Intrinsic Motivation: How to achieve success by understanding what drives us most
TM: Ed, welcome to The Science Of Us. You are the head of team experience, but also, your official title, I believe, is, actually, Coach, at Winning Group.
Welcome to the show. Thank you for joining us. And let's just dive in straightaway by asking, what does it actually mean, in terms of a title of coach, and why not just traditional HR titles that everybody else is used to?
EB: Look, it was a conversation that came up between John Winning "Herman" and myself when I was running a boarding house and coaching a rugby team at the Scots College in Bellevue Hill. And he had previously spoken to me about wanting to have, needing some HR and the cost of, I guess, getting it wrong with business.
And I'd taught business studies previously at Scots. And it was like, oh, that sort of sounds a little bit like, I teach that, and this is what I do at work. And it was after a conversation like that that he actually contacted me and said “Look, I think you can do the job and come in and look after it.”
They'd previously had some more traditional HR professionals. And it just didn't work with the dynamic and the culture of the business. And so what he wanted from me was to come in and just put a bit more of a practical lens on it and focus more on the proactive motivation and building of teams.
So the head of team experience is what we're called. And the focus is really about, how do we get high-performing teams. And I'd probably had a bit of success with that leading into it. And that's the conversation that we had. So that's probably what sparked the thought process.
TM: Was it a difficult jump coming from education, then, entering the corporate world?
EB: It was a very nervous jump. I was very happy, safe, and secure, teaching is a very secure career. I was living on-site, running the boarding house, with my family. And it was all there. It was all set up. So that was probably the most nervous thing about it is this is a big change. And I just didn't know. I didn't know what it was going to be like.
So for me, it was like, well, let's give it a crack. Because I can always go back to teaching. I knew what I was good at in that space. And I'd got to a level where it's quite easy to come back to. So I was like, let's have a crack. Let's see how we go. And worst case, I go back to teaching.
TM: So how did it go from that to, can I do the job?
EB: When I first started, I just sat back and did a lot of observation. I was assured that, hey, you've got some good people in your team. We've got an in-house lawyer if things really go south. And I just got the sense of, OK, so they're the experts in the field. I just need to come in and manage it, work it, understand what the business is like, and then go from there.
And it wasn't until I actually sat, there was an issue with one of the teams that we had. And I was like, oh, can I just come and sit in on the conversation? And in sitting in on that conversation, I was like, I've done this before. I know what to say here. And I was almost sitting in the background, predicting what conversation was going to happen. And I was like, OK, this isn't so bad.
And then the CEO and the COO at the time went away all at once. And in the email, the first I heard was that they said, hey, we're going to be away for three or four weeks. And Coach Ed's in charge. And I was like, oh. Wow, OK. So then I put my teachers hat back on - where's first aid? where's this? where's that? and went back into that, sort of, very, I guess, compliance, duty-of-care mode.
But the best thing was just getting around and talking to people in the different teams and getting to know the bits of the business. And just by doing that, I learned a lot about the business at the time.
When my boss, who was the COO at the time, and Herman came back, I was sitting there, they said, oh, how was it? And I just had pages of notes and I was like, this is what I know. I didn't know it prior. I now know this and then I was thinking, but the challenge is, with this business, and I think with any way you go, it's what you do from that point.
Most things have been thought of before, and especially in Winning Group. It was like, the ideas have been thought of before. Perhaps it's about the execution, or perhaps it's about just the way we do it that needs to change.
And so that was the focus for me. And I would have written plans and strategies out two or three times and then ripped them up, and no, that's not going to work. What about this? And just when you think you've got it, something will change. Look, in essence, it was a slow start, but it was purposefully slow. And I say that to anyone that comes into the business now. Take your time to understand the business before you jump into action, where the first book that had been given to me by a friend of mine was The 90-Day Onboarding - What to do in the first 90 day. Get in, understand what success looks like, what are the small wins, what can you do to make yourself be influenceable?
I took that on. I had moments of that. But I almost did the exact opposite, which is if they trust me in the role and if I really want to make an impact, it's almost like a less is more approach, and keep it quite simple.
