In this installment of Candid Conversations, we’re doing something both exciting and different. Mark and John are practicing social distancing and are unable to sit in a room together to record new Candid Conversations. However, this past week, they were both on a call with over 500 John Maxwell coaches and faculty where they discussed mentoring in times of crisis.
Join them in this insightful discussion to learn the keys to mentoring others in both good and bad times.
For more episodes of The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, visit the Episodes Page. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you can receive updates on new episodes and direct links to the free bonus resources we offer for every regularly scheduled episode.
Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell
John Maxwell’s Facebook Live page
Mark Cole: Hey, everyone! Mark Cole here, welcome to another Candid Conversation on the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. As you know, with social distancing, getting together with people is sometimes difficult. Especially in these kind of times. And so, today’s Candid Conversation is unique, it’s different. In fact, it’s still a Candid Conversation between John Maxwell and I, but it was on a recent call that he and I did with over five hundred of our John Maxwell Team coaches and faculty. In this call, John Maxwell and I talked about the differences of mentoring during crisis compared to mentoring when not is crisis. As we were doing this talk, I realized it would add great value to you on the Candid Conversation episode of the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. So, today, enjoy this because John Maxwell and I will share with you some insightful thoughts on how to mentor during a crisis!
Well, good Saturday morning to the John Maxwell Team family! My name is Mark Cole, I am on today with John Maxwell. Now, here’s what else, I’ll tell you this, I’m on with a lot of our teaching team. Our faculty are on, we are here, to be honest with you, we’re ready to learn from John! We love being in the community. There’s nothing better than being apart of this family, this tribe. I know that, I know you feel that way. But you didn’t come today just, literally, hundreds, and hundreds, of you did not come today just because you love being on the tribe or being in the team. And I know that is part of it and you love that, but today we came because our friend, first and foremost, our Papa, John Maxwell has just assumed an incredible role of being a father figure to all of us. But even more than that, our friend and our Papa, it is our leader, and our founder and, John, I’ve got to tell you, my friend, watching you lead through Leading Through Crisis, through these weekly leadership messages you’re giving to literally hundreds of thousands, really, millions of leaders around the world. I’ve got to tell you, I love you as a mentor, we’re going to talk about that today, I love you as a friend, you’re John Maxwell, you’re everybody’s friend. I love you as our Papa, as our founder, but I’ve got to tell you, right now, I’m loving you as our voice of leadership in times of crisis. Good morning to you! Thanks for jumping on with us today!
John Maxwell: Hey, Mark! Glad to be with you, glad to be with all of our JMT. What an honor to spend just some time with people that you greatly love and what to add value to, so, whenever, Mark, you and I get to help people, to add value to people, lift them, it’s just a good thing. So, I’m very pleased to be with you and be with the hundreds that are on the call with us.
Mark Cole: Yeah, John, you’re right. Getting to talk leadership with you, I’ve been on your team twenty years, in fact, I was on a call yesterday or the day before, you may or may not remember this, but in twenty days from right now, May 1st, it will be twenty years! And, I don’t know if you need my watch size, I don’t know what you need from me…but just tell me what you need!
And, I’m kidding!
John Maxwell: Twenty wonderful years, Mark! My goodness!
Mark Cole: Yes! Twenty years! And, I’m totally kidding. The rewards have been insane. But, here’s my point, getting an opportunity to be mentored by you this entire time, but specifically the last five or six years have been a game changer for me. Let me say this real quick, because some of the people, John, does not know me, thank god they all know you! But I’ve been with you for twenty years, as I’ve said, the last ten years I’ve been the CEO of all of our companies, which went from three to seven. Now, back down to one, we’ve unified everything. I’ve been a business partner with you, I’ve been a thinking partner with you, we started businesses together. I went from the back-stock room making telephone calls to put people in your events to now, again, just being a thinking partner with you and leading at the senior’s executive level after ten years. I got to tell you, the mentorship that you’ve provided for me, has been the difference maker and so, I’m thankful, I’m thankful for all that you’ve done for me and helping me, but I’m also thankful that today I get to call you my mentor. So, let’s get started because here’s what we want to talk about today, we want to talk about mentoring through crisis. How do we take what we have been doing now for five or six years of mentoring and how do we apply that in times of crisis. You know you’ve done a virtual summit to over a million people in the last two weeks. That was the same time we were supposed to be at IMC meeting everybody. And then, the last two weeks you have done these weekly lessons to over a hundred, a hundred fifty thousand people and its crazy times! Talk to me a little bit about what you’re working on right now. How has this crisis impacted you?
