Maximizing the Moment (Part 2)

In part two of Maximizing the Moment, John shares the words to embrace if you want to prepare now for the future. He also shares the five phases of the “Success Cycle” and reminds us that failure is a part of success because it allows us to learn and improve.

Mark Cole is joined by Jason Brooks for the discussion portion of the episode to talk about the benefits of uncertainty and why uncertain times are great to test and try new things.

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:           Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast! Mark Cole here, and today Jason Brooks and I, after John Maxwell's teaching, we're going to give you some application on Maximizing the Moment, part two. I know you're going to enjoy John! Jason, and I's prayer is that you will enjoy our application of what John teaches today. Now, here's what I'll encourage you to do, you need to go to the link and grab the worksheet, sit down, and begin to allow this part two lesson of Maximizing the Moment shape your thinking for the future. Now, here is John C. Maxwell!

John Maxwell:      Hi, John Maxwell here, and I'm so glad to be with you again on this series of Leadership When It Matters Most. And, you know what we're trying to do with the John Maxwell Enterprises is just very simple, during this crisis, we're just trying to come to you with some very good leadership wisdom and thinking and knowledge that you can apply to your life that will allow you to succeed during this very difficult, for some people, very, very dark time in life. And so that's what we're doing, that's who we are. We are an adding value enterprise, we just basically look around and say, “Okay, especially in the area of leadership, what can we put in the hands of leaders that will make them more successful? How can we resource them? How can we add value to them? What can we do that will truly make a difference within their life?” Now, if you’ll remember, this is a two-part lesson, and last Monday was when I was with you, I talked about how to maximize the moment, and by maximizing the moment well, what we do is we really, incredibly prepare for the future. And this came off of a conversation I had with my good friend, Chris Hodges, when he was saying, “John talk to me about what you think the future kind of looks like.” Of course, during this crisis, we're all asking how long it's going to last? You know, how severe is it going to end up to be? When's it going to be over? We have a lot of uncertainties, and when he was talking about how do we really kind of get out in the future and make sure it's a success. What it reminded me of in that conversation I had with Chris was that if I really want to make sure that tomorrow is a success, what I really do is not focus on tomorrow, but I focus on today. That's why I wrote the book, Today Matters. I focus on today because really, here's how this works. In fact, Mark Cole after this lesson, shared this with me and I love it so much, I picked up and put it my notes. He said basically, “John, what you say to all of us is what I need to be, should come before what I see. You know, and so, what I need to be, should always precede what I'm going to see.” And so, maximizing the moment, preparing for the future is all about what do I do right now in my life that's just going to set me up, position me, so when the future is here, I'm ahead. I'm doing well. It's my mentor, John Wooden, who said, “When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare.” What was he saying? Prepare now. And this lesson is about preparing now, and now I'm about to give you five words. I think it is five more words in this lesson, but I'm going to give you some more words that will help maximize your potential.

Now, okay, are you ready? The first word is curiosity. Okay, and when I think of a person that's curious, we've all heard the expression, “Get out of the box.” Now, let me tell you the good news, the crisis gets you out of the box. We're all out of the box right now. In fact, the crisis blows up the box. You don't even have to walk out, it's just all of a sudden, the box that you were in, it's gone. That baby is blown to smithereens. You kind of look around and you've been blindsided, and you say, “Wow, what in the heck happened?” Well, the crisis took the box from us. Let me give you a quote that I love by Sir Francis Bacon, he said, “If a person will begin with certainties, he will end up with doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he will end up in certainties.” And what’s happened is once we get out of the box, we get out of familiar territory, and we get into the uncertainty territory of our life. I understand that. In fact, the older I get, the more uncertainties, to be honest with you, that I have and it's okay. It's okay. When I was young, I was really good. When I was young, I just had answers, “Anybody have a question? I’ll give you the answer!” I was just a good ol’ choleric and I had answers for everything for everybody and in every place, and I was just kind of like Mr. Answer Man. but as I went through life, life is difficult. And, all the things that I thought were black and white, a lot of it, they're just, to be honest with you, they're gray. And I found that the older I've got the less certainties I've had, and that's okay. It’s okay, because a lot of that chaff needed to be blown away for me to have the firm foundation I have today. Here's what I do know, today I have fewer certainties than I've ever had before. But the ones I have, I'm more certain about them than I ever have been before. They've been tried, they've been through the fire, they've been tested, they've been proven, and I'm just sharing with you today that…wow! The uncertainties that we have around us, I'm pretty good with uncertainties you see, I've learned that that's not a problem that uncertainties always drive me to the things that I'm certain about, my values and my faith, and that just becomes an anchor. You see, at an early age when I was younger, I wanted to know everything. And so, I was always asking, “How long will it take before I get all of my knowledge?” And today, I just know I don't need to know everything, I just need to grow in everything. There's a lot of difference between knowing everything and growing in it. And now it's kind of like, “How far can I go?” See, people's desires, they're saying during the crisis time, “My gosh, can we return back to normal? When are we going to have normal?” And basically, what they're asking is, “Can I go back to the box? I want to get back in the box!” You don't want to get back in the box. You see, that box is filled with all kinds of limitations. That that box is filled with all kinds of assumptions that aren't helping you, and inside the box, I know it's easy because it's automatic, but you're not growing in the box. And so, the best thing that's happened in the crisis is the blocks have been blown up; and now you're on the detour, and I just want to challenge you, if you're on the detour, embrace the detour tour. Embrace it! Learn from it, grow from it. You're going to meet people you would have never met if you wouldn’t have been on the detour. You're going to see things you would have never seen, you're going to have opportunities that you would never have been presented to you if you wouldn't have been on the detour tour. So, stay on it! Stay curious! That curiosity will just allow you to expand and grow and develop yourself. It's a huge word!