TM: It's really interesting because it seems so counterintuitive in the world that we live in at the moment, where everything is fast-paced, and everybody just wants to start right now. Nobody wants to take any time off because it feels like we're just losing time. But it makes so much sense, where you have to slow things down to effectively speed things up at the end. And for you, coming in there, you must have been, no doubt, met with this sense of, what do you mean slow down and take time to listen and understand and learn? It must feel quite disconcerting for a lot of people.
EB: Yeah, it is. And I think, look, it's an innate part of my nature. I'm a very patient person. I'm the youngest of six kids.
I was dragged around for most of my life, just do it type of thing.
And probably, the biggest difference between what I knew previously and the business world is there is a lot of impatience. It's very much, I want it, and I want it now and so trying to find that balance and trying to get to that is probably still the biggest challenge. Four years on, that would be the number one thing.
And I guess what really tested me in that was COVID. Because there was no time for patience. It's like, we've got to act. But the environment lent into that. And people are more understanding of the conditions that we were in.
TM: But it's when you don't have those conditions of urgency, it's by far the best way to do it is, OK, yes, slowing things down does not seem like the right thing to do. But get people to understand, get people aligned, and be really clear about what that looks like, and they will, guarantee you, be performing better and for longer with a lot less time and management from yourself.
So that, then, from a foundational standpoint of slowing things down to get the understanding so you can build a really strong base to go from, what are the other key criteria that you believe makes a successful team?
EB: Look, the core thing is trust. It really comes back down to trust. And there's a couple of people who I've spoken to, there's a couple of people who I've followed and who have influenced my decision on that. But that's really the core thing.
The main thing is that with any team, whether it's a new team or an old team, that whole thing of the Tuckman's model is quite relevant. I put a different spin on it. And in that first stage of, whether you're new to a team or whether you're trying to build the team yourself, it's really getting an understanding of the individuals and what drives them.
We talk about purpose. It's sorting out, why do people do what they do? It's an intrinsic motivation. You can dangle the carrot, and you'll get people to chase. If you put those extrinsic motivators out there, people will chase it.
But if you want sustained, ongoing success, and success which relies on people being able to solve problems themselves, they need to want to do it themselves and for the people around them. Individual sports, individual performance, is quite easy if you are in control and influence of you and only you.
We have 93 teams in Winning Group. And they all got different objectives, all aligned with the same one mission. But to get them moving in the same direction, get the trust and understanding of how they work together, how they communicate, what motivates them as individuals, and aligning that to why they turn up to work every day, what gets them out of bed? Because there's something there.
TM: Intrinsic motivation, is this something that you have always believed in, practised, tried to use as part of any motivation for a team or did it come naturally as you went through your career?
EB: It's really funny.In the later years, literally, in the 12 months before I left teaching, before I made this change, I had just started to go into the research around some of this stuff. I was studying adolescent boys and prepared a research paper on it. But prior to that, it was all learned. And it was all just my own thoughts.
I'm a pretty deep reflector on things.I can shoot from the hip sometimes. But I will do my best thinking, like, if someone's given me some advice or some direction, my best thoughts and ideas on that will come the next day. It's sort of, I've soaked it in, I've thought about it, and I'm like, right, OK, I'm very clear about what I need to do now. And that timing's quite important around that.
But yeah, intrinsic motivation is definitely - I guess my experience is that it's come from all of the different fields that I've been in. I played a hell of a lot of rugby when I was younger, got to a reasonably high level, as high as you can get without really making money on it. I've come from a family of six. So I had a great family. And just looking at the dynamic of that, my dad was away for three of every four weeks of the month. He was a civil engineer, working in the pipelines. Mom was running a pub. And then we sort of managed ourselves.
Outside of that, you've got working within a team versus coaching a team. And then you've got--probably, the best learning is young children, so becoming a father and being a boarding house master and teaching. Because it's illogical. There's actually a saying - if you want to learn how to coach well, go and coach a kids' team. Because they do and say things that make no sense.
And if you can figure out how to manage that and motivate kids, who can be thinking of a thousand things at a time, into doing something with some structure, then you're building some strategy. So that's a pretty amazing skill. I've 100% shout-out to Jared, who's the coach of my son's winter team. Because I looked at those kids, and I don't know how he had the patience and the ability to get them to do things when, exactly as you said, they were all over the place.
