Craig Groeschel - Learning to Lead Yourself, Part 2
Let's review last month's teaching. What do we know? That great leadership isn't just about leading others. Great leadership starts with self leadership, why? Because your potential to lead others is a direct result of how you lead yourself, one more time. Your potential to lead others is always a direct result of how you lead yourself. And we know that the most difficult person to lead is often yourself. Last episode we answered two of the big themes. How do you lead yourself? Well, number one, we talked about developing your leadership identity. Why is this so important? Your identity because leadership isn't just a title or a position, leadership is a mindset. You develop your leadership identity. Number two, we talked about developing your leadership initiatives. Hopefully, you did this. Your assignment was to choose one trait that you're developing and then develop it. How's it going?
In this episode, we're gonna focus on number three. The third big thought is this, number three, develop your leadership inputs. Develop your leadership inputs and what we're gonna do is we're gonna discuss your top three most important leadership inputs. Now you might say, okay, what is an input? Are you ready? You may wanna write this down. The simple definition of an input is what you put in. Wow, aren't you glad you're listing. Now, that sounds simple and it is, but don't miss the power. What is an input? It is what you put in and what we know is that what you put in determines what comes out. We could say it this way, your inputs determine your outcomes. Whatever your outcome is in leadership it's a result of what you put in and what I'm pretty sure about your organization, whatever you lead, and this is certainly true of mine, is that you very likely have some frustrating or disappointing outcomes.
When you look at your organization, I'm sure there are that you want to change. You wanna improve, you want to undo. You want to redo, you want to rebuild, and at risk of oversimplifying, I want to say it this way. You have undesirable outcomes because you have unhealthy inputs. Let me say this again, it's really important. The reason that you have undesirable outcomes in most cases is because we have unhealthy inputs. And so what we're gonna do as leaders is we're going to change the inputs, especially when it comes to what we put into our own leadership and why is this so important? A very, very important thought is this, most leaders obsess about outcomes. We want this outcome, we want that outcome, we go crazy with our team as this is the way we want it. Most leaders obsess about outcomes, but the best leaders obsess about inputs. This is so important because what you put in determines what comes out.
So, here's an overview of what we're gonna cover in this episode. Big statement, to improve your inputs, we're gonna focus on two whats and a who. Two what's and who, and I know I sound like Dr. Seuss just work with me, I promise we're going somewhere. Two what's and a who. The two what's, the first thing we're gonna talk about is what you consume. The second, what is what you attempt, and the third one is a who. Who you surround yourself with? What you consume, what you attempt and what you surround yourself with. If you wanna look at the inputs that determine the outcomes of how you lead yourself, you wanna look at what you consume, what you attempt and who you surround yourself with.
Let's start with what you consume. I wrote a book called Winning The War in Your Mind, Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. And we talked about some key thoughts about the way you think. We know that your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Applied to your leadership, the same is true. Your leadership is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Why does this matter about consumption? The content that you consume, shapes how you think, which shapes your capacity to lead. The content you consume, whatever you feed on, whatever you listen to, whatever you watch, it shapes how you think, which then directly impacts your capacity to lead. Stated even simpler, as a leader, you conform to what you consume.
What you consume is so important. What comes into your mind comes out in your leadership and so I would just ask you this, as a leader, what are you consuming? What are you putting into your mind that comes out in your leadership? And the challenge is, if I can just be really blunt is that many leaders are on a junk food diet for their minds and their souls. When you look at the majority of what we consume, what we watch, what we read, what we scroll, what we look at, so many people are looking at social media, nonstop, nonstop, nonstop, and that may help you stay informed about what's going on in somebody's life of their cat or what they had for lunch or where they went to what beach or whatever. It doesn't necessarily help you grow in your leadership or so many leaders at the end of the day they're exhausted and they binge watch some soul numbing, Netflix reality series or whatever, or you're constantly scrolling some toxic biased news source that makes you afraid or mad at the whole world.
