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Turn Your Thoughts Into Tools with Byron Low

Byron Low is known as the, “technical guy who has the ability to connect”. While he is an introvert and process oriented, he thrives on solving problems with his clients. His entire career has been dedicated to improving the lives of others, now you can listen to Byron and during this episode you can learn:

  • How curiosity can be a driver in your life and work
  • How introverts can be as creative and entrepreneurial as extroverts
  • Career decisions are made from necessity as well as design – and that’s ok
  • Being interestING isn’t enough – you need to be interestED.
  • How you take your thoughts – and turn them in to tools!

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Music: ” Upbeat Party ” by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

Read the full episode Transcript Below:


Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

On today’s show, we have coaching catalyst, the technical guy with the ability to connect. It is Byron Low. Before we have a chance to speak with Byron. It is The Leadership Hacker News

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: In the news today, wherever you turn to receive your news, you are likely to bump into the phrase “new normal”. What is the new normal? I asked this question to a group of my professional colleagues, network and associates to evaluate what hasn’t happened yet – the future, a label of a new normal as to whether that helps us or holds us back? Labels can often be referred to guises, mind-sets and other things that help us frame how we see the world and how we respond; and that’s really important if we’re trying to make a change or a step change in how we behave in order to change our behaviour.

However, when we start thinking about strategically, giving labels could often send us to thinking back to what normal was vs. new possibilities and new thinking. Overwhelmingly, the research I found through my network suggested that it was unhelpful to give the “new normal” its credence in our current status quo because it was helping us to refer back to biases, and of course, what’s happening isn’t normal and is unlikely to be normal because normality, as we knew things in the past, is never going to be how things will be in the future. In order to think strategically and thoughtfully, it’s high time now to accept things how they are, adjust our approach because life will go on and what is normal tomorrow might not be normal the day after. What is not normal the day after could be completely different. So let’s drop the labels of “new normal”, let’s just focus on how things are,  be present, be in the moment and control what we can control.

On a lighter note, from the not so normal, Loch Ness Monster watchers around the world are intrigued to find that in this period of lock down that Nessie has made a reappearance. A 55-year-old Irish hospital clerk caught what he believes is the legendary creature. Caught on camera it swam around the Irish loch on Monday. The official Loch Ness monster sightings register. That is right, there is one! confirming the footage, which shows something unexplained emerging from the Urquhart Bay at around 8:11 a.m. It is only the second sighting of the Loch Ness monster this decade. And I wonder, is that normal? Or just the new normal? That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, insights or information you would like to share with our listeners. Please get in touch through our website or our social media channels.


Start of Interview

Steve Rush: On today’s show, I have got coaching Catalyst, Byron Low. He has been a coach for twenty-five years, been included as part of strategic leadership of twenty two plus start-ups. And he’s the technical guy that people connect with. Byron welcome to the show.

Byron Low: Thanks, Steve.

Steve Rush: So twenty-two start-ups. Twenty-five years as a coach. That is an inordinate amount of experience to be able helping you and your clients with, but for you, your first business entrepreneurship, if you like, started when you were in high school. Tell us, a little bit about that?

Byron Low: Yeah. Ever since I was a little kid, I have been one of those people that was curious and interested in a lot of things. Steve, I was the kid that read encyclopaedias and I am sure I know that in Europe you all have encyclopaedias. But in America, that was not a popular thing to do. I read encyclopaedias as a as a child, so that always gave me this…I have and always have had this very voracious appetite for knowledge. I will give an example.

