Getting Out Of Your Own Way – Chris Cooper interviewing Michael Romeling on The Business Elevation Show (Full Transcription)

Since September 2011, UK based Chris Cooper has interviewed guests on his weekly Business Elevation show. In 2019 it was the most visited show on the business network of the world’s leading online radio platform Voice America. With the world needing so much help right now we have decided to begin releasing transcriptions of shows (edited for readability only) that might help you to elevate the way you do business and develop people in the current world. Please enjoy reflecting upon how you can get out of your own way with the help of this interview, with international strategic behaviourist Michael Romeling. You can access the recording here or transcript below.

In a world where change is the norm and reinvention often essential, our biggest barrier to personal and corporate success is frequently not the external world! More often than not, it is how we personally choose to behave and respond to it! Michael Romeling is a Strategic Behaviourist, who challenges the thinking and beliefs of senior leaders and their teams, helping them to rethink some of their strategies in line with their expectations and human collateral. With 28 years’ experience in this field and an intuitive feel for people performance, Michael has led a number of highly successful turnarounds in both corporate, leadership, and ultimately shareholder delight. Experience aside he is a fascinating man with stories that make you stop and think!In this conversation we discussed how we can reprogram ourselves to get out of our own way and be our very best.

Chris Cooper: A huge welcome to the business elevation show on Voice America. It’s, great to be back with you. I love having this opportunity once a week to share thoughts and introduce to you another amazing guest and today we’ve got Michael Romeling. I’m going to forecast that you’re going to really, really enjoy this conversation today. We’re going to talk about getting out of your own way.

Now in a world where change is the norm and reinvention is often essential, our biggest barrier is frequently not the external world. But more often than not, it is the internal world, and personally choosing to behave in a way that is appropriate and effective. Michael is a strategic behaviourist who really challenges the thinking and the beliefs of senior leaders and teams. And helps them to rethink some of their strategies in lines with their expectations and their human collateral. He has got  28 years of experience in this field, helped an enormous amount of people all over the globe including Russia and China. Helping people at the highest level, to be able to improve their behaviour to get the kind of results that they want. And he’s got a great story and a very charming character with a unique sense of humour. So welcome Michael Romeling.

Michael Romeling: First, thank you for inviting me on.

CC: You’re very, welcome, sir. Tell us a about where you’re living right now, Michael, because I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to be honest.

MR: Yes, I’m very blessed Chris. I live on the beautiful west coast of Scotland in glorious isolation. On the side of  Loch Sunart. It’s wildlife personified and in fact, during COVID It’s been an amazing pleasure to be here. I’ve been able to sit in my office, talk to my clients worldwide and have a beautiful view. It’s quite stunning

CC: You strike me as somebody who likes to be around people. So why do you live in isolation?

MR: I like both. And I think getting the balance right is important. I love people. But I also like time without people and I think one without the other gets a bit overcrowded. So this gives me the opportunity to come back into a sort of centered quiet mode, and reflect and think and plan and all those lovely things and be energised by trees, water and nature.

CC: There’s something special about being surrounded by trees, water and nature in a beautiful spot with otters, golden eagles and deer that brings you down to earth and helps you realise what’s important?

MR: Yes, very much. So I mean, just today between clients, I walked the dogs twice for about an hour and a half. I go to a special place and sit there for 10 minutes and just meditate and that meditation, it’s quite fantastic. And I get all my best ideas, thoughts, inspiration by doing that. So it’s a balance of you know, keeping physically fit, but also keeping mentally fit, mentally aware mentally alive. And to me, one without the other just doesn’t work.

CC: I’ve often interviewed people on meditative practices, and I find this really, really helpful myself. But I don’t know about you, I still find that people’s eyes often glaze over as they have a belief system that means that they don’t really take it as being a serious consideration. Do you still find that?

MR: Yeah, very much so. But the great news is when people’s eyes glaze over, they’re part of the way there! So that’s correct. Yes.

CC: That’s very true. So, Michael, tell us a bit about your childhood. Also what led you from the merchant navy, to sell life assurance before becoming a behavioural strategist?

