The best leaders have the courage to change when it’s easier to remain comfortable. In this episode, John Maxwell shares an insightful lesson on courage and how to keep moving forward in the midst of fear and uncertainty. He reminds us that courage is a choice and requires us to act.
Mark Cole and Chris Goede join the discussion and provide application to help us embrace John’s principles in our own leadership. Chris points out that this teaching is not just for the times we’re in now but for all leadership obstacles and opportunities. We hope you walk away from this episode empowered to lead because progress requires courageous leadership.
Our BONUS resource for this episode is the Courage to Continue Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.
The Leader’s Greatest Return by John C. Maxwell
Leadershift by John C. Maxwell
Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 by John C. Maxwell
Mark Cole: Hey, thanks for joining the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast! I'm here with Chris Goede and we are going to break down an incredible lesson from John Maxwell. John today will speak on “The Courage to Continue”. Now, if you'll go to Maxwellpodcast.com/continue, click the “Bonus Resource” button, and download the worksheet. This will help you follow along as John teaches. Listen, dig in, let this make you more courageous and then come back after John is done, and Chris Goede and I will tell you how we're also applying this leadership lesson. Now, here is John Maxwell!
John Maxwell: Hi, John Maxwell here. I'm so glad you're joining with us today! The lesson I want to teach today is entitled, “Courage to Continue”, and the reason that we're doing “Courage to Continue” is that we don't even know when COVID-19 is going to be over, and it's not like it was an event with a definite start and a definite ending. And, you know, it's one thing to have courage for a day, or it's one thing to have maybe courage for a week or a month. We don't know how long we’re going to need to have courage, but here's what we know, we have to have courage. Because people don't follow titles and positions. They follow courage, and they look for that man, they look for that woman who in spite of the darkness, has the courage to continue and not only has the courage to continue themselves, but they have the courage to be contagious with that, and encourage other people to follow too. So this lesson is a real practical lesson on just, how do we have courage to continue? And, I just want to start before I even make my first major thought and just say that the courage to continue tomorrow cannot happen unless we have courage to continue today. So, what we never can do is we can't cast the courage net on tomorrow and get there if we don't have courage for today. So, it's kind of like, I just have to have courage now. If I could be courageous right now and make good decisions and have an incredible attitude that is a “can do it”, can make an attitude right now, it's going to make all the difference in the world. So, I'm going to encourage you in this lesson to courage up, okay? We're going to all courage up. And so, let me give you some real practical ways to have that courage continued.
Number one, each day, we can choose to be courageous, and I want you to understand that courage is, it's a choice and we can choose to do that. In fact, let me, kind of, illustrate courage. I think courage is like a door. Okay? It's a door in front of you, but what's interesting about this door, it's unlike most doors, there's not a door handle on the outside. If you're on the outside you can't open it; the door handles on the inside. Courage is a door that I have in my life that only I can open, you can’t open it for me. Nobody on the outside can come and open it for me and say, “John, you know, get courageous.” I have to go over and I have to choose to go over and turn that knob, and the moment that I go over to turn that knob, then I begin to do a courageous act, but it's something that can't be given to me, it's not something that somebody else can do for me. It's something—just remember, the courage door only has one knob and it's on your side, and you just got to walk over, and you have to turn that knob. And to do that we have to, I think, put the word “I choose” in front of courage. “I choose to be courageous.” Or, I guess we could be negative and say, “I choose not to be courageous.” But I want you to realize, it's a choice, it's a choice that I make, it's a choice that you make. And, so I wrote down here that if our lesson is called, “Courage to Continue”, what we need is this, we need courage to continue, if that's the case, we continually need courage. We continually need courage. If I have to have courage to continue day in and day out, I have to continually be encouraged. I was with Mark Cole recently, and we were talking about when I was in Las Vegas about a year and a half ago, I did a half marathon. Now you have to understand, I'd never done a half marathon in my life. In fact, Mark was there in Vegas, and we were doing a conference and he said, “John, they're going to have a half marathon tomorrow.” And I said, “Let's do it! Let’s enter in!” And of course, I hadn’t walked, I hadn’t trained, I hadn’t done any of this. Now, Mark has run marathons, so, I mean, he's in shape, but you have to understand, I was fat and hadn’t practiced and hadn’t worked my way up, but I loved the new experience. I said, “This will be fun! Let’s try it!” So, we went, and Mark went with