Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self Awareness


Do you dream of leading with confidence, inspiring your team, and achieving remarkable results? The secret lies within you – in the power of self-awareness. In this session, Antonio Garrido, author of the acclaimed book My Daily Leadership: A Powerful Roadmap to Leadership Success, shares how to transform yourself into an extraordinary leader with self-awareness. His method of cultivating self-awareness proves to deal with most leaders’ blindspots. Antonio explains the role of journaling to many successful people and how self-evaluation can guide leaders into self-improvement. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain the key to exceptional leadership and embark on your journey of self-discovery with Antonio Garrido!

Show Notes:

  • 14:02 – The Scarcity and Abundance Mindset
  • 23:50 – Trust and Truth
  • 28:02 – Self-Awareness
  • 46:10 – Subjective Versus Objective Assessment
  • 48:22 – Journal
  • 50:00 – Self-Evaluation

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Unlock Your Leadership Potential: Leading With Self-Awareness With Antonio Garrido

I’m thrilled to be in the seat today. I’m thrilled for the guests that I’ve got, Antonio Garrido. He has over 25 years in senior leadership positions and world-class businesses. He is an expert in leadership transformation, shaping high-performance leaders out of highly stressed and overworked leaders. He’s got an incredible new book out called My Daily Leadership, A Powerful Roadmap For Leadership Success.

You’re going to love this conversation. We get far field, and we go in many different directions together, but the throughline of many of these conversations is super tangible. There are going to be things that you’re going to want to write down. There’ll be things that you’re going to want to implement as a result. Find a good place to tune in, be in a position potentially to take some notes, or come back and be able to do that, but most of all, and most importantly, enjoy.


Antonio, first of all, it’s great to have you on the show. I appreciate you taking the time, especially being in Europe and in our time zones being quite a bit different. Beginning of my day, end of your day. I’ve read your bio and I’m sure you get to hear that about yourself a lot. What I want to ask you at the outset is what’s something that’s not in the bio, not a part of your CV that you would love for people to know about you at the start of our conversation?

Maybe I mentioned how I say anything now and not to sound egotistical, but maybe it’s that this is my third book and I have a contract for another two. Give this book a whirl and if it doesn’t float your boat, try one of the others. I guess none of those are on my CV. I guess that’s the truth. Try out some of the other books too.

I’m going to dig a little deeper with you. I’m accepting your answer, but I’m not accepting it as the full answer. What’s something else that’s not a part of your standard intro or bio? It may take a second because this is a question we don’t prepare for. I won’t tell you about it ahead of time. I don’t tell any of the guests. Often people have to take a moment and think, “What don’t people know about me that I want them to know about me or potentially for them to know about me?”

Oftentimes, I find it difficult to talk about myself, but another thing that they might be interested to know about me is about fourteen years ago, I set up another company in Miami and we were incredibly fortunate. We grew it to the third-largest sales development company in the world. I guess that’s quite nice too.

You spend time now, I think you toggle between Miami and Great Britain and France, which is where I’m catching you today.

That’s right. We’re fortunate. I was full-time in Miami, largely. Not that you can’t tell by the accent, but I lived there a long time. I caught COVID very early on. I caught COVID in the Super Bowl final in mid-February. Just before the end of February, COVID hit the States. I caught it quite badly in the Super Bowl final and then passed it on to my wife. Nobody knew what COVID was in those days.

For the first 6 or 7 months before there were vaccines, it was quite a hairy time for people who caught it, especially when we caught it because nobody knew how to treat it, and oxygen, tents, and all of that. When we came out, your president at the time was telling people to perhaps inject Lysol into their veins. My wife and I said, “Let’s go and hunker down in France,” because we have this place in France for some time.

People asked me where do I call home now. I think it’s wherever the dogs are. I suppose where my wife is too. We took my wife and the dogs and we moved to France to sit out COVID. During that time, we launched this other business, which is headquartered in the UK. That’s why I flipped between the three, but I guess if I had to call anywhere home right now, it would be France. I guess COVID pushed us here, and we have a full-time left. Wherever my wife and the dogs are, I think that’s where my home is right now. That’s why I have them here too.

You brought up the accent thing. I’ll follow that up for a second. What’s the origin of your accent?

My father is 90 years old. We had a surprise party for him mid-last year. He’s going to be 91 this year and he’s Spanish, hence the surname. My father’s Spanish, my mother’s Greek, she’s from Athens. Hence Antonio, a very typical name in Spain, but rather an unusual accent. My early childhood was in Spain and then I lived in the UK for most of my childhood life and into university. I came out and went into the job world. I’ll tell you all about that later.

I was fortunate enough as a consequence of having a Spanish father to speak the odd word in Spanish and that went down well in Miami. I went from a very unusual name in the UK to a very usual accent in Miami, which is a very usual name, a very unusual accent. Now I find myself in France and I don’t speak a bloody word of French.

I speak Greek, Spanish, and English because my mother was Greek. No French, but I do that typical thing that foreigners do when they don’t speak the language. I shout more and they shout very loud in English. I guess I ought to learn the language. That’s something that people don’t know. I live in France and don’t speak French.

You got a new set answer for that question now. I love France and have been there a few times, not terribly often, but I do remember feeling cared for by the French that I met primarily in Paris a couple of times I’ve been there. Even though I spoke only a few words and very few at that, I felt that because I was looking for assistance, looking for help coming from a place of humility like, “I don’t speak the language. Could you help? Would you be willing to help me?” Many people in France do speak English or speak some English, but if you’re in a different energy or different attitude, let’s say I’ve heard that the French can be not quite as helpful or kind in those situations. I only found the opposite to be true. It’s interesting in that respect.

Culturally, they are a surly bunch, but I think probably less for you than for me. The fact of the matter is that they think because I speak English with a British accent that I am British. The French and the British have been at each other’s throats for at least a thousand years. Because you’re American and struggled a little, they probably helped you out more than they would have helped me out. If they see somebody struggling, they help people out.