And I actually got thrown into that this year. So this year, while I'm working, I was also coaching the first-grade team down at Eastern Suburbs. But I was also coaching the under-six Roos league team, which is four- and five-year-old kids, 10 of them, on a Thursday afternoon.
So I'd come straight from work. And it's absolutely manic. And literally, depending on which way the wind was blowing, depending on whatever was happening, these kids were wild. And it was far out. But you've just got to find those little triggers that work.
So that's something that, I guess--it's an experience, again, that I build these models of what works for me, how does that work. And when we're talking about types of leadership, that's how people develop. What type of leader are you? It's like, well, what's worked for them in the past? What's their personality? How do they get progress? That's how things happen.
TM: How would you get deep enough to understand the motivators that people would have within themselves? Because traditionally, a lot of people will just look at what--they read a book, and they think, OK, it's the carrot or the stick or whatever it might be. And I'm just going to go on. And they sort of top-line, superficial level to get the motivation out of someone.
I can hear that you said you'd sit down with people. Is that just the main way that you would do it? How would you get some of those deeper things out of them and understand what they really wanted?
EB: Yeah. Look, we're moving in a world now where there's a lot of parts of business, there's a lot of specialist areas, that rely on people and experience. And we're also looking at all of these things around AI and robots and all these things can do what humans can do.
But there's a fundamental thing. It's like it's trying to speed that process up. And for me, and looking at teams, there's things where not everyone gets it. People are different. People are good at different things. I've been told that I have an innate ability, reasonably high EQ with regards to--I'm very relatable. I can get to know people. I've got quite an empathetic approach to things. But that doesn't come natural to everyone, right?
So for me, it is always--the number one thing is just observing people. It sounds a bit weird, a bit creepy, but I like to just watch people and how they socialise. And that's the first thing I'll do. If I take over a new team of anything, whether it's sport or business, I'll just let them do their thing.
And they actually find it more uncomfortable. You come in. You're the new leader. You're meant to be telling them what to do. And I'm like, just do what you'd normally do. Just let me see.
And then I'll start to ask questions. OK, why are you doing that? Why do you do that? And then you'll notice people's mood change. It's like, oh, hey, how are you? What's happened today? And you start to learn.
So for me, it's being in a space where there's just an information sharing, whether that's conversing or it's--body language is something that I'm looking into at the moment. I'm really interested to learn more about that. There's whole books written about it. And so I really want to dive in to what that looks like.
But you can pick up on those things. And then it's just creating that level of information sharing, where you're learning more and more about people. It's a level of connection that you can create. And then you understand, OK, now that I know this about this type of person and you've seen them in different environments, you can almost start to predict how people are going to behave.
And then it's about, how will they behave in this instance? And how can I prepare them so that they are going to be able to handle that situation as best they can?
So again, that relies--that's a lot of what I would call intuition. But if we want to scale these things and you really want to get multiple, high-performing teams, you need tools.
I've done a lot of profiling tools in the past. And so I guess, looking at those tools, the one thing that I really hate when I've seen a lot of these profiling tools rolled out is that people use it to tag people and earmark people. It's like, oh he's that type of person.
It's like, well, that's not what it's really about. It's really about doing it. And then the first thing that people will do is like, oh, I wonder what I am. I wonder what my results are and looking at those results and then reflecting--oh, is that the case? How can I test that? And then I'll go around, and I'll be like--
I've done, probably--I did three or four while I was at teaching, and I've seen them done in coaching. And it's done at the highest level. And even with Winning Group, now, we've got a new one which has come out called Deep Sphere.
But what I find really, really interesting is the amount of times that people look at it and start judging other people. It's like, just stop. Think about what this means for you. Yes, it's important to know what it means for others, but that's not what it's about.
It's about, in your instance, how are you going to be responding to that? And what are you really strong at? And what are you naturally going to digress to when you're comfortable or when you're under pressure versus what are the things that you need to work on?
So from a coaching or a leadership perspective, it's like, right. Imagine I can do that for the 15 people that I have to manage.