me, and I figured I wanted to do it all [INAUDIBLE] half marathon, I'm walking, I'm not running. But I got to walk fast, I want to do it under four hours. So, Mark goes with me to be my timekeeper to keep me accountable, and to be my encourager, and—excuse me, so he went beside me, and every mile he'd tell me what I ran in, because I knew what or what I walked in, because I knew I had to beat a number. And, I'll never forget, we got to, about the 10th mile, and I started to hit the wall, okay? You athletes know what I'm talking about. For people like me, I never experienced that before. But here we go, I hit the wall, and what was incredibly beautiful is that Mark saw that I was starting to just fly. And he said, “John”, he said, “I’ll tell you what—" we were about mile ten, he said, “Don't talk, don't talk.” He said, “I'll give you the time, and I'll encourage you the rest of the way.” And he did! I just all I could do was just keep my legs moving, and we made it. We beat our time, the whole process. But Mark, he went alongside of me and he encouraged me. He gave me courage to continue. And when I thought about that, I thought, “How wonderful that is for a leader to be able to encourage people to have courage and to continue.” Because every day we need courage. In fact, I wrote this down, and I want to share it with you, every day we need courage to seek the truth when we know it's going to be painful, or change when it's easier to remain comfortable, or express convictions when others will disagree with us, or overcome obstacles when progress is gone, not going to come any other way unless we go through those barriers. Or, it takes courage to learn and grow when we know that we're displaying and uncovering our own weaknesses. It takes courage for us to take the high road when others are not treating us well. It takes courage to lead when we're in front of other people, which means that we're an easy target for them to shoot at. So how do we have this courage to continue on a daily basis? Well, it's very simple, principles and values are the foundation for courage. And once we have the right principles that we operate under, and once we embrace the right values, then what happens to us, we have the courage to continue. It's Roy Disney, Walt Disney's brother, who said, “Once you know what your values are, it's easy to make your decisions.” And so, what leadership does is it expresses courage, and that courage encourages others to do the right thing. And here's what I don't want you to miss, when we are courageous because we do the right thing, it puts steel in the backbone of our people, and they get the courage to do the right thing too. Because what happens in so many times, is during difficult times, we want to do what's easiest or what's expedient in our lives. And so, there's an example of courage that encourages others. So, one little quick thought and then I'm going to go the second statement or comment on courage and that is, courage doesn't always roar, sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.” I like that. It's that little voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow. I'll get back up.”
The second comment I want to make on courage is that it's not an absence of fear, and it's not an absence of failure. So, when people say, “Well, I must not be courageous because I got fear in my life.” Or, “I just can't imagine failing.” Courage is moving forward in spite of fear; and courage is moving forward knowing there'll be failure in that process. That it's not all hits, there are a lot of misses in that, and so I want us to understand what courage is because I think there's a misunderstanding of courage and so we disqualify ourselves because I said, “Well, I got some fear in my life.” Or, you know, “I'm afraid of failure.” And so, we say, “Well, I couldn't be a courageous person.” That's not true. Because you see, inside of me, inside of you, are two continually motions and those two emotions are fear and courage. You know the fear of failure, the fear of not being able to produce or doing it and have the courage—and both of these emotions are present within us. And the question is, which one of these emotions, is it our fear that paralyzes us? Or is it our courage that helps to go on? Which one of these two emotions, one negative, one positive is going to win? And the issue is, as I've taught before, what we focus on expands. If I focus on courage, then I'll have more courage, because what you focus on expands so if I focus on courage, it increases and fear decreases. If I focus on fear, it increases, and courage decreases. And so, I've got both these emotions playing within me, and it's not like one's missing, one's lacking. It's not like I have courage, and I have no fear. That's not true. I have courage and fear. But when courage is more dominant than fear, then I'll go with the dominant emotion. And so, what I need to do is I need to feed my courage. And how do I feed my courage? I feed my courage by focusing on courage, by understanding what courage does for me, what courage does within me; and the moment that I do that, all of a sudden, I begin to be able to act, because now I put courage before me, I put my fear behind me. So, I'm reading a really, a good book, I'm going to refer to it twice. You ask me, “Why am I reading during this time? And this is one of them?” Okay? And I'm going to come back to it a little bit closer to the end of the lesson. But this is a book called, The Courage Quotient, okay? And this book, the writer