I got back from a week in Dubai. I was in Abu Dhabi for several days and in Dubai. Have you ever been there?

I’ve been to Dubai and I’ve been to the Kingdom of Brunei, which is nearby, but I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi.

I’m blown away by how kind people were, how open to conversation about many different things, and the constant smile, not a fake smile, but smiling people. I’m a smiler. I love to smile, but I grew up in New York and I learned to be selective. I’m not much that way anymore since we live most of the year in San Diego and another chunk of the year.

We also toggle between that place and a place that we weren’t during COVID, which was Martha’s Vineyard and we have been fortunate to have a place there for a while now. We hunkered down there during COVID as well. That’s Northeastern United States demeanor, which by the way, if you are from that area, people might be a tougher nut to crack.

When you do get inside when you do get warm and fuzzy with people from that area, those are very meaningful relationships. People are very real, but not easy to get close to because they’ve got to wear that demeanor of, “I’m not vulnerable. Don’t try to take advantage of me because you’ll end up with the wrong end of the stick.” I think the French and maybe others can be a bit like that.

I’m in San Diego fairly often because we have a large client there in California. They’re a completely much more chilled-out and relaxed breed, aren’t they?

I guess my point was more about the smile. I am now a Californian and have been for twelve years so I can say this. California much more chill and relaxed vibe, especially in the surf scene or the coastal towns, etc. I still find that people don’t smile nearly as much as what I encountered when I was in this area called the UAE, the United Arab Emirates.

A lot of the people from the UAE are not actually from the UAE. A lot of people are from India, I met people from Bangladesh, I met people from Nepal, and people from Pakistan, from all over but it was remarkable how warm. It was striking because as I said, I love to smile. In an environment where people were willing to lead with a smile, I was happy to wear a smile.

It’s quite difficult to find somebody in Miami that’s actually from Miami. The similarity ends there because everybody is very kind because they’re first and second-generation. My father always says it takes three generations of immigrants before you feel fully integrated, whereas the first generation isn’t. The second generation is between two camps where they speak the language of the parents. It takes two generations. I think Miami is probably about ten years away from chilling.

People feel grounded and maybe feel they belong fully like it’s their home, not visiting or working.

I don’t know if you find that in Miami, they’re from Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, and Argentina because it’s North and South America versus South and North America. I think Miami in ten years or when the third generation comes out of school and integrates, Miami will be that sort of place.

You use the word guarded. I think that’s a really interesting word. I gave a TED Talk some years ago where the through line of that talk had a lot to do with living on guard and being guarded. In that story, I was sharing how I was a lawyer for almost twenty years and originating at a different point in time in my life where I learned how to be guarded and be on guard.

That guarding in many ways, there’s a cost to it. There’s a toll that it takes upon us on a level of our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual health and well-being which is a good lead perhaps into conversation between you and me about that, because in working, being in the work world, not just as workers ourselves and having done that in a long time, but in working with organizations that are looking after their workers and workplace, a lot of people are still on guard and a lot of depletion and challenges are the result of being perpetually on and sometimes perpetually on guard.

Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self Awareness

Self Awareness: Guarding has a cost to it. It takes a toll on our well-being.


I want to get your perspective. You also work in that space and overworked leaders and stressed-out leaders are being driven by others to perform, etc. It’s a broad opener, but I love to get your thoughts on what’s the state of the workplace today and what are you seeing in leaders today. Have they evolved much?

They are evolving. Can we talk about that guarded thing for one second?

Please, anything you’d like to talk about. That’s what I love about this show.

It’s a pet principle of ours. Let’s play a quick game. Forgive me in advance because I know very little about American football. I said earlier that I went to the Super Bowl final. That was for the event of being able to say that I have been. I don’t understand it. I know what football is, where you kick the ball with a foot, hence the name.

I’m going to help you with this, even though it’s cute. I’m going to help you with future conversations too, if you care. You could call it the Super Bowl. To say the Super Bowl final is a redundancy because, to an American, the Super Bowl means the final.

Is the final. Anyway, they play American football. I should say football, I imagine. They play football, not soccer. I know little about the game. Let’s play this game. Let’s imagine we have two coaches. You’re going to play both. You’re going to answer on behalf of both. Let’s say you’re now the coach, you’re the first coach of this American football team. By the way, it can be basketball, it can be any team. It doesn’t have to be football. Let’s go with that. Now, we’ve started. Let’s imagine that you’ve lost another game and you are zero for six. You’ve lost six. The season started six games ago and you’ve lost to everyone.

You’re not doing well. The owner of the team comes to you and says, “We’re zero for six. This isn’t good enough. This isn’t what we paid you for. This isn’t why we brought you in. This isn’t why we’re paying you all of this money. This is embarrassing. I’ve had enough. I’ll be super duper clear with you, the next game you lose, don’t come to the office. It will be your last. Pack your bags, go home, and leave because you’re fired.”

Playing-Not-To-Lose Mindset

You go, “Hold on, time out. I’ve got a three-year contract or a two-year contract. I brought my family here, the kids are at school and they’re getting used to it. You can’t do this to me.” The owner says, “Your job is to win games. You’re not winning games. The next game you lose, see you.” You believe that he was very earnest in that warning. That’s 100% now your belief. You are now instantly in this mindset of playing not to lose. Playing to not lose. That’s now your mindset. You go and see your coaches. The next day, all of your team and you say, “Guys, the next time we lose a game if we lose this game on Saturday, don’t come to work anymore because you’re all out of a job.” He did that.

There are Newton cradles where somebody drops one ball on one side and it flips. He did that, so his boss told him the dire consequences of the next game you lost, and he passed that on. He told everybody the same. He said, “Sir, are we clear? If we lose on Saturday, everybody is out of a job.” Now everybody is in this not-to-lose mindset.

