We say often on the podcast that there is a leadership deficit in our country and in the world. That means there is a huge need for leaders to step up and make change. But so many leaders talk themselves out of leading because they feel they don’t have enough influence or opportunities.
In this episode, John encourages everyone that you can lead right now by starting wherever you are, using what you have, and doing what you can. He talks about influence and opportunities, and how to gain more of each.
Join Mark Cole and Traci Morrow in the application portion of the episode as they share their own stories of stepping into leadership and discuss the great things that happen when you lean into the leadership needs around you.
Our BONUS resource for this episode is the Lead Now Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.
The 360° Leader by John C. Maxwell
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Mark Cole: Hey, welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. I'm Mark Cole, and I'm excited today to talk about you, that you can lead now. We say often in this podcast that there is a leadership deficit in our country. In fact, there's one in the world right now. What we really mean when we're saying that is there is a huge need for leaders to step up and make a change, and to make change and to change the world. But so many leaders talk themselves out of leading because they feel they don't have enough influence, or they don't have the opportunity. In the episode this week, John is going to encourage everyone to lead now by starting right where they are; using what they have, doing what they can. In fact, it was several, several months ago in our Maximum Impact Mentoring program that John shared this lesson, and it is so relevant to where we are today that Traci Morrow, the co-host of this podcast, yes, but also the co-host with John and the Maximum Impact Mentoring call, they dug into this conversation that you can lead now. Now, if you want to download the show notes, you can go to Maxwellpodcast.com/now, and you can follow along as John teaches about you, that you can lead now. Here is Dr. John C. Maxwell.
John Maxwell: I'm excited about the teaching entitled, “You Can Lead Now”. When I began the leadership journey, I was asking myself, “How do I really define leadership?” I defined it as the fact that leadership is influence. What's beautiful is 45 years later, it's exactly what I still believe that leadership is influence. And the reason I start this lesson with that is we're talking about you leading right now, wherever you are, position, no position, young, old, maybe just been introduced to the subject of leadership. What's so beautiful is once we understand what leadership is, which is influence, then we don't have to wait for permission from someone else to start leading, we just start influencing people. And maybe the three quick phrases I want to begin this lesson with is you know, start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. It's really that simple. Start where you are. I could still remember teaching at a leadership conference and a young man came up to me and he said, “I love your leadership principles, but I’m working on my MBA and I don't lead anything, I don’t lead people, I'm not in an organization.” He said, “You know, who do I start leading?” And I smiled and I said, “Start with yourself.” And that's what I tell everybody in leadership, leadership is influence and start influencing yourself. Start with yourself. You know, use what you have. Here's what I discovered, if you don't use what you have, why should you get something more to use? Do what you can if you don't do what you can now, why should you have opportunities beyond what you have right at this moment? You see, the leadership is kind of in the now, it's kind of like seize the moment and start where you are, use what you have and do what you can, and that will allow the leadership journey to begin and that will allow you to have more influence and down the road it'll allow you to have more opportunities. And so, let's get this as foundational as I teach this lesson, start with what you have, not with what you don't have, because so many people say, “Well, I would like to lead, but I don't have this or I don't have that title or, you know, nobody really knows me yet or I don't have enough influence.” And if you wait for the ideal situation, to be honest with you, I don't think you’ll ever start leading. I just think that you have to take the situation you have and make the very most of it. And what I do know is that your leadership is going to be relied upon two things, one is your influence, how you influence people, and then how you see and seize the opportunities that are around you. And so this lesson is going to kind of teach you how to look for opportunities that are around you, how to see them, how to seize them, and also how to increase your influence, because that's what I really tell people. Where are you right now? Start there. What kind of opportunities are around you right now? Open that door. Here's what I'm saying, when you are basically starting off, quit looking at your age and I'm too young, or what you don't have and say, “Wow, you know, I can't get started.” But let me just say this, if you can't get started with nothing, I'm not sure you're going to get started with something. I just think that sometimes position title resources, I think it's all overrated. And I've always said the number one way to know that you're with a leader, is when people say, “What's the number one characteristic of a leader?” To be honest with you, I think that all leaders before they become leaders had to make something happen, and that distinguishes them, that sets them apart. And so, we're talking about that right now at the beginning of this lesson, and we're basically saying that you can lead now, but if you're going to lead now, you've got to not only want something to happen, you've got to make something happen. A lot of people, they want something to happen, but they want something to that happen to them or for them. And so, it's kind of like, well, you know, if something happens for me, then I'll do it. If somebody gives me this, then I'll do it, and I'm saying, no! No, you take the step out, you start, you begin, you roll up your sleeves and start now and you're never too young, you're never too inexperienced to start leading. That’s the beautiful thing about leadership, start right now. We're going to talk about influence and then we're talking about opportunities because again, which one comes first influence or opportunities? It is chicken and egg. I don't even know that answer. For some people influence comes first then they get the opportunity, some people they get an opportunity and they use it well, and they gain influence because of it. But there are three stages of influencing people, and I want to talk briefly about them today.
