We recently caught up with John Grealish, Owner of The Jona Group in Galway, Ireland. John describes how he met Ian and how he has worked as a client of Essential Training. We also go into detail about the Lead From The Right course that Ian runs yearly.
How did you meet Ian?
I went to a conference in the early 1990’s. Ian started bringing a motivational speaker, Jack Black to Ireland, and I met Ian there. I had just taken over our businesses and was looking to do some training.
I wanted to set up a management 2-day training event. Where newly appointed managers would be exposed to planning and putting together a vision for their role. I wanted them to be exposed to our mission statement. I came across the Essential Training website. It’s so funny, I was expecting Ian to come with a big agenda, you know: “This will be the outcome of day two” type of thing. Ian and I still joke about this. I’ve a very organised mind, and I like following steps. I like to know where and what we’re going to end up with. We started that morning and Ian was telling stories, introducing concepts and it was all free and easy. Everyone was having a great time. I was getting uneasy because I was asking “Where are we now? Where are we on this twelve-step process?” Or whatever it would be. And Ian kept saying to me, “Oh ye John, we’re going to get to all of that, believe me.” At the end of the two days, we really enjoyed it. People who were on it, still remember it. It did evolve into a shared vision of what the business was all about. It was done in a really weird way, from my point of view, and yet it was much more creative than if it would have been more structured. That was my first encounter with Ian and Essential Training.
Lead from the Right Course
“So you know, most courses only tap into your brain power, it’s very rare that it gets to your heart. It makes a big difference.”
The following years, he started his Lead From The Right course. He’d ring me up, and say, “I’ve this fantastic group of people coming together.” I’d get excited about it because, if somebody was to sit me down in a classroom and teach me stuff, I’d go crazy. But I love not knowing what to expect next.
I think he’s a brilliant facilitator. He’s unbelievable at tapping into people when they need to be tapped into. He’s watching what’s happening and I often joke that we do all the work and he’s just sitting there prodding us, you know, we pay him for prodding. And I’ve met fantastic people, they bring so much richness to the 2 days. We all have our own stories and everybody’s story is interesting. Ian gets people to tell those stories and you learn so much from other peoples’ experiences.
What do you get out of Lead From the Right?
I always leave energised, and it’s not about work for me at all. Almost all the time, its about my personal life. I try and be a good husband and a good Dad. But I’m not perfect. You’re listening to other peoples’ stories, you’re thinking deeply about things that matter most to you, over the course of the two days. When I’m going back home in the car, I turn off the radio and I ponder what’s gone on. I always have a resolution. The resolution won’t be changing my life, but every time I get nudged in the right direction. Some of it rubs off. I genuinely believe I’ve become a better person by the reflection process that you go through on Lead From The Right.
I have a pretty dramatic story, about the impact of business and what impact business failures had on my life. But Jesus, I’m glad that I didn’t go through some of the stuff that other people have gone through in their personal lives. In their relationships and children and all that kind of stuff. You also end up with a sense of gratitude. It’s wonderful to be in a group of people like that. Almost all the people who I’ve met through Ian are interesting and loveable. They’re challenging and they’ve got different perspectives. I love seeing most of them again and again. We’ve great fun.
On the course, we had people wondering what they’re going to get out of this? “What’s the return on my investment?” or “When am I going to see the return on what I’ve put in?” Can you talk about that?
Ye “What am I going to get back?” is the antithesis of what it’s about. In my view, I can’t put a value on what I’ve derived from it. I’ve probably spent 40 or 50 days with Ian in different forums. The impact is on your life, it’s not the impact on your business. And if you get an impact on your business, that’s great. But it’s much more important to have your head screwed on tight, and feel that you’re reasonably secure about what your purpose is. And your purpose is not to be the best business owner or manager on the planet, its much broader than that.
The funny thing about Ian, is I’m certain that he opens every single meeting the same way, he’ll be sitting there in his chair and his shorts with a big stupid smile on his face and he’ll say “so what’s going on?” and that opens the floodgates. It might take a while, but it opens the floodgates. It happens eventually. I think that when you go through the two days, you speak much more about how you feel than what you think. It’s not an intellectual thing at all. We’re all educated on our left brain and Ian used to say “most people walk around lopsided because their left brain is enourmous to the max and we’re not in touch with our emotions”. So in the sessions, when we’re talking, people ask “How did that make me feel?” I started feeling guilty. I heard another man’s story about his son, and I had a cold feeling on my spine about recognising how lucky I am in my life. So you know, most courses only tap into your brain power, it’s very rare that it gets to your heart. It make a big difference.