In the final installment of “A Month of Melvin Maxwell,” John shares the remaining life and leadership lessons he learned from his father, Melvin. John tells us how his father was a shining example of a person who prioritized his life, always gave his best, and enthusiastically devoted himself to a life of growth and gratitude.
For the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole and Jason Brooks discuss how to determine where to focus your energy, and Mark shares the key to maintaining his enthusiasm and passion, even when difficulties arise.
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 to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. I am excited yet again, because today we are on part four of “A Month with Melvin Maxwell”. Now, if you are a regular listener to the podcast, you know that for four weeks, John Maxwell has been memorializing the mentorship of Melvin Maxwell in his life. Our hope, our prayer has been that this has not entertained you, but that it has challenged you. It's challenged you in not only the way that it challenged John Maxwell and the leader that he has become because of Melvin, but it has challenged you to become your own leader, and to become your own legacy, to live in such a way that when you are done, that others will talk about your life, your leadership, your influence the way that we have meticulously and articulately memorialize the impact of Melvin Maxwell. Today is no exception, we're going to bring to you lessons 22 through 29 that John Maxwell learned from Melvin Maxwell, you will enjoy that, and then I hope you'll stay tuned because Jason Brooks and I will be taking a deeper look at the lessons that John shares today. It's Eckhart Tolle who said, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” You're going to find through these lessons, just like the last three episodes, that Melvin Maxwell understood gratitude and he understood abundance. Now, here is John C. Maxwell!
John Maxwell: Thanks for one more time joining me with our tribute to my dad. This literally is lesson four, because my father lived to be 98 years of age, and he just taught me a lot of lessons by his life, by his words. So, we have 29 of them, and this is the last session and we're going to finish up, and I hope you've been with me on all of the lessons. If you haven't, you can go back to tribute one, two, and three, and listen to the other lessons that dad taught me. Again, his actions, many of the lessons I share with you, I really saw him live them out. It was in his behavior even more than in his words. But what a wonderful thing to be able to have a father that was a model or somebody that you could see. You see, leadership is visual, it's very visual. And so, you know, Stanford Research says, 89% of everything I know in life I know it because I saw it first it was visual, and then 10% I think what we learned is audio. So, in this teaching on the tribute again, I want to say as I have in each one of the lessons, that there'll be a couple of lessons that my father taught me that are about faith, and it's highly possible that you're not a person of faith and you know, I love you unconditionally, I value you. I don't not care for somebody that is different than me. I, in fact, I think diversity is a kind of a beautiful thing, and some of my best friends and my greatest friendships are from with people that are very different than me. And so, when I talk about faith, just enjoy it. There probably is something you can learn out of it. But just always understand, I'm not preaching to you, I'm your friend, okay? And I'm just exposing you to what I've been exposed to and some of the stuff I was exposed to had the faith element in it, which I'm very grateful because faith is very important to me, and during difficult times…hey, during COVID-19, and all the other issues that we've been facing, I often wonder what's a person really do if they're not grounded in faith? And so anyway, I'll teach maybe a lesson or two on that, but it doesn't matter. You're my friend, you know who I am, and you know how much I already value you, period, no strings attached.
So, I've got eight more lessons to go through, and the first one is dad taught me to prioritize my life. He basically taught me, you know, first things first. Now, if you've heard me do much teaching, you hear me talk a lot about Pareto Principle and the 20/80 Principle which basically, Pareto said, “If you have ten things to do, and you put them in order, number one is truly more important than number two in descending order down to number ten.” Pareto says, “If you just do the top two things, you'll get an 80% return of everything you need in life.” And that was a life changing principle, but it was built on the fact that my father also believed that and live that. I think the difference between dad and Pareto was the fact that if you go to the bottom 20% on your list of ten things, my dad would have said, “Don't even touch it. Don't even worry about it. The return is too insignificant for you to give it any time.” Another thing that my father taught me in priorities that was just absolutely huge was to look at my day, and he was the first one that helped me understand that I can't be 100% all day. In other words, we're human, we get tired, we need to take breaks, we mentally get fatigued. And so, he said, “John, you can't get up in the morning and go until night and be always on. You can't be 100%, you got to have a few times where you say, ‘Wow, I just need to catch my breath.’” So, he said, “You don't have to be 100% on all day, but you do have to be 100% on the things that are important.” Now, this is right back to priorities. So, look at your list, you maybe have, I don't know, seven things to do today, seven definite things that you need to accomplish. Now, if you've got seven definite things that you need to accomplish what you know, and I know is they don't all hold equal weight. Pareto again would say, “What are your top 20% of those seven things?” I don't know, what are maybe two of those things that you really need to make sure, now my father would say, “John, pick out your times that you're going to be 100%.” And he said, “Nothing is worse than needing to be 100% because the meeting is crucial or the conversation or whatever your event is, and you not being there.” So, he said, “You don't have to be 100% all day, but you do have to be 100% at the things which are really, really important in your life.” That was life changing to me…life changing! Because as I look at everyday now, I ask myself, “Where are my 100% times? Where do I have to be all in?” And I pick them, and then I make sure that I can hit the ball at that time. And then maybe, I don't have to be 100% when I'm having lunch. I don't have to be all in then, so then you get your breaks, but know that's all about prioritizing, that's all about energy, that's all about excellence. As you know, if you hear me teach, I talk about the three R's: what's required of you, what gives you the greatest return, and what gives you the greatest reward. Kind of, want to line those up, when one is required of you is also the thing that gives you the greatest return which is also the thing that gives you the greatest reward. You are in your sweet, sweet spot about priorities. Since I'm talking about Dad, when I grew up, there was a little plaque on the wall that I just saw and read hundreds of times growing up, it was just always on the wall. And the plaque was just very simple, it said, “Only one life it'll soon be passed, and only what's done for God will last.” Now, my father never sat me down and said, “Let's read this plaque together. Let me explain it to you.” He just had it on the wall. And every day as a kid, I visually would look at that. Had it obviously memorized, knew exactly what it said, but what I didn't realize is that every time I would look at it, every time I would again, be reminded that there's only one life that's going to be passed and only what you and I do eternally for God, faith really isn't going to last. It was one of the great eternal principles that as a kid I grew up with, and here's what I know, those words are more meaningful today than they were when I was a child, and they are more true than they were as a child to me. My father, by example, by plaques, by his words, just taught me how to prioritize my life. Because he knew and I know, and I want you to know activity is not necessarily accomplishment. Your goal isn't to be busy, your goal is to be effective, and that's based on your and my ability to prioritize those things in our life. So, that was a lesson that dad taught me, and it was, oh my gosh, it was such a good lesson.
