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​Maxwell Leadership Podcast: Transformational Leadership (Part 1)

February 3, 2021
​Maxwell Leadership Podcast: Transformational Leadership (Part 1)

This week on The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, we’re starting a new series called Transformational Leadership! John’s lesson throughout this series was recorded several years ago, when John was only about one year into his transformational leadership journey. Through the series, John teaches what transformational leadership is and why it is so impactful.

During the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole and Traci Morrow discuss what it means to have a calling, and they remind us that big movements often start small––with you.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the Transformational Leadership Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Welcome back to the John Maxwell leadership podcast. I'm so excited to be with you today. I'm going to take just a minute, additional minute rather to set up John's lesson today. You see, we go back several years to pull out this lesson. Today's lesson on transformational leadership part one is going to be a two-part series going back to a lesson John did several years ago, as he began filling a compelling poll to transform people, to transform communities, to transform the world. Just last week on January the 26th, John released the book, Change Your World. In fact, yesterday we finished up a nine day book tour with different cities, two different cities each day, talking about the Change Your World book. Now, let me be honest. John has not done a book tour in 20 years since the 21 Laws of Leadership, but why did we do a book tour this year? Why did we just yesterday come off of a book tour?

It's because Change Your World is not really a book release. It is a movement release. It is a desire by John Maxwell and by the John Maxwell enterprise, which includes the John Maxwell podcast, to mobilize people that want to change the world, that want to transform the world around them with values. We say it like this. Values-based people-centric servant leadership. Today we wanted to dedicate this podcast to a subject that you've heard, no doubt, about several times over the last few weeks, months. This idea of change your world. This idea of transformation. But we wanted today to go back to the beginning when John first began to formulate the idea of transformation. Many times to understand today, you go back to the source to the beginning. That's our attempt this week and next week is to take you back to where John first began to formulate the vision that now drives our daily activity, this vision of transformation.

Today, John's going to kind of set it up. Then he's going to talk about the first quality of transformational leadership, and then join us back next week, because we're going to let John share with you qualities two, three, and four. This is a two week focus on the start of transformation in the heart and the mind of John Maxwell. We pray, we hope that you enjoy it as much as we have. Now we have notes. We have tools that will help you. I want to challenge you, go to the link and you will be able to download today's show notes and follow along over the next two weeks as John sets the vision of what we're doing today, transformation that will change an individual. It'll change a family. It'll change a company, it'll change a community. We believe it will change countries. Transformation is our vision. Today our visionary is going to talk to you about how it all started. I know you're ready. Here is John C. Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  What I'm going to teach you today is a journey that I have been on for a little bit over a year. I don't know where it's going to end, but I just know that it's a journey unlike anything I've ever had. What I want to do is in your notes today, I want to talk to you about transformational leadership. This may not be the best lesson you ever hear on transformational leadership, but it'll be the most passionate lesson you ever heard on transformational leadership, because what I'm about to teach you is about what's happening in my life. It's kind of like, this is what I know, but it's even more, this is what I'm feeling. This is what I'm realizing. This is what I'm learning. This is what I'm experiencing. This is what I'm going through. I think that transformational leadership is caught not taught.

I think there are a lot of things that you can teach. I think there's a lot of information you can give. I think there's a lot of wonderful things that you can pass on to other people of which they kind of write the notes down and it helps them in their journey in life. But I think there are some things that you can teach it, but it never really takes until it's caught. What I can promise you as I teach this lesson today is I'm full of this stuff. You're going to catch it. You're going to probably catch it whether you want to catch it or not. This is a little radical and there'll be some of you this will take you a little bit out of your comfort zone and it's maybe a little bit more deep than what you really want to go, but I'm here to tell you, you're about to catch something.

Interestingly enough, last year as every year, again, I'm a person of faith and I'm not trying to do anything to you except tell you my story. My story happens to have faith in it. Every year I ask God to give me one word for the year. Interestingly enough is 2012, last year opened up. The word was transformation. I knew that there was much for me to learn about transformation. What is interesting in all the years that I've always asked for one word, the only time that it's ever been repeated was in 2013, as I got ready for this year, the word transformation came right back to me. I knew it was a word that I hadn't yet explored. It's a word that I had not yet eaten of and learned and partaken and allowed to come within me the way it needed to be. It's kind of bad when you only get one word and after a year you got to do it again.

