As a leader yourself, you may know how difficult it can be to lead an unmotivated team, and how fulfilling it can be to lead a passionate team. So, how does a leader like yourself motivate the people you lead to create powerful, positive impact?
Today, John Maxwell will teach you about motivation and the 4 P’s that inspire effort in your team. After John’s lesson, Mark Cole and Traci Morrow––the master of motivation herself––will dive into John’s lesson and offer practical, intentional ways you can apply these principles to your life.
Our BONUS resource for this episode is the “Motivation: How Leaders Inspire Effort 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 Maxwell Leadership Podcast. This is the podcast that adds value to leaders who multiply value to others. My name is Mark Cole, and today I am so thrilled about our episode this week. As a leader yourself, you may know how difficult it can be to lead an unmotivated team and how fulfilling it can be to lead a passionate, engaged team. How does a leader like you or me motivate the people we lead? Today, John Maxwell will teach you about motivation and the four P's that inspire effort in your team.
Then during our application portion, I will be back with my co-host Traci Morrow, the master of motivation herself, to discuss how we inspire effort in our own teams and live out these principles at Maxwell Leadership. As always, we have a free bonus resource for you this week, which is a fill in the blank worksheet that accompanies John's lesson. To download that worksheet, please visit maxwellpodcast.com/motivation and click the bonus resource button. Here we go. Now, here is John Maxwell.
John Maxwell: Let's talk about motivation, the ability to motivate yourself. The best motivation is self-motivation. I mean, we've got to get beyond someone else or something else being the motivator of our life. We've got to get beyond that. See, here's the difference between leaders and followers. Leaders motivate themselves and followers wait for others to motivate them. That's one of the huge differences between leaders and followers. Leaders are self-motivated. Followers are other motivated.
If you wait for someone else to motivate you, you're going to always be waiting. If you wait for the mood to strike you, you'll always be waiting. If you wait for the right person at the right time at the right place for the right reason and purpose to come to you before you seize an opportunity, you'll always be waiting. Recently, I did a conference, a large conference, it was in Atlanta, for about 700 people in a network marketing organization.
There was a guy named Jim who came up to me at the break, and I could tell he was very high up in this company. What's interesting is I said, "Jim," I said, "how long have you really risen?" And I mean, how long have you been up where you are? He said, "Oh," he said, "I just have gotten here." He said, "After five years of being this business," he said, "I only had seven people in our organization." Now that's just... I mean, I didn't know a lot about his business, but it didn't sound too good to me.
You know what I'm saying? I mean, the boy's been out for five years. He's got seven. That's just a little bit over one a year. I mean, so he wasn't really excelling. But then he said, "In the last two years," he said, "I've got a thousand people in this business under me." He began to talk about what they were doing, and I could tell that he was becoming highly successful in the process. I said, "Well, what was the difference, Jim?" And he said, "Well, the difference is," he said, "I had a paradigm shift in my thinking."
And then he said a statement that I put in your notes. He said, "I decided to promote motivated people instead of motivating promoted people." He said, "The day that I realized that there was a certain individual that I needed to go after, the self-motivated individual," he said, "all of a sudden, it changed everything about my business." That's why I love this quote in here. It says, "I believe you don't motivate people. What you do is hire motivated people, then make sure that you don't demotivate them."
And here's another great quote by Patrick. He said, "It is the greatest folly to talk of motivating anybody. The real key is to help others to unlock and direct their deepest motivators." Unmotivated people give required effort where motivated people give inspired effort. There's a lot of difference between the person that says, "What do I have to do? What's required of me," and the person who gives the inspired effort. I want to give you four P's that inspire effort in people.
What I'm saying to you this afternoon is our goal isn't so much to motivate people, it's to unlock what is already the motivators in their life and to free them up. The first P in inspiring effort in others stands for perspective. The first P stands for perspective. In other words, we have to ask ourself this question, how do others see things? A question I'm often asking an audience when I'm giving a talk on leadership is, how many of you here believe that the job of a leader is to motivate others?