John Maxwell: Well, I think, Mark, I think when you ask me, what am I working on right now, from a leader’s perspective, it’s not set curriculum. Let me explain, when you say, “John, what are you working on right now?” What I’m working on right now is where the people are. What do they need right now? That’s why I think leadership always gives a person an edge over management. When I manage people or when I manage things it’s pretty set. There’s a process. By the way, management is wonderful and incredibly needed! So, this is not an anti-management statement, but management is about a process and order, and first things first, and let’s kind of check off our list. And, that’s very needed to stabilize an organization, but in mentoring as a leader, the question I always have to ask myself is, “Where are the people? What are they going through right now?” One of the big mistakes I made early in my mentorship years, and I’ve made a lot of them. But I’ve been mentoring a lot of years. But one of the first mistakes that I made in mentoring is I would set the agenda for people. For example, I will use you as the example, Mark, I would sit down and I would say, “Okay, Mark, I’m going to mentor you and I’m going to prepare these lessons for you and I’m going to tell you this process.” And, I was mentoring with an assumption that I knew what was best for you, that I knew where you were, and I knew what you needed. And, that was not a healthy assumption. I had some misses. Because I was, again, trying to take a person where I wanted them to go without first finding out where that person was. So, in mentoring, it always is not, “What subject are you going to teach on, John?” It’s always, “Where are you?” Because the moment I can discover where you are and let you ask me some questions and let me ask you some questions, once I make that discovery, now all of a sudden, I can help you because what we teach must intercept with what we need. So many times, honestly, as a communicator forget mentoring from it, you know, I’ve spoken on subjects that nobody cared about. And, so, you know the good news is I told them what I thought they needed to know, the bad news is they walked out of the building and I didn’t help them. So, when you say, “Where are you?” Well, I’m where the people are. And, so, the people right now, there’s just several places where people are but mostly because of uncertainty, because of change that we didn’t expect, because of surprises, you know, being blindsided, you know, people are emotionally very needy right now and their insecurities are dominating our thoughts. Now, that’s not a good thing, but that’s a real thing. So, I can either mentor them in the world that they should live, or I could mentor them in the world that they do live. There’s a world of difference between that and I used to mentor in the world that they should live, and one day I realized that the “should” never connects with the people. I’ve got to bring them to the “should” and I don’t being them to the “should” by just teaching there, I bring them to that level by going to where they are and then walking with them until they get to that level. So, I think now it’s just me being very connected with the times, what’s happening, but very connected to the people, how is it affecting them? And, great mentorship, I believe, just always understands that and always tries to make sure that’s where we’re going. So, right now, the teaching I think the online success that we’re having, which is way beyond anything I would have imagined to be honest with you. I’m kind of surprised by all of this! I think the reason we’re having it though is that I’m mentoring people, pretty much, where they are living and because of that, they’re saying, “Well, I’ve got to hear what he’s saying.” Or, “I want some guidance.”
Mark Cole: Well, and you said what you’re teaching has got to intersect with what you need, what people need. It’s kind of that saying I’ve heard you say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And, that student has got to step forward. You can put the content out there, but somebody has got to step forward that will commit themselves not only listening, or jumping in, they’ve got to insert themselves. But, guess what? We’ve also got to go do something with what we’ve been given. What are you doing right now to grow and learn during this time?
John Maxwell: Okay, hold that question just for a sec. You said something I want to tee off on if I can remember what you said, I almost jumped in when you said it because it was so insightful, it was so good. I’m sorry I’ve lost it though, I did. When I interrupt you it’s not impoliteness, it’s forgetfulness. Hey, hey, there’s a difference! When I interrupt you, I’m not trying to be impolite, if I interrupt you more in this conversation, Mark, it’s going like the thought just hit me, friend! Let me have it right now before the thought—and then I’m disappointed in myself and for everyone else because, honestly, you said something in that little conversation you just had that was insightful, and I thought, “Oh! I’ve got to tee off on that!” And, I forgot it, so I’m sorry.
Mark Cole: And what I was saying though John, the teacher will appear, when the student is ready—
John Maxwell: —Oh! That’s it! I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it! Mark, I got it, I got it! Because that was the statement, when the students are ready, the teacher will appear. The crisis makes students ready. You see, one of the ways and reasons we change is because we heard enough that we have to. So, right now, there’s an awful lot of students. I have no problem with getting people to gather at my feet to sit and to learn because the crisis has made the student ready. Many times, we don’t change until we are forced or have to change; and that’s what’s happening right now. So, I think the demand of mentoring right now is extremely high and coaching and adding value because the need is extremely high. So, that was the statement. Thank you for when you recaptioned it, I got it back!
Mark Cole: Well, you made it sound so much better! Let me ask you this, we’re all quarantined, your schedule has changed. We could talk, lament, cry, scream, and be excited about some of the changes, the good and the bad. But the fact is none of that helps. Right now, what are you doing to continue to learn and grow during this time? How are you challenging yourself?
