Skip to content

​Maxwell Leadership Podcast: How to Solve Problems (Part 1)

April 7, 2021
​Maxwell Leadership Podcast: How to Solve Problems (Part 1)

Being an effective problem solver can equip you to removing the barriers that stand in your way of changing your world. This week on The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, we’re beginning a new series on problem-solving effectively. In part one, John shares nine observations about the nature of problems and problem-solving. In part two, he teaches us the seven R’s of effective problem-solving.

During the application portion of part one, Mark Cole and Jason Brooks discuss their own thoughts on problem-solving, the importance of identifying options, and the roles that hope, optimism, and pessimism can play in solving problems.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the How to Solve Problems Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Welcome back to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, or maybe welcome for the first time. I'm glad you're here. My name is Mark Cole, and I am the co-host to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. And today I am very excited because today we're going to go back to an environment where John talked on the subject of problem solving. How do we as leaders solve problems?

I'm reminded of a podcast episode we had with Carly Fiorina. Now, if you haven't heard that, you need to go back into our archives because that podcast was incredible. One of the things that she said in that podcast, she said, "I define leadership as the ability to solve problems." If you can solve problems, you are making a way for a leadership path for yourself and for the impact of others." I think Carly was right. And it is because of that, I want to bring to you two weeks of John Maxwell speaking on problem solving.

Part one, this week, will be John giving you nine observations about problems and problem solving. Next week looking forward, we will invite you back to seven ways to effectively solve problems. It's going to be two weeks of incredible opportunity for you to learn to be a better leader, as Carly Fiorina says. Now, this is important to us because we're right now as a brand, John Maxwell's brand is trying to solve the problem of a lack of values-based leadership.

We're calling that Change Your World. It's a book that John released a couple of months ago. We've done several podcasts on it, but we're truly, as the John Maxwell enterprise, trying to solve the problem of a lack of values-based people-centered servant leadership. We invite you into that. In fact, if you would like more information, go to, and you'll be able to take that journey with us.

Now, enough about our problem of changing the world, enough about my problems, let's hear John today. In part one give us nine observations about problems and problem solving. When John is done, Jason Brooks, my co-host today, will be back with me and we'll give you some application moments. But until then, here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  I love the statement, as I begin this lesson that is the best way to escape from a problem is to solve it. And that's so true and then I find a lot of people try to escape from problems without solving them. I heard recently of the wrong way to solve a problem ... I love their story. This lady was being tried for the murder of her third husband. And the lawyer was asking her in court, he said, "What happened to your first husband?" And she said, "Well, he died of mushroom poisoning." He said, "How about your second husband?" She said, "Well, he died of mushroom poisoning also." And he said, "Well, what happened to your third husband?" And she said, "Well, he died of a brain concussion."

And he said, "Well, why was that?" And she said, "Because he wouldn't eat mushrooms!" Wrong way to solve problems right there, wrong way to solve problems.

Well, every one of us, when I talk about problems, every one of us, we've got problems. We've all had the good news, bad news scenario in all our life. That's part of it. Let me give you some observations about problems that every one of you are going to connect with real quick. Number one, problems are everywhere. In other words, everyone has them. Now that's a fact, problems and everywhere and everyone has them. Malcolm Ford says, "If you have a job without aggravations, you don't have a job." Ain't that true? Because as leaders, we find that all the time, don't we? Problems everywhere.

Now, a mistake that we make, I think so many times, is leaving a place because of problems. In other words, leaving it too early. Many times we have problems, we want to leave too early, not realizing that no matter where you go, if you leave one to go to another, all you've got is someone else's problems and problems are everywhere and everyone has them.

Observation number two, problems don't disappear if they are ignored. I run into a lot who think that they just ignore the problem, it'll go away. Now I don't know about you, but I've never had a significant problem go away on its own. I've had significant problems get worse, but I've never had a significant problem go away on its own. John Foster Dulles one time said, "The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem as you had last year." Well, that's huge, isn't it huh? Many times when we have the same problem year after year, that's talking a lot about how we deal with those problems.

