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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #86: Are you Condemning or Commending? Finding Benefits in Trying Times

May 6, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #86: Are you Condemning or Commending? Finding Benefits in Trying Times

What we do with a bad experience defines who we become. How do leaders turn a bad experience (or a crisis) into a better experience? The answer lies in being intentional. In Episode #86 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we discuss 6 things that leaders need to be intentional with right now. 

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Read Transcript Below:

Hello, and welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast where we are still social distancing. And we are still focused on increasing your ability to fully engage your team in these very trying times. I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach in my outstanding studios here, and I’m connected again technologically with my partner friend, John Maxwell Vice President Chris Goede. Hey Chris. Hey, Perry, man. Glad to be back with you again. I always give Perry a hard time. He says he seems to have more rooms and floors in his house on where he’s working than I do. Yeah, that’s right. This is on the third level. Yeah, that’s right. No listen, grateful to be here and looking forward to diving into a lesson that John has decided that every Monday he just wants to add value to people. 

I heard him say something the other day that I think was really interesting. He said, one of the things he’s learning during this time of crisis is that he doesn’t have enough margin in his life to create content, and to reach people. And some of the statistics that we have been reviewing of his impact in his reach from 2019, versus what has happened in the last four to six weeks has been amazing. And, so this is probably going to be one of our new norms. So love the fact that he’s doing this every Monday we just want to really grab some clips of this talk about what it means to you as a leader and to your organization. Fantastic. I was noticing, Actually the article I wrote this week on my website was about when I get to the other side, well thought this is gonna be two weeks and now we’re in eight weeks and then it’s continuing. And we look back on this time. Will I be happy or sad about how I leveraged it that I have? I had some margin all of a sudden did I leverage it for the right things and am I pleased with what I got from that time or you know, I’m really happy about all those Netflix things I saw. That’s not gonna be good. So no not that Netflix is bad. I’ve watched some, but I want to make sure that I have that balance. And I love that word margin, we finally have some margin. What am I doing with it?

That’s exactly right. Well, today’s lesson what Perry has titled today’s lesson is Are You Condemning? Or Are You Commending, Finding Benefits in Trying Times. Perry, you understand that I’m a former college football player who didn’t do a whole lot of schooling. You try to trip me up there with the wording. Talk to us a little bit about your thoughts behind just real quickly and then I’ll let you throw it to John, the thoughts behind the title and what you’re thinking about for us as far as takeaways today. 

Yeah, I just was really struck by John’s comments around every crisis has an equal or greater benefit than the there’s definitely we see in focus. So usually on the downside of that, which could be the condemning thing, and I love, you’ll, see it in the recording is we’ve been handed a lemon all of us, but he says some people are going to frame that lemon and take pictures of that lemon brag about that lemon show off that lemon. But that’s the condemning piece, but the commending piece and the positive side of that there’s an equal or greater benefit in there. And he says, cut that lemon and make lemonade. And so I think that’s the real big picture idea here. And that really got me where we all do we talk to people who are completely focused on watching way too much news, watching way too many commentaries. Watch way  too much Twitter and they all they’re talking about is how ugly that lemon is instead of as John said, Let’s make lemonade. That’s right. That’s good. Well, listen, take just a couple minutes. I think we’ve given you a four or five minute clip to listen to John. 

We’ve all been handed a Lemon. Now we know some people are going to mount that limit. They’re going to take pictures of lemon and talk about how tough life is with the lemon. And then there are some people that are just going to take that lemon and cut that baby open. Make them some really nice lemonade. Napoleon Hill said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” That is a powerful statement. But my folks, listen to me carefully.It’s only a true statement. If your perspective is right. Don’t miss this. I’m going to read the statement again.And then you determine if it’s true in your life or if it’s not true. “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache comes with a seed of an equal or greater benefit.”I will not get an equal or greater benefit from adversity unless I have a perspective that believes that truth. If I believe nothing good can come out of something that is bad that I will never, ever take advantage of that asset.

