It’s Not What We Say About Ourselves That Counts

aliThis morning I woke up early,  just before 4am, I couldn’t sleep I am still jet lagged, I didn’t feel like doing any work so I was looking at what programs were on TV, thought I’d see if there was a film or something that would interest me.

Not sure if I mentioned this before but I used to be a big boxing fan, I was teenager during the 70’s so I was raised, in my opinion, during the greatest period for heavy weight boxing, an era of Ali, Joe Frazer, Ken Norton, George Forman, Ernie Shavers, Leon Spinks and Larry Holmes. A generation of heavyweight boxers that will never be repeated.

So when I stumbled on a documentary film I’d never seen before, called Facing Ali, I was in hog heaven. This was a program interviewing all of the champions who fought Ali, their stories, their experiences and their thoughts on Muhammad Ali.

As I watched it was amazing to see the respect and the awe in which many of them held Ali, and still do to this day.

Ali was known for his catch phrase ‘I am the greatest‘ something he started saying during the late 60’s and kept saying until his retirement in the 80’s.

But what I found interesting throughout out the whole film was that his greatness didn’t come from what he said about himself, it came from what others said about him. The charisma he had, the mesmerizing impact he had on them during the fights, how his presence made them change their styles, doubt themselves.

In one fight Ali was practically knocked out in the penultimate round by Ernie Shavers and Shavers thought he would finish Ali in the last round, only to find that Ali recuperated during the break and came out fighting the last round as fresh as he had in the first and defeated Shavers to retain his title.

Our greatness doesn’t come from who we say we are, or who we think we are, it comes from what others say about us. Their perception is our reality, not the other way around.

So whilst we might think we are great leaders, or say we are great leaders, non of this really matters, it’s what out teams and our peers say that really counts.

So if you want to better understand your leadership, your style, your effectiveness, then you need to see what your team says about you. This is why I believe that 360 assessments are important, either the online anonymous assessments or having a coach interview your team to find out what they really think.

I have done this a couple of times at different companies, and there was always something that I could look to learn from and improve, and I would recommend everyone to try it.

I often say that you cannot be an Inspiring Leader if you don’t have an Inspired Team, but it’s also true that you cannot be a great leader unless the people you lead give you that accolade.

Look at Ali, he’s not the greatest because he say’s he is, he is the greatest because the people he faced throughout the 70s, many of whom are remembered as great champions, say he’s the greatest.

So if you want to take your leadership to the next level, contact me at, and I will carry out an assessment with your team and help you put a plan in place to make you a better leader in 2015 and one that will put you on the road to greatness.

Don’t wait email me now!


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