Jon Gordon reveals best practices for building trust and rapport within a team, no matter the circumstances.
- Three exercises to build big rapport quickly
- The advantages of being an optimist
- How to transform challenges into opportunities
Jon Gordon’s best-selling books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous Fortune 500 companies, professional and college sports teams, school districts, hospitals, and non-profits. He is the author of 16 books including 6 best-sellers: The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, Training Camp, You Win in the Locker Room First, The Power of Positive Leadership and The Power of a Positive Team. He is a graduate of Cornell University and hold a Masters in Teaching from Emory University.
Items Mentioned in this Show:
- Sponsored Message: ZipRecruiter is the smartest way to hire
- Jon’s book: The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices that Make Great Teams Great
- Jon’s book: The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work
- Jon’s book: The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy
- Jon’s website: www.JonGordon.com
- Jon’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/jongordon11
- Jon’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/JonGordon11
- Tool: Zoom
- Tool: Evernote
- Research: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
- Research: The Importance of Being an Optimist: Evidence from Labor Markets
- Book: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller
- Book: The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life by Erwin McManus
Jon, thank so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.
Hey, thanks Pete. Appreciate you having me.
Well, I’m looking forward to this chat. I’ve been reading through The Power of a Positive Team a little bit. I chuckled a bit when you mentioned all the teams you’re on and have served. You describe yourself as the second-in-command at home. What’s the story there?
Second-in-command. Well, my wife I would say is in command. Then I have a teenage daughter. Well, actually she’s 20 now, so when she’s home I’m third-in-command. The idea that even though I lead in some ways, my wife I would say is the boss at home. I’ve learned to be a great team member at home and a great second-in-command leader, where we work together then lead our kids into the future.
When they’re asking permission to the kids to go to an outing or a friend’s house, she’s calling the shots?
Oh, of course. When we’re deciding what we’re doing for the weekend or where we’re going, she’s calling the shots. I say, “You have to ask my boss.”
She likes it that way?
Of course. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Good deal. I also want to hear about your book here, The Power of a Positive Team. What would you say is sort of your key point or thesis here?
Well, it’s a framework for how to build great teams. I’ve worked with teams for the last 11 years: NFL teams, NBA teams, corporate teams, non-profit teams, hospital teams, you name it. I’ve discovered what makes great teams great in working with all these teams. This is what I’ve learned over the past 11 years since I wrote my book The Energy Bus.
What happened was leaders and teams started reading The Energy Bus. They would then bring me into speak. I would then get to work with them, talk to them, consult with them and so forth. I just learned so much. In this book I pretty much put everything that I know and then everything I’ve learned on what makes a great team.
My goal with this book was that a team would read it together and they would know what they needed to do to become a great team. They would have a framework and a process they can follow along with the key ingredients and the best practices that would allow them to develop into a stronger team.
When I say proven, it is proven because it’s not based on theory. This is being out in the field. This is working with the teams. This is knowing what works. Now, I’ve done research also for the book in terms of what makes other teams great, but this is my first-hand experience in many ways of what makes a great team.
Well, I’d love to hear in terms of your research, both first hand as well as kind of collected elsewhere, that confirms hey, these are the things that really make the difference.
Well, one of my favorite pieces of research is Google study, which they called Project Aristotle, where they really wanted to know what made their great teams Google at great, where did their best ideas come from. Then they also examined other teams in other industries. They wanted to know what made those teams great.
What they found was that the best teams weren’t comprised of the A players. In fact, their best ideas and their best inventions did not come from their A teams. Their best inventions, their best ideas, their most successful businesses came from their B teams. These were the B teams comprised of a scientist and experts that weren’t considered rock stars in their field.
The A teams were the people who had the most education, they were rock stars in the company, they had the most domain specific information and knowledge, but the B teams were comprised of people that perhaps were known less and perhaps had lesser education and were not considered rock stars.
But the B teams had what they called psychological safety, emotional safety, where they were free to share ideas back and forth. They were not worried about being ridiculed with those ideas. From the exchange of information and the flow of sharing, there developed a connection, there developed a trust, where they felt, again, safe to share, safe to be who they were. Out of this connection, out of these bonds of trust came the best ideas.
