Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

Failure is perhaps the biggest fear standing between most people and their dreams. The author Robert Schuller used to ask, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” In this episode, John Maxwell asks, “What have you learned from your failure?” If you want to achieve big things, failure is inevitable. But it’s what we learn (and whether we learn) from our failure that can determine our success.

Today, you’ll hear John Maxwell summarize three major chapters from his book Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn to help you gain a better perspective on failure and take your next step to success.

Our BONUS resource for this episode is the Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.

READ THE TRANSCRIPT

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership podcast, Mark Cole here. Today, post John's teaching, I will be joined by my cohost, Jason Brooks. We are looking forward to not only talking leadership, but doing leadership, and giving you application along the way. Failure is perhaps the biggest fear standing between most people and their dreams. The author Robert Schuller used to ask, what would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn't fail? Well, in today's episode, John Maxwell is going to ask his own question, what have you learned from your failure? If you want to achieve big things, failure is inevitable, but it's what we learn, and whether we learn from our failure that can determine our success. Today, you'll hear John Maxwell summarize three chapters from his book; Sometimes You win, Sometimes You Learn. These three things will help you gain a better perspective on failure and taking your next step to success.

As always, we want to deliver to you a fill in the blank worksheet. You can go to maxwellpodcast.com/learn, and you'll be able to download this worksheet and follow along as John teaches. Join John, as he teaches from Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. Here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  I'd like to talk to you today about Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. I love that title. It's a title of my book. I was having, a couple of years ago, dinner with Robert Kiyosaki. It's really him that ... he said that statement. We were just talking about some things and he looked at me and said, "John, sometimes you win, sometimes you learn." As soon as he said it, I said, "Oh wait, timeout, timeout. That's a great statement." I said, "Can I use that?" He said, "Well, how do you want to use it?" I said, "Oh, probably want to write a book on it." He said, "Sure, you can." He laughed, and I just loved this statement, because when you think of sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the question is, when you do lose, the question is always, what did you learn? And if you learn from your losses, it's a good loss, and if you don't learn from your losses, it's a terrible loss.

I want to dive right into this lesson. When I was a young leader in the 1970s, I came across the Robert Schuller question in one of his books. I think it was his book, Moving Ahead With Possibility Thinking. I'm quite certain that was the book. He asked the question, what would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn't fail? As a young leader, that was huge for me because as all young leaders, I didn't want to fail, and I thought it would probably hurt my reputation, so I was extra careful. All of a sudden, I began to see the fallacy of that kind of thinking, and he helped me, lifted the lid and all of a sudden, I thought, you know what, that's a great question. There are a lot of things I would try, but I don't try because I'm afraid that I'll fail. And so, that was a lid lifting question for me on failure.

I wanted to lay that as the foundation for the teaching today, because I have a question for you that I think is as important as that one. The question is what have you learned from your failure? Because it's the learning from the losses that is the most significant thing towards our success. I can tell you, I've had a lot of failures in my life, and I've had a lot of wins. And I haven't learned near as much from my wins, as I've learned from my losses. Out of that, there's some real benefits when we lose, if we have the right attitude and the right perspective of. how am I going to respond to the loss? Emmett Fox said, it's in your notes, the only real misfortune, the only real tragedy comes after we suffer without learning the lesson. How true that is.

Now, I'm going to give you the outline of the book. I'm going to talk about maybe two, three of these chapters briefly today, but I'm going to give you the outline of how the book works. It's all about learning, and the roadmap of learning is the following; humility is the spirit of learning or the attitude of learning. If you are a person of humility, you have the right spirit to learn. Reality is the foundation of learning. Most people will never start learning until they face reality, which is grim and dark. Responsibility is the first step of learning. In other words, what happens there is I take responsibility for what's happened to me, not blaming anyone else. Improvement is the focus of learning, in other words, why do we learn? Because we want to improve. That's the reason we're learning, that's our focus. We want to get better. Hope is the motivation of learning. We learn because we have a feeling that if we learn it, it can get better. It's hope that keeps that alive.

