Maxwell Leadership Podcast: Facing Fear with Nik Wallenda
In this special episode of The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, Mark Cole and John Maxwell invite daredevil Nik Wallenda on to discuss his new book Facing Fear: Step Out in Faith and Rise Above What’s Holding You Back!
John and Nik talk about why fear is so powerful, how to gain confidence under pressure, and the importance of focusing on the solution and staying positive.
Our BONUS resource for this episode is the Facing Fear Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from the discussion. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.
Mark Cole: Hey, welcome to The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. My name is Mark Cole, CEO and president of John Maxwell. And one of the things I love about serving alongside John the last 20 years, is the people that he introduces me to. People that think bigger, that overcome more, that actually challenge us to think beyond ourselves, to dream bigger. And today you are going to experience another one of those introductions. In fact, I'm sitting in studio here with John Maxwell and John, how are you doing today?
John Maxwell: I'm doing great. I'm very excited about this podcast because, Mark, when I met Nik and we had a conversation even before he wrote this book. There are some people you meet and when you're done meeting them, you're a fan, or you're impressed, or you say, I could never do what that person does. And I mean, when I finished Nik, our conversation, I walked out. I thought, okay, you do things that I'm never going to do. You're doing things I don't even want to ever do. But yet he was so inspirational and I just left feeling so lifted from our conversation. And then of course you wrote your book, and now we get you on the podcast for our listeners, and Mark and I. Thank you for joining us. We're very excited. And you that are listening, you're not only going to enjoy this conversation, but you're going to want to tell others to link up because I promise you Nik will take you higher than you've ever moved forward since he does high-wire acts. I not only can't walk the high-wire, I can't even talk about it the right way.
Mark Cole: Yeah. And so, who John is talking about when he says Nik, is also with us today, is Nik Wallenda. He's a seventh-generation wire walker. Thank you, John. I'm making you feel better.
John Maxwell: I'm contagious friend, I'm contagious.
Mark Cole: But more than that, Nik recently released his newest book Facing Fear, which is about stepping out in faith and rising above what's holding you back. So we're excited to have him join us today by phone to tell us some of the lessons from his book, you're going to be able to find Facing Fear in all the major retailers, as well as some online... Wherever you buy a book, you're going to be able to find Nik's new book. Nik, how are you doing today?
Nik Wallenda: I am great. Thanks so much. It's such an honor to be on the show.
Mark Cole: Well, thank you. And hey, we're going to get started in just a moment, but for those of you that listen to the podcast, you know the drill, but go to maxwellpodcast.com/facingfear and click on the bonus resource button. You'll be able to download the show notes. You'll be able to learn some incredible things today. So let's get started. And so John, you and Nik met each other not too long ago. Tell us a little bit about that story when y'all were speaking.
John Maxwell: Well, I was over on the west coast of Florida with my good friend Randy, was at his congregation, Bayside. And Randy's said, "I've got somebody, I want you to meet in the green room." And there I went in and I met Nik and his wife. And when he said Wallenda, of course I knew immediately because I've known about The Wallenda family and their notoriety in acrobatics. And so I immediately was interested, and the more that I talked with him, the more excited I got, and of course he was telling me about writing a book. And I said, well, I want the book when you get it, I want to read it. And then to have him on our podcast is just really, really great. Our friend, Don Yaeger, who partnered with him on the book just told me what an incredible experience it was, Mark. Working on this book with him and what a great person you are, Nik. And so anytime we can expose our podcast listeners to people who do great things for the right reason, we're just excited to share it.
Mark Cole: Well. And not only that, you don't say much about yourself, but I'm going to tell you, there's a reason why you did the foreword of this book. I mean, you believed in Nik, you believed in what he's doing. And so I love that we not only get to highlight him today, but you got to be a part of the book.
