Maxwell Leadership Podcast: Change Starts with You
January 4, 2023
Happy New Year, podcast family! We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and we hope you’re excited for all that this year holds for you. The New Year always brings with it big ambitions, big dreams, and big change! And much of that change starts with you, the leader.
So, we wanted to start this year off right by hearing from John Maxwell about personal change. You see, you cannot give what you do not have. Before you can make big change in your organization, your family, or your community, that change has to begin within you. So, John is going to share some thoughts on change, then Mark Cole and Becky Bursell will offer some practical ways that you can apply these principles to your own leadership this year.
Our BONUS resource for this episode is the “Change Starts with You Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.
Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership Podcast. This is the podcast that adds value to leaders who multiply value to others. My name is Mark Cole and I’m excited today to wish you a Happy New Year. Hey everyone, it is 2023 and I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season, I hope 2022 wrapped up wonderfully for you, and I hope you’re excited for all that this year, 2023, holds for you. The new year always brings with it big ambitions, big dreams, and even big change. And much of that change starts within each of us, the leader.
So we wanted to start this year off right by hearing from John Maxwell about personal change. You see, you cannot give what you do not have. Before you can make big change in your organization or in your family, in your community, that change has to begin with you. So John is going to share some thoughts on change, then my co-host Becky Bursell, we will join together with you and talk about some practical ways that we can apply these principles, both to our life and to our leadership this year. Now if you would like to download our bonus resource for this episode, that’s a free fill in the blank PDF that accompanies John’s lesson, you just need to go visit maxwellpodcast.com/startchange, and also check us out on YouTube at maxwellpodcast.com/YouTube and leave a comment or a question. Okay, are you ready? Let’s start the year off right. Here is John Maxwell.
Let’s talk about how to make personal changes in your life. You got your notes ready? Let’s go. Leadership is about change. If you need no change, you need no leader. In times of change, people seek out more and better leaders. Those successful sought out leaders embraced the following thought. Here we go. The best reformers the world has ever known are those who begin with themselves. Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must be the change that we envision.” Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” And the first comment I would like to make is this when one person cannot change another person.
Now I’m going to talk to you about an early leadership error that I made a lot, because when I started as a young leader, I thought that a leader could change the people. And boy did I work at it. I mean, I just worked real hard and, “All right, I’m going to give them thoughts and ideas and principles and I’m going to change people.” And after several years, sadly, it took me a long time, you have to understand I was a slow learner, okay? So after several years, one day I awakened to the thought that the only person that can change themselves is themselves. You can change yourself, but I can’t change you. You see, I’m responsible to you, but I’m not responsible for you. And there’s a world difference between those two.
I’m responsible to teach you good leadership, I’m responsible to share things that can help add value to your life, but you’re the only one that can take responsibility to change yourself. If you don’t like some of the stuff that’s in your life, or if you don’t like some of the things that you’re doing within your life, the only person that can change that is you. Now, you can bring people around that will add value to you, you can get people around that will encourage you, be great friends, support you, walk through with you, coach you, do all that good stuff, but the only person that can change you is you. And it took me years as a leader to figure that out because a lot of times I think, “Oh man, I got to work harder. I got to be better. I got to do this more so I can get those people changing,” and one day it hit me, “No, no, no, John. You can create the right environment. You can certainly do the right kind of teaching, but you are responsible to change yourself.” One person cannot change another person.
The second comment I would make about personal change is this. Most people need to look at the way that they look at change. I put a couple examples in your notes because I want to make sure you get this. How many times have you heard somebody say, “I sure hope things will change.” Come on, raise your hand. Oh no, let’s get real personal. Put your hand back down. How many times have you said that, huh? Come on. Yeah, okay, that’s good. I’ve said it. I’ve said it, “Well I sure hope things will change.” Now, I just want to say under that kind of a quote, the only way things will change for me is when I change. Has nothing to do with hope. Has nothing to do with, “Well, I just hope things will change around me.” No, no. The only way that things will change for me is when I change. Or I’ve heard this before, “I don’t know why I am this way.” Well, you are the way you are because that’s the way, hang on, you want to be.