It's kind of like--well, it's the journey of self-discovery but having the willingness to be vulnerable and also take accountability for who you are and what that means, particularly when you are trying to, then, work with others. Because, to be honest, everybody has a responsibility to understand themselves as well as they can and to understand others. It should not always be a manager's job or a team leader's job to have to sort out problems between people. We're all adults.
TM: For some reason, a lot of people tend to walk through the door of a company and become children. Where's Mum, and where's Dad? They'll tell me what to do and where I should go. And I think there's such a lack of people with that self-motivational starting.
But perhaps so much of that can actually be affected by a greater understanding of who you are as an individual and who those people are around you. Because then you were saying about them--because that comes back to, then, well, what motivates them? What's the thing at the deepest level that they're going to care about?
And it could be something to do with the values that they hold true to themselves. It could be something to do with the fact that they may have an innate sense--like, for me, for example, one of the personality traits that I have is around Guard. So I can be a bit protective.
And that, sort of, disgust and fear angle can be up, which can play a bit of havoc with me when I've got my play and guard together. But again, if somebody doesn't know that, they're going to just try and put their own spin on whatever they want to get out of the conversation without actually listening to what that person wants.
EB: And there are definitely people out there like that. They're straight after what's in it for them and oh, excuses around other people, as opposed to thinking about themselves, really thinking about, what's this relationship? If you're in the same working place, there is not a leader, there's not a CEO or a managing director out there that doesn't want their managers or team leaders to look after themselves.
The last thing they want to have to do is be a micromanager. But that comes from trust and confidence. And sometimes, that takes a lot longer for people.
Innately, when you're looking at some managers who are very controlling, they're controlling because there's a lack of trust there. There's something that they want. But that's also for them to understand. That's what they do when they're a little bit unsure or a little bit uncomfortable.
So it's not an excuse for it. But it's important to understand that, as a leader. But also, when you're dragging it back to the team member level, you've really got to look at, OK, what does this mean? What am I going to do?
And you mentioned it. But what I'll say, one of the most important things for me is I constantly need to check myself.
I'm very conscious of that. I've made a lot of mistakes in certain social instances where you just get a little bit too loud, or I get a little bit carried away. And people start to go, oh, that's a bit different. But I've developed this habit where observation, again, for me-- I'm probably the quietest person in the room in a room where I don't know people. And I'll just go in there, and I'll just cruise around. And I really hate networking. I'm really bad at that. A lot of people do. And I hate being in a room where I don't know anyone. But I'll look-- again, I'll look at people, and I'll look at what people are doing. And I'll find one or two people and just start a conversation.
And the next thing that I'll start to do is, for me to try and develop a connection with someone, I'll usually start talking about myself, trying to tell my story, to try and find some relationship. And then when you'll see someone step up or you think, oh, there's something, let's go with that, that's, literally, the flow of conversation that I'll have with people I don't know.
TM: And when you tell your story, are you talking about at, again, more of a deeper level? It's not like the hey, I'm Ed, and I am head of Team Experience at Winning. It's actually deeper around your journey about who you are--kind of the Simon Sinek “Start With Why” base?
EB: I'll put it in the context of a conference or a networking thing. It's like, hey, who are you? What do you do? And I'll sort of go, oh, well, this is what I do, and this is how I got here.
It's sort of--I won't go too deep early, but I'll tell a little bit of the story about what am I doing here. And that will usually spark the conversation. And it's a little bit of a formula now, but I've only got that because it's produced a positive response in the past, where people go, OK, well, that's unusual.
And then it's like, oh, tell me more. But then I'm also very conscious--but while I'm always talking, I'm thinking, don't dominate the conversation. Don't be the person who does all the talking in this conversation.
Because there's a point where I don't want to feel like I'm just talking about myself the whole time. I genuinely want to know about and connect with others. And you don't get that when you're the one that's doing all the talking.
But the one thing that--and this will go back, probably--my mom has been the key driver in this--she's a very tough woman, had a very long life, six kids, running a pub, all at the same time, managed to put us all through school. And it wasn't until much later, probably just coming out of uni, I was like, far out. Our parents did a good job for us. Like, how lucky am I?