And a lot of times when I see organizations, a lot of times when they had meetings, they never bring out the real agenda and you really want to stop him and say, "Hey, let's call time out here from like, what are we gonna do with this elephant?" How are we going to fix it?" Somebody one time said, "Some problems never get solved, they just get older." I have noticed that a lot of times, if you don't solve the problem as a leader and you leave it, all you do is you leave it for the next guy, decades of a problem.

And nobody ever became a leader and went in there to solve them. I can still remember in my 20's being called into a problem situation up in Columbus Ohio, of which this problem I guess had been going on for about 35 years. With a couple of families in the church, long standing families. And I can remember a long, long process of trying to really deal with that problem. And one pastor finally decided to tackle it and they were having a huge uproar.

And I thought to myself, we went through a period of several meetings and one time it was lasting past midnight. And finally we just took the problem, took that elephant and said, "We're going to fix this." And cleared that problem up in that church and had some good years after it. But I thought how unnecessarily for 35 years for people to walk around the elephant and never mentioned the fact that there's an elephant in the house, that's not a problem. The third observation about problems is that we tend to lose a correct perspective of problems when they are our own. It's the old minor surgery, major surgery and then we know what's minor surgery is when it's on you.

What's major surgeries when it's on me? What's a minor problem? It's your problem. You know what I'm saying? And what's a major problem? It's my problem. I can still remember in my early years I had a good friend of mine who talked to me about a lay leader who just got elected to office of which he was going to resign because the lay leader was very negative. And I remember on the golf course, laughing at Thompson old, Tom, you big sis, get, stay in there, don't quit and all that. And he did resign and then the church called me, he'd get the picture. And all of a sudden, I said, "Well, this is a real problem here. I mean, wow, this is not any little deal to it. Well, what happened is very simple when it became my problem, my perspective changed on it. That's why we were so cool and collected with someone else in counseling them. Aren't we huh?"

"If we just tell them what to do and be very clear and very level headed about it and very unemotional." And then look and say, "Why don't they fix that?" "Why don't they get on the ball there?" Only to turn around and find out in our lives that when it becomes our problem, all of a sudden we become involved emotionally with it. We don't maybe handle it as well as we'd want to. Socrates said, "This is a great statement. If all of our misfortunes were laid in one common heat, once everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contended to take their own and depart." And I believe that. Observation number four about problems, our perspective, the problem, not the problem determines our success or failure.

I really don't know to know the size of your problem. I really want to know what's your perspective of the problem is because that's going to be what makes you or breaks you. In fact, there's a right perspective and a wrong perspective concerning problems. Let me give you a half a dozen of them quickly. One problems, the right perspective is the problems are solvable. And the wrong perspective is of course the problems are unsolvable. If I truly believe that I have an unsolvable problem, it'll put me in a great state of despair and frustration, and I'll probably give up much quicker than I should.

A right perspective is that problems are temporary. A wrong perspective is that problems are permanent. To believe the problem is permanent is to take away hope. A right perspective is that problems are a part of life. I mean, that's just the way life is. Life is filled with problems. The wrong perspective is to think that problems are not a part of life. And so we think we've been cheated or we've been dealt a bad hand, which is not true at all. A right perspective is that problems make us better. But if we have a wrong perspective, we'll look at problems and they will make us better.

A right perspective is that problems challenge us. We look at our problems and we find that we're challenged by them. A wrong perspective is that problems control us, until all of a sudden we become a victim and say, "My goodness, what can I do here?" A right perspective is that problems stretches and a wrong perspective is that problems stop us.