What we realized is that it’s not the genius minds that create the best ideas or come up with the best inventions; it’s the genius within the team. It’s the idea that the collective genius of them coming together and becoming a connected group, led to greater commitment, which then led to great ideas and genius inventions. It’s a great lesson for all of us as we build a team.
What I often say and I’ve been saying this even before I saw this research, so this research just confirmed what I believe and what I had seen firsthand was that you’ll never have a committed team without connection. You need to be connected in order to be committed. The more connected you become, the more committed you’ll be.
You can see a team that is connected, you can see how they then have commitment for each other. When diversity comes and challenges come their way, instead of running away from each other, they run towards each other; instead of fighting with each other, they fight for each other. They become stronger together.
We are better together. Together we accomplish amazing things. It’s that ability to come together as a team that allows you to be successful as a group.
Then in practice, how does this connecting happen well? Is it about teambuilding exercises and trust falls or what is it that makes that connection and that foundation in place for psychological safety to be present and flourish?
Well, there are many ways. Sometimes it happens unintentionally, where people just come together, develop great relationships and you wind up getting a great team out of that. But I believe that leaders need to be intentional in doing this. I’ve created a number of team building activities, exercises that teams do to help them become stronger together.
For instance, I worked with a leadership group in a company, had them come together, and they shared this exercise, “If you really knew me, you would know this about me.” Each person went around and shared that idea. That’s from my good friend, Mike Robbins. I need to give him credit for that.
In doing that it was amazing how the walls of ego just came crumbling down and you saw this group of people really come together and bond as a result of that.
My other exercise I love to do is called the Triple H exercise: hero, hardship, highlight. Hero, hardship, highlight. Who is your hero? Tell me about a hardship that you faced that made you who you are today? Tell me about a highlight in your life. As each person shares their hero, their hardship, their highlight, again, the authenticity and the vulnerability just paves the way for meaningful relationships and stronger connections.
I’ve done this with a number of teams. It’s powerful how that happens. There was one team in Australian rules football. This is the Richmond Football Club. They won a championship for the first time in 36 years. There was a whole article in a magazine about how this Triple H exercise was what developed this team, which is what caused them to come together and create an incredible bond. They all really talked about the power of this Triple H exercise.
If you could see it in these burly and strong Australian rules football player, you can see it in an NFL locker rooms like I do, you can see it in corporate meeting rooms and boardrooms, and you can see it with just a team coming together and having a team building session like this.
A lot of Navy SEALS, I’m friends with a lot of them, they do a lot of programs with companies and organizations. They do exercises where they cause people to face some adversity together. They go into the ocean and they deal with some extreme hardship. I always joke with these guys. I’m like, “Hey, you don’t have to drown together to become a strong team.” You can actually do exercises like this where you really become vulnerable and authentic and that builds a connection.
Then, if you’re a leader, this is something I recommend for leaders to do and teams to do, you can just come together and you can look to connect with one person every day, someone who you lead or perhaps a team member on your team. If everyone intentionally connected with one person every day, would have a meaningful conversation, maybe you go to lunch, maybe you have some established dialogue that you create in your culture, something that you’re going to work on together.
Snapchat for instance, which they’re now known as Snap, has a thing called Counsel, where they create groups that come together within the company and they have these ongoing meetings they call Counsel, where they sit around in a circle and they talk about who they are, they talk about different questions that are presented.
Each Counsel is going to have different questions, different focuses, but it’s all designed to have people from various parts of the company come together and create stronger teams and more of an informal kind of network, which is where we know that most of the great ideas come from. It’s not the actual formal network, it’s the informal network, the relationships that develop that lead to the bonds and the ideas being shared and ultimately the success of an organization.
You know, what I like about the exercises you mentioned there is you talk about vulnerability, but they strike me as – your proposals – being in the sweet spot. It’s not so shallow as to not be worth much. It’s like, “Okay, whatever. You like barbecue.” And it’s not so intense as to freak people out. It’s in a nice little zone that seems doable and approachable, but you might expect to have some real impact from.
Yes. It’s a little awkward at first, I will admit that, when you first are sharing your hero, hardship, highlight.
