Maximizing the Moment (Part 1)

In part one of this series on Maximizing the Moment, John teaches four words that every leader must embrace right now to set ourselves up for success in the future. He demonstrates how crises will take leaders on detours, and he encourages leaders to take advantage of their new route. During detours, leaders experience many new things for the first time, exposing new opportunities to learn and lead.

During the discussion portion of this episode, Mark Cole is joined by Jason Brooks to discuss John’s points. They share the roles humility, adaptability, and generosity have played in their own lives and leadership.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the Maximizing the Moment 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! Mark Cole here, and today I am joined with my buddy, my friend, my pal, my co-leader, Jason Brooks, and we're going to be meeting you after John Maxwell speaks on “Maximizing the Moment”. We're going to be coming back to you and sharing with you quite an extensive in depth look at how we're leading and maximizing this moment in John Maxwell's organization. So, I hope you'll listen into John. I hope you'll come back and listen into Jason Brooks and I as we go deep and applying “Maximizing the Moment”. Now, if you are listening to the podcast, you know the routine if you're a regular. If you're not, you need to go to, click on the “Bonus Resource” button and download the worksheet for this lesson. You're going to love it; it's going to help you. We look forward to talking with you further when John is done. Now, here is John Maxwell!

John Maxwell:      Hi, John Maxwell here. I'm so glad to be with you today. I really look forward to just sharing with you what I'm seeing as a leader, because all of us as leaders are doing our very best, not only to understand the times and answer the questions, a lot of yours can’t be answered yet, that's for sure. But it's just my way and the John Maxwell Enterprise way of serving you, adding value to you, coming into your life. Hopefully, maybe in our time together, there's maybe I don't know, one thing that you'll just get a great takeaway from and say, “Hey, this is going to help me. This is going to help my team.” And if that happens, we're very happy because that's the only reason I'm doing this today. I'm doing it for you, and I'm doing it to help you to help yourself and help all the people that you help because you are major people that make a major difference in lives of a lot people. This lesson I'm excited about. This lesson really was birthed out of a conversation with a very close friend of mine, Chris Hodges, and I had. It was a couple of weeks ago, and so we're going back and forth, and he just basically said, “John, let's talk about the future and what do you think it's looking like?” And so, we always had a conversation that—we always have stimulating, kind of, growth conversations when we get together, and so, he got me thinking, and that's, you know, you always have a good friend when out of a conversation, they kind of stir your heart a little bit and kind of stimulate your mind to kind of think about what they said. And so, out of that conversation, I kind of started working on this lesson, and what I think I want to say to you at the very beginning is, I can't really position for the future because there's still too many unknowns out there. But what I can do is I can position myself for the future. And I think that's kind of the first thing that we didn't need to do. It's kind of like, you know, put the horse before the cart. I think I need to position myself or, as Mark Cole shared with me, he said, “Be the future instead of see the future.” And that's kind of what I want to talk to you about today. How do I be the person I need to be now that really does prepare me for what I'm going to see tomorrow? You know, John Wooden, my mentor said so many times to me, “John, when opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare.” And trust me out of this crisis, there's going to be a lot of opportunity. I know that for an absolute fact. So that's not the question, will there be opportunities? There'll be challenges, by the way too, but challenges and opportunity go right together like success and failure. So that's not the question, will there be opportunities? The question is how do I position myself in order for me to be the person I need to be, so that as I see the future, I can really seize the moment? So, let me just share with you just kind of an insight. Something that I haven't really shared with anybody, but this is how I reflect and here's how I write. I take a subject like this, okay, how do I maximize myself in the present? What I do is I do two things when I get ready when I want to reflect, when I want to think, when I want to begin to put words on my legal pad. I want to begin to birth something that I'm either feeling thinking. And what I do is, I first of all, I get a question that frames what I want to think and meditate, reflect on. It's kind of like when I write a book, you know, the first thing you do is develop a thesis for that book, and everything in that book has to go to that thesis and come out of that thesis. Well, I do the same thing when I reflect and think, and so as I'm going through my questions, here's the question I wrote to prepare this lesson, the question is very simple, what am I doing right now that is right for tomorrow?

What am I doing right at this moment that's going to be right for tomorrow? So, that's the framing questions, and then what I do is I don't even write sentences, I just write one word, just one word. And I'll put several on—maybe, in this lesson, I put down maybe 16, or 17 words. That's all I do. Just I'll put on the left-hand column, just words that come under and fit under the framing of that question. And the reason I do that is I don't even start with a phrase or a sentence. I start with a word because I want it to keep me on track. I want the word to be like an arrow that hits the bullseye of the target that I'm trying to hit. So, these words are just like arrows that I'm trying to aim at the target. But here's what I do, I work the word in my mind, in my heart, and I don't put a sentence down in the beginning because I don't want to get my mind going in just one direction, I just want to focus on the word and then let it begin to be, for lack of better word, birthed within me. And then I'll start to work off of that word, and maybe do a phrase, maybe a sentence, and then I, under that begin to attach things to it that fit that word, that phrase, or that sentence. I'm just sharing that with you because many of you have to teach, you have to lead, and if you have to do any writing or developing, it's not the only way but it's just my way of taking nothing and beginning to birth something out of it, that hopefully helps people. So that's what I did with this exercise. And so, I'm going to give you some words today. Now, the challenge with this lesson is, I don't have enough time to give you all the words because I put down 16, I think they're probably 10 to 12 that really stick, you know in other words, those arrows hit the target the other ones, you know, missed, okay? So, I'm going to give you—I think I could get maybe time for maybe five in today. But I want to give them to you, and I promise you that next week, I'll go back and I'll give you some more words that will just help you again to be the person you need to be today to position you to what you need to see tomorrow. Here we go!