MR: Yes, I in fact, it’s the background that really inspired me to make the changes. One of three children brought up in a naval background family, very strict, very disciplined. And so by the time I got to  sort of 15, or 16, I was a sort of prodigy of my mum and dad, which was fantastic. However,  I wouldn’t really say boo to a goose. I was quite shy, quite retiring didn’t really want to communicate with many people. So luckily, my father decided that I should go away to sea and do a naval apprenticeship for five or six years, which was the making of me. When I came back, I realised how different I was to my siblings, you know, I travelled,  met different people and gained some experience, which was all fantastic. And didn’t think much about it until I then decided it was time to leave the comfort of the merchant navy, and move forwards and into a new career.

CC: Do you think the discipline that you had as a child and in the Navy was really helpful? I’m thinking of some of the guests I’ve had on my show, for example, who have been through SAS selection and that sort of thing. And they’ve said that the process of going through it has made dealing with challenges in life so much easier. For example they are less fearful of picking up the phone to call prospects!

MR: I remember saying to my father, I phoned him from a tanker. ‘By the way I’ve just been blown up’! I literally was blown out of the apartment. I’m feeling pretty upset about this and he said, ‘you are alive, you’re okay. So get on with it!’. So no post stress, traumatic disorder for me. And it made me laugh as it was the most horrific experience of my life. People died right next to me. I luckily survived by the skin of my teeth. But my brain was, well, you survived. That’s all you need to know. Now let’s get on with it. Now there’s a big part of that which became my sort of storage. Well, let’s just get on then, I’m alive! So let’s make it different. So you’ll see that in the latter part of my life I analysed both the box of my childhood to 16/17 and then 28/29 ish. Where I was being formed.

CC: Was this incident in the Falklands or somewhere like that?

MR: Well, no, it was a British tanker, and I had effectively gone down to the pump room with two guys. I was the junior officer. And as they went down first I was being a little bit belligerent and the officer on top was giving me a bit of a talking too and as I turned to go down and I was down about 10 feet and they were at the bottom and the pump room blew up. Yeah, amazing, quite amazing. But what I loved most was the way my father handled it. So from his point of view, being a naval officer, he was just quite happy. That was all part of life’s rich tapestry.

CC: Not an awful lot of sympathy by the sounds of it?

MR: Yeah. Good Scottish shop.

CC: So you moved on into life assurance and you became quickly a top salesman. And I think this is interesting because what you achieved there impacted the work that you do today. Tell us how you became a top life assurance salesman from being in the merchant navy?

MR: Yeah, it’s called mushroom farming from a managerial point of view and let me explain. I decided it was time to get out of the Navy. I wanted to expand. Don’t ask me why but that was the deal to myself and I applied for 135 jobs and was turned down for every one apart from selling life assurance door to door. Now I’d never sold life assurance. In fact, I hadn’t even sold anything in my life. So I asked the people there. Look, I have a wife and a family and a mortgage. This is a big jump for me. I need to know I can be successful. And so I asked the stupid question, which was fundamentally what do I need to do to be successful and they turned round and said it’s simple, Michael. It’s a formula. And that formula is 33 – 3 -1. Now being in the Navy is a pretty good experience as dudes trust somebody senior. So what does that mean? It means you knock on 30 doors every night three people show a bit of an interest and invite you back. And if you do your job properly with the script, etc, you should be able to convert one of those into a sale and I thought, that’s good enough for me. So sure enough, I went and joined on that very simple, very naive premise.

CC: Excellent and I think it is fascinating that you achieved enormously, with that formula? Tell us what happened when you were given an award for being so successful?