It's kind of like, wow, John, you flunked one word. No wonder God doesn't give me a sentence. A paragraph is totally out of the arena. I mean a paragraph, I couldn't handle a paragraph if you flunk one word ,I mean, hello. The way I look at it, if I don't improve and get with it this year, next year, he's just going to say, "Here's a letter, John, here's a letter. Can you handle a letter? Let's do one letter at a time son. You're just slow. You're a good person, but you're just slow." Transformation, it's just absolutely consuming my mind and my time and my whole being. I'm right now, writing a book on transformational leadership. I've never written a book like I'm writing right now. It's kind of like, I write it for a while and I put it down because I can't handle it anymore.

I've got to pull away and I've got to reflect and I've got to think, and I got to let it work on me for a while. It's kind of like, I don't think I'm writing a book. I think I'm letting something work on me and I'm just putting down what I'm learning. Then I have to back away for a while. It's just like, I can't do it in a long process. I've got to take it in small sizes, but what I'm going to give you now is what I'm learning. I promise you, if you hear me six months from now, it'll be better. This isn't probably the best I'll ever do, but it's the best I can do now. Listen to me carefully. I learned a long time ago in communicating all you have to deliver every time you deliver is the best you can do now.

Don't wait for tomorrow to get better, to deliver the message because you're lost today when you waiting for tomorrow. Not only did you lose today when you waited for tomorrow, you lost the passion of today. Passion is the fuel and the energy for every person that communicates. I would like to talk to you about transformational leadership. Wow. What's wonderful about transformational leadership is every one of you in this room, you could become a transformational leader. You can truly transform your culture. Think about it. Think about that. The person on your left, you weren't even sure could turn on the light, the person on your left right now. You weren't even sure about them. You wondered how they got into this coaching program.

Don't say anything to them. Come on. Some of you are starting to kind of just say, boy, this is my opportunity. John's given me a shot to let them know really what I've been thinking the whole time. But even they can become a transformation ... Look at them right now and say, "Even you, even you can become a transformational leader, even you." Okay. Here we go. Transformational leadership influences people to think, speak and act in such a way that it makes a positive difference in their life and in the lives of others. I began to ask myself, how does transformation unfold in a person's life? How do you and I become a transformational leader? Let's go. Number one, it begins with a calling. It's internal, it's internal. That calling basically says, I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference.

Let me define calling. Your calling is when your why becomes bigger than you. When your purpose becomes bigger than you. There are two great days in a person's life, the day they were born and the day they discovered why. Your calling is when your why becomes bigger than you. Here's what I've discovered. If you have a heart to make a difference, you will always find an answer. Yes, you will. You show me a person that has a heart to make a difference. They won't be denied. I mean, will they have setbacks? Yes. Will they have detours? Yes. Will they find dead ends? Yes. But you show me somebody wants to make a difference and they can't be stopped. They can't be turned. They're going to find the answer. You see, when you really want to make a difference, you'll find an answer. When you don't want to make a difference, you'll find an excuse. The world is full of people who have been creative all their life in finding excuses. Why they haven't, couldn't, shouldn't, didn't. You've heard me say before, it's easier to go from failure to success than it is from excuses to success.

When I hear a person talk about all the reasons why they couldn't, shouldn't, didn't, wouldn't, haven't, can't, won't, I just know their why isn't big enough. Can I say this? When you find your why that's your purpose. Why am I living? Why am I doing what I'm doing? When you find your why, that's when you'll find your way. People are all the time saying, what's my path? What's my journey? What's my dream? When you find your why you'll find your way. You won't find your way until you find your why. When people come and they say help me to discover myself, the first question I ask them is what's your purpose in life? If they don't have a purpose in life, they're not going to discover themselves. Let me say this. When you find your why, you'll not only find your way, but when you find your why you'll find your will, wow. Gandhi understood it. Gandhi understood calling. What did he say? He said, "Be the change that you want to see." The change that you want to have in your community, the change you want to have in your family, Gandhi said, "It's very simple. You just become that change."

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back. I hope that you enjoyed hearing the beginning of transformation, not only the first part, because this is two parts. I hope that you enjoyed hearing the beginning of John forming this. I'm here today with no stranger to you, Traci Morrow. But let me tell you this. When John taught that lesson, Traci was in the room with me. Traci, we've been going at this for a long time. I mean, does that make you feel old or what?

Traci Morrow:  I didn't. I didn't until you just said that.

