468: Upgrading Your Confidence and Courage at Work with Bill Treasurer

By July 24, 2019Podcasts

 

 

Bill Treasurer says: "Boredome is a clue that it's time to move back out into discomfort."

Bill Treasurer shares practical wisdom for conquering fear, taking risks, and finding your courage.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The key first step to finding courage
  2. Approaches for taking on more wise risks
  3. How to fill up each of the Three Buckets of Courage

About Bill:

In the past two decades, thousands of executives across the globe have attended Bill’s keynotes and workshops. Benefiting from the concepts first introduced in Bill’s bestselling books, participants come away with stronger leadership skills, improved team performance, and more career backbone.

Among others, Bill has led workshops for NASA, Accenture, Lenovo, CNN, Hugo Boss, SPANX, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bill’s insights about courage and risk-taking have been featured in over 100 newspapers and magazines, including the Washington Post, NY Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Boston Herald, and more.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Bill Treasurer Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Bill, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Bill Treasurer
Pete, I’m really delighted to be here and I’m looking forward to our time together.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, me, too. Me, too. And I want to go back in time a little bit to hear the story of you were invited to join the Metropolitan Opera in New York when you were 11 for singing. That’s impressive. What’s the story here?

Bill Treasurer
You know, I don’t know that I’ve ever spoken to anybody else about this. I mean, my mom knows it. But when I was 11 years old, I had a buddy who was already in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera and he was a good singer, and he and I would sing like John Denver songs together and such. And he said, “You know, you ought to come with me down to the Met because they’re looking to put people in their chorus for a Russian play that was going to be on Broadway or at the Met.” And so, I was like, “All right. Why not?”

So, I took the train down and I did a test run with the person playing piano there with him and the other people in the chorus, and got word, afterwards they called and said that they wanted me to be in the chorus. And then it became a decision, like, “Do I want this as my track? Do I want to sort of pursue singing operatically or do I want to go outside and play baseball with my buddies, and stickball and run around in the dirt like we had been doing up until that point?” So, I had a decision to make and, ultimately, I decided that the showbiz life, at least the operatic showbiz life, probably isn’t for me. So, I declined the opportunity.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now, imagine you must be pretty darn good at singing. I imagine they’re pretty selective even amongst 11-year-olds.

Bill Treasurer
I got some girlfriends in college.

Pete Mockaitis
Do you also play the guitar, that seems to be key?

Bill Treasurer
No, it’s interesting, I would sing when other people were playing guitar, but what’s really kind of, it truly is interesting, is that by the time I was 11 and a little bit later, I literally would sing John Denver songs with my buddies, and the most popular John Denver song that we would sing back then was the sing-a-long “Country Roads,” right? “Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong, West Virginia.”

And then, fast forward a little bit later, it’s actually where I ended up going to college. And I’m not from West Virginia, I’m from the suburbs of New York, but somehow singing that song so many times ended up plopping me into West Virginia. And, in fact, the very first football game at West Virginia University that I attended that fall, it was the opening of a new stadium. And who comes ala helicopter, lands at the stadium, and sings “Country Roads” but John Denver. So, it’s a nice sort of closure to the story.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, that’s quite poetic. It’s all meant to be. Well, so I want to talk a little bit about courage with you. And you’ve been working with this for a long time so much so that you’ve updated your book Courage Goes to Work after over 10 years. So, tell us, what do we need to know about courage going to work?

Bill Treasurer
Well, you know, the interesting thing is if you look at courage and you start studying it, as I did when I started writing the book, and I’ve started birthing my own business, and then it gave birth to the book, is this idea that courage is a virtue. And I’m not the first one to say that. In fact, if you rewind far enough, Aristotle called courage the first virtue because it makes all the other virtues

And throughout history, other great giants have talked about courage as being one of the premier, if not the premier of virtues. In fact, the Catholic Church calls it one of the four cardinal virtues. So, outside of work, courage has always been a preeminent virtue. And my question became, “Why would it be any different in the workplace?” Because a lot of workplaces are bastions of fear, but fear is the primary means of motivating people to get things done, sadly still, even in the 21st

And so, that becomes the right opportunity for the demonstration of  So, my whole contemplation in the book Courage Goes to Work was, “How do we take courage and apply it in the workplace not just outside as a virtue, but as the premier virtue of business and leadership?” So, if you think about it, Pete, to be a great business developer or salespeople, salesperson, means to knock on hundreds of doors in the face of rejection over and over again. That takes courage.

