Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 025: The 24-Hour Rule

Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 025: The 24-Hour Rule

Charles Fred
Co-Founder at TrueSpace and Chairman of the Board of ATD
The 24-Hour Rule

Episode Summary
Serial Entrepreneur and Chairman of the Board for the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Charles Fred explains how leaders can thrive using “The 24-Hour Rule”

Bio
Charles Fred is a bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. He has devoted nearly four decades of his life to discovering new ways for professionals to acquire the skills necessary to compete in industries undergoing major transformation. Considered a pioneer in the e-learning industry, he has founded and led several successful companies that provide learning technologies and services. His bestselling book, “Breakaway,” is credited with introducing a new framework for organizational learning. “The 24-Hour Rule,” his breakthrough book on leadership, is a highly-regarded resource for business executives across industries.

In 2000, Charles founded the Breakaway Group, one of the nation’s fastest growing companies, to improve how health-care providers learn and adopt new technologies. Xerox acquired the Breakaway Group in 2011, and in the process, he became president of their health-care group, providing technology and services worldwide.

Today he focuses on the leadership role of second-stage entrepreneurs and their ability to create sustainable enterprises. TrueSpace, a firm he co-founded with his daughter Jamee, provides crucial know-how and capital for entrepreneurs aspiring to grow and reach the middle markets.

Website
https://24hourrule.com/

Other Website
https://www.truespace.com/

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/charles-fred-8863159

Twitter
https://twitter.com/charlesfred?lang=en

Leadership Quote
“Pause is not a delay, it’s a discipline. It’s not a waste of time, rather it affords us the time to deliberate before we act.”

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Transcript

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This podcast is part of the C Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast, a podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, the Leadership Excelerator, Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Hello. Welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast. I’m your host, Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. By the way, not only am I the Leadership Excelerator but I have a custom program by that same name. Contact me to bring the Leadership Excelerator Program into your organization.

Is it possible that you would be a better person, a better leader if you had full control over the variables impacting your life? Many of the things that impact you such as the economy, political unrest, or interpersonal relationships are beyond your control. However, my guest today, Charles Fred, posits in his book The 24-Hour Rule you do have complete control over one very important thing – How you respond and react to the stimulus from another human being. Regaining control of this element of your life will make you a better leader in a frenetic world. So you want to pay attention to this episode. Charles will tell us the secret right after this.

This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Eddie Turner LLC delivers executive and leadership coaching, professional speaking, facilitation services, and management consulting across the globe. Eddie Turner LLC also creates voiceovers, serves as a master of ceremonies, as a panel and event moderator, and provides national media commentary. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.

Eddie Turner:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host, Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact.

Is it possible you would be a better person, a better leader if you had full control over the variables impacting your life? Many of the things that impact you such as the economy, political unrest, or interpersonal relationships are beyond your control. However, my guest today, Charles Fred, posits in his book The 24-Hour Rule you do have complete control over one very important thing – how you respond and react to the stimulus from another human being. Regaining control of this element of your life will make you a better leader in a frenetic world. He is here with me today to tell us the secret of how it’s done.

My guest today is Charles Fred. Charles is a bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. He has devoted nearly four decades of his life to discovering new ways for professionals to acquire the skills necessary to compete in industries undergoing major transformation. Considered a pioneer in the eLearning industry, Charles has founded and led several successful companies that provide learning technologies and services. His bestselling book Breakaway is credited with introducing a new framework for organizational learning. The 24-Hour Rule, his breakthrough book on leadership, is a highly regarded resource for business executives across industries and that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Charles, welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast.