Mark Cole:       But truly Traci, we have been there since John began to birth this vision, God began to birth this vision in John of transformation. I'm really, truly honored to sit today in studio, Zoom studio with you on this topic of transformational leadership. Thanks for being a part of the podcast. But thanks particularly in being a part of the transformational leadership podcast. Welcome.

Traci Morrow:  Oh, I am so happy to be here. The amazing thing about this, having sat in the room when he said it back in 2013 or 14, whenever it was, to hear John's vision, transformation is a ginormous word. Sometimes you can feel like it's still so big. I feel like he's really been honing how he teaches it and how he shares it with people. They really can catch it. Couldn't this have been filmed today? Couldn't this have just been recorded this month? It's amazing to me the vision that he had, not having any clue how different the world would look all these years later in 2021. Yet he had the vision and he's been working on it. The timing is incredibly perfect. But Mark, he said it's caught, not taught.

I have to say, that's how it was for me too. He taught it. I was in that room. I don't think the magnitude of the word or the vision that he had really penetrated my brain. It didn't get through the layers of like, Oh, this is a good talk. Oh yeah. I want to be transformed to like, what does it really mean to catch transformation? I'm curious, when did you catch it? Did you have it already right off the bat? What did it take for you to really catch it from John? What does transformation look like for you or to you when you visualize it?

Mark Cole:       What's interesting, Traci, is what I caught was magnitude. I didn't catch clarity. I caught magnitude because I remember right before John communicated this in this setting, he caught the vision of transformation sitting in Guatemala. We had just met the president. He was being challenged by our board. He was being challenged by the faith leaders in the country of Guatemala. I can remember the board rejecting, the ministry leaders of Guatemala rejecting and John and I taking a long elevator ride. That was only about 11 stories, I stayed a lot higher than 11 stories before. But I can remember the long silent elevator ride from the ballroom where John had been rejected twice to his room, his hotel room. Then I remember the long walk from the elevator to the door of his hotel room, which may have only been 10 rooms, but the length of that walk and then opening the door and John collapsing on the chair in his room and sobbing on my shoulders. Because he saw something that because he lacked clarity to engage people into it, people were rejecting. Then John knowing, it was almost like that rejection or that uncertainty made John dig his heels in, not in defiance, but in certainty.

Now, here we are seven, eight years later, just finishing a book tour where we saw massive amounts of people signing on wanting to be in transformation table, buying the book, wanting to be a part of this movement. Just because I saw that just in the last two weeks, and just because I've met with now 8 presidents, excuse me, 12 presidents from 5 different countries about transformation saying, "We want transformation here." Seeing transformation and hearing the stories of transformation of millions of young people and millions of people going through our values based round tables. Just because I'm seeing that results does not change the fact that transformation was just as real in the heart of a leader before we ever met with the president, before I could ever give you stats of millions of people in a transformation. It was no less real back then.

My challenge to all of you in podcast land today is what is that seed that's in your heart? Don't give up on it because the growing of that seed, the blooming of that seed, the fruit that will ultimately come from the seed, that is transformation. But don't despise the small beginnings because John says this, movements don't begin with a mass. They begin with a few. We sometimes wake up to a mass and go, "Wow, we finally achieve transformation." No, you reach transformation on the long elevator up, the long haul down to the hotel room, the collapsing in the chair, crying on a friend's shoulder. You're still at transformation at that point. Don't lose that transformation begins with a calling. John's first point. For John, that means I want to make a difference.

Traci Morrow:  What about for you? You see your mentor, your leader, your dear friend collapsing in that chair. How does that affect your mind? I can't help but think based on my own experiences, you can see he sees something so big for this world, but it has to be broken down to the individual person to receive transformation inside of them. That's when he talks about like connecting it to your calling. Some people, I don't know that I would have as a young woman, I don't know that I would have called it a calling. I just would have felt like I've got something in me that wants to be a part of something bigger, something beyond me. For you, like in that moment, you have a calling, you've said so many times on the podcast, you have a calling to John, you have a calling to serve him in his leadership.

Well, now you're calling. We're people of faith, but not trying to shove that down anybody's throat, but also God has expanded your calling to take the mantle. WHat does that feel like? Because we hear you say it and then we can kind of apply it to ourselves. What does it feel like when John is collapsing in that chair frustrated after two board meetings and a president of a country not seeing it? They're wanting it but he has to be able to explain it and transfer it so we can catch it. What did that feel like for you? Was that when you caught it or would you say it's been a process?