Let’s expose it for what it really is. Fred Smith was exactly right when he said, “If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now.” So when I run into people and say, “Well, I really want to be different. I want to make some changes in my life,” I say, “Your behavior tells me that you’re not making the changes you need to make.” In other words, your behavior will tell me. I don’t want to know what your intention is. I don’t want to even hear what your words are, I want to see your behavior. Max DePree was correct when he said, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” So if we’re going to change, we need to look at change differently.
The third personal comment that I would make is that when you make the right personal changes, I believe this with all my heart, other things begin to turn out right. So when people say, “I like things to turn out better for me. I like the things that turn out right. I like things that turn out better in the organization or in my family,” whatever it is. Then what I say to them is, “Start with making personal changes.” I love sports, and this is going to be too old for a lot of you, but the Baltimore Royals used to have a manager named Earl Weaver who continually argued with umpires in the American League, and my cousin Rocky Roe was the American League umpire, and so he just gives me all these stories about Earl Weaver.
I mean, all the umpires hated to go to Baltimore, dump a game because Earl Weaver’s there, and Earl Weave never stops talking to the umpires. I mean, he just rides them the whole way through. So Rocky was telling, one day we’re having dinner together, and he said, Earl Weaver, he said his favorite comment when you made your first bad call in the game. I mean, he just waited for you to call a ball a striker, vice versa. As soon as you made your first bad call, Earl Weaver would start on you. Rocky said the first thing he would say is he’d look at the umpire and he’d say, “Are you going to get any better or is this it?” Are you going to get any better? Or is this it? Isn’t it true? Aren’t there a lot of people you’ve looked at and you just said, “My name is John. I’m your friend. Are you going to get any better, or is this it?” A lot of times we want to change someone else, and what we have to understand is if they’re going to change, they got to change themselves.
Maxwell Leadership Growth Plan:
Hey, podcast listeners, do you have a clear plan for growth? Achieving big results most often does not require big life changes. Small improvements over time compound into big results. Download the Maxwell Leadership app. It’s the new free app where our expert guides and John Maxwell help you pace your leadership journey and set a clear plan for your own personal growth. You can also find all sorts of resources on the Maxwell Leadership app, including this podcast, information on upcoming events, and much more. Just search Maxwell Leadership in your app store and download the app today.
Hey, welcome back. I’m sitting here, Becky, I’m still laughing about the umpire story to where the question was asked, and I feel like asking myself this question too, and I’m going to ask you, Becky, and I’m going to ask everybody listening to the podcast, are you guys going to get any better or is this the best you’ve got? I mean, let’s-
Is this it?
Is this it? I mean, does it end here? Hey, I’m so excited to have you, Becky. Let me, before I go any further, I will get in trouble if I don’t mention my executive assistant, Kimberly. It’s her birthday today. So not only is it the first day of the year, Happy Birthday Kimberly. Thanks for all you do to help Maxwell Leadership. And Becky, it is great to start the year off with you as well. Let’s talk personal change.
I love that. And to you too, Mark. Happy New Year, and Happy New Year to everybody else. It’s amazing how we’re going to talk about positive change and we talk 2023 and I immediately want to be like, “No, I’m not ready. What are we doing? Make it stop. Let’s go backwards a little bit.” But that’s why we’re going to dig into personal change and getting adapted to that.
I’ve heard it said often the only guarantee in a leader’s life is that something’s going to change on a daily basis. And I think that we, as the podcast community, the Maxwell Leadership Podcast community, we certainly rally around leadership. No doubt it’s one of our iconic words, it’s one of our iconic focuses, but certainly every leader has a propensity to change, and here’s why. John teaches, we believe, that the only guarantee for a better tomorrow is change our growth today. And so growth institutes change, change ensures that we can become better, and so hey, I’m excited to start the year off with this and John did an incredible lesson today talking about change starting on the inside.