Another one that Dad taught me was not to give up, and not to give in. My father said, “I have never known a successful man who quit his way to the top.” I love that, and when I think of my father's perseverance, my father, as I've taught in another lesson was very consistent. My father was very focused. As I just taught a moment ago, my father prioritized well. My dad had no quit in him. He didn’t. What he set his mind to do, he stayed right on track. And it was something that I watched in him and it’s something that I admired because what happened is, because he had no quit in him, I watched my father handle difficult days and adversity in a very successful way. And what that did for me is when I began to be, as a leader, hit with the tough times, the one thing that never entered my mind was to quit. Maybe it entered my mind that I ought to create and find a better way. Maybe it entered my mind that I needed to have some people come alongside and help me so that we could maybe together get through a dark time. Maybe it entered my mind that I needed to ask some questions so that I could better be ready to stay in the game, but it never entered my mind to quit. Why? Because I never saw my father quit. I saw my father understand that at the end of the day, the person that wins is the one that stays in the game. Now, that had such an impression on me as a kid. Now, you have to go back to 1972, ‘73 now I'm Pastor, I'm doing pretty well, and I'm still living out the lessons that dad taught me and was teaching me at that time. And I'll never forget I got into a real tough stretch at my congregation, and to be honest with you, it was wearing me out. And I, for the first time, what was I? I was 28, for the first time, I thought maybe I ought to quit, maybe. Maybe ought to just let this one go, and then I remembered my dad and his example, one of his favorite expression is just, “Keep on keeping on, son. Keep on keeping on.” Which that there was no quit in keep on keeping on, that's for sure. And so, I can still remember the day in my office, I picked up the old thick Webster's Dictionary. Now, you can talk about, “Hey, those were the days. Hey, remember the days when you had encyclopedias? Remember the days we didn't have all this technology and all the wonderful advances we have today?” So, I took my old Webster Dictionary, and I went to the “Q” section, I got to the word quit. I took my scissors and I cut it out of the dictionary. I mean, I literally, in fact, I don't have that old dictionary today, obviously, but boy, I wish I did. In fact, if I did I'd bring it to show and tell and I'd show you because at the age of—what would have it been? Age of about 27, 28, I just cut the word out of the dictionary and I just basically didn't even recognize it as a worthwhile word. Where did I get that? From my dad. He was a one hundred percenter. No quit in him. When everybody else was kind of considering it, my dad was head on, game on, staying right with the task. That is a tremendous lesson that I have in my life today, because leadership gets very difficult and there are times when you say, “Wow, I'm worn out.” Now, my father did teach me to take a break. He did teach me to rest. He did teach me that sometimes you got to back off enough to kind of refuel and re-nourish yourself. But there was no quit in him. I'm grateful for that lesson that he taught me.
Another lesson that I learned from my father, my gosh, what a huge lesson this one was! This one stayed with me throughout my life, I just…well, they all have, but my father, he introduced me to How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. As you know, my father picked out books for me to read when I was a kid. And if you've read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I assume you have, I mean, I mean, hello! I mean, can you really go through life and not read that book? Because it is to me, the relationship bible. Simple, basic principles on relationships, and Dale Carnegie said, “The sweetest sound to a person's ear is the sound of their name.” And so, Dale Carnegie emphasize the importance of remembering names, and my father was really good at it. And when I was a junior in high school, we went and took a Dale Carnegie course on remembering names, I'll never forget it. My dad and I took it together, and how they had us back then, I don't even know how Dale Carnegie teaches it now, but while they taught it back then was that, what you did is you put a visual object on their head that would relate to their name. So, I'm just for example, if I met you and your name was, let's say, John Water, okay? Well then what I’d do is I would put water right on top of your head, I would put a visual picture of water right there. And so, I would visually see water on your head so that when I saw you next, I would call you John Water. I remember one time, speaking of water, I was going to my new church in Lancaster, Ohio, and had hundreds of people to learn their names pretty quick, and I met, the first time I've met a wonderful couple named the Hargus family, and as soon as they said, Hargus, I grew up near a lake that was called Hargus Lake. And I thought, “Oh, man, I got this one nailed!” And so, I put a lake right on top of their head. And the next week when they came back to church, I mean, I was so calm and I just reached out my hand, and said “Well, how are Mr. and Mrs. Lake today?” I'll never forget, they looked at me and they looked at each other, and of course to me, I had realized, “Oops! I missed that one! I missed that one!” And I said, “I'm sorry. I'm sorry. What was your name?” They said, “Hargus.” Of course, then I laughed, I told him the Hargus Lake story. So, it's not a foolproof but here's what I do know, my father impressed upon me that the name is the sweetest sound to a person's ear, and that immediately when I get it, if I can visualize