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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #85: A Leader’s Best Friend – Your Personal Development Plan

April 29, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #85: A Leader’s Best Friend – Your Personal Development Plan

When it comes to taking your team to the next level, you cannot give what you do not have. You must be pouring into yourself so that you can pour into those that you lead. In Episode #85 of our podcast, we discuss the three key aspects of a personal development plan and the critical success factors for putting it into action.

Are you working on your personal development plan? A self-assessment is a great place to start, and will help you move further along the path toward excellence.

Download our Learning Guide for this podcast!

Read Transcript Below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell company. 

Welcome and thank you for joining. Just as a reminder, as we get started, if you’d like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership, or even have Perry, myself or one of our executive facilitators come and spend some time with your team in regards to that model, please visit leave a comment, even leave a question there If you have one for us, and we’d love to answer it on a future podcast. I’d also like to let you know that there you can download a learning guide that Perry creates that goes along with each one of our lessons. It’s a one page guide that has some highlights and allows you to make some notes as you kind of listen and go through today’s lesson. 

Well, today’s topic is titled, A Leader’s Best Friend, Your Personal Development Plan. I think, being in John’s world for as long as I have, I really kind of learned that, man, if you’re not developing yourself daily, you have no shot. And maybe some of the things you think about, which I would challenge that too, because if you’re not developing yourself, those thoughts are probably not big enough. But when it comes to taking your team, your organization to the next level, you cannot give what you do not have and I’ve heard John say that I believe that you got to continue to be pouring into yourself. So I’m looking forward to what a lot of people call a simple topic, but us diving in and talking a little bit about this today. 

Yeah, I’m a little nervous bringing it to this audience because if you’re listening to this podcast, I probably have some development aspirations, but I’ve also done enough coaching and enough large event speaking where asked for a show of hands who is executing on a personal development plan daily, weekly, monthly. It’s very few people, a lot of intention, not a lot of execution. And what I find that there’s no end to the excuses that we make for why we don’t do this, of course, the most prevalent is I don’t have time.  I always just stop them right there. And say, “ just tell me the truth, don’t lie to me right away.” it’s that  you didn’t take the time to do that. You did something else with your time besides this, but we all have the same amount of time. And you can also ask a lot to learn a lot by asking someone what is your morning routine? We’ve done a little work here on the podcast about developing a killer morning routine. Another thing I remind everybody you already have a morning routine is just is it working for you or working against you? So I think about development, its development plan. It is like I love that you can’t give what you don’t have and I’ve got to be pouring into me so that I can pour into those that I lead.

Well, and let me just clarify a couple of things. Perry said a morning routine. And it may be the morning for you right? Doesn’t mean it needs to be five o’clock in the morning. I know there are a lot of people, right? You are an early riser, I’m an early riser, but some type of routine as you get your day started, it’s called your daily routine, there you go. That’s all I’ll say about it, like what is that daily routine? And here’s the thing, Perry said if you’re listening to this, you probably do have a personal development plan. And we’re grateful that you listen to the podcast. What I want to encourage you to do is begin asking your team members, “hey, what’s your personal development plan?” I think leaders ought to be holding their team accountable to that, I think you ought to be talking about it. I think you ought to be having them discuss with you what they’re learning in order to challenge them. I think you got to model it. You got to lead with that behavior. But man if you have one, we’d love that. But I promise you like Perry said there are a lot of people that don’t and they’re on your team. 

That’s why I say that your leader’s best friend is your friend to you because he pours into you so you can pour into others but it’s your best friend. If you teach this to your team. Yeah, everybody on your team should have some semblance of a development plan. We can talk about what that looks like today, but if you’re doing that it’s a great friend to you because it helps. And then everybody, the tide is rising on all boats. 

And I think one of the reasons we want to bring this to you today is we all have probably had some type of development plan. And I know personally for myself, I’ve been on a bunch of development plans annually. And sometimes I get into a little bit of a rut, and I do the same thing. And I do the same thing. And I do the same thing. And then I get bored and quit. And so we’re talking a little bit about habits a little bit later in this podcast and a great book that I’ve read. I sent it to you and I know John recommended it to us and that we read it and it’s really just fascinating to think about how we create habits. But while we wanted to bring this to you we just want to give you maybe a different lens, a different perspective, maybe even a different idea, and how to go about the next quarter, the next half of the year, the next year when it comes to a personal development plan. So what I want to do is I really just want to share one of the ones that I’ve heard you talk about and I’ve heard you teach before, and there’s really three parts to this one, fairly simple, but it’s three parts. And it’s personal, professional, and operational. Okay, and so when I talk about personal, what we’re really talking about is how are you growing your character? How are you, reinforcing your personal values that are important to you that could look like maybe for some of you spiritual reading, it could be improving relationships of some sorts with either peers, with spouses with family members, whatever that might be. When we talk about professionals under here, we’re talking about specific skills that will help you in specific areas of interest, things that maybe around managing change, maybe leadership might be where the attributes of those leadership competencies are really specific. And then the final one we’re going to talk a little bit about is the under the operational category, these are job related skills, maybe things that will help you advance in the chosen field of which you’re in.

