In part three of our series on the lessons John Maxwell learned from his father, Melvin, John shares the importance of giving God the credit, living a generous life, and being intentional every day.
Mark Cole and Jason Brooks continue their discussion on what they’re learning from this series. They discuss why knowing and investing in the strengths of your team members matters and different ways that leaders can be generous aside from money alone.
Our BONUS resource for this series is the Month of Melvin Maxwell 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! Mark Cole here, and we are in part three of “A Month with Melvin Maxwell”. Melvin Maxwell is John's dad and he passed away on July the fourth, and John put down 29 lessons that he learned from his father, his mentor, and so, this podcast series has been a deep dive into these lessons, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have back with me today, Jason Brooks, he is going to help me debrief the lessons you are about to hear. If you are new to the podcast, please go back and listen to part one and part two, if you are a regular thank you for being a part of this learning journey that we're on. Now, today's lesson is on lessons 13 through 21, but you can go to Maxwellpodcast.com/Melvin and click on the “Bonus Resource” button, you will be able to download the worksheet and follow along as John teaches. So, here is John Maxwell and then Jason and I will be back to debrief these lessons. Here's John!
John Maxwell: Hey, John Maxwell here. I'm glad you're with me again for my third lesson on tribute to my father, who passed away on July 4th, 98 years of age, great man. And these lessons that I'm going to share with you, I've already done two so if you're just catching me for the first time now, you can go back and get lesson one, lesson two of tributes to my father, but when I was with him, right before he died, I was alone and I sat beside him as he laid in his bed, and on my iPhone, I just started putting lessons that I'd learned from my dad, and when I put one down, then I would talk to dad about it and I said, “Dad, remember, you taught me this one.” And it was just a wonderful, alone time with my father. And I thought these lessons that he taught me that have helped me, helped my brother, helped my sister, helped our whole family, helped our children, or grandchildren, his great grandchildren. I thought that they would be helpful to you, so I'm going to give them to you. And again, I just want to say one thing at the beginning of the lesson is that my father is a person of faith, I'm a person of faith, and so I'll have a few lessons there about faith. But it's okay if you're not a person of faith, you know that doesn't bother me. You're my friend. I unconditionally love you, value you whether you love God or don't love God, doesn't matter. I value you as a person, because He created you. So, when I get on a lesson of faith, you may say, “Oh, I don't know if I want to hear that.” Well, if you don't want to just skip it, but if you want to you can hear it because you'll learn some good stuff out of it even if you're not a person of faith. I mean, I pick up some great things from my atheist friends, so it doesn't really matter. The principles are the principles and they work whether you follow God or don't follow God. So, just hang with me and understand that when I give you a faith lesson, I'm not picking on you, I'm just loving you, just talking to you out of my life. Now, how many lessons have I done, Andrew? I've done 12 so far so I got…okay, here we go! I've got 29 so I'm going to have to really make hay today.
Let's go to lesson number 13. Lesson number 13 is my father taught us to manage our gifts that God gave us. To steward our gifts, stewardship means management, and there was a scripture my dad quoted to me if I've heard my dad say this once I heard him say it a thousand times, “Whomsoever much is given, much will be required.” In other words, he'd say to me, “John, if you're given a lot of talent, the requirement is you've got to really take that talent and make the best use of it. Help people with that talent. You've got to work the talent you have. If you're given a lot, you're expected to produce a lot.” You know, and he would teach us the parable of the talents and talents are different, they're varied as far as types and sizes. But he'd say, “Whatever God gives you, that gift, that talent, that skill set that you have, whatever it is…” he would say, “You've got to manage it well. You've got to work it, you've got to build it, multiply it, use it to help people.” And it was an incredible teaching in my life; and what my father did is he helped us find our strengths. This was way before Marcus Buckingham and StrengthsFinders, no, no, no, this book wasn't even written. But my dad knew that where our strengths were those were the gifts that God gave us. And he also knew that where our strengths were, those strengths fit our purpose in life, and he, very early looked at my brother Larry and helped him get started in a business because he had business gifts and a business mind. I could remember him telling me one day, he said, “John, I don't think you're going to be like your brother.” Well, of course, I wasn’t going to be like my brother, my brother, throughout school had part time jobs, by the time he was 16 he had money to buy his own car. I didn't have any jobs all I was doing was playing games and having friends and you know, I didn't want a job. It interfered with all of my friendships, but I was good to people, and I can remember my dad said, “John, I'm not sure what you're going to do, but you need to work with people. You're good with people. People like you, you like people. So, let's do something in the people business.” My sister who's a nurse, had a desire to learn about medicine. My father was very wise, he said, “Okay, let's find out what you're good at now, and let's manage it well, and let's practice it and really see if this is something that you're good at, because you want to always stay in your strength zone, not your weak zone.” And so, dad really kind of gave us a head start. We had a head start over a lot of kids, because he already had us programmed to define our strength and it was interesting, he would say, “And when you find your strength, don't do anything else. Don't get distracted.” He was kind of a one person, one thing I do kind of man. And so, when he'd find somebody that was really smart, I mean, that could do a dozen things well, he kind of always would feel sorry for them because he thought, “Now, which one are they going to pick?” Because he again, he wanted us to focus, you know, pick one rabbit, you know, stay right in that lane. But he taught us to steward our gifts.