is very insightful. I'll give you his name in a moment, but basically, he talks about reframing failure and reframing fear and how do we look at the failures that kind of keep us from being courageous? And how do we reframe them? So, I'm going to read, just listen for a moment, okay? These are just great words. “Everyone does not react to failure or even the prospect of failure the same way.” We all know that's true. Okay? “For some, failure overshadows their life, controls their decisions, and causes them to basically give up. For others, they take failure in stride, and they're able to move on beyond it. Now, what's the difference? Why are some overcome by failure? And why do some overcome failure?” Take Thomas Edison. We all know that when he was trying to invent the incandescent light bulb, he just had thousands of misses and thousands of misses and when he when he finally did discover, make that invention of the light bulb, what was his statement? He said, “I failed my way to success.” We all know Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Now, okay, these are two great men. Edison's failed his way to success. Churchill has gone from failure to failure and still keeps his enthusiasm. What makes them so different from the person that's overcome a failure? Don't miss this, this is worth the whole lesson right here. “Two things, one is that those who overcome failure, have the ability to reframe failure, and they reframe it by putting failure as an asset or as a learning tool.” So, when you speak of failure to Thomas Edison, he says, “Oh, yes!” He said, “That that didn't work. Guess what I learned from that?” When you talk to Winston Churchill about failure, the bombings, I mean, I think he went through, I think it was fifty-one. I mean, he had fifty-one times they bombed the heck out of it, and how do you go from failure to failure and keep your enthusiasm? He would say, “I reframed it. It's a learning tool for me.” It's learning tool! The moment that somebody says, “I want to give you a learning tool.” We could get excited, and say, “Oh, you mean, it's going to be something that’s going to help me grow and learn?” Yes, yes, it is. And then they have this failure. “People that reframe failure, look at failure as a learning tool. That's a huge difference than people that look at failure as a problem. A learning tool is not a problem. Learning tools is an asset, it's a blessing. So, the difference in how people are overcome by failure or people who overcome failure, the difference is, number one, they reframe failure by thinking of it as a learning tool. And number two—” This is huge. “They accept failure as inevitable. It's going to happen. It's going to happen to me, it's going to happen to you. We have failed in our past, and guess what? We will fail today, and guess what? We will fail tomorrow. They look at failure as an inevitable.” I'm reading on, I'm just reading one more paragraph out of this book. He says, “We have fallen in love with the idea—” This is huge… “—that we can control our lives, and because of that, it causes us to resist failure.” In other words, if I think I can control my life, and everything's in my control, guess what? Failure, I said, “Wait a minute, I'm not going to accept failure. I'm not going to accept it.” Okay, watch this, “Just like age, the battle against failure is a lost cause. It is your past and it is in your future. People with courage understand that failure is a risk much of the time and unavoidable some of the time. Rather than trying to tiptoe around failure, they simply accept it as a part of the process.” Now, the moment that I accept the fact that I will fail some more now you say, “But John, you're the leadership expert.” I know I’m the leadership expert, but I will fail in my leadership. I won’t always make the best leadership decisions, I won't always have the best leadership thinking. There will be some failures in that, it's inevitable. And when I look at it as the fact that it's not only inevitable, but when it happens to me, it's a learning tool. Once I reframe failure like this, then I have an incredible amount of courage to continue in my life, and that's why I don't want you to miss. I don't want you to miss it. The third thing I want to say about courage, the third comment is that courage requires action. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Whatever course you decide upon, there's always someone to tell you that you’re wrong.” We all know somebody like that. I do, don't you? You know somebody like that. “There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are ranked. So, you need to map out your course of action and follow it to an end, and to do that, that requires courage.” Okay. So, one more paragraph from The Courage Quotient. And by the way, the author of that book is Robert Diener, D-I-E-N-E-R. Okay? And here's what he says, now, we're talking about courage requires action. He said, “If we choose courageous roles, or think of ourselves as filling out courageous roles, we are more likely to act boldly when the need arises. A perfect example is the action taken by a nine-year-old in China. His name was Lin Howe. And in 2008 the place where he lives, Sichuan, was struck by a magnitude of 8.0 earthquake that left buildings flattened and more than 69,000 people dead.” Terrible. “Among the most tragic losses that day were the countless children whose school buildings collapsed. Lin Howe was in such a school and was able to rescue two of his classmates from the rubble