Now, I'm going to talk to you in a moment about some other words. I'm going to teach you what we call in the John Maxwell Team Company, “The Circle of Success”. It's a cycle of success. It has five words in it, so these are words that we're adding to the words that you need to know today to maximize your potential right now so you can prepare yourself for the future. So, let's go through these words. The first word in our “Circle of Success” in our John Maxwell Team, which is our coaching company that we hope that you'll become a part of, the first word is test. And whenever we test—we test all the time, by the way, and whenever we're testing, what we're really saying is, we know there's a better way. When we're testing, we're saying we know that there is always an answer. And, maybe we don't have the answer yet, and maybe we have a way but it's not the best way. Testing means there's just a better way, and by the way, I was talking to someone the other day, a leader, about the Coronavirus and our crisis that we're in, and I said to him, “This is the greatest day of testing I've ever seen in my life.” Because people are so fearful, they're so panicked, they're so uncertain that you can test anything right now, and you can get by it because we're hearing all kinds of predictions. Some of them are true, some of them are not true, some of them are really way out there. I mean, start throwing mud on the wall! You know, during safe and secure times when you want to do something a little different, people say, “Wait, wait, what are you doing? We've already figured out how to be successful!” Which you haven’t but you think you have. But during times when you're in the deepest valley, and it's the darkest, people will let you test. In fact, they're willing to do that. They're just throwing mud on the wall saying, “What's going to stick? What will work?” So, there's never been a better testing time than right now. In fact, as I'm doing this teaching to you, you know, literally last month, just through social media, we reached 1.6 million people in my teaching. Last year in personal appearances, I reached 1.2 million. In other words, in one month—hey, by testing, by doing something totally different than what I've done before, I reached in one month more than I reached an entire year last year! That's the beauty about throwing it out there, testing it. I had a mentor for several years, a wonderful man, his name was Bill and he would come to me and he would, many times in our conversations look at me say, “John, when's the last time we did something for the first time?” He was trying to keep me creative. He was trying to keep me testing and getting out of the box and staying curious. When’s the last time you did something the first time? Now, when he was asking me that question, he was talking about, what are you adding to your life that you don't have in your life that's going to make you better? That's what that question is all about. Well, I have a question for you today, when's the last time you did something for the last time? Yeah! Yeah! When's the last time you did something for the last time? In other words, you said, “That didn't work any better. That didn’t work anymore. That doesn't satisfy me.” Now, that's all about subtraction. Bill's question was an addition, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” In other words, what are you creating and building? But I'm asking, when's the last time you did something for the last time? What are you losing? What are you letting go? So, what are you getting rid of so that you can be better tomorrow? What's held you back?

When I turned 17 and knew that I was going to be a speaker all of my life, my father who, by the way, is still alive today, he’s 98! My dad, who is also a speaker and very, very successful said to me, “John, if you're going to be a good speaker,” he said, “you got to put well in the water so that whenever you go to the water, you have water, you go to the well you have water to pull out. In other words,” he said, “you got to resource yourself.” And he told me, he said, “File every day, read every day.” And so, at 17 I started reading and filing every day, and literally have done it all of my life. Just a few years ago, about five now, I was looking at those filing cabinets with thousands, thousands of articles that had been written, and tens of thousands of quotes. I mean, if you do it every day, and you do it for, you know, 50 years, hello! After a while, you just become pretty amazing. And, I would go to those files when I was going to write a book or teach on a subject, and I’d pull out material and I’d get it, and I would use it, and one day, I began to realize I was relying way too much on those files. That I wasn't as creative, and I wasn't testing what I should be testing you because I had a safety net. I’d go over there and, “Well here, I got this.” And, and I was starting to read old thoughts and old thoughts are old thoughts. They're not relevant, they're not new, they're not fresh, they don't breathe. There's no fire and passion in them, and I made a decision, a very difficult decision, all of my work for all those years of filing, I made the decision to get rid of all of it. And I didn't tell anybody, I didn't even tell my wife, Margaret because I was afraid I would back out, and to be honest with you, this was a huge step for me. I can still remember, we were living in a condo, I still remember the day when Margaret was gone and I looked over at those files and I called up one of the service people, at the place where we had stayed, and I showed him those cabinets I said—I gave him $200, I said, “Do me a favor, get rid of those. I'm going to be gone for two hours. I don't care what you do with them. You could dump them, do whatever you want, but I don't want them here when I'm back.” And so, I took my time and left for a couple hours, came back and he had done exactly what I had asked, the cabinets were all gone. And then all of a sudden, I looked, and I saw all of my work that I had expended and I literally, where those cabinets were standing, I sat down right there and I wept like a baby for 15 minutes. Because I realized I had just let go of so much of what I had held onto. Now, I'm just going to say to you, one of the good things about a crisis is it begins to help us to let go of the things that we have depended on the past, so that we can go to an entire new level of living. I'm more creative today than I would have been if I'd had those files. I test more than I would have been, because what? That was a crutch to me, I was holding onto what I knew instead of letting go so I could grab hold of what I could become. So, that's a huge word right now, just be testing. It's going to make you the person you need to be during this time.