Boy, another lesson, huge lesson that we learned from my dad was to live a generous life. I shared with you in the last tribute lesson, my father taught us about tithing, and that's just a great principle again, whether you're a person of faith or not, if you set aside time and financial resources to help people and give to others, it's an incredible practice that will benefit others but also benefits you. And so, my father was very, very, very generous and he did much more than tithe, but that's how he taught us. In fact, when we were kids, I can remember when we got a dollar allowance as kids and he would give it to us in dimes. You know why? He'd give us ten dimes and said, “Now let's talk about this, what do we do with these ten dimes?” And we’d pull out the first one, and we’d say, “This is God's.” He said, “That's exactly right, the first ten God gets.” And my brother one day when we went to church on the way home, my brother, Larry looked at dad and said, “You know, Dad, I didn't give a dime in church today.” Dad said, “You didn't?” He said, “No.” He said, “I gave a quarter.” And he said, “Well, that's wonderful, Son. You gave a quarter?” Now, my brother would be at that time, what? Seven, eight? He said, “You gave a quarter, that wonderful!” He said, “Why did you give a quarter instead of a dime?” From my brother's childhood lips, he said, “Dad, God's been good to me this week, and I just felt that I wanted to give Him a little bit more than what I usually do.” Well, my brother gave a quarter that day, but God has blessed him as a businessman and throughout his life. He's given millions, millions of dollars to people in need and causes that are worthy, and he's a river. He's not a reservoir, he doesn't hold his resources, he lets them pass on. He learned that from dad. In fact, after my father passed away, my brother, being the businessman, went and began to look at all of his financial records, and my dad kept very good financial records, and he began to, you know, just kind of make sure everything was in order, and he called me on the phone and said, “John, I've just spent a few hours going through dad's giving and records.” He said, “It's pretty amazing.” He said, my father never had a lot of money, but my father was extremely good with money. So, we never had needs because he managed money very, very well. And he had an income level that he needed to have to take care of all those needs, and then everything above that he wanted to be generous and give to causes that were very important in his life. And so, he had annuities. He was always talking to us, you know, as he grew older about how he had annuity here, he had an annuity over there, and again, he never made a lot of money but my brother called me on the phone just after he passed away, and he went through his books, he said, “John, I've just gone through dad's records…” And I believe Larry said that just in annuities alone, this isn't other giving, this is just in annuities, and of course, he had annuities with some of these nonprofit organizations so that financially he received a little bit of benefit from that money until he died, then of course, they got all the money. But he'd given $294,000 just in one area of giving. Now, that's just one area that isn't all of his giving, and that isn't even the majority of his giving; and he just taught us to be generous. You know, it's that principle of my hand clenched tight, if I'm not a generous person, and I'm holding on to everything I have and I don't want anybody to have it, I don't want to lose it. Oh my, I have a scarcity mindset. Well, the good news is, if I hold it in my hand, I'll probably keep it. But the bad news is if something comes by my hand that could resource me or add value to me, supply me with things I need, because I am so tight and so stingy and so scarcity mindset, I won't open up my hand to receive more than I could have, because I just have to hold on to what I have, and so think about it like this, if you have a clenched fist in your mindset, all the blessings that come by you, you can't open your hand because you open your hand you're afraid you're going to lose what you got. But instead of a clenched fist, if you just have this right here, you just have this mindset, you know, it comes in, it goes out. What I've been given I should pass on, I'm a river not a reservoir. God only give to me what He knows will flow through me. Now, if I have an open hand, guess what? When the blessings come by, the opportunities come by, I have a hand and fingers I can take some of those. But when I take them, I don't take them to keep them. Remember this, it's a catch and release program in giving. Just like you catch and release for fish, when it comes, you catch it and you have it, and hold it and then you prioritize it, where's it best going to go? And then you release it. My father taught me to just live an incredible, generous life and I'm just grateful, grateful for that. Wow!