Let’s think about how they set up their training and planning and everything for the game on Saturday. They are instantly scarcity mindset and their defense mindset because if they lose this game, bad things are going to happen. All week they’re practicing. They’re teaching everybody, their training, and coaching everybody. Don’t lose the ball, hit them hard. If anybody makes a mistake, they’re in big trouble. “Our goal line is a fortress. Slow them down, hamper them, don’t let them have the ball, forget the ball, frustrate them.” Everybody is being taught this principle of scarcity mindset.

All right, it’s five minutes before the game, the coach and the team are all in the locker room waiting to go out for the game. Are you saying, “Guys, go out there, enjoy yourself, be creative, you know what to do,” or are you saying, “Kill them, don’t let them have the ball, if anybody makes a mistake, they’re dead.” Which one of those two do you think you’re saying, the former or the latter?

In that scenario, it’s the former because that’s where the coach is coming from and what the coach has passed on.

Yes. Just so everybody knows, has he put his most creative players on the field? No, he put his biggest, toughest, most gladiatorial players that he has on the whole of the bus. He’s going to go out and light a candle and say a prayer and hope that they’re not losing by halftime. Anyway, halftime comes along. There are one of three options, it’s either winning, losing, or withdrawing. That’s it.

I was going to say it’s fairly binary, but it’s not binary, is it? It’s whatever three is. Let’s imagine that by some miracle, you’re winning. Will you then say to your team, “Guys, terrific. Now go and enjoy yourself,” option one or will you say, “Brilliant, you’re doing exactly the right thing. Do more of that.” What do you think? Do more of what you’ve done.

I would say that’s likely to be the coaching.

Let’s imagine then, by some miracle, you’re winning. Even though you’re winning, it makes you more of a defense mindset. Do more of that stuff. Let’s imagine you’re drawing. They’ll be saying the same thing, “Guys, you’re doing exactly what we’ve planned, exactly what we said to do. Keep doing that. Do more of that. Even if you’re drawing, do more of that.”

If he’s losing, he says, “Guys, don’t make this embarrassing. You have to play hard, keep going, do exactly what you’re doing, and hope for a lucky break.” In other words, win, lose, or draw, if you have a scarcity mindset, thinking you’re playing to not lose, it makes whatever happens, whatever the outcome, win, lose, or draw at the halfway point, it makes you do more of that thing. More scarcity mindset, more fearful, less creative, all of those good things where everybody makes a mistake, everybody batters them because they’re letting everybody down. It makes everybody entirely fearful.

At the end of the game, win, lose, or draw, if it’s by some miracle win, great. He’s going to repeat that thing again and again. Let’s imagine a different coach though. Now let’s imagine the coach that’s playing to win. Not the one that’s playing not to lose, but the one that’s playing to win. That’s an abundance mindset. Now you’re six and zero, not zero and six. How do you set up the team for Saturday’s game?

You going to do the whole, “Enjoy yourself, get creative. These guys have a walkover, push-over, we’re going to kill these guys. We’re the best.” It’s going to build belief crazy in this team. It’s going to build belief instead of fear in the other one. It’s five minutes before the game, and he’s all about, “Get creative, do your thing, you’re going to know what to do. Batter them, and you’ll be fine. Work for each other. You’re a team. I believe in you. Go out and enjoy yourselves.” Half-time, if he’s winning, he’s going to say, “Do more of that.” If he’s drawing, he’d say, “Work a little bit harder.” If he’s losing, “Guys, don’t get despondent. Keep going. You can do it. You’re better than these guys.”

Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self Awareness

Self Awareness: The abundance mindset will build belief instead of fear.


What’s my point? My point is that if you have a scarcity mindset and are fearful and you are playing to not lose, whatever the outcome is, it makes you do more of that. If you’re playing to win, whatever the outcome is, makes you do more of that. We talk about trust. Remember, years ago, I was the managing director of the company, and the group chairman walked in furious. He was furious because one of the team had taken a day off. This was my boss. He came into my office and he was furious because one of the team had taken the day off for a funeral for her uncle.

Let’s call this chap George, that wasn’t his real name. George says, “Do you know where Mary was yesterday?” I replied, “I have no idea. Where was she?” “She was off and she went to her uncle’s funeral.” I went, “Mary’s uncle died, how awful.” He said, “It is awful, and what are you going to do about it?” What am I going to do about it? Chap is already dead. I said, “In what regard?” He got out the company handbook or the staff handbook. It was like the New York Yellow Pages. It was 3 inches thick. He flicked through just so grumpy.

He went down the list of the relatives that are allowed to die such that you’re allowed to have a day off, a child, a parent, or a grandparent if it’s on your side, but not the other. It’s this whole list. By the way, uncle wasn’t on the list. He said, “What are you going to do?” I said, “We’ve got some things to do.” He says, “Great. What are you going to do first?” “First I’m going to get Marry some flowers. I’m going to arrange that, then I’m going to change the staff handbook because it’s absolute nonsense.”

Now let’s pump the brakes for a second. The company staff handbook looked like the New York Yellow Pages, which said that the chairman didn’t trust the people who worked for him. He didn’t trust them. How much trust do you imagine that they had for him every time he brought out a new policy? Every time he said anything, they were incredibly dubious. Because he didn’t trust them, they didn’t trust him. He was always bemoaning the fact that nobody trusted him.

I often ask our clients, what’s your strategy for trust? What’s your strategy for truth? I would say we say, we ask all of our clients and when we’re onboarding them, we say, “Frank, what percentage of the time do you think your people are telling you the truth, the whole truth of nothing but the truth?” Those people who say, “I don’t know, 5%,” we already know where they are in the trust spectrum. If they think that their people are telling them 5% of the truth, then what does that tell you about the relationship between that leader and the rest of the organization?