So, what are some of the words that I embrace and practice right now to position myself correctly for tomorrow? Okay, the first word is humility. And again, I think, I'm not sure—I want to say it’s C.S. Lewis, but my favorite definition of humility, in fact, Chris texted it over to me the other day, and when I saw it, I thought, “Yeah, I've used the same one for a long time, great minds think alike.” But I love this phrase of humility, and that is, “Not thinking less of yourself, but just thinking of yourself less.” And the reason I like that so much is—and let me tell you what humility does, I mean, we could talk about humans and the earth, and there's a whole bunch of stuff I can talk about. But let me tell you what humility really does. When I have a sense of humility, it removes me, John Maxwell, from the center of the picture. In other words, no longer am I the main person. No longer is it all about me, and I begin to understand that life, and all the good things about life, include everyone else. And I'm in the picture, but I'm just a part of the picture, and I'm not in the center of the picture. And I think for leaders, this is absolutely essential for me and for all of us to understand that, that yes, we may be the voice and we may even be that the picture that everybody sees, the person that everybody sees, but really, it's not about us. And one of the things I love about a crisis is that every time we're in a crisis, it removes us from being in the middle. Again, gives us a perspective that is so much bigger than who we are, and so much bigger than what we are. Again, I'll make this illustration short because I've shared it many times, and that is when I was in my thirties I had a mentor who sat me down one day and we had a three hour long conversation around the table, and he basically said, “John, you're very gifted. So, people are going to come around and they're going to talk to you about how wonderful you are and how amazing you are.” And he said, “I just want you to know there's nothing amazing about you. It's your gifts that are amazing, not you. It's your gifts that are amazing. And people see you and your giftedness and so, therefore, they say, ‘Oh my goodness, [INAUDIBLE] he raised books and I look at him speak.’” And he said, “Understand this, John. What they're amazed at is your gifts, but they can't separate the gifts from you, so they think you're amazing.” He said, “Always remember they’re gifts. You didn't earn him. You don't deserve them. They were given to you, they could be taken away from you. They’re from God. They’re gifts, John, they're not yours. Now steward those gifts, maximize those gifts, work hard to reach your potential in those gifts but they're not your gifts. They were given to you. They're not yours. It's not about you.” That was life changing to me. And to this day, I still carry that. I mean, now that's 40 years ago, to this day I still, when, you know, I speak at a convention with 20,000 people and everybody's on their feet giving me a standing ovation, I wave to the crowd and I give them the Maxwell smile because I'm their friend, and I'm walking off stage. I say, “John, it's not about you. They're applauding your giftedness. It has nothing to do with you.” Now, that's a real sense of what humility does and what a crisis does to you. I love to visit Presidential Libraries, I've been to every Presidential Library in America, some of them I've been to two, three, some up to four times. But if you ever go to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library in Boston, I've been to that, I think four times. But it's a great one! If you ever go to that, on his desk in his office, he had a plaque that he looked at every day as he was President of the United States and the plaque said, “Oh God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” Love that! What was JFK doing and saying with that plaque on his desk in the Oval Office? He was basically saying that I keep this plaque, these words in front of me for two reasons, you see, the words of that plaque, express awareness and dependence; and awareness and the fact that John Kennedy was aware that there were things that were much greater than he was. I mean, “Your sea is so big my boat is so small.” There was an awareness that there was a greater than him, and there was a dependence that he was going to have to depend upon God. He was going to have to depend on faith, he was going to have to depend on someone greater than him as a leader to get him through the process. Let me tell you what my favorite time was being an American. As I look back at my 73 years, I can point to you when I was more proud to be an American than any other time in my life. It was right after 9/11. As you remember that incredible, catastrophic event, what happened because of that crisis is we saw people come together like I have never seen people come together in America ever. And the ultimate was, again, all of Congress and Senates on the on the steps of Congress joining hands and singing “God Bless America”. I mean, if you see politicians joining hands and crossing house, you know that there's something pretty amazing happening. Now, this is what a crisis does. Don't miss this. Don't miss the fact—thirteen days after 9/11, I was in New York City because I had the privilege of having the part of raising $6 million for some of the victims, and so, they asked me to come and they gave me a VIP tour. I mean, the smoke was still smoldering from buildings, etc. And I can tell you the humility and the humbleness of the people—I've been in New York all my life, and I promise you that they were incredibly touched. They understood that the answers that they thought they had, and all the things that they thought they could do, were all thrown out the window. They didn't have answers. They had a lot of questions, and we were removing us from the middle of the picture. I tell you, it's healthy when we're not in the middle of the picture. So, as I position myself for the future, I want to keep that spirit of humility in my life that it's not about me, never has been about me; it's about others.

So, the second word is adaptability. This is a huge word for us to really think on and live in, because what crisis does is crisis move us; they always do. Everybody in America right now is moved. No one is in the position they were two months ago. Everybody's been moved. And what a crisis does is it presents detours in their life. In other words, pretty much we get our life on automatic and there are just certain things we just do and routes that we traveled and paths that we take, and so therefore, what happens is, all of a sudden, we get detours and we say, “Oh my gosh, I can't go this way anymore.” Now, here's what I want you to catch, I don't want you to miss this because this is beautiful. So, we take the detour, now we're going into new territory. What do we want to do when we're on a detour? We want to, as quickly as possible, get back to the route that we know, so we can proceed to the goal that we have. That's what we want to do. Here's what I'm saying: take advantage! Please take advantage of the detour. In fact, don't hurry back, because you're going to see things you've never seen before. You're going to go places you've never been before. You're going to be able to look at things, understand things, have a different perspective than you ever had before, and the reason that you're going to be able to do that is because you're on a detour. When I wrote the book, Leadershift, it was all about the fact that leaders that are most successful are leaders that are most adaptable, flexible, agile. They're able to see the moment but they're also able to seize the moment. There's a teaching of Gandhi that I want to give you right now that I have held very close to my heart for the last four or five years, and so, I want to pass it on to you. But it talks about growth, adaptability, change within our lives. So, let me read to you what Gandhi said, “Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent, drives himself into a false position.” Gandhi just basically says, if we're growing and if we’re learning, if we're trying to hold on to certain things that we held on to 20 or 30 years ago, because of people are expecting that type of behavior out of us or that type of attitude, whatever it might be, he said, “What happens is, it begins to cause us to act what we really aren't, and it puts us into a false position.” In my world, we'd probably be called a hypocrite. Now, that false position phrase just grabbed me so much that I wrote down what I think false position is and let me read it to you, “It's a place where I try to cling to my old views in order to appear consistent while I realized that within myself, I've outgrown them and they no longer represent who I am.” Wow! Now, because my life has been on a pretty fast speed growth process, because I do it intentionally, I relate to so much this, because I could look back at myself 20 years ago and hardly recognize myself, because of my growth and my development and new things I've learned and things I used to just hold onto. I don't hold onto them at all anymore. Why? They were good for me when I had them, but I've learned something better. I was on a detour. I learned something I never learned about that part of the area of my life and so I took that, and it helped me. It allowed me to change profitably and personally and progressively in my life. And I say that to you because I think that that's what a crisis does to all of us. The other day I was thinking about all the times I have reinvented myself and made major changes in my life to position myself to continue to add value to people to a greater dimension. And I've had nine personal changes, reinventions of who I am. Now, what I want you to understand is, catch this, my values have stayed the same. Okay? So, during a crisis, my values don't move. In fact, during a crisis, my values just get stronger and more of an anchor to my life because they become validated. In a crisis, my values get validated, but let me tell you something, my views change. My perspective changes…every time. So, I wrote down in my notes as I'm teaching you this today, is I just wrote this just for me, maybe you'll like it well enough to make it for you. Hopefully, you will. I just wrote down for myself, “I want the detour tour.” I wanted a detour tour. I want a new way, I want a new way of seeing, understanding, thinking and doing things. And I can promise you, you position yourself very, very well if you have that adaptability and say, “Yeah, I want the detour tour. I really want it.” Chris the other day, again, in our interaction, because again, he was very catalytic in this teaching, shared with me, he said, “When you want to make changes and be adaptable—” he said, “—look to your team and work through your team.” But he said, “Don't ask the people that you're trying to change if they want change because the people you're trying to change, they don't want change at all. They want to stay in their comfort zone. They want it to be as it always was.” And so, then he quoted Henry Ford that said, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” I just love that! In other words, we want a faster horse. Well, a faster horse isn’t what the people needed, but that's all the people could think of. Being adaptable allows us to go beyond the faster horse mindset and say, “Wait a minute, I took a detour the other day, and guess what? I never had been there before, and I had some thoughts I've never had before, and I think a couple of them really are going to help me change and be different.” Okay, so I've had two words so far that really positioned us, I think to be the people that we really want to be during this time: humility and adaptability.

