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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #51: Hanging Around The Hoop

August 28, 2019
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #51: Hanging Around The Hoop

It’s important for leaders to place themselves in the middle of the action. Leaders who are in the middle of the action make things happen instead of waiting for things to happen. In Episode #51 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we discuss how you can “hang around the hoop” as a leader to achieve results.

To learn how to achieve results as a leader, 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 increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach. And I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with The John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining.

Just as a reminder, as we start today’s lesson, everything we talk about on this podcast is in reference to the 5 Levels of Leadership. It’s the framework, it’s the methodology of which we funnel everything back to, and if you’d like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership or even perhaps bring a 5 Levels workshop to your organization, please go to and there’s a form there for you to fill out. Or if you just like to leave a comment for us or ask a question, we would love to answer that for you. Well, today’s topic is titled “Hanging Around the Hoop”. Now, I am so excited about this.

I think I know what it means. I’m almost afraid to ask. What I want you to know is it didn’t say hanging on the hoop because neither Perry or I could jump up and even touch the hoop and we’re over halfway there. And we’re both fairly tall and we still can’t do it. But Perry, I love your titles, as usual, “Hanging Around the Hoop”. Talk to us a little bit about it. I’m not a huge NBA fan, but I was watching an ESPN or something and the NBA draft was on a few weeks ago and I heard an analyst say one thing that made a particular prospect especially valuable, was his ability to always be “hanging around the hoop”. And I took this to mean that he was in the right place at the right time.

He was in the middle of the action. He was positioned to make things happen. And I flashed back when I was playing football, I was on defense and I was safety. So, I’m pretty far back, away from the line. But the coach had a rule that when we watched the films on Monday, if you were not in the film when the whistle blew, if you weren’t in the picture, you got in trouble. And we were always in trouble, and I said, why would he do that? Because where does everything happen? Nothing happens back if I’m just staying back there. Everything happens around the ball. So, this got me thinking that this probably has implications for leaders. I wanted to know what you think.

And you know my passion for sports, and I think there’s a lot of leadership that can be drawn out of sports. I’m excited to talk about this. Really what we’re talking about when it comes to leadership is really around Level 3 in making things happen. Let’s start by talking about the opposite of hanging around the hoop. Players that hang around outside the 3-point line, we were laughing about this before we got started, right? The only way that that guy is going to get the ball unless it’s just completely a shank shot and it bounces all the way out there. The only way that they’re going to get that is that the player around the hoop feeds it back out to them. Right? So that’s the opposite of it.

The player that’s out around the 3-point line, the other, opposite, is waiting for the ball to come to you by chance. Right now they talk about a lot of great players moving without the ball. That is part of the offense we’re talking about, just hanging around the hoop in order to get that rebound. What happens next? So let’s talk a little bit about leaders and what they do to hang around the hoop. I thought about it and I came up with five things and there’s probably more, I was just brainstorming for me, that you would be considered hanging around a hoop #1. I said, they hang around the right people. You have to think well who, who are the right people in your world?

And I find for me, I have a choice every day where I spend my time and the people I want to spend time with are really growth-minded, likeminded people. To me, they’re positive people. They have great attitudes. It’s people that can help take me to a higher level and that helps encourage me and show me the way. I’m thinking about, who are you hanging around? I love how you came up with five things, by the way, ties into five levels. Thank you for doing that. I really appreciate the fact you’re charging the mindset there. You know, John talks a lot about this, and I use this probably now more as a parent than even as a leader, more than I probably should. You are the average of the five people of which you’re running with, the five people that you’re hanging around with.

What does that look like? Whether it’s socially, whether it’s academically, whether it’s athletically, whether it’s from a leadership standpoint, you are the average of those people. And so now I want you to think about who are the other four that are in your group? Because here’s where my challenge is, he also says that if you’re the smartest person in that room, you’re in the wrong room, right? And so, as leaders, I think sometimes we get complacent and we stay in our little groups, the people that we’re comfortable with. I would challenge you to say you’re the average of the competence in that group. And then, if you are the smartest one, you need to find a different group. You need to find different people. You need to find a different group to hang around. Why not?

