S7E06: “Where are you playing it safe, or dithering?”

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S7E06: “Where are you playing it safe, or dithering?”

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:

  • What keeps us playing small and in indecision
  • How to move from the comfort zone to the greatness zone
  • Richard's formula for identifying your 'North Star' at any time

“Get comfortable with discomfort. It's a sign of growth and learning."

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Remember to download your copy of The CXO's Checklist for Challenging Times!

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Transcript

Davina Stanley
Hi everyone, welcome back to The Impact Multiplier CEO podcast. I'm Davina Stanley and I'm here today with Richard, again to look at some of the interesting questions that he's had for us and today, the season is all about questions to multiply your impact. So these are powerful questions that every CEO, entrepreneur or senior business leader should reflect on. Engage with them fully and I think you'll be surprised I've certainly been enjoying this series with Richard. So how are you Richard?

Richard Medcalf
I'm well, thank you. We're recording this in a really hot summer's day here. So you know, living the dream, and you know, which doesn't always happen. I know, in Australia, you get in a beautiful weather all year round, not a drop of, you know, rain.

Davina Stanley
So not true.

Richard Medcalf
The way we're just living in, very, you know, very warm and kind of funny humid conditions with no air conditioning, which obviously is, is fun, but it's better now.

Davina Stanley
We do have air conditioning done under and can I tell you, I took my puffer jacket off from the walk. I just took around the blocks while I was waiting. So just getting ready for a session today. So yeah.

Richard Medcalf
So yeah, it's so it's summer, and it's a great time to think about some of these questions and you were talking about some of these things just earlier on and I perhaps let me just jump in and give you a question for today and the question for today is, where are you playing it safe? Or where are you dithering? And we were just talking before we started recording, right? This idea of, you know, playing it safe, especially in the world or COVID, right? Where everyone's having a choice, how safe do I play it? You decisions do I make.

Davina Stanley
The Australian Government has decided to play it incredibly safe from a health perspective anyway, we apparently going to be going to zero cases before we let out of lockdown again. There we go, which I think is well, it's going to be interesting to see if that's possible and is it possible to play it safe? Richard, is it really possible?

Richard Medcalf
But one of the things I often say to my clients is, you know, what looks safe is often risky, and while it's risky is often safe. And that's actually another thinking principle right about second order consequences or third order consequences. So you know, take a silly example. You know, if you decide to play it safe, and stay in your bed all day, okay, you're probably not going to be involved in a road accident, or you're really not going to catch COVID or other things. But you're probably not going to have a great income, your body's gonna wither away, you really can't get out of bed and in a few months time because you've got no muscles, right? So you're playing it safe doesn't always work out. You know, or stay in the corporate job that you hate, and where you're not growing, just because you feel safe. And then five years down the road. You made redundant you have no up to date skills, you're, you know, you're older than you perhaps should be for making a career change or whatever it is right. playing it safe can be risky. And as we said last time, we talked about volatility and uncertainty and the anti fragile sometimes doing the doing the the risky thing, what seems risky, it becomes safe, because you build your skills or you adapt to the environment. And you're on the front foot. 

Davina Stanley
So no, absolutely not. I love that. Love that. So why do people stay stuck? Yeah, so why do we Why do we keep dithering we all do it sometimes. Why do we all Why? Why do we do that?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's why so yes, I get it. So this is what this question is trying to do. Right? When I'm asking this to a client. Yeah, it's often people who are perhaps actually you know, Val are go getters, right? They're moving forward. They are doing, you know, they aren't being decisive in many areas of their life. They're moving forward on projects we're trying to get to here though, is well, where are you actually holding back? Where are you playing it a bit safe? Where are you? Where are you dithering not making it the right not making a decision, and that sometimes it's great not to make a decision right? I'm not saying always have to make snap decisions. There's space to be in your research phase in your to be comfortable with that. Not knowing right, that's fine, but You asked us why why do we do this? It's often about fear. Okay? And so what I'm really trying to get in here is that what do you actually afraid of, at this moment? What keeps us playing small and playing in our comfort zone, it's normally fear. Fear that we do the thing that's really important and it doesn't work out, or that we find that we aren't able to do it. What keeps us in indecision, where it's fear, you know, should I shouldn't I? Do I want to make that decision?

