Webinar Recap: Transformative Leadership: How to Elevate your Impact with Less Effort and None of the Stress

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Ravi Raman’s session, Transformative Leadership: How to Elevate your Impact with Less Effort and None of the Stress, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Kyle: Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s MPOG webinar, Transformative Leadership: How to Elevate your Impact with Less Effort and None of the Stress. My name is Kyle, and I’ll be the moderator today. And this 45-minute session is eligible for three-quarters of a PMI PDU in the leadership category. The activity code for claiming the session with PMI is on the screen now.

Kyle: Like all MPUG webinars, a recording of this session will be posted to mpug.com shortly after the live presentation ends. And all MPUG members can watch the recordings at any time and still be eligible to earn the PDU credit. All the sessions you watched On-Demand can be submitted to your history, and the live sessions you attend are automatically submitted within your history. You could print or download your transcript as well as certificates of completion, including the one for today. You can access that by logging into mpug.com, click my account, and then click on the transcript link.

Kyle: If you have any questions during today’s presentation, please send those over at any time using the chat question box on the GoToWebinar control panel. We do plan to answer those for you at the end of the session. One more quick note for those attending live, the GoToWebinar viewing window will have a split screen between the presenters webcam and their presentation slides. You can adjust the size of each window by grabbing that middle divider and then just dragging up or down on the screen.

Kyle: All right. And we’ll go ahead and get started. We’re very happy to welcome back Ravi Raman today. Ravi is an executive career coach and long-time veteran of Microsoft, where he led product management and marketing teams for several global software products and services. As a coach, Ravi has helped countless clients, including management consultants, technology startups, and Fortune 500 company leaders unlocking their higher performance and building careers that they can be proud of.

Kyle: So with that said, I’d like to welcome you back, Ravi. And at this time, I’ll go ahead and hand it over to you to get us started with today’s session. And Ravi, I think your microphone phone is still muted as well.

Ravi Raman: There we go. Yup.

Kyle: Hey, I can hear you now.

Ravi Raman: Wonderful. Well, it’s just so great to be back with the MPUG community and to be sharing some content on a topic that’s really near and dear to my heart. This is the fourth presentation I’ve given to the community. And this presentation does stand on its own, but if you want to sort of take it in in context, I do encourage you, if you’re an MPUG premium member, and Kyle correct me if I’m wrong, the recording should be up for the previous talks.

Ravi Raman: And my first presentation, probably five years ago, was on the topic of goals and direction, which as a leader is important to identify what’s the direction you’re moving in, what’s the goal you have, and how can you rally people around those goals? So that was the first talk.

Ravi Raman: The second talk I gave to your community was around the art of modern leadership where I did something I really enjoy doing, which is just breaking a complex topic down into its most simple components and defining leadership in a very simple way. And then talking about how to elevate leadership by working in just few simple areas. So that’s the art of modern leaders.

Ravi Raman: The third talk that I gave a couple of years ago was on a topic just before.. Well, that’s increasingly relevant now, given what’s happened in 2020 and the uncertainty we’re all dealing with, was the topic of embracing uncertainty. Now it turns out human beings, while we are designed to operate in uncertainty, our psychology doesn’t really enjoy it. And that topic is a worthwhile. Listen, if you’re an MPUG premium member, to really understand what it’s like to embrace uncertainty and how to do that better as a leader.

Ravi Raman: Now, today’s topic is what I call transformative leadership. And transformation can feel like a lofty thing to aspire to, but at the end of the day, if we want to be a leader, it really does require a shift. And that shift or that transformation is what we’re going to talk about today. And if we make that shift from the right place, from a deeper place within ourselves, we can end up in a situation where we’re elevating our own impact without saying simply needing to muster courage and willpower to get there.

Ravi Raman: And I don’t know about you, but if I came into this talk and said, I can help you be a better leader, but it’s going to require a whole bunch of blood, sweat tears, a whole bunch of extra effort and sleepless nights, well, I’m probably going to get everyone logging off this webinar right away. Because, well, I can just speak for myself, I don’t have a lot more effort to give. I’ve got a kid at home I have to take care of.

Ravi Raman: And now working remotely, my own work hours are bleeding into the night in the day. And I don’t have a lot more effort and energy to give. And so if there’s a way for me to elevate my leadership that doesn’t require that, I’m all ears. And the good news, and what we’re going to talk about today is how to do exactly that. N

Ravi Raman: ow just a few words about me, Kyle already did the intro. I spent 14 years mostly as a leader at Microsoft. I ran product management, planning and marketing teams. I worked on product you probably know and hopefully love, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office and a number of our cloud products. And for the past, nearly seven years, I’ve been a full-time executive coach.