It’s just as a side note, we have talked on the podcast before about this multicultural, cross-cultural relationship. Our teams are made up of people that aren’t necessarily like us anymore. We used to be very monocultural back in the day, but it’s not that way. I’m noticing for me there’s that. And I think for most people we’re attracted to things that are similar to us, not to differences. And I find, for me, that to really to be aware and to be intentional, I’m going to hang around the right people. I need to open that circle up a little bit to say just because they’re different, either look or accent, how can I get comfortable with differences so that I opened my circle of opportunity to great people.

Do I have to learn from them? Number two, I thought that people that hang around the hoop, that people are going to make things happen. Leaders are really hanging around the right resources. This to me has been around being able to be the right reading, asking, what am I learning? My attitude, my mindset that I’m developing daily, what I need to do to have those resources in my life that can help me make things happen. And this speaks to really, how are you preparing yourself? What are you doing to invest in yourself? Now, here’s what I love about this. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re on your way, right? This is an incredible resource that you’re filtering into your mindset, into just some quick leadership thoughts that hopefully are applicable to your daily leadership journey.

There are so many free resources out there when it comes to developing yourself and being in the right resource for the right time. And I think there are different resources for different seasons, different lives. You know, people say, man, that book right there on my shelf, that was the best book I ever read. It just impacted me. Let me tell you why. And then they pull it off the bookshelf and I look at it and they’re like, hmm, it’s not that good anymore. Because that book meets you right where you were, and it was the right resource for you at the right time. And the reason why we talk about this, the right resource and investing in yourself, I’ve often heard it said, if you’re not going to bet on yourself, why do you want somebody else to bet on you?

And so, if you’re not going to take the initiative, I challenge organizations and people that I speak to all the time, saying, quit waiting for the organization to develop a developmental plan for your style. What are you doing personally to do that? And when I talked about it, it’s in how they get prepared, growth happens in preparation. And I think that as we prepare ourselves for anything that we’re going through we’re going to find the right resources to grow through them. So just a couple of thoughts there on that.

I’ve been surprised since we started doing a podcast, it’s got me really interested in podcasts and how many great resources are available. And I want to encourage people, to use those resources. If you’ve got a couple of people you follow in books or on audios, go look for him on YouTube. I’m just stunned at what I’m picking up for free, basically, and only minutes a day can really help you with those resources.

We talked about hanging around. If you’re hanging around the room, you’re hanging around the right people, you’re hanging around the right resources. Number three, I said you’re probably hanging around with the right priorities that you don’t waste time hanging around unimportant things. You know what’s important and you generally move in that direction. This reminds me of the Law of Priorities that John has taught on in the 21 laws. It’s a big thing for him. He is really a focus and a priority guy. But leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment too many of us just want to stay busy and we’re staying busy.

Maybe doing the wrong things. I read this statistic the other day and it just kind of still has me a little bit shook because I’m part of this statistic, I think all of us are, and it says in the U.S. people spend eleven hours a day watching, reading, or listening to, or even simply interacting with media. Eleven hours a day. Now, some of that might be beneficial, some of it might be developmental, but eleven hours a day. And so it goes back to if that’s what we’re doing. When you combined obviously our computer screen with our TV, all those things, still 11 hours, what are you prioritizing that’s going into your mind in order to make sure that you’re prioritizing the right way? Making sure that you’re around the hoop. So very good.

Today, we talked about you hanging around the hoop. You’re somebody who makes things happen. As a leader, you’re hanging around the right people, the right resources, the right priorities. And number four. I feel like if I’m one of these hanging around the hoop that I’m hanging around with the right focus. To me, this is really about not being distracted by other things.

You put it in that back to the NBA analogy, you’re under the hoop. You’re focused on it. Where the ball is and where it’s going. Not thinking about who’s out behind the 3-point line and thinking about what’s going on in this space yet. And you know what I love about that illustration, I was just thinking about this, is that if you’re focused on being around the who you’re focused on the ball before it even gets to the hoop because you’re watching the trajectory of the ball and then where it’s going to be coming off of who.

