There are many kinds of leaders. Some push people forward to get to where they need to go, and others who lead people by pulling them. Bearj Jehanian talks about how to break down walls in her book and encourages business people to be the second type of leader. When you trust your team with your mission and give them permission to act along with you, everyone becomes more efficient and effective.
We’re going to talk about how to break down the walls of success. We all play that tug-of-war with time due to unproductive habits that keep us from maximizing the tools and resources that we have available to us. We’re going to speak with Bearj Jehanian about his new book, Break Down the Walls to Success. He’s going to share with us three key factors for success and what order to put them in.
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Break Down The Walls: A New Breed Of Leadership with Bearj Jehanian
I’m here with a Bearj Jehanian. He’s a transformational speaker, facilitator and trainer. Bearj, we’ve been friends for number of years, randomly meeting in Las Vegas. We were at a conference together and speaking.
I was invited to go to this thing called CEO Space in Las Vegas. I’d never been there before, so I saw the skyline of Las Vegas that weekend and that’s the most I saw. We were at this conference and we were both speaking at it. You were speaking before me. We had never met before. I saw you in the front of the room. I was standing in the back of the room waiting my turn. Just as you finished, you put your phone number up on the screen. It started with the same three digits as my phone number and when you’re 2,000 miles away, that’s like a next-door neighbor.
I said, “I should go meet this person,” but I had to speak next, so I couldn’t. You left, and you were gone and that was it. I thought, “I lost my chance,” but later that evening we both ended up at this party together. I introduced myself and we started talking and about a month later when we were home, we met for coffee at my favorite place, Wegmans, and we just hit it off. We’ve done some different things together since then. Who would’ve thought that in order to meet somebody who lives a few miles from your home, you need to travel 2,000 miles away to do it?
Sometimes that’s the way the universe works.
I think you’ve got to always stay open to those things.
I’d love for you to let people know who are you and what are you about.
I’m going to tell you something about who I’m not, and that speaks a lot to who I am because I’m not the guy whose arm got stuck in a canyon and I had to cut it off. I’m not the person who swam across some ocean somewhere and had to swim with the sharks. I’m not the person who got to the top of Mount Everest. I’m not the person who almost froze to death because they got lost and found their way back. I’m not that person. I’m like every other person. I’m not that normal person out there that wanted to escape the doldrums of life, that wanted to have more, than wanted to live in to their best self, that wanted to become that person that they always knew they could be.
I didn’t have to go through some great adversity to do it. I’m just like everybody else, and that’s what is really important to me when I speak, that I can connect with people because I’m just like them. I didn’t do this spectacular thing that everyone in the audience is entertained by listening to, but when they leave they think, “That didn’t happen to me. I don’t have those things to overcome. It doesn’t really speak to me.”I’m the relatable guy. I’ve got a hoodie on. I do regular things.
Tell us a little bit about your background, your regular, everyday guy, kind of background.
I grew up just outside of Philadelphia and I never knew what I wanted to do. I had zero clue. My mother was always telling me about new jobs that there were, and she was constantly bringing me the “Help, Wanted” section of the newspaper. I went to Temple University for music education. I graduated from Temple. I still wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do in education, but I fell into a job as a high school band director at Marple Newtown High School, which was just down the road from where I grew up. I did that for thirteen years. I would say that in those thirteen years, that was when I grew up. That was probably the time of my life, it was the greatest education for me because I learned from my students. I learned more during that time than I did at any other thirteen years of my life.
All of my students were constantly giving me feedback. In the first couple of years, I didn’t want to listen to their feedback, but I eventually realized that maybe these kids have something to offer because I realized at the beginning, I’ve got all of the high achievers in the band. I’ve got all the kids who were in every activity, every sport, they’re in the band, they’re achieving every single day. I realized, “I was over-matched. Maybe I should listen to them.”In addition to that, I had one of their parents, who was very big into personal development, come to me one day and handed me a book called The One Minute Manager. When I read that book, it opened up the world of personal development for me.