Let me give you the third one: open handedness. You see, during a crisis, the first thing that happens to us is change happens very quickly, and we are kind of blindsided, like we were here, and so, we began to say, “Okay, what's going to happen to me?” The first question, whenever there's any kind of catastrophic change, the first question is what's going to happen to you? Can I tell you something? I'm not worried about you right now, the question is, what's going to happen to me? Okay, back to that humility, we're back in the middle now, okay? We're centered. We're not off center at all, what's going to happen to me? And that's very natural, and what is also natural is when we ask what's going to happen to me? Because we're not certain, we begin to want to hold on to what we know, hold on to what we have, and it turns in usually to a, like a, “I'm clinging on to this.” And we get what I would consider to be a scarcity mindset. Several years ago, I was having a conversation dinner with Mark Victor Hansen, and he taught me this concept and it's just huge. We were at the table and he took his hands, and he went like this, he said, “People that are closed handed, not open handed, closed handed, scarcity thinking…” He said, “What they do is they get something important to them. And they just hold on to it and they say, ‘I can't let it go, I've got to keep it. This is my security and I don't want to be without it.’” And he said, “Let me tell you something about closed handed people…” He said, “Opportunity comes by, but I can't reach out my hand to take the opportunity that's present because my hands are closed. I don't have any room for opportunity. I don't have any room for promise. I don't have any room for possibility in my life. I'm doing this and as long as I'm holding onto this closed handed, I can't receive what's best for me.” And then he said, “This is the way we're supposed to live, just open handed.” When my hand is open, if something comes by me that is so beautiful or wonderful, immediately I can take it. Why can I take it? Because I'm open handed. So, let me give you four thoughts on open handedness—I just developed this lesson last night, this part of the lesson, and I can hardly wait to really develop it. So, I'm just kind of giving to you just fresh, okay? It's not great, but it's fresh and it’ll work. And by the way, take it and make it better. That's what I do. I give people stuff and I expect them to go do something better with it than when I gave it to them. I wish they’d just bring it back on the better so that I can have the good too. But anyway, here we go! Four thoughts on open handedness, the first thought are these two words: sowing strategy. Okay, we're talking about sowing seed now, okay? Sowing strategy. Here's what my sowing strategy is to keep open handed. So good every day, but so more good on difficult days. And then, when I say so good every day, what I'm saying is always sow every day; always sow. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “I judge the success of my day by the seeds I sow, not by the harvest reap.” So, what I'm talking about now is sow every day. That's it, but during difficult days, now this is timing. During crisis, during the Coronavirus right now, so even more, because you see timing gives you your big R-O-I…always does. That's why if you're the first to help you stand out above all the rest that help. The first to help, stands above all the rest to help. Why? Because you were the first on the scene. Timing is essential! So, in sowing and being open handed in receiving and that process of sowing, just do it every day, but when it gets tough, really do it. Okay? That's huge! Okay, the next two thoughts on open handedness are what I would call just the benefits of being open handed. Having an open-handed life versus a closed-handed life. The first thought is what I call the “Washing Hands Practicing”, and it's very simple. When the right hand washes the left hand, guess what? The right hand gets cleaned too. You see, the moment that I bring my hands together and I say, “Okay, I need to wash my left hand.” So, I take my right and I'm washing it. It's not just a win for the left hand, it's a win for the right hand, it's a win-win! And, that's what open handedness always is. It's a win-win. People that aren't open handed, they think that they're going to lose it and never get a return. So, they close and hold on, and because they close it and hold on, they don't get all those opportunities and become a reservoir, not a river. Here's the second kind of benefit of open handedness. It's the candle principle, okay? And the candle principle just simply says, we cannot hold a candle to light another person's path without having our path lit also. It's just a fact. If I'm holding a candle for you to help you in your path, guess what? My path is being lit also with a candle. So, when I share the candle, when I wash my hands, there's a benefit, win-win, again! I mentioned briefly, that this is Mark Cole’s 20th anniversary of being with the John Maxwell Enterprise, and Mark has done that, he's been the right hand who’s washed the hands of all of us, and his hands have been washed too. He's been the holder of the candle that slipped the path and his path has been lit also. And he's a beautiful example of when you serve, when you give, when you're generous, it all comes back to you. One more perspective truth, and this is a perspective truth, that is how we view things is how we do things. So, the scarcity mindset that close—okay, not open hand but closed hand, the closed handed mindset, basically, when it looks at something or someone that’s needy, and kind of looks in their hand a little bit, peeks in there and says, “What can I spare? Do I have anything that I could spare?” Were an open hand, “What can I share?” World of difference! It's Ella Wilcox’s poem, “There are two kinds of people on earth I say, there's two kinds of people, the one who lifts and the one who leans.” And basically, she asked in that poem, “Who lifts? And, who leans?” Wow, that's huge! Who's lifting? Who's leaning? If you're lifting, you’re open handed, you're helping people. You know, Chris Hodges, again, because he's with me and interacting with me on this lesson and, you know, has that huge, incredible congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, and when the Coronavirus hit, they said, “Okay, we won’t be using our parking lot for church services. We can't gather that way. So, we're going to use our parking lot—” he let it out, the information out, “—and we'll test for the Coronavirus.” And they became the biggest testing site in Alabama. I think in, maybe, two or three days, 2,000 people were tested. And then he was talking to me the other day, and this is all open handed this is why he's so incredibly blessed because he has an open-handed mindset. He said, “You know, the Red Cross, which has the vehicle, it has the resources to help people—" but he said, “—John, you know, they lack buildings, and they lack volunteers. And guess what I have? I've got buildings and I’ve got volunteers, so that we gave them all of our buildings and we took our people and said, ‘We'll be volunteers for the Red Cross.’ and it's just absolutely amazing to see this happening!” And what it does, if you watch him online on Sundays, is he literally, he shows all the things they're doing in the Birmingham area to add value to them and to help people and all the community projects they’re involved in and he said, “You know, our online giving, it's up! It's higher than it's ever been before!” Well, of course it's up! Because people are saying he's open handed, he's passing it onto others. It's absolutely huge! Okay, let's go on. Where's the practice that position us well so that we could be the person we not need to be, so that when we see what we need to see, it matches.