Stage one is position it. When you have a position, it gives you a platform. Now we know on the 5 Levels of Leadership, that's the lowest level of all but what I am saying is it does allow you to come to the leadership table. But even if you have a position of leadership, that doesn't mean that you're going to utilize it correctly. When I think of positional leadership, I think of hierarchy and so I have a position over you, or you have a position over me, and I think that hierarchy is overrated. I think what's more important than a hierarchy to be honest with you is proximity. And once you understand the proximity principle which means if I can relate to you, if I can connect with you, I can influence you, once you understand the value proximity, I think that if leadership is influence, what it really says is, don't go seeking a position whether that's just go seeking a relationship; get close to people. When I wrote The 360° Leader, it was a lesson basically about you can lead anywhere, you can lead from the middle of the pack if you want to, you can lead up, you can lead across, you can lead down, but when people were thinking of leadership, they were stymied over a hierarchy, and the 360° book says, “Oh, let me teach you about proximity.” And I think that as a new leader, a young leader, what you need to be thinking is not, “What position do I have to have before I can do certain things?” I think you need to be thinking of proximity. “Who do I need to get close to? Who already has that position? And if I could connect and relate with them, I could influence them, and I could already begin to take a leadership role.” So, quit seeking the position and go meet and connect with the people that have that position.
The second stage of influencing people is the respect stage. Because when you have respect with people, they give you permission to lead them at that point. You know, The Law of Respect in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership says, basically, people naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. That's just true. People in a room they can begin to sense which leaders are better and bigger and stronger and they just naturally migrate to them, and respect is a terrific way, a great way for you and for me to gain influence, no question about it. Because respect it's earned, respect isn't given. I love when people say, “Well, I demand respect.” Well, why don't you demand the sun to go still too. I mean, hello! Get a life. Respect is earned and it's earned over time by demonstrating integrity, it’s earned with people by serving them and be effective and delivering results. This is all where you get respect. The phrase I use all the time is, “Respect is gained on difficult ground.” But let me tell you something, that difficult ground can be yours today also, and what I mean by difficult ground is that you earn this because people watch you and they give you respect because they see you do things that most people would not do. I don't know, maybe it's making the right decision, not the popular decision, maybe it's not quitting when everybody else is dropping off, you're sticking and completing a tough assignment and you're completing it to the very end and you aren't even thinking about abandoning that yet while everybody else is kind of jumping ship, you're not jumping ship and people watch that; they see that, you get respect because of that. Maybe it's the fact that you give credit to someone else, when in reality everybody knows in the room that you're the one that did it, but instead of taking credit you're giving credit. Well, now I'm giving you just examples of things that you could do right now, you can do that right now. You can give credit to someone else instead of taking credit, you can finish an assignment, you can make right decisions, even though perhaps they're not going to always be popular with everyone else. That's how you gain respect. As a young leader, this was my greatest challenge, but as any young leader, it's everybody's greatest challenge. And when I say young leader, I'm not only speaking of age now, I'm talking to myself right now from a vantage point of age, but you could be a young leader and you're 50, but you just got into a new leadership position with a new group of people, and your leadership is very up. Doesn't matter whether you're 50 or 30, doesn't matter at all, if they don't know you, you have never been there…hey, you're quite young. And so, when you come into that scene, and you're young and people say, “Well, who is this?” You don't have respect. It's not given to you because you have the title or the position, it’s given to you because they've watched you do something that they admire about you. And I, as a young leader understood that. So, I always look for those times, those moments where I could make a decision, maybe that was tough knowing that even though people maybe didn't really like it at the moment that they would respect me for it. And I constantly looked for those times when I could earn or build respect with people because that's a huge way, obviously, in your life, of influencing others.
