Are You Still The Future? How learning to be flexible and read the signals in the system kept me relevant and prepared for every step on my leadership journey
- Piers Fallowfield-Cooper
Wherever you are in your journey, be there. There is no wrong place. Just be truly present wherever you are.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The purpose of this book is to encourage you to think about things. Life is a journey – for all of us it’s a journey – this book is a bit of my journey, my clients’ journeys and a broader general leadership journey. I interviewed and chatted to dozens of clients and colleagues to get their insight into their leadership journeys. Their thoughts and wisdom are liberally shared throughout – some as thoughts that emerged from stimulating conversations, some as interviews, some as anonymised comments. You can find out more about these wonderfully intelligent, gracious and generous people in the appendix.
This is a book in two halves, separated by ‘Chapter X’, titled ‘The Pivot Point’.
The first half of the book is for the leaders of tomorrow. The ones who are hungry and thirsty for success in all its forms. The second half is more focused on those who have “arrived”, for those who have some success and are wondering what to do with it. The two parts of the book are notionally aimed at different stages of a career, but the real “win” for you, wherever you are in your career, is to look forwards to future success, and backwards to gain hindsight in your decision-making. If you’ve ‘arrived’ you can use part 1 to understand how you got there, what influenced you and what you learnt on the way. This may guide you further, sparking connections. For the younger audience you can read ahead, the second part will help plant the seeds of future success.
Chair, Global Risk Partners
“An engrossing account of leadership learnt and lived. Packed full of advice and thoughtful reflection. A chuckle filled winner.”
Group CEO, Royal London
“Immensely readable and packed full of nuggets of wisdom. I read it cover to cover and I know I will find myself dipping back in frequently.”
CEO, Illovo Sugar
"It is wonderfully quite unlike any other book I have read on leadership."
Caspar de Bono
MD, Edward de Bono Ltd
"Piers is an outstanding mentor and I am deeply grateful for his support. A true Obi-Wan Kenobi. Anyone who is too busy to read this book, needs to read this book. Piers gives excellent and practical advice on how to lead by being worth following."
Professor of Practice at University of Bath
"Reading this book is like having a mentor in your pocket. Piers has worked with so many different people, in such a range of businesses and predicaments, that he has accumulated enormous wisdom and insight. Best of all, he shares this with warmth and humanity – not the cold abstractions of business strategy but the gritty reality of being in charge. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t find pearls of wisdom in this treasure trove."
Dr Christopher Hong
Area Manager GB & Benelux, WingFan
"Piers has condensed a wealth of experience and knowledge into an informative and entertaining read. The advice is general enough to be enjoyed by most, backed up by examples from his own life and also his 20 years of coaching. There will be something insightful that applies to most life situations and any stage of life and career. Whether you are looking for a biography of a successful, jet-setting executive or to further your own career and set your life goal, this is a book for you."
Dr. Michael Kock
Senior Vice President,
Innovation Catalyst at Inari
"Do not read this book if you are just a PILP – a person in a leadership position - without the risky aspiration to become a true leader. You will - at best - not understand the multifaceted picture of leadership Piers is laying out, or - at worst - get deeply frustrated in view of the opportunities you are missing. Do read this book if you are a leader on a journey and feel unfinished (as we all sometimes do). You will re-discover the lost art of true leadership. How to be a signpost not a weathervane. Leadership as a mindset and culture, not as a position of power or a bigger office. Piers, with decades of experience in business and coaching - with this book does the 'magic trick': he compresses volumes of leadership literature into an almost transcendental experience. The book is like its author: informative but light, transformative but full of humor, direct but elegant, and full of deep wisdom. It is a work of coaching in itself."
"I started to read your beautiful book on Sunday evening and couldn’t move for 175 pages. By then it was very late and I finally went to bed. I was incredibly moved by your writing; I didn’t just read it, I heard your familiar voice guide me through each paragraph, retelling some familiar stories and then drawing back a curtain almost like a magician, revealing themes and stories from another life. It was authentic, well researched and familiar all at the same time. It wasn’t at all what I had expected. It was personal, the language was digestible, understandable and sneakily rich. I have found other books in this genre a little preachy or maybe even pious. I think the heart of its success goes to the absence of judgement. The stories are thoughtfully laid out and there is room to breathe. It’s a great book, Piers, you have nailed it!"
Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy at CEPI
"This book was the fizz in my glass of champagne and such was the perfect antidote to our collective post-pandemic fatigue. It's quite unlike anything you will have read before. Through an interweaving of personal experience, academic study and more than a sprinkling of magic Piers will take you through the really big questions on your leadership journey and provide you with the confidence to become your authentic self. More than that though it will help you understand things about yourself in a profound and useful way and as such, it really is a book for life."
JOHN C NELSON
FOUNDER, THE APPLIED RESEARCH COMPANY
"This is not a cookbook on leadership wherein you can look up a recipe for any occasion (decision, situation, challenge, etc.). It is a lifetime's collection of anecdotes and insights that you will return to as you negotiate your career path and leadership journey. It will broaden your view of the world and of yourself."
You are not just your brain
How do you do your thinking? Where do you do your thinking? Do you think you do your thinking in your head? Some of it? Do you do some of your thinking talking to yourself? I would respectfully suggest a lot of your thinking is through conversations with your gut. If you are currently using multiple layers of rationality to explain and justify what you’re doing, and your gut says, I don’t like this, maybe it’s time to start paying more attention to your gut. Read on to find out how.
Take action, get aligned,
recommit or reinvent
If you’re not aligned, how can you make good decisions? The brain, the gut and everything must be aligned so you know who you are. What’s your narrative? Is it true? Is it aligned? All good relationships and good marriages have levels of either overt or covert re-commitment. You have to wake up, this is your life. Be honest. You have to wake up every morning and ask the question, do I still want to be here? If I do, am I doing the things that align with this decision? Avoid the danger of becoming a person in a leadership position – a PILP rather than a true leader.
Are you in this job to win?
Or are you there to not lose?
Are you in the right place? At the right time? When your thoughts and actions are aligned, recommit to the task, and put yourself in the right place at the right time when you are ready. Awareness is the beginning of freedom. Nothing in life is as bad as in our imagination. Read the book to hear from other leaders who have made the journey before you, and be guided by to a winning future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’ve always felt that I had a book in me and for the last 15 years I’ve been collecting cuttings, notes, and ideas – virtually none of which have found their way into this book. Greg, a favourite client, started me on my lunacy of codifying what I do and how I do it when he told me he needed, “Piers in your pocket”. While this book is my noble attempt, it’s a pale shadow of what I actually do with young leaders who want to be inspired, and mature leaders who appreciate a thoughtful dialogue and a reminder to be inspiring.
I’ve written about what happens when you don’t have big plans and you surrender to what unfolds and, although I’m not naturally very ambitious, it turned out all right. I hope I’ve written an interesting read with some good tips. I’d be interested to know what you think.