The fourth word is discussion. Huge word, discussion. And why I love this word is because to position yourself, the best thing to do is to get around other people and have conversations and discussions that allow you to learn from each other. I can still remember a couple of years ago on an executive summary call with the CEO, and I think of the second largest software company in the world. And so, we were talking about, I was asking some leadership questions, one of the questions I asked him is I said, “What is your greatest growth tool? I mean, of all the things you do to grow yourself, what is the one that just kind of helps you to grow more than any other?” And he shared with me, discussions, and basically, what he said is, “I get a group of people about six of us, and we spend an evening together, usually discussing the subject.” And then he gave me a blueprint I’m passing on to you right now. He said, “Basically, here are the guidelines for the discussion: pick a subject. Make sure that you have everybody on the same level.” And what he said with that I thought was very interesting. He said, “John—” And, please understand I’m just talking now, I'm not trying to be unkind, but he said, “John, you got to make sure you've got people on your level of thinking and people that are dealing with your level of issues. If you, quote, bring somebody that is lesser than that. They'll just drag the conversation discussion down because they haven't traveled where you are, and so they're not aware of what you know, and so therefore, for everything that you're wanting to discuss, they've got seven questions.” So, he said, “You got to make sure that you've got them pretty much all on the same level as far as what we do and how we think and our success, etc. Everyone same level.” He said, “Everyone contributes.” He said, “It's absolutely a guideline. Everybody throws their hat in the ring.” And he said, “Why? Because we're looking for different perspectives.” He said, “You got to have everybody contributing so you get different perspectives. Number four—" he said, “—everyone increases everyone. In other words, what we do is when somebody throws something out on the table—" he said, “—somebody else adds to it.” He said, “We're always trying to put the cherry on the top of what somebody said. So, we're expanding the thinking, the ideas.” He said, “Number four, everyone takes action on the subject that's discussed. When we leave, we say, ‘Okay, what's your game plan? What are you going to do with what we talked about tonight?’” I think it was Peter Drucker who said, “You can't have meetings and accomplish something at the same time.” So, he said, “The question I got is very simple.” He said, “Are you having meetings? Or, are you getting worked up?” And then he said, “The only ones that get invited back are the ones who are applying and growing from it and contributing.” He said, “Then we bring them back.” He said, “I've got about six now.” He said, “That are just trusted colleagues.” And he said, “When we get together—" he said, “—my greatest growth time is iron sharpening iron. We're all at the table, we're all pointed on, and we're putting gasoline on each other's ideas and just getting a bigger, better in the whole process.” In my book, Thinking for a Change, I talk about that kind of thing, it's called “shared thinking”. If you've got a good idea, and I have a good idea, if I hold it to myself, I just have one good idea, if we share, we have two good ideas. But what happens is, the moment that we share, the magic happens. And it ignites us in thinking, and what happens when you share your good idea, and I share my good idea, it ends up to be three ideas, four good ideas, because it begins to multiply and great ideas are nothing but a process of several good ideas that are put together. Wow! In my book that I, again, sending the manuscript today on Change Your World, one of the chapters is entitled, I love this title, “Transformation Happens One Table at a Time”. Well, that's true in discussion too. And so, during a crisis and to be the person you really want to be, I would encourage you to, you know, get you a few people that are where you are, and get in discussions with them. This is a perfect example, this lesson isn't just my lesson, it's Chris and I talking, and he made me a lot better. Without him, this would be a good lesson, but it's a better lesson because he jumped in, he got to the table.

Okay, number five, the last thing I want to share with you is, and it's really kind of two words. It's a word slice in other words, and that's questions/reflection. To really position yourself to be who you really want to be during this crisis, so you can see what you need to see, you just need to ask a lot of questions. In my book, Leadershift, again, one of one of my major shifts was from directing to connecting, and in the beginning, I just told people what to do, and then I started asking questions, and that's when I started connecting with them. And so in the discussion—to make a discussion great, if you're going to have a table like I just talked about a moment ago, you really want to have three things, you want to have preparation, you want to be prepared for what you're going to discuss. So, you got to have preparation, you got to have reflection, and then of course, then you have to have action. And what I want you to understand is reflection is right in the middle. You do the preparation, and then after the discussion you come and when you reflect on what's happening before you could take your action. So, you know, there are four reflection questions I'm always asking myself, and I just pass them onto you because you can ask yourself if you want to. If you want to spend more time reflecting, which is huge, because reflection turns experience crisis, what we're going through, into insight, here we go! The first reflection question is what do I feel? How do I feel right now? What do I feel?  I just came through an experience, what am I feeling? Because the first influencer in our life is almost always our emotions. Almost always, not always, but almost always. And so, what am I feeling? And you want to capture that feeling as quickly as you can because it's kind of a raw, virgin, true feeling that you have in your life. Now, let me just say something about what asking yourself, you know, what am I feeling? What do I feel? Is that the fact if you reflect quite a while on something, that emotion really begins to become intuition, and that's a whole different subject I don't need to get into today, but I tell you, developing the art of intuition has a great deal with giving the time to reflect on how you feel, because it's a gut thing, okay? So, first of all, what do I feel? Secondly, what do I know? What do I know? You know, wow! You don't want to have feeling, emotion without what you know, knowledge. But you don't want to have knowledge without emotion either. So, these are put together, they're stacked, okay? This is kind of like layered reflection. This is how you layer your reflection. What am I feeling? You know, and this is where you pause, you just pause, “Okay, what do I know? Okay, here's how I'm feeling about this, but what do I know?” And thirdly, what do I think? I do thinking third because what thinking does it sorts out the differences between feeling and knowing. And, I want to be able now to say “Okay, out of knowing this is what I know, and how I’m feeling this way.” Okay, thinking allows you to kind of sort it out. And then of course, the last question, what do I do? Now, it's time to go into action. So just a quick illustration, I'm done for today. Like with the Coronavirus, what do I feel? Well, what I feel is that fear and uncertainty has compounded the crisis, and intuitively now, that I've had that emotion for some time, I think that fear and uncertainty will prolong the crisis. Now, it's a real crisis. So, I'm not trying to in any way diminish the crisis, but I'm here to tell you fear and uncertainty, people's insecurity, scarcity, all those negative emotions we have in our life, compound the problem itself. So, what do I feel? I feel that we have a problem, period. The crisis in itself is a big problem, but it becomes a bigger problem, when people have emotional negatives out of negativity out of a dysfunctional lifestyle that just kind of puts kerosene on the problem. What do I know? One of the things I know is that habits are being developed now in this crisis like no other crisis before, because the prolongness of the crisis and people are living life in a different way. And you could just believe me that, you know, people that are home that have to commute an hour to work in the city each day, one way and back and forth, can I tell you right now? They're saying, “You know, homes kind of nice to do my work in.” And, you know, kids on online courses are saying, “Am I ready to go back to the dormitory? Do I really need to pay all this money and get all this kind of stuff?” I'm just saying, habits are being formed. By the way, good habits are being formed, bad habits are being formed. One of the things I know for sure is, that if you are, during this crisis, forming good habits, you'll come out really much better after the crisis. If you, right now, are forming bad habits during the crisis, you'll come out even worse for the wear. Trust me, the habits that we have, and we are in a prolonged issue, so we're creating habits right now, are either making us or breaking us, and what I know is, the fact that not only are habits being formed, but opportunities are literally being discovered right now. It's very exciting to see them, all the companies and research groups going for the vaccine. You love that, they're all racing, who's going to get it first? Well, you know, all the good things you and I have in our life in the area of medicine is because something bad happened, and somebody said, “I got to find it. We got to find a medical answer to that.” And what I know is, is this isn't going to go away quickly. I know that, it's very obvious now that even when we get some of our freedom back, until there's a vaccine, for sure that it could be a reappearing process. So, what do I think? Well, what I think is that there's a dividing line between those who do well and those who don't do well. And this isn't where I think leadership really comes in, I think as a leader, I think as a leader, you really need to do your very best to get people, during this time to get themselves removed out of the middle of the picture and practice humility. I think that we need to help our people become adaptable and flexible and show them it's okay for us to move around because we are and I think it's very, very healthy for us, with our people to teach them to be open handed and generous, and to get around and discuss it with other people on their level and spent time in reflection to getting better. So, what do I do? I lead my people in the five things that I've just given you that you lead yourself. Because if this positions me well to be, again, the person I need to be so that I can see what I need to see, it also works for the people that you lead. So, what you practice for yourself is you practice it, pass it onto others, and I love it, as you practice it, pass it onto others. Sit down with them and not say, “This is what I know…” Say, “This is what I'm learning. This is what I'm practicing. This is what I'm trying right now.” There's, again, a real sense of the spirit of connection when you approach it that way. So anyway, love and blessings! I hope that helps you, and next Monday, come back and I'll give you probably five, maybe six other words that will position you well in this crisis. Again, so that you can do well as we get through it. So, thank you very much!

