Mark Cole: Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. We are committed to your growth. We're committed to your growth, influencing others. My name is Mark Cole and you're going to love this lesson. Now, if you are a regular, if you're part of our podcast family, you know that we're in the middle of a three-part series and today is part two. If you're brand new, welcome. We have been waiting on you and we're glad you have finally joined the John Maxwell leadership podcast.
Today's lesson is so good. In fact, I would challenge you when you get a moment, go back and listen to last week's episode, because we are talking about the leaders greatest. John recently did a lesson on 15 things that are the leaders greatest. And last week we shared five, today we're going to share five with you. John's going to talk about The Leader's Greatest opportunity, The Leader's Greatest loss, The Leader's Greatest liability, The Leader's Greatest motivation, and he will finish today with The Leader's Greatest moment.
Now, if you would like to download the show notes to follow along, not only with what John shared last week, this week, and next week, you can do that by going to our website, maxwell podcast.com forward slash leaders greatest. That's L E A D E R S, no apostrophe. Leaders Greatest. You'll be able to click on the Bonus Resource button, download the show notes and join along as John teaches. Now, as soon as John is done, stay tuned because Jason is with me today. He's back with me, and you are going to love what Jason Brooks and I cultivate out of John's lesson and show how we apply and how you can apply to be a leader's greatest. Now, here is John C. Maxwell.
John Maxwell: The Leader's Greatest opportunity today. Every day someone says, there's never been a day like today where we desperately needed leaders, but it's so true. I'm here to tell you, there's always been a shortage of leaders. A leader never misses opportunity and the opportunity is right before you. So let me read you these paragraphs. And many of us have a tough time forgetting the opportunities that have gone before we spend so much of the best days of our lives today recycling a junk yard of lost opportunities. We continue to bring up what might have been or what should have been as if by replaying it enough, we can change the outcome. But the more we replay yesterday, well I love this statement, the more we replay yesterday, the further away from today's opportunities we get. Did you hear that? The more I replay yesterday, the farther away from today's opportunities I get, and the farther away we get, the tougher it is to get back.
When ifs and buts are our hallmark, opportunities always look better going than coming. But the opportunities wait for no one, opportunities aren't found in yesterday, they're found in today. They come in many forms, they come from all sorts of directions and they come our way only when we speak of what we are capable of doing, not what we have done or what we should have done. Our strength lies in the present. We live in the present, we work in the present. What has happened, has happened. We cannot undo the past, no matter how hard we try, so let's wipe the slate clean and go onto what's next. New beginnings can only come from old endings. Harvey Firestone said, today is when everything that is going to happen from now on begins. The Leader's Greatest opportunity today and The Leader's Greatest loss is hope.
Napoleon said, leaders are dealers in hope. I love GK Chesterton. He said, there's only one thing which gives radius to everything, it's the idea of something around the corner. A major part of Martin Luther King's leadership style was to keep hope alive among the masses. He said, we must accept finite disappointment but we must never lose infinite hope, because when you lose hope you die. Just about wherever he went, that was his message that he preached. Basic to our philosophy, he would say, is a deep faith in the future. Ours is a movement based on hope. Throughout history, he said, the hope element in all revolutions was expressed in the rising expectations for freedom, justice, human dignity on part of those who had been caught in oppressive situations. He went on to explain most major revolutions, even though violent in nature, originally moved on the wave of hope.
The hope that the old order could be removed and a new order could come into being. The first and the last task of a leader is to keep hope alive. The hope that we can finally find our way through to a better world despite today's action, despite our own inertness and shallowness and wavering resolve. When a leader loses hope, let me tell you what happens, when a leader loses hope, so do the people. Again, this is a statement about leadership. I'm not trying to be political.
But when Jimmy Carter in the seventies basically looked at American people and said, this is as good as it's going to get, he killed the American spirit. I mean, America built on entrepreneurship and dreams and a better tomorrow, and the leader saying, well, be thankful for what you have, it's probably as good as everyone to get, he violated one of the greatest leadership tools you have, and that's hope. And when a leader loses hope, everybody loses hope. Okay. The Leader's Greatest liability, insecurity. Half of the harm that is done, boy [inaudible 00:06:32] really nailed this one. I believe this solely. I think he would say 90% of the harm, but we'll just do half since he said half. Half of the harm that has done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They do not mean to do harm. They are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.