I began to read and learn and deliver my message to my students in a different way. I started to listen in a different way and realize that it was more about what I could do for them rather than what they could do for me. When you first start, you’re young, you’re excited, you’ve got this big position as a high school band director, and there’s some ego that’s attached to that. As you know as well as I, the less ego you have involved in something, the better you are, the more you can achieve, the more you make yourself about other people. As Zig Ziglar said, “The more people you help get what they want, the more you get what you want.” I learned that during that time.
The One Minute Manager helped you to listen in a different way and to be more focused out on other people and let go of the ego. How can that help somebody to take back time?
It’s really simple because when you do things the right way, your life is more efficient. When you stopped doing the things that are not going to work and you start doing the things that do work, life becomes more efficient and you can achieve your goals faster. The kinds of things I talk about aren’t how to organize your day. During the day, this is when you open your emails. I’m not talking about that type of thing. I’m talking about big picture organizational things in your mind and in your heart so that you know what it is you want, and you know the activities you need to take to get there. That book helped me to stop the things that were slowing me down and start doing the things that were speeding me up. Stop doing the things that we’re slowing down the progress of my band and start doing the things that were going to accelerate my students’ progress and my progress because their progress was my progress.
Give us an example, so that people can really relate to what that means. You said you wanted to stop doing some of the things that we’re slowing down. What was one or two things that were slowing you down?
Let me tell you what my goals are first so that it makes sense because we’ve always got to have a goal in mind. You got to have a target in mind for where you want to go. One of my goals was to achieve a specific level of musicianship and to be able to win certain awards in a marching band season, to be able to get a certain rating. That’s what we did back in those days. We were looking for this rating called a Superior rating. That meant we were performing at our top level and that’s what I wanted to do. I want to be able to consistently have my band get those ratings because that meant we were achieving at a high level.
The Esprit de Corps award was the other side of what my goal was, to get an award like that someday, which meant that not only were we achieving at a high level of musicianship, but we were achieving at a high level of individual-ship. I don’t mean it in a musical way. It has everything to do with who we are as people. When we achieve that award, to me, that was the ultimate thing because I was teaching them how to be better people. That showed that there were better people and that they were great musicians at the same time. Those two things, in conjunction, were my goal and we were able to achieve that. We got the musicianship thing first.
What did you have to stop to get there? We all have habits that if we look at the goal that we’ve set for ourselves, we know that we’re not doing what it takes to reach that goal and that we’re going to have to change something. We’re going to have to stop doing something and we’re going to have to start doing something else. I know that’s easier said than done, but what did you have to stop?
For me, there are two types of people in the world. There are leaders and there were managers. When I started as a band director, I was a manager. I was telling people what to do. I was pushing, and I was pulling. When I became a leader, and I believe leaders do this, leaders create vacuum behind themselves that pull people in behind them and then they can lead them. When I became a leader, at that point, was able to allow my students to step into leadership roles as well because I wasn’t threatened by that. My students began to step into leadership roles and also imitate the way I was leading.
Because of that, that culture infiltrated the entire band. I could accomplish things so much easier because I didn’t have to tell anyone what to do. They naturally did the right things because they were following whatever one else was doing. It made it a really simple way to progress forward. I literally would start my rehearsals with me in the band room. As my students got there, they came and got their instruments. They went down to the football field and I was the last person to go down there. When I got down, they were already on the football field rehearsing. I didn’t start it. They started it.
I want to relate to the entrepreneurs that it’s the same thing. When you’re running your business and you are a micro-manager and you are on top of people or you’re doing it all yourself, you’re not optimizing the way that you’re doing things. You’re slowing yourself down. When you give yourself permission to let go and let others lead and really bring their creativity and empower them to be those leaders and you set the vision and help them to remove obstacles that are in their way and keep them moving forward, you’re going to achieve much greater levels for you entrepreneurs in your business because you’re doing things easier. You’re in the flow.
Everyone’s of like mind by that point.
They can get behind you or otherwise it’s like a dictatorship and then it’s not a team.
It’s easier in business because with the band, every year, I had a new set of leaders because the leaders that I had graduated and then I had a new set of leaders. There had to be a culture throughout for that to be consistent from year to year. In business, you have a slower turnover. It’s not all at once and it’s a lot easier to get to the consistency of leadership in a business.
Does the culture change every time new people come in? You’re constantly reinforcing and practicing that and creating the culture that you want to have in your business or in your family and your community, it’s all the same.