When I was younger, we had a family set of encyclopaedias. But ask him for us a special kind of encyclopaedia called Jane’s Encyclopaedia of Aviation. And he said, What is that? I said, well, it is a special encyclopaedia of just airplanes. And he looked at me like, what? Why would you want that? Well, I learned when I was a kid that my dad grew up on the eastern seaboard, of The United States, and when he was a kid. He had these cards and I got to see them. There are these cards that were the silhouettes of all of the German of the axis powered and also the allied powered airplanes, and the silhouette was looking down on it. You could see the actual airplane, and that really led me to this interest in just learning about that. So I learned all about World War 1, World War 2, all the aircraft and I had them all memorized, and I also learned about all manufacturers from, you know, from the very, very beginning. So I learned about all the different kinds of cars. My curiosity was always very, very strong, and that led me to want to start different kinds of businesses and I have always been kind of very kind of entrepreneurial. When I was even younger before high school. I was the one that kind of organize the youth activities and sports in my neighbourhood. I help people kind of get together and do things and even then, I was an introvert and I am still an introvert. But there was something there that was very enterprising.

Steve Rush: And enterprising I guess, comes from those thoughts you are having. So introverted people will take on that information, energy and power from their internal source where extroverted people obviously get their energy from external sources and people and surroundings. But that’s not atypical for entrepreneurs to be coaches, is it? How did you wrestle with the internal dialogue that was saying, “I am introverted, but yet I still need to be extroverted and go out and find new things and new ways of working?”

Byron Low: That is a good question! I think even when I was younger; I was drawn to athletics, even though I was kind of a nerd in a sense or even as a boy, a technical person. I very much was drawn to being athletic and being involved in sports. I remember my family originated – you know, they are all in northern U.K. in Scotland. And I remember learning about cricket and even rugby and obviously football, your football and I remember having learning that I had cousins in Scotland, but I wanted to learn about their game. But I didn’t really have any context for learning that, but for me, it was about learning the American sports of football, basketball and baseball and tennis, which were all the things that I played. The world of athletics is an external world and you can be an introvert and be an athlete. Absolutely, but that’s really kind of how I bridged the gap with my internal world. Because you’re right, introverts have this very, very large interior world. Mine as an introvert, It is vast and how I made the connection to the external world was through sports. And I absolutely love sports and I learned how to affiliate with others through sports, and it still is, it is a love of my life. I mean, I am actually very, very much missing that today because there are not any sports right now. I actually have a son who is 16, who is a baseball player and he very much wants to be a competitive baseball player someday. I am actually living through him; I can see in him what I had when I was younger in this intensity of wanting to be a better athlete.

Steve Rush: So your exploration of other people and other activities is your external energy, I guess, right?

Byron Low: That is right. I think my externality came in two places. It came both in academics working either with my classmates, because I remember even when I was in school, I remember a time when I was a freshman, I was taking a class in physics and learning about physics. And there was this one time where I was answering the questions in physics, but I was answering them in Spanish because the class I had before Physics was Spanish, so instead of putting velocity, I answered that the question of physics velocidad. So that became kind of a joke between me and my physics teacher. It was just simply that external world of academics and also the external world of sports in school that was really kind of where I was able to connect with people, so to speak.

Steve Rush: Got it, so then you progressed from high school, interestingly, what was the business you created in high school?

Byron Low: It was real simple. I had a friend in high school, whose family owned land, and they had a lot of trees on their land, and his grandfather actually had a wood splitter, which once you get the tree, you fill the tree and you knock it down and you chop it up with a chainsaw. You put the segments of the tree and a splitter and it literally splits those segments into firewood. It was a firewood making business.

Steve Rush: Brilliant, so from there then the technical side, that technical curiosity that you share earlier, that led you into moving into the field of engineering, right?

Byron Low: Yeah, I worked as an engineer for a few years with a company in Phoenix, Arizona called Garrett Turbin Engine Company. They were private; they were not a defence contractor, they were a private company that made small jet engines for private aircraft. That company eventually was purchased by another company, and I’m not even sure today if those engines are even in existence because our biggest competitor is a massive company out of the East Coast. It was a fun time, one of my most fond memories was… there was a time when we were working together as engineers. I think about, you know your basic cubicle setup and there was this one particular instance where I came across a problem where I thought I had a differential equation, and a differential equation is a specific kind of math problem and I called it out, “I think I’ve got a differential equation” and everyone around me came over to look at it and right then, because we are going to talk later about how to turn thoughts into tools and this is an example of how to turn thoughts into tools. I had a thought at that time. Oh, everyone is interested because it was kind of rare to run in this differential equation in real life work situation. We are not math class we are bunch of engineers. Every single guy that was on this little problem solving exercise, and again, I’m the youngest guy but I get everyone together, and we were all in this big area and everyone has as a blank piece of paper.