MR: Yeah. It was quite surreal the manager decided. I assumed by design rather than by default that I wouldn’t get to see the branch for 12 months, I had to prove myself. And what was interesting is that it I went out with 33-3-1  every night and it turned into exactly what they told me. And after 12 months, I got a strange call from London and they said to my wife, it was the managing director, and I said to her, you know, I thought that’s it. He said, congratulations! You’ve won the Best Newcomer of the Year. In fact, you are the best newcomer for 20 years. And I went, Oh, wow. Thank you. Yeah, that’s great. He said how did you do it? I told him the 33-3-1 one, and he was almost dumbfounded. They said, That’s fantastic. I was treated to all sorts of accolades and awards, but then the interesting thing was, I came back to the branch and I was invited back to meet everybody. Now they told me, Chris that the branch average was £11,000. And I needed £20,000 to survive. So I thought, well, I have a fighting chance. But what was interesting was the guy who told me about 33-3-1 asked how I did it. I said, John, I did what you told me. He said, What was that? And I said, you know, 33-3-1, and he said, You didn’t believe that shit, did you? And luckily, I did, Chris. And I have believed in it ever since.

CC: So what led you to then move into this area of behavioural strategy?

MR: Oh My Goodness me. I think the thing I say to most of my clients is this is not an exact science. Failure is a prerequisite. In my book. You know, I often say to my clients when I’m doing team events worldwide, that, my belief is that if the average human being was to teach your child how to walk using modern technology and techniques it would take seven years. Because we are not comfortable with failure. We’re not comfortable with vulnerability. You must become comfortable with vulnerability in all its different levels. And then you really can open the door to some new, amazing opportunities including with teams.

CC: Very good point, vulnerabilities really, really important, isn’t it? Just been working with a client team this week and we’ve been exposing all the elephants in the room – everything they have not spoken about for some time and cleared them away. And it requires being vulnerable. I was very proud, that they so vulnerably shared, but vulnerability is a muscle that we have to learn to use again isn’t it?.

MR: Yes, I think business society in general, it’s not cute that we are hugely intolerant of failure. And therefore, vulnerability in corporate life is something that companies aren’t  particularly comfortable with. What I do is get people to get very comfortable with vulnerability, then they’re on another plane.

CC: What sort of strategies do you teach them to get out of the way themselves?

MR: Well, it is one of the toughest things. I only get, a very short period of time to prove that what I do works. I know it works, but, you know, the important bit was what can I actually do that would prove that this process of getting out of your own way with appropriate strategies would actually work. So I thought golf would be a good one. And the reason for that was quite simple. Most of my executives, chief executives and senior people, had adopted and adapted to a life of golf in between business and family. Now, I find golf perfect as a long walk. And so I decided that it was something you could do in a driving  range, it was something that people could see and the golf ball doesn’t lie either and improve people’s performance by the getting out your own way principle or not, as the case may be. It also demonstrated vulnerability to a high level. So I set about on a golf driving range one day with a golf pro, taking someone who never played golf, and as a bit of a bet, I bet that I could with my principles and processes get the complete novice to drive a golf ball using a driver circa 200- 220 metres and straight within 20 shots without any tuition at all. After all, I’ve never held golf clubs myself, will never have by the way, and don’t particularly want to have you thinking this was an easy one.

I did what I said I would do within 20 balls.

So this gentleman struck the ball with absolutely no knowledge of golf from me. But using the concept of vulnerability to get out of his own way. And things like decoys in terms of not focusing on hitting the ball but focusing on something completely different and the golf pro was very humble and came to me at the end and said ‘Would you please teach us how to do that?’. Because that is truly amazing. So that was my brand after that. And I’ve been doing that for 28 years in Russia and all over the world, Australia, America, and hopefully South America soon when the covid has gone, and I absolutely love it because it really shows people how the concept of getting out of your own way works in a truly amazing fashion.

CC: But it’s quite fascinating that you don’t play golf yourself.