When I talk about leads in leaders' lives, we talk about the law of the lead after 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. The greatest lead on leader's lives is insecurity. Insecure leaders can never empower, they can never loosen up, they can never free people up, they've got to make sure that they always look... Can I tell you so something, as a leader when you're more concerned about how you look than how your people look, when you're more concerned about your outcome than your people's outcome, when you're more concerned about how you are presented more than how your people are presented, you're already in trouble.
That insecurity, it's just a matter of time, it will sabotage you. When I see an insecure leader, I realize that I want to get away from them as quickly as I can. One time I talked to a person who was thinking about coming on the staff of an insecure leader and I said, it's like putting handcuffs on... handcuffing yourself to this person, walking through a landmine field. It's only a matter of time till he'll blow himself up. And if you're handcuffed to them, guess what, you're going to go too. And insecure leaders handcuff their people and consistently have losses along the wayside of life, because they are constantly thinking again about themselves first. That's very closely related if you'll think back to number one, victory over self. But I think one is a discipline and the other is a temperament issue and so I've made them separately, but insecurity, what a huge liability.
A leader's greatest motivation is a challenge. Leaders love challenges. They are always ready for the challenge. I love what John Gardner said. One time he said, the prospect's never looked brighter, the problem's never looked tougher. Anyone who isn't stirred by both of those statements is too tired to be much use to us in the days ahead. Great potential, huge problems. Now, I was asked today just before I came in and did this lesson with you, I was doing a telephone interview with a magazine. And one of the questions that the interviewer asked me was, how do you know and how do you spot a leader? It's very simple. I mean, it's not very complicated. Once you understand what to look for, it's very easy. Leaders love challenges.
Any time there is risk involved and a person and backs up and doesn't want to take the risk, they've made a statement about their leadership. Leaders love uncertainty, leaders love the fact they're on the edge, leaders love the fact that I'm either going to make it or break it. I mean a suck air baby, suck air. Maybe the last bit of air you get because of your loyalty. Leaders love the challenge of the... They love the fact that they're not sure how it's going to hold in. They are betting on themselves. Now, let me tell you something, good leaders, remember confidence, remember we talked about the greatest asset of a leader, good leaders bet on themselves.
I've gone into many situations where I wasn't sure what the outcome was going to be, but here's what I did know, I'll bet on myself. I'll take the potential reward, although it could also be a potential loss. It's a lot better than being in prison in this security thing where, yeah, I'll get three meals and I'll get four or five things here. Leaders don't even understand that life. They look at a person like that and you know what, whereas the other person feels very secure with that life, leaders look and say, dear God, why would you ever want to limit yourself to that? All this potential out there and you wouldn't want to go for it?
Now, it's not good or bad. It's just, what is the greatest motivation of a leader's a challenge. So here, if you're looking for a leader in your company, it's very simple, give them a challenge, give them a problem, give them an issue that is over their head, put a little risk in it and see if they're willing to put a little skin in the game. I get very nervous when a person who is about to launch or lead something isn't willing to take the risk that I'm willing to take, because I know what will happen. When it doesn't go well, they'll look to me and wonder where their parachute is. And can we sing? Kumbaya You know what I'm saying. And can you tuck me in tonight? Leaders love a challenge. The Leader's Greatest moment, probably casting vision. That's what leaders are born for.
Leaders were born to show people a better way. Leaders are born to say, look, it doesn't have to be like this, it could be better. Let me give you a possible way to make things better. That's what leaders are. It's in their DNA. It's their greatest moment when they're in front of people with fresh vision, a new challenge. Hans Finzel said, leaders are paid to be dreamers. In fact, the higher you go in leadership, the more your work is about the future. That's a good statement. A leader is one who sees more than others see, a leader is one who sees farther than others see and a leader is one who sees others see. Again, let me be very clear, it's not about being smarter. They just had that innate DNA to see more further before. And because they could do those three things before anyone else, guess what they want to do, they want to tell the story. They want to say, hey, here's what we could become. Let's try this. Have you thought of this? Let's go here. What do you think about that? They love to cast vision.
