Last week John taught what your attitude cannot do for you. This week you’re going to learn how your attitude, perspective, and posture as a leader can greatly improve your leadership, relationships, and help you overcome challenges in business and in life.
For the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole is joined again by Traci Morrow to talk about the fact that we may not always be able to control what happens to us, but we can control what happens in us. You’ll also hear relevant ways that they are applying this lesson in attitude to their own lives and businesses.
Our BONUS resource for this series is the “What Your Attitude Can Do for You 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: Hello, John Maxwell Podcast listeners. Thank you for joining us today. We are so glad to have you a part of the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. My name is Mark Cole, and today, I'm joined by Traci Morrow for part two of What Your Attitude Can Do For You. That's really what we're going to talk about today. Now, if you're just joining us today, maybe for the first time, you missed last week on what your attitude cannot do for you. It's a great lesson and I challenge you to go back and listen to that as soon as possible because today, we're going to pick up right in the same setting where John was teaching this lesson, and he's going to start out immediately with the things that your attitude can actually do to accelerate your influence.
Now, we always provide a bonus resource for you. We also always include show notes, so today, if you would like to see our show notes and see any links to anything that we may reference in the podcast, you can go to maxwellpodcast.com and you can reference the show notes. You can also download the bonus resource that we provide that are the fill-in-the-blanks for John's lesson today. Again, for today's show notes, and for the fill-in-the-blanks, go to maxwellpodcast.com/myattitude, click on the Bonus Resource button. Now, we're going to throw it over to John. He's in process, already teaching about what your attitude can do for you, and then Traci and I will come back and apply it in our lives for you to then apply it in your lives. Here is John Maxwell.
John Maxwell: Now that we understand what your attitude cannot do for you, let me tell you what your attitude can do for you. For years, I've tried to live by the following statement: I cannot always choose what happens to me, but I can always choose what happens in me. Some things in life are beyond my control, some are within it. My attitude in the areas beyond my control, you just stay right with me on these next couple of sentences, my attitude in the areas beyond my control can be the difference-maker. My attitude in the areas that I do control will be the difference-maker. In the areas that you can and will control, it's amazing what a difference-maker an attitude can be.
In other words, the greatest difference my difference-maker can make is within me, not others. That's what I want you to see: When you are trying to change someone, just try to change yourself. That part of your attitude can make a huge difference-maker in your life. Now, there have been a lot of times I wanted to change someone else, and I've found that many times that makes no difference at all, but the difference-maker in my attitude about myself can make a major change.
Let me give you some things, some areas where your attitude, what they can really do for and how you can change it. Number one: Your attitude makes a difference in your approach to life. That's a fact. One thing that your attitude can do for you, as it does for me, is it can determine your approach to life. All's well that begins well. We've always heard it the other way around, "All's well that ends well," but it started off correctly. The reason I know that is you ask any coach of a sports team and they will tell you, "The attitude of the players before the game is going to have a determination on that game." You ask a surgeon who's about ready to do surgery on a patient and they'll tell you, "The attitude of that patient going into surgery is going to greatly determine the..." You talk to a teacher before they give an exam, "The attitude of that student before the exam is going to have a pretty good effect upon that," so your attitude makes a difference in your approach to life.
Number two: Your attitude makes a difference in your relationships with people. In fact, I would say this: When a person has a difficult time with people, it is not always but it is almost always an attitude issue. People that fail in relationship skills almost always fail in the area of attitude about others. Your attitude has a tremendous impact upon your relationship skills. I went back to my Winning With People book and I began to pull out my people principles and I said, "I wonder how many of the people principles, the relationship principles, are attitude-based or rooted?" I've got them for you in your notes.
The lens principle: Who we are determines how we see others. Our perception of others depends more on our attitude than it does their characteristics. If we are positive, we see them as positive. Obviously, if we are negative, what do we see them as? Negative.
The pain principle: Hurting people, hurt people are easily hurt by them. Our negative experiences and emotional baggage color our perception of others' actions. A normal interaction can cause us pain even when another person did nothing to inflict the pain.
The elevator principle: We can lift people up or we can take them down on our relationships. People possess a mindset of either lifting or limiting others. This is all attitude stuff.
The learning principle: Each person we meet has potential to teach us something. Some people possess a teachable attitude and they assume that they can learn something from everyone they meet. Others look down on many people and assume that they have nothing to offer them. I just began to be amazed as I began to see the difference in the relationship between attitude and relationships.