Charles Fred:
Thank you, Eddie. Thrilled to be here with you, especially knowing that our paths have intersected a number of times over the last three years. So thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, yes. You are an executive who’s run many organizations and you sit on many boards because of your leadership experience. That was one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show. And then I saw your book, The 24-Hour Rule and you were kind enough to send me a copy of it. So I thought, well, I have to talk to you but, yeah, you’re right. You and I have known each other for a few years through our love of talent development and to be associated with the talent development industry. Actually you and I both spoke in Taiwan. You were on the main stage though and I was in one of the breakout rooms.
Charles Fred:
I think you resonated pretty well at that conference. So, again, thanks for having me. I think what you’re doing relative to leadership, I think, is a really important piece of work. So anyway I can help with your message and your audience, more than willing to be there for you.
Eddie Turner:
Well, I certainly appreciate that. I really, really do. By the way, you’re the chairman of the board for ATD. How’s that going?
Charles Fred:
You know, it’s seven years that I finished. This is my last year. It’s been a volunteer effort. It’s where you decide to give back, especially to the industry that we serve around talent development. So I was thrilled. We were able to in the last couple years recruit Brock Obama in 2018 and, of course, Oprah Winfrey this year for our keynote. I think the industry in general is moving forward very nicely and I’m thrilled that professionals in talent development have been able to come together for our events at ATD. So thank you for asking but this is my last year. It’s bittersweet. It’s been a good ride but it’s also time for somebody else to come in and lead that organization.
Eddie Turner:
Well, you’ve had quite a run. And I tell you, especially you mentioned bringing in people like President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey the last couple of years, boy, the pressures on who’s ever going to be in charge of the state next year. I just don’t know where they go from there.
Charles Fred:
I don’t think that hasn’t been part of the conversation in the team. What next? But that’s somebody else’s challenge. Anyway, I’m sure that they’ll find some people that can meet the goal there.
Eddie Turner:
I’m sure they will.

Well, tell us about your new book. I am just so anxious to talk about this, The 24-Hour Rule.

Charles Fred:
Yeah, the important part for the listeners, I think, would be why could we come up with a rule that could help leadership in today’s world. And so I need to give you a little background of how in the world did this come about and given the fact that I’ve been an entrepreneur for nearly 40 years in leadership roles. There’s two forces that came together, Eddie. Force number one is I’m a little bit of a nut but since March 27, 1985, I’ve kept a daily journal. I’ve only missed 200 days or roughly 200 days in 34 plus years. So, I have 12,000 pages of a journal that I write down every day. And where I started, of course, is that day in March of ’85, it was the day after my first daughter was born. And I was making all kinds of notes and trying to learn as much as I could because I had no idea what I was doing as a father. And so, as my children grew, so did my responsibilities as a leader and I started really writing down lessons and learnings that I had as a leader. And this goes back, of course, three decades. And the important part of this message for this conversation today is I’m able to see patterns across that period of my lifetime now because I was looking at decisions I’ve made, responses I’ve had, relationships I’ve built and the outcomes of those, right? So what I looked back at for force number one is what did I really have control over. And oddly enough, in all of my journaling, the things that I didn’t have control over are the things that I tried to control but there was one thing, one immutable thing that I had complete control over and that was how I responded and reacted to others. And yet that’s the thing that I really had control over. And that’s kind of the singular pattern over all those years. I’ve got a lot of learnings and lessons and I would encourage anybody to journal because it’s such an incredible process for adult learning.

Force number two is that I started a research effort five years ago today or in this month to really look at why small businesses that make it past the startup have trouble growing after they’ve made it through a really difficult period of time. And one of the patterns that we saw is that poor performing firms were highly stressed out. So these are the firms that we thought had made it through the startup but we found out they were wildly stressed and they were poor performing in large part because people’s minds were constrained by stress. Why did we find this out? Because we did hundreds and hundreds of exit interviews for unplanned turnover, people that were leaving in an organization, that in many cases leaders wanted them to stay. And what we found really was a source and that source was stress.

So where I put these two forces together is that we believe deeply that the stress in an organization is driven from the top leader or a set of leaders. An impetuous behavior from that point and forward was washing through the organization very, very quickly today. So you might imagine from a leadership perspective that would be pretty important for those that are leading the organizations.

