Whenever John Maxwell is asked who his mentors are, his dad, Melvin is at the top of the list. Melvin’s leadership in John’s life set the example and helped shaped John into the man he is today. As some of you may know, Melvin Maxwell passed away on July 4th, 2020 at the age of ninety-eight.
So, to honor Melvin, John Maxwell is sharing a 4-part series on the lessons that he learned from his dad throughout his life. Melvin’s legacy lives on through those he’s impacted both directly and indirectly. As a podcast listener, you certainly have been impacted by Melvin through John’s leadership. We hope you enjoy the series!
Our BONUS resource for this series is the Month of Melvin 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: Hey, welcome again to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. My name is Mark Cole and I am excited about the next four weeks. You see, many years I've been traveling with John Maxwell and I hear people ask the question all the time, “John, who's your mentor? You're my mentor.” In fact, John has mentored literally tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, if not close up from a distance, and every time he answers that question, his dad, Melvin Maxwell, is at the top of that list…it’s every time. Now, many of you may know that are close to John, that July 4th, 2020 we lost Melvin Maxwell. We lost a patriarch, we lost John Maxwell's top mentor, and so for the next four weeks, you're going to get to hear John talk about lessons he's learned that has profoundly impacted him in his life, and in his leadership. Melvin was his dad, but Melvin was John Maxwell's mentor and because of that, the next four weeks, Melvin Maxwell is going to become mine and your mentor, as well. We thought about just letting these podcasts just be John talking about his dad, but Jason, Jake, and I felt like that given to our normal format of podcasts, we needed to break it down and say not only how did Melvin impact John, but how did Melvin impact us a second, third, fourth generation away. And so, for these podcast, four episodes, we're going to have a month of Melvin. We're going to have mentoring with Melvin, and you get to be a part of this series. So, grab your pen, grab your paper, and Jason Brooks and I are going to come back and give application after John is done giving you the first tribute of four to Melvin Maxwell. Now, if you would like to listen to the entire memorial service of Melvin Maxwell, you can go to Maxwellpodcast.com/Melvin. You'll not only see the link to watch Melvin's memorial service, but you'll get the show notes and get to be a part of today's session with some written notes. Here is John C. Maxwell with tribute number one of Melvin Maxwell, I know you'll enjoy! We'll see you on the other side.
John Maxwell: Hi, John Maxwell here. On July 4th, my father passed away. And what I'm going to do is share with you a tribute to my dad, and it's the lessons that he taught me. He lived for 98 years and 8 months and dying on July 4th is just perfect for my father because everything he did, he did with gusto and boom, and there was nothing quiet about him. He was kind of the main act of a three-ring circus, I can promise you that. He was always in the middle of everything, and for him to have fireworks go off on the day that he went off was a good thing. And what I'm going to share with you in these lessons were lessons that he not only taught me by his life, but by his example. And when I was with him, just before he died, I was alone with him in the room for a few hours, and as I sat beside him, he was unable at that time to respond at all. I, on my iPhone just began to put down the lessons that he had taught me. And I would write one down and then I would just go over close to him so he could hear me and I would share with him the lesson he taught me and I would talk about it a moment and say thank you, and then I would do another one. I was able to take him through during that time together just our time, all the lessons that he had taught me. And because you're wanting to always learn, grow, improve yourself, I thought these lessons are going to be helpful to you. Now, I’ve got to make one other statement, you know that I'm a person of faith and my father was also, so there are a few of the lessons that are about faith, and I just want you to know how much I value you whether you have a faith or not. It's okay, I value you because God created you, and I value you because He created you for a purpose and you're a person of worth. And so, every person on this earth I look at and I realize you have the divine touch on your life, and I greatly value you. I value you, whether you have my faith or don't have my faith, if you have my ideas or not my ideas, it really doesn't matter. Doesn't matter because you're just a person of value because of who you are. So, when I talk about faith, I don't do that in any way to be offensive to you. I want you to know that I just have to share with you my journey, my dad's journey and some of it's got some faith and you'll understand. In fact, I can promise you this, you'll learn from those lessons and there will probably be even something maybe within you that will kind of maybe spark a little faith in your life. I hope so. But anyway, the purpose of giving you the lessons is just to add value to you, and make sure that the lessons that have improved and changed my life and my family's life will also maybe add value to you.
