How to Handle Resistance (Part 2)

Last week we talked about how resistance is inevitable, and how to leverage your team through resistance. This week, John Maxwell concludes his lesson and offers seven new ways to handle resistance in your organization, your team, and your life.  

For the application portion of this episode, Mark Cole and Becky Bursell will help you navigate this impactful lesson by John and offer ways to apply this to your own life and leadership!  

Our BONUS resource for this series is the “How to Handle Resistance Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below. 


Mark Cole: 

Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership Podcast. This is the podcast designed to add value to leaders who multiply value to others. My name is Mark Cole, and I'm excited to continue a two part series with you on How to Handle Resistance. Last week we talked about how resistance is inevitable, and how you need to leverage your team through resistance. This week, John is back. He's going to conclude his lesson and offer seven new ways to handle resistance in you, in your organization, with your team, and even specifically in your life. 

I'm happy to have Becky Bursell back with me co-hosting, and she's going to help me navigate this impacting lesson by John, and we're going to offer you ways to apply this lesson to your life and your leadership. If you would like to download the bonus resource for this episode, please go to This bonus resource is a free fill in the blank pdf that accompanies John's lesson and will make it easier for you to capture notes. Also, if you'd like to watch this episode on YouTube, please go to 

Make sure to leave us a comment, tell us what impacted you or what we can do better to add more value to you. Now, here we go. We're ready. Part two, here is John Maxwell. 

John Maxwell: 

Number seven, in handling resistance, this is one of my favorite points right here, promise problems. Don't promise just solutions. One of the things that leaders have to find out is that there has to be realism in the charge that you're going to take the hill. There has to be realism. This idea is, "Hey guys, it's going to be an easy ride. If you get in the business, you're going to get rich. And it's just having..." Folks, I'm telling you something, that you're going to have more fallout faster. You got to be very realistic with them. You got to help them see the whole picture. Ole Paul Harvey said, "You can tell you're on the road to success. It's uphill all the way." You don't coast to success. 

You don't get in the vehicle and just kind of let that sucker idol and you go across the finish line. If you're coasting, you're coasting to failure, not success. So there's a realism here. And let tell you the realism, because the nature of change is this, that it gets worse before it gets better. Go to the bank on this. So when you're asking people to change, help them understand, it's going to get worse before it gets better. Don't just say, "Hey, we're going to change. It's going to be fun. It's going to be easy." It isn't fun. Ain't going to be easy. In fact, can I tell you something? If you weren't the leader, you'd be resisting it yourself. 

I realized how difficult change was. In fact, the reason I talk about change a lot, and the reason I'm doing it in this lesson here is I used to be naive. I used to think that leaders like to change and followers didn't. Then one day I realized, no, no, leaders don't like to change either. They only like to change if they're in charge. But I realized how hard it was to change is because when I was a kid, when I graduated from high school, my parents got me a set of golf clubs for my graduation present of which I didn't know how to play golf. But because I was an athlete, and was very stupid, I decided that I would teach myself. 

So went out to the golf course, and I had a baseball swing and I hit the ball and I didn't have a slice, I had a boomerang. I could hit the ball and it almost could come all the way back to me. One day I was playing golf with a good golfer, and I started getting humbled, because he was hitting the ball straight and I'd never seen the ball go straight before. I didn't realize the ball could go straight. If I wanted to hit the ball there, I lined up here, and let it do that number. 

So finally I humbled myself enough, I said, "Can you tell me what's wrong with my golf game?" He said, "Well, I don't have time for that." He said, "Everything." I said, "It can't be that bad. You don't mean everything." He said, "Well," he says, "everything I see." He said, "I've been watching you." He said, "You do nothing right." He said, "You don't have one thing... I mean, you don't..." In other words, you're in deep weeds. So then I thought, "Well, I can't learn everything. Come on. I mean, we got to do it one..." So I said, "Let's start with the basics." I said, "What's my number one problem in golf?" And he looked at me and he said, "Well," he said, "oh," he says, "Your number one problem is you're too close to the ball after you hit it." 

