Q&A | David C.M. Carter
Entrepreneur and former banker David C.M. Carter says that in life, as in rocketry, a five-degree course correction can translate into huge gains; in his words, “you can end up in the stars”. In his book Breakthrough, Carter identifies six main areas where even a small “adjustment” can help one to “become the best you can be”. These are the professional, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and personal “spokes”, he explains.
Carter, who founded the London-headquartered Merryck and Co. in 1997, says: “Life is too full of people who talk about what they could or should do, but who just never get started. Fortune favours the brave. Stop talking about what you would do and get on and do it!” Carter exited Merryck and Co. in 2010, and now mentors business leaders and CXOs (top management). Edited excerpts from an email interview:
In your book you say ‘success, like luck, happens when opportunity collides with preparedness’.
Joy and fulfilment come from achieving something, not talking about what you could do. The world’s top business people and athletes didn’t talk their way to the top. They got there by way of hard work and determination in the face of setbacks. Who would want the personal brand, “He talks a great story—but never delivers?” My personal credo is, “Make yourself useful”—it’s about doing something every day with everyone I meet that adds value to them.
WillPower, WayPower and WavePower. Could you explain what these are, and how they weigh in?
If I need to stop smoking, I can use WillPower but if inside myself I keep saying “I’ll probably not make it and give up” (WavePower), then I won’t be successful. If I have a vision for a new business (WillPower) and the resources to build it (WayPower) but I have a limiting belief in my ability (WavePower)—like fear of success, that I am a quitter, that I am no good really at selling, etc.—then it will fail. Having the desire and the resources isn’t enough. You have to be energetically aligned to the outcome as well in order to succeed.
You’ve talked about how a small course correction in any one of the six main areas of a person’s life can help them move closer to attaining the best version of themselves...
If I read a chapter of a book every day, I improve my knowledge (mental spoke). If I tell my children or my beloved every day I love them and I spend time with them (emotional spoke), I improve my relationships. If I eat, sleep and exercise daily (physical spoke), I will improve my health and well-being. If I spend 10 minutes each day to think “how am I doing?” (spiritual spoke), I become more self-aware. If I spend 10 minutes each day coaching a colleague (professional spoke), I get on better at work. They all move me forward and they all interlink with each other so that the cumulative breakthrough bonus is even greater.
One of the things you highlight in the book is the importance of how we utilize our time—how we break it up and how much is spent in doing things that only we can do.
The more time we spend on doing exactly the same as everyone else, the more and more we will become like everyone else. All of the distractions like Facebook, etc., are just that: distractions. People who do not focus on being different will suffer in the future as they won’t stand out in the crowd when it comes to a promotion or a business opportunity. Just because everyone is doing something, doesn’t make it smart.
Could you explain how a “five-degree course correction” can help people achieve the “very best version of” themselves?
People resist change and new initiatives because they feel that this will involve too much energy and be too difficult. However, if you say to someone, “Would you be willing to spend 5 minutes on this once a week?”, they say “of course”. The simplest and easiest way to see results quickly here is by giving other people quality time. Focus for 10 minutes on the needs of your children, or a loved one, or colleagues, and see how the attention and focus you give to them changes the quality of the relationship.
Give yourself 5 minutes a day and ask yourself the simple question: “Am I being the best version of myself? And if not, what can I do to get better?” (This) creates 10 minutes of quality time that people so rarely gift themselves. Then they wonder why they are frustrated, bored and not achieving what they want in life.