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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #50: A Lesson in Persistence, Consistency and a Few Catchy Titles

August 20, 2019
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #50: A Lesson in Persistence, Consistency and a Few Catchy Titles

Personal and professional development stems from persistence and consistency over time. In Episode #50 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we celebrate reaching this milestone and consider ways in which we can support persistence and consistency in our organizations and in ourselves.

To learn more about how consistency supports development, consider bringing a 5 Levels of Leadership Workshop to your organization this year.

Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast where our goal is to help you. You know what, Chris? This is episode #50. I don’t think we even need to do that whole intro. You know what that means. That means that your mom and my mom had been listening for 9 episodes for us to even get to 50. Congratulations. I don’t know how this happened, but wow. It’s hard to believe 50 episodes, that’s a milestone. It’s a big deal for us and I think we’re almost, or at least this year, are up to a half-million listens. We hope we’re adding value somewhere. Yeah, we’re very, very excited to be doing this. It was just the birth of an idea and I did the first one by myself and it was horrible.

And Perry called me up and said, hey, did you ever think about me helping me out with that? And so, I didn’t see the horrible. Since then, we’ve had a lot of fun doing this. And just bringing you some tidbits, hopefully in less than 20 minutes or so around leadership that’ll help your daily walk. Well, instead of patting ourselves on the back, I thought we could actually provide some value by saying, what is the lesson in this around leadership? And we titled it, “A Lesson in Persistence, Consistency and a Few Catchy Titles.” I’ll tell you it really is hard to believe that we’ve done 50 so far, but it goes to show you that it’s true what we said a couple of podcasts ago. I call it Tuesday’s coming. What do you have this show for it?

So, the time is passing, but what are we doing to make those small investments each week? Where we have the overtime, we got 50 in the archives and counting. Instead of Tuesdays come in, it’s our podcasts are coming and Perry, you do such a great job of helping with the content, making it relevant to the corporate world and what people are doing both as leaders personally and professionally. But I can’t let it just slide by when you, I usually get to announce the titles and he just completely took that from me. But here’s why he did, I don’t know if you were listening like I was, he basically was like, you know, podcast #50, the lessons in persistence, consistency and catchy titles. That’s how you said it. He was so excited about that.

I’m so excited that just consistency over time compounds to the fact that we’re at 50 and that’s what we’re going to talk a little bit about today. Just some quick lessons around what we have learned in doing this. And I’ve heard John talk a lot about the fact that hey, consistency compounds, just get started. And what we don’t talk about a lot is the consistency of leaders. It’s funny, you and I both have the opportunity to be in corporate American and sometimes when we’re doing facilitations or we’re doing keynotes or whatever, we’ll talk about, hey, give me some attributes about what it is that you remember about the greatest leader that you’ve ever worked with. Worked for, served with, been a part of, whatever, and more and more I am hearing this word consistency. And I don’t think it’s talked about enough. The power of being consistent.

And it makes me think about, you know, those leaders where, I don’t know who told me this story one time, but we were somewhere and organizations said, now listen, depending on the mood that he or she was in that day, she would either have a blue coffee cup out or a green golf club, whatever it was, which meant you can come in and talk to them today.

Basically, it’s a good day if you want to get something done. But if it was red, they went to the office and didn’t turn around and never addressed them again. And when you have leaders like that and there’s lack of consistency, I think it’s a problem. We’re going to, we’re going to dive into that and a couple of other things that we have learned in recording these podcasts. Well, consistency is actually one of my favorite words in leadership. We say this all the time here, that people are watching you all the time. And then we always followed with the question, so what are they watching for? And usually it’s your actions, your reactions, your behaviors, and they’re looking to see are you consistent or are you wild? Are you somebody I can trust?