John Maxwell: Well, I did. And let me just say this. Mark's got to ask some questions, most of the time Nik's going to talk, but the beginning part of this interview, when you start asking about fear, this is so important to us in COVID-19, because the biggest surprise, Mark you and I've talked about this, the biggest surprise I'm getting from this time of very difficult adversity in our country and around the world is the fear factor. Obvious I'm not trying to downplay this at all, but I'm just saying, large amount of people they are very fearful, and this lesson is just going to be, I think very helpful because we're around and seeing continually fearful people right now, who have basically framed this period of time in their life with fear. And what's the difference between framing your life with fear versus framing your life with faith. And so this is going to be a great conversation, I would shut up so you can start asking questions.
Mark Cole: Yeah. Well, Nik, seriously, you're sitting here and you've done some incredible feats, but yet you're talking about facing fear. Tell us a little bit about what this book is about, Facing Fear and what inspired you to write it.
Nik Wallenda: Sure. Yeah. So interestingly enough, people would think because of my occupation, my family has been performing since the 1780s, seven generations, well, over 200 years. I started walking a wire actually before my feet had been planted on terra firma. In fact, my mom was six months pregnant with me and still walking the wire, but really started walking the wire about 18 months old. So it's been my life. So the reality is, I really didn't experience fear until about two, three years ago. In 2017, my family and I were training for our own world record. We were going to break our own world record of four-layer, eight-person pyramid on the wire. And we trained for about six weeks meticulously, everything went well and we do everything in stages. We start down low, two feet off the ground, then we go 10 and then we'll go as high as we need to go for that record.
So we were about 30 feet above the ground, and making our way out on a wire. After six weeks of training, we had two rehearsals before we were going to break this world record for Guinness World Records, as well as the live audience. And that second rehearsal, we made our way out in my worst nightmare became a reality. And that pyramid collapsed to the ground. By the grace of God, I caught the wire as did two of my family members, but five of them fell to the ground and they were all injured in different capacities. And although I caught the wire and I was safe, I thought I was fine and I was physically, but the reality was I wasn't fine mentally. And the book really tells the story of what I went through, the recovery process of what it took for me to overcome the greatest challenge of my career.
I walked over Niagara Falls, and in order to walk across Niagara Falls, I had to change two laws in two countries that were over 100 years old, just to get permission, let alone get on that cable and walk across. Facing fear and dealing with fear was... I get to the point where it was so debilitating that I couldn't get on the wire anymore. And the book tells the story again of that journey that I took, the path that I went down. And as I started going down that path and dealing with this fear to the point where I was reliving this accident, I would be on the wire and I would literally watch that pyramid collapse in front of me. And it came to the point where I said I was never going to get on the wire again.
And I remember that conversation with my wife and she looked at me and I said, "Honey, I don't think I can do this anymore." And I'll never forget what she said. She goes, you know I love you. And I support you in any decision you make, but your families live by the words of the show must go on for over 200 years. You live by the words, never give up, you sign every autograph that way. And you do what you do to inspire people that nothing is impossible. And she said, "If you give up, how are you going to inspire others? So I think you need to really rethink that."
Now from most wives, you would think there's no way your wife doesn't want you to get up there. But the reality is my wife comes from seven generations of circus on one side, eight on the other. She has a world record for hanging by her toes, 380 feet above Niagara Falls under a helicopter. So she shares the same passions that I do. But really the books in short is, the story of what it took for me to get over this fear and get back on the wire.
John Maxwell: Excuse me. I just had to jump in here, when I think of your wife's background and who she and who all of her family is for generations and who you are, you two have got to produce some amazing children. That's all I can think. I mean, what are your kids going to do for an encore buddy? I mean, that's huge.
Nik Wallenda: Interestingly enough, it's funny because I really encourage my children to pursue their own dreams and their own passions. Our industry is a struggling industry. In fact, one of the chapters in the book is called The Fear of Feathers. And the reason why that chapter was written was because growing up, my great-grandfather written a book in the '70s. And in that book, he said, when you're a circus performer, one day you eat the chicken and the next day you eat the feathers. My mom wrote a book in the late '80s called The Last of the Wallendas because she felt there was no future in our industry. And that she really encouraged me to go a different direction. However, because I started so young, I had that bug, I had that bite at such a young age and that passion that I wanted to perform.
