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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #82: Perspective – Turning Adversity into Opportunity

April 8, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #82: Perspective – Turning Adversity into Opportunity

In the midst of an adversity crisis, we can find opportunity. It’s all about the power perspective! In Episode #82 of our podcast, Chris Goede and Perry Holley will let you hear John C. Maxwell’s thoughts on perspective, then discuss from the trenches how they are leading through today’s global crisis, applying John’s principles each day.

As we continue to assess and reflect on this new reality, self-assessments are a valuable tool for leaders to learn more about themselves and reflect on new opportunities.

Download our Learning Guide for this podcast!


Hello, and welcome to the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast. I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach. And I’m here as usual with my colleague and friend Chris Goede, Vice President with Hello. Welcome to the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast Hi, Chris. Welcome. Well, thanks, Perry, I am excited to be with you again. And once again, you’re on some type of resort location, a different level and actually this is our family conference room. We have our family meetings in your state office and I’m here in the bunker.  

Hey, we’re excited to be with you again. One of the things Perry and I have decided to do with our podcasts and our time with you is we’ve decided to kind of take a little bit of a break from our current pattern. We’ve had and figure out how can we add value to you in the current time that we’re going through, the uncertainty of our business world and of the market. This crisis that some call it that we’re in. And so one of the things we wanted to do is to let you hear a little bit from John, as well as just give you some application of how Perry and I are leading through this, as we both lead different teams and what it’s like for us on the front lines or in the trenches of applying some of John’s principles. So what we’re going to do today is we’re going to actually let you hear from John, and a couple of weeks ago, he did a virtual Leadership Summit. And man, I’m here to tell you over three days, the reach was almost a million people. He had an average of 350,000 people per day that were listening to him in his message. And so we’re going to talk a little bit about perspective today. John’s going to hit on this look, let him talk for a couple of minutes and then Perry and I will be right back with you and talk about how This applies to our world.

Good things come out of bad things. If you have the right perspective, if you have the wrong perspective, that’s not true. If here’s the quote, how we view things is how we do things. So it’s possible for two people to view adversity and have two different responses to that adversity. One takes adversity and turns it into an advantage. And the other one takes adversity and says, Oh, I’m at a disadvantage. And I’m a victim, and they just basically lay down, and instead of getting better, they get worse. Let me give you an example. Albert Einstein, there was a brilliant fellow. Albert Einstein, Einstein said this, in the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity. Now, I’ve loved that statement for quite some time, and I share it with you because I think there’s something very interesting in what Albert Einstein said. He said it was in the middle, in fact, when I put that quote in here I capitalized all the letters on the middle in the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity. Do you know what Einstein was saying? He said, You have got to get into the crisis, you have got to get into the middle of the problem before you see how to get the opportunity out of it, because at the beginning, we don’t understand how deep the problem is going to be. It doesn’t affect us enough to take away our options so that all of a sudden, we get desperate for an answer. It’s not at the end. If, by the end, we haven’t seen an opportunity, to be honest with you, we just passed it. The door was back in the middle. But in the middle of a difficult adversity crisis. That’s where Albert Einstein said, that’s where we find opportunity.

Well, period, I hope you enjoyed that short message from John, that we cut out of one of his lessons that he did his virtual summit and why this is so important why we really wanted to start here is we really believe in the power perspective. And we really believe not only your perspective, but we’re gonna talk a little bit about this as a leader, the perspective you need to have, but then also receiving the perspective of your team members. As a matter of fact, right before we got on this recording, I was having trouble with technology. And just the best with Perry. I was acting all frustrated, okay, maybe I really was frustrated. It’s the end of the day, and I, you know, throw my hands up. And then I looked up at a pair of you just sitting there smiling at me as a good coach would be to me, and I said, Okay, no, no, no, you’re right power perspective. So Chris Perry has really kind of once again taken the content that John has given us in creating a little bit of a content outline that we’re going to walk you through. Perry, take, take us away. Talk a little bit about this perspective as we kick off the lesson today.

Yeah, I saw that these are definitely trying times, no matter how you look at it, then I decided no, it might matter how you look at it. What got me thinking about it after I heard John’s message about perspective, and he talked about, you know, how you view it is how you will do it. I started listening to people around me, and there were people that said that boy having my kids home, driving me crazy. And then I hear someone else say, having my kids home is one of the greatest things ever happened to our family. And some say that you know, working from home is just awful when I hear somebody else say, Wow, I’ve never been more productive. I really don’t miss commuting. And, you know, the crisis is killing the economy. Oh, somebody else said, Wow, there’s so many opportunities we didn’t know were there before. And you really start to see that. Whether you think things are good, or you think things are bad, you’re pretty much right. And it will determine your perspective and determine how you weather this crisis that we’re in. And I know you’re leading a team Chris and you’ve heard and seen that you got a bunch of positive people on your team some. I’m not thinking you’re struggling a lot with this one, but you’re in the midst of This working with clients and customers and your neighbors and your family as one of how you see his perspective popping up. And you’re noticing that more now that John made it made us aware of it.