To be an innovator means to draw outside of the lines, experiment, make some mistakes, forward falling, to be an innovator. The greatest innovations almost always start out as blasphemy to what was before. So, to be an innovator takes courage. And then, finally, to be a leader means to render bold decisions that some people are going to disagree with and you’ve got to withstand the turbulence of that disagreement. Leadership takes courage. So, courage is essential to so many of the operating systems that make organizational life work.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, certainly. So, it’s critical. And then, tell us, why is it often missing?

Bill Treasurer
I think that for many of the reasons it’s missing outside in the world and so much of it has to do with fear and what do we do when we face, or fail to face, more accurately, fearful situations. What’s interesting in the things that I’ve learned and research about courage is that courage isn’
t the absence of  In fact, John McCain wrote a book called Why Courage Matters. It became an international bestseller.

And in the book, he says, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s acting despite the fact that you’re afraid.” So, if you think about that, it means that courage is fear-full, not fearless. You’ll see these bumper stickers on the back of trucks “No Fear. No Fear.” You know, no brains. That’s not courage. Courage, in fact, is fear-full but it’s acting despite the fact that you’re afraid, and moving through it with that

So, I think a lot of people walk away when they’re fearful, they get paralyzed, or they fight, flight or freeze. But what my work is suggesting, and a few others like John McCain, is that if you work through your fear, that’s the discovery of courage. In fact, you can’t be courageous unless the presence of fear is there. But the trick is to not run away from it, it’s learn how to contend

Pete Mockaitis
And so, what are your top tips for learning how to contend with it?

Bill Treasurer
Well, the first thing is, know what you want. I know that you’re based in Chicago. There’s a playwright in Chicago, his name is Ambrose Redmoon. He’s got another one of these quotes, he says, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the decision that you’ve got something more important than fear to get done.” So, the first thing is what I call the contemplation of the holy question. The four most important words that you’ll ever learn in the English language, “What do you want?” What do you want?

If you can answer that with precision, and it may start with first identifying what you don’t want, but figuring out the condition that you want, that you don’t yet have, in other words, identify a worthwhile goal, then that sublimates fear when the goal becomes more

And so, the first thing you’ve got to do is decide is, “What is that thing that is so important, that I don’t yet have, that courage will become the activation that will sort of help me take the steps forward to get that condition that I don’t have.” So,

So, it’s critically important that you have a goal that is really compelling that motivates you to move forward, and courage becomes the activation that sort of helps you close the gap between where you are today and that important goal that you want to get to. So, the first thing to do to activate your own courage is have a worthwhile goal to put your mojo, your courage mojo, to work

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Sure. So, once you got a worthwhile goal, what’s next?

Bill Treasurer
Well, the other thing is it helps to understand what I call the theory of least regrets. Understand that any risk, any big move that you’re considering comes with two risks. There’s the risk of action, but then there’s also the risk of inaction. And sometimes the risk of inaction is more dangerous but it happens over a lengthy period of time so it’s harder to

So, one key question to ask yourself is, “What will I regret the least? Taking this risk, doing this courageous thing, and maybe wiping out, or not taking this risk, and never knowing if I could’ve been successful had I done  You know, a lot of bar stools are warmed by the seat of a person, right now, everywhere in the country, who’s staring at the TV screen and yelling at the bartender, talking about how they could’ve been a contender, but they didn’t. They didn’t contend.

So, the idea is that the risk we regret the most are very often the ones that we didn’t  So, as you’re getting ready for a risk, to contemplate, “What is the thing that I will regret the least, maybe wiping out and trying it, or not wiping out but not trying it and never knowing if I could’ve been successful?”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Understood. So, we got the theory of least regret. And what next?

Bill Treasurer
Sometimes it’s good to objectify the subject of experience of a risk. So, a lot of times we’ll do this  We’ll do the pro and con list, and, “Hey, here’s the credit column. I might get this if I do this thing, and here’s the debit column,” and whichever one has the most on it we sort of go with.

