In conversation with: Lisa Rubinstein, The Institute for Human Potential

In conversation with: Lisa Rubinstein, The Institute for Human Potential

The Institute for Human Potential’s CEO Lisa Rubinstein combines the ancient wisdom of martial arts with modern neuroscience to improve organisational and team performance by cultivating people’s readiness to learn.

Tell us about The Institute for Human Potential.
We help companies create a new and sustainable future that delivers dramatic improvements in individual, team and organisational results and culture. We also teach managers and leaders about how to cultivate their people’s readiness to learn – the holy grail of performance.

You’ve combined teachings of neuroscience and martial arts to approach leadership and organisational challenges. How did this combination develop?
The martial arts side comes from my training in Shotokan Karate with the head of the Japanese Karate Association in North America; now the highest-ranking sensei in the world. He taught leadership, integrity, resilience and most importantly, the responsibility of power.

I picked up neuroscience when I researched for my book, ‘True Leadership’, which combines the neuroscience of leadership with insights from highly-respected business leaders. The two are very compatible. Neuroscience gives us the answer to what is going on inside our head, but martial arts points to actions you can take to be a great leader, no matter your title.

You have an accomplished career in leadership training. What is the biggest challenge you face in your role today?
Keeping things fresh is a constant challenge as is keeping people engaged and ready to learn. That ‘ready to learn’ aspect is the biggest problem leaders face. When people are open to learning, they’ll be more proactive, communicate when something comes up, be more accepting of changes and able to deal with curveballs.

Today, more than ever, business is about constant change and dealing with the unexpected. Handling both of those well depends on being ready to learn and change.
However, today’s workplace environment drives us to be less willing, less open and able to deal with the unexpected. The increasing pace of business coupled with the high rate of change challenges all of us and kills people’s readiness to learn. It’s the biggest threat to success and sustainability for any company.

What does success mean to you?
Success will always occur as elusive. As soon as I get close to the goal, I’ll shift to an even greater challenge to keep life interesting. It’s most important to recognise this, so we don’t relate to ourselves as less than, only because we still haven’t achieved our expectations. If we know we’re resetting the bar; we can own it!

What is the toughest decision you have made and how did you handle it?
To walk away from a project that I had worked on for over 11 years. We had reached a point where the energy and focus needed to take it to the next level wasn’t going to pay off and hence, I stepped away. It was a relief and opened an even better pathway to achieving what I was after. But, until that first step, it was a hard decision to make.

What is something you’ve accomplished that you take the most pride in?
Making time for my two girls while they wanted me around. Business can always fit in. I have memories and a relationship with them that is far more valuable. Now that they’re grown and building their own lives, I have plenty of time to put everything into the business with no regrets.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become an entrepreneur?
•    Build a team first. Make sure you identify where your strengths lie and cultivate them. Then find great people to fill in the gaps.
•    Every week, make sure you are out somewhere and meeting new people. It’s not just about filling your pipeline, it’s about being connected, knowing what’s going on and getting out of your own head.
•    Go to events without an agenda save for meeting people. So many people go in like sharks in a feeding frenzy. It’s a real turn off and stops you from meeting what could be an interesting contact.
•    Build a business that also helps in some way to heal the planet. We are at a point in our history that if more people do not take on sustainability projects, we will not have a future to pass on to our next generation.


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