Yeah, I think I’ll give you two examples. Before we jump into the list of things to do to develop your perspective as a leader, one is family. I think that’s why it’s so key. I think now, more than ever, people appreciate the unexpected family time. For many of you listening to Perry Nye over the last couple of years, you know, I have a freshman in college, and I’m a senior in high school. We were at the dinner table the other night, having a family dinner, which didn’t happen too often. Before this, this crisis came up. And my wife looked at both of my kids, and I think this is so true. She goes, you guys understand. I want you to take advantage of this time because you are a freshman in college, Senior High School, they’ll probably never be another time in your life where you’re stuck for 60 days, you know, which brought a little bit of thanking God and a couple of others to them. But it’s so true, right? Like they were like, yeah, you’re right. We should take advantage of this time. And then even just today on a team call with my team, and yes, I do have an incredible team, they are very optimistic. But at the same point in time, they’re realistic, and they understand. And I challenged them, someone I don’t know if it was John recently, or somebody I had heard say something that really just stuck with me. They said when this is over because we will get through this right, history is told us we get through all movements like this. When you look back at the time that you were able to spend around the house, or within the work, what will you look back and regret not doing when you had the time to do it? And so I challenged my team today, and I just said hey, what let’s what is it personally professionally, what are the things that if in 6090, whatever things kind of get back to somewhat normal, not that they’ll ever be back to the new normal. But what is it that you’ll look back and you will regret not accomplishing? And let’s go after. And let’s do that. And so, you know, the team was like, Oh, yeah, that’s, that’s exactly right. I had thought about it like that. The other thing is I’m trying to keep the perspective of learning for them in front of them. We are in our world; we call it a leadership bubble. At times, we are always growing. We’re always trying to challenge ourselves to be a product of the product. And so I challenged him today on a call, I said, Look, here’s what I want to do as a team. I want each one of you to pick out some type of content piece out there webinar, just not our podcast, they should already be listening to our podcast. And I said, I don’t want you to invite one of our team members to join you. What I want you to do is I want you to absorb the information, personally or professionally. And then I want you to share with the team what your takeaways were. Because I want them to have a perspective of using this time to continue to grow themselves, and it is hard At times to keep that the right perspective doesn’t have to be a positive perspective. But it’s got to be the right perspective. And when I think you do that yourself as a leader, I think it’s contagious. I think your team will feel that.

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I totally agree. And if the time is going to pass what we have to show for it, that’s a great reminder to devalue this time. If you look back and say, Well, I binge watch 17 episodes on Netflix over three hours, that’s not a good look back. I want to have something really to show for that. But I was thinking about it developing, you know, a leader’s perspective, what are some things that help with that? So for our listeners, I’m always taking from what I hear in coaching calls and from our clients and the first one I found so true for me, and I’ve been trying to master this one myself is about I just called it clarity about control and the thinking there is So the most important thing I think any of us can do is realize what It is we can control, and what it is we cannot control. And I always give people a hint that in case you get to thinking too much of yourself, what you can control is really you, your thoughts, your actions, your attitudes, almost everything else is going on around us is just going to go on and that you can’t control. But when you start feeling like you’re out of control that you want to kind of gain more control over this, it skews your perspective, and it gets you into a place where you really cannot be helpful to yourself or to others.