Number three: Your attitude makes a difference in how you face challenges. It's like the US Marines that were surrounded by eight enemy divisions during the Korean War. In other words, there're people on the left, they're on the right, they're on the front, and they're back. He looked at his men and said, "Guys, this is great." He said, "They're surrounding us. They can't get away this time." That whole attitude mindset of how do you look at problems? How do you look at problems?
You've probably heard me do the lecture that I do a lot of times across the country, how to be a real success, REAL, Relationships Equipping Attitude Leadership. Isn't it interesting that one of the four things that really allows a person to be successful is their attitude? What I say basically is that successful people do not have less problems than unsuccessful people, they just have a different mindset. One person is totally baffled and discouraged by a problem, another person is almost energized by it, and you look at it, it's the same problem. Maybe it's even the same company at the same time and you've got two people at desks side by side and one will rise and one will fall.
In here, I have all kind of people that had an incredible attitude when they face challenges. Demosthenes, who was called "the greatest orator of ancient Greece." What'd he do? He possessed a speech impediment. He overcame it by reciting verses with pebbles in his mouth and speaking over the roar of the waves of the seashore. Martin Luther, the father of reformation, made use of the time that he was confined in the Castle Wartburg to translate the Bible into German. Composer Beethoven wrote his greatest symphonic masterpieces after he became deaf. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress while in prison. Daniel Defoe also wrote while in prison, producing Robinson Crusoe. Napoleon's school companions mocked him because of his humble origins in poverty. He responded by studying harder. Soon, he became the best student in the class. Of course, he went on to be one of the greatest generals in history. Lincoln is considered by many to be the best of the United States presidents, yet he probably would not have stood out as a great leader had he not led the country through the Civil War.
Often, the circumstances seem to be instrumental in the creation of great leaders and thinkers, but that is the case only when their attitudes are right. Well, that's an incredible statement. I'm going to repeat it. Often, the circumstances seem to be instrumental in the creation of great leaders and thinkers, but that is the case only when their attitude is right.
Chuck Swindoll gave a great piece on the power of attitude. He said, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me," he said, "is more important than education, money, circumstances, failure, successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude that we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can change or that we can do is play on the one string that we have, and that is our attitude. I'm convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it, so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitude." Great words.
Mark Cole: Wow. Traci, again, just as John did in part one on What Your Attitude Cannot Do For You, John gave us some real practical, tangible things that I know for me, I'm a guy that loves passion, loves what we do, but it's a great reminder of the importance of attitude and how attitude truly does shape our ability to influence. Man, I'm glad you're here. I'm ready to continue into this conversation.
Traci Morrow: I am, too. This one is going to be more fun because this is what your attitude can do for you instead of what your attitude can't do for you. I'm excited to talk about the positive side of attitude, as an Enneagram 8, then that's about control and not having options, really. I like that better than control because control sounds almost like a negative. But I feel like your attitude gives you so many options that you that are in your control.
I think a lot of times, we look at our situations and we think the situations actually control us, and John is flipping that and saying, "No, you can't ch choose what happens to you, but the options that you have, the control that you have is choosing any attitude and where that takes you." To me, I hear the positive in that. I hear, "This is where we're going. We can choose all the good things, even in the middle of hardship, our situations beyond our control." He started out by saying, "When you want to change someone, change yourself, and that's about your attitude," so what does that mean to you in a business model, in a family model? When you are seeing things around you that you wish you could change, that you wish were different, how do you, Mark Cole, take that and say, "I'm going to change myself and how I approach this"?
Mark Cole: I've had dozens of difficult conversations. I mean, conversations that required caring candor. I've had dozens of transition conversations when I had to transition somebody out because we were not creating an environment that was best for them. I've had a lot of those.
Recently, I was having, yet again, as I do in my leadership, I was having a situation that was a real difficult one relationally to handle. Some things had happened. In fact, this was, in a personal context, some things that happened with one of our family members that I just couldn't get settled with. As it related to how to handle it, I realized I couldn't handle it until I settled that I was only going to handle it when it was for the benefit of the other person. See, when you, as a leader, have the responsibility to create environments that help people reach their full potential and you are so frustrated that you want to go in and tell people all that they're doing wrong, you're off point. You're off point. So many times, I walk into a setting ready to tell somebody how I'm right and they're wrong, and I'm off point with my whole life purpose of helping people reach their full potential.