Mark Cole: Jason, John is exactly right. Leaders love to cast vision. And as he said that and closed out today's lesson, I know we're going to go back and look at some of the other things that he shared, but he is exactly right, leaders love to cast vision. And I'll tell you this as you and I stand shoulder to shoulder with the responsibility of extending John's influence around the world and carrying the Maxwell philosophy of leadership, I'll tell you this, I love the vision that we share each and every time we get together. So, good to have you on today. Let's dig into The Leader's Greatest
Jason Brooks: Man, I'm glad to be back with you and glad that what we're doing here today is part of that vision that you've been talking about. And so let's just start there because I have observed and you over the last couple of years, that you're great when we're doing operational stuff and we're talking about the nuts and bolts. You've got a wonderful sense of how the business operates, how it should operate, how you want it to operate. But man, when you're standing in front of the leadership team or the assembled staff or even our coaches when we're doing training down in Florida, man, whenever you get the chance to talk about vision, you light up.
And it's some of your best communication because it's such a... One John's talking about it is a leader's greatest moment. So it's kind of what leaders are born for, but I think is also such a natural out flowing of your optimism. And it's a hallmark of your leadership. And so let me just start with this question, why is it that casting vision is so crucial to leaders? Why is that their greatest moment?
Mark Cole: Man, I love this Jason and I love where we are right now. In fact, it's funny, before I stepped into the studio today I was having a meeting with three of our leadership team that's helping us with a rebranding project that we're working on, for the John Maxwell company. It'll affect you in this podcast family that we have. We're really working hard to create a brand that fully represents the body of work that John Maxwell has given to the world. And so we're working with an organization here in Atlanta that has helped Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, Delta airlines, some of the Atlanta icons.
And so they're helping us. And the last five minutes of the meeting, the team was prepping me for a meeting we have this coming Monday. This is Friday when we were recording the podcast. And so they asked me the last five minutes, they said, now Mark, we feel like we would like for you to do that vision segment that you did in our last leadership team meeting. We'd like you to do that in front of our marketing branding partner. And they said, would you be okay with that? And I started laughing Jason, I went, yeah, absolutely. Is it Monday yet? I'm ready to go. And I don't need any preparation. In fact, you have one question to answer me, how much time will you give me? Because I could take the entire meeting time because love what we're envisioning right now.
Now, I just got back from a trip with John where he was speaking in Colorado recently. And John did a talk that I've heard him talk before on leaders see more and more and more before. John gave this lesson and I was sitting beside Linda Eggers who's been with John on John's team for 33 years. She's been his assistant for more than 25 years. I've been on John's team for 21 years. And when John was done, and there was a couple of other teammates, there are people on our John Maxwell team coaches, and I looked at each one of them and I said, "Hey, I think John just delivered the best speech I've ever heard him give." Linda wet, "My God Mark, I agree with you. I think that was the best John ever gave."
And I immediately felt good because I thought it was just me because of where we are. Truly as a leader, I feel like for maybe the first time in my leadership, I'm seeing more and more and more before in those around me, I've got the vision. I see the vision of our future Jason. I see where we can go and I see how we're going to get there. And the strategy and the vision and the hopes and the dreams are all colliding for me as a leader right now. And I know you as podcasters are going, hold up Mark, slow lowdown. I'm having to cut the volume down. The longer you talk, you're getting louder and louder.
If you could see me in studio using my hands, my feet, my abdomen, my chest, my shoulders, you would see the excitement because of vision. Now, here's the point, leaders, your greatest moment is when you get to share something that others are not seeing clearly. Some people try to do that and when people can't see it, it is discouragement to them. Leaders, you're paid to be dreamers. John said that in the lesson today. You're paid, you are promoted, you are positioned to dream things that others are not seeing. Don't lament the fact that you're casting vision to something you've been seeing for a day, a week, a month, a year, 10 years, because you're supposed to be more excited than anybody else in the room.
