Candy: Clarence’s goal is to create a passion filled legacy that will shift the trajectory of millions of people seeking a better life. His talk today is around courageous leadership, and I’m excited because he talks about the five immutable laws and he’s going to share with us one of those laws here, and he’s going to talk about creating a psychological view of how fear stops you from being our best, and teach you when and how to create the courage to rise from that fear. So Clarence, it is my honor and privilege to welcome to the stage.
Clarence: Thank you Candy, thank you everyone. Thanks a lot for that introduction, I didn’t know you were going to read all of that, but I’m glad you did because I do have a book coming out in a couple of months, and we’ll talk more about that at another time. But it doesn’t really portray my life per se even though the title of it is, “From the Bread line to the Board Room” when I was homeless, and ended up at some point as a senior executive, very successful. But we’ll talk about that another time.
Today we’re going to talk about courageous leader, and I know the question came up earlier, how many leaders do we have in the room? Any leaders in the room? Yeah I know you’re all leaders, yes? How many courageous leaders do we have in the room? Oh, okay. A few hands went up, I like that. Well it does take a level of courage to be a leader for many, many reasons, because it’s a jungle out there. Do you find that? It’s a jungle out there, and if you’re the right courageous leader, you can forge the path through that jungle where people will follow you. Agree with that?
Your job as a leader is to forge that path, but it takes courage because the jungle is full of lions, and tigers, and bears-
Audience: Oh my.
Clarence: Ah ha, you know, you’ve experienced that jungle. If you’ve traveled here from out of town, you’ve probably experienced the challenges that the jungle presents every single day. You’re challenged every single day, if you went to the airport, the TSA probably said, “Let’s see that bag, go through the conveyor belt one more time.” You’re challenged, little challenges. If you took a cab here, after you sign the credit card receipt, the cab driver may have given you that eye that says, that tip wasn’t quite big enough. Little challenges, you are challenged everyday by people and by life, life challenges you all the time.
Now I did mention the book that goes from Breadline to Board room, and what I talk about in the book are the five immutable laws. And we talked about some of those already this morning. Choice, the very first one, big one, choice. Commitment, we’ll talk about courage right now, confidence, and celebration. I encourage that you dive deep into each of those because without those, if you break any of those laws, you are really breaking the tenets of your personal leadership. Because personal leadership must precede professional leadership. Candy mentioned it earlier. Leadership is an inside job. So I encourage you to take these five seats, these five immutable laws, and they’re immutable because they can’t be broken. It’s like gravity, they exist. If you break these, you’re going to have a tougher time. This is the foundation of your success.
But one thing that happens with us, and we’ll talk about one aspect of it, but I’d just like to share this with you, give me a second [blows balloon 00:03:45]. Now we just did a breathing exercise-
Audience: [crosstalk 00:03:52]-
Clarence: And I think I’m out of breath. All right, well, dizzy. This can represent your life. It’s full, it’s shiny, it’s colorful. It’s got all the celebratory natures of everything that you want in life, is this the life that you want? Yes? This is the life that you have? I have this life, I want this life, I like this life. Or, would you rather have a life that was more like this? Empty, shriveled up, it had a lot of promise but it’s not full of the things that you want in life. So we all want this yes? Well, even if you have this, it’s important not to lose it. Because there are leaks in this all the time. What are some of the leaks, stress, overwhelmed, worry? We’re going to fix the leaks here, don’t go to the restroom. A lower emotional intelligence, self doubt, the biggest leak of all fear. Right?
This will make the difference not only in your life but in the life of the people who are following you, the people who look up to you. Now it took me a while to figure this one out, in fact, when I was twelve years old, my mother moved us from Cleveland to New York, and in New York, we didn’t just live in New York, we lived in we’ll just call it the ghetto. So I have a question for you quickly, does fear keep you safe, or is fear a dangerous thing for you?
I’d take a survey, but I don’t have much time. I’m going to tell you. Fear keeps you safe when it’s lions, and tigers, and bears right? Because it will tell you that you need to run, you need to avoid whatever that is. It’s the reason you lock your door at night, and put on the burglar alarm system when you go to sleep, because you fear somebody’s going to break in. So fear can keep you safe, if you know that story, it could be witches and flying monkeys. It’s all around, it could be the TSA or the cab driver, all of these things are always challenging you, people are challenging you, life challenges you. So fear keeps you safe in one respect, but when is it dangerous? It’s dangerous when it, what? Stops you from becoming what you were intended to become. It’s dangerous when you look at fear and it stops you from being your true courageous leader.
And what are some of the things that stop you? You’re afraid of failing. I’m not going to ask that person to marry me because they may say no. I’m not going to pick up the phone and call that client because I don’t want to hear no, I don’t like rejection. I’m fearful of rejection. And I might be embarrassed if I ask that person to go out with me in a public place and they say no, everybody will know. We fear all of these things internally, I’m not going to speak up in a meeting because someone might criticize me. Every time you pay attention to those fears, you are not being all that you can be, and you are not being courageous enough to be the leader that you were meant to be. Everybody get that?