But a better way to do it is what I call the worst-case grid. And you simply draw an X-axis and Y-axis and a scale ranging from 1 to 10 on both axes, and then say, “If this big move, this giant leap that I’m considering, doesn’t work out, what is the degree of badness? On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is

So, for example, I decided at one point to leave Accenture. Accenture is a great company. I had a six-figure job, I was well networked. If I had stayed there long enough, I would’ve moved into a senior executive, at the time partner role. But there was something unsatisfying about the experience of staying there. So, I decided to leave and start my own business, Giant Leap Consulting.

The degree of badness, had it not worked out for me, it’s not going to be death, right? For most people, whatever the big bad move, the big scary thing that you’re considering doing, that’s requiring courage, generally, is not going to be death. And death would be a

Pete Mockaitis
Right. And I guess I’m thinking my scale is bigger. I’m just thinking like the annihilation of humanity because it’s just your death, right? You’re just one life. I mean, if you’re working in a field like military, law enforcement, even food service, or transportation, you know, you can kill hundreds or thousands with your poor decisions.

Bill Treasurer
You know, I suppose if your big risk is that you’re going to put a new drug on the market that hasn’t been well-tested, I think that could be the case. Actually, it’s my understanding, this may be mythology, but it’s my understanding that Jonas Salk, who gave us the polio vaccine, that he first injected it to himself and to his own children, right? So, had that not worked out, people wouldn’t call him the hero that he ultimately became for helping eradicate polio largely.
So, the degree of badness in my case, had I left Accenture and had it not worked out, my wipeout would’ve been I would’ve had to have lived with my in-laws, right? So, my wife and I. I wouldn’t be in a soup kitchen, but if my business hadn’t worked out, for a little period of time, we would’ve had to go and live with my in-laws, and that’s not a 10, right? Like, that’s probably a 7.

So, as you consider the big bold move that you’re thinking about, first of all, identify what is the degree of badness. In my case, it was a 7, having to potentially live at my in-laws’ house. But then you also have to factor in the  And so, I looked at it, and said, “Okay, had I left Accenture and my business didn’t work out, the truth is I had worked with other entrepreneurs, I had taken night classes at Emory University, I already had a graduate degree, I had been in the workforce for over 10 years. All of those things lowered my metaphor to go high dive,” so I was able to look at it and say, “You know, the probability is probably a 2 or 3.”

So, then you just times your degree of badness, in this case 7, times your probability grid 3, and then you come up with a numeric value. For me, if it’s going to be below 50, as a numeric, as a number, I’m probably going to do the thing. If it’s above 50, I’m going to be at least more hesitant and more calculated, but probably I may not even do whatever the thing is. But the cool thing about the worst-case grid is it gives people an actual way of rationalizing and objectifying a subject of experience of taking a

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. And I suppose is there a corresponding sort of positive tone that you’re bouncing that against?

Bill Treasurer
Thank you for saying that. So, oftentimes, in my workshop, so in my courageous leadership workshop, I’ll have participants think about what is the next courageous move that they might be wanting to take. A good way to think about is to ask yourself, “Where am I playing it too safe in my career?” And that starts to point in the direction of their next courageous move. And then, after they do that, I’ll have them work through the worst-case grid. Most people like it because it’s a way to be very thoughtful and objective about it.

But then I’ll make sure that they close it by doing the other. Let’s flip it upside down and say, “Hey, what if this actually works out? What if I start my own business and I get to work with really cool clients and talk to really cool podcasters like Pete, and get to write books and such? That would be ideal. That’s—What’s the best case?” And that becomes, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 10 is sort of the life of my own design. What’s the probability? Same thing, I’ve got to put it through a probability factor and say, “You know, how much do I believe in myself?” So, it’s worthwhile to do it as a positive instead of worst 0-case grid, a best-case

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, thank you. So, I want to hear about a term you use, “comfeartable.” What does that mean and how should we think about it?

Bill Treasurer
So, I talk about it in the book that I think that sometimes we get into a low-level condition of dissatisfaction, a sort of a low-level dissatisfaction and, over time, we become tolerant of it. And, frankly, I think that many people get a low-level toleration of living in a constant state of fear and we become used to it, and we become a bit numb to it, we become comfortable with our fear, what I call

And when you’re a leader of people who have sort of grown apathetic and are no longer challenging themselves, and no longer willing to experience discomfort, then stagnation happens, and individual and organizational growth is thwarted. So, this idea that one of the enemies of management, in my opinion, is being “comfeartable” and having a number of employees around you who may have grown comfortable being in a low-level fear situation.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so, if you find yourself in such a spot, how do you shake it up?

