Maxwell Leadership Podcast: A Winner’s Mindset (Part 1)
Anybody else out there find it hard to believe January is already over? When time seems to fly like this, it often makes us pause and reflect and ask, “Did I spend that time the way I wanted to?” It reminds us that we need to spend every day with the mindset of a leader––the mindset of a winner. So, today, we’re starting a new two-part series that focuses on “A Winner’s Mindset.”
This is a lesson in which John Maxwell shares 6 thoughts that winners keep in mind every day. These thoughts will help you maintain a big picture mindset and help you remember the most important part about leadership––valuing others. After John’s lesson, Mark Cole is joined by one of the biggest winners we know, Traci Morrow. They discuss John’s points and offer some application to help you apply these principles to your own life and leadership.
Our BONUS resource for this series is the “Winner’s Mindset Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.
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Read The Transcript
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, I’m the CEO of Maxwell Leadership.
Does anyone else out there find It’s hard to believe that January of 2023 is already over? When time seems to fly like this, it often makes me pause and reflect. How am I doing? I have a life plan. I have a plan for 2023. I slow down in moments like this and I say, “How am I doing according to plan? How did I spend my time in January and was it spent in the way I wanted to?” It reminds me that I need to spend every day with the mindset of a leader. I would say the mindset of a winner. So today I thought we’d start a new two-part series that focuses on a winner’s mindset.
This is a lesson in which John Maxwell shares six thoughts that winners keep in mind each and every day. These thoughts will help you maintain a big picture mindset and help you remember the most important part about leadership, which we believe is valuing others. After John’s lesson, I will be joined by one of the biggest winners I know, Traci Morrow. You love her. I love her. She and I are going to discuss John’s points and offer some application that will help you apply these principles not only to your life, but to your leadership.
If you would like to download this episode’s bonus resource, which that is a fill in the blank PDF that will go along with John’s lesson, just go to maxwellpodcast.com/winner. Click the bonus resource button and follow along with John. You can also watch this episode on YouTube by visiting maxwellpodcast.com/youtube. Now, okay winner, get ready, here is John Maxwell.
Well, what I’m going to give you today are six thoughts that I promise you that if you can do more than just think on them, you can apply them to your life, they will take you to the top. There are many thoughts that’ll take you to the top, certainly more than six, but the reason I’m sharing these six with you is these thoughts have taken me and have allowed me to grow and advance in my life.
Number one, it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. That’s the first thought. It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden said that, the great basketball coach for many years at the UCLA Bruins. But I know a lot of people that after they have been doing their business for a period of time, they quit learning. They quit growing. Here’s what I know. Leadership is developed, not discovered. We’re way too mystical about leadership. We’re always wanting to discover a leader. Quit trying to discover a leader or quit trying to discover a way to be a leader and just start developing as leader. My friend Rick Warren says, ‘The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.”
20 years ago, I used to teach that leaders are quick to change and followers are slow to change. I said I’ve changed my thought on that. I don’t think that leaders are any quicker to make changes in their lives than followers unless it’s their idea. In fact, here’s what I believe. I believe that leaders are slower to embrace change than followers unless it’s their idea because most leaders, when they see change coming and it’s not their idea, they become protective of their turf and want to make sure nothing takes away their power or their ego strokes or whatever. Woo.
The second thought that’ll take you to the top, don’t let anyone steal your dream. Now, the reason I say don’t let anyone steal your dream is here’s what I know. If you have a dream… Let me stop here for a moment. Let me tell you what you can go to the bank on. If you have a dream, you can go to the bank on this statement, somebody will come and try to steal it from you. Somebody will try to rob you of the joy of the dream. Somebody will try to poke holes in it. Somebody will try to let the air out of the balloon. I promise you, there are these dream busters. They just run around. They think it’s their calling. Because they can never succeed, they think it’s their calling to cause you to fail. They’re not the wind beneath your wings. They’re the anchor on your boat. These dream busters will try to steal your dream.
All of my life, I’ve had to fight for my dream. My friend Bob Beal one time said, “Dreams are very fragile. They’re like bubbles that are floating in the air very close to jagged rocks. It just takes a wind and they’ll just burst.” I promise you, somebody’s going to come along and they’re just going to try to bust the dream. And that’s why Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have courage to pursue them.” Wow.