Another thing Dad taught me was to give God the credit. What he taught me well was the fact that God is the source, and he taught all of us as children that every good and perfect gift comes from God. And so that you have to understand that I'm not the source, God is the source. This is a total different mindset. And the moment that I understand that I now realize that He gets all the credit. This principle is taught to me greatly by my father, and then by my mentor, Fred Smith, who, one day when I was thirty—I don’t know, thirty-four, thirty-five I was pastoring, had the 10th largest church in America, just a kid. And so, he spent the weekend with me, and we had Sunday lunch after all the services were over, and he sat down with me at the Brigantine Restaurant in La Mesa, California, and he said, “John, I want to talk to you about your gifts, the gifts God has given you.” And he said, “This is a life changing lesson.” And he taught me the fact that the gifts that God has given me are greater than me. He said, “First of all, they're not yours, they're His, they're called gifts. You didn't earn them, don't deserve them. God in His care for you, in His purpose for you, gave you those gifts. He gave them to you. You don't deserve them. You didn't earn them. And by the way, if He wanted to, He could take them away from you. They are gifts. That's why they call them gifts.” And he shared with me that since that they are gifts, I was, like my dad taught me so, I was to steward him and manage them well. And that's how I would multiply my gifts by stewarding them and managing them well. And then he said, “John, when people come to you, and they will and they'll tell you, you're amazing because you are amazing because you have these gifts.” He said, “I want you to understand you're not amazing. It's your gifts that are amazing. They don't realize it. They complimenting you because they don't separate you from the gifts, but they should. Because I know you and you're not that good. And so, they see the gift activated in your life and they think, ‘Oh you're amazing.’” He said, “John, you're not amazing. In fact, you're one step from stupid. I'm one step from stupid. We're all one step from stupid.” He said, “It's your gifts that are amazing.” So, he said, “When people compliment you realize what they're really doing is they're complimenting God. They're seeing God work in you through the strengths and the gifts that you have.” And so, he said, “When they compliment you, pass it on to them. Don't try to hold it. Don't try to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I guess I am amazing.’ No, no, no, don't do that. You know, what you keep, your lose. So just pass it on.” And even to this day, when I speak and I'm done and thousands of people have heard me, and they're on their feet, giving me a standing ovation as I wave to the crowd and go off the stage, I look at God and say, “They're applauding You, they're not applauding me. I just happened to activate the gift that You gave me.” You just always understand He's the source. Here's what I want you to know, if you know He's the source, you'll always give Him the credit. The moment you get confused and think it all begins with you, you'll start wanting credit for yourself and that just causes all kinds of leadership train wrecks. Give God the credit.
Another thing that my father taught me to do was just to love people, and in all the lessons I've given you, they're all products of loving people. I mean, when I talk about adding value to people that, you know, traveling the high road, encouraging others, the things I'm giving you here, walking slowly through the crowd, live a generous life, all these lessons I'm teaching you right now from my father, they really are bottom line, all about loving people, loving people. And so, my father lived it and did it so well. Let me give you another lesson my father taught me and that was just to love and read God's word, okay? We're on faith, but I've got something really good for you, if you're not a person of faith, you hang with me here on this because I got something I want to share with you to really help you. My father read the Bible every day. In fact, he read through the Bible, hang on to your seat belt…eighty-seven times. I'm so amazed by that. Trust me, I'm not ever going to get close to that kind of a number. But he just loved to read God's word. Because he felt that that's how God basically spoke to him. In fact, I've held his Bible, where every time he read it through he would make another mark and dated and on the inside on the front, it's a tattered Bible, but boy, all the times that he's read through the Bible. Now, you say, “Well, John, I'm not a person of faith, you know? How does that fit me?” Well, I can tell you how it'll fit you, I can tell exactly, let me just say something about God's word, whether you’re person or faith or not, it works, and it'll work in your life. In fact, I'm going to give you the Proverb challenge, okay? Proverbs, a Book of Wisdom written by Solomon has 31 chapters, not big chapters. I don't know, how long does it take you to read a chapter? A minute? Okay. Short chapters. I would like to give you the Proverb challenge, whether you’re a person of faith or not, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter, because these principles work. I would encourage you to spend one month, 31 days taking and reading one Proverb a day. Just one, a minute, two max, you're done. I'm going to make you a promise, if every day you'll read one Proverb for a month, 31 Proverbs in total, I promise you, if you'll read it, and if out of that Proverb, you get a good business thought, or a good life thought for living, or a good leadership thought, or a good relationship thought. In other words, as you read it, if there's something you read and you say, “Oh, that's good. That'll help me.” Just kind of mark it. Here's my promise: in one month, you will have more thoughts, ideas, principles in leadership, life, business, relationships, in one month, by reading one Proverb a day, it'll be the most productive idea, principle month that you ever spent in your life, I guarantee it. I know that for a fact because I'd been given the Proverbs challenge out for, I don't know, maybe three decades, and I've had many people come back me, people that weren't even of faith. They didn't even have a Bible. They had to go get them a Bible, okay? By the way, if you go get one, go get The Message. It's a paraphrase, it's easier to read, get The Message. And then they didn't even know where Proverbs were, they had to, you know, find Proverbs. It's kind of in the middle of your Bible, okay? But just start reading it and it will, I promise you, it will change your life. Changed mine, it will change yours.
