003 Series 2 of 3 How to Handle Extremely Tough Times – 10 Points of Leadership You Can’t Be Without

By Tom Birchall | Podcast

Jun 30


Episode Highlights: 

I share the wisdom from one of the longest running influencers and authroities on leadership. Hats off to John Maxwell. 

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Episode Transcript:

We are going to be talking about what leadership is like in extreme circumstances.
We are here talking about the practical tools, systems and processes that you need to become the 7 and 8 figure CEO that you've always dreamed of, desired, and deserve to be. We cover a lot of different things on the show: all things business. And what the goal is, in life in business is to become the best version of yourself. So that you're able to enjoy your loved ones, your lifestyle, and all the things that you hoped and dreamed for when you started your business in the first place. We got a lot of current events going on.

And I wanted to do a little series on that. And what we're talking about today is leadership in extreme circumstances. I maintain if you've watched my show for a while that in leadership, there's two things, two people, two groups of people sort of, that you need to be mindful of. You're always leading yourself and then others. There's leading yourself first you got to lead yourself first and then you can lead other people and in crisis that becomes very important.

Current events would be the COVID-19 virus, that is pandemic a significant thing. And the leadership of folks in this has been very interesting to take a step back and just observe what's going on. About four weeks ago before all this started happening six weeks ago, maybe we were moving. My son, I got two boys, they're 21 and 23. And we were making a run from the house. I was putting stuff into storage and we were going to the storage space and riding with my younger son in his in his car. And as you're driving had a little heart to heart. He said, Dad, how are you coping with this? The move and the intensity of it was an over a number of days we're downsizing a large house and empty nesting and he said with your mind, he said, mentally Dad, how are you handing this?

Part of what it was was just, if you've moved you know what it's like. It's packing everything up into a box. And then it's getting it onto a moving truck. And it's all the decisions that need to be made and you're moving at a pace, right? You're not just leisurely doing it. I mean, you just want the thing done. You're making decisions of, you know, do I keep this? Do I move to this, but put it in storage? Do I give it away? Do I send it to the dump? Right? All those typical things of moving and the pace is quick and in its constant decisions, and it is an intense time. And he just hadn't come up against that yet and was asking, mentally, Dad, how do you handle this?

In an extreme circumstances? In life, different things show up and they are challenging, and it's important to have mental toughness. So I started looking around for some answers for I mean, he thought, let me finish. He and I had that discussion. I was sharing with them that struggles in my past life, prepared me for now because his observation was Dad, you don't seem fazed by this at all. And what I shared with him was the struggles challenges that I've had in my past, have prepared me for this time, a time such as now, for this time. I've had I wrote off $1.2 million dollars a number of years ago for my business, and folks that owed me money that just weren't paying. Commissions earned free and clear, and unscrupulous folks deciding just not to pay their bills, give what was contracted and legitimately earned. That's a tough thing to walk away from.

And then health. I've had a number of near death experiences in my teens 20s and 40s. Most recent was a health issue in my 40s and lean on going into an operating room and coming out for what was a routine three hour surgery was eight hours. And talking to the surgeons gone, what was really going on there? Having one with them put your hand on my shoulder and say, let's be grateful we're even having this conversation right now. That's that's sobering. A real struggle, you got a lot of time to reflect, think about struggling and tough times. I mean, that's some extreme circumstances that a lot of people just don't even need to address a deal with or face. I've had to face some pretty significant things over the years. And we're facing one now collectively.

So what I did is I looked around for a list of what's a good list of what leadership looks like. And I look to see who's the top guy in the industry providing information on leadership and someone who's been an old standby that I've appreciated uses first guy that came to mind was John Maxwell. John has been sharing his wisdom and knowledge and what he's done is compiled a list actually, just in the past few days, and I want to talk through it with you. He's got 10 things for providing leadership in extreme times, I thought it was just so apropos. Because last week on our show here I talked about simply, I need to get through tough times. And it was a great precursor to this. And I want to turn this into a series, where today we're talking specifically about how do you lead in tough times, not just really get through them.

But how do you provide leadership in tough times? I can throw one of mine in why I did already. I just want to reiterate, it is when it comes to leadership, you got to lead yourself first and then others. There's always two dynamics going on. If you want authentic leadership, and it's something that I appreciate about John Maxwell, because he is a proponent of authenticity, and of being real. I love that I like being real. When you are talking about leadership, you need to consider leading yourself first. From that space, you can begin to lead others. What John has done is he's put together a list of 10 things, I'm going to walk through them here.

First, number one is: Everything worthwhile doing is uphill.