Nearly everyone raises their hand. However, as I make it explicit to them, a leader cannot motivate anyone. It is actually rather foolish to think that any of us can put motivation into anyone else. You see, all the motivation is already inside everyone we meet. The real challenge of a leader is to tap and channel that motivation. And to tap and channel motivation, a leader must see and feel through the other person's eyes and emotions. Now, this is so key.
I hope I can do a good job explaining this. In the States, we have kind of the traditional adage about leading a horse to water. Your goal isn't to lead a horse to water. Your goal is to make the horse thirsty. If the horse gets thirsty, the horse will find water on zoom. See, what we always try to do is we look at something tangible in motivating people and miss what really is needed to help them. The task of a leader is to discover in people what makes them thirsty.
Now, I just stop here for a moment, and I would just challenge you to ask yourself the question, do you know what makes the people that are in your business thirsty? Do you know what it is? Because I want to tell you something. I can promise you this, this is a perspective issue. I can promise you it's different. In fact, people that are not successful in drawing out the motivational desires of others are not successful because they operate from a base of what motivates them, not what motivates the other person.
That's why whenever I run into a leader that doesn't ask good questions, I know that that person is not a good leader. Good leaders ask great questions. Good leaders have the ability to sit down over a lunch and ask questions of which lead them to discovering what's inside that other individual. That's why many times when I do leadership conferences, I teach leaders that whenever I can sit down with anybody over an hour or lunch or dinner, and I basically can find out what makes them thirsty, because all I had to do is ask them basically three questions.
One question is, what do you cry about? I want to find out what hurts them. If you really can have a transparent moment with a person and say, "Okay, what do you cry about?" I promise you, you're going to... Someone will say, "I'm going to tell you what, my kids aren't doing really good. Hey, the marriage." They'll begin to talk to you about the things that cause them the greatest grief. Then the second question I always ask them is, what do you sing about?
In other words, what do you do that when you do it, you're so happy doing it, you want to do it again? What is it that brings great joy to you? What is it that brings great happiness to you? Because what I found is whatever that is, people keep doing it, sometimes even sadly to their own detriment when it is in the high priority in their life. What do you sing about? What do you cry about? And thirdly, what do you dream about?
If you could ever be what you ever wanted to be, if you could do whatever you wanted to do, what would you be? What would you do? Great question. Now, all I'm saying is leaders understand that it's absolutely key in bringing out the motivational desires of people to have the perspective of the other person. Leaders always think through the other person. They are always asking the question, where are they? How do they feel? What are they thinking? What do they need?
Leaders are other person oriented in their thinking. Followers are never other person oriented in their thinking. They are self-oriented in their thinking. They're saying, "I hope everything goes okay. I hope people like me. I hope I can be successful in my speech." For example, when a leader gets up to speak, the leader is thinking, how can I find out where the people are and move them farther down the field?" A follower, if they got up to speak, they'd say, "Man, I just hope I don't embarrass myself."
Total different type of approach to even thinking. That deals with having the perspective of another person. The second P is perceptive. Now, I'm going to get even a little bit deeper here and ask the question, are they still motivated by the same things? Now, in other words, what we have to understand is that in the process of time, people's motivations change. It is a never ending task to be an effective leader because time changes all things. Therefore, you must discipline yourself to keep up with a change.
What is effective in motivating people at one point in their careers will not be effective in motivating them later. People's value they change, depending on what is happening to their personal lives, as well as their success and their careers. Therefore, one of the most important things that a leader must do is continue to study how to be effective. This takes this one. It is much easier to assume that what worked yesterday will work today, and this simply is not true.
People change. This is not the only reason, but one of reasons people like in your business will drop out is because sometimes their motivation changes. You have to always be aware of how people's motives and motivation changes. As a leader, you have to realize your people are going through those. The third P is persistence. To be highly successful, you have to have persistence. A couple of three great quotes in your notes. It is the last step in a race that counts. It is the last stroke of the nail that counts.
Many a prize has been lost just when it was ready to be plucked. Boy, isn't that true? I mean, that's just so true. In other words, all I'm saying in success is keep on keeping on. How many times we come so close, so close to success, but we just drop out and quit and stop just before we were ready to reap the reward? I think the biggest loser of all is not the person who's done nothing.