Another lesson my father taught me is to be intentional. That's where my book Intentional Living comes from. My father realized, again, that good intentions, had to be turned into good actions. And so most people, they don't lead their life, they're not intentional, they accept their life. And when you accept your life, you don't get the best that life has for you, you've got to be purposeful, you've got to be willful, you've got to be focused. One of the principles, one of the things Dad taught me is every night, he would [INAUDIBLE] three by five card, he would write down the three or four most important things he needed to do the next day. And he would put it on his desk, and the next morning, he would pick it up and put it in his pocket, and he’d just follow those three or four things that he needed to do that day. He was intentionally—he just understood, he said, “Son, if the night before you think through your next day.” He was always preparing. When I wrote the book, Today Matters, or Make Today Count, as it's called today, when I wrote that book, I talk about the fact that we're either repairing or preparing. If we don't live today right, if we're not intentional on today, if we don't prioritize today, what we do tomorrow is we repair what we didn't do yesterday. We are in a repairing mode or lifestyle. But if we prepare, if we live intentionally like dad did, and every night, kind of get your list so you're ready for your next day with your priorities, you know, if you prepare, you don't have to repair. But I can tell you, you will repair if you don't prepare. That's just an absolute fact. And I learned that from my dad just to live intentionally, in my life. I just love that. You know, I wrote a book on it. And I learned it from my father.
Another lesson that I learned from Dad was to see the best in others. How many times my dad would say, “John, there are basically two sides to every person that you know.” And then he’d say, “There's two sides to me, there are two sides to you.” And he'd say, “John, you've got a good side, and you’ve got a bad side, and you know, you've got this side of ideals and dreams, and then you got this human side that falls way short of those ideals and dreams.” He said, “So, when you look at people, what you look for is what you'll see.” So, if I look at you and I look for your faults, guess what? I'll see your faults. I'll see the downside of you. And if I see the downside of you now, he said what will happen is, what you look for is what you see and what you see is how you treat people. Wow! this is incredible teaching this! this comes from my dad. So, I'm giving a tribute to him. That's why I'm passing it on to you. This is life changing stuff. And by the way, I'm just going to stop and say, I hope you just start with me watching this and learning these lessons by yourself. Think about parenting for a moment…Now this is all lesson three of tributes to my father, so I'm a little late, but these are the kind of lessons you need to sit down with your children watch together. I mean, take it home with you. Sit down and say, “You know what? For 30 minutes, 32 minutes, we're going to listen to John just teach some lessons from his father and let's learn them ourselves.” This is a time to share it with others. My dad was a master at that. If he went to a conference, he’d take me, he’d take me out of school. In fact, he’d tell the teacher, “I'm going to educate him today.” And he'd sit beside me, and we'd take notes together. “What did you learn, Son?” And he understood, he exposed me to these great principles. These four lessons now, four lessons on tribute to my dad, oh my goodness! Don't hold them for yourself. Teach them to your staff. Sit down and watch them together. You know, these are life changing principles and lessons that will just absolutely do the best. And so, my father said, “John, see the best of others.” In fact, here's what he would say, “If you see the best in others, you'll bring out the best in others and you'll receive the best from others.” Just as, if you see the worst in others, you'll bring out the worst in others. Yeah! What you see is what you get. And what you see is based on who you are. We don't see people as they are, we see people as we are. We put them through our grid. We don't see life as it is, we see life as we see ourselves. The first person to kind of fixes me, if I can get me right, I'll see you right. If I can't get me right, to be honest with you, I'll probably see you wrong. If I can't get me right, I'll see life wrong. So, my father just said, “John—” You know, remember the three things that he gave me I gave in one of my tribute lessons, “Believe in people, value people, unconditionally love people.” That's all in seeing the best in people because when you see the best in others, than you immediately begin—oh, this is huge—you begin to immediately bring out the very best in others. And I just love that! I just think that is so helpful.
