I can't wait for this lesson. Now today I'll be joined by Chris Goede, my co-host. We're going to listen in to John and then he and I are going to share with you some applications to our personal leadership, as well as to our corporate leadership. We look forward to doing that. If you would like to follow along with John, I want to encourage you to download the bonus resource sheet that will help you fill in the blanks and see what John is talking about, as well, as it'll let you share with others when you're done listening to this podcast. All you need to do is to head over to Maxwellpodcast.com/value, and click on the bonus resource button. And there you will get the show notes. Now, for all of you viewing in on YouTube, welcome. Chris and I are excited to be joining you today, but until we get back, here is John Maxwell.
John Maxwell: I'm very excited about what I'm going to share with you today, because let me just say something, as a young leader, this was a tremendous weakness in my life. I did not ask questions. I assumed as a young leader that I should have answers for people. And so I came out of the leadership box, answering questions that I had no business answering by the way, because I didn't really know. But I did the whole fake-it-till-you-make-it. And I just thought, I've got to be Mr. Answer, man. Mr. Answer, man. And I can tell you the greatest change in my leadership life from a young leader to where I am today is in the beginning of my leadership life I was just given answers out to people. And now I constantly ask questions because I have found that almost everything that is going to come to me, that's going to help me leadership wise, is based on a question.
And so I'm real excited about what I'm going to share with you today on the value of questions. So let's kind of get going, okay. If you're going to ask life changing questions, be sure to do something with the answers. Okay. And what I'm going to do now is I'm building a case for the value of questions. And so let's go, you only get answers to questions you ask. So the first thing is just, if you want some answers about life, you got to ask some questions.
When I was a young leader, about 30, I was probably 32. I was invited to a gathering called Idea Exchange. Idea Exchange was a group of highly successful pastors in America who once a year came and exchanged ideas. And it was a very helpful conference to me, but it wasn't as helpful as it could have been because I was the youngest guy in the room by far, by about 10 years. I was the youngest person in the room. And I didn't ask any questions over that two day period. And I didn't ask any questions because first of all, I was gleaning from them and I was listening to them and I was learning from them. So I was learning a lot, but I didn't ask any questions because I looked at these people and I had a good size church, a very good sized church.
But they had bigger churches and I just felt I wasn't qualified to ask good questions. And I remember leaving that conference and as soon as I left, I felt cheated. And I felt cheated, not from them. I felt cheated because I was unwilling to ask questions. I learned a lot, but I thought there were some things they could have helped me with if I have asked them questions. Now, here's what I've learned about questions. If you're not good at something, people don't ask you questions. Are you with me? And a classic example is last year I was invited to play in the AT&T ProAm out in Pebble. Now I played golf with these pros that, every day, for the weekend, not one time did one of the pro golfers look at me and ask me to read a put for them. Not one time. Not one time. Not one time did they ask me about what club selection they should have on the distance from the ... I mean, think about, I'm with them, playing golf with them. They don't ask me one golf question.
Now I say that. So if people aren't asking you questions, there's a statement, okay. Just fill in the blanks, okay. You can take that wherever you want to go, okay. But I'm telling you, a whole weekend, they never asked me a question. Now what's interesting is they knew who I was. In fact, one of the pro's father's met me at the first tee the first day. And says, I'm so excited, my son's playing golf with you. He said, because he said, I've read every one of your books. And so we talked a lot about leadership and books and things like that while walking down the fairway, but nobody ... So they asked me a lot of questions but they didn't ask me any question about, they didn't ask me any question about golf. And then I don't know if you ever read parade magazine on Sunday, but there's a section I always enjoy.
Marilyn has the section where people ask her questions. This girl, Marilyn, this lady Marilyn, has the highest IQ ever tested in the world. So she's just brilliant. How many of you ever read Marilyn's column in Parade? Okay. You know what I'm talking about? Okay. Okay. Well, so I brought this with me, because I, this is just on, you only get answers for questions you ask and here's what she put in her column that she had collected over the years, favorite questions from people that she said they were too 'special' to answer.