So, let's get going, and the first one I want to start with is what I'm really known for, but it's what I learned, it's what I observed, it's who my father was, and the lesson that my dad taught me to do was just basically add value to people. Every day my dad got up for one purpose, and that is to make a day better for someone else. To lift them, to love them, to pour into them, and every day when my dad would put his head down on the pillow at night, there would be no doubt people that would come to his mind that he knew that he had contributed in a positive way to their lives. I often talk about in relationships how that we're either a plus or a minus in our relationships. In other words, I'm either adding value to you or to be honest with you, if I'm selfish and kind of self into self-centeredness, I’d probably wear you out and take value from you. And, you know, you see me coming and think, “Oh my gosh, you know, I'm feeling bad already.” Well, my father was not a plus in people's lives, he was a plus, plus in people's lives. Often when I'm in conversation with people, like at dinner, I love to ask questions, and one of the questions I love to ask is, “What's the best advice that you ever received and who gave it to you?” The best advice that I ever received was when I graduated from college and I sat down with my father and I asked him to just give me what he thought would be the best career advice, “How can I just do well?” And I'll never forget, he said, “John, three things, if you'll do these three things, I promise you, you'll do well.” And what he shared with me that day, I have carried with me my entire life, and every time I teach, every time I write, every time I lead, I put it through the grid that my dad gave me that day and I have found that it is absolutely the best advice I ever received. And here's what he said, he said, “John every day, value people, believe in people, and unconditionally love people. Those three things…” He said, “John, everyday value people because most people go through life, and they've not been truly valued. Because they've not been truly valued, sometimes they don't even have the value that they have for themselves that they should have.” So, he said, “Lift people by letting them see not only who they are, which is already valuing people, but who they can become. Believe in people, just look at people and believe the best, think the best, receive the best.” He said, “Always stay in the best with people.” He said, “We’re all human, every one of us have our worst side.” Wow! I mean, let's just talk about it for a moment that there's probably a day in your life and in my life that we hope nobody ever knows about. I mean, we don't always operate on top level, but my father taught me that the best way to get people to live the best life is to believe in them. And then thirdly, he said, and this is the clincher, he said, “Unconditionally love them.” He said, “I could almost promise you as you speak, as you lead, as you write, I can almost promise you that the person that you are communicating with has never been unconditionally loved. I mean, just loved, period. No strings attached.” But he said, “If you’ll unconditionally love them, they will immediately feel it. They'll experience it.” And he said, “John, you will be a people magnet. People will want to be around you because no one else gives them that unconditional love feeling.” Incredible advice. We've all heard this statement that people will forget what you said, they’ll even maybe forget what you did, but they won't forget how you made them feel. Unconditional love makes people feel something that no other way or other person can ever be given to them. It's a fact. And so, I took my dad's advice, and I just value people, believe in people, unconditionally love them. I do that for you, but I do that for everyone. And, I have found that that was the greatest advice I've ever received, and hopefully it'll help you. I'm sure it will.
The second lesson that my father taught me, this is a faith lesson, but this is an incredible teaching is he taught me to pray without ceasing. In other words, continually pray. I shared with you earlier that many of the lessons my father taught me were more his actions than his words, and this is one of them for sure that if you grew up around my father, Melvin Maxwell, one thing that you very quickly caught was that he had an ongoing conversation with God. And I love that phrase, ongoing conversation with God. You see, a lot of my faith friends, they would set aside time, which I think is good to spend with God, and my father said, “That’s good, son.” But he said, “Why would you just take a little bit of time and just spend it with Him when in honesty, you could spend all day with Him. He never leaves you. He never forsakes you. He sticks closer to you than a brother. He always is ready to hear you, listen to you, minister to you, add value to you.” So, he said, “John, just have an ongoing conversation with Him.” My father taught me to make prayer instead of something that is formal and something that maybe has a box or a place, he just taught me to talk to God. Sentence prayers, not long. In fact, many times as my father would walk around the house, he would just say things like, “God, I just really appreciate how you're helping me today.” And I would just listen to him and then he would move on to something else. And those sentence prayers throughout the day shared with me and showed me that he did something that one of the old, old saints, Thomas à Kempis would say, he practiced the presence of God. I learned to do that. And I can tell you that is the greatest spiritual asset in my life. I have ongoing, continual conversations with God. Not formal, not long, not complicated, just from my heart. Where I am, what I'm thinking, what I'm seeing what I'm encountering at that moment, and I have found great spiritual relief and develop great spiritual muscle. And just knowing that He's right beside me, and by the way…He's right beside you, too. In fact, I have had many of my wonderful friends who some of them don't even believe in God and they'll say, “You mean He's beside me?” Yeah, He's beside you. See, He's beside you whether you believe in Him or not. It's like I told one of my dear, wonderful, one of my favorite atheist friends, I just said, “You know, I know you don't believe in God, but you sure do miss Him, don't you?” Of course, you miss Him. You were created to know Him. You were created to spend time with Him. And my father teaching me to pray without ceasing…invaluable in my spiritual journey with him. It's a lesson that I'll carry with me all my life. It's a lesson he taught me, but now, today, it's truthfully, it's a lesson that I live.