Just as if you would go to counseling with your wife or significant other – if you’ve ever been to counseling, my wife and I did before we got married – you know it’s hard to share at first, but as you start to do it – even we saw Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, he went to counseling. We saw this guy, who’s a mobster actually, become vulnerable and share.
As you do that, it’s amazing how you start to just let the guard and you start to share and you start to open up and you start to change as a person. You become better.
At first it’s awkward, but as it starts to go around the room, as you start to establish this is part of your culture and part of your team and you explain, “Hey, guys, this is going to be a little awkward at first, but I’m telling you as we go through it, it’s going to be real meaningful.” As you do it, it becomes very powerful.
Again, it’s not meant to be corny. It’s not meant to be touchy feely. You’re really telling them, “Hey, we’ve got to get to know each other. If we want to be a strong team, we have to know each other a little bit better.” When you know someone’s story, you’re going to know them a whole lot better.
The other exercise is a defining moment that made you who you are today. What’s your defining moment? When you know someone’s defining moment, you know their story. You’re going to know them a lot better. Then once you know their story, you want to fight for them and not really maybe be angry at them when you say them acting a certain way. You may understand them a lot better when you know their story.
I’d love it if you could just make it all the more real for us. I’ll put you on the spot here Jon. Let me know, hey, if I really knew you, what would I know about you?
It’s funny, when I’m giving my talks, I do a lot of keynotes – over 86 this year. Actually, no.
That’s a lot of travel. You’ve got some pretty good flier points there.
Yeah, 86 this year. When I’m doing keynotes and things like that, I actually share this. I’m not afraid to share who my hero is or a highlight or a hardship or if you really knew me.
I would say if you really knew me, you would know that my father, my biological father, left when I was a year old. My mom was a single mom. I was a year, my brother was four. That was a defining moment in my life because, again, when you have a father leave that sort of imprints on you a lot of who you are. For years we never had a great relationship.
But my stepfather entered the picture when I was five. He was a New York City cop. He raised me to be who I am now. He loved me as his own. I called him dad. He really had a huge impact on my life. It’s a part of who I am. My dad was Italian. My mom was Jewish. I grew up in a Jewish/Italian family, a lot of food, a lot of guilt. It just helps-
And great skin.
Great food as well. It helps form who you are as a person. I think having my father leave and feeling that abandonment in my life a lot was a part of me. I actually came to forgive him and even went to visit him with my daughter right before I started writing. I couldn’t write until I actually went to clear that from the path, clear that and let it go and forgive him. I did. It was shortly after that that I actually started writing.
I let go of all the past, all the pain, all the burden and from there I became in many ways a different person. That was a big part of my past, but if you really knew me, you would know that about me and you would know that my stepfather – I hate that term stepfather because he was my dad – who raised me and raised me as his own, his love really was transformative and had a huge impact on my life.
Do we have a highlight in there as well?
Well, I have many highlights, but it would be I would say – everyone always says this, but getting married to my wife, no doubt. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for her. My two kids for sure are big highlights.
I would have to say – I joke, but this is true, I used to be in the restaurant business and I had Moe’s Southwest Grill. I was the first franchisee for Moe’s Southwest Grill. The day I sold my Moe’s was definitely probably the highlight of my life. I wanted to get out of the restaurant business. It was so challenging. I wanted to pursue writing and speaking. I knew that.
The sale almost didn’t happen. Finally it came through and it was like, thank you. I was now out of the restaurant business, able to do what I felt like I was born to do and do this work. That was definitely probably the highlight of my life.
I can just imagine the release and the relief emerging from that.
Oh yeah. My wife laughs when I tell this story, but she knows. I love my kids. I love my wife. But that day, whoo. You don’t think the day you sell the boat or the day you buy the boat, well the day you get a restaurant and the day you sell three franchises that were just draining me every day – again, I was good at the restaurant business, but I did not want to do it anymore. That day I sold was just a great day.
Okay. Let’s talk a little about some terms. When you talk about the power of a positive team and optimism and negativity, I want to make sure we’re thinking about these in the same way. How would you define these three words, we’ll say positive, optimism and negativity?
Well, it’s funny. I don’t really define them a lot, but I guess through my writing you sort of get the gist. It’s not like I come up with a perfect definition.