Davina Stanley
Is that fear so often more not based in what if it doesn't work out? But what do I think about myself? If I don't succeed?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, often, right. Yeah. What's your story I'm going to tell myself about about me. So I guess the one that just pops to mind now is, you know, making a marriage proposal, you know, because that you can put that off. Because, because fear is often the mask for desire. And so the thing that you're frightened, who think you actually want, but actually putting it on the line and seeing which way it's going to go? Sometimes we want to push off.

Davina Stanley
Yeah, because we think why take the risk? We might lose something, but then we're not going to gain something either.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, exactly. So I often say that the you know, we have this wall of fear, right, this wall of self preservation, that's keeping us limited. And within our side of the wall of fear is the comfort zone, and the other side of the wall of fear, if the greatness zone, and the learning zone. 

Davina Stanley
And yeah, there's no learning in the comfort zone and, so true.

Richard Medcalf
And there's no, there's normally there's no comfort in the learning zone as well, right? But it's okay to get to be uncomfortable, right? It's fine. What's wrong with being a bit of discomfort, right but the greatness zone for me, is about contribution. So when we're this side of the wall of fear, playing it safe, we're not actually contributing at our highest level, we're trying to protect ourselves, and we're kind of in defensive mode but when we go the other side of that wall of fame, it's because we can see somebody we want to serve and when we see somebody, we want to serve them, we get over ourselves because there's something that's more important and so that's the kind of the question I suppose I really want to ask people today, say, well, where are we playing small? Where we being limited by fear? You know, what are the stories that we're telling ourselves? And often a great way to kind of perhaps think about that is to think about, well, what's a bit exciting and a bit scary? It is too exciting, but probably just in the hype phase and if it's too scary, well, perhaps that is not the step for us right now. There's some reasons to look at that but what is it that's kind of, what's the edge where it's a bit exciting? It's a bit scary, It represents growth, and what would that look like to go there?

Davina Stanley
And I love what you said, just before, it reminds me of learning to ride a bike, when you're learning to ride a bike, and you're very nervous, you're excited you want to do it but if you focus on hitting the tree, and worrying about the things that could go wrong, the fear, then you just kind of go straight into the tree. Whereas if you focus on the path, and thinking, well, actually, I want to get to the corner shop or something, then you just look at the corner shop and you go and you might wobble a bit as you're riding or whatever but you focused on where you want to go. So you actually make progress you get there. Whereas if you do focus on that fear that tree, then we hit the tree every time, don't we? Yeah. So that I think that's really helpful to think about, you know, where do we want to get to so that we can actually have a worthy goal that motivates us to get out of that, to stop dithering to stop?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah and so I love this question just because a lot of people say, well, I'm, you know, an action taker, I'm moving forward on these areas and but for me, it's great to say, well, does this put our attention on? Where is it that you're not, you know, what's the compensation that you're not having? Right, what the decision you're not making? And so that's what I'd invite people to do today.

Davina Stanley
Love that. Love that. And I think that's, that's fantastic. So, look, next time, I think you've got another challenging question for us.

Richard Medcalf
You've jumped ahead because I'm gonna ask you.

Davina Stanley
Oh, you know,

Richard Medcalf
I know I know. You're coming down. Where are you playing it safe? Where are you dithering?

Davina Stanley
Oh, we're inreality TV folks.

Richard Medcalf
Watch out.