There's one more stage about influencing others and I love this one, I just call it the likability stage. There's something about being likable that gives you persuasiveness, you know, people want to be around likeable people. I'm not persuaded, you are not persuaded by people that are unlikable. I mean, to be honest with you, if you don't have a likeable personality, why in the world do I want to hang around you? Because we all know that relationships are the foundation of our leadership, and the expressions that I have said so many times that people now quote everywhere. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Or people will go along with you if they can't get along with you, or what are the laws of leadership? Leaders touch your heart before they ask for a hand. What are we doing here? We're talking about having a relationship and a likeable personality. Now, how does that happen? It happens when you and I intentionally put other people first, and it's got to be intentional because naturally I put myself first. Well, this is being likeable. This is gaining influence, and let me just say this, I ask myself, “What does it mean to be likable?” One is you got to know their name, it starts with knowing their name. But it goes beyond that, the second thing is you want to, as quickly as possible, have an experience with them. Now, it may be a very small experience, maybe you'll go grab a lunch or something, it doesn't have to be something huge, but you want to have an experience with them, and out of that experience, you want something to happen that you can refer to. So, if I’m with you and we ate together, and in the process of eating together, you know, you ask three times for your ketchup and they never gave it to you, finally you kind of got up and found the ketchup yourself and brought it over to the table. Well, the next time I'm with you, I'll say, “Boy, I sure enjoyed having lunch with you the other day and I'll never forget you kept asking for ketchup, ‘Where's the ketchup?’ Finally, you got up and got the ketchup.” Now, what am I doing? What I'm doing is I know your name. We've got an experienced together. I've taken something out of that experience that is unique to you that lets you know I remember, and it sets me apart from everyone else because you said, “Oh yeah, I did! After a while I just got up and got the ketchup.” Well, what's the point? The point is in being likable, you know their name, but you get an experience and you pull out of it's something that you could reference back and refer to often. It's a beautiful way truthfully, it's a beautiful way of just being able to connect with people. Let's take a moment now let's go to the other side, let’s go to the opportunity side because sometimes influence helps us to get started as a leader but sometimes with very little influence maybe we just get an opportunity, one that we say, “Wow, I had no idea I was going to have that opportunity!” And here it is, so you kind of seize the moment, and you get started on your leadership journey. I have discovered that all of us want opportunities, but very seldom do we know what creates an opportunity. Now, I want to give you what I think are byproducts of the opportunities around us, and the first one is questions because when I start asking questions, especially, if I ask questions, specifically, intensely, I begin to unearth opportunities. Many years ago, 25 years ago, maybe up to 30, I'm in San Diego at Skyline, but also, I've started my company of adding value to people and resourcing people. So, I had about six of my people around one day, we're trying to think of materials, resource opportunities that we could put in the hands of leaders that would really help them. And I'll never forget one of the guys around the table said, “John, I think we ought to take your sermons—" Because I was still pastoring, “—And I think that we ought to take, I don't know, your top one hundred sermons and put them in a kit.” Now, when he said that, I thought, “That’s a terrible idea. I can't imagine people getting a hundred of my sermons, and if they did, I can't imagine them listening to all of them.” To be honest with you, when I get done with one, I'm done. So, I began to say, “Ah, I can't imagine that happening.” And, so I'm kind of, to be honest with you, I'm dumbing down the idea and kind of throwing some water on it, and then one of the other people looked around the table and said, “Well, let me ask you a question…” And so, they're looking at each other, he said, “If you were really wanting to be a good communicator, and John had a hundred of his lessons or his teachings, how many of you would buy that?” And everybody's hand went up but mine. Now, when he asked the question, and he got that response, it totally put an opportunity before us, and sure enough, we went out and we took a hundred of my sermons and we, literally, made a kit out of it, and I remember taking it to my first conference in Indiana, and almost apologizing that I had a kit back there with a hundred of my sermons, but if you would like them, you know, they're there. You know what I mean? You can get it for, I don't know, five or six hundred dollars, I don’t even know what the price was, but had to be kind of high because there were a lot of sermons. And I'll never forget, as soon as the break started, people just going back to that resource table, and hundreds of them buying that kit, and I just started laughing. I thought here we are a perfect example of the opportunity that was birthed by somebody just asking a question, “Well, would you buy a kit like that?” Everybody said yes except me. Networking is another way that we find opportunities. It's kind of like the vein if you think of it like a mineral goldmine or some kind of precious mineral, it's the vein that kind of leads you to opportunities and I again, I found many opportunities through networking, who are you? What do you do? What do you know? What are you learning? All those things, wow…opportunities. Number three is openness. When I talk about being open, I'm talking about this is an attitude where people could look at you and say, “You know what? I think they're open, I think that they would want to know about this opportunity that’s going to be coming their way.” You could just look at some people visually, and you're not afraid to offer a suggestion, and with other people you would just say, “I think I'll be quiet.” Action always creates great opportunities. Once you start moving, then the resources start to come to you. Now, we make a big mistake, and that is when we think of opportunities, we kind of think that everything is behind the first door of opportunity and it's not. In fact, my teaching is sometimes the first door of opportunity does nothing but lead to a second door where there is opportunity. So, the best door isn't the first door but the first door is essential to get to the other doors, and this is what I want you to understand, when we talk about starting now, I want you to be greatly encouraged, wherever you are, start now, and if there's a little door of opportunity in front of you, open it. And I've opened a lot of first door of opportunities and, basically, behind them wasn't much there at all, “I thought there'd be something here.” But then I saw another door, and then I realized that the first door just leads you to another door, and what I've found is the first door doesn't have all of your answers, but it does lead to other doors that will provide your answers. So, there are three stages of opportunity, the first stage is stage one, just imagine opportunities are everywhere. You know, on your journey, there's that opportunity door that basically is right there for you open, and the question I have is, if you don't live in the land of possibilities, will you ever know what is possible? And the answer's no. I've got to live in the land of possibilities to know what's possible, and opportunities are always where you are; they're always where you are, they're never where you were. People are going back and saying, “Man, ow! Lost that opportunity.” Well, maybe you lost it, but opportunities are never lost, somebody will find it. But the opportunities that you have around you right now, they're not yesterday, they're not tomorrow, they're right here, and you got to learn to be able to say yes to those doors of opportunities, and that creates you to be in a positive environment, that creates the fact that you could open the door of that opportunity. Wow! Just understand opportunities are all around you right now. Remember, if you're not walking through the door of opportunities, it’s not because the door is not there, it’s just you don’t see it or you're unwilling to open it.