Ravi Raman: And I work with leaders primarily in the tech sector, including many of the large software companies you’re probably familiar with. And I help my clients really elevate how they perform without simply relying on their own courage and their own willpower to get there. Some of my leaders are looking to take on a new role and do well, and ramp up well in a new job. Some have been promoted to be a first-time manager or manager of managers and realize that coaching can really help them up their game.

Ravi Raman: So that’s what I’ve been doing. I really believe it’s my calling and my purpose. And so this topic of leadership is more than a buzzword to me. It’s something that I see as really matter. And when Kyle and I connected earlier around giving a talk, I thought, “Well, I’ve talked about leadership before, but it’s worth another go.” Because it’s that important.

Ravi Raman: Now, you can spend just a few minutes on Google and find any number of research studies or quotes emphasizing the importance of leadership in the modern world. And the World Economic Forum tends to survey their members quite frequently. And they’ve realized that the vast majority of people they survey, and these are heads of state, heads of global companies, policy makers, that they believe were in a leadership crisis.

Ravi Raman: And this survey was actually done pre-COVID. I would only imagine that.. Well, I wonder who wouldn’t say we’re in a leadership crisis right now. It’s not to blame anyone, it’s simply to say that there’s a lot of complexity in the world and a lot of problems that have so many variables that we need people rising to the occasion to help us find solutions for.

Ravi Raman: In fact, I’ve talked with clients that work in a number of different market sectors. And even in cases where there’s a tight job market, inevitably, what I hear from people is, “But if we find someone who has the right leadership capacity, and the right leadership track record, we’ll make room for them.”

Ravi Raman: So that’s something just to understand for yourself. Well, it’s one thing to have certain hard skills, if you can really have a confidence in your own capacity to be a strong leader, it’s one of the best ways, not only to elevate your own career, but also to have job security, whether the market is a booming or whether it’s a more tight labor market.

Ravi Raman: So, I want to start by, and during this talk, parts, I’ll be talking, but I’m also going to encourage you to participate. In fact, before we move on from this slide, I want to ask you, if there’s anything that you find that’s distracting you right now, anything that’s your attention away from just being together with this presentation, go ahead and take care of it. If you have Slack open or email open, or maybe you’re like some of my clients who have a triple monitor set up, maybe you have Microsoft Project open on one display, you have your inbox on another, and I’m on the third, just shut down those other monitors so you can be with me here.

Ravi Raman: Now, I’m saying that not because I need your attention, I’m saying that because as you’ll come to realize, as we go through this presentation, that one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself to elevate your leadership is to hone the capacity to be present in the moment. And while we all surely have multiple things we could be doing right now, and multitasking is usually the status quo for most of us, if you want to unlock a deeper part of yourself in any scenario, the capacity to be present in the moment and really apply your attention in one direction is a superpower. So if you can just keep your attention with me, that would be fantastic. And I’m going to ask you to participate periodically through this conversation, and it’ll help with that participation.

Ravi Raman: So before I dive in deeper, I’m going to ask you how satisfied you are with the level of leadership you’re experiencing at work in simple one to 10 scale one, not satisfied, 10, very satisfied. Now the level of leadership is when you think about your boss, your CEO, and your leadership team. If you’re an independent consultant, maybe you’re the CEO, ask yourself, how satisfied are you with you, with your own leadership you’re demonstrating as a solopreneur, as an entrepreneur, as a CEO.

Ravi Raman: Now is a chance for you in the chat to go ahead and just put a number one to 10. How satisfied are you right now? So I’m asserting we’re in a leadership crisis right now, but you be the judge, help me understand your own satisfaction with leadership as it’s showing up for you. And what I’ll ask Kyle to do is, if he sees numbers coming in, just to go ahead and share what he’s seeing the community enter in the chat. Kyle, are we getting any responses?

Kyle: We are. Yeah. I’ve seen quite a few coming in. Definitely the full range of responses here. I’m seeing the majority in the six to eight range, I would say. But there are some ones, a couple of tens, but most of them are kind of settled in that six to eight range.

Ravi Raman: Okay, great, great. And so the question is what’s going to move us from six to eight, which is not bad actually. When I ask people in teams about this, often, especially if we do a secret poll, we’ll get pretty low numbers. But six to eight is pretty good. That shows that, for many of you, you’re satisfied, but it’s not really pushing that strong level of satisfaction. Those eight, nines and tens where you’re really confident in the level of leadership you have.

