Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with L3 Founder, Doug Smith. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos.
Doug Smith: 00:00 Do not throw away your shot. Do not throw away your shot. If you’re listening to this and you want to quit, do not throw away your shot. The world needs you to make it to your leadership finish line. The world needs you to lead and we need you to grow into the leader that you were created to be. So keep growing. Keep going and do not quit. There’s going to be seasons that are tough. There’s going to be seasons where you have to grow like you’ve never grown before and but God is making you into the leader. He needs you to be to go where he wants you to go. This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 230.
Doug Smith: 00:43 Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well in today’s episode. You’ll hear me share six things that I’ve learned about leadership in the last year and I believe it’s going to add a ton of value to your life. So I hope that you enjoy it. But before we dive in, just a few announcements. I want to let you know that we have a date for our second annual l three one day leadership conference. It is going to be on Friday, March 13th, 2020 here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. If you attended the first year conference, we listened to all of your feedback and we are committed to making this year’s conference 10 times better than our first one. I cannot wait. And so if you want to get more information about the conference, you can go to L3one-day.com.
Doug Smith: 01:23 Again, that’s L3one-day.com and if you’re not signed up for our email list already, make sure you sign up for that so you can get all the uptodate details with our second annual conference. Be in the room leaders, save the date, be in the room and bring someone with you. I also want to thank our sponsor Alex Tulandin. Alex is a full time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more about alex at Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com with that being said, let’s dive right into the lesson and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements. Hey everyone. Today I’d like to talk to you on the subject six things I’ve learned about leadership in the last year, but before I go into those six things, I just want to give you a little bit of context for the lesson.
Doug Smith: 02:11 At the time I’m recording this, it’s September of 2019 I want to go back to June of 2018. In June of 2018 I was planning on going full time with Al three leadership. In January of 2019 I had let my boss know in our organization know, and that was my plan and then out of nowhere in June, my boss resigned her position as the director of development at light of life and I wasn’t interested in the position. I didn’t think much of it cause I was planning on going full time al three however, being a person of faith, I was running one morning and I believe that God whispered in my heart that I needed to pick up the ball and run with it. And so to me that meant go for the position. And so I went for it and I got it. And I could just tell you that I had no idea what I was signing up for.
Doug Smith: 02:51 And after just over a year in the position, I can tell you that it has been extremely clear to me why God whispered that to my heart because was in need of the growth that has taken place of the in the past year. It’s been an intense season of growth for me and I maybe you’re an intense season of growth. I actually did a lesson a few months back and titled what to do when you’re in an intense season of growth. And I did that lesson because I’m in one and let me just say this, I’m still in one, right? I mean, I’m growing more than I’ve grown more in the last year than I probably grew the, the previous 15 and I’m still right smack dab in the middle of the season of growth right now. But I thought while I’m in the middle of the season of growth, let me just share some things that I’ve learned about leadership in the last year.
Doug Smith: 03:33 And so let’s dive into these six things that I’ve learned. The first thing I learned about leadership in the last year is that everything rises and falls on leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. If you know me, you probably listen to this in saying, Doug, you’ve been saying that since you were, you know, 17 years old because of John Maxwell. And yes, I’ve always said that, and I’ve always known that, but I know that an entirely new level than I’ve ever known it before. And if I could say anything about that phrase that every, yes, it’s true that everything rises and falls on leadership, it’s a great saying and it’s easy to say until you’re the leader, until you’re the leader. I’ve learned that leadership looks a lot easier on a Tedtalk stage than it does when you’re actually in the arena of leadership on a daily basis.
Doug Smith: 04:16 Cause when you’re in the leadership arena, it’s going to require you to take extreme ownership over everything. I mean, you’re responsible, you’re the leader, the buck stops with you. When things come up at 3:00 AM you’re responsible. When things come up publicly, you’re responsible. You’re responsible for every decision that you make, every decision your team makes, every decision your organization makes and the outcomes that they produce. I’ve learned that once you step into leadership, you don’t get to not be a leader. There’s not a second of the day, not a day of the week, that you don’t get to be a leader. You’re an example whether you want to be or not as a leader. And you’re always responsible whether you want to be or not. And so I’ve learned that everything rises and falls on leadership. And you have to own that reality.
Doug Smith: 04:55 You have to own the reality that everything rises and falls on leadership. And here’s the thing, leaders, if you’re the leader that’s you. If that’s you, you can say everything rises and falls on my leadership that that is, uh, that’ll wake you up, right? That is a reality that we must face as leaders. And so let me just say this, if you’re listening to this and you love leadership as I do, why do you want to be a leader? Why do you want to be a leader? Is it for the perks, for notorieties that, so you can speak on a Ted Talk Stage one day? If those are the only reasons you want to be a leader, I can tell you it is not worth it. It is not worth it at all. But if you want to make a difference, if you want to change the world, if you want to help people grow and develop, listen, leadership is one of the greatest honors and privileges ever.