He always does. He makes everything sound so simple and it’s a talent of his. I would say most people when it comes to change wouldn’t put it in the simple category, but I guess it really depends on how you define change. I think there’s a lot of different definitions. Him recognizing change as growth might be an intentional decision to recognize change as growth. I think you and I probably know a lot of people that would assume change is… they attach it to fear or maybe they attach it to something exciting or they just attach it to it’s expected, it’s going to happen and kind of pack your bags and get ready to go all the time. But Mark, my question to you first off is how do you define change? How do you actually see it or recognize it in your life?
Well, I like to be positive in my perspective. I’m not necessarily always as positive as I would like, I certainly have to work on it, probably as many of our podcast listeners, but I see change, and this has been years of discipline in myself, I see change as improvement. I see change as opportunity. I see change as a chance to become something better. So I always equate change… and I know change can be disruptive, I’ve had those moments of having that perspective and even experienced disruptive change. I know change can feel, like you said earlier, very fear, very anxious about change.
But for me, any change, and a lot of times even in my family life or even in very personal things to me, change, very quickly after the change is recognized, we’re going to have to change, there’s some changes coming, very quickly, I’m able to, and I think this is all discipline, I’m able to adjust that and say, “Okay, what’s going to be the positive out of this change?” And again, I don’t think that that’s necessarily natural to me, although I have an optimistic bent to my personality. I certainly believe that it’s a muscle that we have to exercise within us a belief that change is going to bring about something positive, and in that positivity is a chance to grow and become better.
Yeah, I think that was really my next question was there has to be an aspect of that nature versus nurture when it comes to defining or putting it into a category of what change means in our life. And you and I have talked about this before, I moved a lot growing up, so change and adapting, it just wasn’t an option. It was something just from survival that had to happen. So I guess it took out the fear aspect for me. But in your life, do you feel like that came really more from that nurture aspect, like it was something that you intentionally worked on?
Yeah. Both of us, we’ve shared this a lot, even on the podcast, we both have a heritage of leadership that we were born into, and not only leadership but very public leadership. My family was always in a spotlight. My family was always dependent because of the roles that my father and my mother played. We always had this spotlight on how we were going to respond to the unexpected. And so I’ll be honest with you, I learned at an early age to publicly like what I personally hated, or personally lamented. I learned to put on a face that said, “Oh, this is change that is necessary for the growth of the organization my dad was leading for.” Or, “This is what’s required of me. I’m now older and I’m going to have to assume a leadership responsibility as well.” And early on for me in that whole nurture environment, I probably did some real faking, or posing, that I liked change.
But I will tell you this, I think also there’s a nature within me, because I do believe I have a leadership aptitude, that I didn’t even cultivate in some ways. I think it comes from family and just understanding that I was born to lead. Using John’s analogy, I have leadership tendencies, but I wasn’t born a leader, but I was born to lead. Well, I think that the longer that I have lived and the more that I lead, it literally, to this day, even if I think about leading in a new dimension of ownership, there’s really this appreciation to change that comes when you weather, when you sustain yourself through changes and you see the great results that happened because people willing to change. And so I don’t think I naturally was that way growing up, cause I remember posing, but I think the older that I’ve gotten, the more that I’ve seen in seasons how change makes a difference, there’s a greater appreciation, and I may even say anticipation, for changes that need to happen in a person and therefore in an organization.
Yeah, I think the value has been proven over time of recognizing what happens on the other side of those things. So let’s say you take a team, like our organization, how do you prepare, even those that have the leadership capabilities, how do you prepare them for change, to see the same things that you see and get excited about the overall vision of what that change will give you?
I love this question. I wish I did it right every time. I think the thing about change is the unpredictability of how the change is going to be received, embraced, and even participated in. So I don’t know that there’s even a good formula out there that says, “This is the way to take an organization through change.” But let me tell you some things that have happened recently that I think would give us a type of formula, if you will, or a practice. I think when you are announcing changes, most recently I felt like there was some change of focus, some change of energy that we needed to have in our organization, and the first thing that I did was go on a fact finding mission. I went into each of the departments, or each of the teams of our organization, and I found out what it was like to be on the other side of leadership.