John Maxwell: Well, I love that question, Mark! Again, what’s so beautiful about our time together, you and I going back and forth is, obviously, we want to add value to the JMT, but you say things that make me just want to kind of, “Oh! I want to speak to that!” And, I do want to speak to the fact that the first thing you do in a time like this is you have to take care of yourself. You’ve got to take care of yourself. That’s not a selfish response; that’s an essential response. It goes back to when you’re getting ready to take off on a plane and they are giving you all of the safety instructions and you know, in case of oxygen lost, the mask is going to come down. They say put the mask on yourself first. You maybe have a child with you, maybe you have an elderly person beside you, put the mask on first. Now you’d sit there and think, “Woah! Wait a minute! I’ve got to put that mask on an elderly person there. I’ve got to take care of other people.” No, no, you can’t take care of other people if you don’t first take care of yourself. So, it’s not a selfish response, but during this time right now I am strengthening me. And, I’m pouring in me, I’m investing in me. So that, you know, we’re weekly giving right now through social media, some, I don’t know, some mentoring, and I’m doing a teaching every week. I think the next one is going to be on Monday at noon. But every week I’m trying to help people and bring to them the essentials that are going to help them through this crisis. Well, I can’t do that unless I’m learning myself, growing myself. I cannot gift others what I do not have myself. And, Mark, one of the miss’s people have in wanting to help people is they have to realize, they’ve got to fill their own personal well with water first. This is something my dad taught me. By the way, I just went and saw my dad yesterday. He’s 98, but when I was seventeen and I told him that I wanted to add value to people I wanted to be a speaker, that whole process. He said, “Son, it’s very simple…keep your well full of water so that when you put your bucket down, you’ve got something.” So, one of the reasons that we talk even about mentoring is the whole issue is mentoring keeps my well full of water. So, that when I want to grow myself, grow other people, grow my business, whatever it is, I can just put the bucket down and I’ve got water for them. So, for myself, you know, okay, I go to my source it’s strengthening again. We have at JMT we have great diversity, we have people from all different cultures, all different countries, all different kinds of faith, and everybody’s family, everybody’s welcome, everybody’s invited in the room and we value [INAUDIBLE]. But I am a person of faith myself, and so, I at this point in my life I’m just spending some faith time, some personal time just to strengthen my spirit and to strengthen my soul and in that process—so, I’m taking long walks just about every day. Not every day, but you know, I mean, go take four or five mile walks and I’m listening to podcasts and I’m doing some what I call “intentional thinking”, which means, when I go on my walk I’ll say there’s maybe, two things I want to think about. The other day I took a walk and I said I’m going to spend this walk just thinking about uncertainty because that’s a big word right now in crisis. And what does uncertainty mean? How’s it affect me? How’s it affect people? How do I get benefits out of it? In fact, the mentoring talk that we’re going to have, I think, Monday at noon, is basically, how to take uncertainty and pull them out of that of things that will be profitable, and helpful. When I go on that walk, I’m not only, hopefully, going to get some good exercise for my body but I’m getting mental exercise. Those are the kinds of things I do personally to just kind of prepare myself to do what I’ve asked and do for other people.
Mark Cole: John, not only are you pouring into yourself, but you teach, you can’t be a reservoir only, you’ve got to be a river. And, I’ve just got to tell you, and all of you that’s on the call, I’ve got to give you two new things…well, really three new things that John has done purposely to add value to you so that you can add value to others. One is, John, probably everybody on this call that’s familiar with Summit with Maxwell but John just two weeks ago said, “Mark, team, I want to record sixty new statements of strengths that we will release every day during this crisis through ‘The Minute With Maxwell’.” So, those of you who don’t know what “The Minute with Maxwell” is, it’s John coming on every single day, we send it to your inbox and you can get information from John, you can get an inspiration from John on a leadership word that John is going to talk about. But, during this time, John’s got brand new content that he recorded just a few couple of weeks ago and these are strength statements that John has created. Statements of strength, you want to get re-engaged with Minute with Maxwell. If you follow up, it’s brand new, it’s free, it’s yours. Secondly, John, again, all about this you’re getting mentored, you’re getting poured into, you’re pouring out. We did a Leadership Through Crisis we’ve mentioned a couple of times, everybody that is on the team, you don’t have to pay anything, you don’t have to do anything, you need to go listen to that content if you haven’t and now, you have a free mastermind guide that we’ve given you that you can go, you can build your business with it, you can give it away to your community. I really want to challenge you to do that and then finally, John’s mentioned this, every Monday, and I shouldn’t say every Monday, John, because I’ve promised you I would not put you in a box, but most every Monday, John is going to be doing a Facebook Live livestream message that is very relevant to being a leader, to being an influencer and to being powerful with your voice during this time in crisis. And, John, on behalf, again, of literally hundreds and hundreds, the number keeps growing, I’ve got to thank you for not only pouring into yourself, but giving it to others and I need you to hear me…thank you!
John Maxwell: Well, it’s my joy! By the way, it’s what a leader does. What does a leader do? A leader just basically says, “Where are the people now? And, what do they need?” And, what they need is what the leader prepares to give, share, teach, lead, do with the people that they’re mentoring. So, you know, if you’re a leader your life is truly not your own. Your life is others and lifting others and adding value to others. And, I think that’s a you know—when people say that they want to be a leader and we’ve got hundreds of people on this call, and I think they aspire to lead, and influence and make a difference in people’s lives. But, when people say they want to be a leader, I ask them why? And, what’s very interesting, I was talking to Patrick Lencioni the other day, and Patrick says, “There are two reasons people become leaders. One is because they want a reward for it and the other is because they want to be responsible.” And, those two reasons are just worlds apart. If I want a reward for leader, it’s basically, I’ve become a leader for what? What I’m going to receive out of it personally. And, that’s a short end game, that’s for sure. But if I become a leader because I want to help people be responsible to make a difference, then that’s a whole different thing. So, what leaders do at all times is never serve themselves, they always focus on, “How do I best serve the people?” And, that sets a lot of a leader’s agenda based on not what do I need but what do people need?