before saving himself. And when he was asked about his courage, this young boy simply explained that he was the hall monitor. And he said, ‘It was my job to save the other children.’” I love that. He just accepted it, this is what I do, I save other children. I have to have courage. That's what I do. “Then how quickly he became a symbol of virtue in China and he led the opening procession of the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.” You see, courage is making a decision and then it's taking action. So here, don't miss this. Courage is not something you store up. You don't save it for a rainy day. In fact, courage is something you use up. It's like going to the gym. It's like using your muscles. Courage happens by, you work it out, you work out your courage and the more that you practice the courage the more courage you have. You don't like stored up for a, boy, if there's ever a bad day, I’m going to pulling it out of the storage closet, and I’m going to put on courage. No, no, no, no. You'll use it up and as you use it up, you get more of it. So, three comments on courage so far. Number one, each day we choose to be courageous. Secondly, courage is not an absence of fear or failure. Three, courage requires action. And my last thought is that life shrinks or expands in proportion to your courage. My courage either makes life expand to me or it makes it reduce. It goes back to that statement, everything that you want, but you don't yet have is outside of your comfort zone. And courage kicks us out of the comfort zone, moves us either forward or backward, but the people that are going forward, guess what? They have courage. They have courage. I've talked about the difference between a puzzle to life. The fact that when you put together a puzzle, you see the clear picture, then you put the pieces in the right place. It’s the picture and then you put the pieces in. “I see the picture.” Put the pieces together. Life's exactly opposite. You don't have a clear picture when you start life. When we started the Coronavirus, no clear picture. There's not even a clear picture now for us. So, what do we do? We do life. We begin to put what we know together day by day, and after a while we get clarity of the picture. So, the crisis in our life, it calls for us to rise up. The crisis in our life causes us to be courageous in who we are and causes us to be courageous in what we do. So, I want to encourage you to be courageous, because in leadership, you have to go first. I've often laughed when I hear the story of Moses and the children of Israel when he got to the Red Sea, you know, the Egyptians were behind him and the Red Sea was in front of him and he stretched out his rod and the water parted, and don't you think Moses looked up to God about that moment and said, “Why must I always go first? I mean, can I send a delegation to see if those walls of water are going to hold it?” Well, I think a lot of times in crisis we ask why do we go first? Well, we go first, because we're the leader. We know the way, we go the way, and we show the way, and that takes a lot of courage. In fact, I'm going to dedicate this lesson on courage to one of my family members, Camille Makala, is a niece of mine, and she is one incredible lady. In fact, yesterday was her birthday. But she's in the most courageous battle of her life right now, she's fighting stage four cancer. And I just want to dedicate this talk on courage to her because we had a conversation the other day, a very intimate hour-long conversation where we talked about having courage for her to fight for her life. We also talked about having courage to die, and all the stuff that comes with the fact that you're facing death; and you have that courage to be able to do it in the right way. And when I got off of the phone and talking to her, I thought to myself, “This lady has so much to teach me about courage.” So, Camille, I dedicate this lesson to you for three reasons. One, you inspire me. I'm watching you look death right in the eye, and with faith, you're not even blinking. And I dedicate this to you, secondly, because you have to have daily courage. Every day, you've got to get up again, and you have to face the issues that you're facing and carrying right now. And the third thing I want to say to you, Camille, is I promise you I'm going to be your courage companion. And all that means is, lady, I love you, love you to bits. You're beautiful inside, you're beautiful out. But I'm going to hang in there with you. I will be your courage companion. I'm going to do for you what Mark Cole did for me on that half marathon when he just said “John, you don’t even have to say anything for these last few miles. I'll just talk, I’ll encourage you. I'll keep track of how you’re doing.” But he knew that I was so tired that sometimes I just couldn't even talk. Well, you may get that way sometimes, I just want you to know that not only am I going to encourage you, but we have a lot of people of faith that, you know, are watching me right now, and if you are, I'm just saying, pray for her, would you? Just lift up a prayer for her, and if you're not a person of faith, pray for her too, because God hears your prayer too. And I just hope that this lesson on “Courage to Continue” just puts a resolve in you that allows you to say, “Look, I'm not going to be overcome by the failures and the disappointments and the darkness. I'm going to overcome them.” And you will, one day at a time just have that courage. Thanks for being with us today.