Teachability, in other words, a teachable spirit I'm talking about here, is the pathway of learning. The path you and I follow to learn is to have a teachable spirit. Adversity is the catalyst for learning. Most of us learn more in our difficult times than our good times. Problems, they are the opportunities for learning. Every problem presents with it, a possibility, so it's an opportunity to learn. Bad experiences give us the perspective for learning, and change is the price of learning. If you and I are going to learn, we're going to have to change. Maturity is the value of learning. Once we begin to mature, there's incredible value. So, out of this roadmap, and I just want to give you an overview of the book chapter wise. Let me talk about two or three of them. Let's talk about improvement, first of all, which is the focus of learning.

Improvement, which is why we try to learn and why we focus on learning, let me give you three things. Okay, you're ready to write them down? Number one, improving yourself is the first step to improving day thing else. I love that. Improving yourself as the first step of improving everything else. So, if you want your life to get better, the way to get your life better is to get yourself better. You're with me? I ask people all the time, I'll say, "How many of you would like your business to go better?" Man, every hand goes up. How many of you like your marriage and your family to go better? Okay, there go to the hands again. Well, the first step of that is not changing the people around you, the first step is changing yourself. And so, improvement is really saying before I work on you, I got to work on myself. Now, let's face it, it's more fun to work on others. Don't you think? Huh?

I mean, is it more fun to just fix other people than to fix yourself? How many of you know somebody that really needs to be fixed? Come on, let's see those hands. Yeah. You got that picture in your mind right now, but I mean, it's there. Oh my goodness, yes. I know that person. Let me ask you another question since we're just friends here. Okay. Let's just be friends and talk confidentially. How many of you are seated beside that person right now? The first question was improver question, that last one, that was an IQ question right there. Okay. But Warren Bennis and Burton Ana, they basically say it's the capacity to develop and improve themselves that distinguish leaders from followers. I think that's very true. Leaders really have a commitment to get themselves better, to improve themselves. In fact, let me just explain it to you this way, if what you did five years ago still makes you happy, you're in trouble.

I look at lessons I used to teach five years ago and I just want to give out a public apology. I just want to say, "I'm so sorry. Dear God, I just listened to that, oh, I am so sorry." If you're growing and if you're changing, and improvement, the first step is changing yourself, I promise you yesterday won't thrill you very much because you're taking a journey that yesterday no longer can satisfy because you're continually growing from it. The second statement on improvement is improvement forces us out of our comfort zone. Once we start improving, we begin to leave our comfort zone. In fact, I put in there in your notes, growth demands a temporary surrender of security. I love that statement. But the point of it is the fact that improvement will force us out of our comfort zone. Okay. Our journey from here to there is lonely, the reason is that you are willing to be wrong because of your desire to change and grow.

Growth is a result of bad habits drop, wrong priorities change, new ways of thinking embraced. The people who do not grow are unwilling to leave what they have known and practiced. They are not willing to be wrong so they can discover what is right. Therefore, they cling to right and their lives turn out wrong. How sad? Surrender of being right is a prerequisite to finding right. That is good stuff. I may have written it, but trust me, you'll read that in a book. You really will, and I'll even give myself credit on that one. Now, there's a surrender of I'm right, there's a surrender of, you've got to give that up. Improving is always getting you out of your comfort zone. A person that is always right never changes, and a person that never changes never grows. Number three, improvement is a daily commitment. To really improve, you and I have to make a daily commitment, small differences over time equal a big difference.

There are two words that have helped me improve over the years, and these two words, I involve in my life daily. One is intention, and the other is contemplation. Intention is where I sit and think what I intend to do to get better, and contemplation is where I sit and think, did I get better? Am I making improvement? Intention and contemplation, they've got to go together. Okay. Let's go to teachability for a moment. Teachability is the attitude of learning that we have. John Naisbitt said the most important skill to acquire is learning how to learn. That skill begins with a teachable attitude. So, what does a person with a teachable attitude have? Number one, a teachable person, number one, has a beginner's mindset. I love that phrase, beginner's mindset. Teachability is being able and willing to learn and apply skills that are necessary for success. And in the beginner's mindset, there are many possibilities, and in the expert's mind, there are few. Boy, ain't true?