And in my first book, I talk a lot about that story and overcoming the challenges that came with the industry that we come from. However, my children, we kept them out of the spotlight. And now I couldn't be more proud as a father of a 22-year-old Marine, serving our country right now. And I also have a 19-year-old son who is serving our country in the army. He's based over in Belgium right now. And then I have a 17-year-old daughter, who's about to go off to Southeastern to become a nurse.
John Maxwell: Wow. Congratulations friend, you're doing well. You're just doing well.
Mark Cole: So I'm so intrigued with your story and how fear gripped you, because I do see you and have seen you as many of us have on TV. And it just feels like you live above fear. And to know that you had fear and almost stopped, makes you real assessable. And by the way, I'm glad your wife kicked you and said, get back out there. But I want to ask both of you about this idea of fear. We're in the middle of trying to recover from COVID and the emotional challenges are there. So Nik I'll ask you first, but what is it that makes fear so powerful in the lives of so many people?
Nik Wallenda: Look, I believe that there are two types of fear. I believe there's a healthy fear, which is basically experience of fear. It's a respectful fear. When I walk up to the wire, when I'm going to get on it, before I walk across the Grand Canyon, I respect the fact that it is dangerous, therefore I train and prepare. For example, when I did walk across the Grand Canyon, we got hit with 43 mile an hour winds as I was walking, no safety devices, 1500 feet up. My mind wants to go to that space of unhealthy fear, my mind wants to go say, "You know what, go down and grab that wire." But I can counter that negative thought of fear and say, "No, you know what, you've trained in 90 mile an hour winds. So you're more than prepared for that next step."
But then see, I also believe that there's an unhealthy fear, which is an emotion of fear. It's a psychological response to uncertainty or danger. And that's where all our dysfunction often begins, is in that unhealthy fear. And that unhealthy fear is the fear that keeps us from pursuing that job that God has called us to pursue, it is that unhealthy fear that keeps us in a complacent place where we don't pursue the things that we are designed to do. And I encourage people to really learn and really search to know what kind of fear they're dealing with.
We're dealing with this crazy pandemic right now. And there's a lot of people that are gripped by fear to the point where they won't leave their houses. And I think that's an unhealthy fear. I think there's a healthy fear, which means respect the guidelines, respect the CDC guidelines, respect what our government is telling us to do, wear masks, social distance, but we also have to go on with our lives and live our lives. And again, I think the challenge is people just don't know how to decipher the difference between that healthy fear and an unhealthy fear.
John Maxwell: Yeah, I agree. And I think I loved your distinction between the healthy and unhealthy fear. And one of the things I teach is what you focus on expands. I don't think we ever eliminate fear from our life, but I think we can decrease fear. I think we can also increase faith if. If we focus on what could be and we focus on the positive it expands, and if we ignore the negative, it decreases. When people say, well, I just would like to have no fear. I don't think that's realistic, but I think that the stronger emotion wins. So if my belief or my faith is stronger than my fear, I still recognize and have what I hope you would call that healthy fear. But I go forward because my faith emotion is stronger.
If my fear emotion is stronger than my belief or faith, that it was whatever stronger emotion wins. And so I think when we focus on something, what it does is it expands whatever we focus on. And so I think even in the pandemic we have now, when I focus upon the problems and the difficulties, it paralyzes me. If I focus on the possibilities, it releases me. Would you agree with that, Nik?
Nik Wallenda: Absolutely. I'm constantly telling people to focus on the solution, not the problem. And I think that the challenge is, so many times we get in these valleys, if you will, of life and what I've learned throughout my career from setbacks that I experienced, I had a lot of setbacks early in life, in my career. I talked about the books that my family had written and a lot of hurdles to overcome. And it seemed like every five steps forward, I took six backwards. And through that, what I learned, the wisdom that I gained was that when I'm in the valley, if I focus on the mountain, something good is going to come from every situation. Every negative situation I've been through my entire life, has led to something positive and something good.