When people change, the culture should change a little bit because the people are different. The leader at the top has to be accepting of that as well. As long as the production is still there, allow that culture, as long as it’s positive, to change as well. Maybe you have Taco Tuesdays for two years and then as the culture change, suddenly it’s Paleo Thursday.
That brings another point for Take Back Time is that flexibility will help you to accomplish things faster than being so rigid and having to do things the exact same way because things change, and you have to adapt as things change.
We all fall back into that routine of being a manager. It’s a constant struggle to not manage people because it’s so easy to say, “Do this,” because our parents taught us that. “Do this because I said so.” We’re taught that as a kid, so it’s ingrained in us to do that. It was my second last year, 1998, I think it was. We were going to Disney World. We’re going to march in the Epcot Center parade. There’s a big lake in the middle and have that giant globe and we had a show stop that we would be performing in front of the globe. We had this great piece that we’re doing called Malagueña. We’ve been playing it since marching season.
It was a huge hit in the community. People would literally come to the football games just to hear that song and then leave. The traditional Thanksgiving football game, everyone stayed until halftime lined the side of the field to watch the band play. They didn’t go get hot dogs. They watched the band play Malagueña. When we were done, the place emptied out. There was no one left. That was unbelievable. They were there to see that. That’s how much of a hit that piece was. We were playing that as the show stop because it really wasn’t something you’d play in a parade. We had a march around lake and then for the show stop, we were doing Malagueña. The problem was my students weren’t practicing the march. They were only practicing Malagueña because that’s the only thing that they really liked. The march was okay, but they really love Malagueña, so they were practicing that.
As the weeks went on and we got closer and closer and they weren’t practicing the march, I began to threaten them. “If you don’t practice the march, we’re not playing Malagueña.” The more I said that, the less they practiced it and the more I said it, the greatest the divide was between us. Until about two weeks beforehand, I realized this group of kids who I was so close to just a month or so ago is angry at me. They’re carrying a burden on their shoulders. They’re upset. They’re not doing what I want them to do and we’re not getting anywhere. This isn’t working. We had a meeting, which we have all the time before we went on any trips with the parents and I decided I’m going to bring my students separate into the band room, so the parents were in the auditorium for the meeting. I brought my students into the band room. I took out all the chairs and we sat on the floor together. I have to apologize because sometimes you have to do that as a leader.
I said, “I’ve been pushing you to learn this march, and the reality is it’s my responsibility to teach you the march. It’s not your responsibility to learn it. It’s mine to teach you. I’m the one who chose it. I’m the one who decided all of this, so I’m the leader and I’m going to help you in any way that I need to. Whatever help you need, if you want to have one-on-one lessons with me, if you want to have sectional rehearsals with me, if you want to schedule another big rehearsal for us, I’ll do it. I’ll be there. You just tell me when, where and how, and I’m here to support you because that’s my job and no matter what, we are playing Malagueña because I already decided that as the leader.”
You could feel the weight lifted off their shoulders. From that day forward, they began practicing the march. They never asked me for rehearsal time. They never asked me to work with sectionals. They’ve figured it out themselves. They did it on their own because I led them there and I told them, “I have your back,” and that’s what a leader’s job is, to have someone’s back. I did that, and I figured that out in that moment that I wasn’t doing what I had been doing and it changed the culture immediately within a moment.
We were talking about habits that slow us down. If we relate it back to that is that, we’d go back to old habits sometimes and we go back into behaviors or we fall out of what I call the productivity zone from time-to-time because we get caught up in something that isn’t serving us. You did exactly what we get to do in every context of our life is to recognize what’s in the gap, what’s not working. You took time to reflect and to think about, “What’s not working here and what’s my role in this so that I can help to find a solution?” The quicker that we can do that is to be aware and take time to reflect, the faster that we’re going to be able to shift from an unproductive behavior back into a productive behavior. Your new book is out, Break Down the Walls. I know you’re doing your speaking all over the place in high demand about your book. What led you to write this book?