The wonder of a child asking all those questions. Nothing's worse, nothing is worse than a person who's got it down. You know what I'm saying? They got it down. Hey, been there, done that. So, how do you maintain that beginner's mindset? Everyone has something to teach me. Whenever you sit down with anybody, understand there's something they have in their life that if you can get it out of them, it will deposit something good in your life. Every day, I have something to learn, and every time that I learned something, I benefit. So, teachable person is one who has a beginner's mindset, and never to a teachable person, continually takes long hard looks into the mirror. In other words, a teachable person does a lot of introspection. James Tom said probably the most honest self-made man ever was the one we heard say I got to the top the hard way, fighting my own laziness and ignorance every step of the way. I've never seen anybody grow and develop and learn that didn't have a sense of taking a hard look at themselves.

If you're going to have a teachable spirit, you have to take a long look in the mirror. Now, let's go on. Let's talk about problems for just a second. Okay? Because problems are opportunities for learning. Let me ask you a question, how many of have at least one problem? Let me see your hand. Got one problem. Okay. Looks like 100%. How many of you are seated beside that problem? Okay. All right. Okay. One of the things that shows that we're growing in our mature in our life is that we began to look at our problems and begin to understand that they are going to help us to get better. I would like to give you some lessons that I've learned about problems very quickly. Number one, don't wait for the problem to solve itself. Many times we treat problems as if we ignore them, they'll get better. Most of the time that doesn't work. Number two, don't aggravate the problems. When you have a problem, don't aggravate it.

I talk about the fact that every person on our inner circle has two buckets, one has gasoline and one has water in it. And if there's a fire, a problem of spark of a contention breaking out, that person is over there, either with that bucket of water, and they're knocking out that little fire, or they're putting a bucket of gasoline on it, when they get done, it's enormous how big it is. In other words, they either improve the situation or they make the situation worse. Don't aggravate the problem. Number three, do communicate constantly and consistently. When you have problems, you want to really communicate constantly and consistently. People respond to problems, and this is so true, by often isolating themselves from one another and not communicating to one another. And then fourthly, do evaluate the problem. Once you have one, evaluate them. In the book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, I closed that book with these last thoughts that I want to give you, and that is winning isn't everything but learning is.

I just want to give you a couple of thoughts on learning before we wrap it up. Number one, learning too often decreases as winning increases. That's a fact. That's a real fact. As winning increases, often learning decreases. But if learning decreases, soon winning will also decrease. Number two, learning is possible when our thinking changes. Wow. Chesterton said how we think when we lose determines how long it will be until we win. It's just right on. Learning only is possible if our thinking changes. If my thinking doesn't change, I've not learned much. Number three, learning is defined as a change of behavior. It really is. Number four, continual success is result of continual failing and learning. Failure is one of the greatest teachers of life. That is, it can be if we choose to learn from it, rather than be crushed by it. Failure teaches us humility. It confronts us with our limitations and shows that we're not invincible.

There are two zones, this is very important. I'm just going to read this with you. We're going to wrap this up real quick, but just stay with me now because this is huge. There are two zones you need to be aware of, your strengths zone; what you do well, and your comfort zone; what you feel comfortable doing. To lessen your failure rate and be more successful, you need to find the right combination of these two zones. For example, if you're outside of your strengths zone and outside of your comfort zone, that equals bad, and it's impossible to win. If you're outside of your strengths zone, but inside your comfort zone, it means that you're going to do bad, but you have a possibility of maybe being average. If you're inside your strengths zone and inside your comfort zone, that means you're good, but you're not great.

Now, here's what you want; if you're inside your strengths zone and outside your comfort zone, that equals great and continued winning. When I'm inside my strength, I'm doing what I do really well, by doing it while I'm doing well, I'm stretching, I'm out of my comfort zone. That's where the highest success rates going to be. Okay, wrapping it up. You're enrolled in a full-time informal school called life. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth as result of trial and error and experimentation, the failed experiments are as much of the process as the ones that work. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms, failing to learn the lesson is to be stuck and unable to move forward. When you learn the lesson, you can go to the next one. Learning lessons never ends, there's no part of life that doesn't contain lessons. If you're alive, that means you still have lessons to be learned. You have all the tools, the resources you need to pass these lessons, the choice is yours.