So now when I'm in that negative situation, I can go, no, I'm here for a reason, because something good is going to come of this. And that's really what I did, as I started to experience this debilitating fear to the point where I was trembling on the wire, where I said, I wasn't going to get back on is I realized, you know what, no I'm going through this, so hopefully others don't have to go. Maybe not go quite as deep in the valley. Maybe through these words that God has blessed me with, and given me this experience, I can help others to get through this even quicker.
And really, again, that is why this book was written. It wasn't the desire to write another book. It was something that I felt like I needed to do, because I have been down to that low point. So others, hopefully don't have to. Interestingly enough, we started writing this book way before we knew anything about COVID-19. But talk about incredible timing. As you mentioned, we are dealing with this pandemic. And so many people are gripped by fear. My hopes are, again, that as people read this and learn and hear, and listen to me speak, and again, the experience that I've been through will help them out. And if I can make it through that valley by focusing on the mountain top, then, so can they.
Mark Cole: So you're listening to Nik Wallenda and John Maxwell here on today's Maxwell podcast. And in this episode, we're talking about Nik's new book, Facing Fear, stepping out in faith and rise above what's holding you back, pick up the book, wherever you purchase books, because it'll help you. Hey, Nik, in this book you talk about, and you've mentioned even in the podcast about the fall of your family, your sister, she was seriously injured. And we've got some people that COVID in 2020 has really injured their leadership. What advice are you giving leaders and maybe what advice did you give your sister in struggling in the wake of tragedy?
Nik Wallenda: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. There's a lot of pain in the world right now, for sure, in the business world and out of the business world. My sister was injured severely. In fact, 73 broken bones in her face, broke every bone in her face in fact. Filled with screws and plates, she was in a coma. Didn't even know if she was going to live. And it was a tough time for all of us. I did what I thought was right by getting back on the wire the next day and performing, and again, thinking that I was doing the right thing. And what was interesting about that process was, my sister was recovering in the hospital while I was going through this valley, if you will, of this mental block, this hurdle, this stumbling block, this wall that I had hit, that it stopped me in my tracks.
And what I learned through that, was that I had to continue to walk. Even though I was stopped in my tracks, I had to get back up and keep walking. And I have a chapter called Walk Toward Healing. And what was interesting is I had to go through that place. And then my sister was recovering physically. And once she was recovered physically, then she hit that same wall as me. And the cool thing about it was I was able to say, you know what, no, get back up, keep walking. As long as you're continuing to move, you're making progress. If you're stopped, you're not going anywhere. And I encouraged her, and I encourage everybody, continue to move forward. It isn't easy.
We do have to often do a directional change in our businesses. In fact, I'll give you an example. I am in the live entertainment industry, which has been stopped in its tracks. There are no live entertainment events going on, very few at this point. And definitely not for the first six months. So I realized that early on, and as I was writing the last couple of chapters of this book, I remember looking at my wife across the dining room table and saying, "What are we going to do next?" And she said, "What do you mean, what are we going to do next?" And I said, "Well, I'm almost done writing this book. What are we going to do next?" She's like, "We're facing a pandemic. We're not going to perform. That's just not going to happen." And I said, "But is that true? I think there's a way that we can twist and adjust."
My father always told me champions adjust. So figure out a way, when it seems like there's no way, there's always a way you can figure it out. So we've created a drive-in real show, where I brought in some of the greatest daredevils in the world that are generally, we never able to perform together because they're headlining on different shows. So literally created this show with over 23 Guinness World Records held just by our talent alone in our show. And what we've done is we have set up this awesome show where you're able to drive-in, stay in the comfort of your car and air conditioning, tune into a closed circuit radio station and watch this amazing show.
I speak from the wire and try to inspire and encourage people to step out of their fear in faith and continue to walk towards healing. And again, it was just... I realized that there was an opportunity there. So a lot of times, even though we feel like there's no hope, there's no way, there's always an opportunity. And there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. And as long as we can focus on that light, as long as we can continue to think outside of the box, we will be able to continue on.
John Maxwell: Nik, I love this. I love this creativity. So you have a drive-in show. Was it a one-time you did it, do you do it continuously while you do it?