The third area that my father just really helped me in and a lesson that was invaluable to me was the fact that my dad taught me to be consistent. My father was always the same. He had good days, he had bad days. Circumstances that were up, circumstances that were down, but he was steady. He was faithful. In fact, sometimes when I think of my father, if somebody just said you could only describe him in one word, I would probably debate between the word faithful and the word consistent. And yet, I could really clump them together, and so can you, if faithful is consistent, consistent is faithful. And he was consistent in not only his words, but his deeds. He had great integrity in the fact that what he said is what he did and what he did is what he said. So, he never sent our family, he never sent us curveballs. You know, we didn't look at him and say, “What just happened there? Oh, my! That that doesn't seem like dad.” Now, let me just also say that my dad was human, so I'm not in any way wanting to make him a saint. In fact, I can promise you he taught me a lot of great lessons, but all the lessons he taught me weren't, maybe, the best lesson so let me just say—well, let me just give you one real quick! My father taught me how to drive fast, okay? My dad liked to speed, my brother likes to speed, my sister likes to speed, I like to speed, I'm sorry. We learned that from my dad. My dad, every other year would buy a car. It was a ritual, every two years dad would go down and buy a car, and we loved to go with him when he bought the car because two things, we knew it wouldn't take long. My dad made decisions very quickly. And secondly, we knew that as soon as he bought the car, we'd get in the backseat, and he would take us out to Route 22 heading west out of Circleville, Ohio, and he turned around to the back seat and look at the kids and he’d say, “Kids, let's see what she's got!” He'd put that accelerator to the floor, and we'd take off on that little straight road. And he’d get it up to 100 miles an hour and he'd let off the gas and kind of pull over and turn around and smile at the kids and say, “I think we got a good one. Let's take it home.” That was a ritual every other year and my father…yeah, he had a heavy foot. So, I'm telling you that because I just want you to know when I'm talking about all the incredible qualities he had, he had some humaneness to him also. He wasn't a perfect man, never even pretended to be a perfect man. He was an authentic man, not a perfect man. But when I look at my father, most of the lessons I'm going to teach you are incredibly positive and uplifting, and I just want you to know that he had a human side, too. He wasn't a saint. Close…but wasn't a saint. But he taught us to be consistent, and his consistency was rooted in the fact that he had a set of values that he greatly valued, and he had a set of principles that he always followed, and those principles just kept him going straight, and those values and some of the principles, by the way, some of the values I'll be teaching you in these three lessons on my tribute to my father, but those principles helped him to go straight and those values helped him to stay solid. And so therefore, when I saw my dad, everything was congruent. Everything matched up. It's been a great lesson for me because I feel that consistency is something that is an incredible way to live, but I think so many times it's kind of overlooked. I mean, we seldom get a consistency award and I suppose if we did, it's not a sexy word, I supposed if we did get a consistency award we might be a little ticked and say, “Come on, can’t you think of better words or adjectives for me like genius or brilliant or charismatic?” I mean, consistency is, well, it's a great word. It's a solid word, but it's not the one we strive for when you ask people what do you want to be in life? Very few people are going to say, “I want to be consistent.” And yet, as I watched my father live for 98 years and eight months, let me tell you what I know about consistency, it compounds. Trust me, if you are consistently good, you consistently compound goodness, and it gets better and better and better. That's a fact. I had a conversation one day with my dad, he was probably about 90, and we were talking in his office at his home and he said, “John, isn't it wonderful the older you get, the more a person loves people.” He said, “It’s just been wonderful, I'm getting older, but I love people more today than I did 20 years ago.” He said, “Isn't it wonderful that as you get older, you just love people more?” And I said, “Dad, that's not true.” I know a whole bunch of people, I bet you do, too, I know a lot of people, they're getting older, and they're not loving people more. Hey, they're getting old, but they're not getting better. Now, it was true for my father, because there's a principle here that I want to teach. It's about consistency. He loved people when he was young. He loved people in his middle age. He loved people when he retired. You see, my father every step of the journey, loved people. Now, here's what I know, if you have a good quality within you, as you get older, that quality expands, it exaggerates because one of the things that happens with aging is exaggeration. And so, the qualities I have in me if they're good, they grow and exaggerate in a positive away and the qualities I have within me, if they're negative and bad, they also grow and exaggerate, but they grow and exaggerated in a negative way. In my book, Today Matters, which is sometimes entitled Make Today Count, I talk about the fact that I have disciplines in my life, what I call the “Daily 12 Disciplines”, and I talked about in the book how that, I think it was three or four of those disciplines I literally learned as a teenager and about three or four others in my twenties, and I talk about when I learned these and to practice these important disciplines in my life. But the one that I learned last, the one that I worked on and fixed and improved last was my own health and I didn't even work on it until I was fifty-one and I had a heart attack. I was always kind of I thought a healthy person. I wasn't a sickly person, that was for sure. And when I had a heart attack at fifty-one, I had a big wakeup call and all of a sudden, I realized, “John, you have to live a more healthy lifestyle. You're falling short here.” So that was the last maybe good habit I formed, and I didn't form it until fifty-one. Now, here's what I want you to understand, of all the daily disciplines I have in my life, do you know what today is my most difficult discipline? Healthy lifestyle, eating right, exercising. Why? Because for fifty-one years, I didn't do it. Now, it's the point that I'm making on consistency, that the earlier we became come consistent in good habits, the more those good habits compound in a positive way, just as if I'm consistent in bad habits, they compound in a negative way. And my father taught me the value of good habits and living this incredible, unbelievable, consistent life.