Bill Treasurer
Well, I think that leaders can do a couple of things to sort of shake it up. The first thing is they’ve got to jump first. They’ve got to be role models of courageous behavior themselves. They’ve got to show their workforce that they can be the first one up and off whatever high-dive platform they’re asking other people to jump off of. So, being a role model, and ask yourself as a leader, “When’s the last time you had sweaty palms and did something that was exciting and scary at the same

The second thing is that you’ve got to create safety as a leader. Create safety. Physical safety, of course, right? We all want to work in a work environment where we don’t think that our lives are going to be threatened. But we also, as leaders, have to create psychological safety where people feel that they can voice their true opinions about things without you chopping their head

The third thing is a leader has to help people learn how to harness fear. So, the whole discussion that you and I had about moving through fear instead of running away from it, and learning to become comfortable with  Ginni Rometty is the CEO of IBM. She has a wonderful quote that she said at Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit. She said, “Comfort and growth don’t co-exist.”

So, you, as a leader, have to ensure that people recognize that, “Look, discomfort is part of it. It’s part of how we grow and progress, so learning and acquiring new skills and taking on new challenges that, in fact, make us uncomfortable is how you’re going to grow as an individual but how the organization is going to grow

And then the fourth thing, as a leader, to be modulating between comfort and discomfort. You’ve got to nudge people out into discomfort where they start getting their own sweaty palms, but you’ve got to let them stay there long enough to acquire new skills and then, as they start to acquire those skills and become too comfortable with them, you’ve got to move them back out into

As it relates to modulating discomfort, if you’re up for it, Pete, I can share with you a story about how that worked in my own life.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure. Yeah.

Bill Treasurer
And it becomes actually the genesis of my business, and it became the genesis of my exploration into the whole idea of courage and why I think courage is so important. But if you rewind far enough back in my own career, before all of it, like I was not a great athlete growing up. I wasn’t a great runner. I’m not very tall. I’m 5’7 1/2”. I’m not built for football. But I found springboard diving. Some friends were jumping around the pool one day, doing back dives and back jumps, and girls were looking at them, and I thought, “Whew, figure I’ll try that.”

And I did a back dive, and I pulled my leg around, and I did a back somersault, and none of my friends could do it. So, I got good on the low board as a one-meter springboard diver. Fast forward, colleges started to dangle scholarships in front of me. I grew up in Westchester, New York and I won the Westchester County diving championships three times, so colleges took an interest in me. But all those college coaches would say, “Bill, you’re a great low-board diver. We’re very interested in you. We do have some scholarship money, but tell us about your high-board list of dives.” I never bothered to learn high-board list of dives because I was, and am, petrified of heights.

So, I had a coach who said, “Look, do you want to try to get a scholarship?” I’m like, “Yeah, sure.” So, he would take me down to Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.

Pete Mockaitis
I have been there. I had spoken there.

Bill Treasurer
Had you been there? Have you?

Pete Mockaitis
It’s lovely. The gals.

Bill Treasurer
Yeah, you’re right. It is the gals.They’ve got a lot of Irish there in that part of New York. And so, Iona, to this day, it’s the only place that I know of that has a diving board, even to this day, built on a hydraulic lift. So, he could take the diving board and move it from one meter to one and a half meter. Now, I’m really uncomfortable, and I’m doing screaming belly whoppers, and I don’t want to go to practice, and I’m upset with him for making me do this. I’d get welts on the back of my legs.

But after a hundred dives, my heart starts to stop racing, and after 200 dives and 50 practices, it starts to get better. After like 300 dives, I started to get, oh, bored. Boredom’s a great clue. Boredom is a clue that it’s time to move people back out into discomfort. And what do you think my coach did at that point?

Pete Mockaitis
He gives the handy hydraulic lift to increase the height.

