Christian Fleck on the gift of self-awareness (and how to be a human mirror) (#22)

Do you feel stuck in some area of your life? 

Or maybe you know someone who is feeling stuck? 

Caught between the frustration of continuing on the same path and the fear of admitting defeat in order to try something different which may end up being a total failure. 

These problems seem to be much easier to solve when it’s someone else.  But our own problems feel so much harder. We struggle to see the problem clearly and in context. And more than that, we struggle see ourselves clearly and how we might be contributing to our own problems. 

Today we talk to Christian Fleck who shares his experiences of failing forward to develop his self-awareness. Christian’s journey of escaping the corporate rat race, a failed start up and a personal crisis led him to slow down, learn to be present and start embracing himself more fully. Now Christian gives the gift of self-awareness to others by coaching and giving feedback that unblocks and  goes to the roots. He helps people to become the entrepreneur of their lives (and this will make more sense as you listen to the interview). 

We covered a lot of ground in this conversation and as you’ll be able to tell, Christian’s experiences and insights really resonated with me. I hope you enjoy as much as I did, this wide-ranging conversation with Christian Fleck.

 You can connect with Christian via LinkedIn.

You can listen to the episode on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher or Simplecast.  

Show Notes

02:04 – role of sport in Christian’s life.
07:21 – rejected for sports journalism.
09:13 – pursued career at Nike.
13:48 – was is a dream come true in reality?
18:34 – Am I giving up or is this the right time for me?
22:39 – impact of a good manager.
24:54 – being authentic.
26:48 – fear of failure (and startups).
36:38 – feeling light to guide your decisions.
40:57 – how to feel more light?
48:30 – people who annoy us say more about us than about them.
52:58 – being a mirror and giving feedback.
56:40 – entrepreneurs of life.
58:20 – feedback vs advice.
01:01:16 – why do we feel the need to give advice?
01:04:00 – creating safe space for giving feedback.
01:06:24 – receiving feedback.
01:09:24 – feedback without hurting people’s feelings.
01:10:51 – live feedback example.
01:14:44 – getting to the heart of the matter.
01:19:30 – people find the answers within themselves.
01:28:36 – connect with Christian.

Links to reference 

Not sure the world needs so many shoes 

Dirty fashion industry 

Mindfulness meditation 

Feedback sandwich 

Socratic Method 

Key quotes 

“I got rejected for journalism…back then, I took the easy way and basically I ran away…journalism is not for me”  

“I pushed through because I was always the person who used to push through. If you are in sports, sometimes you have to push through. And that’s what I knew for my entire life because I was so ambitious, that you just need to push through. If you fail you just need to push through.” 

“As the slogan says, ‘Just do it’. And I have to do it. I have to overcome these fears.” 

“My imagination [of Nike] was really romantic and idealistic.” 

“the overlap with my personal values were not strong enough” 

“Double digit growth is the new normal…that’s cool, it’s a growth company. I’m cool with that. I understand that. But at the same time, that’s a lot of shoes. And I’m not sure if the world really needs so many of those.” 

“On one side there is the aim to achieve a lot, to strive and explore. On the other side is fear: of failing,  of not being enough, and this implies this need to be appreciated and seen. When you are in the middle you are stuck, you are paralysed. You don’t know if it’s your fear holding you back or if you can overcome it. And I was in this constant battle of: am I giving up or is this the right time for me?” 

“[he was] not married to the brand…ironically, that made me stay longer because I could trust this guy.” 

“Just do it. Make mistakes. I’ll have you back.” 

“Being aware that you are afraid of something is one of the greatest life lessons you can ever get.” 

“On one side it was really freeing but on the other side I was devastated, I felt I had failed.” 

“I was ignoring the foot on the brake. I was pushing through because I didn’t want to feel like a complete failure.” 

“This coaching process, combined with mindfulness practice which I discovered at the same point in time, this combination helped me to completely reframe [failure]. It helped me to understand that the default mode of life is failing.” 

“Failing is not good or bad.” 

“When I am present I feel alive. When I feel alive I feel light.” 

“When you have a negative thought or heavy feeling we tend to push it away. We don’t want to have it. And then life offers many amazing ways to cope with it such as chocolate, Neflix, excessive sports, distractions on phone, reading, like, just doing something. And I recommend to stop doing and just being.” 

“Sit with yourself and just witness what’s going on.” 

“Confront yourself in a gentle way about the things that make us feel heavy.” 

“What A says about B says more about A than about B” 

“I realised I am super fast in judging people.” 

“You need to deal with it within yourself first.” 

“We don’t want to admit to ourselves that we are making judgements.” 

“My role is just to be a mirror…it’s enough to rephrase it, paraphrase it and give it back to the person. Because we don’t see ourselves. We don’t see ourselves the way other people do.” 

“You don’t need to brag if it’s something that is true and a trait you can use to be in service of others.”  

“What ‘entrepreneur’ really means when you go back to the origin, is it’s a person who acts, it’s an individual who behaves actively…seizing something with the hand…I like this heritage of the word because when we were kids we were entrepreneurs. We were are doing something, trying something, making mistakes, failing forward, failing up the stairs. Everyone is an entrepreneur of life in some sense.”  

“Labels are not only finite, but they come with connotations and value judgements.” 

“Many people give advice but don’t frame it as such… I try to avoid opinions and I try to avoid advice. I rather share a story of my own experience…the problem with advice is that if some tells you what to do, it doesn’t feel very empowering, right?” 

“if someone tells you a story, you start to make connections with your story.” 

“why do we want to give feedback or advice?” 

“We just want to be seen for what we are.” 

“If the trust is there, the words I use don’t matter [when giving feedback].” 

“Nothing real can be threatened.” 

“State how you perceive it without stating the impact of future improvement.” 

“Mark realised he wasn’t coming across as he wanted to be perceived. You did not have to explain the impact it had. You were simply a mirror saying this is what it looks like to me.”   

“That’s the fascinating this about feedback, we can often deepen connection even though we have this fear of offending or upsetting the other person.” 

“People find the answers within themselves.” 

“Questions are something you can practice.” 

“With ‘why’ you need a high level of trust.” 

“It’s actually a very powerful thing asking: what just happened?” 

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.