I think it's the person who's done something, dropped out before they got the reward of what they could have had if they'd had kept on keeping on. The last P is persuasion. The word persuasion, in the Latin, the word per means through. The word suasio means sweetness. Basically what persuasion is, is through sweetness, you're persuading people, through relationships. That's what it means to persuade. That's what it mean...
Mark Cole: Hey, welcome back. As John Maxwell says, you can't move people to action unless you move them in emotion. I think, Traci, we literally have just heard John with a masterful effort talk to us about the importance of really truly inspiring our team, inspiring ourselves, inspiring others. And as all of you know that listen into our podcast or view our podcast each and every week, we have a standout statement that we kind of use to discipline ourself.
Today on the podcast, here's our standout really statement we want you to take away, and that is the best form of motivation is self-motivation. Traci, I mentioned before we listened to John, I mentioned that you're the queen of motivation. You're just always inspired. You're always inspiring. I'm glad we get to do this together today.
Traci Morrow: I am glad. Thank you for those kind words. I'm glad to talk about this too, because I made a lot of mistakes in this area. Before we get to those mistakes that I made, John kind of left us hanging, didn't he? At the end when he hit on persuasion, we're going to spend a little bit of time on that in just a bit. Because when he talked about persuasion, per being through and suasio being sweetness and that that being through relationship, let's spend a little bit of time on that.
Don't worry, friends, we are going to get to that. But at the very beginning, at the very beginning, he talked about the best motivation is self-motivation. For me, if you take the StrengthsFinder test, as I've grown as a leader, my top five have changed over the years, but number one has always been positivity. All from the time I was a young person, people would say, "Traci, you're so motivating. You're so positive."
As a young person, a budding leader, I don't know who needs to hear this today, but I know somebody does, I felt like that was my calling. That meant that what people were saying to me was that my role was to motivate people and to bring that positivity to people, which was true to some degree. But what I found myself doing a lot of the time was exactly what that quote said, and that was I was motivating promoted people. I was motivating the wrong people.
The quote from Tom Golisano was that you can demotivate people. But you know what also? You can demotivate yourself.
Mark Cole: That's right.
Traci Morrow: When you are trying to motivate the wrong people, it is exhausting. Think of this as your little check mark. If you're wondering if you've been motivating the wrong people, if you find yourself exhausted, demotivated, a little down and discouraged, if you feel like you're ready to throw in the towel because maybe you aren't a motivated or positive person and you're starting to feel negative even, then odds are, you have probably been trying to motivate the wrong people.
I'm just curious, Mark, did you ever need a thinking shift, or you always a leader who motivated yourself, motivated the right people? Or were you somebody who also like me brought your positivity? Because you're a very positive and motivated person. Just to be around you, I know people just walk away from you smiling and a little spring in their step. Were you always that way, or were you somebody who like me found yourself a little exhausted and demotivated from motivating the wrong people?
Mark Cole: Yeah. I wish I could say yeah, I once had that problem, but the real truth is, is I still have that problem. I'll tell you what I mean with that. As John was teaching that and even, Traci, as you were just talking about kind of your epiphany back earlier in life, I thought about the question that John gets asked all the time, hey, how do I motivate my people, right? Any leader out there want to lift their hand and say, "Yeah, that's me." I want to know how do I motivate my people. Yeah, Traci's got both hands up.
I've got both hands up. I want to motivate somebody please. John says, here's the best way to motivate people. Everybody kind of grabs their pen and their paper. If you're watching on YouTube today, I mean, I've got my paper ready. I'm ready to hear what John has to say. He says the best way to motivate people is hire motivated people. And now, it's so fun to kind of laugh and go, "Yeah, that's right." Well, what happens when we are the people?
When the people that needs motivating is us, is you, the leader in the equation? I think, Traci, that's what you're asking me is, how do we lead ourself? John says leaders motivate themselves. Followers wait for others to motivate them. I do want to be an inspirational person. In fact, my life purpose that I discovered at 33 was I exist, Mark Cole exists to motivate and inspire people to reach their full potential. I know that to live out that purpose of inspiring or motivating others, it has to start with me.