MR: Yeah, sorry! I have an interesting little story. I was with a bunch of clients and my client was driving golf balls 200 metres with his eyes closed and doing all sorts of great stuff with me shouting obscenities in the hall as a form of decoy to get rid of his consciousness and get him out of his own way. And the game groundskeeper came up. And he said, ‘Michael he is not standing correctly’ and I said ‘do you know Fred he’s driving it 200 metres’. ‘Yes but shoulders are all wrong’. I said ‘yeah, yeah, but he’s driving 200 metres and you know, he’s only hit 24 balls now’. ‘Yeah, but he is just not holding it properly. Is it OK if I go down there and just give them some tips?’. So I said, ‘Sure’. This guy the groundskeeper, is a great golfer. He’s going to give you some tips which will improve your golf’. He went down there and talked him into all sorts of shapes around the golf club in an American Way with his head down, shoulders this way and that way, and I was quite amused watching this. And the guy swung, and he missed the first three. And then he hit the next one, which went about five metres. This went on for about the next 20 balls. And the first time he came back up to me and he said, ‘There we are’. And I said, ‘there we are, what’. ‘That’s what he needs to do to play the game’. I said, ‘but he is not achieving performance’. ‘Oh No, Michael, you’ve got to understand golf is a very special game. It’ll take him about 10 years of practice’. I realised that as long as there are people like that lovely man around and teaching people if I wanted to go to tournaments, I would have written off at least 10 years worth of business with my clients. So I don’t have 10 years with any boss. I have if I’m lucky, a day or two days, maybe a few months to work with them individually to achieve truly amazing results. So all my clients go through the golf scenario to understand how to get out of their own way and achieve some truly amazing results.

CC: So you use decoys.
MR: Yes, okay.
We’ve got you know a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. If you look at your conscious mind it is limited to how many tasks it can complete at any one time before it puts it into automatic pilot that takes a lot of practice. The unconscious mind can deal with thousands of things at any one time and is very intuitive and very fast learning. So many years ago, I realised that if we take the conscious mind and we can chunk say seven learnings and put them into our unconscious mind it is a long and very detailed process. So I wondered what would happen if through using hypnosis , I could allow someone’s consciousness to get out of the way and allow this marvellous unconscious being to take over. Now I have seen for years, how the unconscious mind could do that with anything from flying a helicopter to playing golf and it proved every time it worked. So the idea of a decoy was to give your conscious mind something to focus on and allow the power of your own unconscious to come out. But, you know, by focusing on the very moment you impact the ball is a problem, I found that blindfolded is a great decoy for example. But anything at all that allows you to behave consciously and allows your unconscious intervention to come out, both personally and in corporate life really makes a massive difference.

CC:A client asked me this week how me just being in the room with him had such a profound impact without me even saying a word. I think what my presence is doing is helping him shift from the conscious to unconscious mind.

MR: Yeah, some people call it Chris being in the zone when you’re actually zoned out or you’re in the zone. It’s a form of hypnotic response. Believe it or not it just switches from the consciousness into the unconscious. Now, you know let’s be blunt about this, this is not a voodoo tool, this is not a tool that is a nice habit a fluffy, bunny type of thing. This actually makes a difference to people. It makes a difference to the way we think, the way we act, the way we behave, our performance, whether we’re selling, whether we’re creating strategic interventions for people, if we can actually get a bunch of people to create an environment with you know, as you know, I developed a formula to support this, which is Performance = E squared + V squared + B squared + D squared. Chris, it was having the right Environment. And the second was having the right Emotional Intelligence. And these are the two prerequisites for growth. The second bit was Vulnerability we’ve talked about, and clarity of Vision. And then B is Behaviours, supported by Belief. And then the remaining two, is the Big voice, and the other one is Daydreaming. You see, when we’re actually daydreaming with eyes wide open during the day as opposed to night, we’re actually accessing immediately with a deep tie into the power of the unconscious mind. Yes, technically, we can achieve anything that we believe at that precise moment. That is physically, I would say the formula, the zone.

CC: I think that that’s really fascinating. If they relax, and zone out and you shift their state, that’s when the magic starts to happen.

MR: Very much so Chris, I talked about the box of childhood. The problem is we command a child to leave the door open. And it’s a very noisy room there. And everything we do in our adult life somehow positively or negatively or even neutrally affects our thinking, our belief and just how good we can be. So I spend a lot of time getting people to appreciate that there is a need to shut the door on the noise to get out of your own way. Yet who you were in that box, you had no control over as you were told what to eat, where to live, what school to go to etc, etc. Suddenly we come out of the door, let’s say at 16,17 or 18 and whether you’ve had a good childhood or not, it’s still important to shut the door. And shutting the door means you’re getting out of your own way. And you’re creating a brand new base, a brand new formula, which you can modify to suit yourself, it comes back to the 33-3-1, and having no limitations.

