Building A Better World, One Conversation At A Time

This hadn’t happened to me often before.

I could feel Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott, beginning to make a dramatic and positive effect on me before I had even finished reading the book. Its message that struck me immediately and was sweeping me along through the final page was the belief that, between any two people who know each other, the conversation is the relationship. Scott’s book was making me rethink every relationship I have.

Many of us have heard an adage that goes something like this: “Tell me what book you’re reading now, and I’ll tell you what you’ll be talking about over the next three months.” This is almost always true for me. As a strategic coach, I need constantly to find fresh ways to explain and reinforce the NextStep Elite principles to my clients, not to mention stay relevant. That’s what keeps me looking for good books.

If you are in a leadership role in at least one aspect of your life, you must read Fierce Conversations. You don’t have time? Then sit with me over coffee, and discuss some of its key concepts. The author is the founder and CEO of Fierce Inc. Her company’s mission is to transform the conversations that determine their clients’ success. The vision of Fierce Inc. is to build a better world—one conversation at a time.

What is “fierce” conversation? From Scott’s perspective, it’s what happens when we come out from behind ourselves to step into the conversation and make it REAL. She challenges us by asserting that, while many of us are afraid of “real,” it is unreal conversations that should scare us to death because they are irreversibly expensive. Talk isn’t cheap; too often it’s wasteful.

Think about it. What conversations have you been unable or unwilling to have—with a spouse, boss, colleague, employee, child, or with yourself—in the last week that, if you were able to have, might change everything?

Conversations are the workhorses of your company or team. Think again of the benefits of “real” or fierce conversations to your company with more truthful and creative brainstorming sessions, with clearer and well-constructed objections to poor ideas being forced into action, or with honest feedback about the dysfunctions and lost productivity caused by poor—even angry—leadership.

When you think of fierce conversation, think of passion, integrity, authenticity and collaboration. Think cultural transformation.

Fierce Conversations reminded me of a quote on effective leadership by 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

A few years ago, I heard Tom Goodwin, former Major League Baseball outfielder and current Major League Baseball 1st base coach reminisce about an extended stint in AA while trying to get to the Big Leagues. Reflecting on the experience he said, "Leslie, the toughest person you'll ever have to confront in the mirror is yourself." Goodwin's claim prompted me to action on the spot. 

Coincidentally, I was reading Fierce Conversations at the time. The combination of Goodwin and Scott was perfect harmony. Goodwin challenged me to follow Rumi’s words of wisdom, and Scott skillfully provided the cookbook to take even better control of my conversations … of my relationships … of my effectiveness … of my life.

I am trying to encourage you to set a similar course, and NextStep Elite is positioning to help you. 

In the meantime, I encourage you to think about that earlier quote “Tell me what book you’re reading now, and I’ll tell you what you’ll be talking about over the next three months.” So if our paths cross in the next couple of months and I ask you what you’re currently talking about, what will your answer be?

Be great,