Mark Cole: Yeah, you know, John, we promised everybody an hour and I want to be punctual with that. We promised everybody we were going to talk about Mentoring Through Crisis because you’ve done a Leading Through Crisis, I’ve done a Leadershifting Through Crisis lesson in my mentorship not too long ago. I want to get to that but before I do, you’ve been mentoring me from afar for thirty years. But you’ve been mentoring specifically the last five years. You say there’s no success without succession. Or, without a successor but from our company standpoint, and from your message and continuing your impact for years, and years, and years to come, you’ve put a lot of energy into me. You’ve mentored me. I want to talk for just a couple of minutes about how you and I have been effective. How have you taken me from the backroom of the stock house or the stock room, how have you, taking me, never having led an organization of this magnitude before and mentored me and given me an opportunity to lead at the level I’m leading? In other words, what is your biggest takeaway of how you have mentored me in the last three or four years?
John Maxwell: Well, again, it goes back to where are you? And, one of the things, Mark, we teach in mentoring is upfront expectations. When you begin to have a journey with a person, it’s very good before you take off on that journey if you both decide what that destination should be. Not only what the destination should be, but it’s also important to kind of figure out what route you’re going to take. How we’re going to get there, and we call that upfront expectations. But if you’ll remember a couple years ago for JMT we did a thing called “Running Strong Together”. And, the success of the succession with us is I’ve never sat down and said to you, “Okay, Mark, here’s what I expect of you…” And, made it kind of a top down, like, “Okay, I’m the leader so take some notes, and could you get with it?” But you and I sat down, not as me being your leader, but me being your peer and partner. We approached it entirely different. If we’re going to run together then, Mark, you talk to me. What do you need from me that’s going to help you to grow and be more effective? And, by the way, Mark, let me tell you what I need from you that’s going to help me be more effective. And, I think the secret sauce of what we have been able to do is that we both respected each other and sat down together and truly desired to know what the other person needed so that we could make this partnership really work. So, it wasn’t my agenda, it wasn’t your agenda, it was our agenda. If you’ll remember, you sat down, Mark, and you said, “John, here’s what I have to have from you to be successful.” And, I took notes. I said, “Okay, now how am I going to supply that for you? Let’s make sure I have a way to do it. And, by the way, Mark, here’s what I need from you to be successful.” And, I think that was the key that we were able and willing to always consider the other person in light of this partnership. It’s not like, “What’s Mark going to being to me?” As much as what am I going to bring to Mark? And, vice versa.
Mark Cole: Yeah, you know, John, I look back on the last five years and you know, you’ve given me an opportunity to lead and you’ve mentored me with leading. But, then also, with speaking and those of you that’s been in the tribe a long time, I say this often, and I’m not trying to over play it, but trust me, I was terrible in communicating and, John—and again, I’m not trying to over play that because I communicated before but when you’re speaking on John Maxwell stage with John Maxwell’s microphone in your hand, John Maxwell’s spotlight on you, how many out there would just raise your hand in empathy with me right that that’s no easy task! But, John, the reason I say that is because you’ve mentored me on speaking, you’ve absolutely, mentored me on leading, and now you’re mentoring me on seizing or sensing opportunity and vision. But here’s what I love about the way you have mentored me, uphill the crisis. Because we’re going to get to the differences in crisis mentoring and non-crisis mentoring in a moment, but it’s much like when one of your great mentors that you talk about often was John Wooden. Great basketball coach! Best basketball coach ever! The mentee, me, the mentee has got to be prepared when you get audience with a mentor. You know my little black book, my little blue book, whatever color it is at the time, I’ve always got questions because I’m always ready for a mentor moment. Talk to me about what you’ve noticed from me, and even yourself when you were the mentee of John Wooden. What does a mentee need to do to make sure that they’re ready for the mentor?