Mark: Hey, welcome back! What a great lesson that John teaches here on “Courage to Continue”. First things first, I got to tell you that many of you have not met Chris Goede, you've heard him enough now you know he's been in John's world for a long time. He and I've been partners in so many different opportunities over the last nine years and then a lot longer. Chris, you were working for the Atlanta Braves when John met you, and John and I were talking about pushing each other for a half marathon and yet, you've done burpees, you've had to work out as a pro-athlete for so many times. I kind of got cracked up as you and I were listening to this today knowing there really is an accountability partner. There probably is some more stressful opportunities that John and I should be able to relate to that I'm sure you could tell us stories.
Chris Goede: That is so true. But let me tell you, so my experience as an athlete is an offensive lineman, and so we are also known as energy conservers. So, you will never see me walking, or jogging a half marathon. So, I'm proud of John for doing that, and I'm proud of you for walking alongside him, because it would take a lot of courage for me to get up there knowing that I had 13—what is it? 13.1? I don't even, like yeah, there's no way! I'm an energy conserver. Hey, I am excited to be back with you today. This is a message, this is a lesson from John, these are principles that not only are important for us as leaders in a crisis, but leaders and what we deal with every single day when it comes to leading teams, leading individuals, and leading organizations. So, I'm excited to dive into it with you today.
Mark: Yeah, you know, I'm glad you said that because as we said before we started the recording, boy, this lesson on courage and our ability to push through, to drive through is certainly relevant right now during COVID-19. During bounce back, whatever phase we're in, but it's true in leadership, period. It's true in parenting, you and I were just kind of laughing about some of the parenting experiences you're having right now, and of course, I've got a few of my own. And it's true in every facet of an influencers life, that ability to push through, and to use courage to continue. So yeah, I'm very, very excited about jumping into this. I know you took a couple of takeaways right off the top here. So, let's jump in!
Chris: Yeah, absolutely! And what we want to do today is we really want to just talk about application of what this looks like. John did a great job of laying out the lesson, so we don't want to rehash that. But the first thing I want to say is, leaders, you need to understand that courage is contagious, right? And people are going to follow, like John mentioned, and so, if you want a team, if you want an organization of people that are leading with courage, then you better be modeling that; and John teaches us that, right? We better be modeling it. And so, the first point that he talks about here that we really want to dive into is that he says, each day, we can choose to be courageous. And I love the illustration to where he talks about the fact that that door handle is on the inside. Because, Mark, I know that you have led some people, and maybe, even at times in our lives, both of us, we haven't wanted to be courageous and some other people around us have wanted us to be courageous, but that door only opens from the inside, and I thought that that image that he gave us, that illustration that he gave us was just so profound. Talk to me just real quick as we get started, when you think about your leadership and the years of experience you had, have you experienced times where people were trying to pull that door open needing you to be courageous, and yet, you just had the door handle on the inside and you didn't want to open it? And then vice versa, maybe there's some times you wanted to show courage and you wanted to open up and those that you were around are like, “Whoa!” Right? Like, “Let's slow down a little bit.” Talk to me just a little bit from a high level, as we get started, just about that illustration of what it means to you.
Mark: You know, I'm a relational leader, I've spent all of my life around relational leadership. In fact, if I default during difficult times, during times where courage is a commodity, where courage is a little bit scarce, I default to my woo to my relational abilities, to my extrovert, let me win the crowd over. Let me tell them how much I love them even when we can't fill it or pay them or show them. And so, there's this real relational bent that I've had, that I was born with, and then most of my development years was around watching relational leadership at work. So that's kind of again, my default. So you can imagine, when John looked at me, I guess it was now five years ago, maybe six, he looked at me and he said, “Mark, you're going to have to make a real critical decision for you to get to the next level of leadership, to the next level of influence.” So, anytime John says something like that, I grab my pen, I got my little black book with me, and I'm getting ready to jot and he says, “You need to determine if you want to be loved, or if you want to lead.” And I was like, “Can't you have both? I mean, I watch you, you're loved, and you lead.” And he said, “You can have both, but you have to have a first filter. And in the world of leadership, sometimes you have to lead when no one else loves or understands what you're doing.” And really what John was doing about five years ago, and it was an 18-month mentoring session and mentoring on one subject. I mean, just 18 months, he kept pounding that into me. And really what he was saying is there are days that you have to have courage because you are the only one with a handle on courage, and it is a choice, and you can't let the timing of living or stepping into courage be driven by anyone else, or even anything else. Courage has got to come from within, for it to matter, and for it to make a difference. And so, as John begins to break that down in this, Chris, I'm going to tell you for me, I'm living it right now. But I think we should be living it right now. COVID-19 or not, we are living in our world with our leadership team. We're living in almost an era of courage and needed confidence that we can lead even in this kind of a time, even with the newness, the uncertainty, the brand new leadership team, that there is a great call in today's world for courageous leaders.