Nik Wallenda: We actually have been touring. We played three cities in Florida, and we are hoping to bring it up north now to, again, what we've learned is so many people, as you mentioned, are so fearful. There's nothing for families to do. And my whole family history is about bringing families together. It's about encouraging and inspiring. If Nik Wallenda can do the seemingly impossible by walking across an active volcano, then I can make it through this pandemic, too. And again, and that is really the story I tell from the wire during these performances, as I'm mic’d up about 80 feet above the cars. But yeah, so we are actually touring with it around the country.
John Maxwell: Okay. And Mark here's, what's incredible. Because of the COVID-19 and because everything's shut down, you have access to all these high performers. I mean, again, in good times, you couldn't bring them together because they would be in different places. In bad times, all of a sudden they have nowhere else to go. And so therefore you now could almost use a circus term, you're about to provide the greatest show on earth. That's just incredible. Again, and what I want all of our listeners to realize is that every difficulty has with it, the seed of opportunity. But the opportunity is never what you see first, you always see the difficulty. So when people say, well, I didn't see that opportunity it's because they didn't go to the difficulty and open it up, and find the opportunity on the inside. And that's exactly what you've done. I mean, I think that is incredible, Mark.
Mark Cole: I do, too. Hey Nik, how do they [crosstalk 00:21:36] Go ahead.
Nik Wallenda: [crosstalk 00:21:37] saying that I just wrote down, I was writing down opportunity as you started to talk. And it's so true. People focus on the problem, not the solution. And again, if people could actually focus and realize that there is opportunity in every situation. Yes, maybe your business has been shut down, but there are ways to twist and change and turn. And we've seen it so many times. We've seen so many different companies that have turned to now making hand sanitizer, to making masks, et cetera. So the reality is as long as we're always continuing to focus on the opportunity and realize there's opportunity in every single situation.
Mark Cole: Hey Nik, how do they find out when you're going to add cities? So is there a website or something you can tell our listeners to go to?
Nik Wallenda: Yeah, so it's, nikwallenda.com or Nik Wallenda's Daredevil Rally is what we've named it. And you're able to go on that website, Nik Wallenda's Daredevil Rally, and you'll be able to see the cities that we're coming to. And hopefully we'll be coming to a city near you.
Mark Cole: Yes. I hope [crosstalk 00:22:36]
John Maxwell: I want to see this show. This is, I mean, does it last, like for an hour, half, how long does it last?
Nik Wallenda: It's about an hour and a half long. So people again, drive in, those that don't feel comfortable can stay in the comfort of their cars with the air conditioning on, we have a closed circuit radio station. You can hear the entire show and then see it through your windshield. And if you're comfortable, we encourage people to back your pickup in and put your lawn seats in the back or we ask people to stay socially distanced, stay as a family, or sit in your lawn chairs. And again, it's been a huge success and so fulfilling to be able to do something when entertainment is shut down and just bring families together to see something that is positive and encouraging, it is such a blessing to have that opportunity.
Mark Cole: That's incredible. Hey, let me shift gears a minute for both of you guys. Nik, you famously walked over the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Times Square, active volcano. And let me just pause right there and say, if that's not enough, you're doing it all on TV. So you're doing it live in front of literally millions of people. Help our listeners with some helpful thought or helpful advice on how they can stay confident under pressure.
Nik Wallenda: Yeah. Now, that's a good one. When I am on that wire, confidence is key. And the way that I'm able to be confident, in fact, I'm so confident when I walk up to that wire, that months leading up to event, often years, I will scout out a location and I will walk up to the edge of let's say that volcano, 1,800-feet deep, active lava, 2000 plus degree, magma. I walk up to the edge of that volcano and my heart starts to race, because I'm standing on rock that could crumble away and it could cave in and I could slip down the edge into this volcano. Then evening that I'm about to walk and I'm getting on that cable, the cable is rigged. I walk up to that cable and look down my heart rate slows down.