This morning, I put this in my notes, I’m going to challenge you, this is one of the most important parts of my teaching, I’m going to challenge you to be one of the few that take a bad experience and turn it into a better experience. Now, how are we going to do that? So write down that challenge. Okay, you know, John challenges me to take a bad experience and turn it into a better experience. Okay, you got that? Now, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get real practical with you here for the next three minutes.How do I do that? How do you do that? How do we take something bad and make it better? We have to be intentional. What I’m going to give you can’t be accidental. It has to be intentional. I have to be intentional with six things right now. I have to be intentional. First of all, in my personal time. Number two, your family time. What are you going to do in your family time? I mean you’re having more family time than ever before? It’s time okay, how about catchup time? How about your catchup time? That’s the third area and when I mean catchup I’m not talking about ketchup that you put on fries, I’m talking about ca th, you know, I can catch up on some things that I would have never gotten to. Okay, how about oh, here’s a good one for you. Number four, be intentional in your adding value time. Okay. In a crisis, people need encouragement, and added value more than any other time. So why don’t you every day, write down one name of a person that you need to encourage. Number five okay, I’m a person of faith. You don’t have to listen to this, but I have what I call my faith time. Well, what am I going to do as a person of faith? Well, one of the things I’m going to do is I’m going to develop my trust muscle. I’m going to really work on that. And a trust muscle basically means I’m going to have to trust God to give me strength and peace when I don’t have all the answers, okay? The sixth thing I want you to work on is your thinking time, your thinking time. And I want you to put yourself through a positive grid this morning, I wrote three questions I want you to consider every day as you think. Question number one, how will this crisis make me better? It’s a great question. Give yourself 10 minutes, 15 minutes every day and say, Okay, I’m going to write these questions down. I’m going to think upon this, how will this crisis make me better? their answers? If you think about it, you’ll find them. Number two, how will I use this crisis to help other people? Wow, that’s huge. And by the way, you’re going to get an abundance of answers because everybody needs help in a crisis. And number three, what action will I take? Oh, my, this is a great, what action will I take that will improve my situation? What action am I going to take?  What can I do that’ll just make me better?

Well, I hope you enjoyed that couple of minutes from John. And one of the things that Perry and I really want to focus on is taking John’s content and wisdom. Here’s what I love about this fact is that John often talks about wisdom comes from going through hard times, and working your way through them. And the way that he just delivers some of these messages almost gives you hope, right? Like he states the fact. And he talks about the fact that the other is going to be tough times, but in every crisis that we deal with, we’re going to receive some benefit from it if I think we have the right perspective. And if you know how to look for that, I think that’s the key for me Perry, is that I think oftentimes, we get caught up in the messaging of the world, the messaging of outside sources and our perspective of looking at it crisis tends to be negative. But there are benefits in it. And Perry and I are going to share some of the things with you today that maybe we’ve benefited from. And then just even some ideas that John has for you. So let’s dive in. We have a couple of kinds of post post questions for each other and just kind of answer back and forth. But the first one that you pose for us, Perry, here is what we do with a bad experience defines who we become. Talk to us a little bit about that. 

Yeah, there’s a couple of ways and you’ve all seen how different people respond to this situation in different ways. And, John, back to the next podcast we’re going to do is on perspective.How you handle perspective, but John says, the way you view things will determine how you do things. And I just think that with this bad experience, it is a bad experience, but it’s universal, it’s not like some people and some people aren’t. It’s affecting every business, every industry, every person. What I have heard so many times and John reiterated was when when you’re squeezed, something’s going to come out. What is it? And it really is defining. it’s a defining moment. And are we responding enough in a way that it’s not the event that matters it’s how we respond to it that matters. It’s our choice. I don’t have a choice about the pandemic, but I have a choice about how I respond to the pandemic, I have a choice about how I lead my family and my business and my colleagues in a pandemic. And I just think it really is going to define who I am, not just today, but in the days and weeks to come. People are going to remember this and how you responded. And we talked when we’re in the influence, because we want to grow our influence, because leadership is influenced. I think that you can really help or hurt your influence by how you respond in a bad situation.