What's interesting is I just had this conversation this week on the recording with an extended family member, this is not any of my immediate family, but I will be careful because it's family, and being real transparent with names and stuff, but here's what I understood: It took me two-and-a-half weeks, Traci, to get my attitude right. Now, not an attitude of mean and ugly and nasty, no, no, no, no, the attitude that says I want to have in the next conversation and an attitude and a heart of what's best for the other individual.
Because it was family, I wanted to have a right to be frustrated, I wanted to have a right to see all the great things I had brought to the table rather than all the negative things that I had brought in this particular situation and I wanted to go defend my integrity. I wanted to go defend my name based on my track record of positivity, rather than on my calling that every situation for Mark Cole exists to make the other person better. For me, I have found it's next to impossible to have a great attitude, family, or business when I'm off point from my purpose. My purpose is not to prove to everybody I'm right. My purpose is not to go into an environment and show them how good I am. My purpose is to create environments that motivate and inspire people, and once I got that corrected, my attitude and excitement and even anticipation for a very difficult meeting changed because now I was ready to go into that meeting and do what I want to do every day of my life: Help people reach their full potential.
Traci Morrow: Mm, so good. I love that because you used a family. I mean, you are Mark Cole in charge of Maxwell Enterprises, and your pain point, your example was with the relationships in your family. John says, "Your attitude makes a difference in how you approach life, but also how you interact with people in the relationships in your life." I think a lot of times people listen to a leadership podcast and they are applying it to their business model, their community service, wherever it is that they're pouring into, whether it's a ministry or career or their own business as an entrepreneur, but really, the place where we live are home relationships. I love when you apply it to home relationships because that's harder. I think it's harder in family, whether it's your immediate family in your own home or your extended family.
Interestingly, I have a humongous family. I know I've talked about it before on the podcast, but just for my little grandparents on my mom's side, her parents, they had nine kids, and from all those nine kids, with spouses and grandkids and great-grandkids and all of that, there are 165, I think, of us. That's crazy. One little family, one little couple. As you can imagine, we are a big family of big personalities, and so there is always, even though we're spread out, we're in each other's business, in each other's space, in each other's lives to such a degree that we know when there's disharmony among other family members. You can imagine with the family that big, there is always disharmony.
What I love about what John is teaching here is sometimes we want to button it up and fix it and make it right and heal it, but it's always in process, and bringing a good attitude when other family members are out of harmony with one another, being able to, like you said, fulfill your purpose of loving them, serving them, adding value to them, but also being okay in the process when it's not great and still bringing a good attitude. Just by that, we can be a good example to those around us.
I love how he went right into those four pieces, the four principles of how an attitude affects relationships because life is just all about relationships, and so when he talked about, "It helps us how we see others when we're hurt by them, whether or not we lift them up or bring them down, that they all have a potential to teach us something if we remain pliable and moldable and willing to be taught." You've just given a family example. What, in a leadership, in a business, in an organizational example of how you bring your attitude in those different areas, how you see them, whether or not you've been hurt by them, and whether you're lifting them up or tearing them down and learning from them, how do you bring that to the business world?
Mark Cole: Well, I think that recently I had a couple of leadership meetings to where I had to get into my driver persona, just, "We got to go. You guys are not going fast enough. We've got to have some significant momentum in the next few weeks." For some of my leadership team, we're not overly new, we've all been together now for a year-and-a-half, we've all been together through COVID, but for some of them, they not seen that level of intensity because COVID had its own sense of complications and attitude demands on how we lead.
Well, now, we're in another dimension of production in our company, and so I had to get the firm Mark, the intense Mark. I'm a passionate person. Well, the blind side or the weak side of passion is intensity, and so I had to lean into my intensity from a, "Hey, this is wrong. This is right. This is where we need to be going. Let's go." A couple of our teammates, I could see them going, "Whoa, I've been working here for 18 months. This is a little bit of a different intensity with a little different expectation behind it. Is something wrong? Are we in trouble? Is something wrong?" They started trying to rationalize a different perspective or behavior in my attitude.