What kind of a person comes and steals your dream? Let me give you four kinds of people that steal your dreams. First of all, cop-outs. People that just cop-out on life, they’re quitting over everything. Quitters. Cop-outs. Secondly, burnouts. The people that have burned out themselves. And since they’ve fizzled, they think you should too. Thirdly, a strikeouts. They just go up and strike out, and so they want you too. And thirdly are dropouts. You got to watch out for those four kind of people.
Listen to me. Here’s what you got to do. Hang around far lighters, not firefighters. Hang around people that’ll help light the fire, ignite the fire in you and get you going. We’ve talked about two thoughts that’ll get you at the top. One, it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. And number two is don’t let anyone steal your dream. Let me give you thought number three. You can spend your life any way that you want to, but you can only spend it once. That’s a tremendous thought. You can spend your life any way you want to. You can run your own life. You can run it in the ground. You can run to the top. You can do anything you want to with your life. You call the shots, you’re the coach. There’s no problem there, but can I tell you something? All I want you to know is you can do anything you want to in this life, and all I want you to know is you only get one.
I have a quote in there for you. “The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use that we make of them. A man may live long yet live very little.” Think about these four things while you’re spending your life. Number one, purpose. The second thing to think upon while you’re spending your life is today, because today is my opportunity to use this gift. Today is when I can dispense of this gift. Three is tomorrow. Think about tomorrow because that’s going to be my gift to mankind. What I do for tomorrow. The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. Number four is potential, and most of us exchange our lifetime for much too little.
Personal Growth Day:
Hey, podcast listeners, how would you like to be equipped with the tools to continue your personal growth and refine your strengths and weaknesses all while being surrounded by other growth-minded leaders like yourself? You may have heard of Personal Growth Day. For our second time ever, Maxwell Leadership is hosting this one day event on March 13th in Orlando, Florida. This event is designed to dig deeper into who you are and how you tick so that you can become the best version of yourself. If you’re unable to attend Personal Growth Day in person, we also offer virtual access to the event. If you would like to participate in a one of a kind experience and stand shoulder to shoulder with growing leaders who will sharpen your skills and equip you to create powerful positive impact, go to maxwellleadership.com/personalgrowthday to learn more or get your ticket. We’ll see you there.
Hey, welcome back. I hope as you heard John talk about this today, I hope you begin to see yourself like Traci and I see you. I hope you started filling that winner’s mindset, that ability to believe better things for 2023. I’ve heard it said often, I don’t even know who to give the quote to, but I love this quote. It says, “Your leadership will only be as good as your mindset.” Traci, I’ve got a chance to spend a lot of time. We’ve traveled with John and our team around the world. And truly, I watch you deliver every time I meet you, this winner’s mindset. So I’m looking forward to it. I’m so glad you’re with me today. And boy, I appreciate these three points that John gave us today.
I do too. Thank you for that compliment. I don’t know all the time if I feel like a winner, but I definitely try to have a winner’s mindset. And this lesson definitely helps us all to have a winner’s mindset. And so I just kind of want to dive right in, Mark, if you don’t mind. First of all, I just want to say I wish I was in the room with you.
Sending you a hug.
Hey. Hey, virtual hug. For those of you watching YouTube, and by the way, you all want to go over and join us on YouTube, but most of the time Traci recently has been flying all the way from Denver to be in the studio with me, and I miss you today. But hey, I’m excited of what you get to do there with your family and what you’re getting to do with your community.
Virtual hug works this time. I’ll see you in studio next time though.
Next time, that’s for sure. Okay, so he starts out saying that it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. I think that’s worth pausing on just for a moment because that’s a big statement. And so I’m curious for you, did you always have a growth mindset or was there a time where you thought in your life… This is kind of a two part question. Was there always a time where you thought, or was there ever a time where you thought you felt like you knew it all and you had this aha moment that you knew just this time… fraction of what there was to know? And then second part would be, how would a leader move from that “Oh, I’ve got this down mentality” to, “Wow, there is so much to learn”?