And what do we know about our physical body, we'll compare that to our leadership mindset. We know this, that your physical body never grows stronger, consuming carbs and candy, that's junk food. In the same way, your leadership capacity is never strengthened by entertainment, negativity, or distractions. And I'm not saying you can't enjoy a movie or follow your friends on social media, but what I am saying is this, you'll never be a world-class leader without intentional leadership development. What comes into your mind goes out into your leadership and I'll explain again, with the metaphor of my body. When it comes to my body, every single day, I'm working to create and sustain physical health.
So I've got a very detailed plan. In other words, I already know what I'm gonna eat today, I know what I'm gonna eat tomorrow, is boring, it's consistent, and it's planned, it's intentional. My workouts they're scheduled, they're planned, they're prioritized. I would suggest that you treat your leadership development in the same way that you would your physical development. The question I would have for you is this, what are you doing today? This is a question you can ask over and over and over again. What are you doing today that will strengthen your leadership tomorrow? What are you putting into your mind, into your life, into your soul today that will come out in your leadership tomorrow so you can lead yourself well?
And the great news is you're listening or watching a leadership podcast today, congratulations, that's a great start. I would say every day, something, every day, you're reading a chapter of a helpful book or you're reviewing your goals or you're working on a leadership weakness or even better, you're developing a leadership strength. A little secret about my leadership and it's probably pretty obvious, but God didn't give me a leadership gene. He didn't say like, you know, Craig's a leader and it's gonna be natural and it's gonna come to him and it's not gonna come to other people. What I've done is for 30 years, I've worked day in, day out, week in, week out, month in, month out of developing my personal leadership. I'm learning to lead myself well and the good news is that I'm growing in my leadership.
The good news is you're growing in your leadership today and if you continue to do this day after day, and focus on what you put into your mind, I promise you it's gonna come out in your leadership. What goes into your mind comes out in your leadership and there is no excuse today for not consuming great leadership development material, podcasts, books, YouTube, it's all there. If you're consuming junk, you're gonna have a junk leadership. If you're consuming great content, it's gonna help you lead yourself well. I beg you, encourage you, plead with you, look at what you consume. What comes into your mind, comes out in your leadership.
Let's talk about another category and this may seem a little bit unusual to you, but I wanna spend some time here, I also want to look at what you attempt. If you want to learn to lead yourself well, you wanna watch what you consume and also what you attempt, and I'll explain it this way. You don't grow just by doing what you did. If you do the same thing that you did before, you're probably gonna get something similar to what you got before. How do you grow? You grow by either doing more of what you did or you grow by doing something different than what you normally do. Let me just say this again, I want this to sink in. You don't get better by doing the same thing. You get better by doing more of something or you get better by doing something different.
For example, if I'm working on my body and go to the gym, I'm not gonna just curl 30 pounds every day. One day, I'm gonna curl 30 pounds, the next day I might drop the weight and do way, way more reps is something different, or I may raise the rate what I'm doing is I'm shocking my body, I'm introducing different, more of something or something different, and this might sound odd and you may have never thought about this in your leadership, but one of the best ways to grow as a leader is to grow in a new and unrelated area of life. And let me just focus on this new, something different, not just growing in an unrelated area, meaning like you're a figure skater and you've done it for 14 years and you almost made the Olympics, you're getting better at figure skating. That's not new, that's something you've done for 14 years.
If you wanna grow in your leadership, I would highly recommend you find something new and unrelated that will stretch you and I'll try to explain why this matters so much. What I know about you, because it's true for all of us, is that we all have some leadership insecurity. In your heart, in the back of your mind, in the front of your mind, there's something that you think I'm not very good at this and it might be like, I'm not good at reading spreadsheets, or I'm not good at public speaking, I'm not good at vision casting, I'm not good at interviewing, I'm not good at recognizing talent, I'm not good at running meetings, I'm not good at budgeting, whatever it is, here's the key. When you attempt something new and something different, it does three things that helps your leadership. The first thing is it increases your humility. You're trying something that makes you uncomfortable and it reminds you, you're a student and reminds you you're learning and you're getting better, and you can learn. And that confidence, that humility transfers to your leadership, it increases your humility.