Mark Cole:       It's definitely been a process, but you said something, John said it in his lesson today too, a calling is when your purpose, this is in your notes, those of you that have downloaded your show notes. A calling is when your purpose, your why becomes bigger than you. Traci, you just said that. For me, my calling for years has been to John, the persona, John the individual that has all this vision and all this opportunity. In that moment in 2013, 2014, even 2012, when I began to see this thing roll out, my calling has always been bigger than me. When you start small and you are small, it's not hard to have something bigger than you. Isn't that true for so many of us, we started with nothing. Then our vision, our calling, the opportunities began to make way for our talents and our development.

While I sit here today a few weeks ago, I shared of a recent leadership meeting we had here. The first leadership meeting of 2021, I'm starting to see things that is bigger than all of us combined. I had my lonely chair moment. Now it wasn't as dramatic. It wasn't right after a meeting with the president. It wasn't right after my board said, "What are you talking about?" But for me, it was big. It was my leadership team. It was the women and men that are heading in a direction for me. I cast this vision and I sensed everybody just kind of sit back in their chair and go, "I don't know if this is possible. Ooh, this feels uncomfortable. What do we got to change for this to happen?" I had my own little hotel chair meeting with Kimberly, my executive assistant.

I just went, "I anticipated the inability of people to see it. I anticipated the loneliness that I was going to have because I was the only one in the room seeing it. I even anticipated that it was going to take us time to get there." Now that's because the calling is there. The certainty is there. When we're working in a purpose that is bigger than us and we're certain that is tied to our purpose. The road becomes no less difficult yet it becomes easier. My leadership meeting was easy. It was a difficult one, but it was easy because I attached it to something that John's talking about here. I want to make a difference. I want to do that from the place of calling.

Traci Morrow:  I think we all do though. Me and all of my friends and your friends listening in on the podcast. One of the things that John talked about is that some people have spent a lot of time making creative excuses, discounting themselves. I have to say, I discounted myself. You know this Mark because we're friends. We've had many conversations. I feel like I had a heart to help, but it started to feel so big that the success gap John talks about, the transformation was on one side and my smallness was on the other side. Even though I had a heart and a passion, and I knew it was my purpose, there can be a little bit like, who am I? I'm just one person. Can I really do something? I don't know that many people, or I don't have that big of a business or whatever.

You and I had a conversation one time, I was just sitting over kind of taking a moment to myself and it was hitting me in the face of like, who am I? This is big. You came over, you found me. I don't know if you remember that. You found me and we had a conversation and you said, "Traci, I feel the same way. But our calling, we have to just trust that where John's leading and connect our calling to that." It helped me. I stopped looking at myself as I shouldn't have and turned and looked at like, what is this purpose? Don't think about me. Think about where John's leading, where we can lead ourselves and where we can lead others. What if we have podcast listeners, I can only imagine we have podcast listeners who have discounted themselves and maybe didn't realize it, or looks at the problems in the world and the magnitude of that and they've lost a little bit of hope.

This is a message to me from John of hope and how to. You helped me immensely to get beyond myself. Can you take a minute and maybe talk to our podcast listeners who need to get beyond their creative excuses, maybe years long of creative excuses of why they shouldn't be a part of transformation and speak to that so that they can step boldly towards this movement and find their place in it? A place only they can fill.

Mark Cole:       I can. I'm going to keep using you and I as an example. Thanks for your authenticity. One of my favorite things about you joining me as a co-host when you do is I know you're going to keep it real. You are. Traci, here's what I love about you. I think our podcast listeners know Traci cohosts the Maximum Impact mentoring club with John. She is the host of our L two L event. You're going to be on stage hosting our IMC event this year. Traci has truly become a model of a Maxwell leader, a transformational leader. Traci, I introduced you in an environment you and I were co-leading and trying to help people on the subject of personal growth just earlier. In fact, in recording this just this week. We get on the phone and we're talking about personal growth, and it occurred to me as I was reading your pre-created bio that I did not read from because I wanted to talk from my heart, that of all the leaders I get to interact with, you have led at a massive level as a business leader. You have led as a growing incredibly effective leader in the faith world.

You are in kind of the social do good space. You've done incredibly incredible things. If you've ever heard of P90X, Traci was one of the people you were cussing about 12 minutes into 30 minute program, because she's still there, no sweat. She's just looking at you, smiling, but making you feel terrible all at the same time. Traci has done a great job in media. But let me tell you what Traci wants to be known for. She wants to be known for as the mom of four kids, biological and two kids that she adopted and a family that is a model, the epitome, not perfect, a model, an epitome of an achievable great family.