Mark Cole:           Hey, well welcome back, Jason! I am so ready to go into this in depth because truly, as long as you and I have known John, studied John, been on John's team, he is so good at maximizing moments, and then always getting himself ready for the future. In fact, John quotes John Wooden, his mentor often, and says “When opportunity presents itself, it's too late to prepare.” So, we're talking about maximizing the moment preparing for the future, Jason, I am really glad you're on today. Let's get started, man!

Jason Brooks:       Man, I am excited to be on with you! This was such a content rich message, man. I mean, holy cow! He just packed so much into it. I mean, even giving you an insight into how he writes, you know, how he thinks through content, like that was fascinating for me, but I know we want to get into the meat of the teaching and really maximizing our situation. And there's so many ways we could go with this, and right out of the top though, John comes out with the word humility, and says that's where we need to begin, and that is a little counterintuitive for me. I loved his reasons as he explained it, but it was just like, “Okay, that wasn't where I would have expected it to begin.” John talked about the fact that humility moves the leader out of the center of the picture and broadens the picture and brings everybody else into it. Why is that so important? And, why is it so easy to actually go the other way sometimes, to zoom in more on our particular situation, instead of expanding out to think about our people?

Mark Cole:           You know, at its purest form, at its most edifying form, this idea of focusing on our self more than others, let's not call it egotism, let's not call it self-centeredness, let's call it in its good form that it is truly taking responsibility. I know for me, I love to attempt, I'm not going to say I do this well, but I love to attempt to pass praise and keep responsibility. We've heard all of that many times. But I think when you take responsibility, it puts you in an “I”, “me”, “I need to do this. I got to have this. I got to, I got…” And we end up starting going, “I, I, I” to where eventually, we unempowered people that really would like to lean in and own it but because they hear so much, “I” terminology, “me” responsibility, they find themselves paralyzed to lean in like they would like to. So, to your question, for me, I love this concept on humility that I believe that that is what will prepare us most for the future, that it's not about us. But to your question, there is a true pure virtue in every leader that says, “If it's meant to be, it's up to me.” That doesn't sound like a humble statement. And so, we then go and clothe ourselves or put on humility when we took the bull by the horns, we delivered the goods and then we go, “Look what you did, team! Look what we did!” So, I think the fine line that you're asking the question on, Jason, is between responsibility and praise. We know we should take responsibility. We know we shouldn't take praise, and we own humility on the praise side, and it's good virtue, and we don't stay humble in the responsibility side, therefore, we don't let others around us feel the responsibility like they would like to.

Jason Brooks:       How do you as a leader then, because I mean, you carry more than anybody else that I can even think of, with the exception of maybe John, the responsibilities, the different things that are on your plate between teaching, leading, coaching, mentoring, running day to day, dealing with the craziness of where we're at, how do you, as a leader, how do you find that right balance between the responsibility and the humility? How do you say, “Okay, I know that this is where we need to go, but I also know that if I just grab the bull by the horns and get us there, it's going to be emptier than if I work with my people.” How do you develop the patience or the skill or the aptitude to still steer the ship, but steer it through your crew, as opposed to just grabbing the wheel and saying, “Hold on, boys. We're going left.”

Mark Cole:           Yeah, so the quick answer is I don't do it very well, from my opinion. I wish that I had three things that I do that makes me so good at this. My fear is I can tell you three things I struggle with that makes me not very good at this. But, seriously to answer your question, for me, it's having people around me that feel welcome enough, empowered enough and strong enough to speak into my life. Hey, responsibility is a highly sought-after trait by me. And I would tell you whether I sought after it or not, my parents instilled high responsibility in me. And I would tell you that whether, I'm one of those kids that whether my parents would have given it to me, whether I sought it a lot now, I naturally take responsibility for things. There's something in my persona that I take high responsibility for. So, John teaches that your strengths become your blind spots. So, it's a blind spot for me. How my responsibility is being perceived by others is a total blind spot for me. So then how do I do it? To answer your question, I keep people around me and I'm constantly saying, “Hey, is this all working okay? Am I coming across too intense?” Which is the high responsibility side. Am I coming across too weak? Which is the highly affirming of other side, in other words, I don't take any responsibility. Jason, I remember a talk you heard me do, it may have been about a year ago, and this is what I love about you, Jason, and this is what John Maxwell loves about you, you not only can articulate extremely well, it's a gift. You have a unique ability to say exactly what you're thinking and for it to be honoring. Now, that's a high gift. A lot of people can't do that, they offend when they are candid. That's not you. But I remember about a year ago, I think it was a year ago in March, that you heard me do a talk, and it was one of the first times you heard me, I think it was a two hour talk, and you gave me feedback—I still remember when that was,  “Mark, you're not taking enough responsibility and authority on the accomplishments. You're not doing it. And it's not coming across, as you have the authority that John Maxwell's given you.” That was one of your points. The second point was is, “Hey, you started repeating yourself, you could have done all that in an hour. Didn't take you two.” Now you're laughing right now, but that's exactly what you said to me! And you said three, “You need to expand some of the examples you're giving and talk about some of the things that you've been able to accomplish by John’s side.” Now, I remember that feedback. It's over a year ago. I've gotten a lot of feedback between now and that moment that you gave me that feedback. Why did it just pop in my head as we're talking right now? Because I need people like you to keep me from taking too much responsibility, “Hey Mark, he’s up. I can handle some of this.” And you've said that to me on writing projects and on publishing projects, and then I also need people like you that will say, “Hey, dude, come on, man. Give some praise! You’re kind of making this the Mark Cole show and you need to realize there's other people around.” And I struggle with humility on both sides. Humility on the responsibility side means that I need more than me to accomplish it. Humility on the affirming side means, “Hey, it took the team, it's not because you're all that and a bag of chips.”

Jason Brooks:       Oh my gosh. Well, I appreciate it, and let me just tell you, listeners, one of the things that is really interesting about being on the leadership team is Mark has created openings for us to have conversations and we can have really difficult conversations and sometimes it's not uncommon for me to look at my phone after 15 minutes and I've missed about 18 or 19 texts that have flown between the group. But there's always a constructive up leveling; there's never a destructive, tearing down. And it's always leaders adding value to leaders that they love, and it's a really unique synergy. But it comes from a leader who's willing to say, “Okay, we have to do this together, but I'm the person that is responsible for getting it done. So, let's create a system where these things can work in conjunction.” And it reminds me of, you know, John talked about going to the Kennedy Library, and the plaque that Kennedy kept on his desk, in the Oval Office about “Oh, God, Thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.” With everything that you've gone through this year, you know, an even greater role of leadership and responsibility within the companies. You know, some business transitional things and acquisitions that you've made to now leading through this, tell me, how does that Kennedy quote land with you now? Because the sea is great, and the boat, you know, for as talented as you are, we're all aware, it's still a small boat. Does that speak to you in any way about the year that you've had so far? Or, does it give you hope for what's coming after this? How did those words that Kennedy used to affirm him, impact you?