Okay, we're back to the “Cycle of Success”. Test is at the top, and then fail. You know, testing says that there's a better way and failing says, “I haven't found that way.” You know, you test, and you go, “Oops! Yeah, I thought that might work. It didn't work.” But let me tell you something, failing tells you that, you know, I haven't found that way but it also tells you, but I'm getting closer to finding that way because I've just tried something that I found that doesn’t work. It's the Thomas Edison thing, it’s old, it's worn, but it really is greatly true and what he said about the incandescent light bulb and he had about over 9,000 tests and failures, and he said, “I’m just 9,000 steps closer to discovering and getting what I want to have.” What he knew is if you test a lot, you're going to fail a lot. That's just the way of doing it. Wow! I wrote a book called, Failing Forward several years ago, and I just loved the title of the book because it was giving the picture of failure, yes, but when we failed, we failed forward. In other words, wow! We made an advance, “Okay, we have to get back up.” But you know, if you're five and a half feet, every time you fall, you get back up, you could have gained five and a half feet. And Failing Forward is a beautiful picture of the fact that I'm testing, I’m failing, but I'm getting better even in the process of that; and one of the things I teach is the fact that you're never good the first time. I'm always amazed when people come to me and they say, “Well, you know, I'm really working hard. I'm really practicing here, I've never done this before. You know, I'm writing my first book. Oh, my gosh! I really want it to be a great book!” And I look at them and I want that for them too, but that's not reality. I guess, in a fatherly way, I try to pull them aside and just help them understand that this is true of me, this is true of you. It's true of all of us. We're never good the first time, but we just started. We want to be good. We practice to be good, but we haven't done it enough to be good yet. If you're trying to develop a skill the first time isn't a good time, it's a difficult time because you've never done that before, and it's okay! And that's part of this process of testing and failing that, you know, we're never good. I just finished last week, what will become my eighty, I think, fourth book, and is entitled, Change Your World. It's not going to be out for about a year, but I worked so hard on that book. And I rewrote it, hang on, me and my writing team rewrote the book six times. Yeah, we did. That was the first time and it was okay. So, we said, “Okay, now what? Let's start upgrading.” So, the second time, the third time, the fourth time, the fifth time. Now, I'm not a novice writer. I've been an author for, you know, since 1979. You know, I've got writing down pretty good. I really do. Six times, six times. I don't want us to miss this, that the more we test, the more we fail. But what I really don't want us to miss is the fact that that's part of this process and the testing and failing have got to be a linked just like success has to be linked to them, and I'll come back to that in a moment, because right now, wow! I love sports and we're all going crazy with the quarantine and no sports, basically, and I'll be honest with you, I don't love sports enough to watch the 1987 Collegiate National Championship Basketball Game. Honestly, once it's over, it's kind of over for me. So, I'm not watching much sports, and so what are we all doing on ESPN? We're watching “The Last Dance” with Michael Jordan. Yeah, we are because at least it's fresh material and what an incredible athlete he was. But here's what I love about Michael Jordan, and you saw the advertisement I'm sure sometime in your life, probably the greatest basketball player ever. And what does he say? In one of his one of his commercials he said, “You know, I've missed over 9,000 shots. I've lost 300 games and the 26 times I've missed the game winning shot.” In fact, Michael Jordan probably has missed more game winning shots than any person that ever lived, and yet, he's probably the greatest basketball player that ever lived. And what do I want to teach you out of this? It's very simple, you cannot, you cannot, you will not, you should not, you never should separate failure from success. They're inseparable. There is no one that has ever been successful without having a lot of failure in that journey. It's just part of the path you take; and somehow, we've tried to isolate it and put success over here and failure over here and say, you know, these two things, they should never meet again. Wow! Don't separate it. They belong together. In fact, it's out of our failures, that we have a humility that allows us to have a great center that allows us to take that success and be more balanced in it. It's just you've got to go through failure to get to success. You just have to. You don't bypass failure and say, “I don't want failure and disappointment. I just like to get to the—” No, no, no, no! You got to go through it. You got to go through failure to get to success. So, we're learning some words that are maximizing us right now, test, fail.

