The Leader’s Greatest Gift (Part 2)

In part 2 of The Leader’s Greatest Gift series, John shares the final three points on passionate commitment and the potential for transformation when passion and commitment are combined.

During the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole and Traci Morrow talk about the “leadership malpractice” of leading everyone the same; how we often confuse passion with other personality traits such as charisma and woo; and the importance of understanding yourself before trying to understand your team members.

Our BONUS resource for this series is The Leader’s Greatest Gift worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. Today you are in for a treat because we're talking about The Leader's Greatest Gift, part two. Now, if you're new to the podcast, you will want to go back and listen to John in part one. Last week, he talked to us about passion and commitment, and then gave us two of the first things that you need to know to make Passionate Commitment a part of your leadership. Today, we pick up that lesson, John will share three, four, and five, and then Traci Morrow, my co-host today, miss passionate herself is going to come back and help me unpack what we heard from John. How we illustrate that in the John Maxwell enterprise, how we apply that and how you, our podcast family can apply it as well.

Now, as usual, if you would like to follow along as John teaches today, you can go to, and you'll be able to click on the Bonus Resource Button and download the worksheet. It was Maya Angelou who said, "Seek patience and passion and equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls." I know you're going to realize the importance of passion as John continues today. Now here is John C. Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  Statement number three, it is the difference maker between good and great. Now I love this, it's the difference maker between good and great. Another way to say it is, it's the difference maker between average and better than average. Michael Jordan said it right, "Heart is what separates the good and the great." Andrew Carnegie said, "People fall into three basic categories. Those who did not do all their duty, those who only professed to do their duty and those who did their duty plus a little bit more." Wow, that's so true.

Great story, in fact I want you to have this, former pro basketball star, Bill Bradley shared how at the age of 15, he attended a summer basketball camp that affected his life. The camp was run by Easy Ed. Macauley, great basketball player, a formal college and pro star. Here's what Easy Ed said, "Just remember that if you're not working at your game to the utmost of your ability..." Macauley told his assembled campers. "There will be someone out there somewhere with equal ability who will be working to the utmost of his ability. And one day you'll play each other and he'll have the advantage."

Is that powerful or what? And I love what Ken Blanchard said, "There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you only do it when it's convenient, when you're committed to do something, you accept no excuses, only results." Make sense, doesn't it. So it's the difference maker. It's the difference maker between good and great.

Number four, this Passionate Commitment I'm talking about, it is the major influencer in the lives of most people. In fact, when a person reaches out in passion, it is usually met with an answering passion. Passionate connections provoke passionate responses. Leadership is fundamentally about influence.

If you would to sit down and ask a friend of yours, who they consider to be the greatest leaders of all time, I think you would hear them say names such as Winston Churchill. I think you'd hear him say names such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King. You know what you would hear, you would hear them talk about the great leaders. What's set the great leaders, just a little bit above all the other leaders? I could almost always promise you it's that Passionate Commitment that makes the difference.

Recently, we had a wonderful time. We equip our organization, our nonprofit organization that helps train leaders in the international community. We had a golf tournament, we had a great time. And one night after the golf, the games, we got together for a wonderful meal and a wonderful banquet. And I began to share with them how my heart just yearns to make a difference. And we showed them a video of India where we just equipped about 6,000. And you could see literally that room be filled and gripped with conviction and passionate, that room.

And it was one of the most amazing things. We had a handful of golfers and the end of that evening, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars were committed to that cause. And it was all out of a feel of passion and commitment for what we believed in. Passionate Commitment is the foundation of every great movement, it's the making of every great leader, it's the difference maker between good or great, it's the major influencer in the lives of most people.

Number five, let's go. It is the core of courage that every leader must possess. Let me just take a moment and talk to you about how Passionate Commitment gives us courage. Robert Ingersoll said, "The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without having lost heart." Cute story.

Keith Miller and Bruce Larson wrote a book sometime back called the passionate people. And they tell the true story about a 1st grade class in which each child was sharing what his or her dreams would be when they grow up. And one by one, each child got up and announced, "I'd like to be a nurse like my mother." "I want to be a banker like my father." "I want to be a teacher like Mrs. Smith, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera."