Mark Cole:           I wish, because we have new podcast listeners every week, I wish I had time to give you a biographical chronological journey of the last 20 years. I just celebrated 20 years May 1st, of being on John Maxwell's team. And I wish I could give you this chronological context, this quest to answer this question, Jason, but I won't. Go back and listen to other podcasts, I'm pretty transparent with my journey. But when you're asking that question, and when I've seen that quote, and I have seen it personally, and I've heard John quote it multiple times including on today's podcast, but I'm reminded of this statement that John makes all the time, he says, “Hey, when you're over your head, it doesn't matter how deep the water is, you're over your head.” And so, what's funny to me—this is a true story, Jason, and boy, this is going to really simplify the answer to your great question. I'm going to tell you, I've been a small boat in a big ocean way before the last four months, way before Coronavirus. So, I just kind of laugh and say, “Hey, the only thing that can get bigger here is the sea because the boat’s not getting any smaller.” My boat is not any smaller than it was three months ago, three years ago, ten years ago. In fact, my boat has expanded to use your analogy. I'm a little bit bigger, I'm a little bit more stable, I've been through a couple of storms in my life now and I've got a little more confidence in this little bitty vessel. But it's still a little bitty vessel in a big ocean, and we just added some wind, we added a little bit bigger ocean over the last little bit with this crisis, but I got to tell you, I truly, I don't know when I lost being so overwhelmed at being a small boat on a big ocean, but I lost it because I don't feel any more magnitude right now in this most difficult Coronavirus running a company now that is not only up to me to run effectively, it sinks or swims by me and my ownership. And, and I just sit here, and I get cracked up and I go, “Wow, I've been a small boat on the big ocean for a long time. I got this. We got this. Our team has this.”

Jason Brooks:       I know you said you can't really identify the tipping point, but what do you suppose might have been the tipping point to where the perspective shifts? Right? Because you just took that picture and you inverted it for me because, you know, when you when you first hear that, you think about, “Ah, the hugeness of the sea and my boat and it's so tiny in the sea.” But you just flipped it and you're like, “No, I know what the boat is. I know these boundaries in these parameters, so I'm not afraid of the bigger ocean.” Can you think of maybe one moment or just when that tipped for you? When the perspective shifted from the immensity of the opportunity to the reality of you can navigate it with what you have?

Mark Cole:           Yeah, number one, I wish it was a moment because I would bottle it up, I would sell it at a very high price, and I'd sell a lot of that moment. It's not a moment, it's a process. I do remember the mentoring process that John Maxwell took me on to help me get to that point, and it's this, I've always admired this about John, and it's becoming more and more true to me to be honest with you, and it's this, John Maxwell does not take himself seriously. He doesn’t, he neither gets glory, self-glory or self-gratification or edification in the magnitude of what he gets to do. Nor does he own the moments that he has not measured up like others wanted him to, does he feel like the biggest failure. He does not take himself seriously. In fact, I love this statement about John Maxwell. I love it! He says that every time he gets a standing ovation, he goes off the stage, and now he's a person of faith, I’m a person of faith, he goes off the stage and says, “God, they're not applauding me. They're applauding the gifts you gave me.” That's what he says every time! I've heard him visually, verbally say that, among some roaring ovations at times. And that statement of humility, that statement of not taking yourself too seriously, he began to mentor me on that two, three, maybe four years ago, he began to mentor me, “Mark you’re taking yourself too seriously.” In fact, when he and I were talking about me catching the baton from him and carrying his legacy forward, I remember one particular time when were in Dubai, and I was carrying the weight of it, Jason, I was going, “Oh, I can't do this. I don't know how I'm going to do this.” And John, we were at the hotel, having breakfast in Dubai, I remember, I could take you right to the corner booth that he and I were sitting and he went, “Mark, hey, dude, if you don't get this deal done, my legacy is still intact. My legacy does not need you to carry on.” He quickly said this, “And by the way, it doesn't need me either. It was bigger than me when it was given to me, it was bigger than me while I've had it, it will be bigger than me when I give it to you. So, don't take yourself so seriously, Mark, it's going to be okay.” And I can tell you, moment after moment when John has really put inside of me, “Don't take yourself too seriously.” If you're a small boat on a big ocean and you trust the Maker of the ocean, you're going to be okay.

Jason Brooks:       Man, I love that! We could spend so much time here, but I'm going to move on to John's second point. There’s an interesting connection to me that, you know, as you've talked about the flip of perspective and now you know that, “Hey, my boat is solid, it's taken the storm so we can navigate whatever the ocean throws at us.” It lends itself to John’s second word, which was adaptability. Now, he's talked about this a lot while we've been going through these messages during this time of crisis. And so, we don't have to spend as much time here as on some of the other points that he makes. But I do find it interesting that when that perspective of humility is right, when you see the world and you see the boat right, then it opens you up to be adaptable. It opens you up to do things unique or differently. John used a phrase, he talked about, “I want the detour tour.” You know, he doesn't mind when life throws him onto a different path than he had anticipated. Why is that pioneering spirit, because that's to me, that's what I think of is it's really the ability to pioneer, to step into new territory and say, “Okay, never done this before, let's see what happens.” What does that pioneering spirit come from in a leader? And, how do we really cultivate that in a way like John is talking about? How do we really work on our ability to be adaptable?

Mark Cole:           Yeah, you know, I think, Jason, let me give you a couple of thoughts on that. And then let me kind of give you how we're doing that right now, even with John's teachings, and how he and I are viewing the world from a leadership perspective. I think a pioneering spirit is much like John gets asked this question all the time, are leaders born? And of course, they mean, are you a naturally born leader? But of course, he says, “Of course, they're born, I've never met an unborn leader, wouldn't want to either.” And we all laugh because it's funny! But really, the question is, is there people that more naturally lean or tend toward leadership? And the answer is absolutely. Well, I think there's people that more naturally adapt than others too. I mean, Jason, you're very structured, very systematic, you've got a system and how you write, develop content. But I'll tell you what I love about you that's not always true about someone with those giftings. You can adapt really quickly. I adapt all the time. In fact, the question is for me, can I handle structure? Not adaption, and so, I think there are people that yes, absolutely are naturally inclined or naturally gifted to be able to adapt quicker than others. But I also think adaptability, just like leadership, is learned. I'll tell you this, I am relatively adaptable, but working alongside John Maxwell for the last 10 years has made me off the charts adaptable, because that's what is required for me to be effective as John's right hand guy. So, I've become a lot better at adaptation over the last 10 years than I was for the first 40 years of my life. I'm relatively an anal guy, in fact, you know you’re anal if you go in your refrigerator or you go into your pantry and if everything's lined up just like all your Coca Cola’s, has the Coca Cola lined up just right, you know your anal! Well, come look at my refrigerator when I put up the groceries. Not when the rest of my family does, it drives me crazy! But, here's my point, that wouldn't be naturally adaptive. I think I’m more naturally system, or predictable. Now, here's what I want to say on this, and then again, we can move, Jason. John quoted me at the beginning of this lesson, and it cracks me up to be quoted by John Maxwell, and he talks a lot about me in his books and stuff, but to be quoted by John with my southern, that's kind of a funny thing to me. But John quoted me and here was the quote, “We got to be the future more than we're trying to see the future. We got to try to be the future more than try to be the future—try to see the future.” I'll get my own quote wrong! Not funny! So, here's what prompted that statement that John quoted, that we need to, as leaders, spend now more time being the future than seeing the future. John told me, he said, “Mark, people that look at us right now, people that are leaders that says, ‘hey, I see the future.’” I just laugh at them. I don't see the future. I'm going to tell you this right here, at the at the recording of this podcast that John just delivered yesterday, that the podcasts will be aired next Wednesday. The world will look different, Jason, for you and me. I guarantee it, but I don't know what it is. Now, here's my conundrum, that used to be a challenge in the first part of the Coronavirus, here's why, John teaches that leaders see more and before. Well, there's no seeing more than before right now. If you see more than before, you are seeing a mirage, and I'm going to go the other way because I’m not going to believe in your vision right now. Having said that, so do we abdicate our responsibility as leaders to lead into the future? No, but we need to do less seeing and do more being. And that whole concept is adaptability. That isn’t an adaptation for me, because I want to see more than before. In fact, I was telling John, “I got to see more than before.” He said, “No, you don't! You start seeing more than before now, than I’m going to question all your integrity.” You've got to be some things, so that as you be those things in the future, you will begin to visualize how to live with a new normal.