In other words, to get trust, trust is a principle. I will say to a leader, “Tell me who works for you.” They’ll get the organogram out and they’ll go, “Mary, Tom, George, Michael, Fred.” I’ll say, “Do they work for you or do you work for them?” They reply, “I suppose I work for them.” I’ll then say, “What percentage of the time do you think they’d say the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” Those that go, “Probably about 80%,” I go, “Great.” Instantly knowing that they tell their people the truth probably about 80%.

When they say 5%, I instantly know that they’re telling their people the truth only 5%. How many leaders say, “Openness, communication, and honesty are the hallmarks of our business?” People say to them, “Are they? How come I read about the acquisition in the paper when you must have been planning that for at least six months? How come you didn’t tell me? I had to read about it in the newspaper.”

This whole thing is about scarcity mindset and abundance mindset. We work very hard to build an abundance mindset with our leaders because that issue and trust and truth are actually in our experience and we’ve coached and trained above them. They are 2 of probably the top 5 or 6 blind spots that leaders have but don’t recognize it. See how quickly it went dark? They don’t recognize that those are their blind spots because people can’t see their own blind spots. If they did then there wouldn’t be blind spots. Mindset, trust, and truth are amongst the first things that we try to tackle when we’re trying to help people that we work with.

Is that the number one challenge? When you are brought in to meet with leaders or with some senior-level people, are you finding that those are the biggest issues or are there others that you’re seeing more now than before? Has there been a change in the issues that you’ve seen since the pandemic since you brought that up early on? Things have changed since then.

I don’t think so. Directly after the pandemic, there was a huge sway, coming back to this truss, and then I will answer that question in a second, directly as the pandemic was starting, probably. If you remember, when the pandemic started, everybody said, “Six weeks, this will be out of here.” Remember, it was two and a half to three years. Everybody thought it was a six-week gig. People kept a lid on things for about 6 or 7 weeks. What then happened was that CEOs and leaders started to get very nervous about people working from home. They saw that this was going to be a long-term thing and not a temporary blip. They started worrying that people who would be working at home wouldn’t be working. They would be goofing off and watching TV and standing by the microwave all day to eat popcorn.

There was a big seismic shift for a short period about getting back from this home working and trusting remote working and stuff. I saw that, but then that drifted back to it became the new norm, but coming back to the question before that, the biggest issue as a general sweeping overarching principle certainly is self-awareness because of EQ, emotional intelligence is critical. A key component of that is self-awareness. What we see in leaders, and interestingly enough, the more senior and the larger the organization, the worse it tends to be.

The key component of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Click To Tweet


The self-awareness is in very short supply. Not least because it’s hard to tell somebody they have an ugly baby. Think of a large organization, maybe the revenue starts with a B and not an M with thousands of employees, maybe even public money and on, but no one ever comes and knocks on the CEO’s door and says, “George, you got five minutes?” George goes, “Come in, what’s up?” I said, “I’ve been watching your performance over the last six months or so. I thought I’d let that I think you’re dreadful in nearly every regard. I think you’re an awful leader because of this and that.”

It’s an interesting way to get fired, especially when the chap that you’re talking to, you don’t want that reflected in your next salary review, do you? You don’t want that to reflect where you can park your car in the car park. Nobody tells a leader that they’re doing a terrible job. Self-awareness is a key principle of leadership. If self-awareness is in short supply and nobody is going to tell you the truth, then how do you develop self-awareness? What a lack of self-awareness leads to, to answer more fully your question, is a bunch of blind spots.

Before the Super Bowl, I did a talk to about 400 leaders. I said, “By a show of hands, who here thinks they have no blind spots.” Thankfully, nobody put their hands up. I was always very nervous when I asked that question to 400 people. With good self-awareness, everybody recognized that they must have some blind spots. Poor resilience might be one, for example. I then asked everybody, “Terrific, great self-awareness. Everybody knows that they have some leadership blind spots. Take a second for me and write them down for me.”

Of course, that’s where the problem starts because they don’t know what they are. They don’t know what the blind spot is. They don’t know what to fix. Whenever you go to the doctors and have an X-ray or an MRI and blood tests, they do those things and take a full history so that they can figure out what the issue is before they start prescribing any medicine, prescription, or remedial course of action.

I’m always staggered by how organizations purport to help leaders and entrepreneurs, even solopreneurs. I don’t mean you have to be part of the very highest echelons of the great and the good. It’s everybody. The first thing that we work on is self-awareness because, without that, nothing else works. They have to be able to say the leadership equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous where they go, “My name is George and I’m an alcoholic.” Everybody goes, “Hello, George.”

The first thing we work on is self-awareness because, without that, nothing else works. Click To Tweet

Until you get to that point of self-awareness and until you admit to yourself you have a problem, then no one else can help you. We have to get over that hurdle as early as we can, as quickly as we can, and as painlessly as we can because there are a lot of bruised egos associated with it. Once we get over them, then people’s resilience starts to grow and they can more easily accept critique.

I couldn’t agree more. I think that this is not even a question of what is a challenge for leaders. I think it’s a challenge for humanity. It’s a challenge for the entire species. My own experience leads me to think that I can’t conclude because I don’t have the research to back this up, but I suspect that people know fairly well what their strengths are. Most people could tell you if you said to them instead, “Tell me what you’re good at, tell me what your skills are, what are your core competencies?”

Blind Spots

People would be able to give you fairly accurate answers and others would back them up on that, but if you say to them, what are your weaknesses? What are the things that you’re quite weak at? I think people have genuine difficulty in answering that. Even a person with some genuine humility may come up with some things, but our weaknesses are in fact, we’re less intimately aware of them. You could use the word blind spots quite easily for that. I agree with you there that people don’t necessarily know what they are.

Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self Awareness

Self Awareness: We’re less intimately aware of our weaknesses.