But for me positivity is about being the best version of yourselves, to bring out the best in others, like positive in terms of hopeful and kind and empowering. To me, positive is a lot of things.
Optimism is believing in a brighter and better future, knowing that and believing the best is yet to come, that tomorrow will be better than today, so you’re optimistic about things. You have a hopeful attitude.
Research from Duke University shows that optimistic people work harder, get paid more, and they’re more likely to succeed in business and sports. What the researchers found with that because these people had a positive, optimistic outlook. Because they believed in the brighter and better future, they actually took actions necessary to create it. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The researchers said they deluded themselves – I love that they used the word deluded – it was because they deluded themselves thinking and believing in a brighter and better future. Sometimes that’s what it takes, deluding yourself about what’s possible.
To me, pessimism is where you don’t believe the best is yet to come. Pessimism is where you believe that and you are fearful about the future. You worry about the future. Pessimism believes that your best days are behind you, not ahead of you.
I would say negative is where you bring a negative energy, you bring a fear, you bring doubt, you bring uncertainty, which, again, uncertainty is not always a bad thing, but it’s okay at times to be negative about things that help you examine them, improve them, look for where pitfalls can happen that can bring you down. There’s the benefit of negativity.
But when I think about negativity, I think of the bad kind of negativity that sucks the energy out of a team, that condemns people, that doesn’t speak life into them. It actually speaks hate, ill will, that attacks and that also focuses on perhaps sometimes self instead of others. Now that would be more narcissism, but sometimes that can come across as negativity when you put yourself on a pedestal and you bring people down.
Again, so many ways to define, I choose to define it through the body of work, through the stories and the collection of a framework and experience that ultimately creates the definition of positive and negative, if that makes sense.
Oh, sure thing. I just wanted to kind of get that squared away so that we can sort of dig into a little bit of this negativity because indeed you mentioned that in certain contexts that can really be helpful to examine something, to improve upon something.
How do you play that game optimally as a positive team in which you’re not ignoring problems – there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds – but you’re also not sort of I guess dwelling on them and being consumed with worry and your energy is drained and dissipated and you think that the worst is just around the bend? How do you play that game in terms of dealing with the constructive stuff well?
Yeah, you always confront the reality of the situation, like this is what we are dealing with. “Yes, we just lost.” “Yes, we had this mistake.” “Yes, we did a poor production run and we just lost this amount of money. Okay, let’s deal with the reality. How do we solve it? How do we fix it? Where are we going now? What is our vision for the future?”
You address the reality of the situation and there is a negative associated with that perhaps. But then you are hopeful and optimistic about what you are looking for and looking towards in order to create that future. Then you have to then say, “What actions can we take in order to create it?” You always address the reality of the situation.
But I love when people say, “I’m just being a realist. I’m just being a realist.” Well, even realism is subjective because Steve Jobs was famous for what they called his reality distortion field. Time and time again, Steve’s team would say, “There’s no way you can create this software, this hardware in this amount of time.”
If you read his biography, time and time again, he would convince them that it was possible. They said he was able to distort their reality from pessimism or realism to optimism. Time and time, they accomplished the very thing that they thought was impossible. Leadership is so often a transfer of belief. You have to believe in what’s possible. Again, you confront the reality of the situation.
I’m a big fan of the no complaining rule, which I wrote a book on. I didn’t invent it. A good friend of mine who’s a CEO invented it. I wrote this book on the rule, which is so simple. You’re not allowed to complain unless you come with a solution. Every complaint represents an opportunity to turn something negative into a positive.
We’re not saying get rid of all complaining. What we’re saying is let’s use those complaints and let’s create justified complaints out of them that lead to solutions. A complaint represents something that we have to fix. It’s a problem that we have to solve. It leads to a new innovation, a better way of doing something, a better process, progress forward.
Think about all of our inventions, every invention came about as a result of a complaint that said, “There has to be a better way.” That’s turning a negative into and turning it into a positive in a very practical way.
Do you have some other practices for transforming the negativity when it pops up?
Well, when you have a challenge, you can look at that challenge and say, “Okay, what opportunity does this challenge present?” because every challenge really is an opportunity to learn, to grow and to improve. You’re always looking for those challenges.