something, then I put it on top of the head so that I can remember their name. When I was pastoring, in my last congregation in San Diego, California, large church, I knew over 3,000 people by name. In fact, I would tell them when they came to church—now, you've got to go back to 1991, 1992, 1993, those were the Polaroid days with cameras. And I had, oh, I don't know, maybe every week 50 to 60 host/hostesses running around the campus, and they all had a way to identify themselves as a host or hostess and they had a Polaroid camera, and I would tell first time people just let them take a picture of you, and if you'll let them take a picture of you, when you come back next week, I'll call you by name. Now, this was massive, and that's what they do, they would take pictures of our new people, and on Monday morning, by 10 o'clock in my office on my desk would be a big key ring with a bunch of Polaroid pictures that are punched out all in that ring with the names of each people at the bottom of the picture. And during the week, I just, whenever I had a five minute break, I'd pull over that ring and with all those pictures and I would look at the picture and look at the name, picture, name, picture, name, and I would memorize those, those names. And this just caught the attention of people, in fact, I'd say two things, I said, “If you'll let us take your picture, I'll do two things, one is I'll know your name when you come back, and number two is I'll pray for you.” And I would look at those pictures and I would pray for those people. I remember one Sunday, I was out in the lobby area, and there was a new couple that had been there the week before and I went up, and I called them by name. And the wife just jumped up a notch, she was so excited. I thought, “Oh my gosh, you know, why are you so excited?” She said, “Oh!” She said, “I just won a bet! I just won a bet! I bet my husband $10 that you’d remember our names because you said you would last week, and he said, ‘No, no, he won’t remember us.’” She said, “I just won the bet!” Thank you for remembering our names!” I said, “Is that true?” To him, he said, “Yeah” He said, “Yeah, yeah, we had a bet.” And I said, “Well, then you need to give her $10, and I'm here to witness this.” And so, he got a $10 bill and he handed it to her, and I said, “Now, my name is John and we teach tithing to the church. I need $1 from that profit you made.” And we both laughed and we both howled, but my dad just taught me, he just taught me to remember names. And that's another way of telling a person that you just greatly, greatly value them. Remembering names.
Another lesson my dad taught…Oh my, there's so many good lessons! As I look at my list, and honestly, as I’ve started the list, I've thought of a couple more. But as you know, again, I said this, I know at least in tribute to my father, less than one, maybe in the other ones also, these are the lessons I wrote down on the last day I was with my dad when he was alive, and he couldn't respond to me at all. So, I sat at his bedside with my iPhone, and I literally began to write down lessons I learned from dad and when I would learn them, I would just speak to him, I'd say, “Dad, here's another lesson you taught me.” And I would talk to him about that lesson and we had the most beautiful intimate father son time together. So, that's where all these lessons come from. In fact, I'm reading off of a list here but really, when I look at this thing, if I just take you over here for just a second, you know, “July 1st, 2000, thanks Dad, I learned from you.” These are all my lessons right here. They're just right here on my iPhone. And of course, I'll keep them there and go over them like I'm teaching you that. Now, by the way, I make my dad sound like a saint, by telling you all the good lessons, but he also taught me some bad lessons too. One of the things I learned from my dad was to love ice cream. Oh my gosh! My dad loved ice cream. I love ice cream. We've had many great conversations where he took a quart and I took a quart and we talked and ate ice cream. So, he wasn't a total saint. He also, I learned in patience from my dad, oh my goodness! Patience was, I didn't teach you anything about patience here in this lesson, my father—I'll tell you how impatient my dad was, this is fun. I'll just tell you this for a moment. My sister Trish, this was when he was probably 92, took him in his car to a place to, you know, like a Jiffy Lube place to, you know, to get his car taken care of. And so, they were sitting down and after about 30 minutes he looked at Trish, he said, “Aren't they done yet?” And she said, “Well, they’ll be done pretty soon, in about 40 minutes.” And he said, “Trish, they ought to be done by now!” She said, “Well, let me go check.” She went and checked, she came back and said, “They said it’s going to be a few more minutes.” Now, Dad, he's up, he's pacing the floor, he's looking at his watch as if he had someplace to go. And finally, about 50 minutes in he looked at her said, “Okay, I got an idea.” She said, “What, Dad?” He said, “Let's go buy a car. Let's go buy a car.” She said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I can buy a car quicker than I can have this car have a lube job.” He said, “Let's just look.” And she said, “Dad, you can't go buy a car. We got to wait on this car.” Now, my father, he’s ready to go buy a car. “Let's just go buy a car. If I have to wait this long, I might as well go buy me a new car, then I won’t need the lube job on it.”
So, he wasn’t a saint. I learned to also speed with my dad. I mean, you know, I'm sorry, but he was kind of impatient, so he taught me to even cut in line a few times. So, he wasn't a saint, but the lessons I'm giving you were life changing lessons to me. So, let me just give you, I don't know, I've just got a couple more and then I'll finish this thing up.
