Lead and Succeed by Seeing the World With New Eyes – Part 2


Source: StockUnlimited, used with permission

I’m back with Todd Cherches, author of the new book VisuaLeadership: Leveraging the Power of Visual Thinking in Leadership and in Life. In the first part of this interview, he shared some of his favorite techniques for seeing the world differently. Why? Doing so with fresh eyes expands your mind and improves your ability to lead yourself and others.

Today we’ll discuss the usefulness of your wandering mind, whether you’re daydreaming at your desk or taking a shower, activities that are particularly restorative for introverts. Cherches will also share more techniques to enlighten and inspire you. He is the CEO and co-founder of BigBlueGumball LLC, a New York City-based management and leadership consulting, training, and executive coaching firm; we’re longtime colleagues at New York University, where we both teach graduate business classes.

NA: Why is daydreaming important?

TC: My short answer is that it allows our mind to create and to innovate. Oftentimes, it is when we are thinking about something else that our best ideas emerge.

NA: So true! How about another activity that sometimes gets a bum rap, possibly also because of its apparent mindlessness, doodling?

TC: The same goes for doodling. I always encourage my students to leave their laptops at home and to, instead, bring a pad and colored pens to sketch out their notes. In fact, when I teach the Passion/Skill Matrix model you and I discussed during the first part of this interview, I have my students draw it out and fill it in by hand. This creates a visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic—aka “VARK”—learning experience that enhances the students’ attention, comprehension, and retention by getting them to focus, increase their understanding, and maximize their recall.

NA: Yes, the VARK approach packs a punch.


Source: StockUnlimited, used with permission

TC: On a related note—not to reveal anything too personal here—but, as many people do, I do my best daydreaming, as well as my best doodling, in the shower. I, actually, have waterproof notepads that I use and, in fact, the Passion/Skill Matrix model came to me in a flash many years ago during a midnight shower.

NA: Thank you for sharing that about the power of the shower, which apparently refreshes much more than just the body. Speaking of seeing the world in different, helpful ways, you’ve created a multitude of models, tools, and tips to enhance your readers’ visual thinking. If you had to name just one that can help introverts advance in their careers, which would it be?

TC: My previously-mentioned Passion/Skill Matrix model would be my top model for anyone. So many people, from students to coaching clients, and from introverts to extroverts, have told me that this tool helps them to “frame” their interests and their aptitudes relative to where and how they are—and how they should be—spending their time.

NA: I appreciate the idea of a “frame” as yet another visual metaphor. Todd, you’re a walking visual metaphor machine! And those metaphors can help us see things differently—and evoke useful insights.

TC: Yes. The key to success is to translate those insights into actions to produce results.

NA: Would you describe a visual tool that can help introverts make important decisions?

TC: Visual models are, typically, designed to be experienced through the physical eye. But having to “describe” a visual tool forces me to explain it in words that get the reader to reconstruct it in their “mind’s eye.” That’s a term that Shakespeare used in Hamlet, when the title character describes seeing his dead father in his imagination—or, perhaps, as an actual ghost; no spoiler alerts here!


Source: StockUnlimited, used with permission

I think my “ABC” Decision-Making model, in which you come up with three options (A, B, and C), list the relative pros and cons for each, and then identify and justify your choice, is a simple-yet-powerful framework for decision-making. This approach tends to resonate with introverts as it provides a somewhat linear, sequential, structured framework for thinking through and justifying one’s options and recommendations before having to explain them.

NA: From the Bard to the boardroom, it’s useful to remember that our mind’s eye is an amazing tool to expand our vision. If we can go to the physical eye for a moment, I can’t help noticing that you only wear black socks. Okay, well maybe I didn’t actually notice that and read it in your book. So, Todd, would you explain why you tend to only wear black socks for work? How does that tie back into your message to your readers?

TC: Ha! My “Black Sock Decision-Making” concept is a visual metaphor as well as a useful practice: It represents a way to simplify the complexity in our lives by eliminating the non-essential so that we can focus on things that are far more important. If you only have one color of sock to choose from, you have one fewer “big decision” you need to make each day. And the way it ties back to my overall message is that sometimes a sock is not just a sock.

Source: StockUnlimited, used with permission

NA: Now that you’ve got me going on Shakespeare, Todd, a sock by any other name—never mind.

TC: Ha! I take thee at thy word!

NA: Is there anything you’d like to add?

TC: For an introvert, I’ve probably talked way too much already! I’d just like to thank you, Nancy, for giving this introvert—and so many others—a voice, and an opportunity to be heard.

NA: It’s always a privilege chatting with you, Todd. I am inspired by your message of tapping into our sense of seeing and envisioning that can easily get lost in the swirl of the day. So thank you for reminding us to bring it to the foreground—and putting a proverbial frame around the treasure trove of images that surround us each day.

Copyright 2020 © Nancy Ancowitz

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