And so much of our success in solving problems is not the problem itself, but it's our perspective of the problems. Here's what I mean, if you've got a wrong perspective of problems, if it's a little problem, it'll still defeat you. If you have a right perspective of problems, it could be big and you can defeat it. It's not the size of the problem, it's the perspective. Observation number five about problems, problems responded to correctly advance us forward. If we respond correctly to the problems we make advancement in our lives. Let me read this section right now in your notes. Problems are God given opportunities to grow, challenges which drive us to deeper understanding and maturity, that's what problems do for us. Problems come from the Greek word proballein, which means to throw or to drive forward.

The Greek root word basically of the problems is that it's to throw or to drive us forward. When you think of the root there of what a problem really is out of the Greek, here's what I know, problems never leave us the same. In fact, let me tell you here's what happens. Right perspective, right response to problems is that it will throw us forward or drive us forward. But I can promise you if it's not throwing us or driving us forward, it's going to throw us or drive us backward. You never see a person who has a problem that stays the same after that problem occurs. We either advance or we retreat. Observation number six, the size of the person is more important than the size of the problem.

What I really want to know is how big are you? If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small, proverb writer understood that it was the size of the person, not the size of the product. The message is powerful as far as the impact. It says, "If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn't much of you in the first place." All the proverb brighter is saying is it's not the size of the problem, it's the size of the person. Orison Martin said, "Obstacles will look large or small to you, according to whether you are large or small. And you can easily determine it and you notice the caliber of a person by the amount of opposition it takes to discourage him."

Number seven, some days are difficult days. Now let's just stop here for a moment. There are some days you have that they're just not going to be a good day. Have you ever had one of those? You just get up and you aren't up for 15 minutes. You said "This may not be my day, huh?" I suppose well, I'll just run back to bed and cover a head with the sheets and say, "I'm not going to get out at all. I'm just going to stay here." But this was taken out of a Florida newspaper and it was so funny to me and so good, it's long.

But when I say some days are difficult days, this will say it better than I could say. A man was working on his motorcycle on his patio and his wife was in the house in the kitchen. The man that's still holding the handlebars was dragged through a glass patio door. The motorcycle dumped onto the floor inside the house. The wife, hearing the crash, ran into the dining room and found her husband laying on the floor, cut and bleeding, the motorcycle lay next to him, the patio door shattered.

The wife ran to the phone and [inaudible 00:13:47] an ambulance. Because they lived on a fairly large hill. The wife went down several flights of long steps to the street, to direct the paramedics to her husband. After the ambulance arrived, they transported the husband, the hospital, the wife up riding the motorcycle and pushed it outside.

Seeing that gas had spilled on the floor, the wife obtained some paper towels, blotted up the gasoline and threw the towels into the toilet. The husband was treated at the hospital and was released to come home. And after arriving home, he looked at the shattered patio door and the damage done to his motorcycle, he became despondent. He went to the bathroom, sat on the toilet and smoked a cigarette.

You can see the train coming can't you? After finishing the cigarette, he flipped it between his legs in the toilet bowl while he was still seated. The wife who was in the kitchen heard a loud explosion, he heard her husband screaming and she ran to the bathroom and found her husband laying on the floor. His trousers had been blown away. He was suffering burns on the buttocks, the back of his legs and his groin. The wife again ran the phone and called for an ambulance.

The same ambulance crew was dispatched and his wife went down to the street to meet them. The paramedics loaded the husband on the stretcher and began carrying them to the street. While they're going down the stairs, the street accompanied by the wife one of the paramedics asked the wife, how the husband had burned himself.

She told them and the paramedics started laughing so hard. One of them tipped the stretcher and dumped the husband out. He fell down the remaining steps and broke his ankle. Here is your day as bad as you think huh? Fits in versus negative. Next time you think you have a bad day reading the stories, hey, my day is not bad at all. Some days are just difficult days, that's a fact of life.

Number eight, a problem is something that I can do something about. If I can't do anything about it, it's not my problem, it's a fact of life. Fred Smith taught that to me. He said, "John, a lot of people never have understood the difference between a problem and a fact of life. And if it's a fact of life, deal with it and understand it's always going to be there."