I’d always wanted to write a book, number one. I had a lot of different ideas and different iterations of what it would be like. I find a real high standard as anyone who’s writing a book does. That’s probably the hardest part to get that focus. Once I had the focus on what this should really be about, and that’s helping people, that’s how I came up with Break Down the Walls to Success. Everyone wants to be successful no matter what it is that you do, whether it’s being a parent, being a good neighbor, being successful in school, being successful at your job, starting a new business, being an athlete, it doesn’t matter what it is you do, you want to be successful at it.
A lot of people approach success in reverse. We take the action and we tell ourselves, “If I take this action and it works, then I’ll believe in it and I’ll do more.” The problem is that’s backwards. As soon as there’s a struggle, and there will be a struggle, that is guaranteed on any venture. It doesn’t matter what it is, there will be a struggle. If you are taking action without the belief, when you hit that struggle, you’ll do this thing we call quit. The majority of people in the world quit things all the time because they have yet to formulate that belief in themselves or that belief in their skills or that belief in their services or that belief in the relationships that they have.
To me, you’ve got to build beliefs. My book is about the three pillars of success in a specific order: believe, decide and then act. We talk about time and a lot of people think ‘fast’ when we talk about time. We’ve got to do this correctly. That means I’ve got to move with speed. To me, it’s about the shortest distance between two points. It’s not about the speed, it’s about efficiency. When you do things in an efficient way, you get to your result quicker. You might feel in the beginning if you’re taking action that you’re getting there faster, but eventually you’re going to quit. You’re never going to get there anyway. I talk about building belief and belief, to me, is like the root system of a tree. For example, a Redwood grows hundreds and hundreds of feet tall, you’ve got to have a strong root system because that tree has to withstand the weather, so it needs a good support system and it needs nutrients to grow that tall.
That’s what roots do. They grow deeps to support you in those times when there’s a struggle and they feed you to continue to grow, and that’s what belief is all about. It’s about reading the right materials. It’s about getting around the right people. It’s about doing those things to create a mindset of success for yourself that you can achieve things no matter what, that if the hurdle comes in front of you, you can get past that by going around it, over it, under it, or through it. Get to the other side. You’ve got to build belief first. In my book, the first half of the book is about building belief. That’s the biggest section of the book, and then making a decision because I think
Without belief, you are going to end up in a place of self-sabotage. You can take action, but if you don’t believe that it’s true or possible, then there’s some sort of sabotage that’s going to go on in the background that’s going to break down in whatever it is that you’re creating or it’s going to build up a wall.
You’re either building a wall or you’re breaking it down. One or the other, there’s no in between. It doesn’t just sit there. You’re either building it taller or you’re breaking it down.
These are ways that we break down the walls. It’s by starting to believe in our self and the possibilities. You were going to talk about decide.
Decide is that big trunk that’s coming up out of the ground. What decide means is you take the last four letters of the word decide. It’s the same four letters in pesticide. It’s the same four letters that end homicide. It means to put an end to something. To make a decision means the old you is no more and there’s a new you. The way you thought before does not exist any longer. You don’t go back in that direction. You’ve decided something else. You’ve decided you’re going to open a Pilates studio. You don’t try to do it, you’ve decided to do it. There’s a difference between those two things, but the problem is most people use those words synonymously.
They say, “Decide,” but what they really mean is, “I’ll try it and if it’s too hard I’ll stop because it’s okay if I stop.” All my enabling friends will say it’s okay or pat me on the back and say, “As long as you tried, that’s all that mattered.”How would you feel if you got up on an airplane and when the flight got above about 10,000 feet, the pilot got on and said, “Hello, ladies and gentlemen. This is your pilot speaking. We’re above 10,000 feet. Please keep your seatbelt fastened. However, if you need to get up and use the restroom, you’re free to do that. There’ll be cocktail service in the aisles by the flight attendants. When we get to Los Angeles, I’m going to try to land the airplane.”How would you feel about that? I’m looking around for a parachute. Is there anybody here that’s a pilot that can actually fly this plane and land it? You’re expecting this pilot will put the plane in the air and land it safely. You’re expecting nothing less, and if you expect that of someone else, why don’t you expect it of yourself for your own life?