I perfected mini shots. I could swing a golf club hard and have the ball go this far. You try that. Swing with all your might and only hit it this far. You have to be good to do that. Well, you know what he did? He changed everything, changed the way I gripped the club, changed the way I stood, changed all my footwork. I mean, he changed my swing. I mean, he changed it all. Now here's what I found in that process. I found it's very difficult to unlearn. I found out that it's much easier to learn it right than to learn it wrong, unlearn it and learn it right. 

One of the lessons I learned there is the value of when you get people early, train them quick. There are all kind of things I learned, because I used to go to the practice range with my bad swing and practice. Can I tell you something? When you go practice something wrong, you hear people say, "Practice makes perfect." It always ticks me off when I hear that. Can I tell you that practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent. Put it this way, if you're bad and you practice, you just get more consistently bad. 

You've got to learn how to do it right if you're going to practice and get out of the hole. And you know what I also found in this whole area of change? I found that when I was getting ready to make what I would call a crucial shot, maybe I'm a 100 yards out and I really need to make this shot to get on the green, so I can have a chance to par, I found that I had a tendency to go back to my old way of swinging the club, because it made me feel more comfortable. That's why when people say, "Well, you want to feel comfortable in what you're doing." I'm saying, "No, you don't." Some of the most important things I've ever done, I felt uncomfortable doing. 

You want to do it right, not comfortable. That's when I realized that many people would rather have old problems than new solutions. That's when I realized that not everybody wants to change, they would rather be comfortable than change. There's an uneasiness and an uncomfortableness in the process, and that's what we're talking about when I'm talking about resistance. This is what you and I have to deal with. When we are going to be overcomers, we're going to go up against a lot of resistance, a lot of people who maybe do not want to change, which brings me to number eight in helping people in this area. 

Number eight is I call this over communicate. Well, all I'm saying here is you cannot communicate enough when people are going through change. And no matter how well you understand all the reasons why, you need to keep repeating them over and over again. Here's why. In your notes, when people question the change, remind them with logic. When people complain about the change, show them the benefits. When people begin to lose heart, offer words of encouragement. 

Number nine, wear your commitment on your sleeve commitment. 

Wear your commitment on your sleeve. A lot of resistant dies out once people come to the conclusion that change is a done deal. If they can tell that you're just not testing the water, that you're truly not going to go back, opposition quickly tapers off. People will test the limits looking to find out if you're really serious about what you're trying to accomplish. In other words, wear your commitment on your sleep so people know that you're not turning back. 

Number 10, develop a reward system to support change. Reward the people that are helping you make the change itself. Number 11, get resistance out in the open. Make it easy and safe for people to open up. Number 12, make sure your people have the training that is needed. Make sure that you've been heavy on the front end explaining the transitions for them. And number 13, get started. By the way, I love this next couple statements I have under the get started. Resistors rely on a strategy of delay. Naturally, speed is the adversary they fear the most. They hate fast. In fact, actually the resistors don't even want slow. They want not at all. Isn't that cute? Okay. 

Mark Cole: 

Podcast family, before we jump back into today's content, let's talk about time. I want you to think about the tasks that steal your time. You know the things that keep you busy but aren't necessarily the best use of your time or the most productive. Maybe it's inbox management, maybe it's managing your calendar like me, maybe it's processing payroll. 

Now, what if I told you that delegating those tasks, saying no to those tasks, could help you reclaim an average of 15 hours every week? That would allow you to say yes to the things you love, the things you're good at, the things you should be spending your time doing. Sound too good to be true. It's not. All it takes is focusing on your strengths and delegating your weaknesses. That's where our friends at Belay can help. Belay has been helping busy people do just that with their US-based virtual assistant accounting, social media and website staffing solutions for over a decade now. 

And to help you get started, Belay is offering an exclusive VIP promotion to our Maxwell Leadership Podcast listeners. To claim this offer. Just text Maxwell to 55123. That's M-A-X-E-L-L to 55123. Get out of the administrative weeds and back to casting vision for your next big thing with Belay. 

Hey, welcome back. Man, John was on fire with this. I've worked alongside John for 22 years, and truly I've watched him, Becky, as you have, and being on the team, being impacted by John, how he makes resistance effective in his life and his leadership. Just remember those of you that are joining us for the first time ever, last week we talked about six ways to handle resistance. Expect resistance was number one. And then you'll have to go back and listen to last week's podcast to get the other five. 