Number nine, when you make small plans, expect small problems. And when you make big plans, expect big problems. In other words the size of your problems will probably be based on the size of your plans. The problems will always correspond with the potential, always remember that. Great potential, great problems, very little potential, very little problem.

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back. Anybody have some problems you want to solve? If you don't subscribe, to us, shoot us an email. I have a one or two problems I can farm out to you because we have problems around here Jason. And by the way, if you're in the podcast, family let me remind you to subscribe.

We want to bring what John gives us each and every week into your inbox and let you be a part of our family, by the way, do me a favor, share this podcast and other podcasts because John will bring a lesson. We will bring application each and every week, and there's none better than Jason Brooks to come to us today and help me co-host the application of John's lesson. Jason is good to see you, buddy.

Jason Brooks:   Good to see you too, man. Thanks for having me back to talk about this. There are several problems we can start with, but I think the biggest one is where do we even begin to break down what John just brought to us? I do want to ask you a question because one of the things that John talked about right off the top is that problems are everywhere. They're universal and wherever you go, you're going to run into problems. And they're just so many things that come out of that thought. But one of the first things that occurred to me and I wanted to ask you, because you've served John for a number of years as one of his chief problem solvers. You've described it as John would be the person who cast the vision and then you were responsible for executing on it.

Well, now we have made a shift with our company and our strategy. You're now the person that's helping cast vision, and it's no longer your responsibility to solve problems. It's your responsibility to find opportunities. And yet we're still as an organization in the habit of relying on you as the chief problem solver. And so I wanted to ask you just a couple of questions, in organizations because you've now experienced both sides of this, in organizations, what are some of the factors that make it difficult for leaders to address problems?

And then what are some of the reasons that some leaders struggle to actually address them? Some leaders just would rather let a problem sit, not deal with it. Somebody else, or some leaders would just rather say, "Hey, this is a problem," but not bring any solutions. What are some of the factors? What are some of the personal things that make this such a universal issue within organizations?

Mark Cole:       Well, I love this question and so I was telling you before the show started today, I was telling you about, I'm just in a really unique place. And in fact, as we're recording this, I'm in a problem tsunami this week. And it's funny to me because that's how these podcasts typically work. John gives this content, sometimes it's immediate. He just gave it yesterday, or he's given it live in the studio.

And then other times like today, we go back to a lesson. John did some time ago and we bring that to you. But always when we do this, Jake our producer goes and creates this content. And then we come into studio and it always seems to be hitting me and all of you in podcast land, get to hear me work through applying John's lesson. Today's no different because as you said, there are multiple ways people deal with problems in an organization. I'm a sales guy by trade.

I started out with John as a salesman and you know as salespeople, we think we can sell ourselves out of anything. In fact, our motto is what problem? I don't see a problem. It's hard to see a problem when your head is in the clouds or in the sand. And I don't know where you are today, but are you a leader that looks around and goes, we don't have problems, there's no problems.

Chances are you're out of touch with reality. Most of the time you're going to have problems in an organization on a team. If there's more than just you on a team, you probably have a problem. Many times, you're the problem. That's why you don't see it. But truly there's that way of dealing with problems, we just pretend it's not there.

There's others that can't see any opportunity because there's too many problems. That there's a problem a minute, we can't do this because of that. And I love how you talked to me because you asked that question, you framed it. Because most of the time I see the world, like John Maxwell sees. I don't see problems, I see opportunities. I see opportunities presented as problems and therefore we have the ability to do something about it. In fact John was given a talk just last weekend and he said, "I'm really glad that we're getting over COVID, I really am." And of course we are, our health, our finances, our social lives, all of it is really looking forward to being back together again. But he said, "What is happening is it is making all of us rethink our priorities." And what we as a group of people need to do is re-calibrate our priorities and come out of COVID with a hunger to make a difference, a hunger to do something.