Let me give you another one. We’re doing so well today, I'm moving through these pretty good and I'm feeling good because I won't get it done today but I'll get the lessons done then in four tributes to my dad, that's for sure. My father was so, so good on teaching me to maximize my gifts. I taught you in another tribute lesson that he taught me to steward my gifts which was to manage them. Managing your gifts by doing the things that you do well consistently and not working on your weaknesses. Maximizing my gifts is a whole different level that my dad taught me, and he basically taught me that as Stephen Covey said, you know, “Make the main thing, the main thing.” My father in maximizing my gifts basically said to maximize your gifts you have to practice your gifts. Now, I'm going to give you an incredible formula so get ready to write this down. To maximize my gifts, I have to practice my gifts because how do we get better? We get better by practice. And we get better by practice if we're practicing our strengths, because you know, practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make permanent. And so, if I'm practicing my strengths, I'm permanently making my strengths bigger and better and maximizing them. So, he'd say, first of all, practice your strengths. Okay? So, try it, go out and do it. Secondly, evaluate what happened. When you finish, don't just finish and say, “Well, I'm done.” No, no, you're not done when you're done. What that means is now you have to evaluate what you've done. So, the next time you can do it better, so you practice it, that's action. And then you evaluate it. “Okay, what did I do well? What didn’t I do well? Where do I need to improve? What could I change?” That's where you get feedback from others, because sometimes I can't see it myself. I'm too close to the forest to see the trees. So, you practice it, and then you evaluate it. And then number three is you improve it, and you improve it by saying, “Okay, this is what I'm going to do next time that'll make this just a little better.” And I can promise you, you become a genius one tweak at a time. Nobody makes a giant leap forward. No one is an overnight success. It's like one person said all my life, I've worked hard on being an overnight success. No, no, no, no. It's one step at a time. It's one tweak at a time. And to maximize your gifts, you practice them, you evaluate them, and then you improve them. And as you go into the next time, you have a game plan, you're still doing that strength that you have, that gift that you have, but you're doing something a little bit different that's just going to enhance that gift. So, every time you do those three things: you practice, you evaluate, and then you improve. That is absolutely huge.
Last lesson my dad taught me that I'll give you today, then we'll do one more next week on tribute to my father, we’ll finish these 29 lessons. The last lesson I'm going to give you today was my dad just said to follow God 100%. Again, now I'm on a faith one, but just hang on with me, just hang on with me. You know, you just need to be a one hundred percenter, okay. And one of my father's favorite verses was, “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” And then he'd always say, “When you do that you love others, also, as you love yourself.” But God was first and he said, “Be a hundred percent.” It's the advice John Wooden shared with me when he was coaching UCLA and his college basketball players at practice would be a little tired and they wouldn't be giving him a hundred percent, so he’d go over to them and say, “I know you're tired. Maybe you had an exam last night, maybe your girlfriend broke up with you.” “Yeah, Coach, bad night. I'm not giving you a hundred percent today. “And then Coach Wooden would say, “Listen to me very carefully, I know what you're thinking, and I got to help you with your thinking. You're thinking, ‘I'm only giving a hundred percent today, but that's okay. Because tomorrow—or giving seventy percent today, but that's okay because tomorrow I'll give a hundred thirty percent.’” He said, “You can't give a hundred and thirty percent, you can only give a hundred. So, realize what you don't do today, you can't make up tomorrow. If you give me seventy percent, thirty percent is gone, lost, left on the table. You never can get it back, make every day count.” That's how my dad felt in his relationship with God. Just give Him your best shot. I would also encourage you, as I talk about some of these principles and lessons, some of them are about faith, and it's possible that you would like to know God, or have a relationship with God, no one's maybe ever sat down and just shared with you how to do it. Here's what I want you to do, go to Maxwellfaith.com. In fact, do it now because the lesson’s over, Maxwellfaith.com. And why I want you to do that is I will share with you there the four pictures of God, and I will share with you how you could have a relationship with Him, and if you do that, we also have some free materials, no catch to this, no gimmick to this. A study guide that will help you in your walk with God, and then a real another surprise that we have for you. So, if you just go to Maxwellfaith.com I'll talk to you about how you can know God in a personal way. I hope you've enjoyed tribute lessons to my dad, number three. Next week, we'll finish it off with tribute lessons to my dad, number four.
Mark Cole: Wow, Jason, what a series of lessons that John gave us again from Melvin. And man, it has been a great joy to do this together, hasn't it?
Jason Brooks: It has been, I really enjoyed talking about this with you, especially because you knew both Melvin, I mean, and obviously, you know, John. I never had the privilege of meeting Melvin, so, I love being able to not only get John's perspective, but your perspective as well. And especially just hearing how much of Melvin is ingrained in the work that I do and that we do as a company. It's been really cool to kind of see how that legacy plays out and, man, John was cooking today. I mean, he covered nine lessons from his dad. So, if you have not downloaded the fill in the blank notes, do yourself a favor, Maxwellpodcast.com/Melvin, click on that “Bonus Resource” button, you're going to need to fill in the blank notes. But I want to start by kind of mashing together two of the points that John made today. One of the lessons was that Melvin taught him was to manage the gifts that God has given you, and then he came back a little bit later and said, you need to maximize the gifts that God has given you. So, I've got kind of a two-part question here that sort of covers both, and the first question, it seems like a no brainer, but I've run into a lot of leaders who have never done this, and so do leaders have a responsibility to help people discover and work in their strengths?