On my most recent trip, I was attending an offsite. I was speaking to a group of people at this organization. I’m not permitted to say who it was, but they brought in a magician for one of the evenings. It was a beautiful offsite. They had a lot of entertainment, as well as organizational development and training. I was responsible for some of that, but the magician was quite well-known, quite famous. I think his initials and his acronym are DMC. He is a British magician, illusionist, and mentalist. I think he calls himself that as well with very famous Netflix specials.

He was performing his act and what I watched and participated in was he’s telling us about the things that he was doing that he was going to perform, these illusions or these tricks, mental tricks. He would tell us what he was going to do in and we couldn’t figure it out, and that was pretty remarkable. He had the skills to tell us what he was doing, and then we couldn’t figure out how he was doing it. It dawned on me that part of why that works is the fact that we are unaware. Our lack of awareness is crucial in the equation.

If we had greater awareness, greater perception, and greater insight, we would not be as easily fooled if fooled at all. This is magic, not a miracle. That means that what we’re seeing or what we think we’re seeing is not what we’re seeing. That’s the whole point of it. Our lack of awareness is part and parcel and crucial to the success of his craft of magic. It got me thinking quite a bit about the fact that this is an area where we were to work on, as much as it’s important to work on our strengths and to strengthen our strengths and be focused on the things we’re good at. To your point earlier, it is also important to become more aware of areas where we are weak and where we have blind spots because that is truly where our greater growth is. I feel that’s what you’re saying.

Our lack of awareness is crucial in the equation. We would not be fooled if we had greater awareness, perception, and insight. Click To Tweet

A hundred percent. You mentioned earlier in terms of that confirmation bias, where we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re good at something oftentimes. Everybody thinks they’re a good driver. If you ask everybody, “Do you think you’re an above-average driver or a below-average driver?” The American Road Traffic Association did a huge piece of research on that ten years ago. We talked a lot about confirmation bias in the book. It was something like 89% of people thought they were an above-average driver.

If you think about that for a second, mathematically, that’s impossible. How far better than and how far worse than, but 90% practically think that they are better than the average driver. That can’t be true. I think it was Harvard, it may have been Princeton. In the late 60s and early 70s, they first started researching confirmation bias. Here’s what they did. This is one of my favorite stories, very quickly. Maybe you’ll know what I’m talking about. Lots in your audience won’t, but they went to Woolworths. Do you remember Woolworths?

They bought a bunch of white socks. Dozens and dozens of pairs of white socks. They split these socks into two and nailed them on two sides. They got a piece of board, they drew a line down the middle, put one sock on the left and its pair on the right, two white socks. Above the left-hand sock, it said, “Wash in premium Tide.” On the right-hand side, it said. “Wash in own brand soap powder.”

They took these hundreds of boards out into the world, and they stopped people in the street randomly. They said, “Which sock is whiter, the one on the left or the one on the right?” You and I know they’re the same. People almost invariably would look at them and go, “The one on the left is white.” They would say, “What makes you say that?” They would say a collection of what white should be.

“The other one’s a little gray and that one’s almost blue.” They would describe how and why the sock on the left was whiter than the sock on the right. The researchers said, “Actually, can we tell you a secret? They’re both the same. We bought them this morning in Woolies. We split them, we nailed them on the board and we wrote that above that and that above that. They’re both the same.” That 99.9% of people at that point, what do you imagine? What would you like them to say?

I would imagine that people say, “Silly me.”

I’m such a fool. I see it now.”That’s what we’d imagine. but no. Because they’ve already told themselves that the one on the left is whiter than the one on the right, what they then do is change the laws of physics. What they do is they’ll say, “You must have held the board incorrectly. You must have put a shadow over that one. When I looked at that one, the sun was out. When I looked at that one, the clouds came.” They changed the world for a belief they’ve held for maybe twenty seconds. We’re not talking years. We’re talking twenty seconds.

If that happens after twenty seconds, what happens after twenty years? When they have told themselves, “I’m the smartest cat in the room.” then we come along and say, “Maybe you’re not.” That’s often a thumb wrestle. Remember when you were a kid, you played, “One, two, three, four, let’s have a thumb war.” We often play thumb war with our leaders.

I want to stop you for one second, interrupt you for one second, forgive me. When you were brought into work with leaders, who’s typically the person, there’s a lot of titles these days. I’m not asking for a single title, but I want to get a sense of where in the organization, where in the org chart you find that people are the most open and willing and resourced to have you and your team come in and assist. Is it coming from the top? Is it coming from the middle? Where are you finding it?

Typically it’s from the CEO and the VP of HR. It’s typically from those two. It’s typically from those two people, 90% to 95%.

Let’s say in the instance where it’s from the CEO, I’m playing with the principle here. The CEO brings you in or let’s say is open to the idea of an engagement where you’ll assist in some respects. How self-aware is that CEO? You’ve answered that question previously. Is the CEO willing to bring someone in as all the same person who is exempt from the process of self-examination or is living in the emperor’s new clothes, that world where nobody tells the emperor that he or she is naked, etc.?

Great question. imagine you were a CEO, let’s say there were 200 people in the organization, just a number off the top of my head. Let’s imagine that by hook or by crook, we’re having a conversation. We’re going to show you a real secret source now. This is a real peek behind. When Toto goes, the Wizard of Oz pulls the curtain behind, and then there’s a wizard doing all that thing.

This is one of our processes of guided discovery because if I say to the CEO, “Here’s your problem. You’ve got this and this and this and that’s what your problem is.” If I tell them it’s my data, nobody believes my data, they only believe their data. Why? It’s this principle of confirmation bias again. To keep the sums, to keep the mathematics easy, let’s not say there are 200. Let’s say there are 100 people. I would say to you, “Adam, how many people work in your organization?” You say, “100.” I’ll say, “Standard distribution bell chart, you probably got 20% A-players, 60% B-players, and 20% C players.” That’s how the world works. Standard distribution bell chart over 100 people. Makes sense? You nodded as I said it. They go, “That makes sense.”

Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self Awareness

Self Awareness: Nobody believes our data. The young believe their own data.