The next lesson…wow. The next lesson that I learned that is one of the most important to me, and it's another faith lesson. So just be patient with me. My father showed me how to share my faith in a positive way with other people. And I think the key is share my faith in a positive way, because there are a lot of people to be honest with you, they don't do it right, and the whole foundation of my father teaching me how to share my faith in a positive way was based on the fact that he said, “John, every person, they're created by God.” And he said, “They intuitively want to know God. I mean, after all, He's their Creator.” He said, “The reason that they don't know God is because they have a wrong picture of God.” And he said, “As soon as you share with them who God really is, and they begin to understand that with all of His goodness and all of His attributes, they'll want to know him.” It's kind of like I share with people all the time, the best networking question you can ask someone is, “Who do you know that I should know?” Well, my father loved for people to ask him that question “Who do you know that I should know?” Because he'd say, “Oh, you need to know my Heavenly Father.” And he passed that on to me, and I have found that his words and his actions and sharing faith are exactly true, that people really do want to know God, they just have a wrong picture of God and to be honest with you, if I had a wrong picture of God, I wouldn't want to know Him. I think the first step in a good relationship is to know who a person really is. And if that person is a good person, you want to engage in that relationship and grow and build it. Well, it’s the same way with God, once you understand His care for you, His unconditional love for you, His forgiveness for you, I mean, my goodness, if you just took the attributes of God and just kind of stack them up and say, “Would you like to know this person?” The answer would be, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, of course.” So, my dad just shared with me and taught me how to be positive with people. By the way, in sharing your faith, the first thing you do more than value your faith is you value the person again. It all comes back to valuing people, and the moment that I value you, I'm going to want to share what I call good news with you. And good news is that God loves you, has a plan for your life, and wants you to have even a better and greater life than you even want for yourself, and once you know Him, you'll understand what I'm talking about. And I'm going to stop here just for a second because if I have in any way, what should I say? piqued your interest? I would like you to do something for me, when I'm done maybe with this tribute to dad, these few lessons I'm teaching in my first session, we're going to do three of them. I want you to go to Maxwellfaith.com because you're going to see me share with you visually, the four pictures of God, what I've just talked about, if you have the right picture of God, I think you'll want to know Him. And I would just encourage you on your own time, go to Maxwellfaith.com and just observe and listen and if you decide to have a relationship with God, I just want you to know that our team will, there'll be a way for you to get involved with us for a moment, just briefly, and our team will get hold of you. And they will give you an opportunity, if you want to just give you free resources, no strings attached, none at all. But if you're really interested in a relationship with God, and having this incredible forgiveness, peace, etc. then just go to Maxwellfaith.com and you'll learn what to do to follow through and we'll be able to put in your hands in a very short time, some great material, a study guide, and then a special surprise for you that I think will just really help you grow in your faith.
My father taught me, this is a lesson I think number five, my father taught me to stay focused, to stay focused. I've said often that what you focus on expands. I learned it from my dad. I wrote a book called Intentional Living. That book is my father. My father lived intentional. He realized that good intentions were not enough, you had to have good actions and so intentional living is the bridge from good intentions to good actions, and my father stayed focus. You know, I mean, my friend Dan Reiland talks about the—I love the phrase that Dan gave me recently, he said, “Pick a rabbit.” You know, pick a rabbit. We've all heard the thing that if you chase two rabbits both of them get away. Of course, you're double minded and, “I’ll get—”, “Oh no, I’ll go for this one.” And while you're hesitating, they're both down the hole. Pick a rabbit. My father knew how to pick a rabbit and he was incredible intentional in his priorities, and in his life. I could give you so many examples of this, but I'm just going to share with you one. My father—this is interesting, my father did the grocery shopping in the family. My mom made the list out and my father was kind of a guy of action and he loved every Friday afternoon about oh, about three, four o'clock going and getting the groceries, and he would take us with him, and we loved going. That sounds crazy that kids want to go to the grocery store, but you never went to grocery stores with my dad. If you went to the grocery store my dad, it was a highlight. First of all, let's go back to focus for a moment. He would share with us, he'd say, you know, “Kids, you know, most people, they go to the store everyday instead, and I don't understand why they do that. Why don't they make a list and figure out what they need for the next few days and go once a week?” He said, “There's no need to go get in the car and going back and forth.” He said, “That makes no sense at all. Why don't you just prioritize, focus and then do it all at one time.” And that's how he did the grocery shopping and we did it on Friday afternoon. And when we went to the grocery store, the reason we loved, loved, loved going to the grocery store with dad is he would take the stuff off the shelf and I'd have a cart, and my brother Larry had a cart, and then he'd throw it to us. Oh, my goodness, literally, he would get on one aisle, we'd be on the other aisle, and he'd throw it over the aisle, and we would catch it. We had so much fun. It was a blast. And yes, yes, yes, we had some broken ketchup bottles and…yep, on the floor. We'd have to get the manager and mop it up and clean it up and pay for the broken ketchup bottles and that's what kept us going back, because we love the grocery game. Now, my father understood that what you focus on expands and so he said, “Go shopping once a week.” But here's what he would say to us all the time, he’d say, “Kids, if it was important put it before you.” And what he meant by put it before you was, write it down, write it down, and put it before you. And then he wanted us really to put it on the mirror in our bathroom, you know, write it down, put it before you so you can see it all the time. What did he know? He knew that the more we saw, maybe a quote or a thought or a statement, the more that statement would expand in our life; and in fact, he'd say, “Put before you what you want to expand and put behind you what you want to shrink.” So, my dad was incredible, absolutely the very best, the very best at helping us learn how to focus in life. I just learned to pick a rabbit from him.