But I use that one because so many times leaders are guilty of trying to eliminate resistance to only have agreeable people around him or her, and that's not the point of this lesson. The point of this podcast is absolutely to lean in, expect resistance, and make resistance your friend. And Becky, I'm glad to be back talking about it with you. 

Becky Bursell: 

Me too. I love this topic and I hate it at the same time. So I think most people would feel the same way. But I love how John just immediately talks about put it out there. Declare the problem, promise there's problems, expect problems. And I don't think that's always a mindset that we go into things initially having. 

Mark Cole: 

I love what Jake included as a quote. He said, "Saul Alinsky said, 'Change means movement. Movement means friction.'" And as I looked at that quote and realized what we're doing, I go to John's first point, promise problems. Now, I love Carly Fiorina's definition of leadership. She said, "Leadership is solving problems. Nothing more, nothing less." We like to say around here, "Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less." I love Carly's definition right there too. I think she's onto something. Leadership is about problem solving, nothing more, nothing less, your ability. 

And yet what John is saying right here is, as leaders, when you are getting ready to chase an audacious goal, when you're getting ready to pursue a vision that's going to require more resources, more people than you have, you need to promise problems. I remember, Becky, I think this may have been just before you joined the leadership team, it was 2021 and we're getting ready to really launch this one team, one dream. We're going to rebrand ourself. And we are all feeling good. We're crying at the leadership retreat at the beginning of the year. And it's just been a powerful two and a half days. Everybody's ready to go. 

And I finished our retreat with this statement, "Hey guys, everybody feel good? Rate this. Rank this. Give us a report. How do you feel like this retreat went?" And everybody was ranking it a 10 out of 10. It was 12 out of 10. I mean, it was awesome how everybody was feeling. I said, "Hey, capture this moment, because this is the best you're going to feel about this for 365 days." What I was really doing with that statement was I was promising problems. We are going to have difficult days ahead, because if what we were trying to do was easy, everybody would be doing it. So I think that's really what John's saying there in promising problems. 

Becky Bursell: 

Yeah, I think so too. It's amazing. I wrote down the exact same thing, this is the best you're going to feel about it, because, I think, that phrase has come up a few times in just setting that expectation. And I think the kryptonite to resistance is probably persistence. I think all of us just recognizing... One of my favorite quotes is Ralph Waldo Emerson, "That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do. Not that the nature of the task has changed, but that our desire to do it has increased." 

And that's what I'm so grateful for Mark Cole in my life because the amount of communicating that resistance is a part of growth, it's easier when you're growing that desire. And if you've ever spent time, podcast family, around Mark Cole, and if you haven't, I recommend that you do, because the level of passion and that desire for that outcome, for that growth is so fundamental and ingrained in him, it becomes infectious. 

And I would say that that's probably the part that I'm most grateful for, Mark, is being able to be around a lead team, including and definitely yourself in that prospect, but recognizing that that desire makes resistance tolerable. And it gives you that motivation to just keep persisting on and on and on. But the way you communicate it, and I think all of us as leaders, the way we communicate it will make all the difference. 

Mark Cole: 

Thank you for saying that, I really appreciate it. And by the way, Liz Wiseman talks about maximizers and minimizers. You're very kind to highlight the maximizer part of my passion, because the minimizer side is my intensity. So be careful what you ask for when Becky says, "Do you want to hang out with Mark?" There's an intense side to that too. But let me say this on, when John talks about this concept of over communicating, I know for a leader, I don't know how much entrepreneur I have in me, I probably need to do one of those tests that assess how much entrepreneur spirit you have in them, Becky, you have a ton, but I know I get bored with saying the same things. I just get bored saying it over and over again. And yet John is challenging me that you are going to have to communicate greatly in times of change. 

This was really illustrated to me recently with some teammates that I went in and went, "Certainly, I don't need to repeat the vision again." And then to an advisor of mine, I started saying, "Well, they're just not repeating the same thing. Well, they're not living it out. It's not driving the disciplines," the persistency that you were just talking about, Becky. "And, well, I really feel like that I've got some sideways energy going on." And he said, "Are you hearing yourself? And then now you're asking me the question, should I go and re-communicate the vision?" And he said, "You're answering the question. And by the way, you could've told me none of those problems and asked me the question, and I'd have still said, 'Yes.'" 