Ravi Raman: Well, here’s what to expect today. And hopefully, by the time we end, we’ll have a better sense together of how to move that leadership score up for yourself and know what to look for as you work with others, more into the eight and ten. To start, we’re going to define leadership in a very simple way. This will capture the essence of a talk I gave a few years ago on the art of modern leadership. And you can dive more into that as an MPUG premium member by listening to that webinar.

Ravi Raman: Next, we’re going to talk about what drives leadership for anyone. Archimedes, the famous philosophers scientists, said, give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the world. Well, the question is, if we’re looking to improve ourselves, if we’re looking to be better as a leader, where’s the place to stand and where is the leverage? Where are we going to find leverage? It turns out most books, and even most training and coaching can focus on hard skill and tactic and strategies for improving things. And those are all fine, but there’s a deeper place to find leverage. And that’s what I call the human factor.

Ravi Raman: And so, for the bulk of today’s conversation, we’ll be exploring what is the human factor? What are the principles around, again, what I call the human operating system? It’s hard for me to shake my experience, working on operating systems at Microsoft, so I call it the human operating system. What are the principles by which this thing we call a human being operates? And how can we work with that system more gracefully so that, whether you’re leading your business and trying to grow it, and double it in the next year, or whether you just trying to survive for the next year, that you can do it from a place of grace, and wisdom, and insight, and not simply rely on luck or your own hard work and effort to get there.

Ravi Raman: And of course, everything we talk about will have a few implications. And I’ll try to close with one big one that will give you something to look forward to and to look into in the weeks ahead to make this really practical for you. Now, the question we want to understand is what is leadership? Now, having a definition for leadership is important because it tells us what we’re actually talking about. Leadership is a kind of buzzword. And it can be a bit confusing on what it even means.

Ravi Raman: Yesterday I did a search on Amazon around leadership, and I looked in the book section. There are 60,000 books in the English language alone regarding the topic of leadership. Now, if you look at these books, it can make your head spin. I’ve done more than my fair share of leadership trainings, both in the corporate world. Now, as a coach, I’ve done plenty. And many of these trainings can make a real difference, but it really can make your head spin. There are leadership trainings and books and frameworks that, say leadership’s about being conscious, right? That’s all the rage now conscious leadership. There are some that say it’s about being adaptive. There are some that say it’s about being resilient. There are some that say it’s about taking ownership.

Ravi Raman: I have a coaching colleague that says it’s about being fierce, right? So she has a whole framework around fierce leadership. There are some leaders that say you should eat last. There’s a very popular book that says leaders should eat last. There are others that say leaders should be a servant. Now all of this isn’t to say these are wrong or bad, there’s a lot of merit to this, but it can make it very confusing to know what is someone to do when it comes to leadership.

Ravi Raman: I like the wisdom that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Now this isn’t always the case, but it’s something really curious, where if you look at different realms, different areas, and perhaps even if you think about your own expertise as a project management professional, you can start seeing where there’s incredible depth and nuance and complexity to what you might do. There’s also some simple principles that tend to be guiding how you think about project management as an art, as a science.

Ravi Raman: And William of Ockham, the middle-age monk was famous for encouraging simplicity amongst the people he spoke with. And Ockham’s razor, which says the simplest explanation is usually the right one, is something I take the heart with leadership. And the simplest definition is simply the act of leading a group of people. So let’s center round this. When we talk about leadership, we are talking about the act of leading a group of people. It’s very simple. It’s no-brainer. A child can understand it. Someone who’s never worked in a company can understand it. That’s what leadership is.

Ravi Raman: And the act of leading a group of people requires two things. Now, again, if you watch my earlier webinars to the MPUG community, the art of modern leadership, I spend about an hour diving into this definition of leadership, but I’m going to summarize it here because it will put everything else we talk about in context. Leadership’s about having a direction and having people around you that are engaged.

Ravi Raman: Now, I want you to think about this for a second. And let’s conjure a image in our mind, an image in our mind around what it’s like to be together back once COVID is done. So imagine a world where we’re back able to gather together. For example, you can imagine that you’re at a trade show or you’re at a conference, perhaps you’re meeting other MPUG members and you’re at a talk together. I’d like you imagine walking outside for lunch, and you’re with a group of friends, both new friends and old friends, and you’re trying to decide where to go for lunch.