This next lesson I'm going to share with you that dad taught me was a life changer. There's hardly a day goes by in my life that this lesson doesn't come to play somewhere in my leadership journey, and that is dad taught us to travel the high road. Now, in fact, in traveling in life, he told us to take the high road which means turn the other cheek. Go the second mile, be kind to people that aren't kind to you. In fact, he said not only not travel the high road, but he said, “Travel high, travel long.” And when he was talking about traveling long, he'd say, “Go the second mile.” That's an old traditional biblical Jewish kind of a deal that in those days that if somebody asked you to go with them you would walk with them a mile. That was what you did, that's how you served people but if you walked with them the second mile, that was totally voluntary. They had no right to ask you, nor did you have any obligation to do it. And so my father was a second mile man, he would always say, you know, “Traveled the second mile with people.” He said, “Look, there's less traffic on the second mile.” I love that! Less traffic on the second mile, on the first mile, under obligation and rules and legalism, a lot of traffic. Second mile thins out pretty quick. So, he'd say, you know, “Travel the high road, you know, be good to people that maybe aren't always good to you, and not only travel the high road but travel long.” You know, walk that second mile and he also taught us to travel light, you’d think he's a travel agent, wouldn’t you? Travel light, and what he meant by that is just don't carry a bunch of garbage, don't carry a bunch of baggage. Let it go. You know, if you're going to go mountain climbing, you don't ask the question, “How much weight can I take to the top?” You get rid of everything you possibly can that will be weight so you can successfully get to the top, and my father said, “You can't carry a bunch of baggage to the top of the success mountain. Forgive, keep short accounts. It’s okay. Let it go, travel light, travel far, travel high. But it was in the high road, that's where life change really happened for me. My father was a president of a college, it's now Ohio Christian University, and for several years, and he had on his college board, two or three people that just thought it was their job to be a pain in his rear end. And honestly, they couldn't have grown the college, my father was very successful, built the college, grew it, I think, five times the original enrollment when he left the college and it was just put them in, built a brand new campus, relocated it…very successful, but he had about three or four board members that just thought it was their job to be a pain. And I knew about it because I really went to college when my dad was the president and, think about it for a moment…that's an IQ test. If you go to college, where your father is the president, you increase the odds of maybe graduating from college. And so, it was in my college years, and in the great growing years of the school that he just got a lot of criticism from a few of his board members. And I would hear him, and mom talk about it and it would make me angry and I'd say, “Dad, you know, stand up. Don't let them do that to you. You're right, they're wrong.” And I was kind of militant in the process. And my father would say “Son, listen, I have the ability, I’m courageous, I stand up but I value people and there's times when you just turn the other cheek and walk the high road.” and I remember one night, my mother was the librarian, and one night I was in the College Library after hours, I could, I had a key, mom was the librarian, and I was there in the back of the library just doing some study, and my father didn't know I was in the library, and he slipped into the library, it was at the end of a college board meeting, and he went back to a corner he didn't see me, he went back to a corner and knelt and he started to pray. And my father prayed out loud, and as he prayed, he was greatly troubled over the board meeting and the difficulties that came out of it and the pain that some of these board members were causing him, and he was asking God to forgive them and he was asking God to bless them. And I listened to my father pray probably for, I don't know, ten, twelve minutes and it changed my life. He never knew that night that I was in the library. He slipped out, and it wasn't until several years later we had a conversation I said, “Dad, I was in the library the night you prayed and asked God to bless people that were persecuting you and they were just a pain to you.” That totally revolutionized and changed my life. And I owe it all to dad because in leadership, leadership is difficult. I can promise you, you know, this to be true, there are no two good consecutive days in a leader’s life…wow, not two. It's a pain to lead people. People are difficult. That's why you've got to love them, if you don't love them you shouldn't lead them because it's too difficult to lead people, difficult people if you don't love them, but in leadership traveling that high road, traveling high, traveling far, traveling light…life changing for me. My dad taught me that lesson, and I hope—what did I do? I don't know how many lessons I had, I gave you one, two, three, four, five, six, I only gave you six lessons. Okay, I'm going to have to go a little faster in tribute number two. But I gave you six. Okay? And hopefully that'll help you and you hang on because again, every week I'm coming back to you with tribute number two to dad and tribute number three, and we'll just kind of learn some life lessons together. And it will be good for me because I'll get to talk to you about how I valued my father and how the lessons he taught me changed my life, and it's my hope that when you meet with me every week that you'll just, some of those lessons will stick with you and it'll help you to be the person that I know you want to become so thanks for being with me today, and we'll pick up and do tribute number two for dad next week.