You can have people mentor you, but you still have to take the test. The answer lies within you. Start taking the test, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose, but every time I will ask, what did you learn?

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back. John has really captured for us how we can take winning, but we can also take losing and turn losing into learning. And so today, I'm joined with my cohost and co-leader and my friend, Jason Brooks. It's good to be digesting this content and actually living it out, Jason. We're in a process of learning a lot right now.

Jason Brooks:   You are not kidding. I have a special place, the first piece of work that I ever did for the John Maxwell Company was developing DVD curriculum off of this book. So, this book is one of the ones that really resonates in my heart. I love it, I love living it out with you. I want to just start with this question, if you don't mind, John gave us right at the top, the roadmap for learning. He laid out how the chapters in the book would flow. But as I'm looking at it, there are 11 different things, and my question is, you've come a long way as a leader, you are stepping into an even greater time of leadership in your life. Are there still some places on that roadmap that are more speed bumps than check points for you? Or do you feel like you've got yourself a really good groove for learning?

Mark Cole:       It's so funny, I had no idea you were going to ask that. We could script this podcast, we do not. We could post edit and make us sound a lot better, we don't do that very much. We really try to live out leadership. We really try to bring authenticity to the podcast. And so, I'm sitting here circling two things that I really feel like I need to work on, and the first one is problems is the opportunity for learning. I got to tell you, I was convicted with that as John was teaching for two reasons, one, our friend, Carly Fiorina, she teaches that leadership is problem solving, nothing more, nothing less, kind of like John teaches it's influence, nothing more, nothing less, and I was going, to this day still when problems arise on any given morning, in any given moment of the day, in my schedule or otherwise, that problem, it takes me a minute. And you used the exact perfect word, it's a speed bump.

This week, in full transparency, I was working through a couple of days. I had some office days and I was getting a lot done. There's a lot of opportunities. We're living in a real exciting time in our leadership, in our companies, and all of a sudden something popped up on my calendar that I didn't know, Kimberly, my executive partner didn't know, yet it was not showing up on my computer and in my calendar, and it flipped me. I mean, I'll sit here and went, "I don't have time for that. I already had my day planned out, I knew what I was going to get to do." I might not would call it a speed bump, Kimberly definitely wouldn't call it a speed bump, she'd called it a speed mountain. I mean, it was a showstopper for me. I realized in that moment that still unexpected problems still have a way of torpedoing my focus and my productivity.

The other one is right similar to that, is bad experiences gives us the perspective of learning. I have to admit that sometimes it takes me a moment to realize that there is a learning opportunity in a bad experience because I want a bad experience to be an end to itself. Here's what that means. I'm pretty good sometimes at taking bad experiences and just forgetting them, getting them out of my peripheral, get them out of my way. But I sometimes am too quick to be dismissive of bad experiences and not extrapolate out the opportunity that will make me a better leader because of that experience.

Jason Brooks:   I don't think you're alone in that. I think there are a lot of people that those two would definitely be speed bumps for them. I know for me, seeing problems as opportunities is definitely something that I've been working on for a while, but it's definitely accelerated in the last 17 months. But I love your honesty there because we're all going to struggle in different ways, everybody's got a place in their learning pattern that might trip them up. And so, leaders there's ... first of all, be honest about it, and then second of all, get help if you need it. You have Kimberly to help you process things, and you have other people around you, inner circle, that sort of thing. It's so important for us as leaders to have people that can help us with our growth so that it's not just us doing it on our own.

I did want to ask you, John moved on pretty quickly to summarizing a few of the chapters, and one of the ones was improvement, and it was the improvement is the focus of learning. I wanted to ask, what are you learning from your current experiences? As you have stepped into an even greater leadership role where you're casting vision and setting the future more ... We need you doing that more than we need you solving problems, and yet we're still in habit of bringing you problems. What are you learning through this? How are you growing in this experience?