That red, green coffee cup thing– how much engagement do you think that person’s driving? How much influence do you think that person has? It’s very sketchy. And I thought, I want to be that consistent levelheaded leader that people know they can trust. Consistency builds trust. And the other thing you said, compounding. It’s probably the central learning of my life is when I finally turned my life around to say, what am I going to do to make a difference? It really was investing small things daily, consistently over time. And it does, it compounds that like two seeds are coming was our little a metaphor for the time is passing. What are you going to have to show for it?

And so, for us, we’re, we’re kind of tying it to 50 episodes but each week we have to produce something to be able to keep up with the pace and by doing something, even if its small. But over time it compounds into something really big. I’ll add to this because of my personality, my hardwiring is as an analyzer by trade. And part of the challenge with that is what we call paralysis by analysis.

And I want to make sure you understand we’re not talking about consistently good over time, right? Because there are some lessons, some podcasts and things that we’ve done that we continue to do consistently. They just weren’t good. And we still were grateful to those that are still listening. But over time, if there’s no movement there and there’s consistency, you’re going to see that begin to compound. And for us, it’s just been the weekly commitment to kind of put something out there for you.

I know for me, growth comes from continuous effort. And even some of the struggles we talked about, some of the ones that weren’t really good or that we weren’t content with, we just didn’t feel it. We were like, hmm, we’re struggling, and it wasn’t easy. So, for me, you know, the preparation and what we’ve done to do to go into this and the fact that we know Tuesday’s coming, there’s been great growth in it for me around content.

For me, because I write a lot of the content, I do a daily reflection and take time to think about what I’m learning. What I am seeing is I do a lot of speaking, coaching, teaching, leading my own teams. My Spidey Sense is out there and I’m taking everything in the context of what can we share with our listeners. John, one of his books is called, Thinking for a Change. I’m thinking, give me a break. And then I read it. It was unbelievable. Am I actually spending any time thinking about something? John says, good thinking creates a foundation for good results. And so, by us doing this, having a podcast every week over time causes me to raise my level of attention and give me things to think about. And when I think about, I go, wow, we should share that.

Your antennas are out. You’re aware like, hey, what is it about that situation? Learning for me, another one that I wrote down here is, I mentioned it just briefly a minute ago. There is the growth that I find in just preparing the thoughts that you challenged me with that I begin to think about. And I think anything that you teach or communicate, you learn more as the one that’s preparing.

And we were talking in a previous podcast and then even with Jason Brooks just a few minutes ago who handles a lot of John’s content and writing for us. And we were talking about the fact that as you’re preparing to grow leaders, as you’re preparing to grow people and develop them, you have to get into a growth mindset. Any type of preparation you’re doing, you are in a learning mode. So whether, even if it’s just around some of you, the reporting structure that you have in the organization, some data, some numbers, some whatever it is, the more time you prepare, the more you’re going to learn. And for me, that’s been true around some of this content that you’ve shared with me.

Well, somebody told me when I was younger, if you really want to learn something, teach it. If you spend time preparing to teach something, you really get a grasp for that. So I totally agree with you that in the preparation is where the growth is for me. I write these lessons, but I know we founded the podcast on the basis of the 5 Levels of Leadership. That’s our theme for most everything we do. But I don’t actually sit down and look through and say what lesson can I write that would apply to the five levels.

I look at my life and the challenges that I’m hearing in our coaching with our clients and what are people struggling with and how can you, and I bring that here to add value to our listeners and I’m just stunned when we get in here and everything funnels back to the five levels. I didn’t mean for it to, it just, it does. It does and one of the things I share with organizations is that no matter the competency around leadership, and there are a ton of different leadership competencies that you’re trying to develop, but you’re trying to improve some way they funnel back to one of the Levels of the 5 Levels of Leadership.

More than likely it’s probably going to be at Levels 2, 3 or 4. There’ll be some at 1, not too many at 5. It’s just you’ve led so well for so long over time that people look at you as kind of that, that pinnacle leader there. There are, there is some there but not a ton. And so one of the things I love about it is that the framework is so simple, which is great for me, right? So I can understand it and it creates a common language around leadership.

