Insights: Alistair McGeorge – Business Leader
(Formerly Managing Director Big W, Executive Chairman and CEO New Look, CEO Matalan, CEO Littlewoods)
“Does happiness and knowing who you are increase performance? Yes. The better I understand myself, what I’m good at and what I’m not good at, the better my decisions, which impacts my happiness and my performance.
These days my decisions are far more intuitive. If my head says yes, but my heart and gut says no, then I’ll go with no. We can justify any decision in our head, however if the decision does not sit right in our heart or gut, it just won’t work. We have far more energy when our head and heart is aligned.
From my own past personal experience, where I have made a decision based on logic alone, despite my intuition saying no, my intuition has proved to be right. In my head, I can come up with numerous reasons why such logic is right, and whilst I can justify all of these reasons, reality is that they are still the wrong ones. I now know I am better following my instinct, knowing who I am and what gets the best out of me.
Happiness is a feeling, not a thought. Generally as people we do what we feel, not what we think. If we understand what people feel, we are better able to help them perform. We need to create the environment that gets the best out of them. We can recruit the best people possible, however if we don’t create the right environment and understand what motivates them and how they best operate, then we won’t get the best from them. This affects their happiness, their decisions and their performance. If people don’t feel comfortable they won’t perform, and if they’re super comfortable, they are not pushing themselves!
In business, it makes me happy to see others achieve. Better still is seeing them exceed their own expectations and excel where they never thought it was possible. It’s the accumulation of many things that turns around and grows businesses, and my role as a business leader is to help create the environment for people to excel and exceed, provide the encouragement and motivation for them to explore and understand themselves better, allowing them to make their own decisions and make their own mistakes.
My success is not just about understanding my own strengths and doing what I’m good at, it’s very much about other people’s successes. By understanding ourselves, knowing what gets the best out of us, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, and as individuals using our intuition, help us to feel that we are in a good place to perform.
Over the years I’ve learned that only I am responsible for my own happiness. Others can help make us happy, but it is still our own responsibility, and our greatest happiness comes from ourselves – we get out of life what we put into it! I have also learned a lot about myself emotionally, learned how to control my emotions and deal with things that don’t go well. I have certainly learned how to be more intuitive about other people.
Working with Laurence
What I’ve learned from Laurence is the concept of balance. If my body, mind and heart are in balance (I am in balance intellectually, mentally, emotionally, logically), I am calmer and then I make better decisions. If I am out of balance, professionally or personally, I do not perform as well as I could.
Through working with Laurence, and my own wisdom and experience, I have learned to use and trust my intuition much more. It’s like answering a question in Trivial Pursuit; we come up with an answer, which is our immediate response based on intuition and then spend time in our heads convincing ourselves that it’s not the right answer… when it was all along! He has certainly helped me to make decisions that are not just intellectual ones.
Laurence is a great mentor and very demanding in helping people get a greater awareness and understanding of who they are and what gets the best out of them. He takes them to a place where they can feel their own sense of authenticity, which in turn can move them to a place of greater happiness and success.
I have also learned that as people, if we were better at expressing how we feel and not trying to be something that we are not, we would be a lot happier. I believe I am 99 per cent authentic – what you see is what you get. I now have a better insight into ‘me’, I will ‘just be me’ in virtually everything I do and this helps to prepare me to be ‘the best I can be’.
I believe the more understanding we have of ourselves, the more we understand what we are good at and can surround ourselves with others who are good at the other things. Success is about doing a great job with the small amount of stuff that we are good at and not just being average by focusing on our weaknesses. It’s about being honest and authentic and knowing who we are – I know this myself and I am my biggest critic!”