John Maxwell: Well, they need to bring their [INAUDIBLE]. It’s just that simple, every time I sit down with you, you have a book there. You always have a book. And, the book has questions, questions that you’re wanting to ask. The book has ideas and things that you’re thinking about and you, basically, ninety percent of the time lead the conversation, based upon, “Here’s what I need, John. Here’s what I’m thinking.” You have the book. To make mentoring work, you have to have what I call the bookends of success in mentoring and the front end of the first bookend is preparation and that’s what you’re doing. You’ve got your book out and you’re going through the things you preach. When you sit down with me, it’s not like, “Oh my gosh! I’m at John Maxwell’s table! I got to ask him something.” You’ve already prepared, you already have your list of questions so that when we sit down, you just dive in. In fact, I said, “Okay, Mark, what’s in the book?” You pulled it out, well, the book with all those questions, all those things you’ve got in tells me that you had the meeting before the meeting. In other words, before you met with me, you mentally had the meeting and said, “What do I need to receive from John?” That’s preparation. All is well that begins well. That’s the preparation side. The flip side of that book is, once I share with you my ideas or my thoughts, you’re still taking notes because now, you realize that the book is not a preparation book, it’s a reflection book! Now, you’re going to take that book which is the other side of the book in success, you’re now going to take the book that you had that came in for preparation for the mentoring time and now you’re leaving with that book with the thoughts and my ideas, etc. and now you’re going to reflect on them and say, “Okay, now how do I squeeze the most out of that mentoring time?” And, so, maximizing mentoring is both, preparation and reflection. All is well that begins well, all is well that ends well. And, for all of you on this call today, thanks for giving up a little bit of your Saturday time to be with us! But, for all of you that are on this call right now, we want to maximize your life. I mean, the only reason this call is happening right now, the only reason why we have a mentoring program in the John Maxwell team—somebody asked me the other day, they said, “John, what is the number one essential being a John Maxwell team member to be successful?” I said, “Oh that one is so easy to answer! It’s one word: mentoring.” Maybe you, Mark, maybe, you or one of the faculty members because you are closer to the people than I am, maybe you know an example that I don’t know about. But I know of no one in the John Maxwell team that is thriving and being highly successful that’s not in the mentoring program. I don’t know anybody. The reason for that is just very simple, the people that get into the mentoring program say, “If I’m going to get in, I’m not going to wade in the little toddlers pool. I want to dive! And, I’m going to learn all I can learn. I’m going to practice all I can practice. I’m going to give proximity to these faculty members that are going to mentor me and pour into me.” And, they become successful, not because they became John Maxwell Team Certified, I mean, I’m so glad you are but they became successful because they said, “I want to be more than certified. I want to be changed. Because in the process of me being changed, I’m going to be able to tremendously add value to people because I’m constantly being mentored and adding value to myself.” Does that make sense?
Mark Cole: It does, and I don’t want any of us to miss this. I don’t want me to miss this, John, I know you didn’t miss it when John Wooden offered you that first meeting and then offered you second, third, fifth, twentieth, thirtieth meeting with John Wooden. Here’s what I just heard you say, John, it’s not only preparation, be prepared, make sure that you’re ready to learn. As we said earlier, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Be prepared, but it’s also activation. No mentor is going to give you a second time if you don’t show a return on what they gave you the first time. So, showing up for the call today, great job! Showing up for the John Maxwell Team or IMC or whatever the next level of activation is, is one thing, but keep growing and challenging yourself and it just grabs the heart of the mentor and they want to give you more.
John Maxwell: Mark, I remember having a mentoring session many years ago with a wonderful guy named Courtney McBath and then our first mentoring session we had a very good session but, what I always know about mentoring is, it’s what happens after the first session that determines how many sessions you’re going to have with that person and again it goes back to the have action step. What do they do with what I just taught them? So, Courtney called me a couple months later and basically was saying, “Can I have another session with you?” And, here’s what he said, he said, “John, when we met last time, this is what you said…this is what I learned…this is what I did…did I do it right? Can I ask you some more questions?”
Mark Cole: Wow! Oh my!
John Maxwell: “This is what you said…this is what I learned…this is what I did…did I do it right? Can I ask you some more questions?” I looked at him, and I said, “Yes, yes, yes, yes and by the way, I do that, I had somebody, anytime you want to be mentored I’m going to be mentoring.” Because he didn’t just take notes from what I said, like I said, he crossed the line from good intentions, “I would like to reach my potential to good actions. I’m reaching my potential.” There’s a whole lot of difference between what I want to become and what I’ve become. And, the line is always the line of action. That’s the separate—the line that separates the people that want to do well from those who do well is they step across the action line and they say, “Okay, I’m in! I’m in!”
Mark Cole: Oh my! Okay, we need to go another thirty minutes, John, but you just might have dropped the call right there! That was so powerful! Goodnight! My mind’s rolling! Let me get—get back on, Mark, get back on. Okay, so, John, how are you mentoring me, and others—I’m going to talk about others’ in just a minute because you’ve got some of the world’s most influential leaders calling you right now. More than any other time in your life, they are calling you right now. But, let’s keep this real family right here. How are you mentoring me differently in this time of crisis?
John Maxwell: Okay, you know, I just got up about 4:30 and I started working on a lesson called right now my working title is “Maximizing Mentoring”. And, I knew we were going to be on this call but I also have to mentor some heavy weights in a couple of days on a private call to two hundred and probably fifty major players that, literally, if you put all their work together they influence millions of people. And, so I thought, “Well, I want to mentor them a little bit.” So, as I just got up and started with my legal pad and my four colored pen just talking about “Maximizing Mentoring”, here’s what I wrote down. Folks, you know—what time is it now? Four hours maximum, I just did it. But to “Maximize Mentoring” I think you have to ask three questions:
Question number one: Who does it?
Question number two: When do they do it?
Question number three: What do they do?