I didn't have a super-tough upbringing. It certainly wasn't your standard really high Care. You were on your own, pretty much. You'd be able to do a lot of things. But she was always saying, don't worry about what other people think about you. That's their problem.
So I've always had a level of confidence around, this is me, and this is who I am. People don't like it? Not my problem.
At the end of the day, is what they think of you going to matter? Unless you've got to work with that person, then that's worth some investment. That's worth some time. But if you don't have to work with that person, and it's not emotionally going to impact that person, who cares. I'm happy. I'm happy that I've done what suits me.
TM: I'm going to look at our editor and senior producer, Jon-Claude Raad, in the studio here, but from a point of view of you saying that to me, so I'd be right in saying that more Harmoniser Care types, who fundamentally--whether they like it or not, it's how they're basically made up-- it's really hard for them to fight against that.
We worked with a client, for example, who talked to us about his team, where a lot of the team were predominantly high Guard. And even just allowing those people to understand that they're going to put their shield up, they're going to be more risk-averse and everything, they started to change the way--they even laughed when, in a meeting, the guy said, we're going to do this, and the person straightaway fired something back and then stopped himself, laughed, and said, that's my guard on cue there.
And I think that this comes back to it, that--I'm with you. So from the point of view of I've now gotten to a point of really not caring as much what everybody--it's exhausting when you have to care what everybody else thinks. And I think that a lot of the time, if you can't explain why you care so much, but then you get the explanation, it means you can do something with it, effectively.
And I think that's the most important thing. It's that level of understanding of what works for you and what works for other people. And then the constant struggle or balance of you shouldn't be worrying about how it's making others feel but understanding when it's important to understand other people's opinions or other people's behaviours in certain instances, depending on why this is important.
EB: For me, yeah, I'm a little bit of a blend. And so I'm very high Care, but my high care is about other people's success. Which speaks naturally to all the roles that you play. And that's what I've learned about it. And that's why we-- it came from the fact that I was the youngest, but then, as my brothers and sisters all had kids, I still loved nothing else than just spending time with the family and spending time with my nephews and nieces, looking after them and just looking at other people happy and getting to happiness, which is whether it's through success of sport or whether it's success in the job. It's like, that makes me happier than anything else is knowing that I've had an involvement in that.
And when people come to me and ask me certain questions or see value in what I can add to them to help them on their journey, I'm like that's--when a team will win a premiership, the last thing I'll do is go out and grab the trophy or go and stand in the photo and be like, yeah. My first response is I'll just stand back, and I'll just absorb it and be like, how good's that?
TM: Not like Salt Bae when, I believe, was it Argentina won the World Cup and Salt Bae came up and grabbed that trophy, even though he had nothing to do with the team.
EB: Yeah, exactly. And that's a certain type. Again, that's a different type of person. There's something there that, that's a value to them. And it's like, oh, that's interesting.
TM: Let's carry on with this particular train. Because you have acted in three distinct areas--education, sporting teams--we haven't even talked about sporting teams and a lot of the stuff you've done there--and then now in the corporate world. Are there a lot of parallels? What's the common denominator, whether you're dealing with a tech team, as opposed to a rugby team, as opposed to a group of boarders at a school?
EB: The single thing is dealing with multiple stakeholders with multiple opinions, multiple objectives of what they're trying to do, what they're trying to achieve, and managing those personalities to achieve an outcome. That's what--when you define management, it's to align people in the direction towards achieving a common goal.
And for a sports team, it's usually to win a premiership. From the business perspective, it's to hit a target, or to achieve a goal. From the boarding house, it's to be able to grow and help these boys get through unscathed, in most case. Some of them are missing home. Some of them are so glad that they're out of home. You've got a mixture of personalities--international students.
And I guess, from that, it was you've just got to break it down to some really simple expectations of understanding, this is what are the non-negotiables for certain things. That's what I've found. If I'm really trying to break it down, it's like expectations are really important and making sure they're really clearly understood and what they look like.