Mark: I think we do, and I think to do that, Jason, and the more you're leading people and you have a group of people that you lead, the more you understand what I'm getting ready to say, so many of you listening to the podcast, you're an aspiring leader, you want to lead. Many of you have led and you're glad to be taking a break from people day to day leadership. But wherever you are on that pendulum, what I would tell each of us is that before you can help somebody else understand their gifts, you got to understand yours. You've got to be able to recognize, realize, and cultivate the leaders gifts that you have. The gifts that you have in you that helps you lead. One of those, I believe for effective leaders, is creating environments where others can work in their gifts. Not work in their aspiring gifts, not work in their weaknesses, but I think we as leaders have a responsibility to create environments to where people can not only recognize their gifts, which is your question, but where they can actually work and expand their influence because of the environment that we're creating. I, through the years, I have found that at certain times, I have more time to help people that report to me figure out their gifts, I have more time. There's other times that I don't have as much time to dig in to discovering the gifts that lie within people on my team. I believe as a leader of this organization, and by the way, I'm going to put every one of you leading companies out there on this same level of responsibility, you have a stewardship responsibility to create environments for people to discover their gifts, cultivate their gifts, and expand their gifts. The way I do that now is I have people on the team that I give that expectation to. My responsibilities today does not allow me to hands on do that but I still have the responsibility to allocate human and financial resources to make that happen.
Jason: In that, you kind of answered both of the questions in one without me ever having to ask the second question, because the follow up question was going to be, how do we as leaders maximize or help our people discover and maximize their gifts effectively? And I love the way that you have intentionally surrounded yourself with leaders who can do what you can't do now that you have such a greater responsibility, and one of the best at it is Chad Johnson. I get the privilege to work side by side with Chad on a lot of things and I have really enjoyed particularly this year. Chad brought in several new teammates to his team at the beginning of this year, and as we all know, 2020 just went “flewp” [SP] like in a heartbeat, and yet Chad has been able to effectively not only help his team discover their gifts, but he's been able to maximize them. And one of the things that Chad does that I love is he empowers people. He says, “You're good at this so I'm going to let you run with it and see what you do with it.” And I love the fact that Chad learned that from you, because you've done that for me. I know you did it for Chad, I know you've done it for a lot of other leaders under you, and leaders, one of the best ways to help people maximize their gifts is simply give them space to run with it.
Mark: Yeah, Jason, dude, so we have one of our solutions groups is Corporate Solutions. We have a whole team of people that design solutions to work to make companies organizationally more healthy, and to make the people on their team more healthy. Now, here's my point to making that, you would be surprised at the number of leaders in very successful organizations that have no clue what their people strengths are. Again, our responsibility, we talked about this last week, our responsibility is to be product of the product, we invest thousands, tens of thousands of dollars every year in helping our team discover, cultivate, and maximize their strengths. And that's not a shameless plug for John Maxwell's Corporate Solutions, but they do work, and we are a consumer of our own solutions to make sure that we're doing that for the women and men on our team.
Jason: It's incredible the amount, I've never been in another organization that has invested back into the staff the way our company does, and it pays dividends because not only do we see our people grow, but you uncover and discover some really great and effective leaders that helped the company blossom even more. And that kind of leads me into you know, John's second lesson that he taught today was live a generous life. You've already talked to a little bit about making sure as the CEO and President of all of the enterprise that you provide, the financial resources for people to develop, but you also provide the expectation that people will develop. Both of those are a form of generosity, and so I want to ask you a little bit, you know, money is an obvious answer when it comes to generosity, but what are some unsung ways that leaders can be generous to their people?
Mark: And I'm by no means the icon of generosity, but I'm going to give you a personal thing that I do, because John quoted his father, “To him or her, whom much is given, much is required.” I've been exposed and had access to some of the best leaders in the world. I've got to meet country leaders, I've got to meet world leaders, government, corporate, I've been able to really not only meet them but get to be impacted by them. So, I've been given a lot. One of the things I do out of a spirit of generosity is every year I get requested quite a bit as you can imagine, I get requested to mentor people often. I gather all of those requests, and myself and some of my inner circle, we select five people every year that I mentor once a month on what I am learning and how I am trying to lead effectively. I let them set the agenda, I let them bring the desired outcomes for the year, but it is my attempt, now we sell that kind of stuff, we put a premium dollar on that kind of stuff, but five people a year, I ask to mentor me, therefore I give mentorship to five people a year. So, to your question, money is one way but your time, do you have an expertise that if you gave some of your time to someone else, that you could make them better? Another way to be generous is with your relationships. John asks a question all the time: who do you know that I should know? Well, if you know someone, don't even wait for them to ask, if you know two people that should be connected, because by connecting them they both would become better. Get a networking, a connecting mindset. A good friend of mine, in fact, he helped start the John Maxwell Team, Scott Fay. He's a bridge builder. Scott Fay knows how to build a bridge between two people, two entities that will make an impact greater because they're together than being apart.