And yet, there are times that the last thing that I feel is motivated or inspired. I do think the idea of inspiring one's self is a muscle. It's something that we have to work at. We have to put into practice, what motivates you? What's your happy place? What's things that refuel you and replenish you? What is your ideal Sabbath or time of rest so that we're working from rest rather than resting from work?
I mean, I believe that's really important, but I also think, Traci, that for us as leaders, we do have to realize that if we rely on external circumstances or external relationships or external factors to motivate ourselves, we are in for a very difficult road in the area of leadership. There has to be within us, much like what Traci had, an epiphany that says, "I am going to be my chief motivator. I can't rely on others. I can't rely on circumstances. I've got to find ways to inspire myself so that I will inspire others."
I think that's what John's saying here, Traci. I think that's what your epiphany was. There has to be in each of us a realization, an accepting of responsibility. That if we are going to be motivated, if we're going to inspire others, it is going to be up to us to motivate ourselves. I think that's a big distinction between leaders and followers as John noted in the lesson today.
Traci Morrow: I agree. If you didn't get this and write it down, I wrote it down as Mark said it, because I haven't heard you say this before and it's powerful to me. We should be working from rest rather than resting from work. I think so many of us limp into the weekend, whatever day that is, maybe it's a Saturday, Sunday, or maybe it's a Monday, Tuesday, or whatever your work schedule is, but so many of us limp into the weekend and then try to gear back up again for the Monday of our work week, rather than every day waking up refreshed because we are rested.
We are staying in a place of rest so that we are working from that rest. If you don't know what that is, if you don't know what that feeling is, then you're probably resting from work. It's a huge difference. Thank you for saying that, Mark. I think that that really does bring in motivation. You and I were talking a little bit before this, one of the things that John says that is a distinguishing mark from him from other leaders, and that is that he talks about being a motivational teacher, not a motivational speaker.
Can you kind of differentiate that for people who maybe haven't heard him say that before?
Mark Cole: Yeah. Just come to a John Maxwell event and you will leave and inspired. In fact, we did a study in 2021 on why people make a decision to become a customer, a client, a partner of the John Maxwell organization. We were in the middle of our rebranding, and we wanted to know the why. Why did people come? Whether you talk to prospects, whether you talk to one-time customers, or whether you talk to multiple customers, over 80% of them said, "We came for inspiration and skill development.
We wanted a few tools that would make us better, and we wanted some inspiration." John is a motivational, inspirational, incredible teacher. But John says, "Hey, I don't want to be a motivational speaker, because a motivational speaker, you feel good, but 30 minutes later, you can't remember why. But a motivational teacher, you absolutely can feel good, but you know why, the skillset, the application piece."
Something that most people would not know about John in the area of creativity or in the area of leadership even, when we have things that we need to make decisions on, and I've brought him into those decisions, he doesn't come in like he does from stage, he goes, "Ah! We got this. Come on, guys. Everybody good." I'm more lean toward that try to passionately inspire people through challenges.
John settles down, almost becomes melancholy in his demeanor as he works through it and allows that grind or that challenge to be felt in the room and doesn't try to get people hyped over it. Again, I have to be careful with that, but not John. It's an interesting observation of John that when he's on stage, when he's got the teacher's lesson in hand, that he really challenges and inspires people through motivation.
But yet, when he gets into a leadership context, he very much settles his emotions down and begins to methodically work through that particular challenge. I every day try to learn from him, every trip. Just a weekend ago from the time we recorded this podcast, I was asking John, "John, help me to distill below the emotion to the reality of the situation so that we can practically work through it."
I think we, as leaders, need to understand when we need to motivate and inspire people and when we need to be accessible and steeped in reality of a difficult situation. I think John's given us a lesson on that with these four P's.
Traci Morrow: Yeah, he sure does. I love how you said that he brings his energy low and getting below the emotion, that he does not rely on the hype right of energy. As two energetic people, you and I can relate to that, and really that is a lesson to be learned for people who are high energy people to settle in, so that you don't walk away... That the people in your hearing as a leader, that they don't walk away not knowing what to do.
Mark Cole: That's right.
Traci Morrow: Feeling so good. I know, I can tell you, I have left where I know that my audience felt really good, and I know that they felt good. I know that they felt probably that they liked me, but they didn't know what to do. I know that I've done that before. It's just another learning lesson. Getting into those four Pr's, I feel like really the four P's that inspire effort. I feel like he really, in perspective and perceptive, I feel like he really...