Bill Treasurer
You are a smart podcaster, my friend. Exactly. He moved it to two meters, and now I’m back to the heart racing, I’m upset with him, welts on my legs, etc. But through this process of modulating between comfort and discomfort, he would push me out into discomfort long enough where I could acquire new skills. And once I acquired the skills, I’d settle to that place, and I’d start to, eventually, become even bored, and that became the clue to move it

So, the long arc of the story is I ended up getting a full scholarship to West Virginia University. But, after that, I became a world-class high-diver and a member of the U.S. High-Diving Team, diving from heights that scaled to over 100 feet, travelling at speeds in excess of 50 miles an hour, into a small pool that was 10 feet deep, and I’m a high diver who, I already told you, is afraid of heights. So, this was the discovery of my courage.

Pete Mockaitis
Hotdog. Well, that is a nice metaphor there because you can see kind of very mathematically, as well as viscerally, “Oh, a little bit higher. Ooh, I feel that. A little higher. Oh, I feel that more.” And so, that’s there. And I suppose you could think about your own courage challenges in that kind of a way with regard to what’s a tiny step versus a big step, and all the steps in between? And maybe you can give us an example there. So, let’s say not sales because I think it’s almost too easy. I want to make you work for it, Bill. Let’s say in the workplace, it’s a common thing that people fear. And what would be the equivalent of the one meter, the one and a half meters, and then the 30 meters?

Bill Treasurer
Yeah, so good question and you’re right, by the way, this metaphor. It actually became the metaphor in my business Giant Leap Consulting. But now the whole business is about, “What high-dive are you facing and how can we help you take whatever personal or professional high-dive will move you forward?” And so, an example that I can think of is I did a 360-degree feedback with a group of leaders that I was working for. It was a cohort of about 25 people. And one of these leaders got some terribly harsh feedback, that he was a hothead, that he was ill-tempered, that he was dictatorial, like really scathing stuff.

And it slapped him upside the head as a 360-degree feedback will sometimes do with some people. And some people reject the feedback, they’re like, “Well, this is a bad time,” or, “You don’t understand I inherited the worst team,” and come up with excuses. But this leader really took it to heart. There’s an old saying that Gandhi said, he said, “The truth only hurts if it should.” And it did hurt him.

And it became, “What are we going to do? You just got all of this feedback about your leadership. You want to be a better leader. The company is investing in you, putting you in this leadership program. You’re managing huge consequential projects, some of it $50 to $100 million worth of project revenue that you’re managing. What are you going to do?”

And so, working, we decided with his boss that this person would get sort of extra attention, and we did a lot of one-on-one coaching together. And what it came down to was he was so fixated on production that he wasn’t making one-on-one time with his own direct reports, not about giving them direction for their jobs, but he wasn’t making any relationship-building time at all.

He was atypical, and I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but he was sort of engineering minded. It was all about production, it was all about the work schedule, it was all about the work breakdown structure, it was all about the P&L, and it had very little to do with the building strong relationships and interpersonal chemistry of his team so that he would have some goodwill and loyalty around him. He didn’t. He had people who wanted to go work for other people.

So, he had to sort of take emotional risks of being willing to focus on his own people and treating them in a more respectful and humane way, and worry less about production, and worry more about investing in emotional relationship. I know that sounds squishy but here’s how I know that it worked. It’s about five years later, I was leading a similar leadership program, in fact it’s the very same leadership program, but it was a different cohort going through it. And three of those people, out of the 25, were people who reported to him now.

And to a person, they were telling me what a great leader he was, what a great mentor, how much he developed them, how much he was so interested in his fair treatment of them. It was like an entirely different person. But the courage for him was the willingness to be uncomfortable in terms of not being fixated on P&L and production, that stuff was always going to be there, but to invest the time in the development and the attention-giving of his own people and building relationships with them. And it made all the difference. It made him whole. It made him sort of more emotionally-attuned and aware.

Pete Mockaitis
And the fear there it could show up in terms of, “Oh, my gosh, if I spent this time talking about this mushy relationship stuff, it’s like we’re not spending time making it happen, churning out production,” so it’s kind of scary. Or, “Boy, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Are they going to cry even if I really start listening to what’s going on with their lives? And I don’t know what to do with that.” So, that can be fearful there.