My father, oh, my! This was huge! My dad taught me to do my best, always. And if you're writing it down, just take the word always and put it in capital letters. My father felt that if it was worth doing, it was worth doing right. And he would often say, “John, if you don't do your best, two things happen, one, you have to go back and do it, or two, you didn't go back and do it, and you shortchanged yourself, and you shortchanged the people that you were trying to help.” He said, “Don't go that way.” He said, “Why would you go do something twice when you can do it best once?” And again, being a person of faith, my father would believe that excellence began, because that brought glory to God. If you travel, especially, in Europe, you look at some of the great old buildings, they'll have the expression the year Europe was built, and then for the glory of God, for the glory of God. And they basically tried to live their life and build their buildings as a masterpiece of excellence, to honor their Creator. And my father just believed that with all of his heart, and so therefore, whenever we did something, we knew that we didn't do it halfheartedly, we didn't tiptoe through the tulips. We had to be all in, dive in, and do our very best; and that is something that I'm so appreciative of in my life today. I can still remember when I was a young leader after I, you know, went into my first church, and I realized that I was a naturally, kind of, a connecting, charismatic, kind of, communicator, and I realized that I was good at it. In fact, I was speaking in a farming community with only 30 people, to be honest with you, those farmers were just glad to have a little time to where they weren't doing chores. And so, they loved me, and I realized very quickly that I could get up and I could just maybe study for 30 minutes and I could preach a message and they would all be happy. And so, I asked myself, “Well, what am I going to do? Am I just going to do that and kind of wing it and get passing grades? Or, am I going to really work for it?” And I went into a few months of do I wing it, or do I work for it? And I'm so glad I went back to my father, and I realized his teaching stayed with me, I can't wing it. I've got to do my best. So, I literally started writing every sermon out so that I would be clear in my thinking, and so that I wouldn’t repeat myself, and I started that habit for 25 years I wrote out every sermon, word for word. It was an incredible discipline. And it also helped me to realize, I've got to give best effort and I've got to get best return for this. My father really developed that excellence line and he always said to me, “Son, remember this, you set your own bar of excellence, don't let someone else set it for you.” In fact, he said, “If someone else sets the bar of excellence for you, and their excellence is higher than yours, then you've set the wrong bar.” He said, “You should have such a high expectation of what you do that no one else has that high expectation. So, you not only want to meet expectations, you want to exceed expectations.” I've done teaching on exceeding expectations. You see, only 15% of the people even meet expectations, only 5% exceed them. And my dad understood that if you exceed expectations, if you do your best always, you'll set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. And that's absolutely life changing. It's huge! Wow! Dad, I'm just grateful. I'm just grateful for you, for all that I learned from you.
He taught me to grow and better myself. He taught me that, unknown to me, when I got to the seventh grade of him putting books in my hands and paying me my allowance to read books…life changing for me, life changing for my family. Basically, he realized that if he could pick good books and I read them, it would have a positive effect on my life. And he was the first one that put me in an intentional growth plan. And the only guarantee that you and I are going to have a better tomorrow is the fact that you and I are growing today. If you and I are not growing today, what would make us think that tomorrow has greater possibilities? You don't go into possibilities. You grow into possibilities, you don't go into opportunities, you grow into opportunities. It becomes the natural thing to a person that keeps learning and growing and expanding and stretching. And it was my father that just so beautifully walked into my life and taught me that great lesson of just to grow to better myself.
Be enthusiastic. My father lived enthusiasm. He was a ball of fire. That's why when he died on the Fourth of July, I thought that's when he should die. He should die on a day when they're doing fireworks and just celebrating, because my dad was a fireworks, celebrator guy. My dad wasn't into music very much, he didn't really know music. He was kind of tone deaf and didn't sing very well. But I remember one day when he was the college president, and he was in chapel and we sang the Doxology, and it's just one verse, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.” You probably know it. And my father just loved the way it just sounded good, and my dad and I'll never forget, he looked at all us and said, “Oh, that was so good!” He said, “Let's sing the second verse!” Well, there's no second verse, there's only one verse. So, my dad he wasn't deterred, he just said, “Okay, then let's sing the first verse again!” I think that day we sang the first verse five times until it satisfied Dad, and he just was contagious with this enthusiasm. When I did the memorial message for my dad, I talked about his enthusiasm. And so, I'm going to just read something that I shared at his funeral, because my dad when he was 85 wrote this, it was called, “Celebrating the Senior Years” by Melvin Maxwell. And what does he say? “How do you celebrate your seniors years?
Stay alive and don't quit dreaming. Find new ideas and set new goals. Now he's 85!
Don't give over to defeat and discouragement; things are not as bad as you think.
Never think that you're too old. Moses was 80 and lead three and a half million people out of captivity.
Never think you've lost your use usefulness. Your years have given you both the experience and wisdom to share with others.
Never think that you're not needed or important. Everyone you meet needs a smile and some loving words.
Never stop trying. Persistence always wins. Your candle may be burned down but not out. Don't complain because you're gray or bald, a lot of people haven't lived that long.
Keep your spirit of praise and constantly think about the goodness of God. Your attitude rather than your aptitude determines your spiritual altitude.
Love God more each day. He is with you, He has no losers just quitters. You're near the winning line, just hang on to get there.
Try to leave a memorial that will live on and on. Love, kind words, thoughtfulness, faith, vision, a charitable gift.”
Well, that was my dad. It’s who he is, that’s who he was.
The last lesson I'll give you, thank you for being with me for these four lessons on tribute. But the last one is that my father always taught us to express gratitude to God and express gratitude to others, always, every day. Grateful to God, grateful to others. He lived it. He showed it, and it's just, it's me. It's who I am. In fact, I did this tribute to my father because I'm very grateful for my heritage. It's obvious, I'm sure to you, it is to me that I won the parent lottery. I didn't choose my parents. I just lucked out. I just had to get the right ones. And what he taught me, lives in me today. In fact, after I taught one of the lessons, Andrew, who's in the studio with me, he does such a great job helping me with all this technology. Andrew, as I was talking about tribute to my father, Andrew, remember you told me you gave me another title that you said, “I know what you ought to call this series.” And what was it? What was it?