In other words, who mentors you? When do they mentor you? And, what do they do when they mentor you? Now, those are three gigantic questions! I’m going through that process right now, Mark, with everybody on this call because the second question, when do they mentor? Is all about the question you ask on crisis management, and what leaders know is, again, whether you mentor a person—back to the beginning of our conversation—when that student is ready and during a crisis time, people are really receptive. You are receptive right now. So, as I’m mentoring you through a crisis, I have all these things in my mind that I know about you. I know first of all, that you have increased responsibilities, literally, talking about timing, you just literally became a financial arbiter in the John Maxwell Enterprise. Major, major, major! And then, the crisis hit and so, what I know about you is that you, kind of, got thrown into the fire kind, of, fast. You already knew how to lead all of those organizations, but you had never led all those organizations through a crisis. So, this is leadership at a much higher, much more important role. So, what I have to do in mentoring you is I have to look at you and look at the task before you, and I’ve got to build a bridge between where you are and where you need to be to fulfill that task that you want to fulfill. So, for you for example, I think it’s very important for you at this time for me to always keep perspective in front of you because the challenge with a crisis is very simple, everybody that is in the crisis thinks this is the greatest crisis ever. And, because it’s the difference between minor surgery and major surgery; minor surgery is when it’s on you and major surgery is when it’s on me. Well, okay, I’m in a crisis! I’m having major surgery now…okay, so, I’ve got to constantly work with you just because you’re younger and haven’t gone through a lot of crisis that help keep you in perspective. How we view things is how we do things. So, I am constantly making sure that your perspective is, pretty, right on because, again, whatever your perspective is, that’s going to be how you lead. So, I want to do that. But, I think the other thing that is huge and, I don’t have a lot of time to go into it now, but boy, what I think is really huge is not only helping you in perspective but to share with you personally what I’ve learned in the crisis and what it did for me. And, I’m talking about where I get my strength during a crisis. Hey, what am I experiencing during the crisis? I mean, what am I experiencing emotionally? Here’s what I want you to catch, there’s a different between me teaching you something, sitting down with you basically and saying, “Okay, you know, sit down and listen.” There’s a difference between that and me saying, “Here, sit beside me!” In one, I’m in control and I’m the teacher. I don’t want you to so much sit and listen to me as I really want you to sit beside me and I think it’s healthy that I share with you my emotions, I think it’s healthy that I share my questions during a crisis. It’s kind of like, “Come and be with me.” I don’t want to tell you what I know, I want you to experience what I’m learning right now, and I think great mentoring is present tense. Most mentoring is past tense, and I just think present tense, especially, in a crisis really works well because you’re connecting and relating to where I am. So, I wrote down this morning, what I’m experiencing right now, I wrote down, one, two, three, I have five things so far that I’ve written down on what I’m learning through a crisis. I think the quicker I pass it onto you during a crisis—you know a crisis doesn’t give us the benefit when I’m looking at you and saying, “You know what? There are some good lessons to be heard right now! I’ll tell you what, Mark, when the crisis is over, let’s go on a two-day retreat and I’ll teach you all the things that I learned during that crisis.” You don’t want that! You’re just saying, “John, give it to me right now!” By the way, when a mentor gives that and passes on that learning experience right now, we should say something about that, it’s not well thought out yet, it doesn’t peak as far as good material, because you’re in it! But the best mentoring isn’t the knowledge I have, it’s the action that I’m doing. So, when I say, “Mark, sit beside me! Just sit beside me! Sit beside me!” And you and I, every day are on the phone and I’m just talking you about what I’m thinking, and there have been two or three times I’ve thought three or four days later, I’ve thought, “You know, Mark, I’m not sure that was the right thing. I didn’t see the whole picture then.” So, the place I hope you’re catching, I know you’re catching, Mark, because you have experience with me, but I hope our John Maxwell people are catching the fact that the greatest teaching I know isn’t based out of knowledge, the greatest teaching I know is based on what I’m going through right now and I’m willing to share it. That’s why I always tell people when they are equipping others, don’t go sit down with your people and say, “Okay, I’ve got a lot of stuff you need to know, so sit down and take notes. I’m going to equip you.” Go in the room and sit down in the chair beside them and say, “Look, let’s learn together.” There’s something magical in mentoring about inviting the person to be a fellow traveler with you instead of saying, “I’m going to take a trip and when I come home, I’ll teach you what I learned.” There’s a world of difference. What I love about the John Maxwell Team, one of the things I really love about our mentoring program faculty is every week you’re hearing from the faculty! So, every week it’s current, it’s fresh, it’s you know, it’s now! It just works. It’s just like I was on a mentoring call recently with several thousand people that were going to be listening to it. It’s our MIL thing and so, I had a lesson that I was going to give them, and I prepared, and Aaron helped me prepare it, and did great research on it for me. But it was a lesson on healthy boundaries. It was a fantastic lesson! And up until five minutes before I was ready to go on the phone and teach these people healthy boundaries, I mean, I’m ready to teach them a really good lesson, but all of a sudden, I thought, “They don’t want healthy boundaries right now. They aren’t even going to listen to healthy boundaries. They’ve got a crisis happening.” The only thing that healthy boundaries works during a crisis is social distancing! But other than that—so I dropped it. I said, “Look, I’m just going to talk about what we’re going through.” And, the Q never stopped, “Well, what happened?” I was letting them be a fellow traveler. Does that make sense?