So that's probably one of the core principles of that is observing how people operate and looking at the behaviours and the differences in people and what they really want to be able to do, but getting them to understand how a goal, or how a set of expectations, are going to work in their favour. And that's different for different people.
So the conversation you'll have with one group of people, or one person, in particular, is a completely different type of conversation you would have with someone else. There's one common theme, so the same expectations for everyone. So that's that level of consistency. You talk about having one goal.
TM: There is one goal. But achieving that goal is different for different individuals.And this comes back to the intrinsic motivation that you were talking about. Because how you motivate someone--you've got the goal there. But everybody, if you've got four or five people underneath, they're all going to be motivated by something at a deeper level to reach that one goal.
EB: 100%. And that's--a great example of that is you look at the Netflix series of the Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance.
TM: I know that Jon-Claude Raad loves that, that episode, that series.
EB: But think about the personalities that are shown through that. What a mix of a team. Some of the guys are not really talked about. It's a little bit of the Michael Jordan show.
TM: Yeah, yeah. Poor Luc Longley that got left out, as an Australian--
EB: I think that wrong has been righted now. I think he's getting his own. Isn't he getting his own show or something? So it's good.
TM: Not sure it's getting at the same amount of viewers. I'll be watching it. I'll tell you that much.
EB: But that's it. You've got to get these guys through. And to achieve, to hit that, to win that premiership, to win that championship, the approach you'll take with the likes of someone like Michael Jordan, who is highly driven, highly dedicated, and on top of everything, versus the Dennis Rodman, who's just an outstanding player, you can't treat them exactly the same.
But you need everyone in that team to understand why someone might need to have that little bit of difference, where he shoots off to Vegas and goes ballistic and all that stuff. It's like, if we want to achieve, he needs to have a vent, that guy. Other people don't. And it's like, it's really getting that--again, comes back to that level of understanding around those sorts of aspects, around, yes, there's an expectation. Yes, there is an element where some people are treated differently. But be really clear around how and why that is and how it's going to help everyone, overall, achieve what they want to achieve.
TM: And the thing is that, for most of the success stories you see, whether it's the Chicago Bulls, whether it is startups that have gone on to achieve billion-dollar status, whether it's anything, it's always a big part is down to that leader that's there to motivate. At the same time, why do you think we have--
I think we have so many bad managers in the world. And why do so many of them get it so wrong? Is it because they purely look at internal, at selfish, reasons about what they're doing? I know a number of people in the past--I won't name names--but they just wanted to manage people, just have it under their belt. Hey, I've managed 50 people. I've managed 100 people.And they could never really answer the question of why. What's the purpose behind that? It's just probably like, because I get to the next pay level, and then, hey-ho, I'm off to climbing the corporate ladder. But why do so many managers get it wrong?
EB: Look, I think it comes down to the priorities. And I think--we were talking about patience earlier. There are people that are very, very impatient. It's just not in their nature. And it is. It's about their motivation is, I need to keep moving forward fast. And whenever you bring people into things, it's complicated, and things need to slow down. And that just frustrates people. They don't know how to deal with it. And it's-- there isn't a way-- sometimes you need to look at, all right, well, how can we help this manager be able to achieve what they want to do but also give them some insights around why it's important and what is affecting others, which is actually holding them back?
And that's quite important. I've had some good examples of that in-- everywhere, but I'll talk more relevant to business now. You do have people who are very fast-moving and very focused, super focused, excellent at what they do, trying to achieve certain thing, not realizing the impact that they have on others.
And it's really about just showing them that, by doing this-- and it's about showing them in the different way, well, what's going to relate to this person? For some, it's just straight-up numbers.
And for others, it's actually about looking at the speed at which they can move. But you show, here is the impact of doing it this way. Here's the impact of doing it this way. Is that going to help you get to where you're trying to get to?
And again, they're doing that because they have a goal. But is that goal aligned with the overall goal? And sometimes, it does come. But you'll get, typically, people that fit into those buckets of your Seek, your Rank areas.
You just need to--the conversation needs to be very direct. It's like, you need to stop doing this because this. And it might sound harsh. That's what they want. They don't want any fluff. It's just like, tell me what to do. Tell me how to do it. And I'm on.