Here's what John is really illustrating with that. While many people see COVID as a problem, and we all do and John does as well. Others can see the problem as an opportunity for people, for teams, for humans, to pivot and begin to realign and reassess their values with how they live their life. And Jason what I would tell you, well, I'm a guy that really sees a problem as an opportunity, some of you that are listening to this podcast, you're much more operations minded, you're much more logistics minded.

And when a leader in your life is in creative mode and wanting to do something significant, they see an opportunity. The worst thing you can do for that leader, that visionary is to come bring them a problem that you see and lay it at their feet as if it's their problem, don't do that.

Bring a problem. Okay, that's good, don't let them keep their head in the sand or their head in the clouds. But with that problem always bring a solution. Because again, what John is telling us here, especially next week, I'm going to tempt you for next week. But what John is really saying, is this one thing to be able to observe problems. But it's an altogether different things to be able to observe a problem and to give a solution. And we all need to be practicing, getting solutions for our problems.

Jason Brooks:   I appreciate that answer because as a leader in the organization, there are obviously challenges that come up from me. I happened to have Jake who I work with, so a lot of my problems I can just pass on to Jake. And he does a great job of solving them. But even when problems come my way, one of the things that I have learned and part of it's through your example is just the right attitude about the problem, the right perspective on the problem. It goes a long way towards making a difference in whether or not it's really a problem or if it's just an opportunity to do something a little bit different.

And I think there are so many people that have grown up or come up in organizations where they weren't really allowed to solve problems. They were tasked with identifying them, but they were never given the freedom to try and solve them. And it just becomes a habitual perspective. It becomes just a lens of how people see the world. And we really got to break through that lens.

And John talks about that. He talks about the fact that perspective really matters when it comes to problem solving. What is it? Let me ask you even better question. I'll be even more direct. What is the most helpful perspective or the most helpful attitude that you've encountered when it comes to solving problems? What is the best way for us as leaders to look at things or think about things or the right attitude to have whenever we encounter a problem?

Mark Cole:       It's a quote by my good friend. We worked together for quite some time. Rob McClellan, I've quoted this on the podcast. It is the best perspective to an insurmountable problem that I've ever heard. We were trying to finish up the last 10 nations of training through our nonprofit. I mean, we're talking about countries like Somalia, we're talking like countries like Iran. It was very difficult countries for us to get into at that time in the geopolitical climate that we were in.

And I'll never forget this, I quoted all the time. It's the best perspective of a problem. We had 10 countries that for 15 years, we had been incapable of getting into. And when I tasked Rob with finishing up the list of countries for training with equip material, he said, "Mark, we will get it done in the next three years or when you find my body, it will be pointed in that direction."

Here's the perspective. Problems are not meant to stop us. At times they're meant to challenge us, at times they're meant to redirect us. At times, they're meant to make us go another direction but they are not intended to paralyze us. The best perspective of problem solving is, I don't know the answer today, but I will get the answer because we will solve this problem. I will tell you the reason I sit today in the position where the opportunities that John Maxwell and you, Jason and Jake and others have afforded me of being a senior leader for the leadership brand, recognize this the most impacting in the world.

The reason I got here is because I learned how to spot problems because I was a sales guy. I didn't see problems, my heads was in the cloud. I learn how to identify problems, but even more importantly, I determined how to bring solutions with options to the visionary. For years, I have a little blue book. It's not down here in the studio with me or I'd hold it up for you and Jake to see. I have a little blue book that sometimes it's black, sometimes it's red. Sometimes it's been different colors, but I keep a book to where I write down things I need to go over with John Maxwell.

There is never a time in the last six or seven years that I have brought a problem to John, that I did not come up with a solution for the problem. And two to three options of how to achieve that solution. Here is the formula, hope, have a perspective and a hope that we can overcome the problem. Give a solution, give options, to the solution and you have just made yourself invaluable to your leader and to your organization.