The second stage is prepare for opportunities. And what we find is that when we open the first door, as I said that, you know, here comes the next door, and preparing for opportunities means that when I see that door opened, I'm going to walk through it. John Wooden, my mentor used to say, “John, when opportunity comes it’s too late to prepare.” And I know all kinds of people who are getting ready to get ready. So, they're always getting ready, you know that, they’re just always getting ready, and what I'm saying to you is, I'm not talking about getting ready, I'm talking to you about staying ready, you got to stay ready. It's not a fact that I'm going to get ready, it's a fact that I'm going to stay ready. I'm going to always be prepared in case my time comes. I knew that I wanted to teach and do lessons and speak and, in my calling, preach, and so I prepared two sermons before I ever got the opportunity to preach. In fact, those sermons that I prepared they were two years out in advance of my opportunity to preach. But I just said there's going to come a time when I have an opportunity, when an opportunity comes, I'm going to be ready. So, here are my sermons. Okay? And I was ready to seize that moment.
Stage three is you just seize and activate the opportunities that are around you. I was given this the other day and I love it: “Dear optimist, pessimist and realist, while you were busy arguing about the glass of water, half full, half empty, while you were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it. Sincerely, The Activist.” I love that. People said, “Is it half full? Is it half empty?” Realist will say, “Well, when it’s drank, I'm going to have to clean it all up.” So, the activist just grabs hold of it and says, “I’m going to just drink the water.” And that creates what I call sometimes, “success momentum” and successful momentum is the ability to get something going until it begins to feed itself. It starts with hunger, you know, I want to have some opportunity, and it's fueled with a belief and that belief is that I know there are opportunities out there, and I know that I could make the most of it. So, we start to layer the little opportunities that we seize. We don't worry about the big ones, we just take any of them, we realize that several little opportunities is just preparing us for the big one, and because of that, we build our competence, get some wins under a belt, and it then allows us to live a life that begins to grow and be bigger and as a result we get to seize and have more opportunities in our life, no question about it. I love this, this quote by Orison Marden who said, “Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities, seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities, strong men make them.” I love that. It is a fact that if you and I are weak, always getting ready to get ready, but boy, we're not there, we're just going to basically hope that the opportunity comes to us. But if we are strong, we understand we have to go out, we have to find them, we have to make them in our life. I would encourage you to do that right now. Because you can lead now, you don't need to wait for the right opportunity or for a certain amount of influence. Start where you are because here's how it works, you start that success momentum, not by wishing that you were at a certain place in your life, but by beginning right where you are. And guess what? As you start it, that success momentum begins to increase, and pretty soon you're saying, “Wow, I didn't realize that this could be possible. I didn't realize that this could be happening to somebody like me.” The last word I have for you to encourage you in this lesson today is very simple: you can, you can lead now, you don't need to wait. You can lead right now.