Okay, the last child to speak was the shyest little boy in the class. He said something like this. "Well, when I get big, I'm going to be a lion tamer. I'm going to work in the circus. I'll get in the cage full of fierce lions and tigers with my gun and my whip and my chair. And I'll make those animals leap through hoops of fire and obey all of my commands." Suddenly in the midst of this exciting tale, he looked around to find his classmates staring at him with their mouth open. And he realized that they were finding it hard to believe that he, the timid and one of all people was going to be a lion tamer. And embarrassed, he was quick to reassure them. "Well, of course..." He stammered. "I'll have my mother with me."

Dr. Anthony Campolo, author, he's a wonderful speaker, consolidates our thoughts on commitment with this conviction, "What you commit yourself to be will change what you are and make you into a completely different person." Let me repeat that. Not the past, but the future conditions you, because what you commit yourself to become determines what you are more than anything that ever happened to you yesterday or the day before. Therefore, I ask you a very simple question. What are your commitments? Where are you going? What are you going to be? You show me somebody who hasn't decided, and I'll show you somebody who has no identity, no personality, no direction.

And I'm going to close with one more story. I'm holding up a card here that I've had since 1976. Now this card is very special to me because in 1976, I was a 29 year old kid. And in the process of pastoring this church, financially we were in some very difficult times because of a building program of which to make a long story short, the architect and the builder, the builder was going bankrupt and the architect was paying the builder, but the builder was using our money to pay someone else and pay off debts. And I remember I was watching on the news when a WTV and Channel 6, ABC out of Columbus, Ohio one evening at six o'clock news. And there, I saw our builder who was declaring bankruptcy. And all of a sudden I found out that we had thousands and thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars that we had paid that we were not going to get credit for because it never went to the right people.

So here I am, what am I? Am a 29 year old kid in a multi-million dollar building program, way over my head, got a congregation that's growing dynamic. And I'm scared, I'm frightened, I'm a little tired and I need something. I need something to bolster my soul. I need something to put steel in my backbone. I need something that'll allow me to keep on keeping on. I need a fresh touch, a new fire. And I came across these words and the first time I read them, I said, "Oh, this is what I need." And so I copied it down and it's entitled, Commitment is the Key. Here's what it says, "Until I am committed, there's a hesitancy, a chance to draw back. But the moment I definitely commit myself, then God moves also. And a whole stream of events begin to erupt. All manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, persons, and material assistance that I could have never dreamed would come my way, begin to flow toward me the moment I make a commitment." And that evening, I realized that most people want resources to flow to them without them taking a stand and making a commitment. Do you have something that burns a fire inside of you? Do you have something that just causes you to keep on keeping on?

Traci Morrow:  Okay, Mark. Well, here we go into the second half of passion and commitment. Now I love that last week, John talked about the breakdown of the power of passion and then the power of commitment and where he really focused on the two together. I love this line from last week where he said, "Passion without commitment is heart without backbone and commitment without passion is focus without fuel."

And he gave us the first couple and he jumped right into number three today, where he talked about the two of those things together, passion and commitment is the difference maker. And I always love when he quotes Michael Jordan, because you want to hear from the greats, right? We're hearing about leadership greats from John Maxwell. We're hearing about how to not be good, but to be great from Michael Jordan.

But I was just thinking, Mark, we have so many team members. Well, we'll just say for those of us who are leading a team of people, where you do have someone who has passion without commitment or commitment without passion. So you, as the leader of John Maxwell enterprises, global enterprises, how do you move passionate teammates who lack commitment, and then how do you move those who are deeply committed, but they just haven't caught your passion yet?

Mark Cole:       I want to go back and reference last week for just a moment, because I think a lot of times people see passion as excitement or exuberant or this massive amount of energy or woo. And the first thing I have to do in answering your question, how do I deal with teammates that might have passion, but not commitment or commitment, but not passion. The first thing that I have to do Traci, is I have to remind myself that everybody don't show passion the same way that I do. Because so many leaders want everybody to share the same level of enthusiasm as they have. And if they don't, then they call it no passion.

And I think as leaders, we've got to be really careful that when we see the type S's or C's in the disc profile, when we see these people that don't show the emotion like a high I or a high D that we don't take away from an individual that they don't have passion, keep that in mind leaders, please keep that in mind.