Jason Brooks:   I've literally got goose bumps right now because the very next question that I have is how does hopefulness pull us forward through problems? And you just said that that's the right perspective to have. How does hopefulness pull us through problems? And John has talked about this a little bit, but maybe you can elaborate. What's difference between optimism and hope?

Mark Cole:       Well, hope can pull us through a problem because of point number four, that John taught us in the lesson today, our perspective of the problem, not the problem determines our success or failure. It is your perspective, so again here is my point here. Hope is a non-negotiable and the repertoire in the toolbox, in the tool belt of a leader. Hope is the most important tool that you can employ in your leadership especially in problem solving. We started a meeting the other day and the first words out of the mouth of somebody that was invited into that meeting was, this is impossible and I don't even know why we're having this meeting. That was the way we started the meeting. Jason, we had guests, people not on our team in this meeting, the air sucked out of the room immediately.

It took me 38 minutes, yes I was counting. 38 minutes to undo that entry statement in the meeting. It took me 38 minutes to undo. The final 22 minutes of the meeting we built what we could have built at the very beginning, but we had to undo. A leader cannot come in with hopelessness and despair. If that's all you got to bring to the meeting, call in sick, don't come.

We don't want you if you can't start a meeting. I don't care how audacious the problem is, I don't care how insurmountable it feels to you leader. You cannot start a meeting with despair and hopelessness. It will not work, you may come after spending all this time of hope and all this time of encouragement. You may arrive that we cannot fix this problem, let's have a redirect. But if you start a meeting, if you start tackling it as a team with a lack of hope and intense amount of despair, you will undo the impact of a highly functioning, highly credible team.

Jason Brooks:   Well, tell me real quick. I would love for you to unpack because there's some people that confuse optimism with hope. Optimism is that idea of we can do it. Yay, rarara, like you mentioned earlier, your head is in the cloud or it's in the sands. Help people, help leaders understand the difference between optimism, which can be helpful in some cases versus hope, which is helpful in all cases.

Mark Cole:       I think that optimism now, you got to understand I am an optimistic person. Okay, so my definition is not going to be as good Jason if somebody that's a wordsmith like you or somebody that has a little less optimism and somebody that's a little more leans toward pessimism. I'm not going to give you as clear of a line between hope and optimism because I use optimism to instill hope.

A pessimist or a more factual leaning person and in factual as in data, not factual as in truth. A more data-driven person is going to rely on past performances and comparative analysis to instill hope. They're going to go much more substantive with data and results and experience. An optimistic person is going to instill hope and aspiration and in excitement and in passion.

I lean toward that optimist side but hope is ... Fear of the most pessimistic person in the world, you have got to learn to instill hope if you are going to be seen as an influencer. Nobody influences with no hope you don't. Because every person wants to believe that the future is better, the future is brighter. Some would like to hear that with facts, stats, and data. Others want to hear that with a lot of exuberance and what the future could look like.

But that's optimism, little more pessimism is give me proof, give me proof, I got to have proof. Optimism is give me passion, but hope is a non-negotiable component of a leader in leading and influencing their team. I believe hope has to be communicated in a way that the audience understands. Jason, Jake, with you guys I want to give you hope. I asked Jason, I asked Jake almost every podcast. Hey, give me the numbers. How many people are we helping? And then I use those numbers to say, "Hey Jake, Jason, we're going to kill it. We're going to be okay. I know we've got a problem, our studio is not quite done, I got all that."

"Hey, but we're going to kill it because look at how many people we've already done stats and data."I get Chris Cody in here and other co-hosts about sometime we go, man, imagine all these people sitting in the studio. Let's pretend that 140,000 people are sitting in this room with us right now. We're just all so happy, we see the people around. Either way, you're giving an offering hope to the people around you.

Jason Brooks:   I hope people are paying attention to what you said. That optimism is fueled by passion and I'll call it realism rather than pessimism. But realism is-

Mark Cole:       You would Jason.

