I kept (reading) listening...

I used to use podcasts. Wherever I walk a dog or beat the traffic on my way to, and back from, work, I like to listen to something that I like. When recently I cleared my list of saved podcasts I feel emptiness.

Most of the podcasts are from Simon Sinek and his series “A bit of optimism”. When I finished past episodes I was searching to feel that space.

The series didn’t finish. The new episodes are still released and available in the UK almost each Wednesday, but once played, there is still something that I want to listen further before the next one.

I tried some other podcasts but I didn’t stick with them. Tried some of Hal Elrod but then I found that some of his views are not aligned with mine and stopped.

Once again I reached for a book.

This time was Leaders Eat Last1 by… Simon Sinek.

Knowing that is read by an author I knew that I will like it… until the foreword.

Post Scriptum at the beginning - this is not a book review.

The Foreword

The foreword in this book is read by somebody else.

At first, it didn’t stick with me but I knew that the book need to be read by Simon, at least at a later stage. After a while of listening to the foreword, I understand why this is as it is. It is difficult and will sound strange if Simon would refer to himself in the third person (“In this book Simon Sinek will…”). This would sound odd.

And then the book begins…

Narrators voice

At this stage, I understood how important it is who is narrating the book.

Simon’s voice sounds appealing to me and when you hear his views, they appeal to you (or not). It’s not about what he is reading (maybe not directly), the story that he is reading or the view that he is spreading. It’s about how you feel hearing the story in his voice.

Without a doubt, Simon got the voice that is building you up from the inside (inspiring). Is like he said, that he feels much better when somebody will come to him and will say that he feels inspired rather than hearing a typical praising voice, that “it was great, I like it”.

We feel great, and when he knew that, he feel great that we felt inspired!

From just this book I understand how much a tone of voice and passion can change everything.

Computer-generated voice and books read by it will not bring this split-second experience that will last.

I have an opportunity to choose some audio-based LinkedIn Learning courses. On one of them, I get a computer-read (synthesised) course. Despite that, the topic and the content of the course were good but the experience and feel sounded fake. I didn’t go through it as I simply can’t stand it. It’s the same with some of the video courses. Some people’s voices are simply not meant to be for this, others shall.

Our voice

We cannot choose our voice, but we can work on it.

It’s like Rene Richie who, in one of his videos admit, that he, in the past, couldn’t stand himself. The way he talks and presents weren’t great for getting attention and retention. He didn’t give up but worked hard to get better. Not everybody would like his voice, but some, including myself, will handle it. Some voices, like Simon’s, can stand every single day, but like Rene, I would like only from time to time. There is something with it.

I speak two languages. My voice is different in both, and I can’t stand listening to myself from the recording. I need to work on this to the level of acceptance myself so I will know that others may do the same.

Bringing mediocrity to excellence

After a while, in the second book, I realised that Simon could read the most boring (or not), content-rich legislative document like the constitution or human rights law document and we will feel inspired.

The way how things are presented matters.

If Martin Luter King would come with his famous “I have a dream” speech with a synthesised (sound fake) voice, nobody would like to listen. The voice will not touch each individual in the way how it does. Things could go in the wrong direction, but luckily they didn’t.

We need more people willing to put forward things in a form that will land in our hearts and soul. So it will not sound alien but will fulfil us inside. That’s the only way when we can be better, not only as leaders but as humans overall.

Sadly, a person with an inspirational voice can go down the wrong path. From good to bad, things can change quickly.

It’s like in the book “Start with Why”, when Simon narrated a story about a leader, without a small detail known at the beginning. We all assumed that he was talking about somebody remarkable, whose work we will remember and whose words, whose voice will inspire us. In the end, we have been lifted high until we were shocked and our hearts hit the ground.

When I heard that all that was told, and how was told, in a form that was told, refers to Adolf Hitler, I was concerned.

How easily the inspirational voice and the way how it’s presented can describe something horrible in a remarkable positive form.

I understand how little (how much) is needed to inspire leaders and extremists in the same way.

The radicals know the word “love” and how to use it for their gain. “Love” can do a lot of good but can also be used as a tool for bad, like everything.

The book

I am not here to give you a book review but I can tell, that when you read it you will start thinking differently. The things highlighted, quoted and presented will start making sense. You will start thinking deeper about the organisation that you work in. You will start noticing the problems, resulting in your job being just “fine” (and not an “I love my job” feeling). It will highlight the things that make you feel about your work differently.

It was until chapter 24 (The Abstract Generation) that the high was reached. When Simons refers back to millennials, multitasking and ADHD.

Till then I always thought about multitasking as something positive, that exists, but (reading) listening about it as juggling with our mind between tasks rather than doing real multitasking (two or more things at once).

I started feeling that he got right. There is no real multitasking and that the multitasking doesn’t exist, or at least does not exist in the way how we think about it.

Off course, we multitask in our life. We can drive a car, concentrate on the road and at the same time listen to an audiobook and process the knowledge read (listened). It’s not we, who are multitasking, it’s our brain. Even in this example, it’s not fully true.

There are days when I can drive peacefully to work and listen to a book and days when I met idiots on the road which raises my annoyance at the people and causes a distraction. In such a situation, I am unable to process things in the same way. I cannot concentrate on the book and most of the time I need to rewind or pause and come back to it when I am mentally ready for that.

We got only two pairs of hands and we cannot do the job that requires three pairs. We can juggle between tasks and in the end, do all of them, but that’s not multitasking, that juggling.

Throughout my life, I am taking notes, and making to-do lists, so I will not forget what needs to be done. Too many times something or someone will distract me and I need a bit of time to come back on track with what I have been doing a couple of minutes ago. If we were capable of doing real multitasking, this small distraction would not make a difference. In such a scenario we would need to behave more like machines and less like humans.

When we drive a car, our car camera system can process more information on the road than we can. We just need to concentrate on the point, the size of a coin, to drive safely.

We are humans with limited abilities to do things. We may, through practice, do things quicker and better, but we need to know that we cannot multitask.

It’s like this - if I did a job in 15 minutes rather than 2 hours you still owe me for 2 hours, as I spend years learning things that take 2 hours, to do them in 15 minutes. Knowledge cost and for knowledge we need to pay.

Imagine that you are cutting a piece of wood and vigorously chatting with your friend. Through distractive chat, we rather risking of hurting ourselves than do things correctly. We need to put our attention on one thing or another, but we cannot concentrate fully on two things at once.

You may agree with the fact that multitasking doesn’t exist or you can strongly oppose it. People are different. There are more neurodiverse people around the world and their minds work differently, but that doesn’t change the fact, backed by brain researchers, that true multitasking doesn’t exist. Think about it. The fact that you can do three things at the same time and complete them all together means as little that you managed to do multiple things together, but you haven’t multitasked (do all three things at once). You just juggled between tasks until all of them are completed. Sometimes it’s working, other times it’s not. If you are good at doing multiple things at once (and somehow complete all of them) but are easily distracted by things around you, the whole perception of “multitasking” falls short.

“We are not doing two things at once, rather what we are doing is mental juggling, or rapid toggling between tasks”.

If you will look into multitasking from the perspective of the above statement from the book, you will start getting it.

The book is another piece of work to inspire us. You cannot say things about this book, you need to read it or listen to it like I did this time.