Andrew: Lessons that my father lived that live on through me.
John Maxwell: Lessons my father lived that live on through me, right? Oh, I like that! Lessons—what is it? One more time.
Andrew: Lessons my father lived—
John Maxwell: —Yeah, so lessons my father lived that live on through me. Well, that's why I teach those lessons. In fact, my dad, he died but he'll never die. In fact, at his memorial service, his grandchildren stood up and taught lessons that he taught them. They've got many years to live and then his great grandchildren shared things that they had learned. Principles, life changing lessons like mine. And those grandchildren are just in their teenager years. Think how long my dad will live because those principles just live on in others. As I finish my time together, I've shared with you a few of his principles and lessons that are about faith that, in fact, this one is expressed gratitude to God, and express gratitude to others. And perhaps, as you've listened to these lessons, and some of them are faith lessons, you've had a desire, maybe, you'd like to know God. Well, if you would, I can help you. My name is John, I'm your friend. If you just go to Maxwellfaith.com, you'll see me teach the four pictures of God. Most people don't know God, because they have a wrong picture of Him. And in this teaching, it’s just a 10-minute teaching I share with you how you can have a good picture of God. Because once you see Him as He is, you'll want to be His friend, you'll want Him to be your friend. So, I encourage you go to Maxwellfaith.com and listen to me as I share, and then I'll give you an opportunity to have that relationship with God and our people will reach out to you and when you make that decision, they'll give you some free resources, a study guide that’s truly going to help you in your faith journey. And then there's another surprise in there that you just need to find out about. So anyway, I've loved teaching about my father because you've given me the opportunity to not only pass on great lessons I learned from him to you, you’ve just given me an opportunity for four weeks to relive my dad. I do it every day, but it seems a little more special when I do it with you. So, thanks. God bless. Take these lessons, apply them to your life; they'll make you better, I promise.
Mark Cole: Hey, Jason, we're making this a habit, man. Me and you co-hosting again this week and living out loud the life of Melvin Maxwell! And man, I thank you, thanks for your questions, thanks for your discussion over the last three weeks. I look forward to it yet again this week.
Jason Brooks: Well, I appreciate the opportunity. It's been really fun for me as somebody that safeguards John's voice and make sure that it permeates our content. It's been really beneficial for me to see the depth of this legacy and how it goes through everything that we do. So, it's been a fantastic growing experience for me. So, thanks for having me along! John started out this week, man, again, this is another one where he was covering so much but the first thing that he came off the top rope with was prioritizing your life was something that he learned from Melvin, and I just wanted to ask you, you've been now with the company for over 20 years, you've been CEO for 10, how have your priorities changed over your tenure with the enterprise? And, if they've changed, what sort of sparked those changes?
Mark: Yeah, you know, my responsibilities have changed nine times. I've had nine position changes or nine responsibility changes, I like to say that John kept trying me out in different positions to see if I could finally do something correctly. But when you talk about priorities, first, let me say this, for those of you that are relatively new to John's world, or maybe you haven't read many of John's books, there is a book that I believe is one of the first books anyone should read of John's, it was my first book, it's called, Developing the Leader Within You. Now, we have updated that it's called, Developing the Leader Within You 2.0, but that book, whether you have the first version or the second version, there is a chapter, it’s the second chapter in the 2.0 version, called “Priorities” to where John really breaks down the categories of what's required of you, what gives you a reward, and what gives you a return. And I will challenge you, at the end of this podcast, you need to go and dig into that resource because it will make a difference for you. There's also a digital product, go to JohnMaxwell.com and you'll be able to get both of those resources. Jason, to your question, the things that give me a reward today have even changed. So yes, my priorities have changed both in what's required of me, new roles, new responsibilities, have put on new requirements. The things that give me a greater return as CEO are different than the things that gave me the greatest return when I was a tele sales agent back 20 years ago. And again, even the reward things, I get a different sense of reward from different things now. For instance, I remember convincing people to go to a John Maxwell leadership event 20 years ago, and they would call me back and say, “Mark, my life is forever changed because of you convincing me to go to that event.” I, now, don't get very many phone calls like that, because I don't get to be on the front lines encouraging people to make that buying decision and investing in themselves. But what I do get to see is people like you, Jason, finish up a blog article or finish up a writing project and watch you come alive and then see people thank you for your work. And that second layer of reward to where there's so many times people don't even know the name Mark Cole as it relates to events or books or writing projects, but I still get to that sense of fulfillment, that sense of reward by watching you get celebrated from a position decision I made by putting you in the right position. Still a reward, still an impact on other people, but the sense of reward is different because the priorities have changed.
Jason: That's such a great answer! And leaders, I hope you were paying attention to that, because I feel like it's really easy for us to stay self-focused, right? It's easy for us to find the reward and the things that we do. But I love that you now get a sense of reward out of seeing the people you've invested in and entrusted and empowered, seeing them do well that that's a reward for you.
Mark: You know, Jason, for many leaders, that's the thing that hinders them from leading well, they are producing well, but when it comes to producing through others, they don't get the self-gratification of the accomplishment or the accolade or the goal achieved, therefore, because of that need for the direct compliment or the direct gratification, they don't lead as well, because the better you lead, the less you should be known. Leaders catch that. The better you lead, the less you should be known. Your people, your followers, your teammates should be the ones that are known when you're leading exceptionally.