The second thing, something new and unrelated does is it gets you comfortable being uncomfortable and this is so important in your leadership because the only way you can get better at something you're not good at is you have to push through the discomfort, why? Because we know that growth and comfort never coexist. Let me say that again. If you wanna be comfortable, you will not grow. Growth and comfort, never coexist. It teaches you humility, it gets you comfortable being uncomfortable, and number three, it builds your confidence that you are always growing. It tells you I'm getting better, I'm being stretched, I'm humble, I'm okay being uncomfortable and that transfers to your leadership. So suddenly you may say, well, I'm not great at reading spreadsheets, but I'm gonna get in and I'm gonna learn. I'm gonna get better, it will stretch you.
For me, there are two new things that I've been doing that are helping me grow. One is for about a year now I've been training in jiu-jitsu and I can't tell you how much this helps my leadership. It's humbled me more than you can imagine because I get on the mats with guys that may be 20 or 25 pounds lighter than I am. I'm stronger, maybe a better athlete and they wrap me up like a pretzel and it's humbling, and it teaches me incredibly technical skills and when I'm in trouble, you have to be calm. If you don't know what you're doing, you'll gas out in one or two minutes and you're dead. And so it teaches me to breathe, be calm under pressure and all the time in my leadership now I think of what am I learning on the mats it helps me in my leadership. It sounds like how would that even matter? It matters so much. It's increasing my confidence, I'm a student, I'm learning, I'm calm under pressure.
The other thing I've been doing is taking flying lessons and again, that teaches you to be calm under pressure. I did an almost solo landing yesterday and I was not calm under pressure. It teaches me that details matter. I like to move hard, I like to move fast, I don't like to dot all the I's and cross all the T's. This reminds me, I, as a leader, I want to dot all the I's and cross all the T's. It helps me to be more systematic and what I'm doing is I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm stretching in some unrelated field. This incredibly humbling to me and then like I walk in, I guess what, I'm not just some middle-aged guy floating through life. What you need to know is I'm dangerous on the ground and I'm a fighter pilot in the air. I'm growing and this could be true of you. There's some area of your leadership that you think I can't do that and what I would say to you is now you can't do that now.
If you grow in some new and unrelated area, it builds into your mindset some of the principles that transfer to leadership growth. What do we know about every big leadership accomplishment? Every big leadership accomplishment starts small. So I wanna encourage you think big and start small. What's gonna help you lead yourself well? What you consume, what comes into your mind comes out into your leadership. We're not consuming junk food. We're consuming world class leadership content, which changes the way we think. What will also help us lead ourselves well is attempting something new. We're humble, we're students, we're growing and at the top of the list of importance would be the who and this number three, if you wanna lead yourself well, you better focus on who you surround yourself with and it's impossible to overstate how important this is to your potential as a leader. Others have said these quotes that I've often re-quoted, and that is this, you are the average of your five closest friends.
This is so true. If you wanna look at your physical health, you're probably in the middle of the pack. You'll look at your financial status, you're probably in the middle of the pack. You wanna look at your growth potential, you're often in the middle of the pack. You want to look at your leadership, you're generally the average of your five closest friends. People have said, show me your friends and I'll show you your future. How good are the people you're surrounding yourself with? If you wanna grow in your leadership, you wanna surround yourself with people that are better than you, smarter than you, wiser than you, more experienced than you are.