Now you’ve heard John say one of his favorite questions to ask people that are close to him is, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” Well, as a leader of an organization, I like to say, “What’s it like to be on the other side of my leadership?” What I like is asking the question, what I don’t like sometime is the answer. It was not always flowers and sunshine, trust me on that. But what I loved about that process, Becky, and you were a part of this obviously, when we asked the question, “What’s it like to be on the other side of our leadership?” the facts, the statistics, the depth of things that needed to be addressed became much more tangible than intuitive. It became much more substantive than guesswork. And so I think the first thing I would say in leading change in an organization is get as factual as possible.
And the best place to get factual is the people that’s going to be impacted by the perceived, or soon to be announced, changes. What’s it like to be on the other side of me today? Because for the next little while it’s going to be even harder because we’re going through some changes. The second thing that I always try to do is put a human element to the change. Now here’s what I mean by that. I try to, as much as possible, realize the potential impact at a personal level that it’s going to have on people that did not get to speak into the decision that precipitated the change. So I get really human. I go, “Okay, I found the facts. These are the things that’s going to have to change. Now the change is starting to get clear to me, but before I implement it, now I put a human element as a second step.”
And in that human element, now I’m going to go to people that are going to be most impacted and I’m going to have meetings before the meetings. I’m going to go, “Hey, I’m getting ready to do some changes.” Most recently I cut out all the travel in my schedule for the first quarter of 2023, and I’m loving it by the way. I started in December, it’s now January, and I loved it. I’m loving it. I’m close to my team, I’m much more engaged. Well, when I first was ready to announce that, I called a leadership meeting, going to have this leadership meeting where I say, “Hey guys, I’m coming off the road.” Before I did that, there was a meeting coming up with transformation work with our foundation in Papua New Guinea. So even before I had the leadership meeting, I realized if I let George Hoskins, the leader of our nonprofit, here with all the other leaders that I’m getting ready to come off the road, he’s going to freak out because I have a lot of responsibility one week from the announcement in Papua New Guinea.
So, on a Tuesday night, I call George and I say, “George, this is what I’m thinking. This is what I’m going to announce. What do you think?” He gave me some feedback. Then the next day I had a meeting with all of my leaders, let them know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, what’s going on. I put a human element to George Hoskins that I didn’t put with the rest of my leadership team, because George had something right around the corner that this announcement was really going to impact him and his part of the organization. So that human element is step two. The third thing is now beginning to work with a team of people on what’s going to happen as a desired outcome from that change. Too many people… you’ve worked with them, Becky, too many people want to implement change for the sake of implementing change.
You’ve seen the new leaders that come into an organization and they go, “Okay, everything was working great, but let me tell you what’s going to change.” Well that’s just an ego. That’s just somebody that’s wanting to change for the sake of change. I have found great leaders create very clear outcomes, expectations of what is expected by the change that we’re going through. So anticipate the outcomes, and then fourth is communicate the change from a contextual standpoint. This is where we were, this is what we found out with the facts, this is how it’s going to impact our people, but this is why we’ve got to do the change and this is what we expect when we do the change. And when you’ll go through that process, not every time, because every change is a little bit different in its dynamic, but I think you’ll have a lot more success when you go through those steps.
Yeah, I agree. And you and I are just knee deep in everything personal growth right now. So from our Maxwell Leadership app, to the growth plan, to all of books and events and everything going on, it’s been interesting to really dive into John’s teachings and to see your curriculum and everything that you guys have created together. But I would say in preparing yourself for growth there’s an intentional action around putting yourself in uncomfortable situations to build that muscle, callouses, whatever you want to call it, that helps become more adaptable. Instead of resisting it all the time, you adapt to it, you make the best of it, you’re able to look back at situations and always find what was great about it, even if it was painful or hard.
I was giving our dear friend Lane Jones a hard time, who is just an amazing leader and we love working with her, but we were in Florida and she came in at one of our meetings and had, I was teasing her, it was swag, but it was all the medals from a marathon that she had run at Disney World. And still to this day, I look at people that run marathons and just think, “Wait, there’s got to be a piece of just a masochist in there. You love to be in pain or you love to put yourself in hard situations.” But what I do know from an overall picture is the sense of challenge and the sense of accomplishment, and you are… that’s next level. You’re willing to put yourself in a place that’s so physically, emotionally draining because of what you can prove to yourself in the meantime. So talk to us about making intentional steps in 2023 for our own personal growth.