Mark Cole: Welcome back! I'm going to tell you, I know John said three weeks, three tributes there in his notes but John got in studio and started talking about his dad and it ended up being four tributes, four lessons. And so, I know you enjoyed that, you're going to enjoy next week. But for this tribute, Jason Brooks, buddy, thank you. You've been writing for John, you've been serving alongside of me for years now. You've been making a difference and I love having your voice on the podcast, but boy, I love having it today talking about this tribute. And so, I'm looking forward to sharing and talking a little bit more about Melvin Maxwell and John Maxwell and how that has reproduced through you and I and how we lead. Good morning, buddy!
Jason Brooks: Good morning, man! And I'm excited to be on the podcast with you especially because like you said in the introduction, there aren't a lot of companies that can trace their lineage back as far as we can. You know, the things that John has imparted to you, as your mentor that you have imparted now to our leadership team as our mentor. I mean, we're four generations, five generations deep into these lessons being a part of not only our culture, but the fabric of the way that we do business. And so, it's really exciting for John to sit down and kind of walk us through some of the major things that he learned from his dad. Especially, seeing how they impact even the way I do things. You know, there's things that John talked about in this lesson that I keep in mind whenever I'm writing in John's voice, or creating material based on John's principles. And I want to jump to the place where John camped out kind of the most, he opened up with the first lesson of add value to people, and if you've listened to the podcast, you know that that is the number one value that permeates everything we do with the Maxwell Enterprise. So, I don't want to camp out too much there. The second point that he touched on was pray without ceasing, which I do have a question about faith that we'll get to in a minute. But John, really, the first place that John kind of really starts to unpack things is on the lesson of consistency. So, I want to ask you first, why is consistency such a big deal for John, and how has John's embracing of consistency sort of filtered down into our companies? And why would that value be something that other leaders would want to import into their organization?
Mark: I love when John—I love that you camped out on this, number one, Jason, but I love how John teaches consistency. I wish I could be a visual here with you today because when John teaches, he says, “Guys, I'm going to tell you the difference maker in my leadership, I'm going to tell you, it's the key, it's everything.” And you know, I watch as John teaches that people start sitting up on the edge of the table, because they know that John is going to give them something powerful. And he says, “Get ready for it! Get ready for it! Here's the word: consistency.” And then you just kind of see everybody sit back and go, “Ow, that is such an unsexy, unattractive, horrible word.” Who wants somebody to come up to them and say, “Ah, Jason, Jason, you're so ah! You're so…consistent.” But yet, John says and teaches consistency compounds. John has a lot of contemporaries. There's a lot of people that's written books. There's a lot of people that speak. There's a lot of people that have the one hit wonder of a book that explodes on the New York Times Best Seller, but what I think differentiates John Maxwell, from most people in his field is what he learned from Melvin, consistency. It is that every day he reads, he writes, he thinks, he asks questions, he files, if you've never heard John do his “rule of five”, you're missing it right now on the podcast because the rule of five is every day he thinks, every day files, every day he asks questions, everyday he writes, everyday files…every day. Christmas, birthday, when he doesn't feel well, every day is a day of consistency. And I've traveled the world with John, we've been in sum 70 countries together, and I can tell you this, every day, everywhere, every time we're on the road, John is writing, reading, thinking, asking questions, and filing. Now, today he doesn't use his old filing system of yesterday. He's innovated, but you would love to have John Maxwell’s cell phone, because it is a filing system of impact because he knows to add value to people he's got to be thinking of ways to add value to people every single day. And that powerful thought of consistency, Jason, is what we're doing everyday right now. What are we doing in COVID-19? In many ways, we're doing what we did before COVID-19. What are we doing in the tension of our world right now where everybody's on edge with what anybody and everybody is saying or doing or thinking or are posting? What are we doing? The same thing we did before everybody was on edge, we're adding value to people, and that thing that we do on a consistent basis goes back to what Melvin taught John.
Jason: There's something that John said while he was talking about consistency that I had never heard before and I loved it, and I picked it out and I wanted to ask you this, he was talking about his father and his father's consistency, and he admitted that, you know, his dad had flaws, like all men do. Which if you didn't pick up on the fact that driving fast was the flaw, that’s a very John—
Mark: —Jason, let me tell you this, people ask me all the time, “How'd you get to become CEO?” They listened to me talk southern and they go, “How'd you get to become CEO?” They asked me where I went to college, and they go, “How did you get to be CEO?” They asked me what I did before I started running seven multi-million-dollar companies, and they go, “How did you get this?” I'm convinced one of the ways if not the way, is the way I drive. John Maxwell tells people all the time, when I do certain things that would make many of you uncomfortable behind the wheel of an automobile John goes, “And that's why he is the CEO!” Thank you, Melvin. Thank you. Thank you for endorsing my driving.
Jason: Well, I'll just say that makes me feel a whole lot better about the way I drive, because my family…yeah. But as he was talking about that he said this phrase and I've never tied these two concepts together, consistency and this thing. John said his dad was an authentic man, not a perfect man, and he said that authenticity comes from his consistency. I want to ask you, first of all, what's the difference between perfect, and authentic in a leader’s life? And how does consistency build authenticity in a leader?