Mark Cole:       John made a statement today. I don't know how many of you caught it on the podcast. It's not in our show notes, it's not in your downloadable worksheet, but he said, "It's lonely from here to there." I don't even know Jason, if you caught it. I just grabbed that because I think the loneliness of getting us from here to there is the greatest thing that I'm learning right now. Let me explain that. I've struggled with loneliness in leadership all of my life, because I'm a relational person, so loneliness is a bad thing. I've struggled with it from a leadership perspective because John says, if you're ... you've heard it said, it's lonely at the top, and he goes, "If you're saying that, you're not a leader, you're a hiker." And we all laugh, and like you did right now, Jason, we laugh. I've always took that as no leader should ever be alone because they should be down where the people are.

Well, John is debunking that statement that if you have achieved a summit and you're the only one there, you're a hiker, you're not taking people with you. He is not addressing the reality of loneliness in leadership. And because I've taken that statement, if you're saying it's lonely at the top, and you're not a leader, you're a hiker, I have really struggled when I have felt really alone in my leadership. Yet now in my life, especially with this new opportunities that you and John and others around me have given me to feel the weight of ownership, I don't have a John Maxwell as a backstop to some of the decisions that I'm making now. I am the backstop, I'm the decision maker and the backstop, and I am also the trash collector when I make a mess out of everything. What I've realized is that journey that we're on from here where we are now to where we're going, can really be isolating sometimes.

Not because there's not great people around us as leaders, but because we're having to see things before others see them, and we're having to execute on what see before we can properly articulate, so that others can have a comprehensive understanding as well. That journey of improvement is unique, because I'm relying on self indicators and self measurement systems to make sure that I am improving, not on previous experience, not on the assessment of mentors, and not even on others that have taken this exact same journey with us, because we're in rarefied air, we're in blue ocean, we're in pioneering state of realities, we're trying to create something that hasn't been created before. And so that really is something that I'm learning right now and trying to improve myself with.

Jason Brooks:   This is really powerful to me, because it's easy to see when a leader looks lonely. Like you, especially, when you're carrying a weight that you haven't been able to distribute, I can see it, face, body language. It's not hugely obvious, but I've been with you long enough to know, but I've never thought about the necessity of loneliness, that you have to go before us in order to chart the territory so that you can come back and get us and take us where we're going. I love the fact that you're candid about struggling with it, and yet at the same time, you've also embraced it and found a way to turn it into an advantage, that you are learning, that you are creating these personal systems that you can use so that you don't constantly have to have somebody correcting you or shaping you, you can actually go and you can actually do these things, and then you can come back and you can lead. That's really powerful.

Mark Cole:       Yeah. It was really encouraging, earlier this year, John Maxwell and I were with Doris Kearns Goodwin who wrote Team of Rivals, and Leadership in Turbulent Times, where she really assesses world leaders and pulls out leadership attributes from them. I was with her earlier this year, and it was very encouraging to me. I guess misery loves company. It was very encouraging to me as she began to extrapolate out times of great isolation in Abraham Lincoln's leadership, and Lyndon B. Johnson's leadership, and Martin Luther king Jr's leadership. She really pulled out some things in, brought some things to life of what it really means to lead and create improvement in ourselves, sometimes when we are the student and the teacher. I guess that's what it is. I love John's statement, in fact, we're getting into teachability in his next point, I love this idea of when the student is ready, the teacher appears, and I'm always looking for this brilliant mentor or father figure like John is to me, walking into my life and giving me the lesson I'm looking for.

And then sometimes now, I find that I am the teacher and I am the student. It's just a really fun ... I really am enjoying it, but it's a very unique time.

Jason Brooks:   Well, it is interesting that John makes teachability the next point. What are you learning about being teachable, if you're teaching yourself, but you're also learning from others? But what are you doing, or what aspects of being teachable are you finding to be encouraging or maybe challenging? How are you maintaining a teachable attitude while you're doing all of this other stuff?