Here's the next word, learn. And by the way, the value of failure is that you're learning something from it. So, when anybody talks about failure in their life, the question I always ask them in that failure is, “Talk to me, talk to me. What have you learned?” Because that's absolutely huge! What have you and I learned? In fact, what are you and I learning through the Coronavirus right now? Through this crisis? What are we learning? You know, in the in the Peanuts Cartoon, Charlie Brown, he's at the beach and he spent the whole day, and he's carefully built a pretty amazing castle in the sand, and he's standing back, and he's looking at it, he's just admiring it, and all of a sudden, the big waves come in and a storm comes in and just goes over the castle, ingulfs the whole castle, and all of his artwork, all of his time, all of his effort, it's all just with one wave, washed away. And, he's standing now before where this castle was, is just a smooth place of sand and where his artwork stood, it's all gone. Everything's gone, and he said to himself, “There must be a lesson here, but I don't know what it is.” Well, that's Charlie Brown. He always knew there was a lesson, he just wasn't sure what it was. Well, in this time of crisis, there is a lesson, but you want to advance a little bit beyond Charlie. You want to stay with it long enough to ask yourself, “What am I learning from it?” Wow. I've learned a lot from it. I've learned a lot about myself. I'm learning that I need more time for creativity than I've given it. I'm at a max creative time in my life right now, but I know why, it's because I have time to be creative. I need to have some margins in my life for my health. This has been good for me. I'm learning, I’m having to make changes. I know you are, too. I know you are.

But let me give you another word that will help maximize us during this crisis, and that is the word improve. Yeah, and by the way, just like the value of failure is that we learn from it, the value of learning is that we improve out of it. If learning by itself is, there's not much value in learning. I mean, if you want to know something, just get on your iPhone and ask Siri. She'll tell you it. Learning is, you learn something so that you can improve. Wow! Here's what I believe, everyone can improve. You can improve, I can improve. Everything can be improved. I believe that! Everything, everything, no matter what you're doing, everything can be improved. And I believe that every day has improvement possibilities, every day! Today is another day where you and I can improve. One of my favorite stories on improvement comes from my friends at Chick-Fil-A, great people, great people. I've had some wonderful, wonderful training, teaching moments with them, and there was a time, this goes back, oh, maybe…maybe 18-20 years ago, when the Boston Market was starting and maybe cut in a little bit to Chick-fil-A's profits and market share, and so the board was talking about the fact that, “We need to get bigger, we need to get bigger.” And Truett Cathy, the Founder who has now passed away, what an incredible man he was! Truett Cathy looked at the board and they said, “We got to get bigger. We got to get bigger.” And he looked at them and said, “Don’t worry about getting bigger, just worry about getting better. And trust me,” he said, “if we get better, the customers will make sure we get bigger. They'll demand that we get bigger.” And I thought to myself, he understood the value of improvement!

A book that I read, really in my high school years that had marked me greatly was a book by James Allen. And James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, was the title of the book. He wrote this statement that just has been sealed in my heart for so many years. He said, “People are anxious to improve their sad circumstances, but they're not anxious to improve themselves.” Now get the picture. They're anxious to improve their circumstance. “Oh, let's get rid of the crisis!” “Let's get over the crisis!” “When’s the crisis going to end?” That's all circumstances, folks. They're anxious to get the crisis gone, fix the crisis, remove the crisis, whatever. “Get the crisis out of my life!” They're anxious to improve their circumstances. What they're not anxious to do is improve themselves, and so, what does he say? “Because they don't improve themselves, they remain bound.” I don't want us to remain bound out of this crisis. I want us to be freed out of that crisis entirely differently than that. So, during this crisis, I gave you a challenge and that is, folks, on improving yourself more than improving your circumstances. Again, that's why I'm giving you these one words that will maximize you today to prepare you for tomorrow. So, am I improving? Am I improving? We've talked, am I improving in my humility? Adaptability? Open handedness? My discussions with my peers? Am I improving in my questions? My reflections? My curiosity? My testing? My failing? My learning? Am I improving in these areas?

Ah, just give me a couple more minutes because there's another word I want to introduce to you right now; and that is the word re-enter. It’s a great word! Now, notice the Cycle of Success: test, fail, learn, improve, re-enter. Now, when do you re-enter? When do you get back in the game? After you've test, failed, learned and improved. You know, in America, we just love a tenacious person and we love a person that's just always in the fight and they just stay in the game. You know, it's kind of like they rise up and they hit an obstacle, they go back down, and they just keep getting back up, and we just look at them and say, “What a tenacious person! Boy, they're never down! They’re either up or they’re getting up.” And, let me tell you, this is not a picture of a tenacious person; this is a picture of a stupid person! Let me make a suggestion, while you're down, stay down…until you have figured out why you keep getting knocked down. You see, the only time to re-enter the game is when you've learned from your failures and improved on what you've learned. Once I get better, I can get back into the game.