For instance, when I speak to hospitality organizations or companies, I’ll talk to them about “Okay, this guest has a problem, but it’s a huge opportunity to now wow them. It’s a huge opportunity to be a hero and come to their rescue.” You can turn around a very negative situation to something very positive. You can do this with customer service as well. It’s turning that challenge into an opportunity.
It’s all about our perspective. How we see the world determines the world that we see. It’s addressing the negative, but then transforming it and turning it into a positive. Same thing with relationships. You have to have difficult conversations that might be perceived as negative, but you have those difficult conversations in order to grow.
As I wrote about in The Power of Positive Team, every team has to have the conversations that say, “Okay, what’s wrong here? What can we do better? Let’s tell the truth about where we are and where we’re not measuring up.” Those difficult conversations will lead to growth.
In a practical way, I remember my wife coming up to me. She was the boss. She said, “You need to do some things to be a better father.” I was like, “Okay, make me better.” I literally said, “Make me better.” Now in the past, I admit, I would have been defensive, but in that moment I said, “Okay, make me better.”
She started to share some ideas of what I could do. I didn’t agree with everything, but I took two or three ideas, I started to implement them, and I got better as a result. How much better would we be as a team if we just said to each other, “Make me better. I’m open. In the spirit of good intent, let’s talk about it in a positive way.”
That is a great line there. That’s handy. Any other pro-tips for navigating the difficult conversation waters well? I think a lot of folks are so terrified of them they just never go there.
Right. Because we never go there, we never move beyond the surface. We move – we stay stuck. We stay stuck in in a like, so then we never move to love. We never move to deeper commitment, deeper intimacy. That’s what I share in the book.
One of the things you have to do for difficult conversations is to actually say, “We’re going to have difficult conversations. We’re going to make this a part of our culture.”
Then what you do is say, which every culture says, is “This is how we do things here. This is part of who we are and how we do things. This is the way we’re going to have engagement. These are our rules of engagement that we’re going to create when we have difficult conversations.” You’re not allowed to get all up in arms. You’re not allowed to get defensive. You have to be open. But you have to come with a positive intent. It can’t be to berate someone or to ridicule someone.
The Seattle Seahawks have ‘Tell the Truth Mondays.’ Every Monday they get together as a team on Monday because the games are on Sunday and they talk about who messed up and how they messed up. They watch film and they tell the truth. No one’s defensive because everyone knows it’s designed to make everyone better. You receive the feedback. Hopefully you grow from it, you learn from it and everyone gets better because of it. But it establishes part of their culture.
You have to do this at the cultural level. You can’t just say, “Hey, everyone, we’re going to just start having these difficult conversations.” No, you have to explain how you’re going to have them, why you’re going to have them, what the rules of engagement are. Then as you do, those conversations will really help the team grow.
We’ll do it as a family. We’ll sit around and say, “Okay, we’ve got to have a difficult conversation.” We’ll meet as a family and we’ll have a difficult conversation. Our openness has led to a much stronger family and team.
When you say here’s how we’re going to do it, what are some of those pointers in terms of doing the how very effectively.
Well, I can’t tell you how in essence because every organization is going to be different, every team is going to be different. You have to decide the how and how you want to do it. We get together every Monday or we get together every Friday. We sit around a table. This is how we do it. We make sure in our rules of engagement that these are our positive rules. You do it with positive intent. It’s meant to help your team get better. You don’t call someone out in this way.
If you haven’t taken the time to establish a relationship with that person, perhaps you shouldn’t be the one that attacks them or criticizes them. Earn the relationship first. On the negative side you may say, you’re not allowed to ridicule someone. You’re never allowed to make fun of someone.
With Ford, for instance, Alan Mulally, when he turned around Ford, he created a working together management system that helped them become a stronger team. One of his rules were you’re never allowed to laugh at someone at their expense. That only breaks down trust. Even those little jokes that we tell when we make fun of someone or friends do that with each other, that’s not okay in that environment, in that setting. He created a rule that said that’s not okay. He believed over the long run that really created psychological and emotional safety.
There’s many ways on how you can do it. I think the key is you’ve got to sit down and decide the framework and how you want to create these rules.
