s a force of good. And just delighted that we have the opportunity to share your story and some of your models and tools with our audience. If our listeners wanted to get hold of a bit more of your insights, how to access a copy of the book, It’s Go Time, find out a little bit about BoomU, you where’s the best place for us to send them?

Jill McAbe: Come on over to my website would be a great start, with just one C a atypical spelling and or And that’s where free copy of my book can be found or link to my brand-new podcast, Thinking Vitamins, where I am sharing actionable ideas and practices that boost abundance and anyone interested in learning about MindCode would be able to learn all about that there and my other sweet of performance skills for leaders and entrepreneurs. So, I think that would be the place to send them.

Steve Rush: And the good news is, is that if they’re listening to this right now, they’ll also find them in our show notes so they can head straight over as soon as they’re done listening. Jill, I just want to say thank you for being part of our community. I’ve loved to chatting with you. And it’s no surprised that, you know, Entrepreneur Magazine have recognized you as someone to watch this year. So, thanks for being part of our community.

Jill McAbe: I’m grateful for the opportunity to be on the show. I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you.

Steve Rush: Thank you, Jill.


Steve Rush: I want to sign off by saying thank you to you for joining us on the show too. We recognize without you, there is no show. So please continue to share, subscribe, and like, and continue to get in touch with us with the great new stories that we share every week. And so that we can continue to bring you great stories. Please make sure you give us a five-star review where you can and share this podcast with your friends, your teams, and communities. You want to find us on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter @leadershiphacker, Leadership Hacker on YouTube and on Instagram, the_leadership_hacker and if that wasn’t enough, you can also find us on our website Tune into next episode to find out what great hacks and stories are coming your way. That’s me signing off. I’m Steve Rush, and I’ve been your Leadership Hacker.

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