Chris: Totally agree with you. And so, he actually goes on, right? And again, it's why we started today's lesson was saying, “Hey, this is relevant no matter what you're going through, no matter what decision you need to make.” He goes through and he lists several things, about seven of them where he says, “Every day, we need courage too.” And what I want to do, Mark, is I want to pull maybe two or three of them out and I just want you to speak to them. The first one is, seek the truth, when we know it's going to be painful. Okay? And I say that with a little bit of laughter, not because that's not a very profound statement, but it is, but I think about some of the things that you and I have shared and that you had to go that it's extremely painful for you as a leader. Talk a little bit about that, and how you get the courage to be able to do that when you know there is going to be pain on the other side of that decision.
Mark: You know, it's so interesting in making leadership decisions. We've made a few recently, Chris, that seeking the truth was really important. You know, we have a team of 10 leadership members, and recently we're working through leadership questions, crossroads of decisions, and not everybody is agreeing, not everybody is seeing eye to eye. And I told you recently as we were debriefing one of these situations, the truth is, I could with credibility, make a decision to go right. All the signs were pointing to right. All of my inner circle people that speak into my life that have my ear, my head, my heart, they were saying go right, and yet, I felt intuitively, I had to have the courage intuitively to make a decision to go left. I found as I was going back and debriefing with my key people on why the left, they didn't ask me, they weren't requiring me, “Why’d you go left instead of right there?” There wasn't any of that. Yet, in my belief in leading a collaborative, yet cohesive leadership team, I believe you do have to go back and say, “This is why I made the left-hand turn.” And as I went back, it became really clear to me that the decision that was made had nothing to do with the decision at hand. It had everything to do with leaders that were being developed along the way. Here's what I mean, we seek the truth by looking at a decision and say, “It's black or white. Boom! Let's make the decision. Let's go!” And oftentimes, we make a decision that was really not even the decision, therefore, we go through the decision thinking we made the right decision and we look behind us and there's carnage behind us. I am passionate about making leadership decisions. Now, when you make good leadership decisions, good organizational decisions follow. And I am committed, Chris, with you, I am committed to building a leadership team that last. Therefore today, seeking the truth many times comes in the best leadership decision, not the best organizational decision. The best organizational decisions will happen down the road, but it will come on the back end of making great small leadership decisions. And so, seeking the truth for me was found in the benefit and the impact of a leader, not in what was great for the global organization.
