page title icon 4 Shifts You Need to Make In Order to Break Through the Ceiling of Complexity

To burst through the ceiling of complexity you need to change gears, and that’s going to involve doing something different.

We live in a world of infinity. We have an infinite amount of things we can do at any one moment. As responsible individuals, we try to take care of all the opportunities and requests that come our way. Try as we might, there is a point where there’s no more hours in the day and we just hit this ceiling of complexity. What do you do when you can’t go any further, when you can’t go any faster? Do you just spend your life jammed up against this ceiling of complexity?

In this episode, Richard Medcalf shares how you can change your mindset and learn how to pause and approach things differently. As he says in the podcast, you can’t change gears when your foot is on the accelerator. Learn how to take a different approach.

Richard Medcalf describes himself as “what you get if you were to put a McKinsey consultant, a slightly unorthodox pastor and an entrepreneur into a blender”.

He grew up in the UK with a younger sister who was severely mentally disabled. This instilled in him a conviction that when we do have talents and opportunities, we owe it to others to make the biggest positive impact.

Richard’s childhood was marked by a love of board and role-playing games and science fiction novels; the common themes reveal a love of complexity and imagination. In his teenage years, he fell in love with rock music and the electric guitar; becoming the self-proclaimed #1 fan of the rock band Queen!

After a Masters Degree at Oxford University, where he came top in his year, Richard started his career in a premier strategy consultancy. He became the youngest-ever Partner and then moved to tech giant Cisco. He then spent years there in various leadership roles, elevating Cisco’s relevance in the C-suite of its Fortune 100 customers. He was then selected for an elite team set up by Cisco’s President and CEO, John Chambers and Chuck Robbins, to catalyze strategic partnerships & new business models.

After 20 years in the corporate world, Richard realized his true mission was to help high-achieving and successful leaders move out of their comfort zone and maximize their positive impact: on their team, their business, and the world.

As a result, Richard founded Xquadrant. He now operates as a leadership consultant and trusted advisor to exceptional CEOs & and their leadership teams, helping them lead more strategically and influentially so that they genuinely multiply their impact. 

Richard is bi-national English/French, lives near Paris, and is happily married and the proud father of two. He’s also a licensed lay minister in the Anglican Church and has an insatiable love for spicy food and the electric guitar.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @rmedcalf get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“The paradox is that the more capable you are, the more you are tempted to try and deal with infinity by yourself.” – Click to Tweet

“To burst through the ceiling of complexity you need to change gears, and that’s going to involve doing something different.” – Click to Tweet

“Your success is not going to be by delivering even more projects, managing even more customers. It’s going to be slowing down, and going to have that one conversation that changes everything.” – Click to Tweet

“You can’t change gears when your foot is on the accelerator.” – Click to Tweet

“When we have a high-value activity, it becomes really easy to delegate. It becomes much easier to free ourselves up.” – Click to Tweet

“Get really clear on your most valuable activities and projects, and when you understand that, you can start to migrate and replace the $10 activities with the $100 activities, and with the million dollar activities.” – Click to Tweet

“We don’t get what we want, we get who we are.” – Click to Tweet

“Go slow to go smooth. Go smooth to go fast.” – Click to Tweet

Advice for others

Always be looking at doing the thing which is a bit exciting and a bit challenging. Focus on growth.

Holding him back from being an even better leader


Best Leadership Advice

Always focus on who it is that you are serving and always find real people that you can think about.

Secrets to Success / Tools

To-do app.

Recommended Reading

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Links and Resources

Richard’s Twitter:

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Richard’s newsletter: 

Fast Leader Show on YouTube: 

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Check out other episodes on emotional intelligence:

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