You have to communicate the vision, passed the point of nausea, passed the point of eye rolls. You've got to keep that vision close to the top of your communication agenda, every single meeting, every single time. 

Becky Bursell: 

And I think I've even heard you talk about this before, it's like just when you are tired of it saying the same thing and repeating the same vision is just the moment everybody else is starting to get it and grasp it and receive it. So I think where our ADHD kicks in and we want to keep moving and go on to the next thing, it's giving us what we can handle at the pace that we can handle it. 

And it's amazing how as much as we know these things, living it out is definitely a different portion or aspect of what we do, but we're doing it. I remember when I came on board and you and I had a very real conversation in Salt Lake City, Chad Johnson was there too. And we talked, I asked you, "This is going to cause waves. Like starting any new initiative, we're going to have really great people that it is either going to take them a while to jump on board or they're going to resist it all together." And I remember you saying to me, "Becky, one, that's my job. I'll worry about it as we go. But the train doors are open, but whether people jump on board or not, it's moving. And it has to for the greater impact and the greater growth." And I think understanding that that might be part of the cycle is a brilliant insight that not everybody has. 

Mark Cole: 

I remember that conversation, by the way, and we were right. I mean, when you're trying something new and you've got a strong dynamic leader that you're introducing into something, the best day you're going to feel about it is way after the announcement. The announcement's going to feel good and then actually living out what it means takes us to the next direction. 

I love this point that John's given, it's number nine for those of you that download the pdf, which I highly recommend, John in point number nine, he says, "Where your commitment on your sleeve." Oh, my, what I immediately thought, Becky, is I get asked all the time, "How does John make himself cry?" John's a pretty emotional guy. If you've ever seen John communicate and he starts talking about the deep heart he has for adding value to people. When he talks about what makes people valuable is their intrinsic value that they have, John has a foundation of faith, so he says it like this, "When I realize that they have been created in God's image," he said, "I just have this passion for people." 

And so people ask me, "Hey, how does John cry? How does he wear adding value to people on his sleeve?" And I always laugh and I say, "Number one, he's not making himself cry." But I quit saying that a long time ago because you want to see John cry. It's when he starts talking about impacting people and caring for them at a deep level. And I think that's what John means by wearing it on his sleeve. This passion, I'm right now, Becky, and you know this because you sit in leadership meetings with me, I'm wearing my passion on my sleeve. 

Recently, in fact, it's funny, I was recording a podcast and I began to share recent impact that we were having in one of our big initiatives, specifically, it was the Cancun IMC. And I began sharing the vision of why that was so impacting for me and I couldn't help it, Becky, I mean just the emotions started getting out. And sometimes the emotion is intensity, like we talked about. Sometimes the emotion is just the raw feeling and sense of overwhelmed appreciation at the significance of something. 

But my question to all of you listening to our podcast today is, does your leaders know where your passion stands? Does the people on your team know what you're passionate about? So many times, because especially, for me, I really live my passion on my sleeve, so many times I feel like I need to explain that away and say, "Forgive me, I'm just feeling a little passion." Why don't you try to wear it on your sleeve with no apology? "Hey, this is who I am. This is what I'm passionate about. I am passionate about personal growth. I am passionate about impacting people in regions of the world where they have little access to it. I am passionate about it. And here's your opportunity to get passionate about it too. Because I am not changing putting that on my sleeve and letting people know that." 

Becky Bursell: 

And I think that that aspect of where John says, "Once the people around that this change is not optional," it helps them actually overcome that first hurdle to start embracing those things. And I think when we realize that that's just not an option, and I think taking the personal aspect out of it, recognizing life is not happening to you, it's just happening, and problems and resistance and all of those things are just going to be a part of the process. So I think it brings us back to that expectation portion of just understanding that the expectation is that it's going to change. 

And now our job is to implement all the processes around that change. Not how do we avoid the change or how do we lessen the impact of the change. And I think anybody that has a nurturing soul, which I think all of us do to a level, we try to lessen the ripple effect as much as possible. And I don't know if, again, that goes back to that control thing that you and I pretend we don't have, but we definitely have. 