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Yeah, what I like about it is so simple. I just want you to paper to me three columns that says that, you know, what am I doing personally? What am I doing professionally? And then what am I doing operationally? Are you thinking about where you are going in the company or in the team you’re on? Are you trying to be promoted? You go on to the next level? Are you trying to just grow your skills? Should you be marrying somebody? Should you have a mentor? There’s a lot of questions to be answered under those three columns. And as a leader, you mentioned earlier that it’s really something we need to have for each person on the team. If everybody on the team I found took ownership of their personal development plan, I started to see what levels of production I could get to. People began to exercise an engagement tool as well. Most people are motivated by developing mastery and they don’t figure out why they can’t get mastery. One not investing in it daily. So how do I do that? The question I heard a lot and you kind of hit on in a minute ago was when do you expect me to do this? That’s when they usually say with about that kind of tone, like it’s a burden. Yeah right, you mentioned something about morning, noon or night. 

Yeah I think, here’s what I would tell you. You have to make it a part of your daily routine. And it’s got to be something that you’re prepared to do. You prepare ahead of time, you know it’s there, you calendar it, you schedule, it’s got to be part of your team. I’ll tell you a little bit for me what my personal development plan looks like, in regards to how I use some of my time whether it’s in the morning or in the afternoon or whether I’m traveling. One of the things that I like to do is that I have a fairly long commute to work when I am in town. And so I am dedicated to using that hour every morning that I’m in the car to either, I am listening to podcasts, I’m either listening to audiobooks, whatever it might be, you know. You and I’ve shared some of that content like man, listen, I heard this this morning here. You know, take that. That’s the other thing man about having a personal development plan, you’re able to not only challenge your team to have a personal balance, but just feed them the information right and just give that to them. And so for me, that is when I am listening audibly, and I’m learning and I rarely am listening to the radio. Sometimes I get tired of this development plan and I check out. I just wanna listen to sports talk radio or country music or whatever it might be. But what I find is I’m not adding value to myself obviously, but then even in situations for the organization or situations for even this podcast, bringing some content that you notice. You’re a  voracious reader, and a content consumer. And a lot of the stuff that we’re sharing today just comes from you spending time learning, having some type of routine and working through that. But here’s what I want to challenge you guys to do is I want to make sure that whatever you set up, whatever type of personal development plan, do not make it too complicated. Do not make it too difficult for you to sustain over time because what you’re going to do is you’re going to miss one, miss two, then you’re going to have the negative self talk. “It’s not worth it, I’m done.” It’s the whole thing around New Year’s resolutions. I like to use this story sometimes when we’re talking about this, my wife loves to work out. My wife is not a morning person. And so part of her development plan is, hey, I want to do X number of workouts a week, what does this look like? And she’ll go, I’m gonna do it at 530 in the morning, and she’ll just tell me then,  I’m getting up at 530. And I just kind of giggle and I love her. But I’ll be like, why are you setting yourself up for failure? Right, because that’s not how you’re wired. She’s a night person. And so she gets more done in between 11pm and 1am. While I’m snoring, right, and so we’re opposites. And so making sure make sure you set up this development plan in a way that it’s not too hard for you, which this leads to a topic that we’ve talked about, I know you love to teach and yes, it’s part of a great conversation that we call irreducible minimum So tell tell us a little bit more about that.

Well, I think your Automobile University is one of my favorites where most people live. I know in Atlanta, where we are today is, if you’re using your drive time, you can get a college degree in about a year and a half. Based on traffic patterns. So that’s the route here. So irreducible minimums are a concept used under other names. But I heard John use this term, irreducible minimum, what’s the minimum you can do in an area that you want to improve? That cannot be reduced? The minimum you can do that cannot be reduced? And so you think if it’s I want to start reading, then could you read two pages a day? And then people say, I could do two pages a day.And you say, Well, wait a minute, there’s a stipulation here, every day? And then the really smart ones say, Well, what do you mean by every day? And you say, well, every day, like weekends, every day, holidays, every day, your birthday, Christmas, every day. And we struggled with that, but I think if I can figure out what’s the minimum I can do, I have to do it every day. I can’t do less, I can do more. So if I get up and I’m going to read my two pages, and the coffee’s warm, and the house lights up, and the house is quiet, and it’s warm, and I can read two chapters, I don’t have to. But it’s bonus reading, but it’s good for me. But I cannot read less than two pages and you think it’s gonna take a long time to read a lot of books at two pages a day. You’re right, it will. However, it’s gonna take a lot longer if you don’t read anything for a week and a half. And then it just helped me to get something small done every day, consistently over time, remarkable results. So I really teach a lot on this. You do it for your health one pushup a day. Are you going to get in shape doing one push up? Of course not, but once I’m on the floor, and the conditions are right, and I’m wearing the right clothes, what if I did 10. rolled over and did a couple of crunches and did a squat on the way up, now I’ve got the start of  a fitness plan. It starts small, but it builds those habits of reading something every day, listening to a podcast, gotta listen  to a minute of a podcast. Well, are you going to get a lot in a minute? Probably not. But if the traffic’s heavy and the car is warm and the coffees hot, I’d listened to the whole podcast for 15 minutes, I don’t know, you just start small and consistency is the key. That’s it, consistency compounds. 