Consider that for a moment. I agree with that wholeheartedly. Things that are worth doing are usually in an uphill direction. Things that are worthwhile doing aren't just easy at the snap of a fingers you, there's the keyword, "just" do ... fill in the blank. You don't just do wonderful, worthy, amazing, even epic things. They don't "just" happen. It's usually uphill. And in extreme times you need to be considering that we need to do things that we don't normally do don't like to do, hadn't thought of, or prepared for whatever it might be, there's going to be an uphill struggle to provide leadership in an extreme circumstance. And so, number one was everything worthy, worthwhile doing is appeal.

Number two is: There's always hope and an answer. 

It's this concept of, of not losing hope. Yes, there's extreme situations going on there struggle and perhaps even strife. And in this circumstance with a virus, yes, even death going on, and it's easy to get discouraged. It's easy to have the dire circumstances that are going on around us have an impact on us and to get down and low. Particularly in this situation with the virus where we're not able to go out and interact with folks and this whole concept of social distancing where you need to be two meters like six feet away from others not being any contact. Gosh, that's hard that's difficult to do.

Especially if you're an extrovert where you gain your energy from being around people. And your workshop is on the external world to you. It's not an internal world. Introverts, their workshop, if you will. Internal introvert, and they're fine with being alone. And they get charged from that. So this social distancing would have near as much of an impact on them as extroverts, and so it can be challenging. So point number two is to not lose hope to figure out a way.

In part one of this series that I did last week, it was addressing the fact that the question to ask is not: Why is this happening? When something extreme is going on, but changing it to: What can I do now? What, where can I look for solutions? Where's this solution? How what's the path through this, around this, over it under it? Whatever it might be. Question is not why is this happening? But what can I do now? What are we going to do now? And number two here is this: There's always hope and an answer and it's looking for ways to find what that answer

Number three: Allow adversity to help you discover who you really are.

I love this one. This is an element of reflection of using this opportunity, because your mettle is going to be tested your beingness, whom you are, how you show up in the world is going to be challenged in extreme circumstances. So as you show up to provide leadership, your character, your own integrity, your belief systems, a lot of what makes up you being you will be challenged and so use this opportunity to mold, grow and reflect and allow the diversity to help you discover who you really are.

Number four: Develop a positive life-stance.

This is so key I agree with this wholeheartedly. Some people get down and depressed, frustrated and negative and oh my wow! Yeah I don't want to be one of those, especially if you're providing leadership to others. Don't go there. You need to develop a positive life-stance and what John is talking about with this is just your your own personal constitution your own beingness. That's my word for it, is your life-stance, your your, I call it your "athletic ready position".

In athletics in sport, we see people knees bent, nimble and ready for action, right? Well, what's your equivalent to that in life? So in sports, we can point and we can see that physical stance, that athletic ready position and I've coached kids soccer from U8 to U18. Ten years as my boys were going through playing soccer and that athletic ready position is really important because you're ready for any thing, right? Whatever's coming at you, you're ready for something. Having this positive life stance, it's this general demeanor which the air of which you carry yourself and what is your stance? Are you ready for action? In life in business? The suggestion here is in extreme times is all the time in my opinion, but is to have a positive stance.

Number five: Feed your faith, starve your fears.

I described this usually as feed the good dog? The good guy or the bad guy? Like the two voices in your head, maybe you've seen movies where sometimes that's depicted by a little mini version of the character on one shoulder is kind of like the negative talker and then on the other shoulder is the positive version of the person's voice? Whatever you feed, I'm thinking of dogs. They need feeding every single day. Had a dog grown up couple of dogs. They are a joy brings such joy and they need to be fed and watered every day they need to be cared for our own minds, our beingness the same way, every day. You need to be feeding your mind with good stuff that allows you to step forward with leadership.

In this phrase of feed your faith, starve your fears. Is this concept of we all got two choices? As a leader which one are you picking up on? How are you leading yourself? How are leading you? How are you leading others around you? You're stepping out in faith, or are you embracing fear? Are you embracing faith? Or are you embracing fear?

A lot of folks are embracing fear, you know, extreme little, little wrapped up in all the fear that's going on. Get distracted by statistics and news reports. I mean, with the access to the internet, we have news reports happening 24/7 people commenting, but what is their stance? What is their beingness? What is their life stance? What is their athletic ready position in life and in business. I challenge you to protect yourself and stop listening to noise and be selective and find others that feed your mind with faith. Whatever that is, I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about moving in the direction that you want to go.

You need to enact as a leader, your own gumption and willpower and motion forward. That becomes what your faith is opposite to your fear. Now, are you feeding the fear? Are you going towards the faith to step into that faith piece and if you are religious, then step into that as well embrace that literally the term of faith that I'm referring to, if you're not, it's just simply the direction that you're going forward with and where you're moving. In life and business.

Number six is: Realize that motion influences emotion.