Chris: Well, I think there's an entire lesson right there that we could unpack for our listeners when it comes to leadership decisions, as you mentioned, versus organizational decisions. And I have never heard you say that before, and it stuck out to me because there is a distinct difference, and I think if leaders can figure that difference out and begin making leadership decisions. It made me think of a quote, where I heard one time somebody said, “Make sure that as leaders, you're doing the right thing more than trying to be right.” Right? Like in the situation, you don't always have to be right. And, what I think as a leadership team on the other side of that, we maybe didn't have that picture that you did in regards to going the other way. And so, it was painful for us to work through that. It was probably painful for you outside of our leadership room, because you're like, “Why don't they just to understand I'm going left, I don't need to go right.” And so, I think there's an entire lesson there in the future with that statement. I think that's good. Now, we've talked about it, I want to come back just for a little bit, and those that are leading teams, maybe smaller organizations, maybe their families, smaller groups. And, John said in his lesson to us, he said, “As a leader, when you're being courageous, when you're showing courage, it puts steel in the backbone of our people, of our family, of those that are around you.” And I thought this is a very interesting concept, because the first thing I thought about was, you know, he said, courage doesn't always roar, right? It's not big, sometimes it's just in the little voice. And at the end of the day, sometimes our people just need to be encouraged to get up again tomorrow and try again or whatever that might be. So, when you think about that, everybody that is under your influence, everybody that you're leading, needs a little bit of encouragement. Okay? To show courage, whether it's asking questions in a meeting, whether it's letting people hear your leadership voice, right? A little bit more, maybe, right? Maybe it is to be able to communicate more often what you want and what you feel and what you desire. All of those things are going to take courage. It's not just the big decisions. And so, leaders, I think this point I want you to understand is that those that are around you and not on your team, you may not think it's a big decision, but what I do want you to know is that your team members are making decisions even to do the small things I just mentioned, and need encouragement from you to be courageous. With that being set up, Mark, how does John encourage you to show courage? How do you receive that from him? Because what I want is to take away from my own leadership is to learn from John and through you, how he's encouraging you to be courageous? So that I can do that for my team as well.
Mark: Yeah, so I love this question, Chris, and John has put things on my shoulders that I never anticipated in my life. I didn't get my college—my experience before coming to John's world was not leading companies, I don't have an MBA, and yet, millions and millions of dollars, sit under my responsibility. And John does something to me, he will give me the responsibility, and tell me why he thinks I should have that responsibility, and then reiterate that point over and over and over again. Chris, to me, let me give you what I think is an even better example, although John, I can give you hundreds of that. But Chris, there was a time we've laughed about it even on this podcast that I really wanted to hear your leadership voice and I just didn't, it was a personality thing, it was a timing thing, it was a maturity of maturation, it was a movement of getting the stars aligned, it was a hundred different reasons. But I just couldn't hear your leadership voice. And I would challenge you, it was a challenging time, and sometimes it probably did not feel encouraging at all to give you courage, but I remember when you started doing it, and I would make a pointed effort every time you did it. I don't care what it was. I don't care how magnificent it was, how simple it was, when you started doing it, I remember distinctly saying, “Okay, Mark, drop by Chris's office, say, ‘Hey, dude, that's what I mean by sharing your voice. That was incredible. That was perfect.’” So, when we task people to do things that they have not done before, or perhaps, not gifted or experienced to do, the best thing that we could do is tell them why we picked them, give them opportunity to live that out, and when they do, come back and encourage them and what they did right and tell them how well they are growing in this thing that they've done. And I'll tell you the times that John does that to me specifically in speaking, it comes back, and I go, “Okay, I've got a little bit more courage to step up the next time.”
Chris: Yeah, that's good, and that is a great model for all those that are listening too, to use when you're leading your team to encourage them to have more courage. Okay, final point, and you are a man of action. And I told you before we got on this, I said, “We are going to kind of wrap up, you know, get to the end of our podcast with this point right here.” John talks about courage requires action. Right? And he gave us a great little quote, “Courage is not something you store up, it's something you use up now.” You are action oriented and talk a little bit about how you being active and making small decisions as you said earlier in this recording, gives you more courage to continue to make decisions. It's almost kind of like, you know, little things lead to big things. You’ve taken little steps of courage and they lead to big steps of courage. But it starts with that action. Talk a little bit about that and your leadership style.