Okay. So you see where this one's going. And here's a brief sampling. This one's from somebody in Portland, Oregon. I notice you have the same name as Marilyn Monroe. Are you related? Do you think daylight saving time could be contributing to global warming? The longer we have sunlight, the more it heats up the atmosphere. Aren't we special? Huh? I see falling stars nearly every night. They seem to come out of nowhere. Have stars ever fallen out of any known constellations? If you don't get that one, you're in trouble. Laugh anyway. Okay. Here. When I dream, why don't I need my glasses to see?
Can a ventriloquist converse with the dentist while his teeth are being worked on? Special, aren't they? Just special, special. I just observed a flock of geese flying in V formation. Is that the only letter they know? Isn't that so fun, huh? Well, what I learned at Idea Exchange as a young leader is a quote that I put in the book by Richard, it said, it's better to look uninformed than to be uninformed. Curb your ego and ask questions. Stay right with me. There's a gigantic difference between the person who has no questions to help him and her to process situations, and the person who has profound questions available.
And here are the few of the differences. And I talk about if you are without profound questions versus if you're with. If you don't have good questions, you're going to get at best shallow answers. And if you have profound questions, guess what you're going to get? You're going to get profound answers. You're going to get the level of answers based on the level of questions. Without, there's a lack of confidence. With profound questions there's what I call life confidence.
Out of the question comes things that make you confident about life. Without, there's the poor decision making, of course, that you're going to have. With, you're going to get wise decision making. Without, you're going to live in a mental fog. With it, you're going to get what I would call crystal clear focus. You're going to really be clear on, because you're getting, giving good questions. Without profound questions, you're going to work on low priorities. With profound questions, you're going to work on high priorities. There'll be immature processing if the questions aren't good. There'll be mature processing, if the questions are good, okay? Just stuff there to fill in the blank for a moment. You only get answers for questions you ask. And I think all my life, and think about for your life. I mean, you could have an interesting table conversation if you talk about ... because I love to ask questions at tables.
Wouldn't it be interesting to go around the table and ask each other to think of a time when you probably cheated yourself because you didn't ask the question? That you kind of walked away and you thought, ooh, I wonder what would have happened?
Well, the value of questions is you only get answers to questions you ask. So let me just put this way. Every time you're with a person and you don't ask questions, you're leaving something at the table. You do understand that, don't you? You do understand that. Because every person has something to teach you. Every person. I can promise you in 30 minutes, if I had one-on-one time with you, in 30 minutes you would teach me something. You would teach me something. And how would you teach me something? Only because I understand the value of questions. I understand that. And I ask questions all the time. And one of the things I do when I'm with somebody is I look at them and I say to myself quietly, not to them, I wonder what they have for me today that they're going to teach me, that I'm going to learn from? You only get answers to questions you ask.
Mark Cole: Alright Chris, John says that you only get answers to questions you ask. So here's the question. You don't know anything about this. Can I borrow some money?
Chris Goede: No.
Mark Cole: Okay.
Chris Goede: I just checked ... real quick ... I just checked with Sarah and I would've said yes, but the answer was no.
Mark Cole: I got an answer. To John's point, it wasn't a yes, but I got an answer. The answer's no. Get, buy your own lunch. I got you.
Chris Goede: That's right.
Mark Cole: I got you.
Chris Goede: Hey, you know what that question reminds me of? I know you and I have been told, and all of our listen listeners have been told this before, there's no dumb questions, but some of the questions that we just heard in the episode that John gave us, and then that question might be a dumb question, Mark.
Mark Cole: It is. Yes. Especially the Canadian geese flying in a V formation.
Chris Goede: That's right.
Mark Cole: I was howling as John was talking today.
Chris Goede: Yeah. Well, listen, as I think about this, John wrote an incredible book. Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. It's a phenomenal resource. If you haven't read the book, I'd encourage you to jump on our website and get that book. Absolutely. And I think you and I both being in his world for so many years, this has become a discipline of ours. And one of the things that I think that maybe we take for granted, I want to share a little bit of how we go about doing this. You and I separately thought as we were listening to the lesson, because we listen to it real time and then just talk to you guys, is we wrote down the word preparation.
Mark Cole: Yeah.
Chris Goede: And I think that you and I have seen that lived out not only in John, but in our leaders, inside our organization. Talk a little bit about, from a leader's perspective, the power of preparing and to ask questions when the opportunities arise.