Jason: I love both of those, and we could go on and on about ways that our leaders can be generous, but I want to slide into a different question. John talked about in the lesson, giving God the credit, that was something that he learned from Melvin, and I want to rephrase it just a little bit and ask you, why is it a healthy practice for leaders to acknowledge those who have poured into them, be it God or mentor or a family member or somebody else? Why is it important for leaders to acknowledge and give credit to the people who have helped the leader become the person they are?
Mark: You know, I've heard John actually do what I'm getting ready to describe. But I've heard him say often when somebody comes up and says, “I'm a self-made man!” And kind of pounds their chest, he looks at them immediately and goes, “Well, I'm sorry.” I've heard him do that. I have, somebody came up and said, “Hey, you don't understand, I’ve built everything I've got!” John went, “Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't know it was so small.” Here's the point, if you are a self-made woman or man, if you have built everything you have, if everything you've got has a direct correlation to your energy, your effort, your expertise, your brilliance…I'm sorry. I really am. I'm not taking away hard work, I'm not taking away people that have pounded it out from the sheer rock of difficulty and made something significant. God bless you, God loves you. But if you've been able to accomplish everything in your life by your own willpower and your own sheer effort, it can't be as big as it would be if you would allow others in and give others credit. Our ability to accomplish something big absolutely is directly correlated to your ability to invite others in and to give other people credit for your success. So, when you ask that question, Jason, the first image to come to mind is try something so big that when you succeed, God gets all the credit. Try something so big that when you succeed there is a Grammy Award speech of recognizing everybody around you that contributed to your success. You must be about something that requires more than just you.
Jason: So many great points in that, and I immediately think about the podcast, right? Like we have reached over 8 million people through this podcast and yet it wouldn't have been possible had Richard Chancy not thought up the idea, and truthfully, it wouldn't have been possible had Jake Decker not been on the team. Because Jake's knowledge of audio recording, being able to edit everything, I mean, Jake makes this whole thing possible and I love the fact that we get to embarrass the snot out of him by mentioning him as often as possible, but that's one of the things that I love about our culture is that embedded in everything that we do is this notion that it is a team effort, and that credit can always be shared and should always be shared. And I love that personally as an introvert because I don't always like having the spotlight, I love being able to say, “Hey, it's just as much this person or that person, as it was my effort.” And it makes for a wonderful culture and environment to be in.
Mark: Let me say one thing, Jason, John says this often and again, because Melvin was such a pillar of faith, there's been a lot in the last three podcasts and we'll have one more next week about faith, but John truly has a discipline that I love that’s very pertinent right here. He has a discipline and I've adapted this as a discipline in my own life, to everyday pray for winners. Every day, I just go, “God, I need another winner.” That's not that I don't have a team full of winners, I just want another winner, I need a winner. Well, what happens is, is when you commit to praying for brilliance, for praying for winners on your team, for praying for big things, when you actually get a winner, or when you actually accomplish something significant, because you prayed about it before you had it, you have a propensity to go back and acknowledge a source other than yourself. And so being grateful and giving credit to others, or in this case, giving credit to God, it starts with the end in mind, you've got to acknowledge you want to do something bigger than you so that when you do something bigger than you, you acknowledge something bigger than you,
Jason: Man, that is such a fantastic point. It's a great piece of wisdom which allows me to slide very nicely into my next question. John during the podcast or here during his teaching, he issued the Proverbs challenge, which if you didn't pick up on it was for every person listening to the podcast, to read one chapter from the Biblical book of Proverbs per day, and he does that because he was saying that there are amazing pieces of business wisdom that you can find, if you'll just go read that book. And I wanted to ask you, as a leader, what are some of the benefits that you found from seeking wisdom daily?
