I have to admit feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of writing this week’s email.

The latest step in the BackleyBlack Mindsetting programme (Influencing and building effective relationships) is such an enormous topic that it was almost impossible to know where to start. Indeed, I felt that Steve and Roger could have easily spoken for a couple of hours on this week’s video.

Ultimately, there are three types of relationships you will have in business. Those with someone with more knowledge and experience than you (perhaps a boss or mentor), those with your peers and colleagues and associates and those with those who work for you when you become the boss or mentor and build a team.

So let’s start with the first one shall we?

Even those of you who aren’t football fans will probably know the name Pep Guardiola, current manager of Manchester City, formerly manager of both Barcelona and Bayern Munich and possibly the most successful football manager of all time. Or at least on the way there.

The Spurs fans will know the name Mauricio Pochettino once of their parish, now manager of Qatar-owned (and filthy rich of course) Paris St. Germain and considered to be one of the best young managers in the world.

On Wednesday, these two men pitted their wits against each other in Paris in the Champions League semi-final first leg. The return takes place on Tuesday.

But far more interesting in my eyes is the man who connects them. A quirky almost eccentric character from Argentina named Marco Bielsa.

Bielsa is a visionary. The style he developed was different to almost any other coach of the past 20 years. Pochettino was one of his players. When Guardiola decided he wanted to be a coach he made a 5,000 mile trip (pilgrimage perhaps!) to meet Bielsa in Mexico and absorb as much as he could.

There are visionaries in all walks of life.

Their vision inspires the revolutionaries to make the change.

The revolutionaries give way to those who then set out to consolidate, dominate or monopolise. For good or sometimes bad. Marx’s vision, Lenin’s revolution, Stalin’s Soviet Union controlling half the richest continent in the world.

Or Guardiola’s football teams winning trophy after trophy.

Sometimes the visionary monetises their vision. Sometimes they die penniless. For every Picasso there is also a Van Gogh.

Most successful people are neither true visionaries, revolutionaries, dominators or monopolisers.

But they are pragmatists; capable of absorbing new ideas, adapting, polishing and reacting quickly.

In football perhaps Guardiola is the greatest pragmatist of all. Capable of fusing every great idea that comes across his line of vision and dispatching all those other ideas which don’t improve what he already has. Constantly searching for all those marginal gains which improve, improve, improve. Always searching for perfection.

The world of football management and coaching is littered with disciples of Bielsa. In fact, his number of disciples is probably what brought him to popular attention and resulted in Leeds United headhunting him as their manager.

But this stuff won’t just rub off on you all on its own.

One visionary teacher can only inspire those who are open to be inspired.

And even those who are inspired might only be inspired to do rather than to learn.

The truth is that most people over the age of 30 don’t really want to learn anything new. They’re scared of finding out that they could have been doing it better all along. Scared of finding out that the thing they need to do to improve the situation they are in is the one thing they don’t want to do. Frightened to admit to someone else that they don’t know it all.

So they justify it with cost reasons or lack of time.

Of course, your contact with true visionaries, revolutionaries or even world class pragmatists may be at best fleeting or via books, podcasts, webinars or TV. Your opportunities to learn from them limited.

But just because the people you would ideally like to learn from are not easily available, that doesn’t mean you can’t find them especially in this day and age. Check your history on YouTube. Is it full of Ted Talks or videos of cats that look like Hitler?

You don’t even have to learn from the experts. You can learn from anyone.

When I mentioned to my daughter that she hadn’t responded to the question in the family WhatsApp group she apologised and said she never looks at WhatsApp. In the background, her friend said “no-one under 30 uses WhatsApp anymore”. Illuminating.

We all need relationships where its about us learning and someone else teaching whether its from someone like us with more experience or someone with less experience than us in everything but the one thing that is holding us back. Like technology or understanding of marketing techniques in social media.

All you have to do is ask.

Every successful man or woman has the main hand in their own education. They go ask questions. They’re inquisitive.

And generally speaking, most of the people they ask will tell them what they want to know.

Most human beings love giving advice about something they know more about than the person asking the question. It makes us feel good, massages our egos, boosts our self-confidence. All the other person has to do is ask.

That’s what Guardiola did. He called up Bielsa and he flew out to Mexico to meet him. And the rest is history.

Have a good weekend.

Interview with Steve Backley and Roger Black

Deeper thinking ~ Influencing & Building Effective Relationships

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Malcolm Palmer


Managing Partner

01474 853856

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