Mark Cole: Well, and Chris, let me say this. You were very kind to me when you said Mark and I have been around John. And so we've learned the value of asking questions and I think that's true for you, but you included me in that because I got to be very transparent with our podcast listeners. I still struggle to ask questions because I know the answer. In fact, when John was saying, young leaders don't know how to ask questions because they think they have to have all the answers, I'm going, yes, I'm young. Yes, I'm a young leader because I've got to be honest with you, and I think some of it, Chris, is funny. I think some of it is our nature, our personality.
Chris Goede: Yes.
Mark Cole: I have a personality that wants to speak and then think about what I said. You have a personality that wants to think and then speak about what you thought.
Chris Goede: That's right.
Mark Cole: And it's two very different approaches. Most days, I wish I had a little bit more of you in me because shoe leather does not taste well. And I constantly got my foot in my mouth because I speak and then think about what I said. And I think part of my nature causes me to want to have that answer. It does give me great encouragement to see growth though, back to this question that you asked me of preparation.
Chris, every single day, walking into every single meeting, especially right now where I'm leading from, I have to remind myself, speak last as a leader and listen first. Speak last, listen first. Well that comes to this point of the value of asking questions because you can listen better when you're in a posture of questioning than you can when you're in a posture of listening.
So the first thing I would say about preparation is not some list, some thing that I would tell you you need to do to prepare great questions. The first thing that I would do in preparation is say, leader, prepare yourself to listen before you lead. Ask questions before you give answers. And for me, that helps when I walk into a meeting to where I kind of know where I want it to go and I go, why do we have an hour when I could get this done in five minutes? I mean, that's the leader in me. And I work hard in the area of preparation to remind myself that question asking is a better posture, most of the time, than answer giving. And that's a big, big, big thing that I have to work on often.
Chris Goede: Yeah. And let me just build off of that because I think what you're saying there aligns with our mission and our passion for life, which is not only does John say that we're going to learn something, which I love that learning posture, right? We always want to be growing, always be learning, but leaders, especially in a one-on-one situation, and Mark you know I'm not just saying this to say this, I believe in one-on-one, you're one of the best I've seen in this because you do ask questions. Matter of fact, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable how many questions you're asking, right?
But listen, here's my point. Not only are you learning my perspective, but also as leaders as we ask questions of those that we have influence with and they're answering, and they're speaking to us, they feel valued. Okay, don't miss that. So there's a double edged value here for us as leaders. Number one, not only are we learning and we're in the posture of learning, but number two, our people are feeling valued because we're asking them questions and they're allowing that, allowing to speak of that. Now, one other thing I want to comment on, because I don't want leaders to miss this, Mark and I do have different personalities and we approach me meetings and we approach questions differently. What Mark just told you is a learned behavior as his personality is he does have to slow down sometimes. He does want to come into a meeting and be like, here's the problem. Okay. Here's how we're going to fix it. Does anybody have any questions? Right? Any comments? Well, he's not going to get anything.
But what he's learned in this learned behavior is to ask, to listen. Listen first, ask questions later. Here's what I want to do. In our coaching a lot of times when we have leaders that are working through this, we say, hey, just write some initials at the top of your paper when you walk in there. So put, like Mark said, put LF, listen first. Maybe put a question mark, then ask questions. Then speak last. Whatever you need to do, Mark has a system now, whatever you need to do to implement that system, in order to be able to do that so that you can learn as a leader and that your people feel valued.
Mark Cole: Chris, can I give ... everyone always comments when I talk about my fumbles and failures. Thanks, Mark, for being so authentic. Thanks. I'm going to one, you and I have not scripted this. We very rarely script anything for these podcasts because we want it just to be leadership [crosstalk 00:18:20] out. And so we've not scripted this, but we're in the middle of a really significant project. We call it Project Sawdust because it's creating a lot of sawdust as we build our future. And so in this project, which involves a lot of rebranding, look and feel of how we want to be perceived, our value proposition. I mean, its been almost a year long process, and almost every meeting that I'm in, I make statements last because I want to aggregate and keep content and I want to keep information flowing.