Mark: Yeah, you know, love this question! I might not have loved it as much three years ago, I might not have had enough wisdom to answer it, but what I will tell you is the year 2019, my word for the year, if you've listened to the podcast long, you know that John encourages all of us to have a word for the year. My word in 2019 was wisdom, and so, for every day of 2019, I read a Proverb, and every month I would change to a different translation. And so, I got to the very end, Jason, and it’s just one of the funniest things ever, so I have a discipline and I will tell you it really paid off, which is your question. I've seen so much more, I've achieved rather, so much more clarity on decisions and big things that I had to make toward the middle to end of 2019 because of that discipline, which is your question. What's so funny is as I got to the end, as I do every year, and I began to assess before my year in review, “Hey, how did you do this year on your life plan, on your goals, on your objectives, on your word for the year, your focus?” And I got to be honest with you, from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, I always have this mindset of kind of reviewing. Well, I did the same thing in 2019, and I'll have to tell you, if I had four hands, I would have been able to double pat my back because I was feeling pretty good. I had been disciplined every month, or every day, I had been going this route and I mean, I literally was going to the finish line, pretty pleased with my focus on wisdom, and not feeling like super smart. I wasn't egotistical. I was just pretty proud of the discipline and the results of the discipline. And so, I get to my yearend review, and I just felt prompted to read another writing from Solomon, which is Lamentations, and I went and read, yes, Lamentations, and I went and read and in that he just went all of this wisdom, this human wisdom is but smoke and rubbish, and I just went, “What have I been doing all year long? He's going after that!” And we get the point but the hysterical part of this is, I do feel like that the discipline of pursuing wisdom and seeking that, understanding greater than yourself is pivotal and will pay off. I think it goes back to the previous point that we were making though, Jason, is you've got to be a part of something bigger than yourself, because you will get intoxicated with your own wisdom, and it will not lead you to the success and the accomplishment of your dream.
Jason: Well, see in that point right there about the self-intoxication leads right into my final question. Because John was talking about seeing the best in others, and he made the point that we don't see people as they are, we see people as we are. And we often have a myopic, self-focused filter through which we see the world. How have you learned as a leader, and maybe this is something you've never struggled with, but how can we as leaders, learn to break free from our self-focused view and see people as they really are, how do we learn to really see the best in others?
Mark: I think we're in the middle of that. We've talked a lot in previous podcasts about the crisis that we're going through and some of the incredible divisive times that we're in right now, and again, that's especially in America. But I think the biggest thing, Jason, that we all have got to do is create a discipline of listening to understand, not listening to respond. That's how most of us listen, especially us leaders, we do listen, we want to hear where our people are, so we can tell them where they need to get to. We don't listen to where our people are, so we can go to them and be with them. Because a leader’s mindset is, “I've got to take you somewhere.” And too often as leaders, we try to take people where we want them to go without actually getting where they currently are. And I think in answering this question, I think the biggest challenge that I would put to myself, to you, to all of us that are wrestling with things that we never have ever had to wrestle with before, there has got to be a commitment to listen to understand more than listen to respond. Once I feel like you understand, once I feel like that you really establish common ground, we're on common ground, we're on the same ground, in other words, I understand you, you understand me, I think together is where a better answer is for the future. My friend, your friend, Jason, Miles McPherson wrote the book Third Option, we highlighted him on a podcast not too long ago. This idea of a third option is where you and I come together with common understanding, common ground and try to get somewhere together rather than me trying to get to where you are so we can understand each other, and a leader’s got to go first. Leader’s got to eat last, leader’s got to go first,
Jason: Folks, between what John has taught and the insights that Mark has shared, if you are not a subscriber to this podcast, you need to go ahead and go to iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play wherever you find this podcast listed, you need to go ahead and subscribe because over the last couple weeks, John and Mark have put absolute leadership gold into your pocket, and I just don't want you to miss anything. And in fact, you can double up on that by going to Maxwellpodcast.com/Melvin and you can click on the “Bonus Resource” button, download the fill in the blank notes because there's so much that John is sharing, that Mark is expounding on and just adding more value on top of it. We want you to get everything that we've been offering over the last couple of weeks because it has made a significant difference in the history of The John Maxwell Enterprise, it will continue to propel us forward, and it can do the same for you, your leadership, your organization and the people that you seek to serve. And while you're at Maxwellpodcast.com, if you've got a comment or a question that you'd love for us to address, we'd love to hear from you. So, feel free to leave any comments or questions there on the website. I promise you, we'll get to them as soon as we can, but that's pretty much all the housekeeping I have so, Mark, I'm going to turn it back over to you for a final thought and just kind of take us on out man.
Mark: Well, my final thought is from Jake, to be honest with you, you highlighted him today and he gave a quote in our lesson today that is powerful. It’s by Aldous Huxley, and it fits really nicely with the last thing that you and I were just saying, Jason, “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” And I would just challenge you if you've heard anything, not only this week, but the last two weeks about Melvin Maxwell, whether it was being positive, being consistent, whether it was loving people, walking slowly through the crowd, thinking positive, there is a perception theme that is flowing through this and I would just challenge all of us, me, you, Jason, our entire team and everyone listening to the podcast, work on your perception and learn from Melvin Maxwell, it will make a difference. I look forward to seeing everyone next week! Let's lead!