And what's exciting to me as I look at my friends now, and I'll say this humbly, but my friends, my closest friends, they are all ridiculously successful in some area of life. Most of them, they have great marriages. Most of them they're world-class parents like fantastic parents. Most of them are fanatically, physically fit. They watch their diet, they have exercise, they're intentional about their health. Most of them they're successful entrepreneurs. Most of them they're ridiculously generous. My friends are world-class and you might say, well, man, you're snobby, you only run the so-and-so. No, these are friends that I've known for 30 years, almost all of them and none of us were doing anything exceptional 30 years ago, but here's the key, we were all growth minded and we all helped one another. When I got better in one area, because I was growth minded, I helped my friends get better. When they got better in another area, they helped me get better.
I introduced them to books, they introduced me to books. I introduced them to people, they introduced me to people. What's happening is we have grown and pushed each other together. Look around you, are the people that you're around pushing you? It doesn't mean you're gonna de-friend them, but you wanna surround yourself with people that are better than you, smarter than you, more experienced than you. And a promise to you is I will devote an episode or two to mentoring, how do you mentor other leaders and how do you learn from a mentor? My biggest advice would be this, if I can just give you one little rabbit trail would be this, don't just study what they do when you're around great people, smart people, brilliant people, entrepreneurs, world-class leaders. Don't just study what they do, learn how they think, get into their minds, ask them what are you reading? What's your favorite book? What news sources do you consume? What questions do you ask? How do you stretch yourself? Who do you learn from?
And again, there's no excuses for not being around great people. There are round tables. You can go to, which we're gonna do some round tables. There's counseling you can get. I have, I work with a performance psychologist. There's coaching. You can go to lunch with somebody. I mean, I'm telling you if there's someone I'd offer to rake their leaves, just to get 15 minutes with them, honor their time, ask questions, take notes, apply what you learn. When I look at my leadership in the ministry that I'm honored to do, there's nothing I've done in ministry, there's nothing I've done in leadership, there's nothing I've done in business that I didn't do without the help of great leaders around me. College didn't teach me to have a good marriage. Mentors helped me to have a good marriage. Seminary didn't teach me to hire or train or make financial projections or negotiate or raise money or to create a thriving culture.
What happened? Day after day, week after week, month after month, boring studying, investing, leading myself well, reading, talking to people, asking questions, trying new things, becoming more humble, becoming a student, failing, succeeding, growing, spending time with great people, learning from their wisdom, learning from their mistakes. Little by little by little, I learned to lead myself better and now I'm able to lead others because I'm growing in my ability to lead myself. What do we know? We know that great leadership isn't just about leading others. A great leadership starts with self leadership, why? Because your potential to lead others is a direct result of how you lead yourself. Three application questions:
Number one, let's look at your consumption. What will you consume that will stretch your leadership? I would encourage you just as I might have a workout plan that you have a leadership consumption plan. We're always mining other leaders. What are you listening to, what are you learning what's stretching you, how do you grow?
Number two, what can you attempt that will create humility and growth, something new and unrelated that it can help you grow in your leadership, and then look at the people that you're around all the time. Do you wanna be like them?
Number three, who are the people I need in my life to stretch my leadership? What I wanna tell you is this. I promise you there is so much more in you than you can imagine that when you take the time to lead yourself well, to invest in yourself, to look at the inputs that you intentionally put into your leadership, you have no idea how those can multiply and what comes out of your leadership is more than you could ever imagine. When you're growing, you're gonna help others grow, and then when they're growing, they're going to help you grow, and then there's a compounding effect of growth when you're investing in yourself, investing in others and all of you are getting better. Good news, we have bonus episodes coming up soon with some fantastic interviews.
We will be doing a Q and A. If you have questions, I'd love for you to type it in the chat, wherever you're watching, any types of questions or email us at [email protected] whatever your question would be. Hit subscribe. Please do this, you're growing as a leader. You need this content to come to you. Rate and review this wherever you can that helps us expose the content to other people, and again, I wanna encourage you to invite others to be a part of our leadership community. Post on it, we may repost you. Let's grow in our leadership, why? Because everyone wins when the leader gets better.