Mark Cole: Hey, welcome back! I know that you enjoyed that just like Traci and I enjoyed it! Now, Traci, I can't wait to interact with you and just kind of debrief how we in the John Maxwell Enterprise are applying this idea that each and every person can lead now. Now, as I said earlier, this lesson is all the way back from March 2017, in our Maximum Impact Mentoring program. Traci, you co-hosted that. Hey, those of you that don't know what that is, John Maxwell teaches a lesson every month for 30 minutes, and Traci you host that, and then after John's done teaching, you have the ability to live, interact with John and get into a queue and have conversation with John. It's an incredible program. It typically is $29 a month, we have been making that available to those of you that are podcast listeners for $19 a month. So, if you'd like to be a part of that program with John and Traci, you can go to Maxwellpodcast.com/impact and use the code “Impact” at checkout. Traci, good to have you on! I'm reminded as we start this lesson, Stephen King's quote, he says, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” And I can't wait to talk about, “You Can Lead Now!” You are a leader and I'm glad you're on the program today.
Traci Morrow: I'm happy to be here, Mark, and as John ended that he said such powerful words, he said, “You can lead, you can lead right now.” And if the mic was on, you would have heard me like, “Bam! That is so good!” And my first thought is someone who is listening to this podcast, someone needs to hear this. Someone needed to hear that you, you can lead right now. And it doesn't mean that you have to have a position, it doesn't mean you have to have a title, it doesn't mean you have to have resources. You just can start where you are, and that is honestly, Mark, where I found John in my life. I was 21 years old, I'm 50 today. So, it's been a long time of listening to that voice, kind of guiding me and coaching me that I can be a leader now. I think there have been many times in my life where I've been the new person, and I just remind myself, I can lead right now and where you start where you are…gosh! Back then I can think of jobs where, I don't know, maybe you have been fired in your life but I was fired as a teenager because when I had my jobs, it was like, I'd go there, I'd show up, I wanted the paycheck, but I really wanted to be with my friends. So, you know, they probably thought I was a very sickly person because I always called in sick because I had a better opportunity come along. It was just a paycheck, and I would show up and my mentality was just show up, do what's told, and then leave and cash that check and do what I really want to do. And when I started listening to John, it was about showing up with a different mindset, and that started me on the road of like, “What can I bring that's different? What do I have in me that brings something unique to every position that I'm in?” And I think of you, Mark, because you are the best example, people hear you on the podcast, they know you're the CEO of all things John, they see you on the world stage, they see you traveling the world and talking to big names and people but what I love about you is that you started where all of us started, you started in the bottom of the rung and you worked yourself into and showed up in a different way so that you caused attention to yourself. You came onto John's radar, and so I'm curious to hear from your journey how you started out, just showing up and bringing your best and what was your mindset as you made those little decisions, when you didn't have proximity to John. John didn't even know your name, you'll say. You didn't have the position, you were making phone calls all day. What made you stand out back in those days that somebody listening to the podcast will go, “How can I show up differently to my job or workplace today?”
Mark: You know what I love about this, Traci, and I hope everyone knows your story, but you describe that nineteen, twenty-year-old leader that was more leading relationally. You were on John's third point of likability, you just were going after likability. We hear that story and it gives some of us great comfort and for me right now it gives me great comfort for my oldest daughter. I mean, just to hearing you, for all of my kids, hearing you say that there was a time, because I know your success, I know that you lead on a weekly basis, literally tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. I know that you're leading multi-million dollars’ worth of business each and every month. I know you. I know that you're on the stage with John, I know that John loves you. And so many times we listen to these podcasts, I listen to podcasts of other thought leaders, and I think, “Oh, if I could be like them.” And what I mean is I wish that I could hit a button and accelerate to where they are right now as I listened to their podcast or, Traci, as I watch you run business and love on your people. I want to punch a button and get there instantly. Fact is, I am like you, Traci, fact is, I am like the person whose podcast I admire. I'm just on a journey that's needing to create and cultivate in me something that will get me to my sweet spot, to the thing that I'm supposed to do. And if I could challenge anyone and everyone on this podcast that may already feel like you're leading pretty good but you want to lead at a greater level of influence, or maybe you're just getting started out in this concept of leading and influencing. Something I took away from John in this lesson was this, you need to take your leadership ability out of other people's control. So many times, as John says, you believe that your leadership, you need a position. You need others to make a way for you, you're waiting for your “lucky break”. Guess what? You already have your lucky break, it was listening to John Maxwell on the podcast today saying it is your turn to lead and it is now that is the time for you to lead. There's your lucky break, boom! I just gave it to you. It's not a button to press that says, “Now I can be like Traci Morrow!” Or boom! “Now I can replace Mark Cole and give John a real CEO!” Don't wait for any of that. Your magic pill, your magic button was this concept, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Traci, when I came, you were exactly right, when I go back, and I think, “What was it that made a difference for me?” See, I came here having already led something of significance in my little world before I came here. Lost it all, lost all the ability to lead, I made some really dumb decisions in my life, and now I come back and I swear off leadership, which means I didn't want the position or the responsibility or the eyeballs on me. But there was something innate in me, Traci, and this is what I want to capture to answer your question, what struck me when I was back in the stock room making 75 to 80 dials a day was I wanted to lead myself first, foremost, and if that was all I could lead, I wanted to lead myself. Here's the big deal, you can lead now. There's two words you need to focus on in this podcast, you and now. It's you that you need to focus on. Traci, before the show, before Jake pushed us into the studio and said, “Get going.” When you and I were talking, and we talked about people that lead from the outside in, and people that lead from the inside out. For me, the difference maker was when I began to lead myself and lead myself well and not step up because of performance, because of position or because of people, but step up because of myself, I began to see a long trajectory of success, and notice I said long, because it don't happen quick when you begin trying to lead yourself. And Traci, what you decided at nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two whenever you went, “Whoa, that John Maxwell just told me, I've got to take responsibility for me.” I think that's when probably the leadership trajectory started reap great dividends to you, as well.