Yeah. And I think what ends up happening as a leader when you do that, or as an individual, if you’re listening to this and you’re an individual contributor, I think it drives up your level of anxiety. When you know I told my kids, it’s interesting that this is coming up in a time like this for us as leaders. I’ve told my kids for a long time, control what you can control, whether in the classroom, whether it’s on the playing field, whether it’s around this house, whether it’s with your friends, and Isn’t you have to make it. But I think if you control what you can control, it will decrease your anxiety as a leader and the unknown, and let’s just be honest; there are some things out there that we don’t know the answers to. We’ve talked about this right. And, and those things we can’t control. It’s interesting John shared an illustration the other day, and I thought it was really powerful, kind of just stuck in my head about puzzle putting together puzzles. And the reason it grabbed me at first is that I can’t tell you the last time I put together a puzzle that my family and I were working on our third or fourth right now 1000 or 2000 piece puzzle, right? It’s just been fun, and you go by the table, he’s a couple of minutes doing it. Here’s what he said. He said You don’t know as leaders, right? There is no game plan. There is no game plan for our crisis for uncertain times. And so he said it would be like, you know when we sit down and we start putting together a puzzle, you know, the first thing we do is we look for all those edges, right? Where’s the end? And where’s the top? Where’s the bottom, and then we start looking at the box. And we’re looking at that clear picture that’s on the box, or maybe the piece of paper that they give with you. And we begin to follow that plan to put the puzzle pieces together. And he looked at the camera, wherever it was, and he said, you know, in crisis are uncertain times. Putting together a puzzle wouldn’t be easy, either, because that picture would be cloudy. And you wouldn’t know where the ends are. Because it wouldn’t, there are no clear lines. And so I think what you know, Perry’s bringing out here is, is as a leader, make sure that you, you talk about with your team, and create clarity about what they can control and what you can’t control as a leader so that you are controlling those things and driving down the anxiety and the fear level that that comes with uncertain times. And so, yeah, I love that you kind of put that as number one The second one, and I’ll throw this I got a couple of thoughts. I’ll throw it to you first and just give me some of the contexts behind what you were thinking. And I love the rhythm and the pattern of how you put this on you. You said, listen, learn, and think. I love it. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Yeah. Know the facts. John actually said this. Be careful. Where are you getting your information from in a crisis, there is no shortage of people. And so with social media, it’s rampant and new sources. I love the way John said it. If the people you’re listening to have an agenda, politicians or you know, local or Twitter, people on Twitter that if they have an agenda, they’re going to kind of steer you with the way they want you to go. And my perspective can be affected heavily by the sources of that information. So I’m listening. I want to learn the facts. No, not speculation, not opinion. Not those sorts of things. I really want to know what are the facts that are going on in this crisis, whatever it may be, we’re talking about a pandemic today. But it could be any crisis that you have going on. And then actually spend some time thinking about that. Reflecting was a great word I heard John used to say, Are you just reflecting on what it is? Am I hearing? What Oh, what is really the facts about that? How does it affect myself, my team, my family, what are the things I need to actually learn going forward from what’s going on? And so to me, it was really listening, genuinely listening, and it could be listening to others and listening to a proper new source. You know, the CDC has one agenda of making us better? They’re not politicians, and they’re not Twitter, but they have good information, so that’d be a good one. But in whatever crisis you’re in, find out what the trusted sources Listen, and then learn and then think about it to reflect.

Not only do I think you need to think about it as a reflection of what you’re hearing just for the climate of what We’re working in, but also think about the opportunities out there for yourself as a leader for your organization, to change things to do things a little bit differently. And I think when it comes to even making decisions as an organization, I was on a webinar today. And Joseph Granny, who wrote the influence and with vital smarts and just a very sharp guy when it comes to research and data. I thought it was interesting because he brought up a really good point about this influx of information when it comes to our business, and it comes to making decisions as a team. He said, obviously, we need to make the high involvement we want. We want a lot of input from our team, from our leadership team from our team in general, but then we need to be able to make a quick decision. And I thought he gave three points that really just kind of stuck out that I wrote down. He’s like, Hey, you want to make sure you involve the right people. Don’t involve too many people to your point. Listen to too much. Information, don’t involve too little people that are going to impact. He also talked about then giving your leaders boundaries around what it is that you’re looking for, and what it is the information that you’re trying to gather. And then the third point was just to make sure they’re very clear on the decision rights. And you know, he talked about the fact that you involve them in gathering this information. But at some point in time, you’re going to stop listening and learning from them, you’re going to step away and think about it. And then you have the decision rights to make the decision off of what’s going on around the climate outside of you as well as in the organization and how it will benefit you guys moving forward. Yeah, absolutely. Number three was I thought, we also need to embrace positivity, that it’s easy to be caught up in the swirl of all bad things that are happening, but you know, how we view things is how we’ll do things and if I view in a positive way, you know, John said that attitude is a difference maker in your positive attitude that is one thing you can’t control and how you look at things in a positive light will change almost everything you do. Yeah, and let’s be very careful when we talk about this.