Because I think in that little moment where you realize it, that you feel like you’re at the top of the mountain and then you realize it’s just this little [inaudible 00:11:23] and the mountain is still… There’s still so much to climb. What is that mindset shift as a winner with a winner mentality, to like, “Wow, there is still so much more to learn”?
So let me start with the second question because I think the second answer that I have will lead to the first answer that I have.
And so I will tell you, I don’t know how people learn that they don’t know at all until they join the school of hard knocks. I know for me, to your question, I’ve always felt this passion to grow, I’ve always felt this passion to lead. I didn’t call it leadership as a five and six-year old little boy, but it eventually made sense that leadership is what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like I’ve always felt I got a great gift from my parents that I was pretty decent with relationships.
But I’ll tell you, in both of those areas that I’ve always had a passion to grow in relationship and leadership development, it’s the school of hard knocks that made me realize I didn’t know it all. And it really came the hard knocks, the life’s difficult circumstances that I went through both relationally and then at another time, leadership, was always when I was feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, I was doing good. In fact, just ask me, I was doing really good. And then everything came to a screeching halt.
I’m thinking now of a relationship failure and a relation relationship mess up that I had that I just felt like I had it all together, only to discover I didn’t know anything compared to what I needed to know. I went through a long process of learning things relationally that I still draw from that moment, Traci, that John’s talking about here. It’s what you learn after you know it all that matters. I still to this day pull from that moment that I learned so much after I thought I knew it all.
Certainly that’s true in leadership too, Traci, in that I’ve had 10 promotions in Maxwell Leadership. 10 promotions, 10 opportunities to grow, 10 opportunities to lead differently, 10 opportunities to hopefully undo what I’d messed up in the previous opportunity. Sometimes I wonder if they promoted me to see if I could do something a little better than I did the last time rather than I had earned it. Because these radical changes, these radical promotions always demonstrate to me what I thought I knew so much in the previous assignment, I only find out that I have so much to learn in the new assignment.
I believe my attractiveness perhaps to be promoted relied on my hunger to learn. Pat Lencioni says it like this, “You got to be hungry, humble, and smart to be an ideal team player.” I think that hunger comes when you realize that you didn’t know it all. I believe that’s where true humility and true hunger comes from. I remember John says this, he says, “Boy, I know less now than what I knew at 2025. But what I do know, I’m more certain on.” And I would tell you, Traci, my biggest takeaway from this point with John, I’ve become more certain these days. We started out this whole lesson saying January is already done and times flying. I’m going to tell you this, the older I get, the more time flies, the more I realize how little I do know, which puts a posture of hunger, learning, and an appetite to be coached more than I’ve ever been in my life. I desire to be coached by things like podcast, mentoring relationships, conversations like you and I are having right now, Traci.
I love it. And I want to highlight there what John has said for so long based on what you just said, “Failure is a part of success. Failure is not the opposite of success. And you learned those lessons from a failure when you extracted the lesson and kept going on.” Before I move to point number two, I just want to highlight when John said leadership is developed, not discovered, I want to encourage all of our podcast listeners, that means everyone can be a leader. That doesn’t mean there is the needle in the haystack leader out there that we just have to find them and there’s only one born every 10 years. It’s every person can be a leader developed, we don’t have to wait to discover them. So I think that’s a point worth mentioning here to encourage all of you who are listening. If you feel like, “Well, I’m not really a leader,” you can absolutely be a leader developed as long as you continue to keep learning.
Okay, point number two. I think this is a big one. From both sides, don’t let anyone steal your dream. I think every person who has a dream deep inside of them who has ever expressed it to someone, maybe you are listening and you are feeling discouraged, podcast listener, because you have shared your dream with the people close to you and they have maybe been a dream buster to you. They have maybe squelched that for you. So Mark, I’m just curious, what if a leader is surrounded by dream busters or what if they’re listening to this and they’re realizing, “Gosh, I kind of counted myself as a realist, but what I’m recognizing as John is listing off some of the descriptions that maybe I am a dream buster”? And so maybe somebody who’s listening, can you encourage them? Maybe they’re looking for somebody they don’t have anybody really to encourage them in their life and grows.