Here's what I did with the two teammates since then: I went back and explained the intensity that came from my place of passion. I went back and made sure they knew it's the same old Mark, I'm still here, I'm all good, and then thirdly, I made myself available to them to make sure that they didn't misread my attitude because it's so easy when we have a C, a person that's very settled, very consistent, don't we misread them a lot of times as not having any passion, they have no drive? That's not true. They have more drive about consistency and staying true to something than I have on doing something new, but we mislabel the attitude, so as a leader, back to your question, I have found in certain times when I have to lean into another dimension of my strengths, that I need to circle back and make sure that my attitude is not misread.
Traci Morrow: Hmm. I hope people are hearing that because I think our attitude, even though your passion was coming on as intensity, it wasn't that you were negative, you were just cranking it up a little bit for a season that needed that, a moment, a meeting that needed that. But sometimes that can trigger something in someone else that we're working with that doesn't even have anything to do with us, like maybe they experienced somebody who went intense in their past, in another organization, in another place, and it can shut them down because it triggered something that was unhealthy, and they might be seeing your intensity as just another, "This is going bad," and you don't see that, you don't see the wheels turning in their mind, but that's going on inside. You just see the blank face, the protective face.
I think it's important to remember that our attitudes can trigger responses in our people based on their past and that's why the relationship aspect is so important with it. What you did was such a powerful lesson. You didn't say, "Oh, they've got to know what I meant," not, "They were just putting it through a filter." You didn't make excuses about their response. You didn't. You went to them and you spent time with them and you made sure that they knew you still loved and valued them. This was another degree you were still being true to yourself. You didn't lose it in that meeting. You were intentionally being intense because that's what the situation called for.
I think so many leaders miss that. That's where we can have a disconnect with our people, right? If our attitude of intensity, our passion, if the flip side of the coin of passion, intensity can trigger negative responses in our people, and if they aren't watching their attitudes, that can snowball effect. I love the example that you gave because that teaches me. That makes me think of those times when you maybe say something to your kids, even, and then you see their face, they shut down, your words shut them down, or your attitude, the passion behind it shuts them down, and having those conversations away from the meetings.
He then goes in to talk about how attitude makes a difference in how we face challenges and he listed several people who the thing that could have held them up, held them back, stopped them, stalled them, made them spin their wheels, and it actually was the setup for their breakthrough. Has there been a time? Maybe COVID is one of them, but have there been times where you felt like you saw very clearly where a moment in your leadership, you could have shut down, but you instead chose to go forward and found, like these people did, you talk about Beethoven, who went deaf and wrote his greatest masterpiece afterwards? Are you in that season of writing your greatest masterpiece on the other side of COVID, or is there another example in your leadership where hardship has set you up to knock it out of the park?
Mark Cole: I want to talk to our podcast listeners right now, Traci, in response to your observations there. I appreciate the question of me and this certainly applies to me, but it applies to all of us, every one of us. There's been more talk about relating to COVID and pivot and new normals and statements that we make now to the point of nausea in words like "pivot" and "new realities." But I'm going to tell you, every single day...
Let me restate it in a way that I am absolutely not exaggerating. Every single week for the last 75 weeks, I've had a leader call me that I thought for sure was a rock, stable, certain, and they've told me about considerations of suicide, they've told me conversations about wanting to quit, they've told me of emotional erratic behavior, wanting to just give up: "What's the use? I just want to go do something else. I am tired. I'm weary. I'm done." I mean, look, even in our health industry right now, people are leaving by the masses because of how we have debated vaccinations or masks or how we have underappreciated the frontline people that's helping us fight this pandemic at the health level. When we think about the divisiveness and the polarization that all of us have faced, we have all been put in a side or a camp depending on something that we did not even think about 18 months ago, much less determined we had an opinion of, we began to segregate ourselves based on things that we didn't even have an opinion of 18 months ago.
Why am I saying all of this, Traci? Because more than I want to talk about what I have done with my attitude at any point in my life, including where I am right now, I want to talk to you that's listening to this podcast because look at you: You're tuning into the podcast again this week. You're here. They may have counted you out, but you're still showing up. Some of you have lost very close people to this pandemic and others around you seem to be unconcerned with the safety fear that you have all of the time. Others of you are frustrated because politically we made ourselves almost in a Civil War again here in the United States based on political parties, and yet despite all of that, you're still showing up, you're still here. That resiliency, that's the word that we've all got to address now post-COVID, how do we create resilient leaders? Because you, my friend, are still showing up. Your attitude has been a difference-maker during COVID.