I think leadership malpractice is trying to make everybody the same, that's management. Leaders take everybody that is different and expand their differences to make a very diverse team, that includes in the area of passion and commitment. Now that I have said that, if I see someone that does not share the passion that I, as a leader, think that they don't share or a commitment that I, as the leader, don't think that they have enough commitment. The first thing that all leaders should do is go to that person and ask a very candid with care conversation. "Are you passionate about this? Are you committed to this?" We make assumptions, and you know what assumptions do Traci, I don't have to quote that on the podcast here, but they make me and you not look so smart.

And so when you assume without a candid conversation, once again, I'm going to use the word, I think is leadership malpractice. So you see somebody, you don't think they have the passion, or they don't have the commitment. You owe that individual as a leader in their life to ask them the candid conversation and then make sure that you respond to their answer, not give and respond off of your answer or observation. But I do think that we need to hold people accountable on our team to have passion about our vision and to have commitment to their role and responsibility to the vision.

The second thing that I would do after I asked them that question, as I'm going to ask them, are they clear on the role they play on the team? Because a lot of times I have found that a lack of passion and a lack of commitment, it's all because of a lack of clarity in a teammate. So are they clear? Are they clear on their role? Are they clear on what we're trying to do? And are they clear that their contribution to the team matters to the overall pursuit of the organization? And when you can get clarity, now you can have the third conversation, which is, this is how I want you growing in your passion and growing in your commitment. I think to answer your question, when you go and you observe that deficiencies in a teammate, you have a responsibility to do those three things.

Traci Morrow:  I love how you're describing the process of a leader of really connecting with their team member. Because I feel like as a leader, myself and I guess it just comes with continuing to listen to podcasts like this, reading John's books, bathing your brain in leadership, because what we think it is, isn't always what it is. I like how you started out saying, "Don't be confused to think that it's woo or the high energy." I'll fall on my own sword and say, when I was young, I was so drawn to energy that the high energy, the fun, the woo of the situation, and then you kind of get in there and you realize like, unless there's some commitment in there, some content, unless you're passionate about the right things. It's not just passion, it's passionate about the right things where you are moving forward. And that's where you start to realize, "Okay, there are some differences."

Can you talk just a little bit? You mentioned the disc, but I know in John Maxwell team that we talk about the disc and we do disc training. Can you just talk, if there's a leader listening and they're like, "I'm drawn to the woo. I'm drawn to that. I don't know how to see another kind of energy." How would you advise a young developing leader, how to recognize and appreciate the different kinds of passion?

Mark Cole:       Yeah. I think the first thing that we need to check as John says, the way to find out, what you need to do is really in the passion or the emotion that it elicits from you. In fact, he says, this, what makes you sing? In other words, what just kind of puts that song in your soul. What makes you dream? What is that aspirational thing that you're after? And then what makes you cry? What is the thing that pulls on your heartstrings?

And I think as we're doing internal inventory of our passion of the things that we would love to commit to, I think the answer rest in our ability to really go inside ourself and answer those questions. What makes you sing? What makes you dream? What makes you cry? And when you can begin to truly watch a movie and watch the trends that elicit emotion out of you, or read a book and watch the things that inspire you and get you to dream and think, or when you're around people that just their story excites you or their story grabs your heart. You need to start paying attention to those things, because those things are going to reveal to you where you need to start putting your passion and the things that commitment to those will become easier and more sustainable when you commit to the things that make you sing, make you cry, make you dream.

Traci Morrow:  I love that because it is understanding yourself first, before you can start to understand your team members. I think so many times as leaders, we try to be all things to all people. And we weren't even really sure where we're coming from. And that's where I think you can fall into, like where you talked about in your early years. Last week you talked about in your early years, you were almost faking your passionate times to stay to the line of commitment. And when you do that, then you just drain, your passion drains. And then there's a deficit because you're missing one. John talks about the power of passion and commitment, and sometimes one is stronger than the other. Would you say that's true? Would you say that there are times where you feel like you don't feel your passion as much and you're leaning really into the commitment and then there's other times when you're so excited, but you're not really, I don't know that I would say that you aren't committed, but maybe you're going somewhere and you're not sure how it's going to turn out. Do you ever withhold commitment, do you think? Kind of like what John talked about in his church?

Mark Cole:       Yeah. It is not even a conscious thing to where I'm going, "Oh, I'm not going to commit to this." But it's, I don't know what I'm committing to. I'm passionate about where we're going, John, I've done that for sometimes. Traci, you and I know, you and I know that there are big things that we're supposed to do with your business and your influence and my business and my influence. We've known for years that there are big things, even more than podcasts together, even more than going to countries and change the world, even more than you being on a board of one of John and my nonprofit. We know there's big things going, but to ask for a commitment before there is clarity, it's not fair, it's not withholding. Committed to an idea is different than committed to a plan.