Traci: It certainly put me on a track to, I mean, sometimes it's right away, sometimes it takes some time. For me it was more of the mindset shift that just my mind opened, and what I love is, you know, we're talking about this, about you can lead right now, but John talks about leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less. And he says 40 years later, I'm happy that I can still say the same thing. But going back to what you said about the MIM call, the Maximum Impact and Mentoring calls that John does, John just did a call that was fascinating, it's called, “The Differences Between Leadership and Influence”, and if you haven't, you can have access to that call if you do join the MIM mentoring, and how often do we have access to a live call with John? If you've ever thought, “I wish I could talk to John Maxwell.” You can on the MIM calls. People ask questions all the time, and he talked about the differences between leading and influencing because we have a lot of influencers, social influencers today that aren't necessarily leaders, and so, John kind of dives into the idea of you cannot lead without influencing people. Right? He gives that whole analogy of, you know, otherwise you're just on a walk or you're just on a hike, you're a hiker, you aren't a leader, but he talks about you can be an influencer, but not a leader. You can be influencing people in a certain area or particular topic. It's a fascinating call, but it really boils down to you can turn off this podcast and begin today like Mark said, inside. When I started to work on myself, I looked at the world differently, I looked at opportunities differently, I looked at everything around me differently because now I have something to bring. I'm not just showing up, I'm bringing something. It's not like, “Here I am!” It's, “Here you are!” I opened my eyes and saw other people when I showed up and I showed up differently, then I found myself wanting to practice what I was learning from John in different areas. So, you might be a young person, you might have a teenager, you might be a parent like me of teenagers, or you might be a teenager listening to this and your parents have said, “You got to listen to this John Maxwell!” Your parent is very smart. I tell my kids to say, I tell my teenagers and adult kids the same, but you show up for yourself and you grow yourself, like John Wooden says, “You begin to prepare because opportunity is going to knock for you.” You might be 21 you might be 51 when opportunity knocks, you don't know how long you have to prepare, but don't have opportunity knock and you go, “Shoot! I should have put down, you know, video games and started to prepare myself for this.”
Mark: You know, let me say something before I forget. So, Traci just talked about John breaking down this concept of leadership and influence. He's been saying for years leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. And then he did this most recent lesson, if and when you sign up for the Maximum Impact Mentoring program, you not only get all of John's current lessons, you get all the previous lessons too. And so, you'll be able to get the lesson Traci's talking about if you go to Maxwellpodcast.com/impact. Don't forget to use the code “Impact”. But, Traci, you just touched on something that I want us to go to on this and it's proximity. So, you said “When opportunity knocks, you need to be prepared.” You quoted John Wooden, and then you said, “But trust me, opportunity is going to knock.” John talked in this, when he was talking about the three stages of influence in today's lesson, he talks about this first stage of position, and then he talks a little bit about the proximity principle. Now, I have a whole lesson that I do on how I became committed to proximity with John Maxwell. I'm not going to go there today, I've shared it on previous podcasts, maybe we'll share it again down the road. But it's a key critical point because if you are a leader or a wannabe leader, and you really do want to lead now, I want you to find somebody that are getting the kind of opportunities that you hope to get one day, just find them. Find the person that is doing what you wish you could do. Find the person that is leading and influencing the way that you want to lead. Don't begin to idolize them, that'll mess you up. That's a whole other lesson, too. But what I will tell you is get in proximity to them, get close. For years, Traci, I and you have a story about proximity, too. I have made myself available and became a proximate in proximity with John Maxwell, and what I have seen is over the years of consistency, of positioning myself to proximity with someone that was getting the opportunities that I liked, that I felt like I wanted to have in my life, the closer I get, the longer I stay, the more those opportunities become mine just like they become John's. I've watched you, you now host Maximum Impact with John, you do co-hosting with me on the podcast, you will be hosting soon the “Live to Lead” conference that we do, more about that later, but here's what I'll tell you, Traci, that I noticed about you, your always driver is to be available, to serve, and to be approximate because what we do made such an impact on you that you want that to work, not only on you, but through you. So, how have you kept this consistent commitment to proximity?