In other words, in all of these areas, Traci, you have led and yet at the end of a session of teaching people about personal growth that you have mastered your biggest question to me via text was, "Do you think we helped someone?" The answer I knew not only because I got texts and thank yous and all this wonderful stuff, the answer I knew was yes. You know why? Because we helped ourselves. Because what Gandhi says, and I'm answering your question, I promise. What Gandhi says, "Be the change you wish to see in the world" is the way we live out transformation. You know how we helped people on Tuesday when we were together? Or Monday rather when we were together? Do you know why we help people? Because we were living the change that we want to see in the world.

If we help nobody in the audience, what we do know is we helped ourselves because we reinforced what we want to see in the world. Last night, I was teaching several hundred people physically, but it represented thousands of people on a teaching call. I'm teaching about my word for 2021. I haven't shared this with the podcast yet, but my word is actually two words. It's strong and courageous. Now I'm not going to teach on that today because there's another podcast coming to where I'll share it. But here's what I can tell you. Last night, I was teaching for the first time on my words, but I'll be honest with you. I wasn't teaching. I was sharing my thinking, because I don't have anything to teach yet. I have a journey to demonstrate. Here's why that's important.

I don't know how many people I helped last night. They said, when I opened up the queue that I helped them a lot, but I know I helped one person. Because I'm taking in a journey this year of transformation, a transformation of courage, a transformation of strength so that we can lead our brand for such a time as this. This movement of transformation that John is talking about, this is a providential timing and positioning of John Maxwell, our brand, our voice, our style of leadership because of the world needs it now. We're sharing it with you not because we're experts, we're sharing it with you because it's too big for us. We're sharing it with you not because we're good at it. As John said, this won't be the best lesson you ever hear on transformation. It won't be the last lesson you hear on transformation, but it will be the most passionate because this is where I'm starting it.

Well, I just finished a book tour yesterday where I saw hundreds, thousands representative tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands begin to mobilize on a movement of transformation because the world is poised for this message that John's sharing today. That's why Traci, I wanted to go back. I wanted to go back several years and say, this is the source. This is the beginning of transformation. Now, Traci, we're going to come back next week and we're going to really share this, but I'm going to wrap right here today. I know you've got other questions. We'll come back next week and talk about transformation, but I'm going to wrap right here because I want you listening to the podcast today. I don't want you to take another minute hearing about transformation. I'm so glad Jake only put together one point for this lesson, because the biggest point of this lesson is to invite you into a journey with us. Not invite you into a product, not invite you into perfection, not invite you even into a movement yet, but to invite you in to be a part of the beginning of something that will radically transform our world.

Oh, I believe that. We've been believing that for seven years. This is not the first time this book tour, that John decided to do something. You heard today on the podcast. This started seven or eight years ago. We're at a place now to where we're ready to stop talking about it and start doing it. We call it, change your world. In fact, write it down right now, memorize it if you're driving, It's not just your ability to pick up the book we hope you do, but it's really your ability to see how well you do value yourself and value others. Because at, we start your connection into that web environment with an assessment that's free, but an assessment of John Maxwell's perception of transformation values that will give you an insight on how well you're doing with transformational values and where you need to get better.

The next step after you take the transformation values assessment and get the assessment back, the report, is to invite you into a community of five to eight people. We call them transformation tables. Some of them are virtual and all around the world. Some of them are very local to you and five to eight people in your community. But whichever fits and serves you the best. I want to invite you in to change your world environment. I want to begin to radically change the leadership trajectory of mine in your world. We need to. I don't need to tell you that I don't need to spend valuable podcast minutes to tell you that the world needs radical transformation of people-centric, values based servant leadership. The timing requires it. John's got a message. John's got a calling, we've got a purpose. We invite you into that today.

I do. I want to invite you, go today, go right now. It won't cost you a thing unless you choose to buy the book. You can get the values assessment. You can get the readout of the assessment at I'm going to challenge you. I close most of our podcasts with the statement, let's lead and I'll see you next week. But this week I'm going to tell you something different. We grow leaders to change the world. That's what we do. I want to challenge you, if you've been added value to, let's go multiply value to others and let's do together, grow leaders to change the world. Thanks for joining us today. Traci always great to have you. John Maxwell, thank you for setting a course for us podcast listeners. We will see you again next week for part two of transformational leadership.

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