Well. Yeah, I can, Traci. And I love how you position this. Let me say this. If you really have a big dream, prepare yourself that you’re going to have some busters around you. You’re going to have some cop-outs, you’re going to have some burnouts, you’re going to have some strikeouts. You’re going to have some dropouts. Because the bigger the dream, the harder it is to find a team that will pursue the dream with you. So just know the bigger your dream, the more you need to really discover what Traci’s asking here. “What do I do when I’m surrounded by people that are not buying into my dream? In fact, I find them really more discouraging my dream than encouraging my dream.”
The first thing that I would tell you, hey, is you’re not alone. That’s all of us. There are times right now in my dreams and what I’m pushing for and what I’m pursuing that I’ll look around and feel so isolated, so lonely. In fact, it goes back to I love this being the first podcast of February in a brand new year, because by now you are the subject of New Year’s resolution denial. In fact, you go, “Did I ever suggest that? Did I really join that gym?” I mean, you know all the routine we all go through by February is to say, “Was that really a dream or was that just indigestion?” I mean, what were we dealing-
“We’ll get it next year.”
Yes, exactly. “We’ll get it next year.” And I want to challenge you. One month into this year, I want to challenge you to go back and really challenge yourself to say, “Why am I coming up short in my dream already 30 days in? Why am I coming up short in this dream that I keep chasing and it’s not happening for me? What is the reason?”
And I’ll tell you, Traci, I believe that really there’s probably two or three reasons. John has 10 reasons in his book, Put Your Dream to the Test. He deals with it in this book Today Matters, we’ll talk more about that book in just a moment. But I think it really comes to, do you own the dream? It comes to a question of ownership. Did you really count the cost and say, “No matter the cost, I’m going to do it”?
I think the second reason is we haven’t given the dream time. We’re impatient. Now, this is not you, Traci. This is just me. But I can speak for John Maxwell too. There’s a level of impatience. If it’s not, we didn’t have ownership, it’s we don’t have patience to give the dream the time to work. In other words, you’re well on your way and you’re too close to the journey that you can’t see the destination. You can’t see the journey, but you’re in it. Or you can’t see the goal line, but you’re in it and you’re doing fine. Encourage yourself, you’re good.
I think the third reason, and I’ll take a minute to talk about this one, I think it’s environment. And I think that’s what John’s talking about with this particular point. He says there’s cop-outs, burnouts, strikeouts, dropouts. I think that really goes to environment. Who are you surrounding yourself with that will help you accelerate the journey you’re taking towards your dream? I know for me, for years I surrounded myself with people that felt like the environment I in I was in was the biggest environment I would ever experience. They were not dream enhancers. They were dream limiters.
I then joined John Maxwell’s team at 30 years of age. And I can tell you, over the last 20 plus years, the growth acceleration that I’ve had is not because my dream was any bigger. My dream is still too big for me to chase, too big for me to accomplish. It’s really probably not because of patience, because after 23 years you would think maybe some advancement would come, and certainly it has for me, 10 plus advancements, 10 plus new opportunities, but I’ll tell you, the single-handed greatest opportunity, the greatest contributor to my dream realization has been the environment that I’ve been in. Constantly around people like you, Traci. Constantly in environments like you podcast listener listening to this podcast. I have put myself into environments that would challenge me, that would edify me, and that would stretch me beyond my own thinking.
One of the things, Traci, you and I’ll be doing together on March the 13th in Orlando is an international Growth Day designed to create an environment for you to grow. Traci, we were there just six months ago and it challenged us like crazy. We’ll be back there next month, March the 13th, and it’s going to challenge us. In fact, I wanted today, I wanted to make this available to you. I mean, we’re talking about John Maxwell will be speaking at this event. Valorie Burton. Incredible communicator on resilience. Patrick Lencioni will be their live and in person.