And I challenge organizations all the time. If you’re happy, if you have different departments that are struggling in different competency areas, think about what that message is. When you start bringing in different content pieces with a different language and all of a sudden, it’s like, what’s the flavor of the month versus it all coming back to us. You and I just have a mindset of the 5 Levels and no matter what we talk about, we say, you know what, that is directly related to Level 3 and improving my production as a leader. And so it is funny how it all kind of happened and you don’t do that. You just, you come up with what’s relevant, what you’re hearing in the, in the market and what’s going on when you travel but it all funnels back to that.

I challenge those that are listening. What is that common language of leadership inside your organization? What is the framework that everybody refers everything back to so that you, from a speed execution standpoint, can close that gap with the language? Here’s the other thing. We didn’t really have any expectations on this thing. Well, I might have, but other than the fact you’re like, I got to go help Chris. Right? Because that was horrible. But I love the dialogue that is created between the two of us. But we just said, hey, let’s get together and started talking about leadership and what does this look like and let’s add value to the leaders that are out there. Let’s give them some nuggets. Let’s give them some application.

And what’s really great about this is John calls this the disappointment gap, which is the difference between reality and expectation. Since we didn’t really have any expectation, even though we’re still not that good, the reality is we’re not that good. We didn’t have any expectations to be great, right? And so our disappointment gap, there’s no disappointment in what we get to do. We love doing this, we love recording our thoughts and our contact around that.

That is obviously another lesson for me there, we just started out and we just created movement. We didn’t have any expectations, we just wanted to add value, talk about leadership and so the disappointment gap was minimal. The way this went down was, and it’s a compliment to you because, unbeknownst to us, you in the studio and you did less than one. You can actually go back to podcast #1 of this series. It’s about the 5 Levels.

Chris does a fantastic job of laying it out. The entire model. You can see it, but in his humility, he reached out. I didn’t know he was doing it. He reached out. He said, hey, I know you do this a lot. Could you review this and give me an assessment of that? That’s another great leadership aspect of saying, I think I’m pretty good. I got this, but what’s the next level? How can I raise my game? What do you think? So you asked for other people to evaluate your work and I didn’t. It was good. I just only, I only asked one question. I said, were you reading that? And you said, could you tell? I said, just to here and there, and I said, would you take a suggestion? And you said that’s why I’m asking. Could you give me a suggestion?

And that’s how it started. I said, I am the answer. I didn’t actually say that it was more of a God voice. The humility of leadership that you had to say, Hey, I’m willing to open this up to somebody. Tell me what you think. Can I make it better? Can you help me make it better? Boom. And they’re there. Another thing I’ve been surprised about, and this is another great leadership example, is where I find content ideas. I mentioned it earlier that it comes from what I read or what I listened to or the coaching conversations I’m having or the challenges I’m facing myself personally. But this is called availability bias. And what I’ve noticed, you all know this yourselves, when you say, should I get a new car?

So I identify the car I’d like to have. And guess what, I started noticing on the highway, they’re everywhere. I never noticed one before. All of a sudden, everywhere I looked, I tell, oh, there’s one, there’s one. Because my mind is looking for them because I’ve made it. That’s what I’m as available to me. Now. I love that. Yeah. So as a leader, if you plant yourself with an idea that there’s something you’re trying to grow in, something you’re trying to do and you start you focusing on that, you’ll be surprised how much you do.

When I leave here, after today, I’ve got to start coming up with topics again, but I know I will because there’s that much going on around me and my eyes are open to it now that it’s such a great point about purchasing a car or a certain color or whatever it is and that availability bias and I love that. And I think if you’re open to that and growth as a leader, it will become evident. All right. Now this next one that I have, this is hard for me to talk about, especially since we just admitted that you were the answer to me becoming better.