Eddie Turner:
Indeed. Well, thank you for sharing that. So there’s a couple things you mentioned there that I’d like to dig into a little bit more. First off, when I read in your book that you kept a journal, as a coach, I got excited because that’s one of the main things we advocate for our clients. Let’s just say one of the main things but it is a popular thing that we advocate but I like how you said set it up in the book. As I’m reading it and I read this sentence where you ask the reader the question “What were you doing on this given day last year, the year before, five years, 10 years?” and you go back to about 20 years and I’m reading that thinking “Charles, I can’t remember what I was doing this time yesterday.” So I like how you explained you should have been keeping this journal but it was very impressive when you said you’ve been doing it for more than 30 years. You have more than 12,000 pages. And then you said in the book that you have gone so far as to create a taxonomy.
Charles Fred:
Yeah, that’s where I’m a little neurotic maybe.
Eddie Turner:
Well, that’s where the geeky me get excited again because as a part of knowledge management that’s one of the things I teach and I’m like “Wow! You did that for your own personal journal.” So, yeah, I think it’s a powerful tool and then you are able to then tell people exactly what you were doing at a given moment because of that. So tell me a little bit about the biggest impact, and you talk about this in the book, that this has made for you as a leader this practice of keeping a journal.
Charles Fred:
Yes, it is the question. So first of all, my habit drives my wife nuts because I literally will sit and ask about things like five years ago. And I pull up my journals and the taxonomy is by year, month and day, of course, that I can find that anyway but from a leadership perspective, this is really, really important. And I want this because I think this could apply to a number of people that might be listening or people you’re working with. One of the things that we don’t do a good job with as leaders since we’re moving so quickly, is what’s the impact of the decisions we’ve made or the behavior we’ve had with the team on any given day. And following that through, we lack feedback systems in many ways to find out what worked and what didn’t. So we try too many things or we try too many approaches. Even when it gets into culture and style, you’ve got to go back and look at what’s driving what behavior and performance. So what my journals helped me do is, and imagine doing this enough times, I literally have a muscle in my head and in my hand and except for the one year I decided to do my journals with my left hand, which is another topic, but what I could do in each morning that I journal is I really can construct within that journal what it is I did yesterday or the day before and what I’m following. And it could be a big decision or it could be small ones. It could even be one interaction with a human that I’m working with. And I can follow that through. And the importance of journaling is that I know in many cases what I think today is not how it plays out tomorrow. And, in fact, many times when I think I have it all figured out is actually the time when I’m furthest away from really what should be happening in the organization but it’s helped me tighten my course a bit, tighten my approach with certain people. So that’s really the value of my journal is that it’s a lesson in real time and I’m learning in real time and I hope to get better. Now, please understand that I’m as flawed as anybody out there and that’s in my journal. I have so many things I’ve screwed up. Time and time again, by the way, it’s amazing how us as humans just keep making some of the same mistakes. And the other part is I think the introspection that you have in a journal as a leader helps you be a better listener. So it’s really helped my listening skills over the years.
Eddie Turner:
Very good. Thank you for sharing that. And that would be an inspiration, no doubt, to many people. And you’ve been very consistent. You said you’ve only missed, in the book you said, about 200 days out of 30 years.
Charles Fred:
Yeah, it’s like any habit. There are times when I literally don’t have five minutes but I’ll find time to get that journal done because I don’t want to break the chain. And I’ve had some health issues, which caused a couple of those big delays, but sans that I’ve been consistent. I just find a way to fit it in and it’s my priority in the mornings.
Eddie Turner:
No, that’s impressive. No doubt about it. Is there a recommendation in terms of digital versus hardcover paper?
Charles Fred:
That’s a great question. I get that a lot now that, of course, people unfortunately know or fortunately know that I do this. I’ve stuck to handwriting and paper because it’s my brain. I like to write things because I retain them longer and better but I know people that are much more prolific online because you can use multiple devices and you can store and recall and do all those things. I would say I’m old school. I like paper. I have a moleskine library. So I’m very strict and kind of add it. I think it’s more about what works with your habits. So if you’re better with devices and online but you can get it done and you can store it and keep it, I think that’s good. I like my journal that I travel, especially because it’s always with me, it’s in my briefcase or whatever.
Eddie Turner:
Very nice. Now the other thing that you mentioned is this research that you conducted and what it revealed in terms of the leadership, how it stems from the top and goes through the organization, and specifically the level of stress. Can you talk about that a little bit more and how that relates to your research in the book?
Charles Fred:
Yeah. And the book is a monograph. We wrote it so that people could digested in 35 minutes or less just to make sure we weren’t incongruent with our message. Eddie, what we found is stress is infectious. It’s as infectious and even more so than the common cold because it’s not constrained by being in contact with somebody. And the source of that stress in many cases is the leader, especially in impetuous water, somebody who doesn’t have a lot of self discipline. And the unfortunate part with many leaders is that, and by the way, in our research, 4000 companies, we’ve been doing this work in conjunction with the Gallup Organization and their structure and their expertise, but we didn’t find a lot of malice. So people weren’t purposely spreading stress but they unknowingly spread it. So when you send an email or a text or something at 2 a.m. in the morning to an employee picks it up, you get to go back to bed or you probably didn’t even consider, as a leader, what the influence was through the many, many people that now amplify through the organization. And if that’s done on a consistent basis, what you have is organization wide stress because it’s spread from one person to another. It’s known as the contingent effect. If you think for a second, when you see somebody yawn, you have this urge to yawn. It’s the same thing that has happens in your brain with stress. And all of us know this intellectually. When you’re in a reading room at work and there’s one person, especially if it’s a person at position of authority with stress, everybody else is too. So all we’re asking, and I’ll get into the pause piece because I think that’s the way we get our way out of this, but you have to be aware of it first. You have to be aware that you’re spreading stress and that stress, in some cases, for people throughout your organization is debilitating. So that’s what we had uncovered in our research. It was not something we expected to find.
Eddie Turner:
Interesting. And that is true. I like how you mentioned the fact that it is not intentional at times. In some cases we have a person that is a bad leader and they simply are unaware of it. And in this case, what you’re describing is it’s a behavior that they think is good – “I’m sending them an email. I’m not calling them at 2 a.m.” – but the intended result is there’s this pressure on the employee to work and to respond as soon as possible.
Charles Fred:
Yes, yes. We wrote in the book about the demigod persona. So it begs the question why. Why do we do this? Why do we spread stress even if it’s unknowingly? Our role models are billionaires, very successful ones. And the persona that we see in the media in particular are those billionaires, they’re demigods, they’re part human part god and they’re running a marathon, they’re reading a hundred books a year, they don’t sleep, they have multiple businesses, they do all these things. Well, that’s their persona. In reality, of course, none of that’s really true but we try to copy it. And that’s why many leaders in an organization that see that demigod persona is valuable, they try to copy it. And when you do that, you just force more stress into your organization. High performance doesn’t mean frenetic pace. And that’s the important part for all of this when we get to the pause solution here but, anyway, we got to start paying attention to what’s really happening and what is the real persona that we should be following as leaders. And it’s definitely not what we see and hear in the press.
Eddie Turner:
Absolutely. Thank you for that added clarification. All right. Well, we’re talking to Charles Fred, the author of The 24-Hour Rule. And what we’ll do now is take a break and we’ll return with more right after this.