That’s good. Well, so we talked about some of the things to do. You mentioned one thing to not do is complain. What are some other key things you recommend that we stop doing right away in terms of this is a real positivity killer and a real negativity increaser. Laughing at other people’s expenses, that sounds like a nice one for the list. What else would you put in there?
We should stop focusing on people’s weaknesses and focus on their strengths. Research shows the more we focus on what people are doing right, the more we’ll do things right.
We should stop ignoring negativity. Too often we ignore it and it persists and exists. Then it winds up sabotaging the team and the organization. Like, you said, we don’t have the difficult conversations. Leaders do not confront the negativity and it winds up sabotaging the team. As a leader, you must make time for it. You must address it. The goal is to transform it and then hopefully remove it. Stop ignoring the negativity.
Stop focusing on the outcome. Instead focus on the process, your relationships, your people and your culture. We live in a world where everyone’s focusing on the fruit of the tree, the outcome, and the numbers, and the stock price, and we ignore the root. If you focus on the fruit, ignore the root, the tree dies. But if you invest in that root, you get a great supply of fruit.
We have to stop focusing on the outcome and start investing in the root. Our culture, our people, our relationships, everything that I’m talking about now and that I talked about in this book is a framework for being a strong team and developing strong relationships that will lead to a strong outcome. I think those are some key stop doings.
Maybe for – I don’t know when you’re going to share this – but we’re about to start a new year and I think one thing we need to stop doing is stop focusing on resolutions because resolutions, research shows 87% will fail during the course of the year.
50% fail within the first month. First month. You don’t even make it past January and you’ve already given up. Instead I believe people should stop doing resolutions and start doing one word.
Pick a word for the year that will help you be your best, that will help you focus on what matters most, focus on your priorities, focus on your keys to success, get rid of distractions, break through the clutter. One word sticks. One word gives meaning and mission, passion and purpose. One word we can remember. One word will guide you in your actions each day.
Please, give us some examples of these mighty words.
Well, it’s the word that you will pick. Every year everyone picks a word for the year on the team. Everyone in the family picks a word for the year. I just posted on Twitter about one word. I’ve been doing it for a number of years now. It is spreading like wildfire, how many people at organizations are doing this.
In the past Hendrick Auto had a one-word car, so all the words were on the car of all the employees. Every day those employees would come in and they would see their words on a car in the lobby of their headquarters. It would be a reminder to live their word for the year.
For instance, my words have been serve and purpose and rise, surrender. Last year was connected. I wanted to be more connected to people, more connected to my family when I was on the road and more connected spiritually. For me, my word was connected.
The year I picked serve, I knew I needed to serve more at home, serve my family, become a servant leader, stop focusing on self. I needed to serve others out in the world more where you use travel a lot, you speak a lot, you start to just try to survive and get through each day. I said, no, I’ve got to model this through the adversity, through the stress, through the busyness and serve. That was a big year that I picked the word serve.
If you watch Clemson football when they won the National Championship a couple years ago, Dabo Swinney on national TV in front of millions of people said, “My word all year has been love. I knew that our love for each other would make the difference and that’s what I told the team.” It’s really cool to see people pick their words.
Kurt Warner, the famous Hall of Fame quarterback just Tweeted my Tweet and he said his word is ‘committed’ this year. Then he wrote and typed in all of why he chose that word. He was going to be committed to his profession, committed to his family, committed to growing in his new role, just a really cool explanation of why he picked committed.
Awesome. Well, Jon, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things.
I think we covered a lot. I really appreciate you allowing me to share it. It’s fun to share these ideas and then it’s even more fun to watch people put it into practice.
In my book I share a lot of personal experience of what I learned and what I did with teams. I’ve had a few people say, “Oh, he was just talking about he worked with this team, that team, this team.” Well, I had to, to be able to share what we did and what I learned and then give an example. I was only sharing all of these examples to be able to help others learn from them so they can implement them themselves.
All right. Now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?
A favorite quote. Abraham Lincoln, “I am not bound to win; I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light that I have.”
Thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?
Being positive doesn’t just make you better; it makes everyone around you better. The research shows that positive leaders, positive teams really do outperform negative teams. I love that.