Mark Cole:       You know what's funny is I'm learning that ... This is going to sound very multiple personalities for some of you and you're to want to get me medicated. I get that, but I found out that there are several different coats of leadership. What coat are you wearing today with leadership? Are you the friend? Are you the decisive one? Are you the collaborator? When you have the ultimate responsibility of the direction, the future, the success of an organization, I have found that there are days that you need to reach in and pull out a different coat, a different package, if you will, of interacting with your leadership. Recently, I took a personality tasks, one of these Enneagrams, [inaudible 00:31:10], and many of you have favorite ones out there. I took one and I found that my results was different than what it had been many years ago when I took it.

I found that it was presenting me in a little bit of a different way. I got to tell you, like I said earlier, I felt a little schizophrenia. I felt a little like, what is wrong with me? Here's the lesson. So you ask, what am I learning? This is probably going to be like, oh, brother, many of you may roll your eyes, but for me, it was powerful because I was really wrestling with what this personality test was saying about me and my leadership, and how well and effective I was going to be. John made a statement, it really powerfully impacted me. He said, assessments are a tool to improve, they do not define you, they enlighten you. That one statement that assessments were not to define you, it was to enlighten you, was brilliant for me. I think that's true about leadership too, don't let the current challenge, or in this case, the failure or the difficulty, don't let that define you, let it enlighten you for this next thing, this next season, that you're going to be able to go on.

Jason Brooks:   One of the things that John talks about in our teachability is having a beginner's mindset, that humble attitude, and that's a really key piece for being able to accept failure. Failure can derail us, it can teach us things, it's all about which we choose. But one of the things that failure has taught me is the value of humility, is the value of being willing to learn from others and stay in that beginner's mindset. And so, that goes into, he made a point about, to be teachable, we have to continually take a good, long, hard look in the mirror. What are some of the things that you think about or ask yourself when you're looking in the mirror, and you're being genuine in assessing where you're at, and where you want to go, what you want to learn? What are some of the things that come to mind that just keep you in a place of humility, but also in a place of excitement that there's opportunity?

Mark Cole:       Yeah. When I've taken values assessment, we have a values assessment in our corporate solutions group that when it all is distilled down, one of my top five values is passion. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing with excitement, with enthusiasm, with intensity. Well, the downside of passion is intensity. The passion when something is not going well, comes across as ... and I have it as intensity, but it comes across as frustration. What I am finding in my leadership currently is that my passion, which translates through intensity is sometimes misread as frustration or disappointment. I'm really having to work through that, that when I feel ... especially when my passion is about something that is sub-performing, our sub-results of what I want, I have really began to work hard on recognizing that my unholy discontent can be seen as extreme frustration, and because of that, then people around me that really just want to see things excel and see my pleasure in their performance, takes that as extreme disappointment and challenge, and I have to really keep that in mind.

Jason Brooks:   In talking about the beginner's mindset, I'm curious, because we've mentioned it several times on this episode, we've mentioned it on other episodes, you are in a new stage as a leader, how does being in blue ocean and uncharted territory ... does that make it easier for you to hold onto the beginner's mindset or does it make it harder for you to hold onto it? Are you more apt to run and try and find somebody that's built something that you can just grab onto and just try and plug and play? Or do you find it's more satisfying or better for you to just go, okay, this is unexplored territory, let's just see what we find out? Which of those do you gravitate toward?

Mark Cole:       The answer's yes. It makes it easier and harder. In so many ways, it's really easy because there's not some predisposed expectation of performance or of pace, or even of the people needed to get there. It's really freeing, it's really liberating. A lot of you entrepreneurs are going to relate to that. I mean, it's just like, give me blue ocean and let me go chart the course with no pre-expected parameters. There's also this real sense that the magnitude of what we're trying to do requires excellence. It requires exceeding expectations, but as you know, when you're in blue ocean and there's no bullies, and there's no parameters, it's hard to have preset expectations so that you can exceed them. All of you that love to get things done, and have plans, and love the structure, you're relating with me now, I got to have a plan before I can know if I'm really succeeding. I think the challenge, Jason, is not if one is better than the other, or which do I enjoy more, the challenge is understanding how to navigate when both are needed and both are absent and both are required to move forward.

