I first heard of Lance Secretan as I was driving down the highway, listening to a radio interview in which he spoke about his book, Living the Moment. I was captivated by his made-for-broadcasting voice, and frantically searched for a pen and paper to jot down quotes that I use to this day: “live the moment nobly, passionately and with love” and “Please be with me and live in my moment instead of your future”.
Living the Moment remains one of my all-time favourite books: a fable that has life lessons – a book to be read again and again.
In my quest to complete the #100books reading challenge this year, I was drawn to another of Lance’s books on my bookshelf. An older book, but full of timeless wisdom: “The Way of the Tiger, Gentle Wisdom for Turbulent Times“.
Like Living the Moment, this is written as a fable, with zoo animals imparting their wisdom to one another as they seek to serve the Customer-Person, and initiate Tamias the chipmunk into the zoo community. Lance does a fine job of using the zoo animals to demonstrate, in words and action, the intricate interplay of roles, behaviours and leadership that demonstrate Mastery, Chemistry and Delivery.
Lance was ahead of his time with this book. Many of the messages being shared and touted today about customer service and leadership were foretold in a captivating storytelling style in this book. Note: I have no affiliation with the author or books. I’m simply a huge fan!
My top 8 takeaways (Note: words in bold italicare mine. Quotes from the book noted with page numbers)
Page 11 Quote: “An old Turkish proverb states that ‘One arrow does not bring down two birds’ If we have one arrow, it should be aimed at our strengths, not our weaknesses. The spirit soars, at work or play, when we practice and improve our strengths”. Develop strengths, rather than focus on improving weaknesses
Listen twice as much as you speak. To be of service we must hear what someone wants and needs. Listen with the intention of understanding. Stop crafting a response in your head before the person’s even finished talking. “Listen’ and ‘silent’ share the same letters. To listen, truly listen, You must stop hearing Yourself and start listening to those who are speaking” (page 33)
You can’t fast track experience, and mastery comes from the application of knowledge, to become, with time, wisdom. You can have all the right tools and equipment in the world but “good equipment is worthless until it is harnessed to knowledge and ability. The combination is Mastery.” (page 53)
Never stop learning. In the spirit of Kaizen, the relentless pursuit of finding a better way, the “Great Masters…never seem to stop learning – either by learning from others or by constantly practicing, and often, both…Their thirst for new and better techniques is insatiable. They’re not complacent. They keep practicing and striving.” (page 74 and 76)
Take responsibility. Own your problems. Own your solutions.“never pass a problem downstream” (page 79)
Think like a beginner – always. See the world with fresh eyes. Step outside yourself. Change the lens through which you view the problem or issue. Think possibilities, not probabilities “If Your mind is empty, it is always ready for a new idea, a different perspective; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” (page 91)
Teams are only as strong as the weakest link, and members of successful teams communicate with constructive input, positive energy and full commitment.“Members of successful teams understand that enlightened self-interest is a gift to the team – You are most useful to Yourself when You are useful to others.” (page 116)
Customers buy for one of three reasons: to have their problem solved, to increase their pleasure or decrease their pain. “They come to you with an itch. Your job is to scratch. Simple as that!” (page 146)
This is a wonderfully entertaining book that imparts so many good life and business lessons, you scarcely see them as you are drawn into the story. But, upon digestion and reflection the “ah-ha” moments that arise are timeless and precious.
Now go scratch that itch.