Mark Cole, our CEO said something the other day in our leadership team, and I’ll share it with you. He wouldn’t mind. He just came to the table. We were talking about some things and he tends to be optimistic. That’s just his nature, right? He and the team can fix and do anything and awesome and then our CFO, our strategist Norwood Davis. He’s the exact opposite. And, and, and sometimes, you know, when he’s done talking, I think it’s over like everything’s over here, though. And so they kind of meet in the middle and he said something, I think it’s so true. Our people need to understand that, that we are being realistic. He said, we got to make sure that they know our head is not in the clouds. But it’s not in the sand either. And there’s a rallying cry for you, as a leader for you and your team for your family for there is a rallying cry every day that there are some things that are factual, to your point earlier parry, that are positive that you can use to help that team during the time like this to keep the proper perspective, right. But it kind of leads into number four, which is to develop possibility thinking. And we just did a podcast on our first zoom cast, I think a couple of weeks ago, about moving from optimal to what’s possible. I just find this to be so important for people. They’re looking at you as a leader. And your perspective is saying, you know, I can control these things. I’m listening, I’m learning I’m thinking about it. I’m embracing this positive attitude, but what’s possible, often what’s gone. What’s possible now going forward, and I know you see a lot of this in your business about how you used to do it this way. That’s not possible. Where are we going now, but we are. But it’s a good story. It’s a great story, actually.

Yeah, it’s a great story even with what we’re doing right here and a lot of people and immediately went virtual right and probably in our space should have been doing it for some time before now. And, and it this kind of forced our hand in some situations to think a little bit differently. I think a lot of businesses are doing that. John talks a lot about the gap between successful people and organizations and unsuccessful people in organizations. And it’s called the thinking gap. I know that we’ve shared that with you before. And I think Perry makes a great point, especially back up to number two about the ability to spend time thinking now more than ever, we ought to be using this time to be thinking on our business. At times, we’re going to be in it maybe even more than we were before with less return whatever that looks like in regards to your KPI but I want you to live on the other side of Yes. Right like when you think about possibility thinking, you need to live on the other side of Yes. You don’t know exactly what that answer is. But man, you don’t know what that puzzle looks like yet. But you do know that there are some pieces that go together and live on the other side. Yes, and begin to, you know, put one piece at a time together when it comes, you know, when it comes to your thinking, and then live that out and apply it, apply it in your business or with your team.

And then wrapping it up with number five, see if you can delay your emotions, that there’s a lot of opportunities here for emotion and displaying emotion does very little to make things better so that you can not display but to delay, John Todd is that your emotions, people are watching you. And it really it’s a great opportunity for you as a leader to express empathy for those on the team who may be struggling and not everybody’s going to have your perspective. So you’ll notice when you see a faulty perspective, I find that generally has an emotional component to it is being displayed. It’s a great time for us to learn to listen to empathize and put ourselves in their shoes. They’re not looking through your lens or looking through their lens, and how they see it, how they’re doing it, how you view it, how you’ll do it. So it’s great. I think it to me that delaying my emotions and giving people around me the opportunity to express theirs, while me being empathetic and helping to bring a different perspective to how they see things.

I think you’re spot on. And I’m going to go back to make a few comments. I’ll throw it to you and let you kind of wrap us up for the day. But I want to kind of go back to even some comments that John made. That got me thinking about this. I think when you talk about attributes of a leader, and we talk about you know, what, what do successful leaders do, what are some of the attributes that they have, we’ve talked about this on previous podcasts and times with you before. What I don’t want to miss is the opportunity for you to be consistent with your people. I think consistency is a leader—even calmness in times that are extremely exciting. And at times when things don’t look good, and they’re extremely tough and you’re going through a crisis because here’s the deal. What did John say in the quote, he was saying that crisis or change or uncertainty doesn’t affect us enough in the beginning. It’s when we get into the middle of what we’re going through, and then maybe even on the backside, as we evaluate it, to where we really begin to learn and see what opportunities there are for us, as leaders, as peers that have influenced inside our organization to truly make a difference. And so why I was thinking about that was, you have to be able to control your emotions. You have to be consistent because it’s not. It’s just not a one-day thing. As a matter of fact, John says there’s no two good day, days and leaders like even when we’re not in uncertain times or crisis, but now More than ever, your team needs you to be that rock, that foundation, that consistency, that calmness that comes across, because there are going to be a lot of opportunities for growth, a lot of opportunities to learn, and a lot of opportunities for you to rally your team around moments. And if you are that team member, that some days are up and then you know you get on a Zoom meeting, call your team the next day and you get your hand in your eyes and you’re crying, like you are going to lose credibility as a leader and I love this delay in your emotions. How do you stay consistent over time?

Yeah, well, thank you Chris. And I strongly encourage all of our listeners that this is an unprecedented time and it’s also a great time to be alive and to learn and grow. And so the opportunities are there. They have the right perspective, I have no doubt you can rise above and help your team rise above and people need us as a time when leaders are revealed. Not when they’re made, the makings already done that were being revealed. ust as a reminder, if you want the learner guide on this, you can go to and download that guide there with these notes there for you. Also, you can leave us a question or a comment. We always love hearing from you. And we thank you for going through this new environment with us and we’re looking forward to speaking with you again soon. We’re grateful that you would join us. This is the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast. 

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