Jason: Man, that is that is an excellent, excellent point for any leader regardless of where you're at. I do want to ask you sort of a follow up question, you mentioned how your three R's have changed, and John talked about the three R's were something that he uses to determine where he needs to give his 100% during the day, because you just can't stay permanently on, you have to prioritize where you're going to really invest energy and time and focus. And I've heard John teach about looking at his schedule and saying, “Okay, well, I know I'm giving this speech, or this is a crucial meeting.” I have never literally seen your agenda, I have felt your agenda, I have experienced your agenda on the side. And shout out to Kimberly Whetsell, your assistant, who helps you maintain that agenda. And I would be curious to hear her answer to this question, but I'm going to ask you instead, what do you do now to determine where you're going to give your 100%? And has that changed over your course of being CEO?
Mark: If the answer is yes, it changes daily. And here's what I do to make sure I keep that discipline that John talked about in this lesson, such a prominent part of my daily agenda. I wake up every morning, I look at my schedule, I've got three things that I do almost before my feet hit the ground, I read a scripture, I greet loved ones, I then look at my schedule. Boom! I want to know what does today look like. That way while I'm getting ready, I'm in the shower, I'm already thinking about where I need to be at the top of my game, at the top of my awareness, at the top of my gifts zone in throughout the day. So, the discipline of that is extremely important and has not changed. No, no, no, that does not change, that is a discipline that is required. What has changed on a daily basis is where I do have to be at 100%. Even the types of things, Jason, which may be where you're going in that question, the types of things that require my 100% is very different through the course of my influence. But having 100% and having the discipline to create a priority and to know your agenda has not changed, that must be consistent for leaders who want to continue growing and achieving greater things throughout their life.
Jason: Let me ask you a follow up, I didn't write this one down, but it comes to mind as you're talking it, if we're growing the way that we should be growing, and we're continually prioritizing things that make sure that we're operating out of our strength zones and doing the things that only we can do, does it get easier or harder to figure out where that 100% is needed? Because if you're doing everything out of your strength zone, and you're doing only the things that you can do, it would seem like it might be theoretically possible to always be on but I'm curious in your experience, as you have risen to a point of leadership and you have become such a student of growth, is it easier for you to identify the true 100% because you're working so much out of your gifts or does it get a little muddy for you?
Mark: No, it gets easier, but you see, the goal is not perfection, the goal is accomplishment and growth, and so, when I don't always get it right, and there are some times that I finish the day out because I have a discipline of finishing the day just like I start the day. I reflect, I make sure did I hit 100% there, and a lot of times in that reflection, I realize that one, I missed a moment, and two, what I thought was 100% was at best a 20%. I mean, I just missed it. I just wasn't there. Something happened right before I walked in the meeting, got me so distracted, or I thought the moment of the day was something different. So, I don't always get it right, but it's easier in the mornings now to figure out what I think that moment is, and I am getting better with that. Now, let me say one other thing, though, that you touched on, I think as leaders and I watched this with John and even observed it from a distance from Melvin, I think as leaders there comes a point where you realize your 100% of getting something done is not as good as somebody that is 80% as good as you doing it. It's that juggling act that leaders do to work themselves out of a job, or to truly empower someone else, not delegate to someone else, but empower someone to do something when they can do it 80% as good as you. And I think that mindset, Jason, is probably the most difficult thing for me, is what is 80%? Because if I've been doing something so well, and I want to get somebody else to do it, I get frustrated with that 20% gap. Or, I don't read the 20% gap very well, and sometimes they can do it 110% better than me, and to be honest with you, in fact, many times and you know that, you're laughing because you know, things that you do 110% better than me. But then there's those things that because I want to be done with it because it's not my 100% focus, I settle for 60% or 70% from somebody. So, the juggling act is not being able to ascertain the place that I need to be 100%, the juggling act is how to get that to someone else and are they really at that 80% effective rate.
Jason: And this is where, you know, again, listeners, I don't want to tell you how to spend your money, but I'm going to give you a strong recommendation, Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 and the corresponding online course, John spends so much time really digging in and investing in helping you understand how these priorities work and how you can reach that threshold of saying somebody does something 80% as well as you do, empower them to go do it. He breaks that down so marvelously in both the book and the course, it would be well worth your time to go and investigate that. But we need to move on. John talked about don't give up, and don't give in. There is zero quit in John Maxwell. There's zero quit in Melvin Maxwell. I've been around you now for several years, there's zero quit in Mark Cole, and I love the way John summarized that. He said, “Successful people don't quit their way to the top.” And so, we've talked about consistency, we've talked about persistency in other podcasts, but really quick, can you give me just maybe two or three keys to persistence and consistency in the life of a leader?