Yeah, I think I think that is so wise. And I think that’s a good word for us. Now, listen, what we’re not saying is that you’re not going to have bad days. Because you know, Perry and I, we’ve had bad days where you just, you know, wake up in a funk and you’re like, are we really doing this and I’ve been calling it Groundhog Day, sometimes I’ll check in on my parents and say, hey, how’s groundhog day going? And they’re like, Man, that’s right. That’s what this is. But I think what this is really going to challenge us to do is as leaders, for our people in our organization, is to really focus on reflection, John talks about reflection versus reaction. And I think when we have the wrong perspective, and we’re not necessarily trying to learn from these trying times, and we just react to people, whether it’s on the road, whether it’s in the grocery store, or whether it’s in a zoom team meeting, that you’re frustrated about. I don’t think if we don’t take time to reflect and learn from things and then share those learnings with our team. We were in a reaction mode.  That’s gonna be a negative experience that your team is going to feel that will define you as a leader moving forward, they’re going to remember more than ever. And it’s going to define you to your point how you’re leading during this time. Right? Well, John, we were talking about at the top of the broadcast here that it’s a Napoleon Hill quote that John brings out in the recording that it’s not just about a pandemic. It’s not just about this time, this is a lesson for every adversity. And here’s the quote it’s” every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it seeds of equal or greater benefit.” And if you truly believe that it’s not just in this pandemic time, this is a great training ground for what the rest of our lives are really like. There’s going to be adversity, there’s going to be failure, there’s going to be heartache. But I love that. Can you look inside that and really find the equal or greater benefit that is there. And I know you and I, we’ve been doing these coaching calls with these leaders that we have the great fortune to be able to coach them this time. And asking the question what’s changed around moving status quo the way it used to be to what’s new. And John mentioned the bump that a crisis does. It bumps you out of the comfort zone into the creative zone. And I am just really impressed by some of the creative things. Actually you’re doing it you, you just shared with me a few minutes ago about, we’re having to rethink our entire business. And this is we’re taking these steps, these creative things. So you know, out of this adversity comes a probably gonna be not even equal a greater benefit for you and for the people we’re trying to add value to are going to get more value from what we do because of what’s happened here, then would you agree with that, I would completely agree with that. I’m going to share a funny little story with you. So Mark Cole is our CEO. He kind of oversees all of John’s enterprise. And John told me the other day he said Mark, I’m really jealous of you right now.

You know, obviously, John is the founder of our organization, but Mark leads it day to day. And, and so he said, I wish I was leading during times like this. And Mark sat back in the chairs like, Are you crazy? Like what are you talking about? He does know me. And he’s like, now is the time that leaders should be testing all kinds of things. You should be trying different things you should be maybe having a different leadership perspective, you should be testing this testing that and what he was telling Mark was, in a times of crisis, there’s no better time than for you to begin trying things that maybe you’ve always wanted to try or to your point get you out of your comfort zone. And allow you to try because you know, what happens if they fail? No one remembers. They’re like, you remember during that crisis, right? They don’t remember, you remember when Chris and Perry tried to do a podcast from the roof you know, in Chicago with all the wind. They don’t remember that kind of crazy stuff. And so leaders Yeah, I think this is right. I think during times of this, you know, John is one of the best when it comes to kind of, you know, making fun of himself and, and he talks about his failures all the time. But that’s where he learns most of his leadership lessons. That’s where he has context for the principles of his leadership is probably a better way for saying that. Well, one of the things we want to do is as you listen to that message that John talked about there, and that he shared with us, he gave you a couple of things, matter of fact I think he gave you six things for you to really be intentional about. And he gave those to you from a personal perspective and Perry and I just want to kind of go through those and share with you what that means for us from an organizational lens and some things that you may be able to work with that so Perry I’m gonna let you jump in and take number one and let’s flow through these and share them with the people. 

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Yes, I listened. I said you got to move, be one of the few who can turn bad experiences into better experiences. How do you do that? Be intentional, love this! and the first one will be intentional with your personal time. And I took that to be from a corporate you know application for us it’s really still personal but it’s also professional is What am I doing my personal development time we’ve got this margin now some space I don’t have any ball games to watch or rush anywhere I got nothing you know I do have a busy schedule going on but am I taking the right amount of time for personal development. This can also be my professional development if there’s a skill you don’t have if there’s a skill you always wanted if there’s something you want to be better at. I’ve really been finding great value and looking at, you know, a book or YouTube, watching a podcast or listening to a podcast. So much opportunity there to grow and learn in the areas that you think are necessary for your personal development, professional development during the time when we’re locked in.

Yeah, we’ve seen a lot of our partners around the world now more than ever really kind of tap into our coaches and use this time number one, obviously, for an outside perspective, maybe just even vent with some of our men and women coaches that have such great experience, but also just challenging themselves and their team to really grow. We had one CEO reach out, and he was like, Okay, I know, we haven’t done team development in the past, but I want to go ahead and I want to cram three months of that content into the next four weeks, can we go ahead and do that I need a development team. Now that’s a little obsessive, because it’s developed daily, and it’s a process, but really, I think at times like this, and then I would challenge you leaders. What you’re learning during this personal development time, then open up some of your team meetings with what you’re learning Because it’ll be contagious. And I think in times like this  we need to absolutely be grown and develop ourselves from a skill set. And even from, you know, a leadership set. 