But then, again, it comes down to the level of trust. If you go in and try and have that conversation without building the relationship, without them understanding, water off a duck's back. You're just another little bit of noise.
TM: Or if you go to someone who's high Care and say that, that's going to destroy them.
EB: Oh, yeah. It'll take a week.
TM: Yeah, exactly. This sounds--it sounds exhausting, listening to all of the things that you have to deal with. Because you've got, at Winning, you've got over 1,000 people at the organisation. You've got a number of different business units and very different role types, everything from someone working in technology through to someone working in a call centre through to somebody who's out delivering every single day. How do you keep your energy levels high enough?
And I guess I've been lucky enough to see the impact that you've had on everybody at the organisation and the amount of praise and admiration that they have for you. How do you keep your energy levels up, that no matter what situation you're walking into-- if someone could be really angry, really annoyed at what's going on, but then you're trying to go over to another area and congratulate them for what they're doing, and then there's another area that actually just needs some strategic alignment or help? How do you keep your energy levels high?
EB: I don't. I really don't. You've got to--that's the one thing--I've said it before-- constantly checking myself, what impact I'm going to have walking in the way I'm feeling right now. And I've got that wrong. Sometimes you do end up in that little bit where you're just flat. But I did learn this from when I was at the boarding house. And one thing I knew, I had some really tough personal things while I was managing 50, 60 boys.
And I had some really tough stuff that I was managing within the boarding house. And then you have to walk into a room of 50 boys every morning and address them at 8:30. And that was very much about, it doesn't matter what's happening in the background. I've got to turn up, and I've got to lead these guys.
And sometimes it would be shorter. Sometimes it would be longer, the time I spend with them. But I would make sure, OK, what do I need to give to these guys now, and why is it important?
And that's really important. Because, I guess, with my personality, I can be very emotional in my responses. And that's why I will typically, now, my strategy would be keep your mouth shut and digest what has been said to you. And think about what the rest--
OK, what were they trying to achieve? So I'm very--a deep thinker, and deep--I guess I review everything.I go for a walk. That's what I'll do now.
So it's about just giving me that time to digest what's happening and then knowing what's coming, so being really well planned around planning out the days and the moments around, when do I walk in to certain things, and how do I need to be for that? So it is really just about making sure that, as much as possible, I give those little moments of space to myself so that I can go and deal with those very different situations.
Dealing with a loss in a family, in one instance, for a team member and then going into, again, to your point, someone's having their five-year anniversary, and you've got to be giving them pats on the back. Or you haven't seen a team that you're going out to visit. And they're like, oh, great to see you.
And it's like, all right, well, what do I need to do? What's the type of information that they're going to want from me? So that's where it's important. And it's a constant challenge, especially--I'm a terrible poker player. And that's what people--
TM: So am I. I lose.
EB: I will go--I will, typically, if I'm really under pressure and things aren't going, I'll go quiet. Because I'm trying to internalize it. Because I don't want the other response, which is me saying something that I'm going to regret.
My wife, again, it's an interesting one because sometimes I'll take that home. I really try not to. I very rarely talk about work at home, purposely, because I don't want to. Because that's my home life.
I'm also a Gemini, so I've got two personalities. I had--
TM: My wife's a Gemini. My dad's a Gemini. My daughter's a Gemini. I know the feeling.
EB: Yeah. So I can flip like that.
When you're on, you're on. And it's just needing to know when am I on, why do I need to be on, and stuff like that. So everyone has something going on outside of work. But the one thing I'll say is we spend more time together--probably, less lately--but typically, you're spending more time together at work than you are at home.
TM: It's kind of--I talked about this on a podcast with somebody else about the notion of compartmentalising things. Because that one I mentioned, there's a great author, Adam Fraser, who wrote The Third Space And it's all about that disconnection from getting from A to C, and what's the B in the middle? I'm not doing it justice but how you actually bring your full self to the situation that you're in.
I actually saw this whole idea of compartmentalising just recently, as well, particularly in the startups, where they're like, that's the only way that I can actually get through stuff is if I put stuff into little buckets. And I leave it in there, and I don't let it seep out of the bucket until I come back and then be fully present in the bucket. Is that something for you that you do a little of, then?