Mark Cole: It really does. You know, I’m sitting here going—so there’s been three things, and we aren’t going to get into them today, but there’s been three things that you have helped me with in the last two weeks as far as deep mentoring. And, John, I’m talking about an hour and twenty-two minutes on one of the calls and an hour and eight minutes on another call I was watching because I know how valuable your time is. But one was—
John Maxwell: —You’re watching and saying, “When is that man going to shut up?!”
Mark Cole: That’s not true! That’s not true, that’s not true at all! I want to make a point of something I am noticing about you mentoring me. So, let me give you the three things because we’re not going to go into it today because of time. But one is you’ve been mentoring me on the role a perspective plays in leader’s life during difficult leadership seasons. The other one is, when do you, as a business leader, when do add value and when do you seize opportunity in a crisis? Now, gang, y’all all are sitting here going, “Mark, we’ll go another two hours, three hours, please let John talk about peace!” But guess what? We’re going to figure another way to get this out to you because it’s not going to be today! The third thing, John, you taught me, I mean, you’re mentoring me, you didn’t teach me because I’m going to come to the point of how you’re mentoring me different. The third thing we’ve been digging into is how much is too much optimism and how much is too much realism in moments of crisis? When does the leader need to slow down and empathize with the people? And, when does the leader need to lift the vision of the people to see something bigger than the current crisis? And, I know, everyone of y’all wants John to talk on those three things like he’s mentoring me but I’m going to have to find another way to get you in another community because, John, what I want to talk about, just for a moment, is I’m going to tell you, it started and if you want to know more about this story, jump on John’s Live Facebook feed on Monday because you’re going to talk about this story. But I noticed this when I was trying to figure out canceling IMC and then turning that cancellation of IMC into an environment where you can impact not thirty-two hundred people in Orlando but one million people around the world. Here’s what I noticed about mentoring: you’ve become less instructive and more available. Now, you were always available to me, but when I would bring you a list, you would become instructive, you’re always listening to where I am in the situation now, rather than giving me perspective of where I might be. One of the biggest differences I am seeing right now in this crisis with the load that you are allowing me to carry for you is you’re much more available to my pace than instructing me to your pace and I don’t know how you’re doing that, I don’t know how hard that is for you, but it is pivotal that I am allowed in this time of crisis from my mentor to carry the load but also to set the pace. You told me hundreds of times, “Mark, if I’m more proud of you in anything, I’m proud of the pace that you’re making decisions. You’re not feeling rushed, emotional, or hurried. You are letting the pace go.” So, here’s my question to you on that, how do you know, as a mentor, how do you know when to father and when to teach?
John Maxwell: Wow! That’s a great question! I mean…wow! Well, you alluded to it a moment ago, Mark, I think that the father role is more prominent in a crisis. That question that you asked me reminds me of when I was at the University of Kentucky and Matthew Mitchell who’s the coach of the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team, he asked me a question and I remember he was driving and he pulled his car over to the side, and we were on the University of Kentucky campus, he said, “John, help me as a coach, when do I push my players and when am I patient with my players?” And, we got into a very good discussion on, you know, when do you push them and when are patient with them? Bottom line on that is I shared with Matthew that and I’m sharing with you and all the rest of them, I pushed him into the areas of value, character and choices. But, I’m patient and I’m more of a father to them when it comes to experience and skill. In other words, if a person doesn’t have experience and you don’t have a lot of experience in crisis, you have a lot of experience in leading. I never worry about you leading! I don’t look and say, “Oh my gosh, you know, I hope he’s leading well today.” You lead very well. But you’ve never led in a crisis and carried—not only led in a crisis but carrying the weight that you’re carrying during this crisis. So, I think you lack experience and I think you probably have some skill sets that just need to be sharpened for a crisis time in leadership. That’s where you become patient because patience to me means, “I know something that they don’t know and the only way that I will be successful in helping them is for me to go at their pace; not at my pace.” You know, you’re a leader if you’re close enough for the people to see you; you’re a marker if you go two miles ahead of them. So, with the experience and skill right now with you, I’m just very patient. And, the pace you are keeping us is the right pace. Let me just say this came to my mind, and that is in uncomfortable times which crisis are uncomfortable times, you don’t want to make a person more uncomfortable. You want to make them more comfortable. So, for you, Mark, you’re in uncomfortable times because you’re in a crisis. Well, I can just throw the book at you. I can just say, “Gosh, Mark, during this crisis time…” And, when I get done, I can dump the mother load of crisis leadership on you and when I get done, you’re underneath the pile. Or, I can hand it to you, one spoon at a time and feed it to you. By the way, like when you feed a baby, hey, when you open your mouth again, here comes another spoon! You get as much as you’re kind of ready for. But I think the father comes out more at a times in crisis than any other time.