Bill Treasurer
Exactly. If I invested time, and I become interested in this person’s career and what they want to get out of their career, and what they want to get out of my time being their leader, and, hey, maybe even what’s going on in their own life if they want to share any of that. I might actually have to care about this person. They’re no longer just a “resource.” It’s a human being that I’m in relationship with, and now I care about, oh, man, if I care about them, I’m going to be obliged to them in a different way than I am if I’m just their “boss.” So, you’re right, it comes with a certain risk.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s hard to fire them, too, when you care.

Bill Treasurer
It’s hard to be hard, right. It’s hard to be tough. But I think what it does is it changes the equation. So many people in leadership roles it’s all about results, right? Like, if you don’t get results, you’re not going to stay a leader. We see it with professional coaches, for example. If you have enough of a losing streak, you’re going to get replaced. So, I get it, results matter.

But I think that we have to put the equation and make sure that it’s the treatment of people as the means to the ends of getting the result. But too many people, like this person, focused on the result, the result, the result, the ends, “Give me the ends. Give me the golden egg. Give me the golden egg. Give me the golden egg,” and cutting open that goose to get the golden egg instead of the treatment of people which is the means to getting the better production.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. And when you treat them you want to be clear that they don’t feel like they are means to the end alone, and that’s sort of like what they are to you. But, yeah, understood in terms of people are that which make it happen, so folks need to be treated well in order to see that occur. Now, I want to make sure we have a moment to talk about you’ve got a concept called three buckets of courage, and I know those are pretty interesting. Can you tell us about this?

Bill Treasurer
Sure. I think that when we think of courage as this big ambiguous topic, and we think, “Oh, man, courage. That’s huge. That’s for heroes. That’s for people with the machine guns charging up the hill in the theater of war. That’s for the person standing on the moon. That’s the person saving somebody’s life, or running into a burning building.” And that’s true. Courage has its place for heroics. But I believe that there’s a more tempered everyday experience of courage that’s accessible to all of us, and it helps to break down the idea of courage so that it’s not so ambiguous. And I break it down into three different behavioral buckets that I call the three buckets of

The first bucket of courage is the courage to try something you’ve not done before. It’s the courage of first attempts. It’s the courage of action. It’s the courage of initiative to cross this threshold and do this thing that other people may be doing, but for you it’s the first time. And because it’s the first time, there’s a degree of unknown across the threshold. So, I call this

You can think of the first time you drove a car, for example, when other people are on the road driving a car. But, for you, it was a petrifying experience. Or, the first time you moved into management, and you now had direct reports reporting to you, and it’s a foreign experience to you. You can draw from the experiences of others, but for you it’s the first time.

That’s different than the second bucket of courage. The second bucket of courage is the courage of vulnerability, emotional exposure, the courage of relationships, and I call this trust courage. It’s the courage entrust others and assume some degree of risk that they may betray you. Because when you entrust somebody, there’s always a chance that they could betray you, and then your judgment gets

So, for example, in the workplace, delegating a consequential, meaningful, substantial task to somebody, without pulling it back from them, and without hovering over them like a helicopter parent, but building up their skills and entrusting them so that they can be self-sufficient and self-reliant to do this task. There’s always a chance that they mess up and it becomes a reflection on your judgment. But this is the courage it takes to build relationships. And I find that the higher you go up in the organization, the less often you see the trust courage that’d be because I think that we become jaded over time because of betrayal.

The third bucket of courage is the one that we often think of when we talk about courage in the workplace. We think of the person with the shaky voice, standing up to authority, or getting the direct message when it’s really hard for them to do so. We call this the courage of the truthteller and the bucket, as the third bucket of courage, is tell courage. It’s the voice of assertiveness and truth-telling. We want people and we want leaders, especially, to be honest. But, as you know, Pete, we do a lot of socially-appropriate

When your spouse says, “Do I look fat in this dress?” Honesty, we say we want it but it’s kind of hard to give. Somebody raises their hand at a townhall meeting, “Are there going to be more layoffs?” And we’re told we’re not allowed to say. Honesty is a hard thing, so it takes courage to be the honest truthteller, knowing that the risk you assume is if you tell the truth, you might be excluded from the group and no longer belong.

So, each one of these buckets – try, trust, and tell – has some risks attached to it which is why it involves courage.