This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.

This is Dorothy Siminovitch. I am a coach and a social choreographer and nd you’re listening to the Keep Leading Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Alright, everyone. We’re back and we’re talking to Charles Fred. Charles is a very senior executive who sits on several boards and has run many companies. He’s a serial entrepreneur and the author of a couple of bestselling books. And in this episode we’re talking about The 24-Hour Rule.

So, Charles, right before our break you were telling us about why you wrote the book and some of the things that your research has uncovered but you went on to say that the ability to pause is a leadership competency. And when I read that, I thought “Wow!” because anybody who knows me knows how I feel about pausing. tell me first of all what it means to pause as you’re describing it in The 24-Hour Rule and why that is a leadership competency.

Charles Fred:
Absolutely. Let me start, Eddie, with making certain that our audience knows what my mission is here. From the very beginning my mission is for organizations through their leaders, in many cases, for them to be wildly successful, to move quickly, to hustle, to perform at really high levels. So what I’m going to talk about today is not slowing down. I’m not asking anybody to stop or slow down. A pause is not a delay. It’s a discipline. It doesn’t waste time. It actually gives us time to deliberate before we act. So that’s really what the whole concept of pause is. And whether it takes five seconds or whether it takes 24 hours or 48 hours, if it provides mental clarity, that’s how we define pause. So we were really specific in the work that we put not only in the book The 24-Hour Rule but also in our research to not try to define it so tightly that people couldn’t figure it out. So when you feel that need to be impulsive, to react quickly, if you can pause for a few seconds and just get mental clarity, I can guarantee you’ll be a better leader. And that’s ultimately what we are trying to determine with the concept of pause. It’s all around the self discipline side of this. And if I return to a little bit of what I discovered with my journal after all these years of learning at least about myself and clearly about some others, I go back to that thing that we have complete control over. So as a leader I can’t control the economy in many cases. There’s things I can’t control that happen every single day in my organization but I have complete control over how I respond and react to others. So the way to have that control, to regain that control, we believe, as leaders is to discipline a pause.