Ravi Raman: Now in this scenario, let’s imagine that you look down the street, you see a nice restaurant, a nice Italian joint, and you decided to wander off and go get some Italian lunch. And you arrive at the restaurant and you look around and realize no one’s around you. Well, that’s not leadership. That’s you making a choice. You’re leading yourself, but you’re not really a leader. You’re just wandering off and you’re making a choice for you. That’s quite well and good, but it’s not what we call leadership.

Ravi Raman: Now let’s contrast that with, you’re breaking for lunch, there’s people around you and maybe you’re experiencing something I’ve experienced all too many times. You’re just sort of roaming about with a group of people wondering what you’re going to do next or wondering where you’re going to go for lunch. Well, that also isn’t leadership. Just being with others isn’t leadership. What you want is leading with others with some purpose, some direction.

Ravi Raman: Now that’s the heart of leadership, and it’s a simple definition, but it misses out on something that underlies both how it is that someone can come up with a direction, how it is that you can decide where you want to go for lunch, and what is behind being with other people and being connected to others. And that’s something I call the human factor.

Ravi Raman: Now, what I’d like to do is go ahead and share a video. And this video is from a movie called Sully. You may be familiar with it. And it showcases the story, the true story of the Miracle on the Hudson, where captain Sully Sullenberger really was able to demonstrate a high level of leadership and speak to, in this particular scene, which is where, after the events of the day, he had to go and justify himself in front of the transportation safety board. And he speaks to something he speaks to the human factor and how important that was to pay attention to if you want to view a situation properly.

Ravi Raman: So I’m going to go ahead and play this clip. It’s just three minutes long. And then that’ll really frame up where we’re going to dive deep into, which is understanding of what the human factor really is. So hold on for a minute and I’ll go ahead and play this quick clip.

Sully:      [inaudible 00:20:20].

Speaker 4:           Successful landing at Teterboro [inaudible 00:20:30].

Sully:      Multiple airports, runways, two successful landings. We are simply mimicking what the computer already told us.

Speaker 5:           A lot of toes were stepped on in order to set this up for today. And frankly, I really don’t know what you gentlemen plan to gain by it.

Sully:      Can we get serious now.

Speaker 5:           Captain?

Sully:      We’ve all heard about the computer simulations and now we are watching sims, but I can’t quite believe you still have not taken into account the human factor.

Speaker 5:           Human piloted simulations show that you could make it back to the airport.

Sully:      No, they don’t. These pilots were not behaving like human beings, like people who were experiencing this for the first time.

Speaker 5:           Well, they may not be reacting like you did.

Sully:      Immediately after the bird strike, they’re turning back for the airport just as in the computer sims, correct?

Speaker 5:           That is correct.

Sully:      They obviously knew the current and exactly what heading to fly. They did not run a check. They did not switch on the APU.

Speaker 5:           They had all the same parameters that you faced.

Sully:      No one warned us. No one said you were going to lose both engines at a lower altitude than any jet in history. But be cool. Just make a left turn for LaGuardia like you’re going back to pick up the milk. This was dual engine loss at 2,800 feet followed by immediate water landing with 155 souls onboard. No one has ever trained for an incident like that. No one. But the Teterboro landing with its unrealistic angle, we were not the Thunderbirds up there.

Sully:      I’d like to know how many times the pilot practiced that maneuver before he actually pulled it off. I’m not questioning the pilots, they’re good pilots, but they clearly been instructed to head for the airport immediately after the bird strike. You have allowed no time for analysis or decision making. In these simulations, you’re taking all of the humanity out of the cockpit. How much time did the pilots spend planning for this event? For these simulations? If you were looking for a human error, then make a human.

Speaker 6:           This wasn’t a video game. It was life and death. Sully’s right. That’s worth a few seconds.

Sully:      Please ask how many practice runs they had.

Speaker 7:           17.

Sully:      17?

Speaker 7:           The pilot who landed Teterboro had 17 practice attempts before the simulation we just witnessed.

Speaker 5:           The reaction decision time will be set at 35 seconds.

Speaker 6:           35 seconds.

Sully:      We only had 208 seconds total. So we’ll take it. [inaudible 00:23:52].

Ravi Raman: I still can’t believe you haven’t taken into account the human factor. That’s what Captain Sully said. Now, if you watch the movie, which was an attempt to be as accurate as possible to what it was like in the cockpit that day, or if you read accounts of Captain Sully Sullenberger in that moment, what you’ll notice is he had never practiced for that particular experience of both engines failing and needing to conduct a water landing.

Ravi Raman: And what strikes me is how remarkably calm he was. How in the face of such uncertainty, he was able to not get caught up in his circumstances, but somehow maintain a cool head, and maintain access to his own creativity to figure out what to do. And what he spoke to in that clip was how the review board had stripped out the human factor in looking at and recreating it.