Pete Mockaitis
Now, I like that because they really are different phenomenon in terms of you may well find that you are ready to try anything, but you really are slow to trust. Or, you’ve got the audacity to sort of tell people what you think, no problem, but you’re worried about kind of doing something totally different outside of your world. So, I think that’s a really handy way to think about it in terms of what they share is this notion of courage and breaking out of the comfort to do something. But they all also have their own sort of nuances or flavors. So, tell me, do you have any pro tips in terms of each of these three? Like, if you want to be more courageous in each of the three buckets, what should you do?

Bill Treasurer
Yeah, that’s a good question, and you’re very perceptive. You’re right that each one of these, you can see the distinction between them, but you also see the reinforcement. And you’re also right that we tend to be stronger in one of those buckets than the others, and that’s great. That’s the area where you could give people mentorship, for example. But if your bucket is low in any of those areas, you’re likely to give people advice that comes from fear because your own bucket isn’t full in that particular  And each one has strengths and weaknesses.

So, in terms of advice, whatever advice that I would give people, would be to start small, right? Like, no high-diver goes up and does a 100-foot jump one time without doing a thousand jumps from one foot. So, I call these leadups, so start  So, for example, if you wanted to demonstrate try courage. A small way to do that, so doing something that breaks routine, breaks habit, a willingness to go to a different restaurant at lunch. Don’t go to the same haunt that you go to all the time. Take a different route to work. Break up your routines in small ways and it would give yourself mental permission to do so in larger more substantial

Trust. When it comes to trust courage, one thing you can do is sort of fill in the blank to this question, “I will trust you when…” When is it? What is the criteria with which you give a person  Some people are like, “I’ll trust you right off the bat. I always presume trust. And then if you screw up, then I will have a hard time trusting you.” Other people are like, “I will trust you after you prove to me you can be trusted.” And they’re sort of they’ll prove it, people need evidence.

But at least be conscious to know what is the criteria with which you will give people trust or withhold trust because it allows you to understand, “Is your standard too high? And would you maybe need to lower that standard so that you can build relationships quicker with

And then, for tell courage, to have the courage or voice or assertiveness, one thing I often suggest for people in lower-level positions who are struggling with a boss who might be dominant, is to go to your boss, or maybe even during your annual review, and say, “Boss, I just need to know. Do you need me to sort of agree with everything that you say? Do you need me to be a yes person? Do you need me to be a brownnoser?” And I’m telling you, 95% of bosses are going to be like, “No, I don’t want you to. Do not. You absolutely need to push

Pete Mockaitis
Bill, thank you so much for asking. Yes, please. Not all of these disagreements and critical thinking I have to do everywhere, it’d be so refreshing if you can just tell me what I want to hear constantly. Ah, that’d be nice.

Bill Treasurer
Right. So, this tip is all about establishing a ground rule with your boss that you won’t be a butt-kisser, and a brownnoser, and a yes person, because they don’t want you to be. They’ve, in fact, clarified that but then you’ve got to go a step further and say, “Great, boss. I’ll tell you what, I will honor this commitment. Can you do me a favor? Give me some coaching right now. When I need to disagree with you, how can I do that in a way that would be receptive to your

And then that person will give them advice, “Listen, don’t do it when I’m getting ready to walk into the board meeting. Don’t do it when you see 50 items in my inbox,” and they’ll give you some coaching so that when you fast forward six months from now, and you actually have to disagree with your boss, you can say, “Hey, boss, remember when we agreed during my performance review that you didn’t want me to be a yes person, and you gave me some coaching on how to give you feedback that you might need to hear, I’ve got some things to say to you right now that will honor the commitment that we made to each other.” So, it’s basically setting a ground rule where you’ve got permission to tell the truth to your

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. That’s good. Well, tell me, Bill, any key things you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Bill Treasurer
I think, for the listener, there are a couple of good old tiny questions to ask yourself, “When’s the last time you did something for the first time?” It’s a good question and it’ll allow you to think, “Hey, am I extending myself enough?” The other one, of course, is, “Where am I playing it too safe?” So, sometimes it’s like the thought experiments, there’s a few key questions like that that can help your listeners orient themselves to are they extending themselves enough.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Bill Treasurer
Well, I do like that quote from Gandhi, right, “The truth only hurts if it should.” I like that because it keeps me accountable to giving harder messages that I might need to deliver to my clients and/or to myself, right? Like, sometimes somebody will give me feedback, and my instant response is wanting to defend myself or to find something wrong with that person who gave me that feedback. But if I just sort of sit with that quote from Gandhi, “Yeah, you know, that hurt. Why did that hurt?” And then I start to think about, “What is the truth of what they said and why does it hurt me?” So, I like that quote. That’s a good quote for me.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Bill Treasurer
I’ll tell you one of my favorite books of all time. So, I do a lot of leadership development, designing, developing, and delivering comprehensive leadership programs. Some of them are two years long, these leadership programs. And I think that a lot of people in the practice of leadership development deify leadership too much. They put it on a pedestal. And I think it’s really important that practitioners of leadership development also be heads up about the dangers of leadership put in the wrong hands.