Mark: You know, I was doing a teaching just a couple of days ago before recording this podcast and someone asked me and said, “Hey, speak into how we overcome burnout.” And I said, “Really talk to me about burnout because I've tasted burnout.” Chris, no doubt you have, many of the people listening to the podcasts have tasted burnout. I'm not burned out right now. I'm fed up, and we're recording by the way, I don’t know when you're listening to this, but we're recording right after about almost 12 weeks of COVID-19 keeping us in shelter in place or stay at home orders. But it feels a little bit like burnout. It’s just the same old, same old, same old so I told this person that was asking the question I said, “You really need to answer the question. Are you really asking about burnout? Are you asking about being fed up? Are you just done and ready for something? Because let me tell you, for me, burnout is very rarely a problem with me, here's why, is because creativity, fulfillment, a sense of accomplishment all comes at the expenditure of action. In other words, if I can just get up in the morning and start acting, all of my challenges start melting away, I have a propensity to action. My cure for burnout is action. My cure for paralysis is action. My cure for fed up is action, give me something to do.” So, I think a lot of us listening to this podcast have a bias to action. So if that's the case, and yet you find during a time of low courage or no courage, that you're not able to overcome that or to get that next level of courage or that dose of courage shot then I will challenge you to get involved in something and move the ball forward. Because a win will give you courage; and trying something for the first time will give you courage. That's why I love John's points that he made earlier about courage is not an absence of fear or an absence of failure. We have got to move and to act. It’s John Wooden who said, “Success is never final, and failure is never fatal; it's courage that counts.” And if you want to talk and to challenge yourself to get a next level dose of courage, act. Do something, get up tomorrow and do something totally different than what you did today, and as you do that, failure or not, that's not the point. Try something and that trying will actually increase your courage and your confidence, so that you will see the difference that you're wanting,
Chris: Hey, so there are a lot of things that people are probably thinking about right now that they need to try, that they need to do differently. But it reminded me of a very simple little act that you did. You and I happen to be in the office about three or four weeks ago together on the same day, we had to come in the office for one reason or another, and I think you and I were the only ones in there, and I looked at you and I said, “Are you going on a job interview? You speaking today? What's going on?” Because I mean, you were dressed to the nine, right? And you're like, “No, I just had to get up, and I had to get dressed like I was going to work, and I had to come in here and get some things done, because I needed some action, because I've just fed up with this shelter in place.” And your action, although not too courageous, yeah, although we didn't tell Stephanie what it looked like that day, however, right? So, it's just that little step that then probably allowed you some momentum to make some bigger decisions that day. So, I'm going to throw it to you here in just a minute to close. I want to leave our listeners with two statements that I think we covered today that John left us with, and then Mark will close us out. John talked about as he closed and a great closing on this lesson, having a courage companion, right? And so, leaders, I just want you to understand you need to be a courage companion to somebody on your team, you need to do that. They need a little bit of encouragement, and then, leaders, directly to you and your actions, what we talked about John said, “Listen, whether it's crisis, whether it's just a leadership decision you have to make you're going through, in order for us to be leaders, we are called to rise up and be courageous.” And so, go back and re-listen to this lesson and take some notes on some of the things that you can be doing that even Mark gave us some very applicable things that you can do day in and day out basis. So, Mark, final thoughts, I'll give it to you to wrap up just on this, you know, people follow courage and this lesson that John gave us around courage today.
Mark: Yeah, and you know, I love the timing of this message because there's so many of us that are starting to come out of hibernation. We're starting to come out and everything's different. I mean, I know it's going to feel like, oh, we're getting back to normal. John did a lesson a few weeks ago, and he said, “You can't get out of the box, there is no box anymore.” So, as we come back around to some things that feel familiar to us, I want to challenge you, courageously re-define those things. Step out of the abnormal into abnormal, don't try to step out of the lack of normal and try to create normality. I think in this bounce back, in this ability to make a difference, it's going to take courageous leadership that says, “I not only want to get out of being at home all the time.” Or, “I not only want to go home to protect everybody, I want to do something incredibly unique with my life and my leadership, and I'm going to do it with courage that will sustain where I am and where I'm going.” Hey, if you have been listening and you want to get the notes, if you will go to Maxwellpodcast.com/continue, click on the “Bonus Resource” button and you will be able to grab the worksheet, you'll be able to go back and listen to John, and then hopefully take some notes on Chris Goede and I. I know you've enjoyed Chris being here today. I have but more than that, John Maxwell, Chris Goede, myself, Jake, we appreciate you being here being with us. Now, pass this podcast along to someone else, and let's go with courage, lead, and make a difference!
3 thoughts on “Courage to Continue”
I love the still small voice that speaks to me. Yes, I need that voice always. The more focus on courage, the more I have more of it.
I understand and I do not want to minimize people’s concerns about COVID-19, but I SO understand what you’re saying about fed up. I’m an essential worker, so I’ve been out and working. Where I feel fed up is encountering COVID-19 and all of this fear EVERYWHERE. I want to be able to do things and make a difference without this impacting everything I do.
Dear Mr. Maxwell,
thank you for sharing your knowledge and topics in a unique way that is so relevant, updated and uplifting.
You really are The Coach of all coaches!
Thank you so much!