And it was going to be a race. Who is going to solve the problem first? And I happened to be standing behind a guy from Iran and a guy from Bangladesh, and they both started to answer this differential equation, and I knew how to solve the differential equation and I could see my other American colleagues trying to answer the differential equation. But when I looked over the shoulders of these two men who we’re doing the same thing, the way they went about it was absolutely bizarre to me, which led to another conversation where these two guys ended up sharing with everyone else there. And no one knew that the way these guys thought of math and numbers was completely different than everyone else. The point is, is that the way that the gentleman from Iran, the way the gentleman from Bangladesh and then there was even another guy from Nepal, another guy from India, they all had very, very similar ways of answering the question. I promise you the answer, they question, they answer, the problem but they almost answer the problem in reverse, and it blew all of the North Americans minds, all of us. And that was an example of taking a thought I had and literally turned into a tool in real time. It was all about discovery. It was all because I was curious, and I was not afraid, even though I was the most junior. I was the least intelligent of that group. I had the least experience but I did not care because I wanted to know. I wanted to know the answer. I wanted to find out something, and it was absolutely fascinating.

Steve Rush: And do you think that is where you got the bug to become a coach? Because all great coaches need the ability to ask those great questions. Those restless questions, the teasing curious “pokey questions” as I call them. Is that where that kind of start for you?

Byron Low: Yeah, I think so. Most children, they identify with one parent. Some of us are blessed to have two, and I had two but with my two sets of parents, I identified with my mom. I long to connect with my dad, which I did not really have a great connection with my dad. But I definitely connect with my mom, and my mom was the was the extrovert. She was relational and I was the introvert but because of her intense curiosity, almost to an annoying level. My mom passed away several years ago. I took her to the grocery store and I had to go run an errand while she was in the grocery store, and when I came back. By this, like seventy-five years old. I come back to pick up my mom. My mom is still on the first aisle of the grocery store, and she is having a conversation with someone. She has been talking to the exact same person for like twenty-five minutes, and I thought she was going to be finished with her grocery shopping. But that’s an example of my mom. My mom gave me this ability to connect with people, even though I am technical. So to answer your question, absolutely. It is a combination of having the ability, but also working on the ability to connect with people. Even though I am technically even though I’ve got this, I’ve got all these questions. I have to find a way and I try to be as creative as possible. I have to find a way to ask questions that are not offensive. They are not off putting. They are not intimidating because I love working with smart people.

But if you’re the smartest person that can be intimidating, I don’t mind being smart, but I don’t ever have to be the smartest. What I want to be is. I want to be the most interested, not the most interesting, but the most interested. I want them to feel that I genuinely am curious and I want them to think that is almost that in itself is some kind of interesting as well.

Steve Rush: You know, it was that very thing that drew me to you when we first connected was that whole kind of technical-introverted yet coach, because most coaches I speak with and most coaches I work with, generally are more extroverted than introvert. So what was the kind of catalyst for you then to become a full time professional coach to help others?

Byron Low: You know, I have been doing this work for a long time, but I think it was during the economic contraction we had back in 2008, 2009. I was doing mostly consulting, and I was doing some coaching and it was really out of out of necessity. This is also a lesson, I think that there are times in life we think we have a plan. But life gives us an opportunity that we have to adjust and it really wasn’t something I was planning on, Steve. I was not necessarily planning on a career of being a coach. It was during the economic contraction. We as a family went for a significant amount of time without income. I had to cash out all of our savings in order to survive, but then the launching and really, the commitment to coaching as a business. I tell this, even as I am working with clients, if they are willing to make a change in their career, if they are willing to change their career, going into a different kind of industry or wanting to make an adjustment. The way I made this this decision for me and again, this is for me, but this is also the advice I give. And I would love to hear your thoughts. I tell them for me personally, I had to do this because I feel like I had no other choice, and it wasn’t like I wanted to do this. I happen to be very good at it, and I really, really love it, but it was never a plan but I also think it is important that there has to be that full commitment. Does that make sense?