Jason Brooks:   ... Fueled by a prove. I'm more of a realist I'll admit, although numbers and data not exactly my forte, but what I love about hope and John has said this recently, especially in light of Change Your World, is that hope is optimism that takes action. There are some people that they're optimistic that things are going to get better, but they never do anything about it. The pessimists, they're not going to do anything about it. Anyway the realist is going to say, "What can we do about it?" But the hopeful leader is the one that says, "Look, things can get better. Here's how they get better?" Or "Here's at least a way they can get better, now let's work towards that and see what we can do."

And one of the things that I love about that whole idea, it's been very helpful to me in my current circumstance where I'm at in my battle with ... Not with my health, but for my health. Is there are days man where I'm a realist. There are a lot of days where I'm a pessimist. There's relatively few days where I'm just an optimist. Most of the time, I'm hopeful. I really genuinely believe that there is a way forward and I'm doing everything that I can to take that way forward. And that's just what it takes in leadership and it's really what it takes in life to overcome whatever the problems may be.

It doesn't just have to be work problems. They can be health problems, home problems, financial problems. But if you don't have hope, like you've said, you're not going to make any progress because you just won't be able to see that way forward. And that comes to the six points that John made or the six observation that he gave us about the size of the person is more important than the size of the problem.

My point is that with my health, I could let the issues of my health be bigger than me. But whether it's you Mark or whether it's my wife, Rachel, or my friends like Jake, I've had so many people come along and say, "You are so much bigger than this." Your strength, your ability, your optimism, your attitude, it's made you bigger than the problem. And so talk to me for just a minute or talk to some of our other leaders for just a minute about why being bigger on the inside is so significant when it comes to battling problems on the outside.

Mark Cole:       Yeah. I love when John says that good times do not define a leader, it's the difficult times that reveal a leader. And I completely agree with that. I think that I've watched you a guy that I respect and love and have for some time. I mean, since we joined team three, four years ago, Jason, in a leadership role at peer leadership role, we're leading together, there's just this incredible level of respect that I have for you.

But I'm telling you, it pales in comparison of the leader that I see you to be and the person that I see you to be the last year. Difficulty of fighting for your health has really revealed what I suspected but now I know. It's the same thing with all of us, I share this story often but man, my first leadership opportunity, unfortunately difficult times, difficult relationship, things in my life revealed a very poor inside leader.

And I've had to go back and work and diligently try to improve that over time. But it's something I'm constantly aware of. COVID same thing, we bought the company, we merged the company on January the sixth, COVID hit six weeks later. We're canceling Million dollar, with multiple events right after that. I believe 2020 revealed us as leaders because as John says in the six points that you're mentioning the size of the person is more important than the size of the problem.

If the problem is too big for you, that is not a good thing to admit leaders because you're going, hey, the problem is bigger than me as a person. Let that be the last resort of anything any of you ever say, "This problem's too big for me." Don't say that, you're saying you're a tiny whiny little person and you don't want to be that. That's not the thing to say and I love this point. And Jason to your point, the problems have revealed us to be bigger people, bigger leaders than the problem around us.

Jason Brooks:   I want to end with this. John talks about ... He didn't spend a lot of time on it, but I want to ask you this question because I felt like it's where a lot of people live and they don't realize it. How do we know when we're having a difficult day versus when we're just not being a big enough person? John talks about some days are just difficult days. He told the story of the man that crashed his motorcycle through the glass plate door, and then unfortunately, balloons self up on the toilet.

We've all had days like that, but we've all had difficult days. Some people are tempted to just write every day off as a difficult day. When in reality, they're just not rising to the challenges of that day. How do we as leaders know when the day is simply difficult versus we're not being big enough on the inside and what are some strategies for overcoming that tendency?