So let me give you some examples of where this works today, where you can see it in kind of real time. Example number one is if you’re in healthcare or not or have you been a patient, we’ve built pause into the surgery process across the United States. It’s been in place now through the joint commission which is a practice that looks at the safety in hospital systems. And surgical teams pause before anything happens to the patient. And each person in the surgical room has to go through and recite what type of surgery they’re having, what their role is relative to the surgery before they start. So we’ve saved countless lives by pausing there.

The next place we’ve seen incredible success is in safety around commercial flight. Those of you that fly on commercial airlines, in the United States today, Eddie, 87,000 flights takeoff and land each day. We’ve had a perfect track record for 10 full years in the United States in large part because the pilots go through a very disciplined checklist prior to take off. Even though computers run the aircraft, the pilots go through this process discipline every single time. So we know it’s possible to pause.

And what I want to talk about real quickly with you, Eddie, is that even though pilots and surgeons have lives in their own hands, I believe truly that leaders have the potential to do more damage, more harm long term if they don’t understand their behavior relative to the stress level of people in their organization.

Eddie Turner:
So, wait a minute, let me ask you right there, Charles. Are you saying that a leader has potentially the ability to do more harm than a surgeon or a pilot?
Charles Fred:
I do, especially if you have an organization where you influence hundreds or thousands of people.
Eddie Turner:
Wow! That’s a provocative statement for sure.
Charles Fred:
I think there’s a latent effect to that. If you think about people that go home from work that are highly stressed out or driven anxiety into their lives and that happens on a consistent pattern day over day, week over week, month over month, what’s the influence to those people’s lives? We might not see death like we would see with a crash of an airplane or a surgery gone bad but we see it over time and we see the anxiety and stress in people’s lives. And I think it’s time for us to really understand that, Eddie, as leaders that we take a leadership role and it’s not just about the operation of the business and the outcome financially. We have to look at the outcome of the lives for those people that we lead. And what if we took it that serious and we could put a discipline in place to at least be more thoughtful and more planful before we set things in motion that cause people’s lives to be stressed out and full of high anxiety. So, yes, I realize that it’s a big assertion, it’s a big leap on my part, and part of it is I’m trying to get people’s attention but I think there’s some truth to it too.
Eddie Turner:
Well, you’ve got my attention and I love it. So that’s a really good analogy. I like how you isolated something that many of us can relate to and no doubt have heard the horror stories about how often in surgeries there was the wrong limb operated on or the wrong person. So, yes, this seemingly inconvenience to pause and check before surgery has literally saved countless lives. And the same thing is true when it comes to aircraft. Yes, we’ve got the computers but, yeah, there’s nothing like that human being stopping, pausing, and then recalibrating to make sure everything is the way it should be.
Charles Fred:
I think the leadership role is wildly more difficult than a pilot or surgeon. I write about that in The 24-Hour Rule. Just think about it. We don’t have a cockpit to sit in and remind us to pause. We don’t have a surgery center to sit and remind us to pause with the rules written on the wall. We’re out and about with our people every day with an environment with many, many more variables. So I think this is harder. I think it’s more difficult than we might think but that’s what this effort is all about. It’s a movement to get leaders in this frenetic world we live in to just take a few seconds before they act.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. And how different would things be, how many decisions would be made differently, how many regrets could we avoid if, in fact, we did this. So if this is the case, is there a reason it’s so difficult for people to build a discipline around the pause?
Charles Fred:
Yeah, I think we talk about that in the book as well. I think it’s unfortunate but technology is not going to turn back. We’re not going to slow things down relative to these constant incessant reminders from our devices that we’ve got to do something. So who’s driving whom here? I think our devices drive us to respond quickly. It’s funny, I don’t know if you were at my keynote at ATD, there were 8500 people in the audience, I’m talking about this and my Apple Watch is buzzing on my wrist and I’m thinking “How ironic.” I’m up here talking about pause and I was tempted to look of all things.
Eddie Turner:
It’s not avoidable, right? You can feel it tapping you. Then you feel like you have to respond to that, to look away.
Charles Fred:
Yes, yes. So you’ve got to find a way, you have to develop a pause process that is a self discipline within that environment you work. You can’t change that environment. You got to change the way you respond to it. So I do a number of things which we can talk about maybe toward the end of your podcast here but there are mechanisms you can put in place to help you pause as a leader, especially when your triggers are there. And we’ve identified some really interesting triggers for leaders now that we’ve been doing this work for a couple years.
Eddie Turner:
Please share.
Charles Fred:
The triggers, a couple of them. Whatever kind of pings your ego is going to cause you to pause before you react or respond. And so write those down. If that’s people talking about your business or your process or your family, whatever it is that you have that just causes a quick visceral reaction, you’ve got to write those and know that they’re there.
Eddie Turner:
I need to take stock if I’m a leader on what that trigger is. If it’s that person, that employee, that problem employee or if it’s that person, maybe a family member, or whatever it may be, first of all isolate what it is and write that down.
Charles Fred:
Absolutely. I think you nailed it. I think the next is the time of day. If there’s a time of day that you’re better or worse around responding, especially around emotional issues or big decisions, you got to figure that out. I don’t know what people’s sleep cycles are like, if you’re better in the morning or in the evening, but most of us, when we were doing those exit interviews found that leaders that were doing a lot of communication late in the evening were causing all kinds of stress on people. And I don’t know if their brains weren’t clicked on, if they’d had a couple drinks, whatever it is that causes those triggers to be there and then it filters to not be there, I think you got to write those down. So you got to just have some self reflection if you’re going to do this well.
Eddie Turner:
So the second step would be to find out what is my optimal time as a leader. If I’m a morning person, that’s when I should be responding. I should not be responding in the evening. And then conversely if I’m an evening person, that’s where my response should take place. Although I don’t hit the send button, we want them to show up in the morning time.
Charles Fred:
Yes. Somebody who’s done some really good work on this is Thrive Global’s Arianna Huffington around sleep. And there’s been some really good research, Eddie, around that. They might be a great guest for you but I just think that that plays into this too. If you’re fatigued, whatever is happening where you’re not getting enough rest, you probably don’t have a lot of self discipline around your response.
Eddie Turner:
Well, Charles, I’ll have to insert that. That’s a good idea because I knew who she was but I wasn’t really following her until the ATD Conference in 2015.
Charles Fred:
That’s right. She was another one of our guests. I’ve been able to meet some really amazing people through that.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, you have it. So when you said that, I’m looking at her book on my shelf right now. You’re right. When she talked about sleep and the power of sleep and those responses, that was the first time I heard it articulated. And she was really a riveting speaker with a lot of really good insight so much so that I did go ahead and buy the book. And you’re right. That’s a good one.
Charles Fred:
Yes. It’s a good reference for all this conversation we’re having right now.
Eddie Turner:
So those are the two. Was there any other?
Charles Fred:
Yeah, I think right now what we really want to do to get discipline around this is to be aware. We talked about three things that we do in an organization to help leaders kind of get a handle on this. First and foremost, Eddie, is you’ve got to be aware if you’re spreading stress or not. I actually think the first thing to do is to go ask the people that work for you “Am I stressing you out?” I mean just literally start the conversation. And hopefully people will give you at least some feedback. Probably you could pick up just based on their body language when you ask that question but being aware of it is the first thing. And that’s why I said we didn’t find malicious leaders as a pattern in our research at all. We found basically leaders thought they were just setting a good tone and pace in the organization. They didn’t realize they were driving so much stress. That’s the first one.
Eddie Turner:
Now, Charles, what if a leader has employees working for them that may not want to answer that truthfully for fear of the boss’ response? What other suggestion might they use to get the level of self awareness that they need about their behavior?
Charles Fred:
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, all of us know that, especially in a group setting, we’re probably not going to get the straight feedback but I think every leader that I’ve worked with and certainly the ones you have as well have at least a couple truth tellers in the organization or people that will at least give them an ear and give them some level of feedback. I think the thing you’ve got to look for is you’ve got to look for truth when you go ask that question. And if they don’t respond to you, it’s probably you’re driving a lot more stress in the organization.

I think the second thing we ask is let them know you’re going to work on it. Try a couple of things. Let them know what you’re going to try. I think that’s the thing that we’ve seen work really well. It’s like acknowledging that you’re going to do X, Y, or Z and you’re going to basically put that in motion for a while.