One of my greatest passions and disciplines, to be honest with you, so I’m very passionate about it, which helps with the idea that it can only happen with a lot of discipline, is what I call my year end review. It’s a retreat that I have with myself. And so I’m just coming off of that, which means I’m buzzing. I mean, I’ve got a clear personal path, I’ve got a clear path that if I focus on that personal development is going to impact the main categories, the main areas of my life. And I would go… now, number one, it’s early January, you’re listening to this, you still have time to go and get this year on track.
But I believe that all’s well that begins well. And what that means to me in the area of personal growth is I have to have, every single year, a very intentional track, a very intentional set of outcomes that I am expecting and a very intentional plan to impact and grow and change the five key areas of my life. Well, professional is one of those, but I have found I’m a much better professional leader when I am focused on how I am leading myself first. And I would challenge all of us. I mean, it’s almost laughable the amount of people that joined a gym late December or are joining a gym right now this week when this podcast. It’s almost laughable, at the same time, it’s awesome.
And I know some of you have probably done it every year for the last 10 years. And who knows, maybe this year will be just like the last nine and you’ll fall off and be unexcited three weeks from now. But maybe not. Maybe this is the year that’s different for you. See, I found too many people that because of past failures or past disappointments, they resist change in the future. And I can guarantee you this, 100% of the let’s call it goals, or 100% of the New Year’s resolutions that don’t get set will be unmet. I promise you. That’s not a University of Tennessee or Georgia or Harvard study. It’s just common sense. If you don’t set a goal, if you don’t set an aspiration, you can guarantee the fact you will not meet it, because it’s not set. That’s why I would challenge anybody, “I don’t want change. I don’t like change. I’ve been unaffected with change. Change has always been something that I was not good at,” change anyway.
Set a goal to change anyway. Set a New Year’s resolution anyway. I don’t care if it’s the 15th year, set it again because if you ever give up and don’t set that objective, you can be certain you’re going to not get it. But this might be the year for some of you that you set an objective to read a book, to focus on your personal development, to join the Maxwell Leadership Growth App. Shameless plug, you need to go to your app store and get the Maxwell Leadership Growth app. This might be the year, this might be the tool that really will create that change and by being resistant to change, you are ensuring that you’ll never change. So take a step, do it again, 10th time, 15th time, and then always I believe that passion and commitment to lean forward and put yourself in a posture or a position to change will make the difference.
Yeah. And I love the positivity as far as… and you always have it, Mark. Whenever I’m low on positivity, I just have to call Mark and he will just inject us with positivity. But I would say just the aspect of not just there is a chance, to quote one of the worst movies or best depending on who you are, Dumb and Dumber, but, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.” One in a million, there’s still a chance. But in that aspect, one of my favorite quotes from Benjamin Franklin is, “When you are finished changing, you are finished.”
And so the idea that… I mean here we are, 2023, we are just beginning. I mean you can close chapters, you can open new ones, you can have this fresh zest on life and possibilities and know that every day is new. I mean, it is such a great time to ask yourself, “What is my plan for growth?” And if you don’t have one, we do. Come along with us and actually learn how to intentionally grow yourself and watch the world around you change. Which brings us back to one of our favorite books as well, Change Your World. I mean sometimes it’s not possible to change the entire world, but you can definitely change your world. I think you and I are living proof of that.
Well, and it’s interesting because John… and I’m holding the book up for our YouTube viewers, when John wrote this book, it was a real intentional effort to begin to put a formula around significance. John for years has taught there’s a distinction between success and significance, and in teaching that he’s talked about that success is what happens to you, significance is what happens through you. He’s made statements like, “Once you taste significance, success will never satisfy.” When we wrote this book, and we really brought a team of people around John, it was with this realization that the world is changing, but leadership is not changing with it. Leadership is trying to stay very focused on their agenda, focused on their political party, focused on their religious flavor or their religious preference.