One more word, and I close and that's prayer…and you may not be a person of faith, and you know me now, you know me, I tell you this all the time, does it ever matter to me? I love you unconditionally, regardless of background, religion, doesn't matter. Those things are not important to me. The only thing that's important to me is you! I value you! But the Serenity Prayer is such a terrific prayer for crisis. As you know, it's used in so many incredible forums where people are trying to improve their life, Alcoholics Anonymous, etc. I mean, it's just a great prayer and I just close with it and I'll read it to you, and you can just kind of listen along and it's just very simply says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” That's what I pray for you right now. It's what I pray for myself. “Help us to understand the things we cannot change and have the courage to do the things that we can to change the things that we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I'm glad you're with me today! My name's John, and I'm your friend.

Mark Cole:           Hey! Well, welcome back! I love what John has done in this part to Maximizing the Moment. Now before, Jason, you and I dig into the two words that he's given us to live by the Cycle of Success, I just got to tell you that what you're doing to maximize the moment that you're in right now, is living out John Maxwell's message. And, I think, Jason, to be honest with you, not to make this just personal about you or me, our leadership team, our company, is really maximizing the moment. So, I love that John has now taken us through a two-part series to get us to that point. Hey, I love you being on the program with us! I love that we get to do this together, and I'm looking forward to going into this lesson with you today!

Jason Brooks:       Man, I listened to this again yesterday, and you know, normally I come in and we kind of listen to it together and then we just let the questions free flow. But I was listening to this and the more I listened to it, I started writing down all the questions that I want to ask and really what I want to key in on is that Cycle of Success. Now, we'll get into it by talking about John says that, you know, curiosity is that sixth word that helps us maximize the moment; and I am a little curious, he talks about certainties that, you know, the older he gets, the fewer certainties that he has, but the more certain he is of those things. And I'm kind of curious, how about you? You've been in leadership for a while now. We've been in this Corona season for a while now. What are some of the certainties that maybe have faded away or that have become more certain for you during this season?

Mark Cole:           I love this question, Jason, and I didn't know you were going to ask that but we're late recording today, our Zoom experience is a little late because I was on a call. I was on a 60-minute call that lasted 92 minutes. That should tell everybody exactly our problem today. I'm going to be off point all day long because I've got a pretty crazy schedule ahead of me. But I was on the phone with Christian Simpson. Now, those of you that don't know Christian, Christian is a mentor. He's a faculty member, a teaching faculty for our John Maxwell Team Certification program. Now, if you want more information about that you can go to,, and you'll get more information about our coaching program. In fact, you'll get to see a program that Christian Simpson and one of our other teaching faculty, Chris Robinson, did recently. But I was talking with him about this very thing, because he said—we hadn't talked in a while, and he said, “Mark, how are you doing?” And then he followed up with that question we're all asking right now because we're staring at screens with each other. “How are you really doing?” And I said, “Christian, I am more certain of two things in my life than I've ever been. Pretty much everything else is shot.” But here's the two things, Jason, one is my calling. I am more certain right now of my purpose in life and what I was supposed to do, why I was placed to serve. You've heard John Maxwell quote many other people, I don't even know who to quote the original person, but, “There's two great days in a person's life, the day they were born, the day they discover why they were born.” I think that second discovery that day they discover why, I think there in resides our purpose, our calling, our sense of belonging and contribution to this globe that we all live on. And I'll tell you in this Coronavirus, I have become even more certain of my purpose and my calling. In other words, this difficulty, this challenge is leading differently. This destroying the “box” that John talked about in the lesson today. I become more certain that the box does not define the calling. The calling should destroy the box to use John Maxwell's message today. The second thing that has become even more certain with me is my responsibility and my certainty that I am a leader. That I was born to lead. I wasn't born a leader, but I was born to lead. I guarantee you! I tell the story often, perhaps, I've told it a few times on the podcast. I knew at five years old, Jason, that I was designed to lead. I knew it. I knew at five years old. Now, you ask how did I know? I wouldn't have called it leader then. I just knew as the baby of five children, I love to tell the seven people in my direct family what to do. I loved it! At five years old, I loved telling everybody what to do. You know what I loved even more? When they did it. Because there was no reason they should listen to me. There was no way reason I should determine what we eat or not eat or go or where we don't go, because I was the baby, I was the runt. I was the redheaded stepchild as my brother like used to call me. And yet, when they did it, I knew the sense of meaning that it gave my life. A sense of purpose, the sense of identity, the sense that I had something to do. In other words, influence people. And so, in this Coronavirus, to your question, and to John's point, I’ve become more certain of those two things and become less certain about everything else.

Jason Brooks:       You know, I love that! I wasn't sure how you were going to answer it, but I was really curious to hear, and your answer enlightens me, but it doesn't surprise me. My follow up question that I had was, what advice would you give to help leaders out there right now who are struggling to know what they should be certain about? You settled on things that were deeply personal about yourself, your calling, your purpose, who you've been made to be. Other leaders might be grasping to be certain about what the markets going to do. Or, what the, you know, the next step should be. So, what advice would you give for leaders who are wrestling with this uncertainty? Where should they go looking for that certainty?