Mark: Boy, so I get the privilege of hosting a mentorship call every single week, and it's one of the favorite things that I get to do, Jason. You know, lead companies, multi-million-dollar companies, but I love to just sit down and mentor people. One of my greatest challenges is talking to someone that has literally done everything I know to help them do, and they still can't get progress or momentum in their current assignment, and then they realize that it's hopeless, I need to go do something else. It's that person that is leaving and they don't know why they're leaving or it’s that person that has tried everything and can't see success and feels like their only option is to stop. Or it's that person that has been trying in a difficult relationship for years and finds out that divorce is the next step. It's quitting something, quitting something. It's such a hard-mentoring moment for me. Because John says you can't quit your way to the top. And what about the person that persevered beyond their own point of acceptance and pushed through and finally won? It's that whole moment, “Never give up! Never give up!” It's the frog holding the duck's throat saying, “You're not going to swallow me. I'm never going to give up!” And the whole frog is in the duck's mouth and he's still holding on. How do you quit effectively? How do you move on? One of the things and I don't have this exactly right, I just told you one of my most difficult times in mentoring is working with someone that believes quitting is their last option, but it is the next step. I think that John talks about don't leave something, always go to something. I think even when you are quitting something, quitting a relationship, quitting a job assignment, you need to have a perspective of why you are quitting and what that's going to do for your future aspiration or you need to stay put. In other words, you've got to have a mindset of going towards something, to something to effectively stop something, I really do believe that, and my mentoring then becomes, “Okay, we have decided this assignment is done. Now, let's figure out why we're going to quit this assignment and stop persevering.” Now, that's one big one, don't quit, don't leave something, go do something. The second one that I'll give you, Jason, and then we'll go to the next question. But the second one that I'll give you is in the idea of perseverance, when you start something already fast forward to the most difficult perceived outcome you can imagine and double it. When I started out serving John in availability and proximity, my wife Stephanie, and I sit down and counted the cost of how much we felt like I would have to travel, of how demanding we felt like accepting that assignment would be. Then I asked, her I said, “Take seven more days and double everything, every cost you think it's going to be, go double it and think about it for seven days.” And we came back after 21 days of a very consecrated time for us, and we came back and still felt like that we needed to do and guess what? Even after doubling it, it's cost more. It took longer. It took more out of me, but I can look at you on this screen today as we're social distancing, and I can say, Jason, it's been worth every sacrificial moment, every sacrificial thing that my family and I've done, we have been able to do it. Why? Because what else Melvin says and that is always do your best. And that's what it's been, and I think that's what prioritizing, and I think that's what not giving up is all about; do your best always.
Jason: That leads right into the next question because I'm curious to get into your mindset here. Because I love watching you work. I love watching the level at which you lead, and I am curious, how do you determine what your best is? It took me a long time to wrap my mind around what my best was, and I finally was able to settle on it with the help of Charlie Wetzel, John's writing partner, my mentor, but I'm curious, how do you determine what your best is? And then, how do you ensure that you're going to do your best daily?
Mark: Well, I think most people need to do some self-honest assessment, could I have done better? And I think that I start there with most people, Jason, is hey, just be really honest with yourself, go deep inside of yourself. Could you have done that better? That's a start. For me, that is not the only filter and I'll tell you why. I'm harder on myself than I am on anyone else. So greatest story, we do in John's corporate side and our Corporate Solutions side of our business, we do an assessment called the Maxwell Leadership Assessment and you kind of rate yourself on 64 areas to see how well you're doing. One is loyalty to the organization. Well, I never give it—seven is the highest ranking, one through seven, one is terrible, sevens the best. Well, I'd never give anybody a seven, including myself. And I'll never forget this moment on loyalty, been here 20 years, I've given up more—all the kind of stuff, I'm not even going to go into all the sacrifices, given up a lot to be where I am today. And I gave myself a six, and one of our coaches that coaches for our Corporate Solutions, coaches huge organizations, he was coaching me I was paying him to coach me on this assessment, and he went, “Mark, if you are a six, nobody else in the organization can be greater than a five and some of them are a three or a two, by the fact you don't give yourself a seven you are shortchanging everyone else's buy in and loyalty to the organization.” Jason, it profoundly impacted me because I just don't give a seven. But if loyalty in what we have been through, I should be, perhaps, be a seven and I should be. Okay, here's my point, when I am not a good assessment of my best because I am a hard rater on assessments, therefore, I have my inner circle that speaks into my contribution as well, and some days when I feel like that I have done exceptionally well but not my best I asked them, “Could I have done better? And not only could I, where could I have done better?” A more specific question. Secondly, I always when I feel like I'm pretty pumped up and I'm doing pretty well, I go back to those same people and say, “Hey, where could I have done better?” And a lot of times when I think I have done my best, they tell me a place I can do better, and a lot of times when I think I've done sub best, they tell me there is not one thing you could improve. So, getting other people around because I don't trust just my assessment. But listen, leaders, always ask yourself first because everyone needs to be aware of whether they're doing their best or not.
Jason: And that's so much in line with what Charlie taught me. You know, one of the things that Charlie taught me early was, you've paid the price, you've done the work, you're really good writer, your best is going to be better than a lot of people's, better than anything that they can do, and there will be a time where, you know, you can't do exactly what you want to do. But as long as you've given it your best it’s still going to be—I think the most recent place that I've seen this is our product leader core. We have a group of leaders, of teams that we provide coaching for them monthly and I'm responsible for writing the curriculum, and I can't tell you how much of an encouragement it has been to just have coaches like Deb Ingino and John Griffin who are a part have our leadership team, come back and just say week in and week out, what you put into this is just outstanding work. There is an encouragement when somebody acknowledges that you've given your best and appreciates it. And it inspires you to just continue doing your best, and it makes you enthusiastic about the work that you do. Which brings me to the final question, how do you, I mean, you're tremendously busy. You've got so many weighty decisions that you have to make and yet, you are such an enthusiastic person, and I want to ask you, what do you, as a leader, do to maintain your enthusiasm, and then how does your enthusiasm inspire others?