I go, “Okay. That means with 100 people, you have 20 A-players, 60-B players, and 20 C-players. Give me the name of one of those C-players.” You say, “Bill.” “Give me another one.” You say, “Tom.” Give me another one. You say, “Mary.” I say, “That’s enough for now. How long has Bill been with you?” “Six years.” “How long has Tom been with you?” ‘Nine years.” ‘How long has Mary been with you?” “Not long, eighteen months or so.”

I said, “Let me ask you this. Bill has been with you for six years and he’s a C-player. Tom has been with you for nine years, he’s a C-player, and Mary has been with you for eighteen months and she’s a C-player. Is that what I’m hearing?” “Yes.” Let me ask you this, “Did you hire them like that, or have you made them like that?” If you said, “We’ve hired them like that,” that doesn’t speak well for your organization. You say, “We’ve probably made them like that,” then we’ll have a conversation about culture. You’ll say a bit of both, we’ll have a conversation about both of those. You say I don’t know. There’s no other answer. They didn’t magically fall out of the sky.

Remember, you told me Bill because you never know who your C-players are. You told me Tom and you told me Mary. We could have played that game for twenty other names and I’ll go, “Did you hire them like that or make them like that?” You go, “How can you answer that?” “It’s okay. Is that worth a conversation?” Someone will go, “Yes.” “How would you feel if Bill and Tom and Mary weren’t down there and they were up here? Why do you think they’re not? Is that their fault or is it the manager’s fault?”

We encourage what we tolerate. Do we not, Adam?” You’re going to say, “Yes.” I’m going to go, “Why are we encouraging that then?” I’m going to ask questions that make you go, “I need to fix this.” As soon as you say it out loud to yourself, as soon as you go, “My name is George and I’m an alcoholic.” The equivalent of that that we talked about ten minutes ago, and they fear of HR who sat there too, then we’re on our way to a bit of self-awareness. We’re on our way to a bit of self-discovery and dealing with some blind spots.

It’s about intelligent questioning of the senior people who recognize that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Therefore, if we want something different, then either the inputs have to be of a higher quality or the process has to be of a higher quality.

Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self Awareness

Self Awareness: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.


Because there’s a lot and we’ve already spoken about a lot of things and won’t have a great deal more time to dive at depth, but I do want to get to something I think that’s important here too, which is that when it comes to self-awareness, what I’m hearing and I’m asking the question, not making a statement, it feels you’re saying there’s a process that will assist us in gaining greater self-awareness. Whereas without that process, the default, if you will, is to be less self-aware.

It’s like the audience of people that I was around, of very intelligent people and since I haven’t said the company, I can say it was their legal and regulatory folks. There were lots of lawyers, lots of accountants, and lots of compliance people. There was some intelligence in the room and we all couldn’t figure out what this mentalist was doing.

He’s quite good at what he does. The fact of the matter is that it wasn’t a miracle involved. I don’t know how else to put it. It was magic. It was an illusion. It wasn’t actually what we thought it was, but our perceptions and our lack of awareness are what got in the way of our seeing that. Am I correct that you’re saying that the default is a large-scale at scale, lack of self-awareness that requires a bit of a process to help us reveal the truth or more of our blind spots? Is that accurate?

When you said it was an illusion, it wasn’t. It was a self-delusion.

Interesting. Yes. Okay.

It wasn’t an illusion. What it was was a self-delusion. We do a lot of work with our leaders to increase insight and all that good stuff, but everything has to start with self-awareness. Here’s our process for that. All of your audience can start today. They can start as early as today in improving their self-awareness.

Objective Assessment

Here’s how we do it and it’s not nearly as gruesome as it sounds. The first thing we do, and of course, your audience doesn’t have to do what I’m first going to suggest, but what we do is we invariably start with an objective versus a subjective, an objective assessment, a self-awareness leadership benchmark. They’re not fairly expensive and you can find out more about the details on our website.

We would have our clients do that first of all. There is an objective look at themselves where invariably they agree wholeheartedly with all of the good stuff, then they typically tend to resist a little on the stuff that isn’t quite complimentary. We always say, “Is there someone else that’s significant in your life, a wife, a husband, a boyfriend, or a girlfriend perhaps?” They go, “Yeah.” We go, “Show them the report, and then come and talk to me tomorrow.” Invariably they come back and go, “I’ve spoken to my wife and that is exactly what I’ve done.”

As a good starting point, we do an assessment every twelve months so that we can track development so that we can see that we’re moving in the right direction. I’m not saying that’s the only way to pick a starting point. Whether or not they do an assessment, here’s what we have them doing. We wouldn’t work with them if they didn’t take the assessment, but for your audience, the first thing I want them to do is to get a journal. Get a nice journal, and a nice pen, doesn’t cost that much. Those are your first tools to begin your self-awareness and eliminate your leadership blind spot. Those are your first tools.

A leader asked me probably 25 years ago whether or not I journal. Of course, I didn’t at the time. When he asked me why I didn’t journal, I couldn’t think of a good enough reason why I didn’t, other than the first thing that came into my mind, which was probably because I’m not a sixteen-year-old Victorian schoolgirl. I couldn’t think of any other reason. He took that rather well. He said, “Go and find eight of the most successful people that you can in any walk of life, in business, sports, music, entertainment, politics, anything, any walk of life, find the eight most successful people you can and find out whether or not they journal.” Of course, they all do because there isn’t a successful sportsperson, musician, entertainer, politician, businessman, or businessperson who doesn’t journal. They all do.

Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self Awareness

Self Awareness: There isn’t a successful person who doesn’t journal.


In fact, my coach, because I have a coach, we coach people, he coaches presidents of countries, as well as presidents of companies. If they haven’t journaled that week, he won’t coach them because they have to send a photo of their journal to him. Otherwise, he doesn’t coach them. That’s how serious that is. Here’s the thing about journaling. It’s simple because already half of your audience has gone, “Not for me, thanks. That sounds too difficult,” but we’ve got some big changes to make.