Steve Rush: It makes load of sense, and I think anybody who has been brilliant, successful and has longevity in any career, they always truly invested in that career don’t they. They are not distracted, you know, on part time this and part time that, they are all in, and I think that is what makes a difference. And I wholeheartedly agree with that and sometimes that’s forced upon us through a situation and other times it’s through purpose and drive, right?

Byron Low: That is right.

Steve Rush: When we spoke last, one of things that really intrigued me about our conversation  too was the way that you apply quite scientific approach to some of the activities that sits within a coaching experience. And you describe listening as a science. Tell me, what is the reason that you look at something that will do naturally, quite scientifically?

Byron Low: I think partly is where I am coming from. Coming from that technical perspective, that is my strength. That is where I am going to lean on, and when it comes to listening, listening is an incredibly relational thing to do. I am relational, I think. Because of my relationship with my mom and the examples of people that I had in my life, but I think that the reality is, is that I look at it as something that we all can obviously grow in. I don’t care how technical you are and I have had clients who are the most technical people that you can imagine. You know scientists or Medical Doctors or Attorneys or, you know, Accountants, Economists, PhD. I honestly believe all of us, no matter where we are coming from. We can look at listening. Listening is one of the most incredible tools we have in our arsenal. All of us can have a tool kit that is very well equipped and that we can constantly be growing in our capacities, in our abilities to listen. It is very simple. Because I am technical, I don’t necessarily think it’s scientific, even though I do think that there are parts even how our brain is made that actually can help with that.

Because the bottom line is, is that ultimately it is a choice. It’s like you said earlier, it’s a choice. It is commitment, when we are committed to listening, listening first; it goes back to what I said earlier, I had a really good friend who passed away. He actually played music my wife and I, our wedding and he learned from a very young age because his dad kind of called out to him and said, John, do you want to be interested or do you want to be interesting? And I remember hearing that for the first time when I was in my early twenties working with John, and John was the most intelligent human being I’ve ever met. He was an absolute genius, but he was actually fascinated being interesting but I learned from him that I can listen. I can learn and also, again, I can lead with that curiosity.

Steve Rush: And if there were, people listening to this ironically and thinking how do I practice, better listening. Any tips, techniques that you could share?

Byron Low: First of all, I think you have to be interested. I think you have to be focused. I am not doing it now, but most of the time when I am on a call with a client; I am not sitting in front of my computer. I am now because I am literally hardwired into my computer and this technology is using this over the Internet. Most the time I am on my phone and when I on a call with a client, I am actually walking. I walk up to up to 15 miles a day, and the walking takes me away from my computer and it forces me to hear them.

You literally have to hear people before you can listen to them. So you have to have a good connection and it is absolutely frustrating, frustrating for me. Really been out of shape if I can’t hear. I mean, physically hear. So the point is, is that you have to be able to hear them. You have to have a good connection. When I talk with other coaches, most of their coaching practices face to face or I am talking with a prospective client and they want to meet face to face if they are local. I am happy to do that, if it works out for both of our schedules but it really is not necessary to meet face-to-face and today’s virtual world with what is going on in the world today where many of us now are at home, I don’t think that’s necessary. I think as long as we have a good connection. I think we can listen, but it takes a commitment you have to want to listen.

Steve Rush: Sure, and I wonder if your natural introversion plays to that strength actually, doesn’t it? Well, you don’t need to see an experience other the people. You can internalize that yourself.