And a lot of times senior leaders don't realize that once they may weigh in on a situation, they take the air out of the room. And leader, you got to understand that there is a weight that your words carry that can suffocate a room. And we like that because it feels powerful. It feels directive. It feels unified because we've got the vision and the direction. But let me caution you that you can kill creativity before creativity is ever birthed with that weightiness of you weighing in. And so I really worked hard at that. Worked hard at that. I'm listening, listening, listening. When we came to one component of the process that we just decided to make the decision with just a smaller group, then the normal expanded group. And so when it came time to present that to the bigger group, guess what I did? I stepped up, I gave direction. I gave why I liked it. And I set the course.
And our partners commented afterwards, went, wow, Mark, that was such a lesson in leadership. You listen all the time. For you to have jumped in first was so powerful. Thank you. We loved watching that. And so I kind of took the pat on the back and said, yeah. Guess what? Just for the fumble failures and all that stuff, that's the one thing so far that we're coming back and readdressing right now because I didn't get buy in from the entire group. And I just think that's hysterical because it was the right leadership thing to do. But you know what else is the right leadership thing to do? To humbly realize we may need to alter the course if we can't get our champions, our vision carriers, to get excited about this vision.
And I don't feel embarrassed about that. I know I did the right leadership thing because we would've never made a decision if I hadn't have weighed in first. What I do know, however, is an even better leadership posture is once you make a leadership decision listeners, and don't miss this. Once you make a leadership decision remain in a posture of listening.
We make decisions as leaders and we move on so fast that we don't listen after the decision to an important question that John Maxwell will ask me every single week for the last 11 years. Here it is. Don't miss it. Mike drop moment for the podcast. What am I missing?
Chris Goede: Yeah.
Mark Cole: John will ask questions, ask questions until he gets enough information to issue direction, to give a directive, but he never stops listening because after he gives the directive, he'll look at me so often and go, now that I've given the directive, what am I missing?
Chris Goede: Love that.
Mark Cole: And I'm in a, what am I missing, mode, Chris, about something that you happen to be on a different side of the table with me on this particular issue. And I'm in a, what am I missing, mode? And Chris, good news for you. You're going to see some additional mock ups soon to this particular project because I'm still as a leader issuing a directive. I'm still in a listening mode of valuing questions.
Chris Goede: Yeah. I think what I was thinking there let's go personal for just a minute. I was thinking what, Stephanie, your beautiful bride, and what Sarah, my bride, would say is that, listen guys, I know you hear me. You're just not listening. And I think a lot as leaders, we hear the noise, but are we truly listening? And John talks about in this episode where he says, hey, the level of questions you have is a direct correlation to the level of answers you get. Now you gave a perfect example. You said, John says, what am I missing? Simple question, but yet very profound. And so leaders, I don't want you to have lip service to Mark's point. I want to emphasize this. Think about the level of questions you should be asking of your team and, or one on one, and then make sure that it's at a place to where you can then receive the right answers, the right information that you need.
So Mark doesn't walk into a meeting when he's asking questions and listening first and just ask questions, ask questions. Make sure you have a depth to the question. And one thing I love what John talks about; I want to give you guys a perspective on the other side of not asking questions. John will say to us often, he'll say, man, it amazes me when we're at a dinner, we're at a meeting, we're somewhere where the leaders are there. Their team is there. Maybe John's there. And there'll be a statement that says, hey, does anybody have any questions for John or for the leaders? And then the room goes silent. And what we don't want you to do is we don't want you to miss the opportunity of actually asking questions. And I think missing the opportunity, both in our personal life and our professional life, is something that we've got to become very attuned to. Mark, talk a little bit about how you go about personally, professionally, not missing the opportunities to ask good questions.
Mark Cole: You know, Chris, I'm in, I think six times a month, I am in settings to where people have paid serious dollars, serious dollars, to be in a mentoring program with John and myself. But it's really about John. And I'm amazed at, there can be hundreds of people in this environment, and I'm amazed when we still have time left with John Maxwell and no questions to be asked, to your point. And it's not just because of the money exchange. You're going, man, you paid money, why don't you ask questions? It's the fact that I can't get my mind around the respect the world shows to John Maxwell's wisdom around leadership, the perplexity of leading in today's economy. So the wealth of wisdom of John Maxwell, the perplexity of leadership in my life and other people's lives, and no questions being asked.