Mark: Oh, gosh, man. Hey, Jake, can we have a four-hour episode right here for me to respond to Jason's question? Because this, Jason, literally could be a four-part tribute, just this question. How can we be perfectly imperfect? How can we be imperfectly perfect? How do we take authenticity and write that into perfection? Isn't this the crisis that we're in right now? To wear a mask, to not wear a mask, to go to work, to not go to work, to stay at home and let groceries come to you, or go to the grocery store, to value another human being that looks different or to not notice their difference, Isn't it the crisis that we're in right now is being authentic, and yet, striving to be perfect? And I got to tell you, Jason, I don't have a perfect answer. But I have an authentic one, I have one that says, Jason, I will never reach perfection on this side of my struggle. Now, Melvin, I think probably has reached perfection today. I'm a person of faith as well, I subscribe to John and Melvin's faith, by the way, and I got to tell you, I feel like he's probably reached the perfect state right now. But he was authentically going after that perfection way before he reached the perfection, so isn't it perfect to be in a journey toward perfection, rather than those people that think that they have truly arrived at perfection? I think the moment that we think that we have arrived at perfection is the moment we stop being authentic and really show our imperfection. So, the perfection is in the stretch toward perfection, not in reaching a destination. The authenticity is realizing the days that I wish I hadn't posted that, “Ah!” And the days that we vulnerably come out and say that was a post from a paradigm of the past. This is my retribution or contribution to a realization and an understanding today, and I think that authenticity is what demonstrates a journey to perfection.
Jason: Man, leaders, if you didn't catch that, Mark said that the day you think you're perfect is the day you cease to be authentic. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive for perfection. I absolutely love that, and I want to kind of shift for a second because John talked about in consistency that, you know, the qualities that you embrace when you're younger, get exaggerated as you get older. But then in his fourth, I think, is his fourth point…No, it was his fifth point, because these two merged for me, as John was talking about them. He talked about in his fifth point that we need to stay focused, that focus is something that we need as leadership. Can you talk to me for just a moment, about the way age exaggerates the qualities we embrace when we're younger? Right? John said that, you know, when you're young and you focus on certain qualities, as you get older, those qualities, just get bigger, more exaggerated, more pronounced. So, what should young leaders be focusing on right now so that those qualities can expand to their benefit later on in life? Where should they be putting their attention and developing that consistency in order to see a great return later on down the line?
Mark: Well, I feel like, Jason, that you have just asked me an old person question to speak to the young people, and I wonder if that's just because I had my 51st birthday since I last saw you. I do feel like I just was asked an AARP question. So, thank you very much for underscoring my birthday. Hey, I love the question! I don't love that I have the experience to answer it. So, let's just start there. I do love the question because, boy, isn't it true what John says that when we have the energy when we are young, we don't have the wisdom to accomplish anything of significance. And yet, when we're old, we have the wisdom to accomplish significance, we don't have the energy. And your question is really rooted in that realization, how do we, as an older person, teach younger people with all this energy and all this distraction? How do we teach them to focus? I'll tell you the thing that was a game changer for me, and I didn't get it until I was 33; and I got it in this John Maxwell, Melvin Maxwell environment of figuring out the purpose of my life. You've heard it said, no doubt, two important days in a person's life: the day they were born, and the day they discovered why, young people, people younger than 51 listen to this aged experience. Figure out why you are here. Figure it out. I was 33, I don't know if that's young or old to figure that out, but that was my age, and everything changed on a dime for me, Jason, the day I discovered why I was born. Here's what it did, it brought the past into focus. I realized all the opportunities, all the experiences, all the step-ups, step downs, failures and successes were a setup for my future. So, it focused my future. Excuse me, it focused my past, it focused my present, I now could realize the opportunities, the positions, the responsibilities that I had, I could focus them into my purpose and make more sense of them. And then the final focus area that it did is it focused my future from that day forward when it was 33 between Christmas and New Year's, December the 27th, when I discovered my purpose, from that day forward, I made decisions through the filter and the paradigm of my purpose. So, the greatest area that I can tell you, stop spinning your wheels, stop saying yes to every opportunity good or bad, and go spend some time with yourself and figure out the day you can discover why you were born, why you were placed on earth, will change your trajectory of life.
Jason: I love that answer. Guys, he couldn't have given you a better answer. If you're young and you want to develop and invest in an area of your life that's going to pay dividends down the road, and I can say this because this has truly been my experience as I began to figure out what my purpose was it changed my career. It changed how I looked at my career, it changed the type of companies that I wanted to go to work for, because my purpose in life would require certain values and a certain culture in order for me to truly live it out. All right, one of the last things that John talked about in this lesson, and I do have one more question when I ask after this one, so I want to go ahead and hit this. But John talked about taking the high road was a lesson that he learned from Melvin. And I don't know if you've been on social media much lately, but I certainly have, I've had a little bit of downtime, usually when I'm at the treatment center, getting an infusion or something, but there are a lot of angry people out there, and not many of them are taking the high road so it's become a lost art, not just on social media, but it's even become a lost art in public. If you've seen any of these videos of people behaving badly, you know, that we kind of have lost the sense of taking the moral high road. So, when everyone is going low, and it seems like that's the route to success, how can leaders learn to take the high road consistently?