I talk about this. And if you've been watching the show, you know that I've got a background in advance honors Psych and I love that stuff. And systems engineering, it's kind of the hard and the soft. I love this stuff around motion and emotion. The root word of emotion is motion is movement. So realize and acknowledge that in yourself, right? Because we're talking about leadership, lead self and lead others. Emotions in self and others will be percolating and bubbling up becoming a factor. So what's important to realize is that motion, physically moving is helpful with emotion. And you need to give it space and movement.

If you're having an emotional conversation with someone, a good thing to do is is to move your body. If you're working through some emotional things, getting back to the point just before, fear: getting distracted by fear. Maybe you're laying on a couch, on your phone, scrolling through, endless news feed. Anxiety you feel building up, right, you start feeling some emotion building up. Set your phone down, get up, go for a walk, even just change the room that you're in, go get a glass of water, come back or grab a snack, go walk up and down your stairs four or five times and move, create motion, that will create a little bit more lightness with you. Motion influences emotion. There's a link between the two. Acknowledge that, learn that know that. If I'm telling you this for the first time, awesome gain awareness of that and start to use it Move your body when emotion is rising.

Number seven: Today matters.

Today matters. There's significance in what's happening and you matter. Today matters, what's going on matters. That's part of the point with this element is that despite everything that's going on, realize that there is significance that comes from it. And make today matter, don't throw it away. Don't sit, oh my gosh, and get all kind of down and out. But pick yourself up by your bootstraps, begin to provide leadership to yourself, and then provide leadership to others. And realize that today does matter.

There's something that you can do, say, or act on, that makes an impact. Whether it be just simply in your own life or the lives of the folks that you're leading. So take the time to do that. Take the time to see that and be cognizant of realizing that today actually does matter. And I'm going to make a difference today.

Number eight: Reflect instead of react.

Reflect, instead of reacting. In the news with this current challenge with the COVID-19 virus, the leadership of individuals has really become clear. And some people have it and other people just do not. Those that are reactive and inflammatory, that ends up being their style of leadership. And when adverse situations show up in extreme circumstances, their character begins to show and the lack thereof. Which we've seen in news with leaders in our respective jurisdictions, whether it's at the city level, like municipal, state, province, and country level, all these different levels of, of public leadership, a lot of that is in the news right now of public leadership of, of mayors of cities, showing their leadership of people who are heads of state. Heads of State that's more like countries, states or provinces, if you're in the US or Canada respectively, and in our country leaders, right. And reactive is explosive usually, and inflammatory. Just not appropriate. be reflective, be reflective, and act.

Here's the word I learned I'm gonna throw another word in here is act responsibly. Responsibility just to pause on this one word for a moment. Think of it with a different meaning than you're used to hearing and just break the word down. Just flip the "ability" at the end around to the front ability to respond your response ability respond ability response ability is your ability to respond appropriately as a leader in leadership position, it behooves you to respond appropriately. So, to the extent that you have the ability to respond appropriately, you are exhibiting your leadership muscle, your leadership ability, in extreme times people need a level head. They need clarity, they need facts. They need decisions made, they need transparency. These are all things and characteristics of a good leader. And unfortunately, with some in leadership positions, that is not happening. Let that not be said of you. Show up with the ability to respond appropriately.

And as a leader when people are looking at you have the ability to do this. If you don't know, say you don't know. This is a huge problem with people that are in leadership positions. People are looking to them for leadership and they think that they have to know everything. It's just an impossibility. Replace that. If you don't know something, replace it with your resourcefulness. I don't know but I'm going to find out. I could talk more on that but I want to get through the list here and wrap up. It's important to do that right as a leader you need to be responding appropriately and be reflective, not reactive, because reactive is explosive. Usually people have enough to worry about then their leader being explosive and reactive and inflammatory.

Number nine: Always look for the big picture.

Know that there is one in this ties back to one of the ones we mentioned earlier. But look at the big picture realize that life matters right now, what you do matters right now make it count. There's a bigger picture going on. Sure. immediate need that's huge, significant and needing attention and discipline, doing tough things in these difficult times. There's a bigger picture here, have an eye toward that, right?

Well, the people you're leading are distracted by what's going on you as a leader can rise up, he was a leader can rise up and see that there's a bigger picture here. And that you can move into that and provide the leadership in the direction to that bigger picture. There is always a bigger picture. Things are not as they seem. I learned that from a billionaire that I mentored with. He said, Tom, things are not as they seem an answer to my question of "what's one thing you share with me that made an impact in your world and your life that led to your success?" There's always a bigger picture going. And that's what they were talking about is this bigger picture. Know that there is one look for it and provide the guidance through what's going on to the other side. There's a country and western song comes to mind when I said the word through and the lyrics are this and use the word hell. "If you're going through hell. Keep on walking" like don't stop.