Well John talks about number two, he says your family time, which, you know, for me personally has been incredible. We’ve had more family dinners and conversations, and I hope that still my wife the other day, we see so many families out walking and exercising and I just told her I said, I hope people remember this time and continue to do it even after this this particular crisis we’re dealing with, but what this translated preparing I organizationally was really into use this time to connect with your, your team, not just from a professional standpoint, but even just personal really dig into that level two side of the 5 Levels of Leadership that we talked about often to connect with them because coming out of this, when you do that, they are going to want to follow you they’re going to want to do what it needs to take what it takes to get you guys through this. And so really think about some creative things. I know for me, I have team meetings twice a week where everybody’s on board. And then I will also connect with every team member one on one. And we have a couple of team members that took a couple days off this week. And so I cancelled our team meeting on Monday, but those that were still working, I scheduled 30 minutes with each of them just to check in. And we just got on the phone and we talked about, you know, personally talked about their setting their house, what they like about virtual working, what they don’t know their family is and it just really used that time to connect with your team. So I would just encourage you guys as leaders, to really kind of enhance that level two connection you have with your team during this time. Totally agree and it’s the word you use creatively it’s Yeah, could could just be the regular team conference call but I like that we’ve kind of bridged over to the video call into the zoom or some other tool or seeing each other having those conversations having a I’ve had a couple of leaders told me we’ve actually added an intentional 10 minutes to the front of every call to get to catch up with each other What’s going on? What’s your family doing? I got to talking about how I put a picture out about my smoker to smoke a brisket. Yeah, you want to say how you’re doing that? And yeah, I had to sneak out and go find a brisket. But once I did that then you know, now we’re sharing recipes. Well, what better connection is that and then to be able to figure out who this team is and how we connect just like you would with your family that you’re locked in with but it’s now you can actually be virtually locked in with people and let them know you care. It’s a fantastic way to connect and care. Totally agree. I think the third one John said was be intentional about your catch up time, we think it is for personal use, around my house I’m sure you have to,my wife says we can catch up on painting that room and fixing that deck and doing these other things. But in my business, really catching up on some things I kind of always wanted to do. Didn’t really have a lot of time to do those, working with teammates on projects that we kind of dreamed about or spoke about, but never took action on gives us time to put some of those things from the back burner to the front burner. And see, is it really worth investing time in that so I’m enjoying it quite a bit, the intentional conversations around dream items that we might not have normally taken time for. 

Yeah, I agree. And I think I’ll add on to that, in regards to even just this, these tasks, you know, we as leaders, we all have a long to do list, and we don’t necessarily want to shut our door all the time in the office and begin knocking those what we call busy work items out. And if you’re like me, you’ve gotten behind on a few of those. And maybe even when you look at the list you forgot that they were really intended for. But yeah, that’s right. The other thing I’ll challenge you leaders is also reach out to your leader. This is a great way, you know, John talks about 360 degree leaders leading up, there are probably tasks that your leader doesn’t enjoy doing, maybe not even skilled at doing that you may be better at doing and I would just challenge you to reach out to your leader and say, hey, are there tasks that I can kind of help tackle for you during this during this this crisis in this time? 

Number four, we talked about this before? And this is big for us as an organization. I know for you, me personally. John talks about are you adding value time is what he called it. And for us, we really took this perspective and talked a little bit about what are we doing for our partners, our vendors, our clients, our prospects, to add value to them right now. Not even just professionally, maybe even personally and reaching out to them sending them articles. Hey thinking about you or, hey, here’s a crazy zoom background which I know you know zoom backgrounds virtual backgrounds were were hot the first two weeks and and then now they’ve kind of maybe fallen off a little bit except for Perry and I we still like throwing up every once in awhile so you cant see where we are at. Yeah the weather’s a little rubbery. Yeah, where you’re at. But man, what are some creative things that you guys can do for your clients? And I think that it’ll pay off because I think your clients will remember some of the value add that you’ve done for them during times like this. This is actually my favorite one. I just, if you want to know how to not focus on the lemon, but make lemonade. As a leader as a human. This is just what I’m finding as most people that are focused on the lemon are looking inside internally, and how it affecting me and how I’m feeling about it and what the news was saying to me and the people that are making lemonade are the ones that are looking out and saying how can I add value to someone else? And so this creative thought process like you said is not just your team, that’s probably more obvious. But what about your boss? What about your peers? What about your peer managers? Are any of them struggling? Actually my wife and I were looking to see if there are people that we know in our circle that where they’ve lost one or both jobs? Is there something we could do to add value there financially? Or, you know, supportively somehow are there things that we could reach out to others, even just in your community, but at work, especially, there’re people that are struggling. No matter how bad you think you have it, I find there’s always someone that has it worse. And where can I add value to that just takes that focus off of me and puts it out and it just all of a sudden lemonade seems like a real possibility. And not focus on that lemon. Yeah, real quick. 