Byron Low: Yeah, it is funny. Whenever I am on a Zoom meeting with clients or company of sorts and they always ask me, why don’t you turn on your webcam? I tell them I don’t have a webcam, and they don’t believe me. I said, no, really, I don’t want you to see me. I actually love anonymity. I don’t ever want to be famous. Whenever I am on Zoom or another kind of screen share tool, I turn off the ability to see them. I think you are right. I think that really does lend itself really well to the interior world of the introvert.

Steve Rush: So we spoke a little earlier about the whole foundation for coaching for you particularly is around turning thoughts into tools and I know that is really big for you and certainly a big technique that you use with your client. How did that come about? And how do you now help other people turn their thoughts into tools?

Byron Low: You know, I truly believe that as a practitioner and as a coach, that’s one of the things that is a differentiator that sets me apart, is that I have a high level of curiosity which leads itself to I really want to learn a lot, and I tend to read a lot. And because I read a lot, I find tools. I am consistently sending articles to clients that I read, I think that might help them. And it could be as simple as just as an idea or a thought that I get or I want to glean from an article. I learned a long time ago. We are all familiar with the concept of “either/ or” thinking. Right?

Steve Rush: Right.

Byron Low: It is “either this” “or” that and it is very binary, It’s either yes or no. It is either black or white. I am really a proponent of not having that kind of thinking, as much as the thinking that is “both/and…” A “both/and”, kind of thinking that is really open more to possibilities, more to the idea can we ask two more questions. And the idea of seeing that as a tool when you look at the things that I read or the things that a client is going through, I really wanted to help them see that it really is going to be up to them and how they want to apply something. They need to have a shift in their thinking that is not binary. It is not about, you know. Can it be this or that? It could be both. It could be both and we can actually use that the word and it can be both/and something. So the possibilities of having of thinking like that versus thinking that is more cut off. It opens up the window of possibility. That is exciting, and I think that ultimately when we think about providing people those kinds of tools and turning thoughts into tools, it really is about and this is really, really critical. It is about the people. It is about all of us. We have to be able to listen to ourselves. Because, Steve, I believe that you have all the tools you need in order for you to become the best version of you. But it’s going to be important for you to be able to hear yourself. And that’s really what I believe and I convey to my clients. It is my job to set up the relationship and the conversation so that they can hear themselves, because those tools, those thoughts, they are not my thoughts. They are their thoughts; they are the client’s thoughts. So it’s really critical for them to be able to hear their own thoughts. I would also add it is critical for them to see themselves, because when they hear themselves and they see themselves that is when the beginning of change occurs. It can happen because that is when we be become more self-aware. But the hearing of those thoughts, that’s the first step of capturing the thought that can become a tool. If they don’t have the ability or capacity to hear themselves to capture that thought, they can never see the thought become a tool. Does that make sense?

Steve Rush: Huge amount of sense and it plays to the whole mind-set Philosophy too doesn’t it? So what you described as the “either /or” that very much plays to a fixed mind-set, it looks for evidence you got. Whereas when you ask “both/ and…” that plays to the unconscious part of the mind that has all of those thoughts, deep rooted, that are unconscious that we don’t maybe listen to every day that we drag out, and that give us the foundation for the new tools, right?

Byron Low: That is right.

Steve Rush: So once we have done we’ve got a this thinking going on, how do you then distil all of those huge amounts of thoughts and experiences that people might be having. How do you distilled that into, “right.. here are the tools that are going help you”.

Byron Low: It is going to be different for each client I am working with. But I think the important thing for all of us that when we’re having conversations with people be at coaching conversations or just simply personal interactions, it’s critical. That all of us that we meet the other where they are. That we don’t have expectations, that we don’t force people to be something that they’re not. So along with this willingness to listen and the willingness to literally physically hear someone. It is also this willingness to be kind of non-judgmental or open or accepting of them. I think that as a coach, I have to and I want to. This has been a hard lesson and I remember learning this was back in about 2009-2010, when I was first starting my coaching practice. I was talking to a psychologist and he was talking about trying to remove the judgmental language from my vocabulary where I was, and again, this is a little hard to conveyances in such a short amount of time. But the idea of, it is actually possible for us to be with another and to switch off this idea of judgment. And it led to a tool that I have, which again, I like tools, I like creating tools.

