november 2009 | Become Extraordinary
Robin Sharma is a guide in the art of living life to the full. His advice and words of wisdom are down to earth and cover everything from simple, practical deeds to more comprehensive advice. He encourages people to live a live built around choice rather than chance, to consciously choose a life instead of living it as it comes.
Internationally, the Canadian is ranked as one of the world’s most popular lecturers and coaches in the field of leadership, personal development and lifestyle. For fifteen years Robin Sharma has been called upon by CEOs in organisations like Microsoft, IBM, Fedex, Nasa, BP and the Harvard Business School. The ten books he has so far written are published in over 50 countries and close on 70 languages. The books in the series The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari have sold millions of copies worldwide.
This autumn Robin Sharma toured Europe, holding lectures, seminars and workshops under the heading Lead Without Title – High Performance Leadership in Turbulent Times, which basically means leadership skills without the need to hide behind a title and the ability to do one’s utmost in all conceivable situations.
Robin Sharma is generous with his knowledge, which he sandwiches between metaphors, anecdotes, aphorisms, quotes… a discussion with him is an intensive experience. Perhaps it is how he shares his knowledge that is the secret behind his success. He puts it across in a way that is accepted by the audience, storytelling is one of the methods. His critics say he never comes with anything new, upon which he replies: “Why complicate things by reinventing the wheel?”
He emphasises the importance of understanding the meaning of leading and showing leadership. Everybody can be a good leader. Leadership is nothing you are born with but is shaped through constant development, self-awareness, experience and education.
“All too many people live their lives in a sort of coma, and all too many focus on negative thoughts. To be a winner at work and in private life everybody has to show leadership, regardless of the title they have,” says Robin Sharma, whose educational company Sharma Leadership International specialises in developing leadership skills, thus improving results in times of rapid change.
When Robin Sharma left his career as a junior barrister he began studying the great leaders and thinkers of the world. He studied philosophy, read books by and about the leading lights. What drove them to become what they became?
“I wanted to be influenced by the great philosophers. I began making small changes to my own life based on what I had learnt, and sure enough it led to great changes.”
Robin Sharma’s mission in life is crystal clear. He wants to help individuals in companies and organisations to be as good as they can in what they do and help them to realise their goals, not only at work but in their private lives. One thing that comes across quite clearly is that he is results-oriented, as opposed to many other consultants. “All too many books are philosophical and provide no answers.”
Robin Sharma gladly shares his knowledge, but says he would like his thoughts put into practical actions.
“It’s not enough just knowing what we have to do, we must act in accordance with that knowledge if we are to achieve lasting and positive change.”
“Everybody can be a good leader.”
We talk about having the courage to take risks in achieving our goals. He says one must have the courage to take the time to determine one’s goals. The greatest danger in life is not having the courage to take any risks whatsoever, leading to the deathbed scenario where we regret the risks we never took, bemoan the opportune moments we never captured. Robin Sharma reviews his goals regularly, unlike most other people who never think of their goals until they are old.
“You must learn to prioritise what you wish to achieve. Successful business leaders, for example, are keenly aware of their priorities, which gives them the strength to say no to something that is not important. Only then do they achieve results. What makes successful business leaders so good at what they do has nothing to do with their background,” explains Robin Sharma, who has also worked closely with billionaires and students and studied the way they act. “Of course studies are important, but not specifically for success.”
In his experience, successful entrepreneurs burn for their task. How they think and integrate with other people and having a vision is a vital component.
How do the most successful people go about achieving their goals irrespective of whether they are the leader of an organisation, a company, are a billionaire, entrepreneur or sportsperson? How do they think?
“One thing they have in common is a clear vision that is connected with their mission, and a clear focus. They also ask what will happen from today to their final day on earth. There’s nothing wrong with being completely absorbed in something as long as it’s the right thing. Many people can be very engaged in something without being especially productive. With regard to energy, most successful people know that the most important commodity in a business is energy and sustainability.
“Stress is not always counterproductive, but you have to find periods of rest and relaxation to enable you to recharge your batteries. Compare with sports personalities. They have playing days, then they have to rest and gather new strength, take time to meditate, after which they come back and play well, then retire again to rest and train. Inspiration creates innovation, but not without pause for thought and reflection. If you push harder and harder without recharging you run out of energy. There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but you have to give yourself time to recharge your batteries to create new energy.
“Being a good communicator is also significant, but not as significant as helping other people. Ask yourself how you can create better value for your customers. Try to create added value for your clients and build relationships.
“Be innovative. Innovation is about developing and improving through constant improvement. Be convinced that you can perform better today than yesterday. Constant improvement is not just something you say you will do, but something you have to do. It’s not particularly difficult to advance your positions a little at a time.”
Having a clear business structure is also a contributory factor to success. Robin Sharma takes McDonald’s as an example: “Whichever McDonald’s you visit the offering is the same. Be sure that you develop your business along the same lines as always. If there’s a structure in which each part has a bearing in what you have already done then the success factor will be even greater.”
With regard to economy, the most important economy you have is the one between your eyes. You must really believe that you can fulfil your dreams. Or as Robin Sharma puts it: “You can never be bigger in your business dealings than what you carry inside you. Are you one of those people who has eaten the same breakfast every day for ten years? Have you taken the same route to work and talked about the same things for many years?
“The 90-second rule is all about fear. When you get a good idea, act upon it immediately or the voice of fear will close the window after only 90 seconds. You must strike while the iron’s hot. Other significant factors include not breaking your promises, getting back to people in the agreed time and showing that you can always be trusted. Also, consider what you want to leave behind you, create something that lasts longer than you do. Achieve something that benefits other people and human progress. How will anyone remember that you have been on earth? Think about that.”