CC: You started to talk to me a little bit about risk and how, you’ve taken quite a bit of risk by following these processes, but it has all worked out for you. Tell us a little bit about that.

MR: Yes, as we were talking just briefly in the break there, when I look back at leaving a steady job, you know, career as it was, and selling life assurance, with no guarantees, no income, mortgages, etc. It actually gives me cold sweats now, and I’ve actually wondered, what was it that seemed to be the risk aspect? What empowered my belief system? Was it the 33-3-1? Well, definitely that was like a lifeline to hold on to. But interestingly enough, there was something else. And that was the process that I had a belief and I don’t know where it came from, that I could be different. And it’s interesting. My other two siblings often say, Well, you’ve changed, you’re different’. And I don’t mean changed, negatively. I don’t believe I have. But I allowed myself to grow and to grow.

You have to be comfortable with a bedfellow of risk. COVID-19 for example at the moment means I’m doing a lot of work with companies worldwide, and individuals. And what I hate people saying is won’t it be great when we go back to life as normal, because life’s not going to be as normal. And I think any business leader or any team that is creating a strategy at the moment about normal, I think it’s going to be doomed to failure either this time or next time or the time after. So what we require is something which is a radical thought process. But with that comes risk. So we actually have to not ignore risk. But at the same token, we mustn’t be bludgeoned by it. Risk is really important when we were learning to walk as kids we fell over. We didn’t see the falling over processes negatively or ashighly risky. We saw it as something which took us to the next level. So I think Chris, to be honest with you, I was in a form of trance and believed just categorically that if I did it the hard why I wouldn’t be successful? I deserve to be.

CC: Did you have a vision in terms of where you were heading or did you go into this trance and just go from, you know, day to day?

MR: No Chris, this was one of the other parts to this expectation plays a huge part in this whole process. When I’m showing people the golf process to do 220 metres I never say ‘by the way, I think you might do 220 metres I say to them quite categorically, as part of the process. You will take this club, you will drive 220 metres, you will laugh and surprise yourself at your results, but don’t try and analyse it. So expectation is something we’re not always very good at. So every year from 20 years ago, I write myself a letter in past tense as though I have already achieved everything I set out to achieve. I tell myself the interesting times the challenges the ups and downs. But ultimately, I’ve achieved my goal through the power of using decoys, and the subconscious intervention. So, I do that every year. And I absolutely amaze myself at what I can achieve and I set myself a target, which is stupid, but stupid works.

CC: Is this because we limit our potential by the beliefs that we have which are not necessarily true they are just opinions not facts, we limit ourselves in terms of what we can achieve because we just hold ourselves down by subconscious decisions that we’ve made?

MR: I think we’ve just found Chris the childhood box. Yeah, if we’re very fortunate to have a great childhood and great aspirations and parents who are aspirational and, sadly, I think few of us have got that. But congratulations to those who have I hope you use it very, very well to move forward, I would just suggest that the majority have been detuned by schools, peers, parents, etc. That’s why we’ve got to shut the door, get out of the way of ourselves, reset our parameters, and believe we can do absolutely anything. So by writing the expectation, we’re actually pre-programming our unconscious mind which is quite important, Chris, the unconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality and illusion. If you’re challenged with belief that something has already happened, you will adopt that stance.

CC: So when you write what time horizon do you recommend? Is it 12 months? Tell us a little bit more about some of the things we should put in the

MR: Yes, as an example we were talking the other day, I said, Chris, I want you to write to me, I might go, it’s July the sixth 2021. Well, here we are, my goodness, mate. Everything that I put down that we talked about, I’ve achieved. Let me tell you more about it. And therefore you would write in your letter in past tense, telling me about relationships about maybe challenges that you succeeded, definitely some business goals, some personal goals, and things that you didn’t believe about yourself, that have now become possible. So what we’ve done is, people who are programmers will know this, you are effectively setting the channels of communication back your way. So by doing this and reading it every day, every week, and maybe a bit of modification as you go along, but abstracting from the goal. The hard part is I remember Bear Grylls when climbing Everest was asked what was the hardest part of the climb, and, in reflection, he said ‘deciding to go’. And there’s an interesting psychology behind this. Most people are frightened of success and it’s all about belief. And you really have to stretch yourself. So then you’re on the other side of your own letter, I would recommend that you turn it into visual representation. So get pictures, create pictures of everything that you said you were going to achieve, and then make it happen.