Mark Cole:           Well, Jason, I'll tell them what you and I, our leadership team, we have a team of 11 leaders that run our enterprise, and you and I are on that team together. And I'll tell you what we, as an organization, as a group of leaders have solidified. One is that we believe, despite what current financial realities and client engagement looks like, our future is more brilliant than anything we've done in the past. We're settled on that. We're not settled on when that's going to start showing up. We're not settled on how exactly we're going to get there, but we're settled on the fact that as a band of leaders, we are going after, with confidence, with zest, with certainty, a brilliant future. So, our future is brilliant. That's the first thing that I would challenge. Hey, do you believe you have the competence, the confidence, and the ability to sustain this difficult time, and to have a more brilliant future than anything in the past? I know some people that their excitement is around sustaining. As John says, “Staying the box.” Others are just hoping that they can pick up the pieces and become something meaningful again; while others are just holding on white knuckled, and going, “I hope we can sustain this. I hope we can live and get through it.” That's not our opinion. That's not our mindset. Our mindset is we are headed toward a brilliant future. The second thing that, Jason, you know, we've changed business plans with this next one, we have thrown our 2020 financial forecast out the window, for this next one. We have come up with a 75-day business plan to underpin this next one, and here's what it is, we have become even more certain of our values as an organization. What are our values? Let me give you two examples, and I've said this a little bit on a previous podcast. We have two values that I feel like have been violated lately, and that is the value of growth. Even as an organization, we believe we need to be growing and the value of performance, which means we need to exceed expectations. We need to set expectations and then we need to exceed those. Well, we're not doing either one of those. We're not growing, we are in fast decline, and we're not exceeding expectations, we're not meeting expectations, we're not even attempting some of the expectations that we set out the year with. So, to make sure we could live our values, we let the tools of business plans be thrown into the trash because they're just tools, because despite those tools, we still have a value of growth, we still have a value of exceeding expectations of performance. So, I would just challenge you in this time to make sure you are certain in the future and make sure you are certain in your values.

Jason Brooks:       Man, I can't tell you how much I love that, and I want to dig into the Cycle of Success, but leaders, you know, listen to what Mark just said, because there's so much wisdom, not just in the mindset aspect of it, the values aspect of it, but even his personal certainties. These are the things that we, as leaders, can exert influence and control over. We're not trying to master the uncertainties that we have no real say in like the way the virus spreads or what the government's going to do. You know, this is a great time to be looking at yourself and your business and really thinking about the core of who you are and the things that you can control and I love that because curiosity is going to lead us to get better.

Mark Cole:           Let me say this, and I love this because Jake gave this to me right before we went live. He gave me a quote by Virginia Satir, and she says, Virginia says, “People prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty.” That's exactly what you just said. I mean, gang, we don't know, throw the box away. Don't try to get back in the box. But people can handle the certainty of misery more than the misery of uncertainty, and we just need to really look for certainty.

Jason Brooks:       Yeah, and you know, we went for a walk yesterday as a family and we got outside, fresh air. We've been in a challenging season personally and went for a walk and my daughter just kind of started listing all of the things that had sucked about yesterday, and I was like, “Okay, cool. I got it. That's the list of grievances, we’re good. What was good about today?” And just, you know, owning that mindset peace and resetting it, by the time we got done with the walk, and she had shared with her mom and I all of the things that had been good about her day, she was like, “I feel so much better.” Because those are the things that you really can focus in on and control. Well, I want to roll out of this because John rolled into it, and I really want to spend a lot of time here because I think there's—this is such a good teaching, even the first time that I heard it, I can't remember if I heard it from Paul first or John first. But, John talks about the Cycle of Success and the five words that are underneath that, and if you haven't, go ahead and go to and grab the fill in the blank notes for this lesson because you'll want them for this part. But John talks about the Cycle of Success which is test, fail, learn, improve, re-enter, and he spends a lot of time here during the lesson, and I want to ask you this question, because we've, you know, this has been part of our nomenclature for years, but we're really now in a season where, man, we're rocketing through this cycle in a way that I've never seen us rocket through it before. And I want to ask you, what's an enterprise win either over the last couple of weeks or in the last couple of years that you can point to that is a result of the Cycle of Success?

