Thoughts on Leadership: Leadership Lessons from Tom Ferry

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in Napa, California at the Tom Ferry Team Legacy Retreat. From Sunday through Wednesday, participants networked, challenged themselves, learned and found inspiration from Tom’s words of wisdom and through collaborating and sharing stories with each other. I probably took more notes than anyone in the room because my goal for the retreat was to learn from the people in the room who have boots-on-the-ground knowledge and figure out how I could use my experience to help the group get to another level of success.

 Today, as I write this, I’m preparing to attend the Intero Honors 2021 Production Award Celebration in San Jose, California.

But for today’s post, let’s return to wine country and the teachings of Tom Ferry.

Tom has been a great friend, mentor, and coach of mine for years. We first met when Tom was 19 years old. He cold called me as a top-producing real estate agent to sell me a ticket to a Mike Ferry Superstar Retreat. We’ve been friends ever since.

There’s a reason Tom has such esteem in the industry; his leadership skills are extraordinary, and each day, maybe even each hour or each minute, he’s passing along what he knows to help others succeed. One of the things I really like about Tom is that he’s incredibly relevant. He’s not teaching old knowledge repeatedly; he’s always looking for something new, something fresh, something that will enrich people’s businesses and lives in a way nothing has before. It’s the very definition of a forward-thinking leader. Here are a few of his most recent (and valuable) takeaways:

Believe in yourself, achieve more every time. Tom recorded a podcast with therapist John Jolliffe and during the episode, Jolliffe said: “All people have as much self-confidence as everybody else. That’s the truth … but there’s two types. There’s negative self-confidence and positive self-confidence. People with negative self-confidence have trouble reaching their Wildly Important Goals because they simply don’t believe they can. Or, they’re too fearful to begin the process of making it happen because yet again, they don’t believe they can. Leaders with the exact same amount of confidence – only this time it’s positive – achieve their goals because they see nothing as impossible. Guided by optimism and their strong belief in themselves and their capabilities, they tackle tasks with confidence and get it done. Tom says one way to gain confidence is to recite daily affirmations and I agree. I’ve been reciting a passage from Og Mandino’s “The Seeds of Success” as part of my morning routine for the past three decades. Read the affirmation in full here.

Harness the power of accountability. I’m a big fan of accountability partners and Tom is, too but there are many ways to harness the power of accountability. Tom says you can: announce publicly that if you don’t do something you’ll write a check to an organization or person you wouldn’t typically support; schedule a quick touch-base call with a colleague every morning to review your commitments; hold a contest where those who are at the bottom of the scoreboard have to organize an event or dinner for those who win; share your goals with another leader and ask them to check in on you periodically to track your progress; involve your friends or family in the process, (for example, if you don’t generate X number of leads per month, you give your kids $50); or you could hire a coach.

Analyze your closest friendships. Tom says as an 18-year-old he had an epiphany after his dad came to visit his apartment and told him, “We become like the people we spend the most time with.” There are three kinds of people in the world: positive, neutral, and negative. The positive people are those who will pick you up when you’re down. They are the people committed to perpetual improvement, accomplishing their goals and forward momentum. Neutral people are just that – they won’t react in any kind of positive or negative way to the circumstances around them. “Want to go do this?” Sure, they’d say. They’re fine with whatever. They’re neutral. And finally, the negative people. Those who will drag you down or are constantly pessimistic and won’t ever elevate your state of mind. Tom says write down your close friends. Look at how many of them are positive, neutral, or negative. Make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with positive people, those who will challenge you and hold you accountable because they want to be accountable to their big goals, too. Neutral people are the ones who YOU may be able to help, whose neutral mindset may be able to shift more toward the positive because you’re in their lives. Negative people have negative mindsets. As the saying goes, being positive works most of the time, being negative works 100% of the time.

Know your why. In a recent blog, Tom asks an important question: Why do most people quit? Why do most people break their own promises and commitments? If you ask them, they often have many reasons why they couldn’t do something; it was a one-off. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t have time. I didn’t think I could. They justify these actions and move on, OK with the fact that their life is not being lived at full potential. Tom says, “I would argue that the real case for a life, a life at level 10 is to find that one reason why … that one driving force … that one thing that just aligns you.” It’s what, Tom explains, makes you a person of your word, a leader others can rely on. I’ve long believed that your word is your bond, and this includes the words you speak to yourself. You can read these words now and reflect on the calls you didn’t make, the deals you didn’t get, the appointments you didn’t book OR you can focus on your one reason why, and use that to propel you forward, to make the calls you said you would, to do the things you need to do to become the person, leader and human being you want to be. Your reason will determine your action. It will allow you to follow through and, as Tom says, have a life by design instead of a life by default.

So, what’s the message? For this one, it’s easy: gratitude. Thank you, Tom, for being a leader by example, someone who not only delivers sage advice but also lives by that advice every single day.

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