And you can't commit sometimes not because it's not in you or you're withholding it. You can't commit sometimes because clarity is still evolving. And that's where I want us leaders to know, when you can find something that really ignites your passion. Sometimes the commitment is in continuing to stay in proximity to that thing that ignites your passion until there is something tangible to really put commitment into. And in that case, I think passion leads commitment, but it's not because we're withholding commitment because we don't want to give it, it's because we are waiting to have something tangible to commit to.

Traci Morrow:  This might be a little bit off topic, but I feel like it's sort of in the same vein in that when you've committed to something you're passionate about it, you might be trying something and you have to commit to it in order for it to get off the ground, get wheels off the ground. But what is the difference between committing and then knowing when it's time to pull the plug? So many times I feel like as a leader, I committed to something and I didn't want to be viewed by my team as a quitter or even most importantly by myself as a quitter, but I just knew it wasn't working. It either needed to be tweaked or changed or whatever. Can you talk slightly about the difference between committing and then being able to let it go when it's not working?

Mark Cole:       Yeah. Boy, I love this. And I'll be honest with you, I've watched you do this on some things that you've done. And I watch you, I learned from you and other profound leaders that I've watched that commit to something and go all in on something and halfway through, they realize that there is a better way. John teaches this in Leadershift when he says, "You've got to be committed to a plan, no doubt. But when an option comes, that will improve the plan, you've got to be a leader that can shift from that plan and go after the opportunity that will fulfill the purpose in the first place." And so many times we think commitment to a plan means we have to see that plan through to its death or until it's great achievement. That's not at all what it means.

Be so committed to the purpose that plan is fulfilling, that you will scrap that plan midstream and go develop and adapt a bigger plan. Bill Belichick, I hate to say that name on the podcast. The coach of the New England Patriots is one of the best at after halftime adjustments. You know how I know, I'm an Atlanta Falcon Flint fan. And I still think about the Super Bowl where he stole it from us because he adjusted his halftime plan and the Atlanta Falcons didn't.

Now, great football programs know how to adjust. Are they not committed to their plan? Sure they are. But you know what they're committed to even more? Winning. And if you will commit to the right thing, which is where your passion comes into, you will be able to let go of the plan because you're committed to the outcome, which is winning the football game in this case.

Traci Morrow:  That's why I loved that he quoted Tony Campolo, which by the way, I hadn't heard that name in a while. It was fun to hear it. He is a great speaker and an influencer, but a small snippet of what he said is, "What you commit yourself to will change what you are and make you into a completely different person." And he said, "Let me repeat that. Not the past, but the future conditions you, because what you commit yourself to become determines what you are more than anything that ever happened to you yesterday or the day before." And I love that because number one, we can rest too much on the success of the past, but we can also hinder our growth into the future based on having to change plans, having to redirect our path.

So one of the questions, and I think this is a great one to end on Mark, but one of the questions or two of them that John asked that I think our podcast listeners would love to hear from you. I think one of the values of this is hearing John, hearing John's life work of leadership poured into you and how that grows out of you. But one of the things he asked was, "What burns inside you?" So I ask you, Mark, what burns inside you? What causes you to push through, through COVID, through in-person events, through all the things that you deal with, that none of us even have a clue what you deal with, what causes you to push through and keep on keeping on?

Mark Cole:       Well, I think the stakes are really high, Traci. I've heard John say multiple times now and it's interesting to hear John say something like this, because he's so positive, but I hear John say that he's leadership sad, and he just doesn't use language like that. But really what John is saying, as you uncover that and peel that back is John cannot believe that the state of visible up-front leadership has gotten us to such a non-values-based, non-people centric, non-servant leadership, persona our perception of leadership. And because we've gotten so far from that, it's polarized people around the world of what real leadership and following leadership looks like. So when you ask this question, what keeps me going? It is that leadership deficit that makes John sad, is that deficit of leadership that makes people being valued the center of their platform, is that deficit of leaders that have forgotten that people are the agenda not are manipulated to accomplish the agenda. It is that vacuum, if you will, that deficit of servant-based leadership to where leaders realize the position was meant to serve the people, not serve the leader's gratification.