Traci: Well, two things: I think that just listening to John for so many years and feeling that he, you know, John puts out, you hear it in his voice, friends, he puts out such a warm and welcoming and I wanted to be close to that. And so, I just decided I'm going to lay down my fear, I am going to put down my ego of what if I look dumb? What if I'm the dumbest person in the room? What if all these people are, you know, way better than me, faster than me, smarter than me? I'm going to get okay with that, and I'm going to show up so I can be near and watch, not just to hear what John says, but watch how John works with his team, watch how John and Mark interact, because that's all teaching me, as well. And so, when I showed up, then the fear hit a little bit like, “What am I doing here? Who am I?” And then I had a conversation with you, Mark, and you said, “Traci, you're here because you're meant to be here. You showed up, you continue to show up, you prove yourself by, you know, working and going above and beyond.” And you said, “Are there a million people smarter, better, faster than us? Yes. But should that hold us back? Do you think that holds me back? Could John have somebody, I don't know, better than me, smarter than me, faster than me? Yes.” And so, when I heard that you keep showing up and John chose you to work with him and pour his life into and look at just by showing up and making yourself available, and I learned that from you. I just thought, you know, if I showed up hoping that I could be on this podcast, I would be working for all the wrong reasons, that would be very thinly veiled. But when I show up just to serve and to become better, and to be close to you guys and watch and learn from you, with an ego down and just a learning attitude, then it doesn't matter what I get or what I get to do. I'm blessed to get to do these things and be a part of this, but really, all it's saying is just keep working on me without having these little goals of like, you know, that take you off track and get you away from learning.
Mark: I'm so glad you said that because here's what I'll tell you, I've watched people that have all the potential in the world, and the reason I say potential is not because they're the smartest, brightest, most talented person around, they have it because the opportunity is right there, they have the competence and they have the availability, they have the key ingredients and they make opportunity mystical, they put a mystique to it, and so, it's sitting right there but because they think it needs to be more complicated, they go, “Oh, I don't know if I should step into the opportunity.” In other words, they put a mystique there and, gang, whether you believe in serendipity or whether you believe in providence, whichever side of the world you come on, if the opportunity is right there and it's just waiting for you to step into, quit making it so mystical, quit making it the mystique and the uncertainty and all of that. And then, Traci, I loved it. I mean, you became this instant—we knew immediately, Traci, you and I knew that we're supposed to do great things together to carry on John's legacy. John knew that he needed to pour into you, you knew you needed to be in proximity to John and then the stars started aligning, providence started taking over and then you know what you did and what a lot of us do? We began to let the mystique challenge us to step back. So, one, we don't want to step in, and then two, we want to step out when it becomes to be too good to be true. And I will just tell you, take the mystique out of opportunity and make it as John said, all about you positioning yourself and inserting yourself and going for it. And I'm watching you do that, Traci, I could give you, if we had time today, which we don't, I could give you literally dozens of people that have done just that in John Maxwell's environment, And they are now leading and influencing greater than they ever imagined. I'm watching Jake on the screen right now because we're in a Zoom studio today, and Jake's nodding his head, I mean, he's given me a good ol’ Baptist nod because Jake is a creator, and he has helped us create this podcast to where now over 8 million of you have been impacted by the voice of John and the application of some of John's leaders, and that is because a guy that just kept positioning himself, Jake, you positioned yourself, and then now your work is impacting millions and millions of people, a hundred twenty-five, a hundred and thirty thousand plus will be impacted this week, because of what Jake is doing in the studio.