Was there anything that you wanted to touch on those and persistence? I feel like he really did a good job teaching on those. Was there anything that you wanted to touch on those before we get to persuasion?
Mark Cole: The only thing I would say on perspective is often we put our perspective on other people and we think, "Wow! If this motivates us, it has to motivate everybody else in the room." And that's not true. When John's teaching this perspective, he asks the question, it's in your notes, how do others see things? And many times we as leaders, we fall prey to the trap of trying to motivate people the way we're motivated, rather than motivating the people the way they are motivated.
Leaders, communicators, get into the shoes of the people that you're trying to influence and understand their motivators, their perspective. That's true on perceptive too. The themes that used to motivate me don't motivate me anymore. I've changed. I've matured. I want maybe less partying and a little bit more significance in my life. And a leader needs to understand the phases or the seasons of the people he or she is leading to be able to motivate.
And that's what John's talking about with perceptive. But again, it goes back to the perceptive of the individual you're trying to lead or influence, not your perceptive. I've often thought, man, a new car has motivated me at different times and sales contests and different things. And somebody else goes, "I could care less about that." As a leader, we need to understand the things that really grab their attention and use those in our inspiration.
Traci Morrow: I think that works both professionally and personally. I mean, I'm talking to parents right now, that when you're trying to motivate your kids and different kids, what motivates one kid is to going to be totally different. These can apply, these four P's, inspiring effort. It's not just about teams in the marketplace. We're talking about in families too, because we are raising up leaders in our homes.
If we're going to inspire effort in our kids, it's about asking the questions and inspiring the thirst in the horse of our children, that we really want to make sure that we do that as well. Let's jump to number four because I would like to park it a little bit there, and I know that you and I talked a little ahead of time that that's really one... We hated for it to... It was like a cliff. He walked us up to the cliff and we were like, "Oh, we wanted a little bit more."
Mark Cole: Traci, he walked us up to the cliff and said, "Take it away, Mark and Traci. You guys go for it." That's what we're going to do. Traci, it's funny you just mentioned that, make the kids thirsty. In the lesson, you heard John say that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Then he says a lot of people think you've got to inspire them to drink. John says, "No. You got to inspire them to be thirsty. Because when you're thirsty, you'll drink." I think that really links to the foundation I want to lay with persuasion.
One of the things that you and I, podcast viewers, podcast listeners, one of the things you and I can always go back to in our life is working for a disingenuous leader that really was motivating us for their interest. If you were watching, you caught the air quotes. For those of you that were listening, I did air quotes around motivating right there. They're motivating us, but really they're manipulating us, right? I mean, it's this idea. Great leaders have to really walk a thin line between motivation and manipulation.
And that's why when John began to teach this persuasion through sweetness, I think the sweetest thing to anyone's ear is what? You've heard it said before, their name, when somebody remembers their name. Well, I think in the art of motivation, the sweetest thing that a leader can do to motivate people is to persuade me to do what I want to do. That's sweet. That's as sweet as a name. That's sweet when a leader begins to know me enough and pull out of me the things that I am passionate about that I need to be pursuing.
I really want us as leaders to know the art between manipulation and motivation or persuasion and trying to prescribe to somebody your opinion of what they want or what they should have. If we can learn how to inspire them to thirst. It's what I want you to write in your notes. Jared, sitting in the studio today, gave me that concept. He said, "Mark, I really think what John's talking about when you lead a horse to water, you're really trying to figure out how to inspire others to thirst after their best self, after their best version."
When people get hungry enough, it goes back to a quote I give all the time, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I'm sitting here today going, how do I in the art of motivation, how do I inspire people to a thirst, persuade them to a thirst that will allow them to lean in and let me help them? It comes back to this one statement, do the work of knowing your people. Do the work. How can I better understand what causes my people to be thirsty? I love giving personal illustrations.