It reminds me, and I think a lot of times it's because we're concerned on how we look or it may not be a good question. There's two quotes I want to leave you here. One's from our Albert Einstein, pretty smart dude. Right? He said that he wasn't that smart, he just stays with the question much longer. And I'm going to, I want pause right here. Because I got one more standout statement that I want to give you, but this quote on Albert Einstein, let me tell you my best growth as a CEO, as an executive, was when at the beginning of the year, I spent a lot of time identifying the seven questions in my leadership I wanted to answer that year. Seven questions. And at that particular time I was meeting with five Atlanta based CEOs of big organizations and international brands that you would all know, that had, I think because of feeling sorry for me and love for John, they gave me time once a quarter to come and spend time with them and then mentor me.
And I went with those seven questions and I would ask each one of them the same seven questions to get five different perspectives. I remember one time going back to one of these leaders that is internationally known and I said, hey, I know I've already asked you these seven questions, but I'm at a different place six months later than I was six months ago. Can I ask you these same six questions? His response blew me away. He said, this is one of the smartest questions a mentor, one of the smartest requests [crosstalk 00:26:57] a mentor has ever had me, because two things: you're at a different place six months later, and guess who else is? [crosstalk 00:27:03] And I thought about your questions last time. And this morning, as I prepared for our time this morning, I recalled some of the answers I gave you, and I went, that wasn't a very good answer.
So I'm glad, Mark, you're going to give me, Mr. Internationally Known Leader, a second chance to answer your single question.
Chris Goede: Wow.
Mark Cole: Now here's the point. Albert Einstein said, he's not that smart. He just stays with the question a lot longer than most people. One more sticky point or one more standout statement that I want to share with you is, would you rather look naive for a minute, or be naive for the rest of your life? And when we're in these environments and we have a chance to ask question, and we're embarrassed about how we might look for a moment, think about spending your entire life or an entire day with somebody like John Maxwell and not even taking an opportunity to ask a question. It's naive for a moment. Naive for a lifetime. And I'm just going to challenge you for me, for you podcast listeners, ask questions. If you get a chance to ask somebody a question, be prepared as possible. Do try to make it a good question. Because John said in the lesson, a great question deserves a great answer. So make it as good a question as possible, but don't let the lack of no great questions stop you from asking a question when wisdom presents itself.
Chris Goede: Yeah. I didn't know that story. That is phenomenal where you went back six months later. That's brilliant. And even off that quote, we could probably do an entire podcast on this topic because John says, then we don't think long enough. Right? So the value of the question is not only the immediate answer, what Mark's talking about right here is he went back, got an additional answer, six months later. But what he did in between the six months was he thought on those questions, and we could do again, I'm not going to go on a thinking track. John's got a lot of thoughts around that. We don't stay there long enough, but to your point, we're not even staying long enough with certain questions to make sure that we're growing and learning from that. Now your example of people not having questions for John is spot on.
And one of the things that I think John always asks, and those that are avid listeners and Maxwellians, as we call them, probably have heard John ask us, which is, hey, he always asks, who do you know that I should know? It's a great question. Okay. A deep question there. I also remember one time we had a conversation with John and he said, it would be awesome if somebody came up and said, what are the questions that people should be asking you, that they're not asking you? Right? What is it, John's like, are you really asking me that question? You should be asking me this. The two little high level questions you may want to take.
You spend a lot of time with John and I know you have a discipline and a process and you're prepared to bring this kind of lesson full circle. Anytime that you're with John for those questions, happens to be a little, blue book you carry about with you, talk a little bit to that discipline and that process that you have to always be prepared. And the type of questions that you're asking of John, your mentor, your leader, when you have that opportunity.
Mark Cole: Well, I love that you asked the question and by the way, if you're a consistent podcast listener, maybe you're joining for the first time today. We are brand new on YouTube. Now we're not producing it. It's not cut and pasted and making us look good. And this particular episode, Chris, we're backing up and recording a couple because of mine and your travel schedule, so some days we're going to be in the same shirt because we're hitting a couple of podcasts today, but I want to tell you something. Number one, if you are a podcast listener and you want to visualize how good looking Chris is and what a struggle I have each and every morning, head over to YouTube and check us out there. We hope it'll add value to you. It's just raw, unplugged, but I'm glad you asked that.