Mark: Jason, thanks for that question. I'm glad you asked that question like that because I've known how I wanted to end this four-part series of “A Month with Melvin Maxwell”. I've known since the beginning because of something personal that happened to me. So, if you'll allow me, you asked me a personal question, how do I stay enthusiastic? And how do I express gratitude to God and others? Two of the last things that John shared about Melvin, and it's really this one thing, I love what I do. I love what I do. And, Jason, as much as I love what I do, I'm looking at you through the screen, I love who I do it with. I love you guys. I love you, Jake. I love you, Jason. I told you I was going to get personal. I love you guys. Jason, you're going through a fight right now for your health. I love you, buddy. I'm in it with you. We're in this thing. We're in it to win it. I love what I do. I love who I do it with. I was made for this. And when you're made for something and you love it, enthusiasm is the only byproduct. I mean, I don't know how to not be enthusiastic. I honestly, honestly don't. You know, Melvin was that way, when John said a few lessons ago, that he always was thinking, “My best years are ahead”, I thought about a Candid Conversation John and I did some episodes ago, maybe many of you podcast listeners heard it. John had just spent time with his dad, Melvin, and he came back, and he said, “Mark, you're not going to believe what my dad said.” He said, “John—” he can barely talk, he just had a little bit of stroke. He said, “Man, I know my appearance doesn't look great, and right now I'm having to have people help me get around.” And I think this was about a year, year and a half ago, he said, “But, John, I am convinced, my best days are ahead.” It profoundly impacted me, Jason, it profoundly impacted me. I'm sitting here looking at you today, and you know what you tell me? “My best days are ahead, Mark. My best days are ahead.” And if we learn anything in our organization, we learn that the best is yet to come. Our future is not bright, our future is brilliant. Podcast listeners, your future is not bright, your future is brilliant. At the taping of this of this podcast, Jason, I'm coming in less than one week ago, we celebrated two years of my dad going home. My dad passing away on July the 17th, 2018. And it was a tough time for my mom. My dad was 88, my mom is now 91, and this week, we're selling my mom and dad's home that they built together. It's a big week for me. It's a big week. I got stuff I do, and I've been handling since my dad fell and broke his neck, four years ago, I’ve been handling their business and so it falls on my shoulders to make all of this happen. And so, my mom, six months ago, the reason we're selling her home is because my mom went to live with a John Maxwell team member. She didn't want to come live with us, any of her kids. We have four kids. She didn't want to come live with any of us because we couldn't keep her close to her church that her and my dad built. And so, she started living with this couple, this brilliant, beautiful, incredible couple that will take her to her church, where she wants to spend her last days, what her and my dad built. But when she went, my mom literally for every day for a year and a half, I would call my mom and my mom who is this bright, cheery, excited, she's many of the things that I learned from Melvin in this series. For 18 months, I would call my mom four to six times a week and all I would hear is, “Mark, I have no reason to live. I'm ready to see your dad. I have no desire to be at home, to be here, to be anywhere. I don't want to be with you kids. I just want to be with my husband.” I heard that for 18 months. Well, six months ago, this couple came into our life and my mom didn't want to leave to come live with us, she wanted to stay around her church. And this couple came and said, “We'd like your mom to move in with us.” I said, “Okay, we'll do it.” I knew him, they’re a John Maxwell team member, I knew him from the church. “We’ll do it, but we're going to assess this and I'm going to keep my mom's house on.” In two weeks time, Jason, my mom calls me and she says, “Hey, Mark, I just listened to that podcast you and John did about Melvin Maxwell.” And she says, “I've just determined, my best days are ahead.” She says, “You're never going to hear from me again that I'm ready to go home. I'll go home and see your dad when it's time. But while I'm here, I'm going to live my life to its fullest.” Since that time, six months ago, my mom has written a devotional book and had a book signing line with 150 ladies in it wanting her to sign her first book. She's writing a book right now as a tribute to her father, my grandfather. She every day is planting in her garden, she is fishing, she's going outside where she lives, and she's going out and feeding ducks and doing all of this stuff and got a garden. She sent me a picture last week of this huge cucumber that she has built and said, “Mark, this is the biggest one I've ever grown, and I think next year I'll have a bigger one.” I said, “Mom, you have changed.” She said, “Let me tell you something, if Melvin Maxwell can live fully for 98 years, I can live fully for 98 plus years.” She said, “I'm not going to be old until I'm 100.” Now, here's my point, my mom, I'm now selling her home because she says, “I don't want to go back there. I found where I need to be, and this is what I need to be doing.” If my mom at 91 can be inspired by Melvin Maxwell, to say, “My best is ahead of me”, Jason, if you going through what you're going through in life can say my best is ahead of me. Podcast listener, can you say it, too? Can you just take this four-part series that may have been too much faith for some of you, it may have been too much of one man's life for some of you, can you just take a moment and commit with me and my 91 year young mother, that because of Melvin Maxwell and the testament that he has made with his life, that our best is ahead of us, and that our future is not bright, our future is brilliant. I think that's the way to honor Melvin. I think that's the way to extend John Maxwell's legacy. That's what makes me enthusiastic, Jason. That's why I love what I do. I hope that you will go to Maxwellfaith.com. I hope you'll get a little more orientation of why there was such an enthusiasm for Melvin Maxwell in his faith. I hope you'll go to the Maxwellpodcast.com/Melvin link, and I hope you'll download the notes and you'll watch John and give this lesson in its entirety. Because I know it will profoundly impact you and I know it will allow you to do what you and I listening to this podcast want to do, and that is lead and lead well, and lead brilliantly. Jason, thank you. John Maxwell, thank you for bringing Melvin back to life for us. For all of you that listen to the podcast, subscribe to the podcast, pass the podcast along. Thank you for extending the legacy of Melvin Maxwell. We'll see you next week and until then, let's lead!