And I think if you ask me the question, what keeps us going me and this team of individuals that I represent, this iconic brand of leadership that I steward, what keeps us going is the belief that we have a message, that will not only impact people and transform their lives, but it'll transform their family's lives around them. It'll transform their team's life, their company, their community, their country. It has the ability to a truly answer and fulfill the leadership deficit that we're in. And we have this team, Traci, you're a part of it. We have this team of women and men that have committed ourselves to serve this message of people-centric, value-based, servant leadership, because we believe that is the answer for the leadership sadness that John communicates.

And that's what we're trying to do in this podcast. Traci, I tell you, I love it every time you come on and you host with me because you're a leader that leads your companies like that. You lead your family of six, like that. You stand on the stage with John Maxwell, with myself and you represent that. And gang in podcast land, we need more. John is getting ready to release a book called Change Your World. And it is an opportunity for you to change yourself and your community, one person, one community at a time. And as we transform ourselves, as we transform our communities, I believe we will transform the deficit of values-based leadership that we see in the world. We need you.

In fact, I don't even want to close today, Traci, because the question has really inspired passion and commitment from me. Your question has elicited this passion that I have, but we will close for the day because we have to. Traci, I want to thank you for joining us. Jake, Jason, you guys that make this podcast happen, I want to thank you. But most importantly, today, I want to thank you, the podcast listener. The women and men that every week come into this community to learn, grow and I hope to mobilize for a movement of transformation. I wanted to challenge you, download this episode and send it to someone else. You subscribe, get on the subscription list and let us grow together as we transform together. Go to, you'll get the bonus resource, the worksheet. Join us again next week. But until then let's lead.

2 thoughts on “The Leader’s Greatest Gift (Part 2)”

  1. Dear Brother in Christ Jesus Mark Cole, I am a leader called by God when I was young boy of 17 years old and I started the journey of Church planter and after I join Bible School and Seminary Theological Institute and became Bible School Principal for five years and see many challenges when leaders divided themselves into the Church as background of Baptist family , I never give up and starting a new Ministry called Community of Christian Churches in Africa “CECA” started in Rwanda during time was darkness upon our Country of Rwanda which brings genocide of 1994 and I never give up and Ministry growing up we are operated in 11 countries in Africa under the International Community of Christian Churches in Africa -ICCCA- Harvest Baptist Community in each country and I still in position of Visionary and Leader of these people while I am now in the USA since 2015 after my late wife Mrs. Liberata passed away on November 18th 2013 and been very struggling and coming in the USA for medical emergency in 2015 and now I am in the USA for my sabbatical temporary Missionary and still leader oversee those Countries in Africa as Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-DRC, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique ,Ghana and Togo, and the USA here in Maryland, so my question as someone passionate committed in leadership for Church planting and discipleship making Churches and someone been involved in ministry of peace building, Conflict resolution , Unity and Reconciliation while I am here silence and praying I would like to meet one of you and discussing my dreams as I still have passionate to see the future of our vision as a leader of God’s Kingdom, as someone been challenges and saw bad things in my journey of the Ministry I need someone to talking with , by the way I attended the John Maxwell Team Leadership on August 2019 with my Wife First Lady Dr.Margaret U.Dusingizimana and we still continue following this message and been very blessed by your teaching and all practical lessons of life transformation as we both we are , we been together with First Lady Dr.Margaret U.Dusingizimana, and we Married on December 23rd 2017 here in USA in the Church , but our civic wedding was on January 17th 2017 and waiting until the Church and families blessings upon our Marriage, and she is also a Rwandan and came here after genocide of 1994 in Rwanda and she arrived here in 1998 and I and our four youngest children four sons we arrived here on September 23rd 2015 and by the Grace of God we meet through prayers and we became friends until we decided to be together as one body as a Husband and a wife, this was happened after I came back from hospital since a year of 2016, because I was sick as I said why I came from Rwanda to USA with four sons and left home in Rwanda four blessed daughters three of them married the youngest she is there, and Dr. Margaret she played a big role in my life for taking care for me in my sickness as for visits and supports, briefly, my comments , I would like to meet with someone can helping me spiritually and mentally as I still want back for Missionary field while the dream still inside me but became very weak in these days 2019 and 2020 was hard years for me and others people worldwide because of pandemic and others materials issues etc.. and I want to fulfill the great commissions and great commandments of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Matthew 9:35-38, Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 28:18-20.

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