And then the third thing is we think you need to put some of this in motion for at least a week and then come back and reference it. Did it work? Did people respond? Did you have a better feel after you interacted with others, especially if you are stressed out yourself? And then get some behavior around when you’re communicating with people that you lead. I want to try to remind people that the source of stress is almost always the leader of an organization if you have direct influence over others. Their time, their careers, whatever, if you have influence over that and you’re impetuous, you’re probably spreading stress unknowingly. So just keep that in mind when we go through all of this as you try to practice pause.

Eddie Turner:
Thank you. Charles, you mentioned earlier that you wrote this as a monograph. I hadn’t heard that phrase before but it takes about 35 minutes to read. So can you tell us a little bit more about what that means? I know what it means in terms of looking at it because I’ve read the book but explain that for our listeners, please.
Charles Fred:
It’s an excerpt of multiple pages of research to try to get this into something digestible for people. So there’s a belief that we have and many leaders that that’s my audience. I mean, you don’t have time to read a 400-page book. There’s also the dirty secret in book publishing for business in general is that most people that pick up a book read the first 30 to 40 pages. So the monograph is a way to excerpt that into a message where you get the key parts, you get maybe a few anecdotes, and you can go try some things. I think, hopefully, the idea is that it causes dialogue, inquiry, those kinds of things but it’s digestible. And I think it plays into your whole view around the 140 when you wrote your book based on just the characters of Twitter, right? So it’s the same concept. It’s let’s get really important key things in front of people that are digestible versus a thesis on this concept. And no doubt we could write forever about sleep and all the things that could go into this but the monograph is designed to be something to get your mind thinking about it, cause and effect and then put things in motion.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. No, very true. I hadn’t heard that phrase but, yes, that did play a role in my own publishing work and I have gotten a lot of feedback from that and the idea that, yes, everybody won’t read necessarily scholarly book but they will read a tweet, that’s for sure.
Charles Fred:
Absolutely.
Eddie Turner:
So the book was a series of tweets that ended up being a really nice idea and it performed very well.
Charles Fred:
It’s great. Yeah, I think you’re right on your design there. And it’s a corollary to that whole idea.
Eddie Turner:
I like it. I like it. And the book is a fantastic book. So The 24-Hour Rule, we’re going to definitely encourage our listeners to pick it up, read it, and understand the power of a pause, understand the power of pausing when it comes to leadership.

So Charles, as a summary of what I’m hearing us discuss in this episode is that adopting of the discipline of pausing, especially by people of positions or authority, can fundamentally change a course of action, strengthen relationships, reduce stress, and even save lives. Is there anything you’d add to that?

Charles Fred:
Yes. And my final thoughts for listeners, remember that pause is not a delay. It’s a discipline. It’s not a waste of your time. It gives you the time to deliberate before you act. And whether it takes five seconds, 24 hours, 48 hours, whatever time it takes, as long as it provides mental clarity before you act, it’s working. And I encourage everybody to give it a try for at least a week.
Eddie Turner:
So is that the next step a listener should take who’s hearing us talk right now?
Charles Fred:
I think so. I think I’d love for people to get a copy of the book. We have a website 24HourRule.com. We’ve had some pretty good dialogue on that site just on people sharing what’s working, what isn’t. I love to hear from them, by the way, and I love to share that with you and some of the teaching and work that you’re doing, Eddie. So it’s great to hear from people just how hard this is. This isn’t easy. It sounds easy to just pause but it’s not easy in this world that we live, in this frenetic world we live in.
Eddie Turner:
Well, thank you for sharing that. So you said that for listeners to learn more about you and follow your work, they can visit 24HourRule.com. Is that correct?
Charles Fred:
That’s correct. And the book, of course, is on Amazon and, hopefully, you can pick it up, we wrote it so it’s affordable and easy to digest. So hopefully we start a bit of a movement around the idea of pause.
Eddie Turner:
I like it. Well, we will put that in the show notes and, of course, on the KeepLeadingPodcast.com website the book will be listed.

So, Charles, it’s been such a pleasure to catch up with you and talk to you. Thank you for being a guest of the Keep Leading Podcast.

Charles Fred:
Thank you. I hope that I helped.
Eddie Turner:
You’ve been a tremendous help.

And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.

Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on The Keep Leading Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to The Keep Leading Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.

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The Keep Leading!™ podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.