That's how confident I am when I get up to that wire. Now, the way that I'm able to be that confident is by all the training and preparation, leading up to it. I have a team that works around me, incredible team. Of course, in any great business, you have an incredible team. My father is my head of safety. My uncle is my head engineer, and a lot of it is very much family. Of course my life is in their hands, but that team is so key to my success. And what happens, the reason why my heart rate slows down, again, is all the training and preparation. So we will do studies that'll show how strong the winds will be, how thick the gasses will be. What kind of mask I'll have to wear, if I'll have to wear goggles, et cetera.
And we'll do that months, if not years in advance. And then my training will include, if I have to wear an oxygen mask or a gas mask. In the case of this volcano, I was actually wearing an oxygen deprivation mask. I knew that gas mask would only allow me to breathe in about 70% oxygen. So in training, I wore an oxygen deprivation mask that only allowed me to breathe about 30% of oxygen. I walked on a wire that was longer than the wire that I was walking there. In fact, I walked the entire length of that walk five times forward and backwards without stopping before I ever got there, I walked with wind machines that created winds of over 90 miles per hour, knowing they wouldn't exceed 50 miles per hour at the volcano. I walked with goggles on that were purposely fogged up. I walked with my eyes closed in case the gas got so thick and actually fogged my goggles up.
And I also walked with a wire that was rigged, much less stable than the one I was going to walk on. And the reason why I do that is, if I know that I can walk with only 30% oxygen, but I can have 70. If I know I can walk this blindfolded or with my eyes closed, if I can know I can walk it in higher winds, if I know I can walk it in the worst case scenario five times, when I get there that day, I'm going to have no issue making it from point A to point B across that volcano. So the way that I am able to stay so calm and confident is by training and preparation, training for worst case scenarios, preparing for that next meeting. Over-preparing. Preparing that speech months in advance, and studying it, and reading it over and over again in front of a mirror. So that you're more than prepared for every event.
I encourage other business owners to look to the future if you will. Look through those goggles of what are the issues that I could be facing. Of course, no one could know that we were going to face this pandemic and it's certainly changed the world, but try to think of the challenges that you could come up. What happens? How do we prepare for that month that maybe sales are down, or maybe we have a catastrophic month? Are we prepared to make it through that month, because the next one quite possibly will get better?
John Maxwell: Okay. This is huge. What you just said was so practical to all of our listeners. I had a conversation with Jack Nicklaus a few years ago and I said, okay, you're in a major championship, it's on the line. You're on the last hole. You've got a maybe a 10-foot putt to make, to win the championship. I said, talk to me about your confidence when you're over that putt. And do you feel the pressure? And he said to me, "John, I don't feel the pressure." He said practice removes the pressure. And he basically said, "Well, I'm ready for that 10-foot putt with everything on the line. I've made this putt 10,000 times." He said, this isn't like the first time I faced it. And when you're talking about your practice, one of the things I think is important to draw out for all of our podcasts listeners today is, that you face the difficult part of your craft, so that when you get to the difficult part, it doesn't seem difficult.
In other words, you make the worst first so that when you go it's not a 90 mile an hour wind, but it's a 45 mile an hour. You don't say it flippantly, but you basically say, I've already done this. I've succeeded with greater adversity than what I'm facing. And it just seems like you're saying to all of us, practice adversity. Practice the difficulty, leave nothing to chance, do things that are much more difficult than the real thing when you do it. Walk farther than you're going to have to walk, walk with stronger winds than you're going to have. So that when you come to it, you're not saying looking at, "Oh my gosh, this is a 45 mile an hour wind." You're saying, you know what, this is only 45 miles an hour. I've been doing this at 90. This is going to be a lot easier than what it was.
And I just loved that you don't ease into a... Here's what I think, I think if you don't work in the most difficult situations on the front-end, when one of them appears, it's going to get you, and you're going to lose confidence. I was talking to Gary Player's son one time and Gary Player loved very bad golf days, as far as weather was concerned. And when he would travel with his son, if it was just a horrible day cold, windy, just the worst day to play golf. Gary Player would stand by the window of his hotel room and say to his son, "I love this day because the other golfers aren't prepared for this, but I am." And his father loved the adversity because he would play golf purposely in bad weather so he learned how to be a bad-weather golfer.