Mark Cole: 

Yes we do. 

Becky Bursell: 

We try to lessen the impact instead of just embrace it and then try to get other people to enroll in that vision, so they can know how to embrace it as well. But I think you've done a really good job with that. I think our whole lead team has, I think it happens at different times. It goes back to John's concept of how we process thing. But I think all of us have a level of tolerance for resistance. And so some of us want to see those things happen faster than others. I think the hardest part for leaders is we have to admit that maybe our way is not the best way. And so processes or practices that we've had before, we do have to release those in order to move on and to progress. And what got us where we are today five years ago isn't how we're going to progress in the next five years. 


Hey, podcast family. This is your podcast producer, Jake, and I have some exciting news. You may remember a few months ago, we gifted 200 of our listeners with free exclusive early access to our brand new 21 Laws of Leadership online course. Well, for those of you who are not one of the 200 lucky listeners, you've had to wait until the course released in order to enroll. Well, the wait is over. John Maxwell's best selling leadership book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is now an online course in which you can enroll today and jumpstart your leadership. 

Just go to, that's the number two, the number one laws, and learn from John Maxwell himself. Mark Cole, bestselling author and founder of IT Cosmetics, Jamie Kern Lima, and bestselling author and leadership expert, Jeff Henderson. Again, the link to enroll is We'll see you in the course. 

Mark Cole: 

Moving to John talking about getting resistance out in the open, I recently was in a leadership meeting, you may have even been in this meeting, Becky, and I just felt like there was resistance and it wasn't resistance as in, "I don't want to do it." It was resistance as "I don't see the value of it, I don't see the importance of it." And so it's like, this is resistance too, gang, all of you on leadership teams, when you become, what is the new word? Become actively silent, you're engaged, I mean, you're showing up for work, but you've become silent, you've left your [inaudible 00:27:46]- 

Becky Bursell: 

Quietly quitting. Yes. 

Mark Cole: 

Quietly quitting. Yeah. I think leadership teams have been quietly quitting for years. And that is when a vision is set and you don't see its value or it does not affect you like it affects others and you just kind of slip back. You have lost your credibility to lead. You've lost your license to lead. And I was in a meeting and I was casting vision, and from all intents and purposes, it was a great meeting only to find out, literally, less than five days later, a new direction was being given in one part of our organization. I called the leader up and I said, "Hey, I just heard about this team meeting that you just had. And it's very different than what we said in the leadership team." And he went, "Yeah, I know, but I didn't really feel like that whole part of the vision applied to our team." 

And I went, "What do you mean? It didn't apply to our team members? We're one team, one dream." "Yeah, we're one team, one dream, but this is not our season to apply that with our team." And I thought, this is exactly the point that I want to make. And I went, "Wow," we silently quit right there on the vision that should be unifying us because we removed ourself, we abdicated ourself from being responsible to that. 

And I said, "Whoa, whoa, wait just a minute. I'm going to call you out on that, because while you are not defiant in your resistance, you are compliant in your resistance." And when you become compliant with, "That is okay, it's good, but I'm not going to participate," that ability to create a silent cancer, a silent disconnect in the organization will stop you from getting where you need to go. 

I'd much rather somebody get on the table... This may encourage you, Becky, by the way, podcast listeners, if Becky does this, I'm going to come back and report. I highly encourage people to get up on a leadership table meeting and bang their fist on the table and say, "This is wrong. I completely disagree with it, this is crazy," than people that just go silent and keep doing their own thing. I want to know where people are. And that's what John's talking about in getting resistance out in the open. 

Becky Bursell: 

Well, and I think that shows, again, back to that level of maturity in leadership, where you're not afraid of resistance, you're afraid of no communication. You're not afraid of change, you're afraid of no change. Because I don't think progress means always moving forward, sometimes it's moving backwards. Sometimes you've got to take two steps back before you take 10 steps forward. But it's hard to recognize that two steps back is progress. That's uncomfortable. That's hard. That's where we naturally will resist something, because we've worked so hard to get somewhere. 