Here’s how it is. You’ll have a day, Adam, a normal day. At the end of the day, I want you to do this one thing. How did I do today? What was my performance today? What would I give myself today? Was I world-class today? Am I going to give myself an A-plus for today? You might say, “Probably a B- minus.” That B-minus then behooves the next question. What could I have done more of or less of to make that B-minus a B or a B-plus? Maybe I could have spoken to Monica a bit more kindly. Maybe I could have spent a few more minutes on that email because it was a bit cursed. Maybe I could have done more or less of this differently.

We start to do that with some regularity and I don’t mean years of regularity. I mean about twenty days of what we’re going to call introspection or that evaluation is because wisdom comes from evaluated experience. That’s where it comes from, evaluated experience. You start to do that for about twenty days. You do that with enough density, then hindsight, and a bit of reflection for about twenty days. What then happens before about 15 to 20 days is somebody will ask you a question. You know that in five hours, future Adam is going to be saying, “How did I do today?”

You’ll find that situationally, instead of responding one way, you think, “How would future Adam, what would future Adam be grateful for if I did or said or didn’t do right now?” You find yourself situationally changing your behavior because you want to give yourself an A. You start with that hindsight. That self-reflection looking backward leads to situational insight where you go, “I could say this instead of that.” What that then does, when you start to moderate your current behavior and thinking, your mindset and all of that stuff, when you do that with enough intensity, probably about twenty days, that leads to foresight where you can start to say, “If we don’t do this, then something bad could happen.” You start to look ahead instead of looking backward and then in the moment.

What happens when you do that for a couple of weeks, three weeks or so? You have started to grow and develop self-awareness. Self-awareness is a keystone of emotional intelligence. We all know that emotional intelligence trumps IQ and technical skill by about 400%. People who come to me and tell me that they’ve got an MBA from Harvard don’t impress me much. I am much more impressed by somebody who hasn’t got a degree but is working on their EQ, empathy, self-awareness, social skills, and impulse control.

Self-awareness is a keystone of emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligence trumps IQ. Click To Tweet

The worst leaders we know have very low impulse control. They blow hot and cold and scream and shout and throw things. Start to journal daily with a bit of intentionality. You can go onto our website, and download a ton of free prompts for that for 30 days. When we ask people to journal, they say, “I don’t know what to write and how much to write. What should I do? What should I say?”

I think you’ve done a great job of crystallizing for our audience, a lot of not only what the issue is and why as well, but what can you do about it? I think as we wrap up our conversation here, this is such a tangible takeaway, something that I’m going to recommend that people who may be evaluating themselves saying, “I’ve tried journaling in the past, but it didn’t work, or I’ve never tried it because it seemed too tough because I don’t consider myself a good writer, or I don’t have the time,” or whatever the reasons might be.

I think that question that you’ve given and there are many questions and that’s beautiful but this one question I think is really solid. My desk is littered with journals, and I have 3 or 4 that are filled. These are done, and now I’m on a new one. Some of them are note-taking, in all honesty, not everything is formal journaling, but I use them for note-taking as well. This question of how did I do today is a fabulous question because even for somebody who wants to get started or even somebody who’s been doing it a while and is looking for fresh inspiration, and fresh insight, this is a key question to ask. You could write for a paragraph, a sentence, or you could write four pages and pages on end to answer that one simple but powerful question, “How did I do today?”

Evaluate Your Experience

I love that you also laid out the progression when doing that, this self-evaluation that creates this looking backward to see how you did. Looking backward and evaluating your experience of the day provides this interesting new benefit, which is this ability to then in a new day, in a new moment, look forward, to be able to have foresight instead of always looking backward to say, “How did I do? I didn’t do great,” or “I did quite well today,” whatever it might be. It’s after the fact to say it’s a lag indicator if you will.

If what you wanted to do is to create new results, which we’re always saying, “We do want that,” then you’ve got to focus on the lead indicators, the lead measures. What you’re giving us is providing a lead measure for how it is that we would create a new experience and a better experience. I thank you for that, Antonio. The way you unpacked that was elegant and beautiful. I appreciate that as well.

I’ll give you the last word in the sense that I’m going to ask you a question directly a bit here. Is there something that you do daily for yourself personally that contributes to your self-awareness or contributes to your resiliency? I feel self-awareness is a very important element of being resilient. You can frame it either way, but is there one thing that you do daily or on a ritual basis that you could share with us as we wrap up our conversation?

Self-awareness is an element of being resilient. Click To Tweet

Other than journaling, which is what I do every day, another thing that I do every day and variants of it, but not too far distant from it. I never leave a conversation with any of my staff or any of my businesses. I have many conversations every day with them. Some version of, “What do you need from me to be successful in this project or what we talked about?” I do that a lot, “What do you need from me to be successful?”

It’s interesting when you say to somebody, “We’re clear that’s the plan then. Are we good with that?” They’ll go, “Yes, Adam, got it.” What is quite staggering is when you then walk out of the room. I have four children. I’ll say to my four kids, “Grandma’s coming. Make sure you tidy your room.” Half an hour later, I walk past the room and somebody’s eating a pizza and somebody’s doing something else. “I thought we talked about this.” They say, “Did you mean today?” Someone is 3 feet away from me and you think, surely the words that came out of my mouth didn’t change much from the 3 feet from my mouth to your ear. Another very good habit I always do is get to the end of a meeting or the end of a discussion is asking, “What do you need to be successful?” I will invariably say, “In your own words, what have we agreed?” Confirm what it is we’ve agreed. Make sure that we sense check and pressure test all agreements.

Do you find that when you ask that question of people, especially more senior folks, they’re ever insulted by that or don’t feel as though you trust them?