Mark Cole:           So, it's absolutely John's Monday calls that he's doing right now. You're listening to a podcast of a talk John did last Monday to about 175,000 people on Facebook Live, live stream off his website, or YouTube. That's a pivot, that's a test, fail, learn, improve, re-enter. Where we first tried that idea is when we cancelled a live event that we were doing in Orlando, to where 72 countries were going to send leaders to let us certify them, 3,200 people. We couldn't do that, Coronavirus. We made the decision, and yet we have this tribe, this army of people that want to be impacted. So, while that felt like a failure, it felt like a moment to learn. We tested an idea of an online Leadership Summit called “Leading Through Crisis”,1.1 million people tuned into that pivot, to that test, fail, learn, improve re-enter moment. But we're not done with that because we went, “Well, you know what, I think people right now need to hear more of a sound leadership voice than ever before.” And so, we pivoted, and we now do that every Monday, but not only that, as all of you know, we take a lesson from John Maxwell for this podcast, and we take that lesson and we give current application to that lesson from Jason and I, or one of my co-host. Well, we were trying to do that about four weeks ago, five weeks ago, and we realized that we could not take a lesson that John had done somewhere in the past and be relevant to this crisis and the need for a relevant, current voice in this crisis. So, we pivoted again. In fact, Jason, you were in that room, or it was a Zoom Room, but you were in that environment when we spent, oh, my gosh, three hours and forty-five minutes recording three podcasts, only to get there at 11:45 or 10:45. Whatever time it was, after three and a half hours of teaching, and I looked at you and Jake through the screen, and I went, “Guys, everything we've been doing the last three and a half hours is junk. We cannot use it.” We had tested, we were failing. We learned from these Monday calls that relevancy is what everybody wants, current voice, what everybody wants. We improved, and now here we are re-entering, Jason. And we're in that environment right now, with we're taking Monday's live stream, we're playing it on the podcast, and you and I are giving application of how we are applying that to our companies in this current crisis time.

Jason Brooks:       You know, I wasn't sure where you were going to go, because there's so many great examples. You had already mentioned the business plan, we threw out the 2020 business plan, and we re-wrote them, and this cycle has been so important. What are some of the myths of success that leaders get trapped in? And how can this cycle help them break free from those things? Like I'll give you a specific example, success and failure are not compatible. They're opposites who are mutually exclusive. That's a myth of success, because failure is a part of the cycle. So, what are some of the other myths of success or maybe that's just the main one that leaders get trapped in and how does the cycle help them break free from those?

Mark Cole:           Well, I think people think that when you're testing something without perfecting it, that you are unprepared. And I would disagree with that, I think there's this pressure us leaders put on ourselves that the plan needs to be right. I'm reading a book right now, I thought it was on my desk, Jason, I was going to show it to you. But I'm reading a book right now, The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker. And it's the first Drucker book that I have read. I'm not necessarily proud of that, I've been leading a company—I've been a CEO for 10 years, and why it's my first Drucker book, I have no idea, but it is and I've got a mentor that is helping me right now, Rob Hoskins, that believes, I mean, his life, his leadership has been shaped by Peter Drucker. This book is profound to me, but as prepared and as structured as Peter Drucker is in his teaching helps us become. He's a big proponent of testing along the way, trying things that have not been baked in the boardroom, but are perfected in the field. And too many of us as leaders, especially me who thrive on the Law of Navigation that John teaches in leadership, we want to chart the course before we start the course; and in times like this, we need to start the course so we can chart the course. And I think that's another big thing that we're discovering right here as a myth, if you will. I think the other thing that is a myth is you learn better in a classroom, than you learn in experience, and so many people want to go to college, they want to get a mentor, they want to get a coach and say, “Teach me everything I need to know so that when I go out I will know everything.” You can't know everything until you get out and experience things. It is the experiential learning that I believe gives the wealth of wisdom that takes people to the success that they need. And, that would be a couple other myths that I see in this whole teaching of the Cycle of Success.

Jason Brooks:       I love that. I'm going to pivot to this question because I think it's a better question to ask for our audience. What advice do you have for leaders that could help them embrace failure and embrace this Cycle of Success, and to just sort of, like you were saying, not be afraid to experiment and not be afraid to try new things, not be afraid of not having all of the answers? What advice would you have to help leaders embrace that? Because I mean, we're in a time of uncertainty right now where, you know, as leaders, we don't have the same foundation or the grounding or the same footing underneath us. So, if we're averse to ever trying anything without knowing what we're doing, we're going to die in the middle of this season figuratively. So, what advice do you have for leaders who are maybe struggling right now to let something get out the door imperfect? How can they overcome that?