Ravi Raman: And so what we want to do in the rest of our conversation today is look at what is behind the human factor. What’s behind this quality in us that can both generate what I would call signal as well as noise? Where we can get caught up in circumstances, or as in the case of a Sullenberger, we can actually stay calm amidst the storm, where, as a leader, is very key. In fact, leaders are often described as having grace under fire. Well, how is that possible?

Ravi Raman: Leaders are also often described as being able to make clear decisions, and be correct, and be more correct more of the time in their decision making. How is that possible? Especially when you can’t predict all the scenarios that are going to happen? Well, it turns out those things are more possible when we’re working more in alignment with the human factor.

Ravi Raman: Now, the human operating system is something that works in a certain way. And what I’ve discovered as I’ve become a coach is that most of us are confused around how that system works. Now, any system, when you understand how it works, you can play with the system quite well. And if you don’t know how a system works, well, you’re going to get stuck in the system quite a lot.

Ravi Raman: Now, Ludwig Wittgenstein phrase is what I’m going to be talking about quite well, and describes the predicament we’re often in when it comes to personal growth and development. Now, Wittgenstein who is a philosopher and social scientist. He said, “A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.”

Ravi Raman: And when it comes to the human operating system, this is often the case where we are working with our system in the opposite way it’s designed to work. And as such, we’re often running into either friction or needing to muscle our way using willpower to achieve things that, quite naturally, we already have built into the system. Now, if we look back to that case in the cockpit, and if you go watch the movie of Sully, you’ll see he was very calm.

Ravi Raman: Now, he wasn’t doing any tricks to be calm. He was just calm. And you might chalk that up to him having 40,000 plus hours of flight time under his belt. And often people will say, “Well, you want to be a calm leader with high IEQ with gravitas? Well, you need to just get hours, get wrecks in.” Well, some of that might be true, but it’s also true that there are people who do things for the first time and are calm, that do things for maybe relatively new, maybe they’re new on the job, and they’re just not caught up in their thinking, and they’re quite calm and quite creative.

Ravi Raman: And it turns out when we learn how our human mind works, that we learned that we have access to these qualities without simply relying on tons of experience. That we can be calm even in a new scenario. And that our mind is actually designed to operate like that, if we’re willing to look in that direction and be curious around how it works.

Ravi Raman: Now, like any good system, they’re governed by a few principles. And I’m going to frame this human operating system in terms of principles. Principals are a common way of thinking in the sciences, in the hard sciences. When you come up with principles, you can reason from there and build applications that are quite robust. For example, a principal we all know is gravity. In fact, I have a two-year-old at home, and he’s learning how to walk up and down steps. And he’s already learning about gravity, because he realizes where center of gravity is. He realizes also the repercussions of ignoring gravity and just running and trying to fall down the steps. Of course, I’m there to catch him. That hasn’t happened yet. But he’s getting a sense that there’s this principle in life called gravity. And he’s learning how to operate in this world that we have based on that principle.

Ravi Raman: Likewise, the principles I’m going to talk about, as you can understand them better, they’ll help you reveal a deeper level of performance and leadership much more naturally without having to apply any dramatic tricks. Now, the first principle of the human operating system is simple. I just call it the principle of thought, and I’ll say these principles aren’t my own invention. They’ve been around for… Well, they’ve been in action for as long as we’ve been around as human beings. Gravity has been around since, well, a long time.

Ravi Raman: And these principles of the human operating system are simply describing what’s already been working for all of us. And wise people over the ages have spoke to these. And neuroscientists and psychologists are also speaking more and more to this way the human operating system is working. Now that said, the principal of thoughts simply says that we live in thought, not the world as it is.

Ravi Raman: Now, for example, you take the example of the Captain Sully in the cockpit, he had every reason to be up in his head, to be insecure, to be nervous, to be reactive to a circumstance. After all, the stakes were high, he had 155 souls on board, a situation happened where he’d never planned it before. He didn’t really have anyone else telling him what to do. He was the CEO of the aircraft. And while he had a copilot who he was checking with, you’ll notice that he was the one calling the shots.

Ravi Raman: Now, in spite of that circumstance, a circumstance where many other pilots, even seasoned pilots, might’ve been really reactive, really up in their head, he somehow managed a way to not get caught up in that thinking. And instead, to be open for a deeper level of insight, wisdom, and thought that allowed him to land that plane. Now, what we can all experience is how we are living in a literal movie of our mind.

Ravi Raman: I’ll give you an example night now. I’m here sitting in my basement office near Denver, Colorado. And I’m speaking to a monitor. Now, right now, I can’t even see you. So I see that there are nearly 90 of you attending, but I can’t see you. Now, my experience right now is that this talk is going fairly well. I feel like we’re sort of on time. So we’re going to get through all this material, but the truth, I don’t really know. Right? I’m experiencing that things are going well, but you all have your own experience of how things are going. I’m living in my world of thinking and you’re living in yours. And that’s happening all the time.

Ravi Raman: Now, the second principle, something to truly understand is that we are aware to varying degrees. Now this might sound obvious, and it is, but Sully, and if you read some accounts of him in the cockpit, he did have some insecure thinking. He just wasn’t caught up in it. So you can even experience this right now, where you can notice your breath right now. In fact, go ahead, take a few seconds. Notice your breathing. And instead of being caught in your breath, just be aware of the fact that you’re breathing.

Ravi Raman: Now, that capacity to be conscious is powerful. And scientists are wondering, and they haven’t been able to figure out why exactly we’re conscious, but the truth is we are. And to be conscious of thought, as opposed to being caught in it, is the difference between being in that metaphorical cockpit and reactive to your insecure thinking and have some space around it where, in spite of what you’re thinking, you can maintain an even keel, which is really the hallmark of leadership, having that grace in the midst of a crisis that might be around you.

Ravi Raman: Now I’m to share something else that I’ll just have to ask you to take me on face value. And that is to understand that the human mind has a kind of innate quality built into it. That’s profound and intelligent. In fact, there’s something, there’s something that can take you. You can even ask yourself to remember a time when you were stuck, maybe you were working on a hard problem, trying to figure out the strategy for a really hard project you’re trying to manage, trying to figure out how you’re going to frame it all up. And you might recall a time when you’re stuck. And maybe you even were so stuck, you gave up. And then perhaps in the shower, perhaps after a good night’s sleep, you had a fresh thought on what to do.

Ravi Raman: Well, there’s a quality of the human mind, which is that we can always have a fresh and higher quality thought. And there’s something in the mind that can take a busy mind and comment back down. Now those qualities happen without you having to force it, without you having to do anything. It’s built into the human system. It’s like a component baked into the firmware of your computer that you don’t have to do anything about, but it works for you.

Ravi Raman: Now these principles are alive in all of us to the extent we know that we’re living in our own thought, that we could be conscious and not caught in it. And that in spite of that, we have the potential for what I would call insight, a higher quality intelligence to come through fresh thought that can help us see the signal amidst the noise. To see that these principles are working for you and working for others, changes the game in leadership and can actually help you be in a circumstance where the world is uncertain, be in a circumstance where there’s unknowns and the stakes are high, but not feel that pressure. And to be open to finding a way through.

Ravi Raman: Now, any understanding, any set of principles have implications. For example, I used example of gravity earlier. Well, one implication of gravity is that if I’m going to climb up on my roof, which I’m actually going to have to do this weekend, because some of my siding’s coming out, so I just have to tack it back in, I’m going to make sure I hang onto that ladder when I’m climbing up. I’m also going to make sure that I’m conscious and firmly grounded on that roof because gravity is going to do its thing if I just lean back off the top of my house.

Ravi Raman: Likewise, an implication of the human operating system we all have is that we operate much like a projector as opposed to a camera. So most of us are wandering through life, thinking we’re seeing the world exactly as it is. In the same way I’m thinking this presentation is going well, but really I have no idea. Because what I’m living in is I’m living in the feeling of my psychology. I’m living in the concept and the understanding of what’s there in my mind. Now, I have no idea how this presentation is going.

Ravi Raman: Having given related talks on leadership to many audiences, some of you probably are getting a sense of what I’m saying and understanding the impact. Many of you might be even confused, but you’ll get it over time. So just hang with me here for these last 10 minutes or so. But I know that I’m living in the movie of my mind. Now, what that does is it causes me to relax a bit from my own thinking, to be more conscious and less caught up in my own story. To see that we’re a more operating like a movie projector and less like a still camera is a huge implication if you want to operate as a leader.

Ravi Raman: Now I want to have some fun here. And I’m going to ask for your participation. We’re going to go through a few little examples to play with around your visual system to show not only how, what I’m saying is philosophical, but it’s actually grounded in some reality that your mind is literally making things up all the time. So I’m going to share a few of these and I’d like you in the chat just to share the answers. So are the middle bars of the same height? When you look at this, yes or no? Are the middle of bars of the same height? Go ahead really quick. Enter in the chat. And Kyle, just give me a sense of what you’re seeing, what you’re seeing in the chat. Are they of the same height?

Kyle: I am seeing quite a few more yeses than no. But it’s definitely split.

Ravi Raman: Okay, good. Well, of course, they are at the same height. I bet a few of you are pulling out a ruler and measuring. Trust me here, this is an illusion. Now to me, it looks like the right one is longer, but it turns out it’s not the case. Because, sure, there’s something happening in my world, but my brain is processing and making meaning. And it doesn’t mean it’s real. It just means this is how my brain processes meaning.

Ravi Raman: Likewise, let’s look at this. Yes or no, do you see a solid white triangle laying on top of three black dots and a blackboard or triangles? Do you see a solid white triangle? Yes or no? And Kyle just share a little bit what you see are more people saying yes, no, is it a mix?

Kyle: So far, all yeses. Yep. Bit if you-

Ravi Raman: Okay, cool. Well, it turns out there’s no white triangle. Now, if you’re like me, it looks like it’s actually wider where the triangle seems to be than outside, ut this is called the Kanizsa Triangle. It’s illusion psychologists have studied for a long time. It turns out our mind is interpolated. It’s making meaning out of it. There’s not a white triangle. There’s not even three black dots or a blackboard or triangle. That’s all created.

Ravi Raman: Now, here’s a fun one. How many legs does this elephant have? Don’t overthink it. Really quick, put in a number. How many legs does this elephant have? And Kyle, just shout out what you see from the audience here.

Kyle: Seeing some fives, some fours, couple eights.

Ravi Raman: Well, depending on how you look at this, there might be eight, there might be zero. It’s an impossible elephant. There are no legs to it. You just look at it. Of course, when I looked at this at first, I thought, “Wow, there are five legs. This must be a freak of nature.” But no, it’s even more freaky. There are no legs. Now, count the black dots, ah ah ah.

Ravi Raman: Here’s here’s an interesting one. What do you see first, a vase or two faces? Go ahead. Do you see a vase or two faces? Go ahead and put in the chat what you see first? I see a vase. In fact, the first time I saw this, it took me a while to see two faces. Now, it just goes back and forth. Vase two faces, vase two faces. Kyle, what are you seeing people say.

Kyle: That’s exactly what I’m seeing here as well, the vase. Some of them are saying the vase and then the face will appear once they look at it.

Ravi Raman: Okay. And I’ll just have fun with this last one. What is this image a picture of? What does this image a picture of? Go ahead and type it out for yourself. What is it a picture of when you look at this? And Kyle, just share what are you seeing some people share?

Kyle: Quite a few is saying a young lady wearing a fur coat. A woman’s profile. Some are saying they see a young woman and then an older woman.

Ravi Raman: Yeah, exactly. When I first saw this I saw a young lady with a choker. And then as I looked, I could see this old lady with a big chin and nose. In fact, right now, take a look at your screen, if you saw a young lady, can you see the old? Now, if you’re like me, your mind’s flipping back and forth, back and forth. And all of this is I’m sharing to make a point. Not that our mind is full of nonsense, but that we’re making meaning from the inside.

Ravi Raman: Now physicist, David Bohm captured this perfectly. He said, “Thought creates our world and says, ‘I didn’t do it.'” And if you’re looking to be a leader and navigate in times of challenge, when it seems like the stakes are high, it’s nice not to take our psychology too seriously. It’s nice that even if we have an insecure thought, that it’s just a thought, that it doesn’t mean there’s really grounds to be insecure. Because the question is, how can we, when the stakes are high, be calm cool collected so that we can have more of us to bring to the scenario. And I don’t know any other way than to start understanding how we’re creating our experience, moment to moment, from the inside out.

Ravi Raman: Now, there’s one other implication. And I’m going to speak to this very quickly, because I know we just have a few minutes left. The implication that I’m sharing here is that the quality of your state of mind has a direct impact on your performance. Now, this doesn’t mean you can always be in a Zen of mind. That’s not the point.

Ravi Raman: Sullenberger, as I mentioned before, had some insecure thinking. Any leader I’ve coached, when they were in a really significant leadership challenge, they’ll have some insecure thinking, but the difference is how caught up in that thinking they are or not. Because if you could just be more conscious, take your thinking less seriously, if you will, you’ll start noticing that your mind will settle naturally. And that your state of mind will, what I call is recover, where you’ll be more calm and clear, which will actually bring you the capacity to bring more of yourself to your right work in the moment when it matters.

Ravi Raman: Now, I’m going to just close out, just because we’re almost at time here, to say that this topic is a simple topic I’m talking about, but it’s quite deep. And there are a few things that I encourage you to take forward, because the value of this talk is going to be what you see regarding what we’ve been talking about in your own day-to-day work.

Ravi Raman: First of all, can you see how part of you is making it all up? That whether you’re insecure or secure, stressed or confident, clear-headed or confused, that it’s simply coming based on your state of mind. It’s not based on the circumstances you’re in. We can all experience that because I can be in a circumstance one day, where I’m clearheaded, the next day, the same circumstance, and I’m confused. Which tells me it’s not the circumstance doing it, it’s simply my state of mind.

Ravi Raman: The second is, can you notice what arises in from you when you’re in a peaceful state of mind? Now, you don’t have to be Zen all the time, but the mind has a built-in design to deliver calm and a settled peace of mind. In fact, if you just paid attention to your state of mind over the course of the next few hours, there will be moments when you’ll catch yourself in a settled state of mind. Can you notice, when you’re in that state of mind, how you’re doing, how productive you are, how clear-headed you are, how decisive you are? And can you value that peaceful state of mind as a valuable thing?

Ravi Raman: And then the last question is what supports a peaceful state of mind for you? Now, I’m not here to teach meditation or anything else like that, but there are lots of things that you can do in your own lives that will support your own state of mind. Many of my clients are fans of taking breaks during their workday. Some do meditate, some keep a journal. Others simply take a few deep breaths to let their minds settle before they step into something that requires more of their attention. Or perhaps it can be as simple as the thing we started this conversation with, with my asking you to eliminate some of your distractions and be more present to the conversation today. The more attention give to something. the less distracted your attention is, the more effortlessly and actually peacefully your mind can operate.

Ravi Raman: And with that, I’ll say thank you. And I encourage you, if you’d like to go deeper into how you can operate with a clear state of mind, and bring more of your leadership game to work with a clear head without requiring more effort, go ahead and reach out to me. My website is raviraman.com. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And I look forward to hearing from you soon. I offer one-on-one coaching. I’ll be also hosting a number of group coaching programs, where if you want to join and work with some other leaders, and dive more deeply into what we’ve covered today, it’d be great to have you. Now I know we’re at time, Kyle, so I don’t know if we have time for questions, but I’ll hand it over to you. And again, thank you for having me for this talk.

Kyle: Thank you so much, Ravi. That was excellent. We really appreciate your time and sharing your expertise with the community. For those of you that are… Well, first I’ll mentioned that if you’d like to take a screenshot of Ravi’s contact info here, you can click that screenshot icon at the top of the window, and then I’ll just save that right to your desktop.

Kyle: I also chatted over a link to Ravi’s MPUG profile, where you can access those other leadership webinars that he mentioned during the presentation today. And for those of you claiming the PDU, for today I’ll get that info back on the screen for you now. Today’s session is eligible for three-quarters of a PMI PDU in the leadership category. If you miss any of the session and would like to go back and review anything that Ravi shared, the recording will be posted to mpug.com in just a few hours. And you’ll receive an email with the link to view that On-Demand. MPUG members have full access to our library of On-Demand webinars.

Kyle: We also have a great sessions on the calendar. We have our next three part training course coming up on March 17th. That’ll be a SIPOC workshop, facilitation training series. And that’ll be over three consecutive Wednesdays at the typical 12:00 PM Eastern webinar time. And then after that, on April 14th, we will have a session with Carl Pritchard [inaudible 00:47:17], covering the risk register boxes and what really goes in there and how to use that. I also chatted over a link to our upcoming event calendar. Be sure to check that out and save your seat at these upcoming events. We hope to see you there.

Kyle: And with that, I’d like to close out today’s session. So once again, thank you so much, Ravi. We really appreciate your time. Thank you to everyone that joined us live and participated during today’s webinar. Thank you to those that are watching this On-Demand. We really appreciate it. We hope you have a great rest of your day, and we’ll see you back soon for our next live webinar. Thanks.


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Written by Ravi Raman

Ravi Raman is an executive career coach and long-time veteran of Microsoft, where he led product management and marketing teams for several global software products and services. As a coach, Ravi has helped countless clients– including management consultants, technology startups and Fortune 500 company leaders — unlock higher performance and build careers they can be proud of. Stay in touch with Ravi via Facebook, LinkedIn, his website and @YogiRavi.

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