And so you can’t just begin to focus when the ball hits the hoop, right? The rim. You’ve got to be watching it. You’ve got to have focus even before that. And I think that’s even part of the right focus, the question, when are we focusing? How long are we focusing? And I think too many of us get distracted and we’re not dialed into what we need to be focused on. You know, you talk about this rebounding thing and some of the greatest rebounders will tell you it’s not about looking at the ball. Once it hits the rim, it’s being able to tell where the ball is going to land by watching the trajectory of the shot. And what that tells me, even as leaders as we need to be focusing on things before they actually happen that we know that are going to happen.

And that means that we need to be managing our time and our energy in order to make sure that we get the outcome that we’re trying to get. I wrote this down with three areas of awareness that are tied to focus. I thought this was really interesting, I read this article the other day on it and it said the three areas of focus are this. The first two, it says, focus inward and focus on other people. Like as a leader, you should be doing those two things. Those two things are tied directly to emotional intelligence, right? To what we would call Level 2, the ability to connect to people. The third focus, so focus inward-focused on others, is to have an outward focus; where’s that ball coming from? What is the angle, where is it going to end up?

And that’s where you really develop your strategy in order to get to the right spot around the hoop to the innovation to be able to really manage well. Because we talk about there are different strategies to leadership and that is a Level 3 skill set. And so when you think about this, I was like, man, that’s great. Focus inward, focus on other people and then have an outward focus on the organization.

What did Wayne Gretzky say, skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been? That’s exactly right. I love that. Okay. So, if you’re someone that hangs or a leader to kind of hanging around the hoop, you’re hanging around the right people, the right resources, the right priorities, you’re hanging around with the right focus. And finally, number five was you hang around with the right mindset about mistakes and setbacks.

I just find that if you are somebody who makes things happen, you’re probably going to make some mistakes. You don’t always get it right the first time, but you don’t let that keep you from getting back up and trying it again. John talks a lot about failing in our organization and especially having persistence after you fail and what does that look like and how does the leader respond to that and how are they going to make things happen.

You know, John’s book Failing Forward had a great impact on a lot of people. You know why he wrote the book. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Margaret, John’s wife, says all the time, John, you got a lot more failure books and if you just want to keep writing. But what I love about that is that even in Failing Forward, and he was just telling us the other day, he was talking about, listen, when we fall, we fail. Let’s fall forward. You’re going to gain 3+ feet for you and I might be 6+ feet, even though we still can’t touch the hoop or the rail. Right? But if we’re going to do that, man, let’s learn from it and let’s be okay with it. Let’s accept it.

He also said that he was speaking at an organization and he walked in and the company motto that he saw on the wall was, We Make New Mistakes. And I was like, that is awesome. You walk in and that’s their motto. We make new mistakes and you’re giving the people the permission to be able to make mistakes. And so as we wrap up, let me just summarize this. I think you’re right, I think these are five. I love that you picked the number five, but I think there are many others.

But I love the analogy. I love thinking about the focus. There are lots of good things in here, but there are others that you really need to be thinking about in your world, in your leadership, in your organization. What does it mean to hang around the hoop? Some we didn’t even talk about, and maybe we’ll do a future podcast on this, that proximity as a leader will help your development. And we can unpack that a lot of different ways.

When you talk about hanging around the hoop, that was the first thing that came to my mind was you need to have proximity to certain situations, to decisions, to people, to influence. Here’s how I bolted down as we wrap up and then I’m going to throw it back to you and we can close hanging around. The hoop takes intentionality. We have to be intentional.

We have to focus. We’ve got a position, we’ve got to be intentional about what we are preparing ourselves to do in the moment and then to do after we receive that rebound. I get passionate about sports and leadership and so I appreciate after so many podcasts you found that bringing in a topic that’s relevant to my passion. Thank you. You’re a mess while I’m here. I would love people to write in and tell me what is hanging around the hoop for you.

Just when you were saying that other thing, I thought, well, in my world it’s being invited to the table. Do I have a seat at the table? That’s where the hoop is. That’s where things are happening. But if I don’t have the executive presence, the reputation, the influence with my senior team, am I even going to be invited to the table? I mean, we can go on with this forever. So more for next time. That’s it for today. We are really grateful for you joining us and really would love to hear from you. If you want to add to that conversation you can leave us a comment or question below and as always, we’re grateful for you. This is it for today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.


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