From my perspective, I actually wrote a chapter that decision making is the heart of productivity because it moves us forward. Think about the times when you have to make a decision. It removes procrastination and it also removes perfectionism. The two of them are outside of the productivity zone where we’re over functioning or under functioning and they’re all impaired decision making. We want to over analyze something because if we make the decision to submit it, then we’re going to be judged or it’s not going to be good enough and so we’re just going to keep working it or we avoid it all together and don’t decide and don’t move forward at all. Deciding is a driver of moving us forward into a distinct deliberate direction. “I’m not going here, I’m not going there.”
It’s very clear. That’s not to say that you can reflect in three months or six months with new feedback that you’ve received and decide to make another change, but you’re in that way forward. I can from a personal perspective, when I wasn’t sure if I was going to get divorced or not, it wasn’t indecision. Indecision was so stressful. It creates so much stress on us and in various different contexts in your business, when you’re not clear and you’re not making decisions, you’re stressing other people. You’re passing that stress along as if it’s like secondhand smoke. Deciding really frees you up to create more focus, more clarity, and more direction.
You talked about making new decisions. It doesn’t mean you’re changing what your goal is. Changing your decision doesn’t change your goal. Your goal is your goal. If your goal is to open a Pilates studio, that’s still your goal. You may find that, “The place I wanted to open it is not the right place,” or, “The timing is incorrect,” or, “I’ve got to find new people to work with,” or, “I’ve got to design the studio differently.” Your goal is still your goal. The path you get there is maybe a little bit different. If you’re flying from Philadelphia to Los Angeles on a flight, when the pilot sets the course, there could be certain things that happen that caused him or her to change the direction that they’re flying to Los Angeles in and make some diversions, and that’s okay. They may even need to land at some point before they get there. That’s all okay to do, but your goal is still your goal. Your goal hasn’t changed. You haven’t changed your mind with that. You’ve stayed singularly focused on that goal, but your path to get there may change.
You’re adapting the feedback. Heavy winds might be a form of feedback. Someone has a heart attack and the plane. That might be why you have to land. It might be some feedback that happened in the environment around us. That’s decide. Tell them about the last part.
It’s act. Chapter 26 in my book is called Act Like You Don’t Know What You’re Doing. For a lot of people, that’s counter-intuitive. Here’s what I mean by that. When you are taking action, it’s important to be able to take the right actions. This falls right into line with being productive. Act like you don’t know what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, what are you going to do? You’re going to ask for help. Meet people, talk to people who have been there and done that already. Tony Robbins says, “If you want to be successful with something, find someone who’s already done what you’re doing. Do the same thing as them and you’ll have the same results.” Act like you don’t know what you’re doing and follow the same pattern, the same ideas, the same concepts that other people have so that you can do the same thing that they’ve done because they’ve already done it.
He said, “Success leaves clues” Follow the clues, take the bread crumbs. Why should you recreate the wheel when the path already exists? It’s a great book and I highly recommend that everybody get it. Tell the people how to get it.
If you go to SuccessBook31.com, you can get the book right there. It’s not available on Amazon. It comes directly from me. I actually will sign and personalize every book too. This book is for people who are in the beginning stages of entrepreneurship, people who are in the beginning stages of personal development. If you’re an entrepreneur and you have not been reading personal development books, this is a great book for you. This will teach you the different steps you need to get into the mindset of positivity.
It says 31 steps to transform yourself and your career into the life you deserve because they’re generally 31 days in the month. You can read one chapter and just a few minutes every single day, apply that chapter on that day. Over the course of a month, change your outlook, change your mindset, change your attitude, change yourself from being negative to being positive, change yourself from being unproductive to more productive. It can be that simple.
Our audience are here because you want some tips, some tools, some strategies so that you can be more efficient and effective in everything that you do so that you can have more time to do the things that you love, to make a greater impact in this world, to spend more time with the people that you want to be with, doing the things that you want to do. Thank you for being here. It is always a pleasure. Thank you all for being here. We’ll see you on the next episode. This is Penny Zenker, take back your time.
About Bearj Jehanian
Bearj Jehanian is a highly sought-after Keynote Speaker and Workshop Leader who can speak for groups ranging from 20 – 20,000+! He will inspire, motivate and equip your Leaders and Team to have World Class Success! Bearj believes that Breaking Down the Walls to Success is the key in every area of business, leadership and life.