Yeah, let me add this to this real quick I thought when you talk about creative and adding value. I think this is really key. And what came to mind I was talking to one of our partners the other day, it’s a real estate company. And they were actually sharing how, obviously real estate businesses slow down a little bit, you know, there’s still some traction there. But one of the things they have a team member that actually is really gifted when it comes to, you know, cooking in the kitchen and recipes and changing things up. And so what they’ve started doing is, I think it’s one or two a week, they shoot a short video 10 to 15 minutes in her home. And she’s given out different recipes and showing them how from kind of start to finish, and they’re sending out a map of their organization saying, hey, for you, people at home that are cooking, here’s a couple of new recipes. And what’s great about it is he said, right now that’s her skill set. She’s not extremely busy, we feel like we can add value to a lot of people that are at home stuck at home, and he goes, that’s great. I want to add value to them. And I said, you know the funny thing about that is, is that when those individuals think about selling their house or maybe buying a house or an investment property, they’re gonna be like, you remember when, you know, Perry’s, you know, real estate firm sent us those recipes. That was pretty cool. And that’s not the intent of why you do it. But I do think it could be the benefit of you thinking about creative ways to add value in times like this to your partners. A good way. I think we’ve said it before the Maya Angelou quote, “they won’t remember what you said or did they remember how you made me feel” and that will stick with people. 

Number five was to be intentional about your faith time. Now, John talked about this from a you know, maybe a religious point of view, but that that, to me, is definitely true. But from a corporate and application here I thought that was, you know, we want people to have faith in us faith in our mission, faith in our vision, faith in each other, faith in the team and this is a great time to I actually ask people this and I might ask you this, do you think you can coach someone else’s perspective? And so if someone’s perspective is kind of negative, and it’s all a lemon and your perspective is having faith in the process, having faith in the business, I mean faith in each other, can I? Can I affect that as a leader? And I think you can, I think you’re, you know, calm is contagious. And people are watching you all the time. And they’re trying to determine why you are so positive during this very negative time. So I have a lot of faith, I have faith in what we’ve built that faith in our culture as a team. So I think it really ranges over quite a bit to the corporate feel about developing that faith time. Yeah, your people in times like this are going to have bad days, they’re going to doubt their skill set. They’re going to doubt their value to the organization, their impact, and I think so when they begin to do that personally, they may also begin to do that in a team members and I love this perspective you’re bringing even to this word of, you know, faith in your team members, because I think as a leader, you need to be speaking that more than ever, not only the belief in those individuals but each other as a team, that rallying cry that we’ve talked about in the past. 

Well, I’m going to combine number six with even just kind of me wrapping up with you. And when we talk about applications, and we talk about challenges, I think, you know, John hits a home run right here in regards to the application. I want to encourage you that this is not the first crisis and this definitely will be the last. Perry and I are both youngins. And I think we’ve experienced two or three already. And so I just want you to know that these lessons you’re learning right now will be true not only in everyday life moving forward, but in the next crisis that we face. And it really is about finding the benefits in times like this and so we’ve got to make it part of our story. And John poses these three questions that really, really talk about thinking and reflecting. And for me, I threw in the word journaling. And I always feel like a hypocrite when I put this word in there because I have a hard time doing it. I do. I do. I do. And so but I do think that man, if you as a leader, woke up a couple mornings this week, this next week. And you just said, Let me ask myself these three questions. John says, How will a crisis make you better? He says, How will I use this crisis to help other people? And then the final one, what actions will I take that will improve my situation? I want to challenge you as an application going forward. Take those three questions, and maybe even make it personal, but then make it about your team or your organization. How will this crisis make our team better? Asking about yourself first. But then internally and then externally, ask yourself the same questions and go through each one of those. Take an hour, okay? And just sit journal, those three questions, duplicated for your team and go through them because I think that there’ll be some great insights and some great benefits that will come out of that.

Fantastic like, I definitely have been using that myself out walking and turning off the audiobook and I know I get this personal development bent, but I just being quiet and reflecting on where we are, who around me is in need. Getting the focus off of myself thinking about my team connecting with others. It’s just such a fantastic time to I mentioned at the top, you’re going to look back on this, it will pass and you’ll look back and I want us all to be proud of what we did, how we responded how we grew and how we made a difference and a really tough time for a lot of folks. And so, just as we close, just want to thank you for joining us. We’re always so grateful that you would be here with us if you’d like more information about the 5 Levels of Leadership or if you just want to leave us a comment or a question, you can always go to and you can connect with us there. You can also download a learner guide for this and all episodes. Just kind of a little note taking guide that you might find useful. I want to encourage you as I know, Chris, would that you will keep positive and stay safe. Keep leading. This is a time for us to rise and leap in the front. So this is the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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