Mark Cole:           So, you know, as you were asking that question, I thought of something I learned a long time ago, those of you that have been longtime listeners of the podcast, you know that John, myself, a lot of people that John has around us, we have a strong propensity to faith. And I'm no different than John, I'm a person of faith that grounds all of my early learning; it sustains all of my current learning. I was taught something a long time ago, it’s a scripture it says, “Don't compare yourself among yourself.” And I can't remember the passage so all of you philosophical spiritual leaders out there, condemn me. I can't remember the passage, but I know it's scripture. “Don't go compare yourself among yourself.” But I also remember my parents teaching me that. You see, when I was 12 years old, Jason, I went from a straight haired, blond headed kid, to a curly headed redheaded kid, and it all happened in puberty when everything else in one's system is frying. I mean, it’s just destroyed, and it impacted me. I mean, kids started saying I'd rather be dead than red on the head, and I was the only redheaded person in my family at that time because my dad was gray headed. They had me late in life and so my brother would say, “Man, Mark, you're adopted because there's nobody else red headed in our family.” And he would use my hair to make his point. It was a tough time for me, and I can remember my parents telling me all the time, “Don't compare.” There was no other redheaded kid in my entire school of four hundred elementary students, I was the only redhead. Now go figure that out. I don't know why, but I promise you I'm right on that because I looked, and I couldn't find another one. It felt very unique to me. And I remember mom and my dad telling me over and over again, “Don't compare yourself, Mark, you're unique. You're special.” So, coming back to this lesson, I think the biggest thing that I am learning and the biggest thing that I would give to business leaders right now is the same thing that scripture taught me early in life, and my parents tried to teach me early in life, and that is, we don't need to be comparing. Now, let me tell you what that means to me as a business leader, and let me tell you what I think it should mean to you as a business leader. If you keep trying to compare yourself to where you thought you were going to be in 2020, you're going to end up frustrated, you're going to develop some mental unhealth, and you're going to create some depression discouragement and other things that are going to hurt you and impede your health. It's also going to make it impossible for your teams around you to feel successful. Stop comparing. I'm not talking about compare what you drive to the next person at the red light, that's an easy thing for us to do. We all have that comparison trap that we're in. But I'm talking about as business leaders, we got to quit comparing ourselves from where we thought we were going to be in 2020, to where in reality we're going to be. We got to quit comparing last year's performance to this year's performance. We got to quit comparing what somebody got from a government stimulus plan and what we didn't get from a government stimulus plan. Quit playing the comparison game and take control of the future of your business, and go envision, as John said, “A new box.” Not waiting for the old box to be put back together again. That is your propensity to the familiar, your propensity to comfortable leadership that is causing you to wait for the world to return to normal. Game changer alert here! It's not returning to normal. Your ability to quit comparing today or tomorrow to normal yesterday and a year ago is going to be a difference maker for you, as we blaze our way into the future.

Jason Brooks:       Dude, there are so many other questions that I want to ask you on that. But that is such a brilliant capstone that I want to go ahead and pivot to the last word that John shared, which was prayer, and he read the Serenity Prayer. And, so I want to ask you, given what you just said, about letting go of the comparisons, and being prepared to just do what today puts in front of you, what is serenity look like for you as a leader? And, what advice would you give other leaders to find their serenity in these times?

Mark Cole:           Boy, it's obviously prayer. I just talked about my faith, foundation. So, it's obviously prayer. It's obviously spiritual counsel. But let me give you some practical things as well as that. I'm spending more think time than I have spent ever in my professional career. I am shutting my door, there's nobody here anyway, but I'm shutting my door, and I am just focusing on, “Where am I? Mark, how are you doing? Mark, why are you struggling with that? Mark, let's get going today.” And it's not self-talk and it's not discouragement, it is an awareness, as John just talked about, it's an awareness that serenity is needed in a world of chaos. You need to find a place to where the storm subsides, and you can get centered so that you can build and dream and think from that place of centeredness, because that's where you need to be planning the future. Not on the height of a wave that is going to come crashing down with the next news that comes from your news outlet. Nope, not from a place of desperation, “I got to hurry up, and I got to do something!” You're not going to come up with good plans there. You need to settle yourself, you need to remove so much of the emotionalism, you need to limit the chaos of distraction, you need to silence the voices, and you need to reach deep into that vision and that purpose that you carry, and begin to envision what the future can look like.

Jason Brooks:       Man, we're going to end it there because, leaders, there can be no better advice for us during this time. The things that would want to grab our attention and wrestle it and steal our influence, steal our confidence, steal our ability to effectively lead, we can counteract that by what Mark just said, spend time thinking, spend time understanding who you are, reaffirm your calling, reassess your values, rethink what your business is capable of in these challenging times, embrace curiosity, and just, man, go with what you know. I love how you began it, Mark, just the certainty of your calling, you were created and made to be where you are at this time leading the people that you're leading, lean into it and trust it. Brother, those are some just absolutely amazing words today. So, thank you for your transparency. Thank you for the advice. Thank you for the time, and I'll let you wrap it up. But it's been a joy to co-host this one with you!

Mark Cole:           Thank you, Jason! And thanks to all of you for listening and thanks for letting us add value to you, because we feel like we've received so much value from others, including many of you that listen this podcast. I would just finish today with a challenge to you, and it goes back to our last point, you need to find a place of serenity. I want to challenge you, can you look over the next few days, and can you find a two hour block so that you can get alone and think about the future? Not be discouraged about the past but envision a life and a business plan and an opportunity and begin to pursue that. I think that's a great action item from today. I think that's being the future rather than trying to see the future. Hey, and until we meet next week, go to, click on the “Bonus Resource” button, get the worksheet. We're going to make a difference! We're going to see a brilliant future. Until next week, let's lead!

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