Jason Brooks:       Alright, so give some of our listeners, some of our fellow leaders, what are some things that we can be working on at this time that help us be the future? Do we need to be having more conversations with our people? Do we need to be more focused on process? What does that look like for a leader of a small team, a big team, wherever you're leading? What does it look like? Give me, if you can, one or just two things that really embody what you mean by being the future instead of seeing the future.

Mark Cole:           I can do better than two or three. I can give you five this week, and I'll give you five next week. Because I believe that's what John's doing right now, Jason. I believe that's the point of this lesson. And I wanted him to drive that home, and in this application, I want to drive it home. Here's how you can be the future: be humble, admit you can’t see more than before. Humility, John's first point, second adaptable. Hey, quit acting like you can see something that you can’t, and start being something that you can. That's adaptable. Here's number three, we haven't talked about it yet, but open handedness. Right now, we are adding more value as an organization than we have added in years and that's our number one value! We have been so concentrated for years now, a decade plus, of turning our assets into an R.O.I., rather than creating more assets by adding value. We're open handed with it now. I don't challenge you, Jason, on our leadership team, and the rest of the leadership team, that we'll be meeting in a couple of days. I'm not challenging them, “What's the R.O.I.? What's the business return? What's your bottom line?” No, let's be open handed with things. Number four, John talks about discussions. To your point right now, you need to be having more discussions, leaders, than you've ever had before. Number five, give questions and reflection. Don't just ask the question, leaders, but start reflecting. And so, I think John's given us five and he's got more on the way next week on what it means to be the future, so that we're prepared when our vision begins to clarify more with the absence of the uncontrollable reality that we're leading in right now.

Jason Brooks:       Man, I love that. I love that. So, let's just move into the open handedness. This really resonates with me for a couple different reasons. One is just part of my journey. You know, when I shifted roles in the company in 2017, and you know, I went away from being a member of the writing team to coming into the office and doing some specific marketing and things like that, when I made that transition, you know, I, as a person of faith had, obviously, sought the Lord and wanted to know what he thought. And what he told me was, “You were saying yes to Me, and I want you to say yes to Me, until I tell you otherwise.” And so, it's been a different journey for me this second half of my time, because I keep that open hand. I mean, it's an image that Rachel I have actually used as, we’ll just sit there and we'll look at each other and we'll hold our hands out and it's like, “Alright, Lord, you know, here's both hands, they're open, whatever You want to place into them, we’ll carry them, whatever You want to take out of them, we’ll not fight You on.” And I love that John brought this up, because it's, to me, is part and parcel of being adaptable and humble. It is the ability to just hold things loosely and say, “Alright, let's see what opportunities open up and what happens.” So let me ask you, as a leader, and I want to go back because there's a lot that we can get into here philosophically, but in a practical sense, as a leader, how do you discipline yourself to be generous in difficult times? You know, as a company, we're generous on the whole. But like you said, in these last several months, we have been more generous with adding value and creating value for people. We've been far more proactive on that front over the last several weeks in this time of crisis. How do you have that discipline to be able to go, “Okay, man, shift gears, let's go higher, further, faster, baby. And let's give to people right now because this is when they need it most.” How do you, as a leader, prepare yourself to make that change or make that shift?

Mark Cole:           Well, I think we're all figuring that out, Jason, because this is a new crisis. This is something none of us can draw from anybody living on what and how to handle ourselves. And so, I'm watching generosity come in a different way. For instance, our friend, Chris Hodges, John mentioned him multiple times in this lesson. A friend of mine, friend of John's, he’s on our board. Chris, as John talked about in the lesson, he uses his parking lot. Now that parking lot that's used for Sundays, Wednesdays, whatever they use it for, he's got this space that he can use, they may not can donate, and by the way, they are donating a lot of money to their community, as well. But some of us may not be able to contribute money right now because our paycheck is gone. But what do you have that would be huge if you gave it and made it accessible to someone else? See, I think for all of us, we may not be able to be as generous as we were back when ever all of our paychecks and everything were the same, but I guarantee you in some of our cases, without money, we can even be more generous. But also, because we have to be more resourceful in finding ways to be generous, I think we can demonstrate, not just with money, but we can be generous with our time, with our input, with our encouragement, and I think that's what John's challenging us to do right now. Be resourceful, and be open handed, and how you even express generosity.

Jason Brooks:       Well, and that goes back to, you know, again, he started with humility, he went to adaptability and all of those lead into when you are taking yourself out of the center of the picture, when you are opening yourself up to greater possibilities than you open yourself up to opportunities to be generous in ways that you never imagined. And I love how that builds on everything. You know, he moves on with the fourth statement, or the fourth word, which is discussions and he talks about, you know, how he sits down with people, and he intentionally picks a brain and he's got a methodology for it. What are, in a season like this, Mark, what are the value of good discussions to a leader like you? And, how do you facilitate or how do you go about having those?

Mark Cole:           It's the same thing. So, let me use a real relevant example. There is a chance that there are many people that have been listening to this podcast, Jason, when it first started, that’s no longer listening. And yet, if you're hearing my response to Jason's question right now, you're still hearing a podcast that is now going about an hour and 10/15 minutes long. Now, we haven't done an hour and 10 to 15-minute podcast in the past, Jason. We haven't, we very intentionally not. The last three or four weeks during this time of crisis, we've allowed ourselves to share more, be more vulnerable, as John gives a very relevant message to leadership when it matters the most. That's an example of the discussion. We're not impacting everybody, but some of you are so glad that Jason and I went an extra 10, 15, 20 minutes today, because the discussion is helping you grow in a time when you need it the most. That's exactly why I think John's point here is very valid. We need to be having more conversations now than we've ever had in the past. Just last night, I had a two hour Zoom call with one of our Solutions Group leaders, Chris Robinson. And I'm having this conversation with Chris and his wife, my wife, they're all fixing dinner in the other rooms, you know, and boy, we get locked in on what we're talking about and three hours into a two hour Zoom call, both of us getting texts like crazy from our significant others saying, “Hey, dinner’s way past waiting!” We realized that he and I, he texted me this this morning, he and I had just had the best conversation we ever had as leaders, ever! He sent it to me this morning, he said, “Man, I got to tell you, we went to the next level last night in our conversation.” Why? Because the current reality is causing us to slow down and not only make sure that we're heard clearly, but that we hear clearly. And that's what a discussion is all about. Again, the same thing that I would tell you today, we're intentionally being more lengthy in our conversation because in times when it matters the most, conversation discussion is extremely important.