EB: 100%. And look, again, it's another sports-to-business analogy. There is a lot of talk now, especially in the HR space, around mindfulness and psychological safety and wellness. And typically, that is looked at, especially by certain people in business, around being the fluffy stuff.
The All Blacks, the most successful team ever in the history of the world, had the thing they would call their grounding where, if you ever looked at them in a game, they would get in a circle. They would all hold hands. They'd close their eyes. And they'd take a breath and let it out.
And that was not just taking a breath. You actually saw--you'll see a lot of teams just do it now, I think, but do they really understand what they're doing and why they're doing? And the reason it was called grounding, or anchoring, is because it's what's happening with their mind during that space.
They will sit there, and they will close their eyes. And all they're thinking about is their feet on the ground. So it's clearing--it's essentially clearing their mind. And so by doing that--they're in a super-high-pressure environment. They've got a minute and a half to clear their head because maybe they've just made a couple of mistakes.
And they're now going to turn themselves around and be able to turn up to this next scrum, where the other team has the ball, and they're right on their try line. And perhaps it's for the World Cup.
How are they going to respond? And how are they going to clear their mind? That's that fixed and growth mindset space. And that's another thing that I can't talk enough about. I could go on all day around it.
TM: You're talking about Carol Dweck?
EB: Yeah, the fixed and growth mindset around being open. And what you'll typically see is it's being in control of your mind. It's having that confidence to be--confidence and trust in what you know and what you can do and knowing that the guy next to you can do that.
Same in the business world. It's the same thing that I would do today. So for me, it's more about finding those moments to get away, to have some time to myself, go for a little walk. I can be slightly impulsive, as well. That's my natural personality. But I'll sit there, and I'll be working away. And I'll literally just stop. And I'm like, I want to go for a walk. And I'll walk around.
And one thing with me is I'll go just talk to people. Hey, how's your day? What's going on? And A, it's about just talking to them. But maybe I've broken up someone's day, and it's actually made their day. So I'm trying to get the double win there. It's helping me because it's broken up whatever's in my head because I'm going through 50 emails or something.
But secondly, it's just going around and just having a look at the room and what's going on. And we've got a really good, young crowd at Winning Group, which is our engine room, our call centre. And they always talk about keeping the vibe high. It's a really high-energy space. And anyone that comes into our business looks at it and goes, how good is that?
That's where I go. I like socialising. I like that high energy. I like people talking.I like that movement. I don't like to be in it, but I like to be able to be around it. And that's what helps me.
TM: Final question for you, then, because we have been talking about intrinsic motivation. What's the one thing that still motivates you every day? What is the thing that gets you towards the goals, whatever they may be, that you set for yourself? What's the one thing that still keeps you moving towards those?
EB: The number one thing that gets me out of bed every day and makes me run myself into the ground is providing a really good foundation for when I'm not here. I wouldn't call it the legacy. But I've got three young kids. And I'm hugely family-orientated. And it's making sure that I've imparted enough knowledge on them and given them enough of a foundation financially, from a values perspective, that I can leave them in a good space to do what they want to be able to do and make the decisions that they want to make.
I'm not a helicopter parent. I do let them do their own thing. I'm very much that sort of--let them do. But if they hurt themself, well, learn from it. And then I'll talk to them. I'll spend some time with them around that sort of stuff.
But the number one motivation for me would be that. And again, it's what I do at work, as well.I've often said it in the coaching space--and I've literally said it yesterday, I had a team meeting with my guys for half a day--and I said, there is nothing more important to me than watching you guys move into your next role and achieve what you want to achieve. And if you guys have done that, my job's done.
So I guess that's the thing that gets me out of bed every day. I see people struggle every day, whether it's relationships, money. And it's like, I know I can help.
TM: Fascinating. Well, Ed, thank you. Thank you for sharing so many of your pieces of wisdom and, also, the stories. And I think that a lot of the--I know you're still actively, now, involved with sporting teams, as well. You just did some coaching this year, again. And I think whether it's them or corporate, everyone's lucky to have you. So thank you for joining us.
EB: Great. Thank you.
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