And for those of you that are viewing the podcast on YouTube, here's the blue book. And it goes with me everywhere. Here's my notes. Here's what I got to talk to John about today. To your point, and thank you, Jake, I want to come back to this Maxwellpodcast.com/youtube is how you get there. Maxwellpodcast.com/youtube.
Back to my blue book. Every single day of my life, every single moment, I use a lot of technology. I got technology here. I got a computer here. I got my iPad here. I've got my remarkable over here. This episode brought to you by remarkable. I've got all of that. But there's something about carrying this little blue book. And I just go around with questions that I want to ask John. And I've got a question on mentoring that I need to ask him right now. I'm working through a situation, working through some year-end financials. And I just need to ask him, how did he process at certain times of life? I'm 20 years younger than John and I've got a little more appetite for risk than he does at this stage of his life. How do I navigate risk and certainty? And so that's a mentoring question that I'm going to ask John.
I'm always prepared for mentoring, for business direction, and for just practical things that we've got to do. Now here's my point. Where is your blue book? And maybe it's your iPhone. Where are you capturing questions you want to ask when the opportunity presents itself? You've heard John Maxwell, no doubt, quote John Wooden that says, when opportunity presents itself, it's too late to be prepared. Well, when an answer is ready to be given, it's too late for the question to be thought of, in my opinion, if you want to talk about preparation.
So if I've got all this access to John, I've got all this ability from a mentoring standpoint, from a business, vision standpoint, and from just a practical, John, we got to get some stuff done. The worst thing I could do is to get on the plane with him a little bit later this week, get on a plane and then start thinking about what I need to ask John. I always, in fact I'm so good at always, that when John gets on the plane, every single time, he says, how full is your book? Which really means how much time do we have just to play catch up and how much work do we have to do?
Chris Goede: It's awesome.
Mark Cole: Because I'm always prepared. And now my mentor knows I'm always prepared. Be so prepared that the people around you do not have to question your preparation. Have questions so that you can ask. Now, Chris, I could talk for a long time on this. Jake is shooting us a message that we've got to wrap it up. He's tired of hearing us talk, I think. I'm just kidding, Jake. But for all of you listening to the podcast, thank you again. Let me give you the standout session, or the standout statement. The sticky thought for today. Would you rather look naive for a moment, or be naive for your lifetime? Your response to asking questions, and some of you podcast listeners, you're in these moments with John and questions and being able to ask questions of John, be prepared. Don't let a moment of potential input, answers from some people that you respect, stop you because you have not prepared and don't have a question.
Now, speaking of question, there is a question from Duncan. He's one of our podcast listeners. He listened to the episode Questions I Ask Myself as a Leader. Now that was a series we did back in July. That'll be in the show notes if you want to go back and listen to that. Here's Duncan's comment. Wow guys, thanks so much for this really challenging topic. Here's my first question. What can we do to improve our question asking skill? So Chris, I've been answering a lot. I've been talking a lot. You get to ask that then I'll wrap us down today. So here's Duncan's question. What can we do to improve our question asking skills?
Chris Goede: Yeah, I think that some of the things we shared with in today's episode, which is, what do I need to know, that you know, that I don't know, right? What am I missing? Be talking to those that are, for me as a leader in our organization, I want to go to the front lines and I just want to ask questions, right? I want to understand the systems, the processes, what are they struggling with? Sometimes I even sit down and I just say, hey, what is it that is keeping you from excelling at your job? At your personal? What is it? And how can I help you with that? And I think the more you begin to ask questions, the more it'll become comfortable for you.
But do not hesitate to go, not to your leader, okay? But make sure that you go into the front lines to those that are out there doing it every day and start asking them questions of how you can serve them? How you can remove obstacles? Now listen, as Mark and I talked about, when you do that, make sure you are not just hearing them, you're listening, and then take action to that to show that you've had a posture of learning from exactly what they have shared with you.
Mark Cole: Brilliant, brilliant answer, Chris. Thank you for the answer. Duncan, thank you for the question. You're listening to the podcast, because you're asking questions. Hey, for all of you, I tell you all the time, listen, learn, then lead. Let me slow down today and tell you the way to listen is to value the art of asking questions. Then go lead because people need values-based leadership today. Thank you. We'll see you again next episode.