You're walking higher wires in more difficult situations than what you're going to face so that when you have... Gosh, you've inspired me, now I'm starting to teach. There's a difference between empty confidence and full confidence. Empty confidence is talk, but it's lost very quickly when you're facing a situation that you're not prepared for. Full confidence means you've come up to a difficult situation and you realize you've already done something more difficult than what your being called to do. This is a fabulous teaching principle for me and for all of our listeners, Mark, I think because it just basically says embrace the adversity in the practice. So in the real time, that adversity isn't going to throw you.
Mark Cole: Boy, I could go on and on. Let me ask you guys both, just a quick finishing question here. How have you grown personally during 2020? What are you more sure about in your leadership? And what's one or two things that you've picked up along the way and make that your creativity story, you've already told us how you've pivoted and done that, but what would you say as it relates to how you've grown in your leadership, and what are the things that you've just become more settled with?
Nik Wallenda: Yeah. I think a lot of, again, opportunity. When I think of Corona Virus and COVID and what our nation and our world is going through, I think just the way my mind works, I see opportunity. I see opportunities for growth in business. I see opportunities for growth in family life. The opportunity that so few businessmen that are so busy traveling around the world, doing what they do and they're so successful at, but to actually sit home and spend time with their families. And to me, there's no greater reward. People say, what is your greatest accomplishment? I've broken 11 Guinness World Records and had some of the most successful, highest rated TV show on the history of the largest network in the world. And I would tell you, what am I most proud of? What's my greatest achievement? My three children.
And I couldn't be more proud of them. And again, there's no greater opportunity. There is no greater blessing in life or no greater challenge either I would say, than raising children. And to me, I just see opportunity in this time up again, opportunity for growth, opportunity to think outside of the box, opportunity... I think we can... So often we get on cruise control. Things were going well, successful, money is coming in and we set on cruise control and that's when we become complacent. And I've learned on the wire, every time I've become complacent, that's when I have a close call. Every time that I get to the point where I'm like, "Ah, this is no big deal. I've literally walked thousands of miles on wires." Then I'll get hit with a gust of wind then I'll go, "Hey, you know what? Wake up, stay focused on what you're doing."
That's when I'm riding a bike on the wire and the back wheel started to spin on me, live on the today's show. That is when complacency has set in and I go, you know what? You better wake up. You better stop being complacent. I think that's again, if there's anything that we can gain through this, again, is family time, but also time to just think outside of the box a little bit, and think about the future, and think about how we're going to grow even further and beyond what we've already gotten to.
John Maxwell: Wow. Those are also good, Nik. One of the things I've learned in this time is that a good excuse is the worst excuse, because you believe it. And for me, because I traveled all the time, I just said, I just have a weight issue because I don't have time to exercise. I'm tired so I comfort food and I don't eat right. Don't exercise enough. And when all of a sudden this happened and I didn't travel as much, I thought, well, that's an excuse I just lost. So let's go in and exercise and get my health where it should be, and get my weight down to where it needs to be. And so, that was a huge plus for my life. I've also learned that you have to adapt to where the people are, not to what you want.
I love to travel. I love to speak to live audiences. I don't speak to very many live audiences now, I've been in the studio all day doing talks and lessons for companies across the country and around the world. And what I discovered was that, once we went virtual, what is it, Mark? We've probably reached four to five times. Wouldn't that be fair to say four to five times people this year that we reached last year, because virtual is so much more available to so many more people and so much more convenient to when they can watch and where they are. And so all of a sudden, it wasn't what we wanted to do, but when we did it, it just proved out to be much more effective than what we have done if we had just stayed in our own comfort zone and done what we would do.
