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Fifteen Leadership Lifesavers

Bringing an energetic blend of insight and humour, Tim Hurson teaches audiences what they already know in their hearts: that creative intelligence is the essence of human potential. Whether you’re a manager or an artist, whether you work alone or in a group, you’ll think better and do better by learning to unlock your creative intelligence—and “unblock” your thinking. With creative intelligence, good work becomes brilliant, and life opens up with a new sense of freedom, confidence, and possibility. Here are fifteen simple leadership life lessons Tim’s learned that have made a powerful difference in his life, both at home and at work:

1. Be transparent. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Pretending you know more than you do is like cheating at solitaire. It does not change the deal. There is no shame in not knowing. Just the opposite: the essence of intelligence is not knowledge, but curiosity.

2. Direct your energy. Speech is neither thought nor action. It is somewhere in between. It is not a useful substitute for either.

3. Be the other side of the conversation. Imagine that “your turn” in a conversation is when you listen, rather than when you speak. You may feel that unless you say them right away, you will lose your ideas. But your mouth is not a recording device. Nor is it the source of your ideas. Your mind is. The best way to keep your ideas alive is to write them down. Neither you, nor your ideas, will not disappear just because you stop talking, though it sometimes feels that way. You are just as present in listening as you are in speaking, probably more so.

4. Let go of being right. The firmness of your conviction does not make your opinion right. Nor do you have to agree with someone for them to be right. Consider the times you may have lost something precious in your life because you just had to be right.

5. Practice humility. When you discover you were wrong in something you said or did, own up. Admitting you were wrong is simply acknowledging that you are smarter now than you were then. Refusing to admit your mistakes is the opposite: proof you have learned nothing and are as ignorant now as you were then.

6. Be selfish. Practice forgiving. When you forgive another, the one who benefits most is you. Do not neglect to forgive yourself. That way, you benefit twice.

7. Accept the obvious. You can never see the world exactly as another person does, and others can never see the world as you do. We cannot experience anyone else’s perceptions or pain or joy. When we look into ourselves, we perceive a complex of thoughts and feelings, but when we observe others, all we ever see is how they behave. This is true in reverse too.

8. Do not expect permanence. Life is wonderful—until it isn’t. Life is miserable—until it isn’t. As far as we know, nowhere in the universe is any condition permanent.

9. Stop wishing, start willing. “I wish” sees power as external. “I will” sees it as internal.

10. Husband your time. Time is the currency of your life. It moves no matter what you do. It is not possible to save time. But you can decide how to spend it. Whatever wastes your time steals your life.

11. Play the long game. Do not overestimate what you can achieve in the near term. Recognize what you can accomplish over time. Achievement is about daily practice. Crossing the finish line lasts only a fraction of second.

12. Liberate yourself. Just because people say it all the time, does not make it true. There is no box—other than the one you build for yourself.

13. Celebrate ambiguity. By definition, certainty is the opposite of possibility. Certainty is a way of sinking into the comfortable but false belief that what we think is true or permanent or right is so. Remember that knowing often gets in the way of seeing. That is why what currently works often blinds us to what may be possible.

14. Take a break. When confronting problems, if at first you don’t succeed, take a break. Steep yourself in your challenge, then put it away, and allow your brain to work in the background. Background thinking is powerful. Everyone has had the experience of recalling something they were struggling to remember as soon as they stop trying to remember it. It’s the same with problem solving: by taking the pressure off, you let your brain make connections and imagine solutions you may not be able to generate deliberately.

15. Be kind. Give the best of yourself to someone every day. In the end, it is the most important thing you can do.

Tim Hurson/February, 2015