S7E03: "What's the single biggest contribution you can make?"

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S7E03: “What’s the single biggest contribution you can make?”

It's not about having better answers but about having better questions. In this season of The Impact Multiplier CEO podcast, Richard Medcalf and co-host Davina Stanley explore some powerful questions that every CEO, entrepreneur or senior business leader should reflect on. Engage with them fully, and they'll provoke deeper thinking and shift you into a new realm of possibility.

What does it take to move you onto an entirely different trajectory and multiply your impact? And move from incremental improvement to a step change?

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • The simplest way to focus in on the most strategic activity for you right now
  • Why the "contribution question" is so powerful
  • How to apply the "one thing" question to greatest effect

"What's the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"

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Transcript

Davina Stanley
Hi everyone, welcome back! It's Davina Stanley here again with Richard Medcalf from our new season, which is questions to multiply your impact. As you may have noticed, from the last couple of episodes, Richard's got some fabulous questions that he likes to ask that really are very thought provoking and help us really dig into where we might be going and what we might be thinking about what we're doing. So, hi Richard, welcome back.

Richard Medcalf
Hi Davina, good to see you again and looking forward to putting you on the hot seat once again, as I blindside you with another powerful question and again, I think that it's worth saying, these are questions you're often the secret to success is not finding better answers, right, but actually finding better questions to ask ourselves and I think that's often when I think what I find that's where you get the aha moments is when you ask yourself a question you've never asked before. That's kind of why I like to pitch people with these kinds of ideas.

Davina Stanley
Kinds of questions now and they've been good one. So what is your question for today? What are you going to throw at me today?

Richard Medcalf
So we're going to episode three in this season and we're moving the first two questions. We're kind of around if you think back to the impact multipliers, they're really around releasing commitment because the questions, yeah, what do we stand for? And what's the 25 year vision? It's really kind of tapping into kind of key driver and what we're really committed to deep down and now we're going to move into the next impact multiplier, which is eliminating noise. Okay and being focus and strategy and so, the question I want to suggest today is, what's the single biggest contribution that you can make? What's the single biggest contribution that you can make?

Davina Stanley
And why is this important?

Richard Medcalf
Well, I think, if the 25 year vision question that we spoke about last time, inspires this, this question, which is really about contribution, it focuses us, and I suppose what I should put in brackets here, it's a 12 month time frame, let's say so I would say what's the single biggest contribution Can I make in the next 12 months, you can change that you can make it six months, 24 months, whatever you want, but it's really focusing in and there's a few things reasons why it's powerful. The first is we're focusing on contribution. So when we focus about contribution, which is service, it's about adding value, then we move out of people pleasing, right, you know, so often, you know, we're actually kind of thinking about people pleasing, you know, what do we need to do? What are people expecting from us? And, you know, perhaps we're playing it safe as well, like, we were trying to think about, what do we got to lose? How do we, you know, that, you know, not rock the boat. But when we think about, how can I contribute at my highest level, then I think we move from what I would call the comfort zone, into the greatness zone, the green zone is when we're focused on others. And the comfort zone is when we focus on ourselves, and what separates the two is the wall of fear. You know, it's all about us. It's a self preservation, right. And it keeps us in there, even incredible leaders can get settled into a place where suddenly, oh, I've built all this thing up, I've built this business, I've built this reputation. I've got to protect it, I've got the wall of fear coming right up. But when we say how do I contribute to my customers to you know, to the society to my team, what's the greatest contribution I can make? It takes us out of our itself, and gets us playing a bigger game.