And again, I think Mark, Nik, the great question to ask three years from now is, what did you do during COVID-19? And I think that it's going to be two people. They're going to be two classes of people, the people that took this time and improve their life, and also adjusted and pivoted, and hey, did Leadershift and did well, versus the people who didn't. You can kick the can all you want to, it doesn't matter. It's not going to help you. We had a team meeting today and Mark was talking about all the progress that we've made this year in The John Maxwell Enterprise. And not all, but a lot of the progress we've made is because we were forced to be creative and do something out of the box and a little bit more differently.
And we just finished L2L and it was the largest group of people we've ever talked to. And again, we're just finding out, that just because you're out of your comfort zone doesn't mean you can't be very effective and successful. In fact, again, as I teach, everything that you want but don't have, is outside of your comfort zone. And so I think COVID-19 moves us to a place where we will create and adjust. And so many times gives us a value that we would have never, ever experienced because we're unwilling to jump over the wall. We had to be thrown over the wall with COVID-19. And now that we're over on the other side, we're learning some things that we never thought we would have learned, and achieving things we never thought we would have achieved.
Mark Cole: Well, dang. I know you feel like I do. You wish we could go longer. That's all the time that we have, I told Nik at the beginning, John, and you told me this before COVID. You said we have got to get Nik on stage with you and teaching from a high-wire, and so be prepared because next year we're going to do something with you, Nik. And before we close out, Nik, any final thoughts you have on facing fear?
Nik Wallenda: Yeah. Look, I just encourage, again, I want to encourage everybody that's listening, anybody that is dealing with fear right now, to focus on the positive. It's so important even who we choose and what we choose to allow into our lives and into our minds. And surround yourself with good, positive people. I've learned that lesson early on in life, surround yourself with people that are a lot smarter than you, and eventually you'll become smarter. And be careful, filter what you allow in and out of your mind. So many people are continuously watching even my father, Fox News, 24 hours a day, CNN news, 24 hours a day. Whatever it might be, no matter where you set politically, and I encourage people, don't consistently feed negativity into your mind. I've gotten to the point where I won't even turn on the news station anymore. I will read all of my news because then I can filter what I allow in and what I allow out. And really, to me, that is often the root of what causes us to get to that point of fear, where we can't take another step.
John Maxwell: I agree completely. And I want to just add to what you say, distinguish the difference between the coach and the critic. Many many years ago, I just said, I don't read my reviews. When I have a book out, I don't know how many stars have got behind it. I don't do any of that stuff. And the reason is, honestly, I know who I am, and I know why I wrote the book, and I know my motives. And the critic will say things that can hurt you, but they had no skin in the game, they walk away. The coach, even when they're giving you constructive criticism, they're in the game with you. And I learned a long time ago. Only listen to the people that will get in the game with you, because they have something at stake also.
And I think too often, we fill our minds with things that people say that we don't know, and we buy into it and it keeps us from becoming the person that we really want to be. So Nik, you encouraged all of us today. You raised us all to a whole new level. And Mark, you're right. We'll get an event when we can get people together, because I want you to teach from the wire. Lot of people can't even communicate, but to communicate from the wire... So you'll teach from the wire and I'll be down below on the ground, in my cushy chair, just taking application to everything you teach from the air. That's between the player and the pretender, right there.
Nik Wallenda: Sounds like a plan.
Mark Cole: Hey, well, thank you, Nik. Thanks so much for what you shared today. John, thanks for introducing us to another one of your friends.
John Maxwell: My joy.
Mark Cole: Incredible podcast listeners go to nikwallenda.com W-A-L-L-E-N-D-A nikwallenda.com. You'll see more about the drive-in thrill show, other things that Nik is doing. If you have not already went to your favorite e-Teller and bought the book, you're late. Get out there, buy the book. Again, the book is Facing Fear: Step Out in Faith and Rise Above What's Holding You Back.
Hey, if you want to go back and listen to this podcast, you want to pass it on to somebody else. Don't forget to go to maxwellpodcast.com/facing fear. Also, make sure you subscribe to the podcast because just like today, every week we're going to bring you something new, something fresh, something that will impact your life. I'm Mark Cole. Thanks for listening to The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. We hope you'll join us next week, until then, let's listen, learn, and let's lead together. Have a great day.
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