In fact, there’s two ways, podcast listeners, we’re going to make this available to you. You can come in person and meet Traci and I finally. You’ve been listening to us, you’ve been following us, you’ve been correcting us. I mean, you’ve been upleveling us. You’ve been doing all that. I want you to come meet. Traci and I both will be there in Orlando on March the 13th. Or you can listen or you can be a part of this entire event virtually. We have an in-person option, we have a virtual option. I just want my podcast family with me because you need to have a personal growth environment. If you will go to maxwellleadership.com/personalgrowthday, you’ll find both the in-person option, you’ll find the virtual option. In fact, we’ve got some VIP options to where you can get greater access to some of the communicators of the day. It is going to be a day filled with multiple people, not just John, Valorie and Pat. It’s going to be multiple people that will be a part of that. You’ll find more at maxwellleadership.com/personalgrowthday.
But Traci, coming back to this point that John made, I believe of all the things, ownership, patience, I believe the biggest thing that has contributed to my realization of my dream has been my environment. I mean, think about it. If I had not joined John’s team, and I’m not trying to be hokey right here, if I had not joined John’s team 23 years ago, about 10, 12 years ago, I wouldn’t have got a chance to meet you. We wouldn’t have got a chance to be guides together in Maxwell’s Growth Environment, the app. We wouldn’t have got to share stages like we will on March the 13th. I have constantly been exposed to greater thinking, greater possibility, and greater people because of the environment that I’ve put myself in.
Same. And I think of that. I think so many times people look at somebody on a podcast or on a stage or in a leadership position and they think they don’t understand the steps that they got there. Truly. For you and I, it’s just a matter of taking learning steps. Two regular people who just leaned in ferociously for growth. John says, “Those who start with you won’t necessarily end with you.” Sometimes that’s letting go of people who are dream busters because you’re moving forward and they just want to tear away your dreams because they’re working through their own stuff for whatever reasons. But sometimes that means they just stopped growing and learning.
And for me, I never wanted to be somebody who was less behind. I wanted to be somebody who was growing right along, trying to keep up with the people who were growing and leading me towards more growth. And you’re someone who’s that person for me, Mark. I mean, I see you growing. And I don’t want to be left behind. I want to be hanging onto your tails as you’re hanging onto John’s tails as we are learning and being pulled into that next level of growth.
And let me say this, Traci. Not to interrupt you, but let me say this on that point.
Again, you guys know my story. I’ve told you in podcast that I run multimillion dollar companies. Traci does as well. We’ve got teams of thousands that are depending on us to make good leadership decisions every single day. You know where I’m going to be on Growth Day? I’m going to be upfront right beside you, Traci, with a pen and a pad and learning, because the most important thing I can do that day is the most important thing I can do today, and that is grow myself to be prepared for tomorrow’s opportunities and tomorrow’s challenges.
And so you never get too old. You never get too advanced. You never have a promotion that then disqualifies you from needing to focus on personal growth. And so that’s a winner’s mindset. Yesterday’s victory is tomorrow’s challenge if you don’t set out to make a victory again. One final little thing. I’m a big Georgia Bulldog fan. Go Dogs! We just won the national championship again. I could not go another podcast without congratulating myself as the best Georgia fan ever. However, let me tell you this right here.
You did a great job to win, Mark. You did a great job.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Forgive my lack of humility here, but let me do say this. What has happened at Georgia is what needs to happen in your life. You need to create a winning environment that will challenge you to go out every single time with a commitment to win. And again, that starts with the environment.
That’s right. Okay, so we have just a couple minutes left and I would like to just touch on number three because it’s such an important point. “We get to spend our life any way we want to,” he says, “but we only get to spend it once.” And that is such an important, powerful statement. It makes me think of a good friend that you and I both have. His name is Doug Fitzgerald. He’s written a book called OneShot. OneLife. This mentality that John has is like, having one shot at every day that we live as a leader, every time that we have a conversation with somebody, every time that we interact with the people that we lead.
I was just looking at the lists that he said then the ways that we spend our life of purpose and thinking about today and tomorrow and potential. I was thinking, Mark, as you are contemplating the fact that we have one shot, one chance to spend on each and every day, how do leaders tend to sabotage their influence in these areas of their purpose and thinking about today and their potential? And how can they reclaim their purpose and today and tomorrow and their potential? What is the mindset of a winner that they need to get into to think about reclaiming their influence on their purpose and today and tomorrow and their potential?