I’ve been so surprised. But it’s been a lot of fun. And we kind of joke about it in the beginning, in all of the titles. I mean, some are like, here it is, this is three steps, whatever. But the titles that you come up with are a lot of fun and they’re catchy and let’s be honest, whether you’re doing a project or you’re doing in a van or whatever it is, that plays a big part in it. And even when we’re searching for content for development for ourselves, you know, we’re naturally drawn to the fact that there’s a title that kind of resonates with what the topic is. And so, I’ve been a little surprised by that, but I’m extremely grateful for it and have fun with it.

Obviously the key to our success. Now let me tell you the leadership lesson. Leaders, people, they listen to stories. They buy into your story. And so, the question I ask is, what story am I telling? I’m espousing numbers and facts. And, you know, should I form a vision statement, or can I actually phrase it in a catchy way, can I grab your attention? Can I get you to lean in and stop and put all the noise away for just a moment and pay attention to what we’re doing by making it a little fun and to get people’s attention that way?

I find that the way I read, I see stuff and wonder what that means. And you know, on the Internet they call it clickbait, but a little bit what we want here is to get people’s attention and say, hey, you know, we did one, I don’t know if they’ve listened to it yet or are hanging around the what does that even mean? But you’ll listen for a few minutes to me to figure it out and then you’ll decide if it’s valuable or not.

But, from a leadership aspect, there’s kind of mixing my message a bit. And I would encourage you as a leader, think about that. Think about that with meetings that you have with your team and what are the different topics and themes and put some time into it. And I do give them a hard time for it, but I do love some of the titles that he comes up with. Maybe in the next 50, we’ll have another great one in there. But let me wrap up as we kind of summarize just the key points. We want to just give you a quick lesson here on some of the things that we’ve learned over recording all 50 of our podcasts and developing the content.

Here’s the first thing I’ve heard said that I wrote down as we kind of wrap up that I want you to just take away with you today and I think we do two out of three of these really well, I’ll let you guess which one we don’t, be brief, be brilliant and be done. And we’re not very brief. I had somebody tell me one time when you’re communicating, man, be brief, be brilliant, be done. Right. And so we really try, you know, thanks to our team, tried to keep it under 20 minutes, gave you some, some tools, some nuggets and then we’d be done. And we’re getting out of there. Um, here’s the other thing, just start. I talked about this, right? A movement creates momentum. Just start and be consistent with it. You’re not going to be good, but just do it.

John talks about this all the time now. People say, I wish I could do what you do. Do you want to do what I did? And you should’ve seen me back then. You know, when I first started, I was horrendous. But I consistently over time continued to write and continued to speak. And here are two last thoughts. John has spoken into my life for almost 20 years and two of the things that he says that I hang my hat on, one is live on the other side. I had someone say, hey, would you get in there and talk about the 5 Levels on a podcast? Yes. I didn’t know what it was going to look like. I didn’t know we were going to get to where, you know, Perry, and I’ve done this now for 50 episodes, but just think about living on the other side.

John talks about this, even recently in his leadership content, about living on the other side. And then the other thing he talks about in this content that I pulled for you today is to make plans but look for options. We had plans to have a certain type of podcast be about the 5 Levels every time. But we were open to other options. We were open to feedback. And so, I think anytime as leaders, if you get so caught up in the plan that you’re not willing to be flexible or have options, I think you’re never going to see the best out of whatever situation that you’re working on. John says the best is today, better is tomorrow. So we’re always continuing to challenge ourselves. Just a couple of nuggets to kind of wrap up some of our thoughts.

There’s a lot of fun and I’m grateful for all the great content that you do bring. I know that starting small and doing it daily is a key tenement of my life and it just helps me get things going. So I agree with you on that. A lot of people see your front stage act and don’t see the backstage, all your prep, and preparing and getting better. A lot of people ask us, when are we going to produce a bloopers reel? And I told him it would be like this. As I said, we don’t have one as you hear it.

So anyway, grateful for your listening. We’d be grateful if you would share this podcast with your friends. Don’t hesitate to share the link or leave us a question or comment below. If you want more you can find us at You can find out more about the 5 Levels of Leadership. We’d be grateful for that. So that’s all for today. And then on for the next 50, this is the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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