This ability to create the path, this ability for others to meet the path, and you, as the leader are responsible for both, I think that's the challenge, but man, I'm loving it.

Jason Brooks:   Well, then, that leads into John's last point about problems being opportunities for learning. When you're charting a course that's never been charted, and you're trying to build something that requires, for lack of a better word, blueprints, some sort of guidance, there are problems that are going to pop up, there are going to be things that happen. But at the same time, as we work through problems, if we have what John talks about, is that mindset that within the problem, there's an opportunity, we can begin to turn problems into victories. I wrote down this question because it just struck me as John was closing out his thoughts about learning. He talks about how we have a tendency sometimes to let our victories inhibit our learning. How do you, as a leader, make sure that when we are ...

You're going to give us a report on Guatemala here in just a few minutes where things are going great, and there's plenty of opportunities that we have as an organization. How do you, as a leader, make sure that we don't allow victories to overwhelm our learning, but by the same time how do we help our people celebrate those victories appropriately?

Mark Cole:       Yeah. I challenge that, I think it's going back to John's 24 hour rule, be really clear when there is a victory worth celebrating, and give a moment to celebrate. I probably struggle with that because I'm so on to the next thing. I mean, by the time I'm done with Guatemala last Friday, and now today I've got to reconstruct what made me excited last Friday, I go, "Man, I really got some work to do." I text Kim just a little bit a while ago, and I said, give me the bullet points of what I need to be saying at this team video, when really, it's all within me. But that was seven days ago, but yet the magnitude of what we're celebrating is seven and a half years worth of work, Jason. And yet, because it was seven and a half days ago when I realized the celebration lane, the victory lap, I'm so moved on and I've got so much going on. As a leader, we really need to give our team time and opportunity to celebrate, just like we need to give our team time for reflection in a difficult time.

And whether that was seven days ago or 17 weeks ago, we need to come back and have a moment to celebrate, because it's one thing to celebrate as leader, high five, I got the report. I saw how powerful everything was, I haven't yet given our team a chance to really breathe that in. And as leaders ... I don't apologize for the fact that that was seven days ago, what have you done for me lately? That's just who I am. I don't celebrate for way too long. John taught me that. Same thing with reflection, difficulty, but at the same time, I'm really the only one that has celebrated. And as a leader, okay, I got it, you're ready to move on, but you're not really ready to move on until the team has had a moment to really appreciate it and celebrate.

Jason Brooks:   I love that too, because John talks about it at the beginning, wins don't have to preclude you learning, you can learn from victory. I love the fact that by giving your people the opportunity to celebrate, find what was good, find what worked, find the lesson, and now let's move on, that just reinforces the same discipline when you're examining a loss. You can still look at it, all right, what were the challenges, what did we do, what can we do better now, let's move on. I love the fact that you've created the parallel that in either situation, as leaders, we can teach our people how to process these things correctly in order to learn from them and keep moving forward.

Mark Cole:       I say often in our podcast, I don't know that it's our tagline, but we really do try to listen. That's why you take in the podcast, all your listeners. We really do try to learn from that listening, it's not just to listen to consume, it really is to learn something, which is what we've been talking about, but it really is to finally take on this responsibility to lead. We, listen, we learn, we lead. Today as we end up this really thesis that John's trying to drive with the book, with this podcast today is this; you don't need to miss an opportunity to learn something. It is absolutely the most desirable trait I look for when you guys do let me get involved in the hiring process anymore, you guys keep me out of it any more. But the most desirable to attribute I'm looking at, or looking for is the ability to learn in every situation.

John said it like this, learn every day, learn in every situation, learn from every one. That's the challenge for us today. We need to listen, we need to learn, we need to lead, and we need to change our world. Hey, thanks for joining us today on the Maxwell podcast, subscribe, pass it along, help us continue to add value to people who will multiply value to others.

1 thought on “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn”

  1. I started learning from my failure not too long,but I believe failure is a tool for growth,if one is willing and also taking responsibility to own up to one’s fault.

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