Mark Cole: John, you’ve been known for leadership for a long time and people go to your books, thirty-two million plus books, who’s counting? We all are! Because we’ve all been impacted but speak to a million people live on most years, this year may look a little different with the social distancing but I’m seeing something that I’ve never seen before and you’ve got to a lot of opportunity. You’ve now become somewhat of an advisor, somewhat of a mentor to some mega leaders. I’m talking about Presidents of nations, some of the top spiritual leaders in the world are texting you and leaning into you on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Some of the top business leaders and I can give names, and I’m not going political here but even the Trump administration has reached out to you about a leadership perspective, and Congress, and again, more about those things later because this is not about the politics of it. It’s about the level of people that are coming to you. Here’s really my question, so, you have all of that, I could give a list just in the last 48 hours, yet, you take time to do this this morning, you were on the phone with one of our teaching faculty this week mentoring Christians, you mentor me on a consistent basis, again, you are doing this. What is it about this moment that let’s you say yes to the right opportunities, including this morning, being on the phone with us, what is it about this time that is awakening this leadership voice that you have been developing for years? And, why are you spending so much time with both the little people like me, and some of the big people around the world in this idea of mentorship? How is it fulfilling you? Why are you doing it?
John Maxwell: Well, I have to be very careful. I’m saying this now, please, everybody just take what I’m about to tell you in context because we are in crisis, people are dying…it’s horrible. Okay? Now, that I’ve given you that perspective and I have a gravitas towards this, I understand, I understand the reality, the darkness. I understand the uncertainty, I got it, okay? Now, with that in your mind as context, it’s one of the most exciting times I’ve ever had. Because I was born for this. I was born to help people during difficult times, and I know that. So, when I’m on these calls with these people I know how to help them. It’s a wonderful thing in life when somebody asks a question and you know you have it—remember? When you were a kid and the teacher asks a question you have your hand real high, and for me, if I really knew the answer to the question I might not only have raised my hand, but I’m waving my arm, I mean I was [INAUDIBLE]. “Hey, I got this one! Ask me teacher! Ask me! I got the answer! I got the answer!” Well, I feel that way at this time. It’s not that I’m smarter than anyone else, because I’m not, but I have a high leadership giftedness, and I’ve had a lot of crisis issues in my own life and in what I led so I have been through these. It’s not like a new thing to me so, you know, are there things that I don’t know yet and I’m learning. But it’s not new. And, what I’ve discovered is what people want, the high leaders they want three things, they want creativity, they’re asking me to help them because they say, “John’s going to give me something that I don’t know. I’ve got a problem and he’s going to give me an answer or a way to think about that problem.” So, they are wanting somebody that is out of the box to talk to. That’s the one thing, second thing they are wanting is they are wanting stability. They are wanting another leader to say to them, “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.” And, they want validation. They want validation, not like they want to be proven correct, but as they share with me their issue, as they share with me where they are, Mark, what they really are saying to me is, “This is what I’m doing right now, what do you think, John? What do you think?” And, what they really want me to say is, “Boy, I love that! What you just did, that action you just took, ah! That’s going to really be beneficial for them.” Because, when a person that you highly respect validates what you do that’s a very high, not only common, but it’s a very high, kind of like, security source for you. So, that’s what they are wanting, that’s what they’re looking for, and you know, that’s what I try to give them. On this call today, I mean, I’m on this call for a very simple reason…I’m with the faculty, the JMT, you’re my babies out there! You’re my legacy out there. I’m on this call because, you know, you’re family! So, it’s kind of like, the two groups I want to talk to right now are the people that are high leaders that what I share with them is going to have a high compounding effect or family. And, this is a family time together! And, I want to make sure that everybody understands the faculty members on JMT, they’re in this game big time, and to serve you and mentor you, and to come along side of you, and to be close proximity to you as far as availability, as far as technology and teaching, and coaching, we’re all in this game together. We believe the finest hour for the John Maxwell Team is being birthed right now. That’s what we believe. The finest—hey! The darkest hour is the finest hour!
Mark Cole: Hey, everyone! Mark Cole again, just wanted to say thank you for listening and I hope you enjoyed this episode! If you’d like to listen to more episodes of the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, go to Maxwellpodcast.com/episodes. There, you’ll find all of our episodes and you can even subscribe to our mailing list. Stay safe, be healthy, and lead through this crisis! We’ll see you next week!
3 thoughts on “Candid Conversations: Mentoring Through Crisis”
So many golden nuggets I don’t know where to begin. I definitely need to listen again. This was such a strength and encouragement for me as I lead my team and help them get through this time. Thank you both for your commitment.
I agree with you Mark, I don’t communicate well either. I had an interview with my supervisor and I told her I never worked in an office but i also told her that if she hired me I would be best employee she had had me listen to her prior to dealing with the customer Great Mentor.
I loved the part where John was saying that, as a leader, you always have to be in tune with where the mentee is and where they need you the most. I feel like we are always so full of phrases like “what I think is best for you is…” and “what you should do is…” that it increases positional difference. I am always amazed by Johns wisdom and team’s willingness to be there for us