But fortunately, and unfortunately it's part of the process, but I think it comes back to again, that expectation and communicating that over and over and over again. I think though in those moments, and I've seen you do this, I think rewarding those efforts helps people change those habits. And I've seen you do that in words of affirmation, in gifts that you've given as well. And I can remember even in one of our leadership meetings where recognizing someone's effort, not just helped that person, but it also affirmed to everyone else in the room what you value. 

And sometimes I'm guilty of this, because I don't feel like I need as much recognition as maybe a brand new leader in a certain area, I withhold from expressing that sometimes. Not recognizing it's not just about an edification or raising their value on themselves, it's also a message that we're giving to everyone else around us of what we value. 

Mark Cole: 

John closes out, and we're running out of time here, so I want to get to this last point of John, and again, gang, for the last two weeks we've been talking about how do you handle resistance? And resistance is pushback. Resistance, as you just said a while ago, is take a step back. But then John finishes, and I don't think this is accidental at all. John finishes and says, "Here is the way to get over or to handle resistance, get started." Get going. I have found the things that paralyze us in the way of resistance as, "Uh, my gosh, what's going to happen? What should we do?" Many times those work out as we start moving. 

I think strategy, I think clarity, I think a lot of things are a result of movement, but I think handling resistance accurately is also solved by get moving, because momentum is a great unifier. Momentum is a great minimizer of resistance, because once you get going, it's the train analogy that John says, "Put a five inch block in front of a locomotive and no matter how much they rev the engine, no matter how many locomotives in the entire train, you can't get going." And too many times we allow resistance to stop. This is what John says, "Resistors rely on a strategy of delay." 

You need to find out if people have resistance because they are delaying momentum. You need to find out if you have resistors, because they're trying to slow down where the vision is going. And as leaders, we've got to be able to understand the greatest eliminator of show stopping resistance, of momentum stopping resistance is movement, is getting going, is get started. And I love that John started with that. 

In fact, one of the things I want to really challenge some of you that are dealing with resistance, I want to get you back to the basics. I want to get you back to the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. This is the 25th edition, if you haven't gotten the new one, John updated it. It's incredible. We're going to give you a discount for it. But in this book, John talked last week, about the law of connection of really making sure that you are driving people on your team to unify around a common objective, a common vision, a common goal. 

And what I want to challenge you in picking this book up as a direct result of this podcast is begin to go back to the basics, and understand what are the laws of leadership that would apply to me so that I can utilize resistance for effectiveness, not for paralysis. That is our big challenge as leaders. Resistance is good. It's a prerequisite. It's going to happen. But how and what we're going to do with it and how we keep it moving. 

Hey, go to the show notes. We'll include a link. You can click on that link. It'll ask for a promo code. Use the word podcast, we'll give you 15% of a discount there. Hey, here's the standout statement. I just said it. I love this. The standout statement is this, get started. We've spent two weeks talking about resistance. My challenge to you is to get going. 

I love our listener quote, our comment today, it's Theresa. Theresa was listening to the Dr. Caroline Leaf podcast, which was a brilliant one, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess. And this is what Theresa said, she said, "I was scrolling through my podcast for a leadership versus management and I wanted to listen to something on the way to work in my hour drive. And I came across the title, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess." Theresa said, It was such an intriguing title that I had to listen to it." 

I know Theresa, I felt the same thing when Caroline told us that. She said, "I'm pleased that I did and I learned so much from it. I will soon be purchasing Dr. Caroline Leaf's book. Thank you so much for starting my day with wonderful information that I will start to put into practice." Caroline, I mean, Theresa, this is the reason I picked your comment. You said, "I will start to put into practice." In other words, get started, get going. And you are doing that Theresa and so many of the rest of you are. And here's why we want to get going. This podcast is committed to mobilizing leaders that want to bring about powerful positive change. You know why? Because powerful, positive change is the way to lead others, and everyone deserves to be led well. 


2 thoughts on “How to Handle Resistance (Part 2)”

  1. hello friends

    I just want to say thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and everyone.

    Rehema from Australia

  2. This podcast helped me extensively. I was under the impression that I was doing something wrong. The podcast allowed me to see that a leader must embrace resistance reinforce the message to your team and get started don’t quietly quit.. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.