You're supposed to see more than anybody else in the room. And it's a new wrinkle for me Jason, to be honest with you, because for years, 11 years, I have been speaking John Maxwell's vision. For 21 years I have been representing John Maxwell's vision. And for 50 years of my life, 30 years of my professional working life, I have been communicating somebody else's vision. And now all of a sudden I am thrust into this responsibility to cast my vision. And it's exciting, scary, and super exhilarating all at the same time. But I'm going to tell you, the point that I want us to take from John's talk here today, whether you're casting your vision, whether you're casting somebody else's vision or whether you are living out somebody's vision, a leader always gets excited about vision. Doesn't have to be mine, doesn't have to be a carrier, it doesn't have to be originated with me. I have to be excited as a leader when vision is being given to the people.
Jason Brooks: And I love that because excitement is what gets other people to buy in. I'm an introvert so I'm wired a little bit different than you are. When you cast vision, you're demonstrative. Like you said, you use hands, arms, abdomen, people next to you, coffee mugs, whatever. It's fascinating to watch because that's not my particular way. For me the excitement comes out of the deep conviction that the vision is the right one. And so when I sit down to cast vision to somebody, what I'm sharing with you, I am sharing from a place of sincere passion. I genuinely believe in our vision that we're chasing as the John Maxwell enterprise. And so I may not be as demonstrative but I'm nonetheless enthusiastic. It just gets communicated a little bit differently because I'm an introvert. But I want to ask you, what are some of the... [crosstalk 00:20:05].
Mark Cole: Can I say something before you asked me that?
Jason Brooks: Yeah. Go ahead.
Mark Cole: Let me say something before you asked me that. You and I did a series, encouragement changes everything. If you haven't listened to that, pause right now and go back and listen to that. Here's why I want to accelerate that, since we recorded that broadcast that Jason has had the chance to do family vacation, all that kind of stuff, go back and listen to that and listen to Jason's response about how he communicates excitement about vision. He's in the fight for his life, he shows up in a studio to do a podcast for all of you listening because he's deeply convicted with the vision. Been easier to stay at home, he had had some treatments that altered his health the day before. Boom, he shows up.
Now, he's not flailing hands and puffing out chest and squaring shoulders and tipping over coffee cups like I am, but what he is doing is showing conviction, passion, excitement about vision. And Jason, in my opinion, and I told you this in that lesson, I'll tell you that again after the point that you just made to put an exclamation point on it, in my opinion, your excitement about vision has been higher than I've ever known you. And I would dare say perhaps higher than it's ever been in your life over the last year despite all the adversities and setbacks that you're having. And that's because Jason shows vision with deep intensity and commitment and buy in and presence. So don't let Mark or John Maxwell's super enthusiasm of excitement, throwing coffee glasses and water all over people when we communicate vision confuse you. You can be passionate about vision from your personality type that is just as contagious. Thank you for sharing that Jason. Go on with your question now, but I wanted to interrupt that and put an exclamation point on it.
Jason Brooks: No, I appreciate that because there is a distinctive. We all have personality types. We do need to develop our own way of casting vision that's authentic to the vision and authentic to us. But I want to ask you, what are some of the keys that you've learned to effectively cast division? You've mastered it, or I wouldn't say mastered it, but you have certainly developed it to a level that I've never seen before. And it's entirely unique, it's entirely authentic and genuine to who you are. So what are some of the keys that you've learned about effectively casting vision that other leaders can learn from?
Mark Cole: Yeah. Grab a pen and paper gang because I'm going to give you something right here that I think will help you. Before you can cast a vision that is contagious to others, you've got to believe it. You can't just say it, you can't just see it, you've got to believe it. It's got to be believable to you before it's believable to others. And I've watched too many people try to communicate vision to test it. Some of us process by talking out loud. Jason, I bet you didn't know that about me, right? And then others of you, you sit with this perplexed look on your face and I think you hate me, but you're just processing what I'm saying. So we got this little difference going on, but I process out loud.