And yet the world around is changing and there’s not a tribe of leaders that are catching the vision that we’ve got to go back and build on the basics of leadership, which is all about valuing others, which is all about putting others first, which is all about killing our agenda as the leader and making the agenda the people’s agenda. All stuff that we don’t see modeled very much. And it was that passion behind John that he said, “I’m going to write this book about change your world.” And again, for our YouTube viewers, I’m holding this up. It’s a little small book. I’m going to give you a way to get a discount on it in just a moment. But in this book, he opens it up with this statement. He says that, “Hope has two beautiful daughters.”
“Hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage. Anger at the way things are, courage to do something about it.” And I would just ask you on a personal level, before you ever go global, just let’s go micro for a minute. Are you tired of last year’s performance? Are you tired of the last five years feeling like you’re starting the year off at the same place you’ve been starting the last little bit? It may be time to pull hope into your life in the form of hope’s daughter, anger. Just get frustrated with yesterday’s lack of success. For some of you, you’re on it, you got it, and it may be time for you to engage with hope’s other daughter of courage, the ability, the commitment to do something about it. We all look at ourselves and say, “We want change.” John talked about that at the beginning. You say, “I want change. I want change,” then when change comes, you go, “Ah, I didn’t want change.”
Well, I’m going to tell you, it’s going to take some courage for some of you to step out, to get out of the comfort zone, to put yourself first before all those others around you that are depleting you, you may need to put some restorative things, some restorative plans, some ways to make yourself better in an intentional plan to become better. One of the ways you can do that is change your world. John’s going to give you a path forward in this book that will help you not only be successful on the inside, but will help you pursue significance for those around you. In fact, if you’ll go to the show notes, we’ll put a link in there you can use. When you click that link, you can use the promo code podcast and we’ll give you 15% discount on that.
I also will put in the show notes a reminder that you need to download the Maxwell Leadership Growth app. Here’s why. Some of it’s free, you’ve got some paid stuff too, but here’s my point. What are you doing to ensure growth in your life, to ensure change that will lead to growth? And if you don’t have a quick answer to that, borrow somebody else’s answer. That’s what I did, Becky, when I was asked, “Hey, what’s your growth plan?” 23 years ago, I was asked, “What’s your growth plan?” And I went, “I don’t have one. Do you have a template?” I borrowed somebody else; her name was Sharon Burchum. I borrowed Sharon Burchum’s template to create my first growth plan. I didn’t know how to create my own growth plan. Some of you don’t know how to. Well, we’ve got a built-in solution for your excuse. It’s called the Maxwell Growth App.
And I just want to challenge us today, and Becky, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this, I hate that we’re out of time, but I do want to challenge you to understand what John said at the very beginning of this lesson, “Change starts with you.” It starts with you. It is something that you’re going to have to put in practice, put in place. We gave you a couple of tools in the show notes. I certainly hope you’ll take advantage of that. Hey, let me finish like I always like to do with a listener comment or question. By the way, if you are new to the podcast because you decided your New Year’s resolution was going to be to start listening to some leadership, welcome. Stay a while. We will continue to work hard to add value to you. Jump on wherever you listen to the podcast. If it’s YouTube jump in. Give us comments on how we’re doing.
If you can rank us and we’re doing a good job, give us a five star, if we’re not tell us why because we want to be a five star solution for you. But let’s go right here to Vance. I love Vance’s comment today. In fact, he listened to the podcast How to Handle Resistance. We’ll put that in the show notes for those of you that have not heard that episode. But here’s what Vance said. He said, “This podcast helped me extensively. I was under the impression that I was doing something wrong. The podcast allowed me to see that a leader must embrace resistance, reinforce the message to your team, and then get started.” In other words, Vance said don’t quietly quit. And isn’t it true? That’s what so many people are doing now is the quiet quit is happening. But I want to challenge you like Vance does. Lean in, lean into this podcast family. Let’s go make powerful, positive change because everyone deserves to be led well.