If you get that say, “I get that.”
Audience: I get that.
Clarence: All right, see, what I like to do is when I say, “I get that”, it’s yours. I’m going to give you my wisdom, and once you say you get it, I’m moving on. Can I move on?
Clarence: All right, when I was twelve, we moved to New York in the ghetto. We were in the Projects, anybody familiar with the New York Projects? Seventeen, eighteen stories of concrete, steel, it’s like a prison. And the prisoners in there are insane, it is a rough, rough place. In fact, coming from Cleveland to New York, I was kind of a country bumpkin, and as a country bumpkin in New York, I got picked on every, single, day. In fact there was a forty five day period there, where I got picked on and beat up, not picked on or beat up. Picked on and beat up. After forty five days I looked like Apollo Creed from Rocky IV, I mean I was just done.
My mother got so mad, she came out to defend me, she came out and stood in front of these teenagers, and just read them the the riot act. You don’t want an angry black woman who’s son is being picked on to come out and dress you up and down, because that’s what she did. I feared for Her life, it was just that serious, and she has no idea that doing that, made my life even worse. So any mothers out there trying to defend your children, let them get through it somehow, even though I was beat up for forty five days straight. But here’s the deal, do you think that was great training for being a corporate leader?
Audience: Oh gosh.
Clarence: Oh gosh, yes. It was. You know why? Because in the sophisticated clean hallways of corporate America, or corporate life, there are the same thug like bullies and gangs that will you beat you up every day. I know, I’ve been beat up there too. And I’ve got the scars to prove it. It is a jungle out there, you get my meaning now? It’s a jungle out there, lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Embarrassment, failure, rejection, oh my. All of those fears can stop you from moving forward, or can keep you safe.
Now I’m going to share with you … here’s the executives that will ride you and beat you up. That’s really a … it’s one of those things that’s called motivation, the carrot and the stick, have you seen that one? Oh my gosh, it’s terrible. It’s external, carrot is a promise of the reward, the stick is a threat of punishment. It’s used every single day, there’s another way to get people to follow, there’s another way to get people to perform higher, hopefully, we’re going to go through some of that. I know Candy and I are on the same page that way, and I know she’s going to cover some of that.
But I want to show you my courage model. I used to call it the Bravery model until I understood the difference between courage and bravery, there is a difference. Bravery is one of those things where the private in the army sees the grenade, and just jumps on it to save his platoon, just suddenly. That’s a brave act. But courage is a little bit different. Courage comes with this … it’s more continuous, it’s more contiguous, it’s more of what you know about yourself, so that you can display courage on a consistent basis. And so this model is very easy to follow, and I’ll just share it with you very quickly.
If you see that fear is at it’s very highest, on the left, I have what I call the perceived risk line. This is the risk that you are taking when you take action, whatever that action is. If your fear is at the very highest, and your courage is at the very lowest, that perceived risk is very high to take an action, so you’re not going to take an action, you in fact are risk adverse, and you will turn and run from it, that make sense? In fact if you were to act on it in this mode, it would be reckless, you’re not ready, your fear is too high, your courage is too low.
I’m going to go through the whole chart, but let’s just go to the other side. The other side is when your courage is at its highest and your fear is at its lowest, it’s actually safe, and it’s reckless not to take action. It’s a risk reversal, get that?
All right, so in risk reversal, you’ll get to place where you’ll run to the roar. Anybody ever heard that, run to the roar? It comes from an old African story where the elders would teach the young warriors how to build their courage. And the story goes where the lion said the young lions would be at one end of the Serengeti, or the valley, as they were hunting for prey, and the older lions would be at the other end, and the older lions have lost strength, they’ve lost their speed, they’ve lost a few teeth, so they weren’t good hunters anymore, but they still had big voices.
And so as the heard that was being hunted moved closer and closer to the older lions, the older lions would stand up, and give a mighty roar, which would put fear in the herd, and the herd would turn, and run into the jaws of the skilled, young, hungry lions. So the moral of the story that the elders would tell the young warriors, is that sometimes you have to build your courage high enough to run to the roar, that’s where you can be safe.
So that’s the issue with this chart. If your courage is high enough, you will actually get a risk reversal, and you will be safer running toward the roar, and reckless not taking that chance, not speaking up in that meeting, not calling it like it is, not being your true authentic, leader of a self that you can and should be. So this courage model, I’m going to make sure that each of you get this, in fact, I have a USB, that I’m going to make sure everybody gets today that goes through the entire courage module so that you can have that, it’s a video I put together as part of one of the courses that I have. And so each of you will get that today.
So but let’s understand the … let’s call it the neuroscience of what happens with this fear and this courage. We respond to fear in a certain way that helps us survive. We have a first part of our mind, our brain, takes in what happens to us, and it decides whether or not it’s a danger for us, it’s a survival piece, it’s called the reptilian brain. It’s the first level of thinking that happens. Have you been in a place where someone you didn’t see coming up, comes up behind you and they touch you on the back?
I was at a conference about three months ago, and there was about a thousand people there, so people were bumping into each other, they were having a good time, it was really crowded, so having someone touch me is not a big deal, but at some point, someone wanted to get my attention, and it came from behind, touched me on my shoulder, and I immediately did one of those. That was the reptilian brain saying, is that danger? Should you run? Should you turn and fight? Should you freeze? The fight, flight, or freeze. That’s the reptilian brain in place.
But we have higher orders of thinking. We have the limbic system that is [inaudible 00:15:50] your emotions and your behavior, and we have the neocortex that is the higher level of thinking that allows us to reason and do many other things. And those other layers of our mind, they check in and say, should we validate what the reptilian brain has said to us, or should we just suppress that fight, flight, or freeze. But the initial thing that happens is the fight, flight, or freeze, so you are going to have fear in your life. Fear does not go away. I’m not here to say you need to be fearless, that’s a myth. You will always have fear.
How you respond to it, and you do with it is what matters, and the only way to really get past it, is not to get rid of fear, but to build your courage high enough to overcome your fear, you get that? If you get that, say, “I get that.”
Audience: I get that.
Clarence: Okay. All right, so this is what we’re talking about. Now bear with me here, because I know this looks a little morbid, and I don’t mean for it to be morbid, because here’s the real deal about this. The only thing that matters on this tombstone is not the date, not your name, not the date you were born or the date you expire, it’s that dash in the middle. That’s the only thing that matters there. We can’t change the date that were born, we don’t know the date we’re going to expire, yes you will expire at some point. If you fear death, I’m going to tell you it’s an irrational fear, because we all are. No one gets out of this alive, I hate to break it to you. We all will, we just don’t know what the expiration date is. So if you can’t change any of those dates, without some real major stuff going on on the back end, what’s really important is the dash.
Now here’s where I’m going to tell you how to build your courage. Now you know what courage is, you know how it shows up, lions and tigers and bears, or embarrassment, rejection, and failure, and how it affects your life, and how you can run to the roar or run and turn, or the reptilian brain, you’ve got all that stuff right, in about fifteen minutes. I hope you feel like you’ve gotten a lot. I’m going to tell you how to build your courage now.
The best way to build your courage is to understand that dash. Not the dash of your life, but the dash of your story. We all have a story, you heard mine very briefly, from the breadline to the boardroom, that’s my story, homeless to success. It doesn’t always have to be from rags to riches, but you have a story. I know you have a story, you wouldn’t be here now if you didn’t have your own story. I would like for you to think about it right now, what is your story? And we all have different stories. It could be from single mom to Wonder Woman, or whatever it is that you are.
You have a story, what’s important about your story is not the single mom piece, it’s not the Wonder Woman piece, it’s about what happened there. When I tell people from breadline to a board room, they want to know about the “to”. What is the “to”? I understand breadline, I understand boardroom. What did you do? That’s where your story lies. When you get clear about your story, that to, that dash, that is when you have a key to the courage that it takes to be a courageous leader.
Now the other thing with the story is, the story itself needs to be boiled down into that phrase. This is your exercise, you can do it now, you can do it at lunch, you can do it later in the day, but the first ten people that come to me and tell me their story in a phrase from this to that, put it in those terms. I want you to put it into terms from this to that. From single mom to Superwoman. From breadline to boardroom. I want your story written that way. I don’t want the thirty minute version, I want that phrase. If you can do that, now, the next thing that happens is to understand that “to” piece, that’s your truth.
Now if you’re from single mom to Wonder Woman, maybe your truth is, my kids are the most important thing to me and I’ll never do anything that will harm them, your story is another sentence. Maybe that’s the truth of who you are. Family is everything, that might be your truth. For me it was about choices, I chose to be homeless. I chose to be in the boardroom. That’s why the first immutable law is about choice, you choose leadership, you choose where you are. You’re here because of choice, that’s my truth, it might not be yours. You have a truth, and I want you to find it, because that truth is your secret weapon.
If you were to walk down a dangerous street at night, with nothing, you would be pretty fearful I’m sure, but if you had a body guard with you, you’d be a little more courageous. If you knew Tae Kwon Do, or karate, or some martial art, if you were black belt, you’d be a little bit more courageous. If you had mace, you’d be more courageous, if you had a gun you’d be more courageous walking down that dangerous street. Your truth is your secret weapon, so anytime you’re feeling that fear of moving forward on an action you want to take, and you want to create a risk reversal, go back to that secret weapon. Your truth will get you past that. It’s gotten you past so much already, don’t leave it behind, don’t leave that weapon at home, take it with you, carry it with you, it’s with you always.
Okay, with that, as a courageous leader, when you are living life that way, as a courageous leader your life is really about being and being better, becoming better, becoming more, becoming your best you, and when you live life on those terms, people will follow you. When you live life on those terms, you will attract the best of the best.
My friends, my courageous leaders, it may be your time to run to the roar, thank you.
Candy: [crosstalk 00:22:40] that was absolutely incredible. There’s so much….