There's a difference in processing an idea out loud and casting a vision out loud. Don't confuse the two. When you're ready to cast vision, you do not need to be talking out loud to hear yourself think out loud. You need to be casting vision because you believe it to every core fiber part of your being. Believe it. Number two, own it. Now let me tell you the difference in owning it. Six months ago Jason, when I was casting the vision that I'm casting now, I believed it. I absolutely had checked that box. But I didn't own it yet because you can't own something until it's tested. You can't own something until it costs you something. Don't think you own something just when you're on a happy, go lucky ride of your life. When it costs you something, and I'm not talking about financially, I'm talking about when the odds stack against your vision ever coming to pass, and you still believe it just as deeply and you still say it just as convincingly, now you own it.
And just in the last six months we've had to start making some radical changes in our organization. We've had to start investing in some significant technology to build one team, one dream. We've had to attract some talent that was jaw dropping in the recruiting process because I own it. I own it. I believe it, number one, I own it, number two, and number three, I can say it the fifth time with as much excitement as I said it the first time. Too many leaders get excited about a new idea and think they're creating vision. No. Vision gets more exciting to communicate the longer you communicate it. It doesn't get stale, it refreshes. You think of a new way, a new creative way to engage people to communicate it. So when you can believe it, you can own it and you can continue to accelerate your excitement around it. Now you have cast a vision that is compelling and bringing people into joining you in your vision.
Jason Brooks: Listeners, that is great stuff because, one, I've watched him live this out, so this isn't just something theoretical that he's popped out. This is what he has lived and learned. And if you didn't write it down, believe it deeply, own it personally, repeat it with increasing passion. That is outstanding. And you touched on something in the piece about believing in it and owning it that kind of leads me back to one of the other things that John talked about in this lesson. In order to believe it, in order to own it and even to communicate it, there's got to be some sense of security. You've got to know that this is the right thing.
And yet John talked about in this lesson that one of The Leader's Greatest liabilities is insecurity. And so insecurity impacts your ability to cast vision. It impacts your ability to make decisions. Insecurity is something that robs leaders of their effectiveness. And so what are... You've been around a lot of different leaders, you have mentored me over the last several years to help me become a more secure, more confident, more self-aware leader. What are some of the sources of insecurity in leaders and what are ways that leaders can begin to discipline themselves in order to have the security that's necessary to lead?
Mark Cole: Yeah. Do you know sources, Jason? Your question on what are sources and then what are some ways you can build your security? Because I do agree with John, The Leader's Greatest liability is insecurity. And I've watched leaders come and go and I've watched a majority of the reason that leaders cannot sustain their influence is because of some level of insecurity. That's why I think John calls it The Leader's Greatest liability. And I mean, I can think of story after story, after story, not only in others' lives but in my life, of where I just couldn't step up. I think insecurity is a great challenge to a leaders influence and especially the sustainability of her or his influence.
Sources are so wide and varied that to categorize them into a nice, simple point here... I think the fact that you didn't have somebody believe in you when you really needed it at some point in your adolescence. I've watched a lot of people deal with the lack of belief from key influences in their life when they were just developing into that leader, that man, or that woman that world needed them to lead. And they asked the question, do I have what it takes? And the answer, unfortunately, by influencers in their life was, no or silent.
And I've just watched a lot of people that did not get that transfer of leadership authority when they really had an aspiration of something they wanted to do that was beyond them and somebody around them did not affirm them, but rather went silent on them or became critical of them. I think that's a big source. And this is not a counseling session so I'll leave that alone and let some of you go get help with that right there. But you do need to get help. Mine was in the form of an incredible Wild at Heart Boot Camp by John Eldredge.
I think another source is, you don't get comfortable with the idea that John shares all the time. As leader, we need to be in a room where people are smarter than us. In fact, John says it like this, if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room. Most leaders have a propensity to become the top king pin are queen pin of the room. I mean, the leadership challenges us to be at the top, right? Well, if we're not at the top, we're aspiring to get at the top, but then when we get at the top, John says change rooms. So then a leader has to constantly be going, I want to be at the top but when I get to the top, I need to find something else, another hill to climb. And he says that from a growth aspiration, but it also needs to be in the form of an insecurity issue. You need to constantly surround yourself with people and not let that speak to any insecurities that you have.