And the tool is, it’s called the “AUAC”. Awareness, Understanding, Acceptance and Commit. Awareness, Understanding, Acceptance and Commitment. The awareness is really the first step. We have to be aware and then understanding is we have to understand ourselves. We also have to be willing to understand the other and understand and the other is not only hearing them, but listening to them but at the same time, which the understanding leads to this idea of acceptance. And if you are ever around our family, because I have you know, I have three children and a wife and a dog and we have a beautiful family.

If we ever had an argument as a family, which we had many arguments, we would slow down the argument a little bit and would say, okay, it is not about agreement. I am not asking you to agree with me. It is about can we understand each other? If we can understand each other and we really can get to a point of acceptance where I accept what you are saying. I accept the situation. I accept, you know, the conditions that we are in, then we can finally get to a commitment and that ultimately is action. But we have to get to a place where we can understand each other and it absolutely is a waste of time when we’re trying to get someone to agree with us. And that judge mental language that I had then, the judgment of thinking that I had, it was just ingrained in me even as a child. And it’s still there, Steve but when I hear it in myself or when I see it in other people, I’m more sensitive to it now. In the last 10 years of coaching, I have had the privilege of coaching people that have completely, utterly different world views than I have. And that doesn’t mean I can’t coach them. It just means that I have to suspend that judgment and be able to accept them where they are. That is how I have grown, as I have been able to help others. I have be able to learn how to listen, but also learn how to understand, but ultimately how to accept and it has been a lot of fun.

Steve Rush: That is really neat, and I think understanding each other is so much easier than trying to agree with each other, because we come from our own perspectives and we come with our own biases and our own experiences of the world, where actually if we can just find that common ground, then we move forward quicker, right?

Byron Low: Absolutely, but I think some of our families are kind of rooted in this argumentative, almost pugilistic culture where we like to fight. We like to prove our point, and oftentimes, when we are in a thinking mind-set like that, it is a very fixed mind-set. We are not really even listening to the person. We are listening to our own thoughts about what we are going to say next, because we want to destroy that person. I have watched debate. I have watched different debates on, it could be a political debate or it could be a different kind of debate. But the idea of debate, what if debate was about understanding versus just simply about destroying the other? And I think even within our own political systems, if we all kind of got together to try to solve the problem versus trying to prove that we’re better than someone else, I think we could get more done. But I don’t know the whole political system and the process. It doesn’t seem to be, you know, oriented towards that as much as is oriented, like you said, towards getting people to agree with them and to me, I just find that to be a glorious waste of time.

Steve Rush: I could not agree with you anymore. Well, this part of the show Bryon we ask our guests to share some of their top Hacks. In your case top tools, so what will be some of your top tools that you can share with our listeners?

Bryon Low: You know, I’ve got three. The first one is knowing yourself. I think its absolute critical that as we grow as leaders, it starts as we grow. The seed starts in our own heart as we learn about ourselves. We have got to learn. You know, ultimately what we believe, who we believe we are, what we stand for. There is a really famous book out right now by a gentleman. His name is Simon Sinek is world famous, Start With Why. I think knowing yourself and starting with why is absolutely critical. Simon also has one of the most watched TED talks ever on how great leaders inspire action, because I think all great leaders and as a leadership hack, all great leaders, they know themselves.

The second leadership hack is really about being honest, and what that means is being honest with what you have and graciously accepting what you have. If we are all honest about what we have, and we are all growing, that is really the point. And it’s really about progress equals happiness and that’s not something I’ve coined that actually comes from Tony Robbins, because I believe it’s absolutely true. I believe that if we are progressing, no matter what. I even share this with my 16-year-old son because he wants to play, you know, competitive baseball and I would say to him, it is about progressing as long as you are progressing.