How about a favorite book?
So many. It’s almost hard to say one book, but I loved A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. That was one of my favorite books. And The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus is a great book as well.
All right. How about a favorite tool, something that you use that helps you be awesome at your job?
I like Zoom. Zoom has been great to use in terms of being able to connect with others and do podcasts, so I like Zoom. I like Evernote. I use Evernote to keep a lot of my notes for my talks. I’ll go through and I can look at talks I gave a couple years ago and I’ll have the outline of that talk on Evernote. That’s been a helpful tool that I use.
How about a favorite habit, something you do that helps you be awesome at your job?
My favorite habit is the thank you walk because the research shows you can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. For about 13 – 14 years now I take a walk of gratitude every day. While you’re walking, you’re flooding your body and brain with these positive emotions that uplift you rather than the stress hormones that slowly drain and kill you.
I would say that the number one thing I’ve done to be a more positive person, because I’m not naturally positive, people think I am, but I’m not. This is a practice that has made such a huge impact on my life of a daily thank you walk, creates a fertile mind that is ready for success.
When you’re walking and you’re thanking, how does that work in practice? Are you just thanking for anything and everything you see or how do you work through that?
Different times, different ways each day. I’ll be walking. I’m thankful for my life. I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to walk. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my kids even though they’re driving me nuts right now. I’m thankful for these challenges that help me learn and grow. I’m thankful that I was able to write this book the other day. I’m thankful that I get to talk to you right now.
You can find things that are big and small. You can do it for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. Usually mine starts with gratitude and then I move towards prayer, but for me the gratitude is a really powerful piece. It’s always different. Sometimes I’ll just start being thankful for things that you didn’t know you were thankful for. It’s a really cool exercise. As you do it, again, big and small, sometimes big things, sometimes small things. It’s just all different.
Is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks, is Kindle book highlighted up a storm or retweeted at your talks?
“Love, serve, and care” is really a very shareable thing that I say that a lot of people share. It’s something that is very viral in terms of this is what leaders do. The best leaders love, serve and care. A lot of people do hash tag love, serve, care.
The idea is that to be a great leader, you have to love what you do. You’ll never be great at it if you don’t love it. You can’t build a great team if you don’t love your team. You have to love it.
Then you have to serve your team. When you help your team improve and grow, they’ll grow. You’ll grow in the process as well. When you help others improve, you improve. Serving is really a key part of leadership. A great leader doesn’t see themselves. Maya Angelou said, “A leader sees greatness in others.” It’s about seeing that greatness in others then serving them to help them become great. That’s key.
Then care. You have to show that you care. You really stand out in a world where so many don’t seem to care anymore, but caring is the difference. Because you care, you love. Because you care, you serve. Because you care, you go above and beyond to do things that cause you to standout, to build better people, to build great products, to build great teams. Caring is a huge part of that. Love, serve, and care I would say is something that’s really shareable.
If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?
JonGordon.com, J-O-NGordon.com or social media at J-O-NGordon11 is Instagram and Twitter, JonGordon11.
Do you have a final challenge or call to action you’d issue to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?
I love that you’re talking about being awesome at your jobs. I would say – it’s a message I shared in my book The Seed, which is about finding happiness and purpose in work and life.
The idea is that you shouldn’t seek happiness in your job. You’ll never find it in your job or in the life. The key is to work with passion and purpose and to live with passion and purpose. When you do happiness finds you. Happiness is a byproduct of passion and purpose and doing something that you love and doing something that you’re engaged in. Focus on that part of it.
Also, don’t chase success. We live in a world that’s consumed with success, but when you’re awesome at your job, what you’re really focusing on doing is making a difference. When you make a difference in your job and you make an impact and you find ways to love and serve and care and you plant yourself like a seed, where you are, then you’ll start to grow. That seed will start to grow. You’ll become the leader that you’re meant to be. Then what happens is success finds you.
To be awesome at your job, don’t focus on the outcome, focus on the process. That awesomeness will lead to great things.
Well, Jon, thanks so much for taking this time. I wish you tons of luck with your book, The Power of a Positive Team and all you’re up to.
Hey, thanks Pete, I really appreciate talking with you.