Jason Brooks:       All right, well, the last thing that John talked about, and I know he's going to probably come back and touch on this in part two a little bit, but he's talking about the power of questions and reflections. And he gives us a series of reflection questions, and I'll just read them out real quick for the listeners, but he talks about, what do I feel? What do I know? What do I think? And, what do I do? And John goes into giving, you know, some examples about how he's answered these questions in the Coronavirus. But I want to ask you a question, of the ones of these four that John gives us, what do I feel? What do I know? What do I think? What do I do? Which one of those is, in your practice, the biggest challenge for you versus which one is maybe the one that gives you the greatest clarity? And, that may be a really odd way of approaching this, but I tend to be a feeling minimizer because you know, how I feel may change in 20 minutes. So, I tend to put a greater emphasis on, what do I know? What do I logically understand? What facts do I have? What evidence do I see? But the piece that gives me the most clarity is, what do I think? So, you know, it's one thing to say, “Oh, I've got the data. I've got the facts. I know this.” But it's another thing to sit down and say, “All right, well, based on that, what am I thinking? What's coming out of this?” So, which is, you know, and maybe it's not the right question to ask you, but of the questions in this process, are there any that are more challenging for you to answer or is there one that you feel like, is the turning point for you to really be able to go, “Okay, ah-hah! I understand now!”

Mark Cole:           Yeah. So, what's funny is the easiest one for me is, what do I feel? Because I'm an emotional guy. I'm a relational guy. And in fact, one of my top five values is passion. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing with everything you've got! So, I'm passionate, passion, passion. That's the easiest, but your question is very intriguing how you word it. What is the one I have to work at the most, is what do I think? Having think time with the load that I carry, the responsibilities that I have is a very, very difficult, yet disciplined responsibility that I have, because I'm better, the organization is better, when I'm thinking about the future, when I'm thinking about how we respond, react, we pivot. And so, thinking is the most important, it's the one that I do have to discipline myself the most, because the one where I get the greatest clarity is not thinking, believe it or not. The one I get the greatest clarity is, what do I do? While I'm in motion, I get great clarity. John's a lot like that. Motion creates clarity. I've heard John say a dozen times, “Let's get started. We'll figure it out. Clarity will come after we get started.” And I believe that. Sometimes, and again, I'm doing, as CEO, I've realized that the person that needs to be proactively thinking more than anybody else in an organization is the CEO, the leader. And I agree with that, where I get a lot of clarity is when we start motion. It's the same thing personally in my life, I get a lot of clarity, not when I'm in bed thinking about what I got to do that day, or thinking about what my schedule says, I get a lot of clarity when I take the dozen steps to the shower, get in, get rolling, and then my mind starts swirling about all that I have to get done and how to get it done that particular day. John's going to probably dig into this a little bit more next time, and maybe we will, as well an application but I love this question and reflection I was just reading today, Jason, I was doing a teaching call earlier today, and I start out that particular teaching call with Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, the book that John wrote, and I think asking questions is one thing, but having the discipline of reflecting on the answers you got from those questions is a totally different thing. And we don't need to see them both, we don't need to see them as one, we need to realize there's two components there.

Jason Brooks:       And, I love it, because John talks about now, especially, after reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, you know, that reflection is that 1% difference, right? That one extra, little bit more, that just takes what you were doing over the top. Man, great discussion, and I know it was a little bit long, but thanks for hanging in there today. You have just added value to everyone that has listened. We did have one listener question that I'd like to pitch to you though, and I thought it was an interesting one. This comes from Lauren through the website. And she said that she's been loving podcasts, listening to them recently. But she was wondering if you could talk about how to give feedback appropriately and have tough conversations with someone. Perhaps, someone who's underperforming or engaging in inappropriate behavior. So, her question basically is, “How do you create that constructive feedback and balance it with the necessary tough conversations? And then, how do you have those conversations and still get the rest of your work done?” So, this is just a question from Lauren, and I thought it was an interesting one to post today.

Mark Cole:           Well, thanks Lauren! Thanks for that question. I'm very intrigued by your question. I'm even intrigued by your mention of the sandwich method, which is positivity to meat, which is negative and then positive again, the bread, the fluff. And, I'm not a fan of that, now, I am a fan of positive of candor, and then of reinforcement of the things that you appreciate about the individual. Call that the sounds methodology or not, I don't know but I like that. Now, I don't like fluff, but I like something substantive that you like the person who’s doing, I like giving the candid feedback, and then I like going back and reinforcing while that person is on your team and why you are optimistic about the future being bright. Okay, so take that into account, Lauren. But here's, to answer your question, I think that you give feedback appropriately when you mix care and candor. When you authentically care about the betterment, the improvement of the individual authentically, not the correction of the individual, not the showing them up and telling them all they're doing wrong. No, no, no. When you really care about someone, you want their best, you have their best interest in mind. When you truly have that care persona, at the core of who you are, you care for the individual. Now, you're ready for the second piece, which is candor. I give people candid feedback because I care for them, not because I'm mad at them, not because I want to change them, not because they're not measuring up to my qualifications. I give candid feedback to people because I care for them. And those two as a one-two punch is extremely important. Now, going to your question of, how do you make sure you have enough time? I think you're too busy if you don't have enough time to have caring, candid conversations, period. If you don't slow down, it will become a problem in your organization that will eat your organization from the inside out when you do not use caring candor with your people. So, the question is not, how do you find time? The question is, how can you not find time to deal with those kinds of situations? And again, use caring candor, Lauren, thank you! Jason, Thank you! What a great day, buddy. Thanks for spending this time with me!

Jason Brooks:       Absolutely, man! Hey Lauren, I'll add to it one of the things that is in Marcus Buckingham’s great book, Nine Lies About Work, there's an entire chapter on the myth of feedback and the value of it, and one of the things that Marcus says is that feedback is helpful only when it's continuous. You know, one of the great things that Mark does is with his leadership team, he has these conversations with them over and over again, and he's giving them that care and that candor, he's giving them that feedback, he's letting them know what he sees in his hearing and observing. And the frequency of it is what also helps it become more beneficial, because if you're only giving feedback maybe once or twice a year, there's no way that you actually can really give somebody something constructive. It’s when you are walking alongside them, and those conversations can be anything from two to five minutes. It doesn't have to be an hour every time. But when you're having those constant conversations of caring candor, that's when people are more receptive and open to the feedback into applying it. So, thank you for the question! Mark, man, thank you for the time today. Thank you all for listening. It's been a long one, but it has been great content. We're going to be back next week with part two from John. If you have not already, make sure that you go to, click the “Bonus Resource” button and you can download the fill in the blank worksheet for this week. Mark, it's been a blast to talk with you. Thank you for your time!

Mark Cole:           Love it, buddy! Thanks, everyone!

Jason Brooks:       Absolutely! Y'all have a great week and let's lead!

1 thought on “Maximizing the Moment (Part 1)”

  1. I miss Richard Chancy’s voice but I have to say, Jason is killing it! He asks Mark some tough questions, he could literally host his own talk show.

    Great Job Mark and Jason!! I promote this Podcast to my entire network of Franchisees. It has helped me tremendously to be become a better leader which in turn has helped my business grow exponentially. Can’t thank you enough!

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