We are good. You know, some days we’re going to have good days or we can take two steps forward and a step back where we’ve made progress. Some days it is two steps forward and three steps backward. So we are actually we did not go very far that day, but that is okay. But the point is, is that if we’re honest about what we’ve been given, what we’ve been entrusted and we do the best and really it’s an effort thing. There is a book by Carol Dweck and Carol Dweck, D-W-E-C-K. She is the foremost expert on Mind-set, and in her book Mind-set, she talks about this. It is really about that effort. So my leadership hack is know yourself, and then to be honest.

And lastly, as you can imagine, it’s about being curious. I want to lead with that and for some clients; I encourage to do the exact same thing. For others, that is not their thing. But ultimately, it’s about looking at the world as a world of possibilities, as a world of wonder. And I do so not only do I want to know myself. I want to be honest with what I have, and I want to work hard. I also want to be curious, because I believe that if we are curious, there is that idea that curiosity can lead to great questions and great questions can lead to other great questions. And to me, that sounds like a fun life.

Steve Rush: And lifelong learning also means you never get bored and you never get stale, because there’s always something new you can go back to and incidentally, Carol Dweck is a bonus hack. Carol Dweck, as part of her famous work around mind-set. One of the things that I often help my kids and my clients with is the whole power of YET. So you can’t fail at something but you just haven’t been successful “YET”. It create’s just a different mind-set that helps people think about next possibilities vs. closing down actions and activities, so great hacks.

We have also become familiar in asking our guests on the show to share their “hack to attack”. So this is a period in a time where something’s gone wrong, where maybe you’ve screwed up, but it’s now become part of their learning. Part of the way that they do things and it is playing part of their future. What will be your hack to attack?

Bryon Low: My hack to attack has to do with connecting with people. I have a tendency like a lot of us do. As a matter of fact, in this last week, I probably have had a half a dozen conversations with folks who have spent their careers committed to the companies that they were working in. And because they were committed to the companies they were working in, they never, ever really worked on themselves. They never really worked on their career and if that sounds like you, I get it. The challenge I had was I suffered from that.

Which is really a form of myopia where you’re so focused and intense on what you’re doing, you’re not necessarily thinking about yourself or your career, you’re thinking about the company you’re working for, which has great benefits for the company, not so great benefits for the individual.

But what I also learned when I was just thinking through this process with Steve was not only was that true for me in my career, but it also was true for me in connections and people that I was working with, because whenever there was a change, whenever there was a change of location, a change of job. What I have learned was and I have always known this, but it just kind of. It was stark. I am not very good at keeping up with people. Look, I have no idea who is going to listen to this, but if there are people that are in my past that are listening to this, I am sorry. I understand that I have the capacity to relate. I do and I know that because there is a friend that I reach out to a couple of times a year, and we are always able to kind of pick up where we left off. Always and it is always deep and it is always meaningful. But for some reason, with keeping up with people, and when social media came on board, you know, back in the early 2000s and someone actually talked me into joining Facebook, and the whole idea of Facebook for an introvert is like it’s very, very stress inducing. And I only did it because I was talked into it and I hated it from the very, very first time I was on Facebook, but just because I hate Facebook. I remember one time I was actually on Facebook and I have all these people that are connected to me, and while I was on Facebook looking at someone, someone started talking to me and that literally freak me out to have someone talk to me when I was on Facebook. I did not understand it, but the point is. Is that I think I have a lot of room for growth and opportunity to remain and stay connected with people and that takes effort, that takes work, that takes time and ultimately, I want to do that. And I think when I look back, I think people could feel a little confused by my lack of consistency there.

Steve Rush: And I guess this will absolutely play part of education for others listening to this, who are also introverted, who struggle with that. Conversely, of course, if you are extroverted and struggled to relax, struggled to be introspective and reflective. The same is absolutely true, just poles are different, right?

Bryon Low: Right and that really is something I think that with my extroverted friends and family that are almost like because I told you my mom was an extrovert. She had a very large family of sisters and brothers. My mom spoke to almost every single one of her siblings every single week on the phone.

I have two brothers and a sister, and let me just say I don’t. I know I am not going to be my mom, but I have to get better in this. And I want to get better but the bottom line is, I really do a very poor job at this.

Steve Rush: Comes back to one of those hacks, know yourself, you know, these things and therefore, part of your not getting it right in the past, you’re able to work on it for the future. Right?

Bryon Low: That is right, and I like what you said about what Dweck said yet. And even the utilization of something like Facebook. I have not figured that out and it is an opportunity for me to learn more. And I’m on Instagram, I’m on Twitter. I don’t know what I’m doing. Honestly, Steve, but I am open. I want to learn and I want to build to make those connections.

Steve Rush: And learning by experience is often the best way.

Bryon Low: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: So if you were able to do bit of time travel, get back and bump into Byron when he was 21, what would be the advice you would give him?

Bryon Low: You know, the first advice is I would say just relax, because I come with this. This supercharged intensity about life, about myself. I even had a professor one time. Tell me, Byron, you practically vibrate. What she meant was that there is a level of intensity that I have it can be off putting. It can be intimidating, but I think what I would tell my younger self, because I have such and again, if you remember what Carol Dweck would talk about with a fixed mind-set person, and I think I was very fixed mind-set when I was younger.

They feel like they have to be the best. They feel like that, there is this like compulsion and it kind of pushes them. I don’t necessarily feel that today but I think when I was younger, I would really want to and again I would have a caveat. I can give my advice to my younger self, but the caveat is this, my younger self would accept it.

I would say relax. Number one, relax and just allow your curiosity, your interest, your ability to connect with people. Just lead with that and have fun. I think there were times when I allowed my intensity to kind of rule and situations. Give you a personal example. To this day, I have never consumed alcohol and I remember had a colleague years ago. Say, the epiphany was, wow, you have never actually had any way of having that edge kind of off, of you. Because everyone knows me as intense. And no, I’ve never had a buzz, ever. And there’s a reason for that. I come from a home, a home life where alcohol was abused, so I did not get to see the positive side of alcohol. I am not against alcohol at all, as a matter of fact, I have conversations with my children. I believe I am been very open but the reality is, is that I think that there is an intensity as a young person, there is almost this drivenness were there was not a terrific amount of grace that I was giving myself.

And what I would do is I would just simply say, it’s going to be okay. You are going to be okay, just take it easy. And I would not necessarily say for me to drink. That is not the answer; the answer is to be a little more accepting of myself and to be a little more forgiving of myself and to be a little bit more self-compassionate to myself, if that makes any sense.

Steve Rush: Yeah. Lots of lessons there isn’t there, and also, interestingly, if you look back on some of those key instrumental activities as part of your life, they’re forming your work now and that’s fantastic news. So Byron, if folk were listening to this and I wanted to find out a little bit more about your work, maybe connect with you through some social media. Where would you like them to find you?

Bryon Low: I am on Facebook. I am on Instagram and Twitter but I think the probably the best places is to go to Byron Low, B-Y-R-O-N L-O-W, You will get to see the kind of work that I do. And if you want to reach me, you can reach me at my phone numbers on the website. You can also reach me through email I would love to hear from you and but that’s probably the best and the most direct and primary ways of getting hold of me.

Steve Rush: I will also make sure that we’ve got your contact details in our show notes Byron as soon as folks listen to this. They can click on the links and connect with these straightaway.

Bryon Low: Excellent.

Steve Rush: So finally, it is just for me to say that I have really enjoyed connecting with you. I have really enjoyed you being part of our extended leadership hacker community. And, you know, there’s no question that as a technical guy, you absolutely have the ability to connect and I’m sure that’s going to be the case through our listenership. Byron, thank you ever so much for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast. It has been a super pleasure to be speaking with you.

Bryon Low: Thank you, Steve. I very much appreciate it, and it was a lot of fun. I appreciate it and I hope the best for you and your listeners and for you and your family.

Steve Rush: Thank you Byron, take care.


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