Mark: Jason, I'm really sad, as I try to answer this question, I'm heartbroken. I saw something, I am not seeing much social media right now by intention. I don't watch any news. I don't trust any of them, and if you're a contributor to Fox or your contributor to CNN, I'm sorry if I just offended you, that was not my point. I just can't get to a level of believable truth from what I'm seeing in news right now. I can't, it feels all tainted to me. I feel the same way about social media right now. All I see is a bunch of emotion and polarizing opinions. I don't see much continuity and unification. I don't see it. And so, I'm really saddened by how you framed this question and how everybody has an opinion and typically that opinion is about what other people are not doing right. It's not an opinion about where they are standing. It's an opinion about where you are standing, and it just becomes polarizing, it becomes divisive, it becomes very separating, rather than bringing us together. So, I'm saddened with this. I don't have it all figured out. But let me tell you an answer to the traveling the high road that I learned from John, which learned from Melvin that we try to do, I think all of us have to understand, Jason, our values. And here's what I'll tell you, our values should be our values in difficult times, just like they should be our values in great times. Our values should sustain us when all else fails us. Our values should inspire us not discourage us, our values should be solution oriented, not problematic in its orientation. So, what is your value? That's my first big question to everybody listen to this podcast, what do you value? What is your value? And that should come out in all of your posts, in all of your opinions, in all of your filters toward everyone else, your values should be obvious, even more so in dark, difficult times than less. That's the high road. So, let me give you an example in business. I've seen a lot of people come and go in John's organizations. In fact, I've been some of the transition agents for people that have come and gone in John's organizations. But one thing I can tell you without any question, unequivocally, John always values people whether they leave in a difficult misunderstanding way, or whether they leave in a very triumphant way, John is always, every single time, John has always taught me to take the high road. Why? Because we were wrong or right? Nope. Because the other person deserved to get the high road? Nope, not always, because it was not justifiable to turn and walk away? Nope. There was one reason, Jason…we value people. We value people. So, if you value people you don't look at who's right or wrong in a disconnect when one person goes one road and the other person goes the other way, you don't look at the road. You look at the traveler. You don't look at what happened to get us to the crossroads. You look at the traveler, and John has always taken the high road, not because he felt like it, not because it was warranted or not, because his values are bigger than his rights. Now, let me tell all of us that want to post on social media, our rights, our opinions, our paradigms, our perspective, get something bigger than your rights to respond with. Get your values. Do you value everyone or just people that has your narrative? Do you value everyone or just if they are a current employee of your team? Who? What? How do you live out your values and from there, always get a high road approach to demonstrate those values?
Jason: It's so phenomenal that that's where you landed that question, it reminds me of the interview that John did with Casey Crawford, I think you and I kind of broke that one down on the podcast. But Casey said in that lesson, if you go back and listen to it, Casey said that crisis is not the time to determine your values; crisis reveals whether or not you're truly a values-based organization. And that brings me to the last question that I wanted to ask you because the things that we value as an organization come from the deep and resonant beliefs and values of John Maxwell, the person, and the deep beliefs and values of John Maxwell, the person were handed to him by his father Melvin. And so, I want to ask you, you know, in this lesson John talked a couple of times about Melvin's faith. He wasn't shy about it. He even talked about Maxwellfaith.com, I believe is a place where people could go if they wanted to learn a little bit more about it. But this is a question for you, as a third-generation leader, how do we positively incorporate deep beliefs into our leadership? How do we merge those values and the source of those values into the way we do business in a way that genuinely adds value to the people around us, as opposed to maybe taking a negative tone or a tone that makes the value or our belief more important than the person? How have you learned to navigate that as a leader?
Mark: Well, the first thing that I've learned, Jason, this feels like this is the consistent theme here, the first thing that I've learned is I never arrive, I'm constantly working on it. In this current, in the U.S. racial tension that we're having, in the last three to four weeks, I have learned more about my biases personally, than I have learned in the previous 51 years of my life. I've just learned more about myself. I didn't even see it. I didn't know it was there. So, let me be really clear that I am learning as we go, and I am trying to learn in a way that brings better. I want to close today, Jason, with this, John did talk about Maxwellfaith.com. We're going to talk about that in every one of these tributes. Here's why, because John in his faith that was given by Melvin feels like that over the years, we've gotten the wrong picture of God, the wrong picture. In fact, I think we've got the wrong picture of valuing people right now. And so, we're in the middle of testing that and I would challenge you, test your faith. Go to Maxwellfaith.com. It'll take you 10 minutes to see this video of John Maxwell, giving four pictures of what Melvin's faith meant to him. I hope you'll go there. I hope you've enjoyed this! Hey, don't forget, go to Maxwellpodcast.com/Melvin and you'll be able to download the show notes, you'll be able to see the video of Melvin's memorial service, and you'll be able to see where we're going in the next three weeks with three more tributes to Melvin. Jason, always love getting to do this with you. Jake, thanks for making this happen. For all of you listening to the podcast, thanks for making this community and this podcast one of the most listened to in the leadership space in the world.