And one of my favorite books on this is by Stanley Milgram who did the famous Milgram studies, the shock studies, I’m sure you’re familiar with them. And he wrote a book called Obedience to Authority, and it shows you how willing people are to capitulate to authority figures with very small actual authority over them. They’re willing to sort of cede control to a person who tells them to do something if they’re wearing a lab coat, and don’t actually have leadership authority over them. It’s just a fascinating book about how quickly people will capitulate to authority figures.

And a quote in there about the banality of evil, or the topic of the banality of evil, that evil often is not acting courageously. And it’s sort of a yawn, it’s the sin of omission, right, that they don’t do the things they ought to do because somebody’s telling them not do it. They’re just following orders from somebody who doesn’t actually have any control over them.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yes. Thank you. And how about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Bill Treasurer
Well, I was going to say the worst-case grid. I also like the five Ps. And the five Ps allow you to contemplate, “Should I, shouldn’t I take this risk?” And, again, rather than a pro and con list, it looks at five different things. The first is passion, “Am I passionate about it? Does it give me energy to think about this? Does it give me positive energy to think about this big bold move that I’m contemplating this courageous action?” So, passion is the

The second P is purpose, “If I take this risk, is it going to move me forward? That a big bold move shouldn’t be about compensation, what will this risk get me?” It should be about destination, “Where will this risk carry me or take

Then the third P is principles, “If by doing this thing, am I embodying or upholding some principles or virtues that I hold dear and say that I’m all about? If I take this risk, is it, in fact, a demonstration of this principle put to

The fourth P is prerogative, “Am I going to take this because other people are telling me to, because my dad was a dentist and he wants me to become a dentist? Or am I going to take this risk because I’ve thought about it, and it moves my life forward, it’s an exercise of my own free will, this decision, should I, shouldn’t I get off this

And then the fifth P is profit, “Do I stand to get something? If I do this thing, what is the potential or reward for my life that could be redeeming somehow?” So, if I put something through the five Ps – passion, purpose, principles, prerogative, and profit – I’m in a much higher probability of having a successful outcome to this courage action than if I don’t, or that if I only put it through a pro and con

And notice, by the way, Pete, that I put profit last. If you put that first, it skews your thinking on everything and you make the risk all about, “What can I gain?” and you start chasing the shiny

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with your audiences and readers?

Bill Treasurer
I guess one nugget is it’s a quick story from a person that I got to work with on four occasions. She actually wrote the foreword to the original version of “Courage Goes to Work,” and her name is Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX. And Sara tells the story of when she was a little kid, her dad used to sit down at the dinner table with her and her brother, she was about 10 or 11 years old, her brother was a little younger. Her dad used to ask her a simple question at the end of every week, he’d say, “Okay, kids, what have you failed at this week? What have you failed at this week?”

And she learned at an early age that if you’re not extending yourself, even occasionally to the point of failure, then it’s going to be hard for you to be successful. And I think that’s sort of a good golden nugget again about the importance, the wiliness to move and to discomfort because that’s where the growth happens.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. And, Bill, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Bill Treasurer
I’d point them to a couple of the websites. One is BillTreasurer.com, another is GiantLeapConsulting.com. And since we’re talking about Courage Goes to Work, guess where they can go to find that?

Pete Mockaitis
CourageGoestoWork.com.

Bill Treasurer
You are a smart man, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Well, Bill, this has been a lot of fun. I wish you all the best and much courageous adventures in your future.

Bill Treasurer
Awesome. Well, thanks so much for having me on. I hope that your readers drew some value from it and I really enjoyed talking to you.

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