Mark Cole:       Jason, I love this question. It reminds me of when you asked this question John says, "There's no two good consecutive days in a leader's life. And I love the statement when John says that and I love how it resonates with me, but does that mean there's two bad consecutive days in a leader's life? Does that mean at we can be only 50, 50 out of 365. We only got half of those that we can do 182 and a half. I mean, is that the death sentence of how many good days we can have in a leader's year? And I don't think it's a science, there's no two good consecutive days, but the point is, hang on, there's a problem right around the corner. There is an opportunity to step up, so when you ask this question, how do you know if you're having a bad day or if you've got a bad perspective or if you're really a bad leader? The best way to tell, is can you get up tomorrow and go at it again?

Do you not get up the next day and just go a different direction? See, I have found that when somebody says, "Man, Mark, I just really hope I treat people well, you know what my response is when somebody comes and says, "I hope I treat people well?"Don't worry, you will. Because it's the people that never worry about that that have a problem. See the fact that you would ask me the question, Jason, how do I know if I'm just being a good leader? How do I know if I'm a bad leader or if I just really have a pretty doozy of a problem?

You've got a pretty doozy of a problem because you're worried about it. It's the people that have lost their way. Quit, fighting, quit waking up the next day and going after the problem again, that has the real serious challenge. The fact you're still in the game, the fact that you care, if you're in the game. The fact that you want to continue being a great leader and the fact that you're not pretending the problem is not there or letting the problem paralyzed you, lets me know you're going to be okay, stay in the game, that's the answer.

Jason Brooks:   And I love that answer because it dovetails nicely with John's final observation about all of this. Is that if you make small plans, you can expect small problems. But if you've got big plans, you can expect big problems. And I think that especially whether it's our organization or people who share our passion and our values for leadership and seeing transformation in the world, man, we're going to encounter big problems, significant problems.

But what I love about what John's taught us here and what you have shared too, is that there is no big problem that we can't be bigger than. It's a matter of having the right perspective, it's a matter of having the right preparation. And it's a matter of just choosing to be the right person so that when the problem comes, we're prepared to face it.

Mark Cole:       I love this Jason.

Jason Brooks:   I'll put the mic down there and let you wrap it up but-

Mark Cole:       Well, thanks because we could go on and in fact guess what podcasts listeners we are going to go on. Next week is How to Solve Problems Part 2. And we're going to now get into more of the problem solving than the problem observing. I love this because next week, you're going to really love that. Now, before I let you go today, I've got to do two things. One, if you love today and you have not downloaded the show notes, go to

And you'll get both this week's notes and next week's notes and you will be ahead of the game. I mentioned Change Your World, go to, help us truly Change Your World so that together we can change the world. But I've got to tell you something right before we go, because our team has created the Netflix of leadership.

Now that may be a little over assumptive of our part, but just let us be pleased with ourselves for just a moment. Because I love what we have done with a brand new leadership application called Lilo. L-I-L-O Lilo. It really is intended and created to be your best friend for personal and professional growth. In fact again we just believe it is an app with all of the videos, all of the digital products, all of the resources we've created. We believe that it will make a difference for you. In fact, side note a much bigger helpful difference than Netflix will help you.

It features material from experts, thought leaders like John himself and others that we've brought into this virtual library so that you can access it anytime, anywhere for any amount of time that helps you and serves you. And so what I asked the team to do, I say, "Can we give people a chance to try it for free and let them see what it's all about?"

And they said "For our podcast listeners, we can give you a seven day trial to this Lilo subscription." This app that's normally $7 and 99 cents a month. You're going to love it. You're going to get to use it. You're gonna get to test it out and you will get this free seven-day trial. If you'll go to,, you'll be able to start your free seven day trial today and use the code PODCAST to get that seven day trial.

You're going to love it. We hope you've loved today's podcast. We hope that you will share it, that you will comment and that you will come back next week for Part 2 of How to Solve Problems. Until next week, find a problem, solve the problem, let's lead. Let's change the world.

Be the first to comment on "​Maxwell Leadership Podcast: How to Solve Problems (Part 1)"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *