CEO Flashes of Brilliance

26-05-17
brilliance CEO leadership business occulting flashes inspire inspiration amazing leaders

Do you want more flashes of brilliance?  Well the answer is no. You need a team to be more occulting.

It is interesting that many highly successful CEOs see success as a long slog and continual hard work. Some seem to cruise through life and just have flashes of brilliance. I have a theory that they are actually ‘occulting' and yet, for most people, they are just ‘flashing' on and off.

You see, being a Yacht Master and ex Royal Navy Reserve Officer, I know that a flashing light is really a rhythmic light, in which the total duration of the light is clearly shorter than the total duration of the darkness. An occulting light is a rhythmic light in which the duration of light in each period is longer than the total duration of darkness. In other words, it is opposite to a flashing light where the total duration of darkness is longer than the duration of light.

Clearly, those who are in ‘work' have flashes of it being ‘ok'. The thing that most people fail to see is that work is called that for a reason. They don't have a job they love. Even those lucky enough to find a job they genuinely love and believe in, it can still be hard to stay focused on the day-to-day tasks. I train and coach people how to find their ikigai – and those occulting life changing times. The trick is to work out (using science) your ikigai and find what you are genuinely passionate about (the Why), what you are good at, what the world needs and what you get paid to do every day. 

I have learnt from the best and applied this many thousands of times to clients. I deal with many people who are successful entrepreneurs, lots of established business leaders and also those in ‘mundane' ‘technician' jobs', particularly in hospitality. Dave Thomas, the founder and former CEO of Wendy's said,

"What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed."

If you occasionally see flashes of brilliance in your team and want to move to longer periods of light (occulting), how can you accomplish it? I see people rushing around like Woodlice in bright sunlight.  They exhibit random behaviours (called Kinesis) and use terms like, "I am so busy" and "I work so hard". 


I don't accept this type of behaviour in my clients – they are working hard yes, but not effectively or efficiently. For many business leaders,  they are often to be found working in their business, not on it. Worse still, they have not found their ikigai.

In the corporate and business setting, I invite clients to try the following strategies with their teams:

  • Improving their listening skills - the vast majority of managers and potential leaders have to work on this skill and are just waiting to tell people what they think. Ask better questions, then listen. You will be amazed how inspired a team can be when you do this simple thing well. It also demonstrates a real appreciation for others and your team – which demands respect and shows better leadership.

  • Asking better questions outside the office environment. By asking better questions in a non-work context,  people open up, and it can be incredibly powerful. It is an act of nurturing and takes time – but it reveals a basic human instinct which is reciprocated by the team. "How is your family?" "Do you say you were learning the piano?" Simply understanding your team better often involves asking these important questions outside the confines of the office environment. The breaking of bread has real significance when done with the team – it can inspire tremendous loyalty and occult the team.

Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour said,

"There's an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It's not the right time just yet.' There's no such thing as a good time. I started an apparel manufacturing business in the tech-boom years. I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance and start your business." 

  • Being more curious -this is an extension of the better question (Open question, probe, probe then reflect) Genuine curiosity yields brilliant results. Your team wants to feel valued and extraordinary. Why should a team member be interested in the business if the firm isn't interested in them? This practice and discipline about being curious is the easiest and most basic way of saying that you notice and care. The result is profound and encourages a sense of pride, application and engagement that many teams lack. They will be inspired to do excellent work, always.


  • Giving and taking better feedback -this is a beautiful thing to do if done regularly and in context. It needs to follow some rules, but it is potentially the most powerful mechanism for getting a team occulting. Help your team learn from their mistakes (treat mistakes as learning opportunities and not opportunities to punish) and focus on future success. It is critical that your team feel you and the business support them, giving equal attention to all team members and encouraging an ethos of excellence.

I hope you will switch the light on for your team and encourage a journey towards occulting.


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About the author

Tim Dingle

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Tim Dingle BSc (Hons), PGCE, MBA, has been involved in education, management, comedy, research, the Law and training for the last 30 years. Tim is a former Headmaster of a top school and gained an MBA with a distinction (his dissertation was on body language and Interview skills).

 He has a unique insight into teaching, leadership, comedy and management and has now written 26 books on a variety of topics including motivation, leadership, education, training, communication, interview success and business. 

His background in management also includes being the Chairman on England Schools Rugby and an active member of the RFU and MCC. His academic pedigree (in Biology, Teaching and Business) combined with his Mediation skills, gained him a place on the Board of the Global Negotiation Insight Institute (which used to be the Harvard Negotiation project). He has lectured all around the world with keynote speeches at many national and international events. His facilitation skills are in constant use for difficult and complex problems. His training company works across a variety of sectors and is making a massive impact, dedicated to making everyone feel empowered, successful and having fun. He writes jokes as well as running a comedy club and training school in London.

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