That’s what I was thinking about. While you were just explaining that. I know for John himself, John has, many of you probably have heard him teach on the rule of 5. John’s got 5 very simple things that he does every day. And he makes sure that he does them  every day.  Doesn’t have to spend an hour on each one of them every day. But he has that habit, which I mentioned just a minute ago, John recommended to all of us a great book called Atomic Habits by James Clear to read. And the book is phenomenal. And one of the examples I was just thinking about, we were talking about, kind of workout regimens, personal development plans, whatever the topic is, I’m gonna mess this up a little bit, but somewhere in the book, he talks about, hey, if your development plan is you want to be going to the gym every day And you plan to go an hour and you don’t have an hour doesn’t mean you just throw it out the window. Even if you had 5 minutes just get dressed go step your foot in the gym because that’s part of the habit  that you’re creating because your mindset if you don’t allows you to back squat, right the next day like Well, I didn’t go yesterday, I’m not going to go today and then that just begins right the negative traverse of that habit. And so just make sure it’s your point. It is simple to attain and that you stay consistent to it and that you don’t have to necessarily get complicated every single part of your development plan. The irreducible minimum can also be so small that people might laugh at you when you say it. I had somebody tell me their fitness plan was to put on their running shoes. I said you mean go for a run? no put on my running shoes. And that gave me this checkmark for the day. But now that I got my shoes on and I’m near the front door, what if I walked to the mailbox and if I got there and it’s okay, I can go to the corner. What if I just went running around the block?, I don’t have to, all I have to do is put on my running shoes. Do you think this can really work? And like you say, you just go to the gym. If it’s for five minutes, you just did something. Don’t have a zero day, make it part of the pattern. 

So as we kind of wrap up, and we kind of talk about this lesson, why don’t you just share a little bit of another principle that we’ve learned from John over time? Yeah. So I think what do you do with this when you read something, or when you listen to something, or when you invest in yourself? And so John has what he calls Success Factors. And he says, how do you transfer what you’re learning? And he uses the act model ACT. The A is for what I can apply from what I’m learning? what applies to me or to my team or to someone in my circle? How do I apply that? The C is for what do I change? Is there something from what I’m learning, I need to make a change in me or in my team or in the efforts that we have. And finally the T was what do I teach someone else? And if you’ve ever started teaching someone, it’s the best way for you to learn something. You think, what does someone else need to know? What do I need to know? What can I teach my team to my family? Someone in my circle, when you start to teach it, you really embrace it yourself.  So ACT is, how do I apply? How do I change? And how do I teach?  I find if you do that it’s a simple framework that helps you embrace this self development plan.John was just talking about actually in a candid conversation, I think recently on the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast about the book Atomic Habits, and he was literally talking about how, the biggest waste of time is looking for something. And he talks about using this model and how he uses it and how kind of the first time that he reads a book he marks it up. And then the second time he goes through and those comments that he marks, marks him and he has a system and tears out the pages and make some notes and so as you think it’s a great point I’m glad you brought it up about the personal development plan because there are so many things that we are consuming, we are learning that we just forget because we don’t have a process in place to capture that information throughout our personal development.

Well I’ve learned a couple of tools out there. I don’t have time to go into them now, I’ll put them on the learner guide here but all those highlights that I make on all those books on my Kindle with my finger,  those are captured in the cloud. But what do I do with those and there’s a tool I found that sends them back to me. Five a day every day and I just reviewed them. I saw one this morning that was probably a book I read two years ago with a quote that had something I had underlined came back up and I said oh how can I apply that? What changed my need in me? Could I teach that today? and this little service, they give you a month free then you have to pay. I’m in my second year paying. It’s so valuable to say you know over 15 years that I have over 5000 highlights, well of course I’ve lost every bit of that except for this little five quote dose I get every morning in an email  At 7am I scan it quickly, these are something there I need to have. So lots of tools we can talk about. I’ll put that in the learner guide you can do that.

Okay, love that last challenge for our listeners today is this. You’ve heard us talk about the Law Of The Lid. And I will tell you this about your career, your team’s execution and the success of the organization as a whole,If you are not continuing to lift your lid, if you’re not continuing to have a development plan for yourself, whatever that looks like, then you’re going to be the bottleneck. And I would encourage you not only to be modeling this behavior because it is contagious, then learning and sharing the information with the team as fast as you possibly can. It will then encourage your team to raise their lid as well. And we talked about in the beginning you cannot give what you do not have and I will also tell you that you cannot keep team members on your team that have a higher level of certain, whatever competence, whatever, when it comes to this personal development, then you do. They’re gonna look at you and they’re gonna know right away and so I challenge you to make sure that you are always pushing yourself from a competency standpoint to be lifting that lid, whatever it looks like from a personal development standpoint.

Fantastic. Thank you very much. And just a reminder, if you want that learner guide, you can go to download that,  also a great place there to leave us a question or a comment. Also, you can learn about the 5 Levels of Leadership. We’re very grateful that you would take the time to join us. This is the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast

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