Davina Stanley
And you know what I think I can think of several but I'll focus on one particular example with a client over the last couple of weeks where we're talking about the CEO, actually, who is actually in a bit of trouble because they're so defensive, and so defensive of their record. And I don't know that legacy is quite the right word, but certainly their achievements and their position, and are very, very protective of their position, and the team that they have put in place and they have, you know, their favorites within that team to particularly that it's actually bringing them on down. Because the chairman is looking at this saying actually, you don't have a growth mindset. You are not. You're not willing to stretch and grow and you're not expecting your key people that we really need to see step up. These people Considered, you know, their general manager level, but operating at group executive level is that is the feedback I'm getting from their, their advisors. And they're just not interested in being challenged. So I think if you're focused on the benefit that you can deliver the contribution you can make, suddenly that fear goes away a little bit, because you think, how can I actually help here? How can I improve the situation or whatever your your focus is? How can I make that better for other people? And suddenly, it's not all about you? It's like, How can I do that? You know, and perhaps there's more willingness to step away and say, Well, I don't have to do all of this myself, which I think sometimes very capable people can be caught in that trap, too. And so, you know, I don't know if that speaks to fear, particularly, but certainly, I've seen this play out in a really harmful way, quite recently, this fear of stepping beyond yourself, and being willing to step into unlike that into your greatness. So. Yeah, so the very relevant.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, so Exactly. So it gets us through fear. And the and the other thing is, it's, it's about the single biggest, right, so we're really leaning in to the 8020 rule. Here, right? Where we're, we're really focusing in on what's the one big thing, right, so we're trying to fit we're focusing, we're not looking at all the million things we're really having to force us to ask our brain to really come up with the one top thing, the word priority was never plural. For hundreds and hundreds of years. It was what is okay, what is what is the most priority? It's the priority, what is the priority? What's the number one thing and we've kind of converted it and now we have 50 priorities, which means nothing is priority, right? So Gary Keller in his book, The one thing really bangs on about this point, right? I mean, it's a simple point, but we need to hear it time and time again, he describes it as what's the one thing you can do? Such that by doing it, everything else will become easier? Or unnecessary? So what's the one thing you know, what's one thing you can do? Such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary. And for me, it's the be the single biggest, you know, for me, it's the single biggest contribution you can make in the next year. Because again, that focus you to say, there's all this stuff, you know, but if I could complete the acquisition of my other this other business, at the CEO, say, That's far more important than all the tactical stuff, which people come to me for, they can deal with that if I can achieve that one thing, it's changed everything, right? If I can actually, you know, hire my successor, in the next six months and train him up or her up. That's perhaps the that is the highest contribution, because then I'm going to be freed up to do the next thing. For example, so it's really trying to find what's that one thing? Which is the game changer, the needle mover?

Davina Stanley
Yes and it's actually quite hard to identify that one thing often, isn't it? Because you can see it in retrospect, but you don't always know. You know, when you're sitting there planning, it's pretty hard to identify what is that big rock? You know, in your example, there, it seems fairly easy to work out? Well, if I make that acquisition, that's going to make a material impact is quite measurable. If I hire my successor, then also that sounds like a really tangible sort of thing. What's what's your one thing, Richard?

Richard Medcalf
I know you're gonna ask me this and again, I haven't. I know, I know. I know. And I'm going to struggle, but I'm gonna go for it. I think that the single biggest contribution that I can make in the next year will be to, I think, figure out ways for my clients and near the CEOs who I work with, or the new high performing leaders to work with to start to benefit from each other. More.

Davina Stanley
Yes.

Richard Medcalf
I think that's probably a key place. So I'm, you know, considering what that might look like, what those ways are, but I think I work with some incredible leaders, who are often in industries that kind of touch each other at different points and relate related to each other. And I think a lot of experience and complimentary perspectives, so if I can, if I can figure out ways to help them benefit from each other. I think that'd be a great time.

Davina Stanley
Yeah, and look, certainly we've had a number of dinners now in our business where we've brought clients together, just for the sake of, you know, maybe once a year meeting each other and seeing what they're doing in their own teams with embedding the the sowhat strategy that we work with. And they've really enjoyed it, you know, they've really enjoyed seeing what other people are doing and enjoyed the networking opportunity, but also, just the chance to to meet some other people from different different sectors. So I'd really encourage you to do that. I think it's it has all sorts of very pleasurable side effects aside of any real business benefits, as well. 