CC: And that’s, that’s great. I was just going through my interview, archive, and I started transcribing them. There’s 380 hours of content. So it’s a big job, but one of the first ones I looked at was my first interview with Mette Bloch twice World Champion rower and she said when she was at her first World Championships she had not made the final. And she decided that she was going to come back the next time and win. And she drew it, she drew a picture. And she drew a picture of her standing there on the podium. But she also kept those pictures in her head she focused in on them and she came back next time and won. First time it was quite stressful. She decided she wanted to do it again and enjoy it. So the next time she came back she went again. But it was the picture she had drawn that gave the energy. I think that it’s a similar point to what you make.

MR: I mean, Chris, I get people whether you’re marketing or sales or managing director, CEO or whatever, to use these techniques and I’ve had many, many companies out perform what they originally they thought was possible. And the more wild it is, the more fun it is. And believe it or not, that’s the process, that becomes a decoy in its own right. And then there’s a lot to support that. But in principle, it just works.

CC: Excellent. Well, you’ll receive mine coming through the email in the next few week So tell me Michael, we’ve got just a couple of minutes before I need to wrap up. Who are your ideal clients and how do you tend to work with them?

MR: My ideal clients whether it’s a large corporate, a medium sized, corporate or an individual with the aspiration to get out of their own way and do something bigger, better different. Now, I’m not suggesting that is all profit or turnover or sales or anything. But I’m fascinated by people and companies, especially in COVID, and others that will look for new and instantly exciting ways for them to sell, be bold or whatever, who look at the principle of getting out of their own way, and achieving what they thought was impossible.

Chris, for me, it is curiosity regarding performance, there’s too much of the same old, same old, just hard work, and lots and lots of MBAs and technical stuff and that’s great, fantastic. But there are a lot of other ways that we can do things as well.

CC: Excellent. Michael, I’ve obviously loved talking to you. And I think there’s so much richness in this conversation about getting into our subconscious and relaxing into it and following the flow whilst using decoys. The story of golf and writing from the perspective of being in the future. I wonder, do you have a final message that you’d like to leave us with?

MR: Two small ones, Chris. I operate at what’s called a no fear principle. Fear is very debilitating. It’s all about actually understanding. Does that fear come from the childhood locker? So that’s one thing and the second thing is, dream with your eyes wide open and all sorts of material assistance will come to you. Right?

CC: Right. No fear and dream with eyes wide open. It’s been a complete and utter pleasure, Michael, I do hope that this helps many people to really get out of their own way and achieve the impossible. Michael, you don’t actually have a website, you don’t need it –  is there a way people can connect with you?

If you are interested in potentially working with Michael or would like to connect with him contact him at Michaelromeling@insideout.biz

CC: That’s it. And if anybody is unsure, just get in touch with me and I’ll put you through to Michael. So thank you. Thanks again.

Would You Like To Work With Chris Cooper?

Are you looking to develop your leaders, teams and/or build highly engaged workforces? Chris has 30 years of multi-functional business experience, working with global brands such as Mars inc to board level as well as supporting and founding entrepreneurial ventures. Chris elevates business performance and engagement by acting as a catalyst to support the transition of businesses, leaders and teams to higher levels of performance. He has hosted the ‘Business Elevation Show’ on Voice America since 2011, building a massive network of global connections and audience in over 50 countries. He is a professional coach, facilitator, trainer and speaker on topics such as’Elevating Leadership’ ‘Engagement Starts With You’ and his book ‘The Power To Get Things Done (Whether You Feel Like It Or Not) published by Penguin Random House USA’. Chris is a fellow and former Regional President of the Professional Speaking Association in the UK. To explore how Chris can help you contact chris@chriscooper.co.uk


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