From hero to zero – when leaders turn bad: Manfred Kets de Vries

Ted Talks is a non profit that gives are specialists in their field a stage and talk about their self-chosen topic. Topics range from psychology, nutrition, science, leadership, etc. Manfred is a psycho-analyst that does a lot of executive coaching. In his talk he talks about the pitfalls of leadership and how to become an authentic (and effective) leader. Manfred explains that many leaders struggle because of the power they receive. Their ego grows, people around them say what they want while at the same time they start listening less to others. To avoid becoming a leader like this he proposes in trying to be an authentic leader that fights narcissism and hubris. Get to know yourself and ask what meaning and legacy you want to leave behind he suggests. His advice? Improve emotional intelligence, stimulate your creativity, and create a culture of honesty and listeners.

Flow Genome Project; Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler on altered conscious state and stealing fire

Michael Gervais is a world-class psychologist who has worked with world class athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, and more. In his podcast he interviews some of the best performers in their field to decode the many paths toward mastery and provide applied practices that we can all use to be and do more in our lives. Jamie and Steven together wrote the book Stealing Fire together and have independently written a lot of books on flow, the zone, mindfulness, peak performance, and all other altered conscious states. These guys are really cool as they have taken it upon them to uncover that mystery of these altered states athletes, concert goers, and others have enjoyed. In this conversation together with Michael they begin to talk about their background and how and why they got their lifelong interest in these desired feelings high performing people are looking for and/or already doing.

A Man’s Search For Meaning (Book)

This book is one of the most suggested books to read by high performers. In many ways I think people who perform a lot under stress like this because it provides perspective, but it also provides a solution of how to handle the worst parts of your life and/or career that every person goes through. The author, Viktor Frankl, is a jewish psychologist that survived the Holocaust. He was located in four different concentration camps, including Auschwitz, over a span of four years. In this book Frankl writes about his and other experiences in the concentration camps and the psychological affect it had on the people around him. He aims to describe the scenes in those camps during WWII as objectively as possible to provide further insight on how he got to his philosophy (logo therapy). The books describes the brutal scenarios of not knowing the fate of your loved ones, the horrid living circumstances, the verbal and physical abuse, suffering from malnutrition, dealing with diseases, and more. His conclusion is that people who still find and know their meaning, even in the worst of times, will be resilient and have a more fulfilled life. In the second chapter Frankl talks about logotherapy, Frankl own philosphy which is based off of existential analysis (will to meaning). In this chapter Frankl argues that striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. His experience and that of others around him during WW II provide substance to his claims. 

This is a great book that can serve many lessons for the reader. It’s a quick read and an encapsulating read

Blinded By Belief (Article)

INSEAD Knowledge is the expert opinion on and management insights portal of INSEAD Business School. Writer of this article, Manfred Kets, works with business executives and has written and spoken a lot about leadership and working in teams. In this specific article he addresses signs of people suffering from”denialism”; refusal to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence. Manfred explains that denialism comes from a defensive mechanism built in stress where people have learned to say or do whatever is needed to disarm the opponents logic. We all have met someone like this (or maybe you are one of them?!), but how do you work with them? Manfred explains that you need to first acknowledge when the defense mechanism flares up. Once realized try to ask open ended question to explore what they are running from and to arrive at self-understanding instead of having it imposed on them. Make sure you’re clear in saying that no one has the answers and try to go from there. More information and detail in the article!

Maria Sharapova; Mental Performance, Work-Life Balance and the Rise to the Top (Podcast)

Tim Ferris, best-selling author and investor, deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas in his podcast to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. Maria Sharapova is a professional tennis player who won her first Grand Slam at age 17 and has been the highest paid female athlete for the past twelve years. It’s an interest period for Sharapova who has just finished her 15 month suspension after failing a drug test In this podcast Tim and Maria talk about her background, parenting, coaches, tennis (technique and psychology), and her life outside of tennis including her business, book, and personal life. As a tennis enthusiast, I’m curious to see how she will do in the Grand Slams this year!

Mind Fitness: How Meditation Boosts Your Focus, Resilience, and Brain (Video)

Big Think aims to help you move above and beyond random information, toward real knowledge, offering big ideas from fields outside your own that you can apply toward the questions and challenges in your own life. Have you, like me, heard about meditation a million times? And does it feel like everyone around you is doing it, yet you might not be convinced? This short 8 minute video gives more scientific consequences of meditation. Psychologist Daniel Coleman explains the behavioral, cognitive, and neuroscientific changes long-term meditators go through. Coleman goes further and talks about improving resilience, minimizing mindwandering and more.

Still not convinced? If you’re like me and  want more scientific proof on the benefits of breathing exercises (which is probably the main focus when meditating) then perhaps you like this video. Here Neuroscientist Alan Watkins talks about Heart Rate Variability and how breathing exercises can improve resilience, strengthen your heart, help your digestive system, and more!

Cal Newport; How to Become an Elite Cognitive Performance

Niyi Sobo is a former NFL running back who owns Peak Mindset Consulting. Sobo has a sports motivation podcast that does book reviews, has athlete spotlights, provides advice and has interviews with different guest. In this episode host, Niyi Sobo, interviews bestselling author and tenured professor at Georgetown Cal Newport. This episode there is a lot of comparison between elite athletes and elite cognitive performers (such as writers or researchers). Newport provides examples out of his own life and includes research to support some of the methods elite cognitive performers effectively use. Some of the topics discussed are importance of saying no, why you should plan, the issue of focus in today’s world, why following your passion is not good, lag vs lead measures, and more.

Better Decisions (Article)

McKinsey is the world’s leading management consulting firm serving 70% of the Fortune 1000 and has produced more CEOs proportionally in large scale corporations than any other company in the world. Their website also provides articles, insights, and case studies on topics such as leadership and  organizational structure. In this case, have you ever wondered how to avoid poor decision maker as a leader? This insight provides a 5 minute read on the main issues that has an influence on decision making: bias, deciding types, deciding behavior, and organizational decision making. With each issue they provide a short infographic and/or explanation. In addition, for every issue they provided a link to a case study explaining it’s importance when making decisions as a leader within an organization. This is why they call it a quick briefing in five, or a fifty-minute deeper dive!

I’m Right, You’re Wrong (Podcast)

Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships. We all know that person who is so stubborn, hard to convince, and not always easy to be around. This podcast might help you understand those people and how to deal with them. Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Tali Sharot and podcast host Shankar discuss, from a scientific perspective, on how people are influenced and why they are willing to defend their opinions regardless of the facts provided. Tali reveals which tactics persuasive people use when they want to provoke action or inaction in others (such as getting people to vote or trying to have people avoid getting the flu shot). Tali and Shankar also talk about examples and solutions on how you can convince or influence someone regardless of the level of stubborness. (Hint, tell a story and elicit emotion to those you speak to). A helpful exercise they explained which I thought was useful is the surprising popular vote exercise; it helps you figure out who in your group might truly be the expert and who is bs’ing. Great podcast and helpful for any parent, professional, or stubborn person who is trying to understand him or herself.

Why You Need a Creative Hobby, Even if You Think You’re Too Busy (Article)

Foundr is a multifaceted digital business that is independently published, with the muscle of a traditional media company. Their mission is to create a supportive, potent global community and to provide young/new entrepreneurs with courage and valuable information. This article is about the potential effects of having a creative hobby that you enjoy regularly. The article uses research to provide potential evidence that making time for a creative hobby regularly can have positive benefits for your work. Some of the benefits of having a creative hobby which is further explained in the article are performing better at work, greater feeling of control/mastery, opportunity to recharge, diversifying your attention (taking pressure off your work), building your network, and more.