I pray that you not get caught in narratives or in environments that would demean or devalue someone else that doesn't look or see or say or do exactly what you would do because that attitude is pervasive in our world today, but I'm talking to a group of people on this podcast that are all about valuing people that has an attitude that is higher than the narrative that we face.
Traci, I've just got to tell you, while I started out this answer with a recognition that for 75 weeks I've got phone calls from people that have given up, want to give up, are considering more desperate measures than they've ever considered in their life. But on the flip side, let me tell you what else I do: Our podcast of values-based people-centered servant leadership continues to grow because there's an army of women and men that want to make a difference and know that they can have an attitude in the most adverse time we've ever faced in my lifetime and they're showing up and they're growing. Next-generation leaders, young leaders, I'm talking about middle school, high school kids, are coming to us and saying, "We want to have conversations of values in our community because we believe values will make a difference in our world."
I'm seeing more positive indicators than I've ever seen. You know why? Because I believe there are resilient people that listen to this podcast, that resonate with John Maxwell's brand that says, "Our attitude during COVID can do for us what nothing else can do. Our attitude is more reliable than security because COVID has certainly showed us that we can't be secure in some things. Our attitude can outlast a pandemic where we all have lost loved ones very close to us because we're still here. We want to make a difference." Traci, I don't want to talk about me in that answer, I want to talk about the women and men listening to this podcast that's still here, still showing up, still want to make a difference. That attitude inspires me.
Traci Morrow: That's a mic drop right there. That is a mic drop because I think that's like salve to a wound. We need to hear that from one another. If you're listening in on this podcast this time, and you just heard that, you might be one of those people who's like, "I have been stuck on the elevator principle. I have been going down and trying to..." My mom used to always say, "Two wrongs don't make a right," or, "Two negative things don't make a positive thing," and so sometimes we feel we get stuck in that wheel of being negative in negativity.
That might even be you listening in and listening to what Mark just said. You're here for a reason. You just heard what Mark said, what John taught on, and what Mark has applied and been seeing in his team, that maybe you are the way you've been approaching this has been left. You feeling negative and hopeless and fearful and angry, and maybe even full of hate toward the other side or towards the whole situation, and this really was a great lesson, I believe, for such a time as this, for us to say, "You know what? You can stop your old way you've been approaching everything if it hasn't been serving you well or the relationships in your life well, and instead, turn and give yourself options, the option to get out of that anger wheel and have a great attitude and approach to life and your relationships." Mark, this has been an incredible lesson, hasn't it?
Mark Cole: Yeah. Traci, to close us out, I'm going to quote John in something he said just recently. We were in an environment in Michigan. He was talking to a bunch of leaders and he said that he believes with all of his heart that the next global leaders that innovate and create things that will take our generation to the next level has happened during COVID.
In other words, what he was really saying is he talked about Martin Luther, as he talked about John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, what he really is saying that day is the next Abraham Lincoln is listening to this podcast today. In other words, those of you that have stood in the most difficult of times and are still standing and still have an attitude of optimism and positivity and belief that our best days are ahead, you, you, you are the next world changers that people will talk about for generations to come: "Remember when much of the world shut down? Remember when all these negative statistics was on the rise? There was this person, they listened to the Maxwell Leadership Podcast, they went and did something, and now, the course of history has been changed forever because they stood in the most difficult of times."
I believe with all of my heart, like John Maxwell does, like Traci Morrow does, like Jake Decker, like all of us do, we all believe this right here. We're doing this podcast because we're just uncovering world changers, the next group of women and men that stand the test of difficult times and come out with an attitude that is contagious to make a difference. That's you, that's us. That's what we're all about.
I hope if you know somebody today that has been struggling, that is emotionally distraught, that has had an attitude of defeat for too long, I hope that you will do what I want you to do every single week. I hope you will send this podcast to them, encourage them. I hope many of you that have team members that report to you, I hope you'll pass this podcast along to them, I hope you'll download the bonus resource notes, and I hope that you will teach others that we can have an attitude that will make a difference for us even in difficult times.
Thank you for being a part of this podcast. Thanks for being in our family. Traci, thank you. John Maxwell, thank you. We exist to serve you and help you lead better. Let's go change the world.