My personal illustration here is Miley, my Australian shepherd. She is the perfect dog. Miley, when we travel and my wife Stephanie and Macy traveled with me this past weekend and we went out, and Miley just doesn't like to eat while we're gone. She really doesn't like to eat when we get back. She doesn't drink a whole lot. She loses weight. It's visible. We can see it. She won't eat her food. She just misses her mother. She does not miss me because that would be a constant state of affairs.
But she misses Stephanie. She misses Macy. We got back yesterday and she still wasn't eating. Now she's about three days not drinking, not eating. We took her on a run through the park. I mean, we ran. She chased squirrels. We cleaned the park out with all those terrible squirrels. When we came back, guess what Miley did? She went to get something to drink. And after about 15 minutes of cooling down, she cleaned her entire bowl. You know why? We made Miley thirsty?
We knew what it would take. Chasing squirrels is the ticket for Miley. Well, find out what squirrels your team needs to chase. And when you can find that, then you can begin to persuade them to be thirsty for their best self. Traci, I think that's the art here.
Traci Morrow: I agree. He said it's about relationship and we can't miss that. It's what you're showing there is the relationship that he has with Stephanie and with Macy and I would even say a little bit you. But I feel like what your dog was feeling like, what people... I mean, we're drawn to relationship. John will say, if you don't love people, you'll manipulate them. And as a leader, that's a great gut check. But for those of us who also have had leaders, what is the questions that John says that we're all asking when we're working with a leader?
Can I trust you? Do you care for me? And can you help me? When you are in a position where you're feeling like, am I being manipulated here, some of those other three questions, because what did he say? Good leaders ask great questions. Ask yourself those questions. Is this person trying to help me? Can I trust this person? Because those are those kind of gut checks that you need to ask if you are feeling like you might be manipulated, or if you're the leader, if you're feeling like, am I being tempted to manipulate them?
He said partnerships, which is relationships, the best partnerships, there is going to be a win-win. It shouldn't just be one sided where just the leader is winning or just the person we're serving and leading is winning. The best partnerships, the best relationships where people are winning, and going through those four P's where we are inspiring and motivating people is when we're going to see the win-win.
Mark Cole: I go back. In fact, there's a relevant episode we're going to put in the show notes because it's really practical in helping you with motivation. We did 10 Maxims for Motivation. We did a series on that, and we're going to put that in the show notes because I want you to go back and really get some practical things. The biggest thing I can give you is know your people, know who it is that you're attempting to persuade, to give perspective, perceptive, persistence to and begin motivating them.
Hey, we love being on this podcast. Traci, what another great day. In fact, I love it because we get a chance every once in a while to, or we try to do every time now, give you a comment or a question from somebody that listens in or watches the podcast. Traci, we pulled one today that's from Mitzi, and Mitzi listened to change your thinking, change your life. That's a podcast you and I did, Traci. This is what Mitzi said. She said, "Thank you, John, Mark, and Traci.
It's amazing how much value comes from the repetitious and layered learning of John's lessons, especially this one on thinking. It definitely served me well today. And I have a question, has this material been put into a format for teens, or should I simply share it with my grandchildren as it is? Thanks, again." Mitzi, thank you, again. We need to continue. We believe the way to transform the world and get this world back on track with values-based, people-centered servant leadership is with the next generation.
Mitzi, your heart's beating in the same rhythm that ours is. I'm currently challenged. We have a youth certification through our Maxwell Leadership Certified Team Member. We do a thing called Global Youth Initiative. We have content called I Lead. We've got a lot of things for the next generation. But Mitzi, I got to tell you, as I read your comment today, I went, "We need a podcast for the next generation." I'm just kind of convicted, Mitzi, because we've got to do it.
Now, what we do have is we have a book called Sometimes You Win, Sometime You Learn (For Teens). It's for the teenagers in your life. And here we are, it's the middle of May and we've got some graduates. We've got kids moving to the next grade at the end of this month, beginning of next month. We're going to give you a discount on that book. Sometimes You Win, Sometime You Learn is the name of the book. It's for teens. Put that in.
We'll put it in the show notes. We'll give you 15% discount. Make sure in the promo code you use the word podcast and you'll be able to get that. Thanks, again, Mitzi, to you and to everyone else that makes this podcast an impact. We love you. We appreciate you. Let's listen. Let's learn. Let's love and lead together.