Davina Stanley
It is it is because I think in advance either. Now I wear my do the ring. I've got a plan to approach somebody to help With my online business, and as you were speaking, I was thinking Do I need to reach out? It's a coach with a specific set of expertise. And I don't want to speak to her until I've done my pre work. But then if I leave it too long, she might be busy man, she so I think I need to make the call and not worry if I can't speak to her for a couple of months, which is the reality? I can't. But so that I don't know if that counts as do the ring doesn't tell me how to do the ring. I think I've been teetering on that a little bit. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So she's got some very specific skills that I think I need. No, they regard to be on the lookout. I'll email her to not reach. Okay, excellent. Thank you, God. Yeah. And what about you? What are you doing about this isn't one way?

Richard Medcalf
Ah, I see, you're gonna get me. Yeah, I'm excited about these things. I do think about the questions, right. But I don't think about how I'm going to reply, because it's good to do it in the moment, I think. What's coming to mind, I suppose two things, actually. So the one started to come to mind as I was talking about it, which is more about I want to launch a new program really focused on bringing together a group of high achieving CEOs. And at the time of recording this, I've done a lot of work, one to one with CEOs, I've not put them together in this way. instructive format, and I think there's some essence where I've, you know, that's something for next month, right a little bit. There's a few things I need to do on that.

Davina Stanley
It's definitely not it's not massive. 

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, it's not massive. It is moving forward. But I think, perhaps procrastinating a bit on that one. Yeah, because as you said, it's the fear of it is new thing. What's it gonna look like? He's gonna say, Yes, he's gonna say, you know, all that usual stuff. And then I think the other one, and I think the other one is actually, it's interesting, because you can really focus this zoom in and zoom out at different scales. So that was like a bigger picture one and focus into today. There's a meeting, right, a workshop, I'm running with a client. And it's, it's a great client and looking forward to it. But there's a sense of it's it's a quite a large and complex team with a lot of strong personalities. And I know, going into that meeting, I'm going to have a choice. Do I try to play it safe and really have a very structured agenda, and really try to control all the moving parts? You know, or do I? Do I take more risk with this team? Do I push them in different ways? Right, do I? 

Davina Stanley
Do I have fun to you? Yeah, right. 

Richard Medcalf
Yeah.

Davina Stanley
And so let it be free, free flowing, except for certain things that that you think are high risk? Or, you know, how much to control it?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, exactly. So I think for me, that's been an interesting thought to go into this meeting with to say, Okay, how am I going to be in the greatness zone in that meeting, and not in the comfort zone? So basically, just to kind of apply it because I know these questions, we think all these other big picture questions, we'll know. They can be applied right at the very thing in front of us, which is coming up for me in Rio is time, right? And so don't take this as a podcast episode of Oh, yeah. Well, I can, you know, this is just big picture stuff. It's very, very imminent and practical.

Davina Stanley
And while I was out for a walk in my puffer jacket just now is listening to a book. And it is called effortless by Greg, Greg mckown. I'm not sure if I've said his surname correctly there, Ricky on behalf. And he talks about the real value of taking lots of small regular steps, and not doing these big bursts, and then exhausting ourselves and pulling back so you can probably draw that thought of that steady Eddy sort of behavior towards making sure that we don't Dally we don't hide from the things that could really challenge us. We don't just look at the big things. We look at the small things, and what was it you go, be smooth to go fast, go slow to go smoothly and go smoothly to go fast?

Richard Medcalf
Nice. Good. Well, I guess I think at this point, we can probably wrap it up, right? Now I put you on the hotspot and what we're going to do next time is we'll talk about another interesting question, which I'll just summarize for now, as well as the dissonance. So it's an interesting one, because we often look for confirmation, and I want to look for dissonance, which we can talk about next.

Davina Stanley
Love that. Love that. So if you've enjoyed this episode, and you'd like to find some others on similar topics, or some of the other interviews that Richard has conducted, go over to xquadrant.com/podcast and you can find out a whole range of podcast recordings there. So, thanks so much. We look forward to seeing you again soon. Bye for now.

Richard Medcalf
Thank you. Goodbye.

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

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