Traci: I think of those of you who are listening and you're like me, and you are either feeling the fear to start, and you want to collect more information, and you want to gather more tools and waiting to get started, and then I think of some of you who are full steam ahead, and this is making perfect sense to you and you are running and momentum is at your back and sometimes feeling like it's chasing you down faster than you can run, and so, there are two sides of it like, on the one hand, you know, John talks about the land of possibilities, opportunity is the land of possibilities and it might not be your first door that you open but door one opens you to door two or three or four and then that's when you find your groove just saying “yes” and stepping in rather than letting fear hold you back, the land of possibilities means laying down that fear. But, Mark, if you could talk, because I feel like in my business I see this and I'm certain it's in our podcast land that there can, of course, there's the middle of the road but there's probably two big camps right now listening to this about opportunity. There's a camp, the activators and they're like John is speaking their language. They're hearing you, they're giving you a Baptist nod, whatever that is, and so, they're hearing this, and they have an avalanche of momentum coming in. Sometimes when momentum happens, you almost can feel a little bit, that fear creeps in of, “Oh my gosh, I know this feeling, and boy, do I know this feeling. This is going faster than I've grown. I need to put myself on hyper growth. What do I do? Do I keep running with it? Do I need to take a pause to kind of assess and recreate my game plan based on this momentum?” And then there are certainly, they have to be on your team, and in our podcast land that are just, you know more if you took a test on what John teaches, you would beat both Mark and I. And so, maybe, your action is stalled because of fear, you second guess yourself, you don't have the position, you don't have the resources, all the disqualifiers we give to ourselves. Mark, can you kind of end on this to inspire them in the same way and encourage them in the same way that you do with your team? What do you say to those activators? And what do you say to those who are frozen but just dying to get in the leadership influence game?
Mark: Yeah, you know, it's a great question, and I think the first thing first, John teaches the difference between management and leading. Management is treating people the same way. Managing them the same way, putting everybody in a cookie cutter and saying, “One message, one expectation, one requirement fits all.” The difference in that and leadership is leadership leads each person differently according to their worldview, according to their perspective, according to their reactive and proactive propensities. And so, I love what you're asking, Traci, because I do, I have the people, the analyzers, the people that need to process, “Let me process and get back with you.” And I sit in the same room with people that are saying, “What's there to process? The opportunity is right there, why aren’t we going anywhere? Why aren’t we doing anything?” And both have the ability without leadership to, one, feel isolated, uncertain, and not effective to the entire team. I've seen activators that if we as a team didn't activate quick enough, they feel paralyzed and can't do anything because we didn't act soon enough. I've also worked with analyzers, people that process and we push them beyond their comfort zone, and they became ineffective on the team. The secret to leadership is understanding how to make your processors get out of their comfort zone and begin to act a little quicker than they would if they were left to their own comfortable devices. The challenge with an activator is to challenge them to hold back more than they're comfortable holding back and let them understand that data and analysis can be your friend for more effective long-term impact. And that is the science or the effectiveness of good leadership. I've seen way too many managers want to have this propensity, proactive team that everybody all day long, “We need to be proactive! We need to be proactive!” And they wear people out. “I’m wore out. All I've done is activate and you've given me no time to go back inside and assess how we're doing.” But I've also seen paralysis by analysis, so again, Traci, the biggest thing you can do as a leader, not a manager, don't be a manager, not all people are created equal, not all people respond equal, not all people are affected equal, but be a leader, and work hard to get people to grow in the areas that will make them more effective. And if you want to develop a team, you need the analyzers and the activators. You need the processors, and the spontaneous, you need both. And if you lean more toward one are trying to make everybody one or the other, you are losing the beauty of a diverse team that will take your organization to heights and to effectiveness that you've never had before.
Traci: Yeah, I just want you all to hear that and I want you to hear me as I'll toss it back to you, Mark. My closing remarks if I have closing remarks, is hear it again, you can lead now, you can lead right now. So whatever has been rolling in your mind while you've been listening to Mark and John, and maybe even something I had said, but if you're hearing this and something stirred in your heart and you've been thinking about it for a long time, just tell yourself, write it on the fridge, put a magnet to it, write it in lipstick on your bathroom mirror, you can lead right now.
Mark: You know, Traci, it reminds me you saying that, reminds me of Mark Twain's quote, he says, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Which dovetails right to how John started this entire episode. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. A lot of times on these podcasts, I've tried to give you an action item, I try to give you something to do. I don't have anything else to say than what Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” I don't have anything additional to say than what John said, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” Thanks for joining us! Traci, as always, man, I could go on and on and on and on, but thank you, Traci. Thank you, John Maxwell, thanks to our team that makes these podcasts possible. But most importantly, podcast listeners, thank you, because our vision, our purpose is to add value to leaders who multiply value to others. That's what we've attempted to do today. That's what we hope we have done. That's what we will intend to do tomorrow. Now, one more time if you want to join the Maximum Impact Mentoring program, you can go to Maxwellpodcast.com/impact, use the code “Impact” and you'll get $10 a month off as a podcast listener. Again, go to the link Maxwellpodcast.com/now you'll be able to download the show notes. We hope to see you again next week, but until then, let's lead!
2 thoughts on “You Can Lead Now!”
I understand that Leadership is like falling in love with discipline; it is the ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how it needs to be done all the time.
Thank you John, Mark and Tracey, I absolutely needed that now.