If you're going through a tough time, for goodness sake, don't stop walking, don't sit down, don't, don't have a pity party. Keep walking, see the bigger picture and get to the other side.

Number 10: Adversity makes people stronger.

As a leader, leading through extreme times have this awareness of that the adversity itself or the very things that make you strong, stronger. This is what I was describing to my son when he asked me about moving, if you recall from earlier in the broadcast here and in the in the show, I was sharing that my son while you're moving recently, and it was a really tough thing for him to kind of mentally navigate through the demands of what that move entailed. Not nearly in comparison to the COVID-19 scare in the extreme measure of that. But for him, it was just a real challenge because he hadn't met up against that yet. That adversity, this is what I share with him I said, this is gonna make you stronger. So will this. Any adversity you get will make you stronger. I had to walk away from $1.2 million. Free and clear money owed to me earned, withheld not paid. I was in the hospital for a number of years couldn't take legal action because the two year statute bar timeframe had gone by. I just had to man up and walk away from that.

That adversity made me stronger. I've had to stare, life itself death in the face. That adversity made me stronger. I have people, friends, colleagues, entrepreneurs asked me, Tom, you just have a huge capacity. Like how? Where? What is it? It's all the challenges. It's all the adversity I've been through. I had a girl, a girl, entrepreneur I was in a mastermind with and she was on The Oprah show and part of it was her spiritual... I can't remember when it was... the term eludes me right now, but she was a spiritual leader, a spiritual person. And she was sharing with each of us in her mastermind, because she was going to go on The Oprah show, be interviewed by Oprah and just kind of share what she does and She was wanting to practice with people. And everybody in the mastermind there was 12 of us. And she was sharing with each person over the course of the mastermind, her insights and stuff with each person. And when she and I were talking, she was commenting at how large my capacity for life was, and to embrace that. It was enlightening to me. And I was appreciative of that.

And that's part of what we're talking about here is what is your capacity in adversity and struggle? What are the bigger picture things that we just talked about number nine is, it's going to grow you as well. Number 10 is adversity will make you stronger. That's at the very least one of the things that is good. That is that big picture that you can keep going through the muck and mire, with confidence knowing is that you will be made stronger.


I'm going to do a quick recap on All these and we'll wrap up here. Number one, everything worthwhile is appeal. Number two, there's always hope and an answer. Number three, allow adversity to help you discover who you really are. Number four, develop a positive life stance. Compare that to that athletic ready position. Number five, feed your faith and starve your fears. Realize that motion number six is realized that motion influences emotion. Number seven, today matters so make it count. Number eight, reflect instead of react when in diversity. Reflect instead of react. Number nine. Always look for the big picture and know that there is one. And number 10 diversity makes people stronger. Adiversity makes People stronger.

I'm excited about the current challenges that face us because it is doing a hard reset with life and business. And the beneficial things that can come out of this are amazing. They are astounding. They will astound you and I challenge and encourage you to step into that. Join me with not being distracted by what's going on. I'm having a positive life stance with this as challenging as it is. I'm taking care of my seventy year old mother in isolation and I haven't seen my kids for weeks, because I'm helping with my mom and can't be in contact with others. It's a struggle. I'm frustrated. Don't let that distract you. Times have challenged by it. I get frustrated. But I'm going to rise up. I'm going to rise up and step in move forward, I encourage you to do the same.

That is my heart's desire is that you become the best version of yourself in life and in business. So I do the show every week. And reach out to me if you're struggling with any of these things that we've talked about today about leadership and how to lead and extreme times.

Let's have conversation. I'm doing a lot of zoom calls, connecting with folks jumping online instead of face to face. Let's get online and talk through stuff and begin to make things move and shake for your business. In particular, if you're wanting to get online, I geek out on that stuff and all over it. So if that's something that you're wanting to do reach out to let's start put some systems in place. Getting accounts set up and get you moving and shaking online.

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the show please rate and recommend. Highly of course! On iTunes. On Overcast or wherever it is you subscribe to your podcasts. You can get more great information on this episode, it’s shownotes, and our other episodes and shows, at TheProfitableMaverick.com. That’s The Profitable Maverick.com. Until next time, get out there, live more, love more, and be a more profitable Maverick!


About the Author

Tom Birchall is the founder of Mavericks Business Academy (MBA). When he is not conversing with an entrepreneur about life and more profitable business awesomeness he will be talking about his kids, playing ice hockey, the drums, or geeking out about digital marketing. Oh, and then there's root beer floats! ;) Clients tell him he is "smart with a heart!" He believes a smoothie a day keeps the doctor away and telling someone you love them is amazing!