When I pick up one of Jon Gordon’s books, I have high expectations. I expect to be entertained, moved, and motivated to think differently and take action. That’s not an easy accomplishment for any book.
“Your optimism today will determine your level of success tomorrow.” –Jon Gordon
His latest book, The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All, exceeded my already high expectations. Jon once again narrates a story in such a way that it:
- Reminds me of timeless principles
- Zeroes in on something I need to work on
- Inspires me to become a better leader
I recently had the opportunity to ask Jon a few questions about his work.
“Negative thoughts are the nails that build a prison of failure.” –Jon Gordon
The 3 Greatest Success Strategies
Jon,The Carpenter’s subtitle is A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All. Let’s talk about a few of these strategies.
I go into more detail in the book of why they are so powerful, but after studying the most successful people and organizations, I found they truly loved the work they did, and they did everything with love instead of fear. The love they had for their product, people and passion was greater than their fear of failing. They loved their work so much that they overcome their challenges to build something great. They loved their people, so they invested in them and helped them achieve great results. They also cared about everyone and everything. They put in a little more time with a little more energy with a little more effort with a little more focus, and this produced big results. They also served and sacrificed.
Only through service and sacrifice can you become great. When you serve others, you become great in their eyes. We know when someone is out for themselves and when they are here to serve others. You can’t be a great leader if all you are serving is yourself.
“Only through service and sacrifice can you become great.” –Jon Gordon
The Importance of Rest
You talk about the importance of rest. Most of us are so busy achieving, setting goals, and driving that we have learned to smile and nod in response to hearing “get some more rest.” My subconscious often responds with, “I will rest when I’m dead.” Why is rest so important? What made you decide to start with it as a success strategy?
I’ve noticed that the enemies of great leadership, teamwork, relationships and customer service are busyness and stress. Our lives have become so crazy that we are continually activating the reptilian part of our brain and the fight-flight response. So without knowing it, we are living and working from a place of fear where we are just trying to survive instead of thrive.
When we rest and recharge, we can think more clearly and live and work more powerfully. For example, instead of running people over because you are so busy, you can take time to build relationships with your team and customers and create more success in the long term. Instead of just trying to get through the day, you can live and work more intentionally thinking about who needs your time and energy to develop and grow. Instead of rushing through conversations with customers, you can take more time to listen and solve their problems. Every great athlete must rest and recharge and so must we to perform at our highest level.
“Anyone who attempts to build great things will face challenges.” –Jon Gordon
How Gratitude and Love Make The Difference
As if rest wasn’t enough, you then jump into other qualities we are not likely to hear about in an MBA program: gratitude and love. How do you encourage this thinking? What’s the most common reaction you receive when you teach this to a group of driven corporate leaders?
I actually receive a positive reaction because I make a compelling case for it by sharing the latest research and giving real word examples of living and working more powerfully with gratitude and love. It’s okay to be driven. But you must be driven by the right source of motivation if you want lasting success.
When I talk about NFL and NBA coaches who succeed because of love, it’s hard to argue with these examples. When I explain that you are physically stronger and can lift more weight when you are thinking thoughts of gratitude rather than hate, it’s hard to argue with the science.
“You are not a true success unless you are helping others be successful.” –Jon Gordon
Struggles, difficulties, challenges. You teach that these are normal steps on the path to success. When you are going through them, it doesn’t feel like progress. What do you say to the person who is going through a challenge?
I say that you must expect challenges, adversity, rejection and failure, but you must have an even greater expectation that you will overcome them. I say that failure is a gift if we are willing to learn, grow and improve because of it. I have failed so many times, but each failure has led me to greater success. In the book I share a lot of great examples of famous failures, and they are great reminders that behind every great success story are stories of failure along the way.
The Power of the Positive
Let’s talk about attitude. Optimism runs through your work. Is it possible to learn to be positive? How do you influence yourself to adopt a more positive mindset?
Yes, we can learn to be positive. It’s been my life’s journey. I’m not naturally positive, so I’ve had to work really hard at becoming more positive. Over the last 11 years, I can see a huge change in my life, marriage, family and work because of my focus on becoming a more positive person. I’ve also seen countless people and organizations change because they have focused on enhancing their optimism and positivity. It’s why I am so passionate about the work I do and the message I share. I know it works.
Becoming a more positive person starts with our perspective. How you see the world determines the world you see. Do you start feeling stressed or blessed? The research shows you can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time. So this one decision can impact how you approach the day. Each day the goal is to feed the positive and weed the negative. I like to tell the positive dog story which I wrote about inThe Positive Dog: The more you feed positive dog inside you, the more it grows. The more you starve the negative dog inside you, the smaller it gets. So feed the positive dog. This is key.
“Positivity is like a boomerang. The more we put it out there, the more it comes back to us.” –Jon Gordon
You write that giving back and helping others is part of the success process. In fact, you go so far as to say that you aren’t successful if you don’t help others. Why is giving to others part of that definition?
I believe the measure of our success is not how much we accumulate but how much we give to help others become successful. In the end we won’t be measured by our bank account, wins or losses, and awards but by the difference we made in people’s lives. I think about the people we celebrate and honor throughout history. They are the ones who inspired others to do great things. When your work is about others and not you, it becomes a movement. Movements lift everyone up.
You write, speak, and travel all over the world. Would you share a story of someone you’ve met who has really learned from your teaching?
The most rewarding thing about the work I do is hearing from people who have changed the way they think, lead and act after reading my books. Many are private stories from well known leaders in businesses and sports that wouldn’t be appropriate for me to share, but one of my favorites is from a college basketball coach whose team won 18 more games than the season before. He read my books, and I spoke to the team. I asked him what happened, and he said that he became a more positive coach and that made all the difference. This is what it’s all about. Positivity is like a boomerang. The more we put it out there, the more it comes back to us.
“You can’t be a great leader if all you are serving is yourself.” –Jon Gordon
What are you reading?
I’m reading Focus by Daniel Goleman, The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus, and The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.
The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All