Well, it’s so interesting because as John was teaching that a few moments ago, I was sitting here thinking about leading during the best of times, and for my life, some of the most challenging times. So I believe every leader has to deal with… I was listening to a world renowned communicator. If I called his name, you would know it. But I was listening to a lesson from him early this morning about how to grow your influence. In that, he began to share how oftentimes we allow the current reality to stop us from the current reality. Here’s what he meant. There are difficult times that we’re all going to go through, but the difficulty really should shape us for a better tomorrow. In other words, today’s challenges really is a setup for tomorrow’s accomplishment. And too often I miss the best of times because I’m too worried about the challenge that I’m going through, which then makes me speed through the joy of today’s accomplishment and anticipation for tomorrow’s opportunity or accomplishment or challenge.
I think a winner’s mindset realizes the power of the moment, realizes the significance of right now accomplishment. The power of learning and experience today, what will set you up for tomorrow. And too many of us leaders, we can’t enjoy today’s win because we’re too worried about tomorrow’s foe, tomorrow’s adversary, tomorrow’s difficulty. And we lose the moment and therefore we walk into tomorrow with more dread about the challenge we’re going to face than carrying today’s momentum of a win that will minimize the challenge of tomorrow.
So we don’t capitalize on the win of today from a mindset standpoint because us leaders are too forward facing. We’re too tomorrow focused. If we can figure out a way to be in the moment of today’s win, tomorrow’s challenge will be minimized because of the winning perspective, the winning mindset that we develop today during the accomplishment.
And I’m right now, I mean just last year, we celebrated some tremendous wins. And rather than letting those wins carry me through the next day or the next opportunities challenge, I was already moving from the win, in the middle of the win and embracing the challenge. And leaders, let me just tell you, your greatest challenge is between your ears. It’s not the things that come from without. You have the capacity to deal with the challenges that come from without if you can settle your mindset within. If you can challenge yourself, “I’m going to walk into this challenge with a declaration that I am a winner already. Because I won yesterday, I can win tomorrow,” and that helps me focus and keep that mindset where it needs to be.
Absolutely. I just think ending on that statement that he quoted, “The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use of the way we make them.” And that’s the challenge to our podcast listeners, that’s the challenge to myself, that’s the challenge to all of us, is what are we doing with each of our days?
Well, it’s best illustrated by our listener comment today. And I love to highlight our listeners. It’s one of my favorite parts of what we do week in and week out. For those of you that watch YouTube, leave us a comment. For those of you that listen to a podcast on your favorite player, take a moment and give us a comment. Let us know how we’re doing, number one, but let us know what you’re learning, how you’re growing.
Today, back to your point, Traci, it comes from Cassia. She listened to the podcast Three Words that Enhance Continual Learning. We’ll put that in the show notes. Hey, I’ll tell you what, we’ll put the link to maxwellleadership.com/personalgrowthday in the show notes. And I’m just going to go ahead and say it, Traci, today matters really shaped John’s teaching. We’re going to make this available in the show notes as well and we’ll give you a 15% discount.
But I want to go back to Cassia because here’s what she says. She said, “I love the podcast. I commute three hours a day for work, and I listen often.” Cassia, I got you. When I started with John 23 years ago, my commute was three hours, three hours and 20 minutes sometimes depending on Atlanta traffic, and I consumed Maxwell content the whole time. So Cassia, you’re making a great decision. She says, “Sometimes the listening to the podcast is for my development, and other times it’s for encouragement because I know I messed up and I know I’m on my way in a journey of becoming a level five legacy based leader.” Cassia, that’s a winner’s mindset. “Yes. I messed up. Yes, I had a challenge, but I know I’m on my way to level five legacy leadership.” And Cassia, you just brought home the point that John, Traci, and I are trying to bring today because leaders bring about powerful, positive change. It starts in the mind. And we do it so that we can help others win because everyone deserves to be led well.
1 thought on "Maxwell Leadership Podcast: A Winner’s Mindset (Part 1)"
These teachings are life changing. they help me evaluate my life and actions as a leader every time. this keeps me on truck and encourages me, gives wisdom and direction on how to deal with challenges i in life and at work. Thank John Maxwel. Always grateful for the wisdom you share.