Authors: Sharma, Robin
THE GREATNESS GUIDE
One of the World’s Top Success Coaches
Shares His Secrets for Personal
and Business Mastery
I dedicate this book, with deep respect and great love, to my parents.
You not only gave me the gift of life but an unrelenting passion
to live it fully. For that I am so very grateful.
The media sometimes calls me a leadership (or self-help) “guru.” I’m not. I’m just an ordinary guy who happens to have learned ideas and tools that have helped many human beings reach their best lives and many organizations get to world class.
But I must be really clear: I’m no different from you. I have my struggles, my frustrations and my own fears—along with my hopes, goals and dreams. I’ve had good seasons and some deeply painful ones. I’ve made some spectacularly good choices and some outrageously bad mistakes. I’m very human—a work in progress. If I have ideas that you find insightful, please know it’s simply because I spend my days focused on the knowledge you are about to experience. Thinking about practical ways to help you play your biggest game as a human being and reach greatness. Dwelling on how I can help companies get to the extraordinary. Do anything long enough and you’ll get some depth of insight and understanding about it. Then they’ll call you a guru.
A man at a signing I did at a bookstore in Bangalore, India, heard me say, “I’m no guru.” He came up to me and said: “Why are you so uncomfortable being called a guru? ‘Gu’ simply means ‘darkness’ in Sanskrit and ‘ru’ simple means ‘dispel.’ So
the word ‘guru’ simply speaks of one who dispels the darkness and brings more understanding and light.” Nice point. Made me think.
I’ve had good seasons and some deeply painful ones. I’ve made some spectacularly good choices and some
outrageously bad mistakes. I’m very human—a work in progress.
I guess my discomfort stems from the fact that if you think I’m different from you, then you might say, “Well, I can’t do the kinds of things Robin talks about because he has talents and abilities I don’t have. All the stuff he talks about is easy for him to do. He’s this guru.” Nope. Sorry to disappoint you. I’m just a guy working hard to make the best of his days, trying to be a great single dad to my two wonderful children and hoping he’s—in some way—making a difference in peoples’ lives. No guru here. But I do like the “dispelling the darkness” point. Need to learn more about that one. Maybe some guru can help me.
I don’t always get it right (I told you I’m no guru). But please know that I try so hard to walk my talk and to ensure my video is in alignment with my audio. Still, I am a human being, and that means sometimes I slip (I’ve yet to meet a perfect one). Here’s what I mean.
I spend a lot of time encouraging the readers of my books and the participants at my workshops on personal and organizational leadership to “run toward your fears” and to seize those “cubic centimeters of chance” (opportunities) when they present themselves. I challenge my clients to dream, to shine and to dare, because to me a life well lived is all about reaching for your highest and your best. And, in my mind, the person who experiences the most wins. Most of the time, I am a poster boy for visiting the places that scare me and doing the things that make me feel uncomfortable. But recently, I didn’t. Sorry.
I was downtown at the Four Seasons in Toronto, in the lobby getting ready for a speech I was about to give to a company called Advanced Medical Optics, which is a long-standing
leadership coaching client of ours and an impressive organization. I look up and guess who I see? Harvey Keitel. Yes, the Harvey “
Big Movie Star” Keitel. And what does the man who wrote
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
do? I shrink from greatness.
Each day, life will send you little windows of opportunity. Your destiny will ultimately be defined by how you respond to these windows of opportunity.
I don’t know why I didn’t stand up and walk over and make a new friend. I’ve done it with baseball legend Pete Rose at the Chicago airport (we ended up sitting next to each other all the way to Phoenix). I did it last summer with Henry Kravis, one of the planet’s top financiers in the lobby of a hotel in Rome (I was with my kids, and Colby, my 11-year-old son, thought he was pretty cool). I did it with Senator Edward Kennedy when I saw him in Boston. I even did it with guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen when I was a kid growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. But I missed the chance to connect with Harvey Keitel.
Each day, life will send you little windows of opportunity. Your destiny will ultimately be defined by how you respond to these windows of opportunity. Shrink from them and your life will be small. Feel the fear and run to them anyway, and your life will be big. Life’s just too short to play little. Even with your kids, you only have a tiny window to develop them and champion
their highest potential. And to show them what unconditional love looks like. When that window closes, it’s hard to reopen it.
If I see Harvey Keitel again, I promise you that I’ll sprint toward him. He may think I’m a celebrity stalker until we start to chat. And then he’ll discover the truth: I’m simply a man who seizes the gifts that life presents to him.
Richard Carrion, the CEO of Puerto Rico’s top bank, once shared a line with me that I’ll never forget: “Robin, nothing fails like success.” Powerful thought. You, as well as your organization, are most vulnerable when you are most successful. Success actually breeds complacency, inefficiency and—worst of all—arrogance. When people and businesses get really successful, they often fall in love with themselves. They stop innovating, working hard, taking risks and begin to rest on their laurels. They go on the defensive, spending their energy protecting their success rather than staying true to the very things that got them to the top. Whenever I share this point with a roomful of CEOs, every single one of them nods in agreement. Please let me give you a real-world example from my own life.
This past weekend, I took my kids to our favorite Italian restaurant. The food is incredible there. The best bresaola outside of Italy. Heavenly pasta. Super foamy lattes that make me want to give up my job and become a barista. But the service at this place is bad. Bad, bad, bad (like it is at most places). Why? Because the place is always full. And because they are doing so well, they’ve taken the lines out front for granted. And guess what? It’s the beginning of their end.
I love taking pictures. My dad taught me to record the journey of my life with photos. So I generally carry a little camera around with me. I asked our server if she would snap a picture of my children and me as we dug into our spaghetti. “I don’t have time” was the curt reply. Unbelievable. Too busy to take five seconds to keep a customer happy. Too busy to help out a little. Too busy to show some humanity.