Richard Medcalf
And so let me ask you, let me ask you to have what is what's the single biggest contribution that you can make that in the next year?

Davina Stanley
So I think, for me, it's about scale. In my business, it's about working out how to go to the next level in terms of scale of impact. And there are a few different ways that I can do that. And I'm currently prioritizing and deciding what the trade offs are around that. So there's three possible streams for me to focus on. And I need to prioritize one because I can't do all three. 

Richard Medcalf
So let me let me just let me say you don't interrupt you and slow you down for a second on this. So again, you're not committing to it. Right. But if you just think of those three in your head right now,

Davina Stanley
Mm hmm.

Richard Medcalf
Once you know, if you literally, you know, if I was holding a gun to your head, and you had to like pull the trigger on one of those projects. Right now, today, with what you know, today, which would you go for?

Davina Stanley
Which one would I do?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah.

Davina Stanley
Which one? Would I invest in? The highest risk? One is where my heart is? Yeah. Yeah. And that is actually in investing in some software. That's the one that I'd really love to do. And that's the one that I'd really love to crack.

Richard Medcalf
And I do believe it, would that be the biggest contribution that you can make?

Davina Stanley
If we can crack that, then yes, yes, yeah, we can. And, you know, we have, we have a prototype we have, we have some work that's been invested into that. But you know, what, it's like you've been in technology, you build something and the 8020 rule applies, you know, 80% of the work gets done in 20% of the time. And also the other way, as well. So we're, you know, there is quite a bit to do to make that really fly. And it's, it's something that I'd love to see if it works. I'd love to, you know,

Richard Medcalf
I think that comes back to that you what I'm hearing in you there a little bit is the water fear, right? Like there's these various? The one which is this is always gonna be contributions, people, but that's the scary one, right? Probably means you're in the right direction. In my view.

Davina Stanley
I think to that, you know, it's I think of what are the trade offs, which is part of the decisions that you make when you're prioritizing? Is that to do that means that I need to pull back on some of my consulting work, because I need time, you know, and time is money in the consulting training game. And so there's, there's, there's a tie there, because the markets so strong right now, there is just so much work, my team is fairly well kept out. So you know, it's a big thing to say, Well, no, I'm sorry. I can't help you for six months and make people really wait. You know, you just didn't work for

Richard Medcalf
Saudis easier when you. But it's easier when you say no, no, this is where I'm contributing at the highest rate. This is where I'm absolutely, yeah, the biggest contribution possible, it helps kind of reframe it. Yeah.

Davina Stanley
Yeah.

Richard Medcalf
So I'll take you off the hot seat. And you can kind of Yes, do for a bit. But it's quite interesting to try put it into practice. And it's Yeah, these are not easy questions. Right. If they're easy, they wouldn't. They wouldn't be impact multiplying questions, right? There just be no more questions.

Davina Stanley
They would say yes, no. excellent questions. So do you have anything to add to that? Or do you feel like you've given us a really good sense of and made us thoroughly uncomfortable around this this biggest contribution?

Richard Medcalf
So yeah, I think we can leave it there. I mean, I suppose what I would say is, strategy is like a lens, right? When we and this is a strategy question, right? When we use this question with focuses on the maximum value that we can create, and I love to say, you know, most people that whatever strategy, they have a strategy, they just throw stuff like a smattering on the wall. Yeah, they have a strategy, which has got 50 points, you know, whatever it is. But when you go, this is the biggest contribution that I'm going to make over the next year. That provides real, a real focus, and it gets us out of ourselves.

Davina Stanley
Yes, yes. Love that. I've really enjoyed thinking about that actually. So thank you for pushing me a bit again. So thank you very much everybody for listening in today. If you'd like the notes, you can find them at xquadrant.com/podcast and we look forward to Richard asking us another challenging question next time and his question is, What's an eight on this? So I'll leave you to ponder on that and look forward to bringing it to you next time. Thanks so much. Bye for now.

Richard Medcalf
Thank you. Goodbye.

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

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