Never because they are staggered by how many times they ask that question and somebody says, “I thought we said this.” If it wasn’t for that insight a-ha moment, and if that never happened, they would be like, “This is a dumb question,” but they are staggered by the answers that they get back. It also builds active listening and lots of good stuff. No, they are never.

I appreciate that. Not only for my own edification but for people out there who might’ve been thinking, “I don’t know that I could feel comfortable in saying that to people who are my peers or people who are colleagues or even people that report to me, etc.” I think that’s a really important piece of it. Patrick Lencioni, who I love as an author, talks about redundancy and the importance of a leader being redundant sometimes in the things that you say, not because you’re being demeaning or dismissive of people or disrespectful, but rather because there are often instances where people don’t hear what you’ve said or frankly, what you’ve said hasn’t been communicated. Again, self-awareness. It could be, “I have not communicated this clearly. Part of what we’re doing here is to establish whether or not I have communicated clearly.”

Correct, and it’s your fault.

It’s mine to own if you haven’t heard what I meant for you to hear.

The last thing is to meditate. We were constantly telling leaders to slow down, speed up, think, measure twice, cut once, and all of that stuff. Work-life balance and all of that stuff with leaders but listen to this for isn’t this the great or the best expression? They’ll often tell us they lie in bed thinking about things and muddling things over in the mind and all of that stuff. Years ago, my meditation instructor in Miami, who’s one of the best in the world, said, “You can’t park a car that’s going 70 miles an hour.” We could all do worse than allow our minds to calm down a little bit. Meditation is also important.

It’s interesting that if you don’t have time for quiet, you’ll have plenty of time for chaos. It’s an interesting thing.

You'll have plenty of time for chaos if you don't have time for quiet. Click To Tweet

I also say it in the book when I ask them about their work-life balance, they go, “I don’t have time for any of that stuff.” We say in the book, and we say it to them all the time, “If you think you can’t find time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to find time for your illness.”

I first encountered that principle in a Brit who’s long since gone by the name of Emmett Fox. For those of you out there who are interested in looking up someone’s name and finding out what they’ve done and what they’ve written, what they’ve said, Emmett Fox is a good one. I’ll leave it there. Antonio, what a pleasure. I enjoyed our conversation. I know it always feels to me that my experiences are universal. If I’ve enjoyed the conversation, I know my community, our community, and the audience have as well. I thank you for that. Thank you for your time. It’s late in France, it’s gotten dark, it started light, and we’ve watched the daylight leave the window for those of you who have been watching this on YouTube.Antonio, thank you very much for everything.

Thank you. Stay safe. Bye-bye.


I kept my promise at the outset that this would be an interesting entertaining and informative conversation. I think there are tremendous insights that came out of this discussion with Antonio and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He’s an interesting bloke, chap, as he’d probably say. It took some weaving and winding to get into some areas that could be quite valuable.

It was an interesting discussion, which was helpful for him and me to develop some rapport. When we got into the guts of it, talking about some things that are vital to our development, personally and professionally speaking, there’s a ton there. Strategically speaking, we dove in at a fairly deep level of self-awareness. Each of us had some ideas to share there and came together to look at what is in some respects, our default mode when it comes to being aware, being self-aware, and how it is that we self-evaluate. How do we evaluate our own experience and what do we do to be more insightful beforehand as opposed to hindsight?

How do we become more foresightful as a lead measure that produces results as opposed to seeing it from the back and then correcting from there but ultimately living from lag measures and from lag indicators that keep us not being as productive, not being as capable as we can be? We’d always opt to make the right decisions first in the first instance. To make the right decisions, and to think rightly, we often have to evaluate our process, and our thinking process, and our thinking begins with awareness.

It’s the first step in a process of change is awareness and then understanding and then some relearning, unlearning, reprogramming, etc. that comes as a result of those first steps. Self-awareness is key to our performance and the quality of our thinking, the quality of our behaviors, our decision-making, and the quality of our lives, frankly. That’s across every sector of our lives.

I love this conversation. There’s tons in there to unpack. I know you’ll enjoy it or have enjoyed it. Please, if you have enjoyed it, share this episode with a friend, a colleague, a family member, or anybody that you think could benefit. We appreciate you doing that. Sharing this episode only helps to increase our listenership, which is very helpful to see this community continuing to expand as it has.

If you take the few moments it might take to evaluate us in this instance, to provide a review, or to give it the five-star treatment, whatever stars make sense for you based on the value that you got out of it, on the platform that you consume it, that’s also helpful because it trains the algorithm to share this content with more people because you found it valuable and you took time out of your very valuable, limited time to spend in service to us. I thank you for that.

I want to also recommend that you take a moment for your self-evaluation, even right this moment to see how you’re doing, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually speaking. What is your level of insight regarding how you’re doing? We have a very quick assessment that takes three minutes or less than three minutes to complete, and it’s entirely free. It’s our gift to you. You can go to at any point that makes sense, but now is always a good time to create that self-evaluation. Less than three minutes, it’s our gift. Please, if you get the chance, take the time to get those answers, as well as the free resources that’ll come as a result of you getting your own personalized and confidential score in those four zones of resilience.

With that, I want to say thank you for being a part of our community. Enjoy more of the episodes. Let us know what you think. We are aiming to educate, to entertain, to create something compelling, something of value for you when you are in the mode of wanting to not be so much in your headspace, but rather be transported to another place and space that helps you enjoy the whole process even better.

That’s why I listen to podcasts, to learn things, to be entertained, to have a moment, a bit of a respite, a break. That recovery time is key and crucial to my level of resilience. That’s why I listen to podcasts, music, audiobooks, and all that thing. I’m sure you do the same. Thank you very much, and have a beautiful rest of your day. Ciao for now.


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About Antonio Garrido

Change Proof Podcast | Antonio Garrido | Self AwarenessAntonio has over twenty-five years in senior leadership positions with world-class businesses. He is an expert in leadership transformation: shaping high-performance leaders out of highly-stressed and overworked leaders.