Now, let's go Jason to the other part of your question real quickly. We could camp out here all day too. I believe the greatest way to become secure in your leadership for me, I'm learning this right now so this is not going to be polished, but I think is determining the difference between affirmation and confirmation. Affirmation and confirmation. Let me explain for my standpoint. Again, this is not fully baked. I need to even spend more time talking with John about this, but I'm a words of affirmation guy. I love me some words of affirmation. Jason, do you want me to pause right now where you can tell me how great I am? I love affirmation. I really do. I'm designed that way. And in the five love languages, words of affirmation is my jam.
I think there's a difference however in words of affirmation and moments of confirmation. Words of affirmation, attaboy, way to go, mark, you're the best, you're awesome, you're good. I love all of that, but that does not help me as a leader. It does not make me lead better. It makes me feel better about myself, but it doesn't make me leave. But moments of confirmation, that's altogether a different game. Moments to where you just get this moment out of the blue, arbitrary, serendipity, providential, whatever frame of reference you have out there, you have this moment where you go, I got it. That lets me know I'm on the right track. I had one this morning. I'm dealing with some very significant, difficult, uncertain things as it relates to getting us from here to there. Things that'll get us to what I'm calling our promised land, the land of incredible abundance because of what John has given as an idea around leadership development and around people-centered servant leadership. Beautiful vision.
And then I keep getting these moments of great distraction. I'm not talking about just a little moment of discouragement, great distraction. I Had a few of those in the last couple of days, dealt with it emotionally strong. Vision, certain, but wondering if there was a better way to have gotten here then for it to have such a wake of challenge and adversity. And I get in my office this morning, I get an email from somebody I hadn't heard from him foUr months that had just heard vision from three weeks ago, that sent me an email. A person very profoundly impacted in the transition from here to there, and sent me a quick little email that said, I don't where I've been, don't know how I missed it, but I just heard something you delivered three weeks ago about the vision of the future.
And I need to tell you, it all makes sense to me on a struggle I had 90 days ago when you told me, we can get there. Give me 90 days and we can get to this place where you'll be able to see what I'm seeing of the next summit. And this individual typed me an email and said, I'll see it today. Now that wasn't affirmation. I didn't need affirmation. I didn't need your good guy moral compass, I needed confirmation that the journey we've been on in the last 90 days is the right journey. And I got it this morning. That's the difference in affirmation and confirmation. And in insecurity, so many times we let insecurity wrap itself in emotion or I am a really doing the right thing? No, I wouldn't have any of that. I had no insecurity. But I needed confirmation so that insecurity didn't set up, and I got that this morning. And it was a beautiful gift from a beautiful leader that made a difference in my life today.
Jason Brooks: That is a fantastic point to wrap up this discussion. Leaders, spend some time thinking about the difference between affirmation and confirmation. I wrote down while you were talking, and this is like you said, I'd have to think about this a lot more. But affirmation builds you as a person, confirmation builds you as a leader and allows you to build for other people. And I think those are... [crosstalk 00:33:51].
Mark Cole: And that right there friends and neighbors, that right there is why John Maxwell and I love Jason Brooks leading all of our content, because he just met this Southern boy stumbling through something sound a whole lot better. That's exactly right Jason. Affirmation helps you as a person, confirmation helps you as a leader. Beautiful.
Jason Brooks: Yeah. And I think that's a huge piece of the journey from insecure to secure. And it's certainly something that I've seen play out in my own journey. Man, I've enjoyed talking to you today but I'm going to throw it to you and let you close it out. Thanks for just sharing the discussion with me.
Mark Cole: Yeah. Thank you too Jason and thank you John Maxwell. What a brilliant learning journey you've got us on in this three part series. Well, we finished part two and I can't tell you how much I'm excited about part three. Can we go right now? Is it next week yet? Hey, for all of you that listen in and you're a part of what we're doing and a part of how we are doing our best to add value so that others will multiply value to others, thank you. One of the ways that you multiply value to others is, if you like this podcast please pass it along. Tell somebody that you know is on a leadership journey, a quest of greater influence, tell them about the podcast, get them listening. In fact, I challenge you to get the show notes today and add value to those around you, your team, or those that you're in influence or in community with.
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