Doug Smith: 05:36 But I’ve learned more than anything this year that everything rises and falls on leadership. And if you’re the leader, that’s you. The second thing I’ve learned about leadership this year is that there are no two easy consecutive days in a leader’s life. There are no two easy consecutive days in a leader’s life. That’s just a fact and I can promise you that just when it seems like everything’s going well, another fire’s going to come up and it just never ends. And when you know that, when you know that every day you’re going to have to face fires every day, there’s going to be issues for you to deal with and problems for you to solve, there’s a weight that comes with that. And in leaders, I want to challenge you and I’m challenging myself. You have to own the weight that comes with leadership. If you’re going to be a leader, you have to own everything that comes with it.
Doug Smith: 06:13 And one thing that comes with it is weight. And I would challenge you and I’m challenging myself that we must learn to deal with the weight of leadership. And for me when I think about leadership weights, I would define them as anything that has the capability of keeping you up in the middle of the night is a leadership weight. Some examples of this are final responsibility, right? You can’t blame anyone or anything else. You’re the leader, so you have final responsibility. That’s a weight. There’s a weight that comes with reporting to the board and reporting to the public. There’s a weight with being responsible for department outcomes and team members. There’s a weight that comes with staff issues. There’s even a weight that comes with asking yourself if you have the capability to do this, right? These are all weights of leadership that are just part of the leadership package, but if you’re a leader, you have to learn to deal with these things.
Doug Smith: 06:59 I know I was talking to a friend who’s been in leadership a long time. He was the executive vice president of a global company and I was saying, I’m just learning how to manage all the weights that come with leadership, and he said, I just want you to know that that feeling never goes away. He said you’re never going to feel wake up and feel like you’ve arrived or that you have everything under control every day you’re just going to have to show up and lead whether you feel like it or not. And isn’t that true? But as I process this and process, how do I deal with the weight and the weights of leadership? I’ve come up with two things. One for me, and I’m an emotional person, but I have to learn how to discipline my emotions. And I think part of this is where experience comes in, but I have to learn to discipline my emotions.
Doug Smith: 07:38 See, I’m highly emotional. So this has been a year of high highs and low lows and it’s been really a roller coaster for me. But if I’ve learned anything from that, it’s I have to learn to discipline my emotions when they come up. I love what Gerald Brooks said. He said, “In leadership, your first reaction doesn’t have to be your last, allow your disciplines to be bigger than your emotions.” And that is something I’m learning to do, to carry the weight of leadership. And the only other solution I came up with dealing with the weights of leadership and realizing that there will never be two easy consecutive days in your life as a leader is that you have to do your best and trust God with the rest. Do your best and trust God with the rest. And listen, I know this is a faith-based answer, but I would just say this as a person of faith, one, I don’t know how people go through life without God.
Doug Smith: 08:22 I really don’t. I just, I can’t even comprehend that. And then specifically if you’re going to be a leader, like I have no idea how leaders go through life without God. No idea. No, no, no clue. But over the year I’ve had to learn that at the end of the day I have to do everything that I can that is within my control and I have to surrender everything else over to God and trust him to make up for that gap. And I have to cast the care and the weight of leadership onto him and trust him for that. And if I’ll do that, he’ll get me through. He’ll walk me through and he’ll give me the grace to grow through whatever I need to grow through or to actually carry that weight of leadership. So there are no two easy consecutive days in a leader’s life. But if you’ll learn to do your best and trust God with the rest, it’ll help you alleviate the weight of leadership in your life.
Doug Smith: 09:08 The third thing I’ve learned this year is that the path to leadership is through management. The path to leadership is through management. You know, when I think about today’s leadership space, I think there can be this belief that if you’re a leader, you don’t need to manage people, that you can just lead an organization and everyone else will do the management side for you. And I do believe you can get to a place where you have an incredible team around you and they lead the day to day, and I absolutely believe there, but I believe to get to that place in your life and in your leadership, you’ll need to go through a management stage. I mean, even if you’re an entrepreneur in the beginning, you’re everything you have to manage, right? When you hire new employees, you are the manager. And so I really do believe that the path to leadership is through management and as a manager to go back through everything we’re talking about, your department rises and falls on you. As a manager of your department rises and falls on you.
Doug Smith: 10:01 And let me just say this, that listen, if you’re not in management, if you’re not in leadership in the organization, don’t judge your managers and don’t judge your boss. Sure, there may be things that they don’t do great in that you wish they would do different. Make a list of the things that you wouldn’t do when you’re in a leadership role and just say, those are things I’m never going to do. But don’t judge someone when you don’t know what it’s like. You know, I remember Clint Hurdle, my favorite story. I interviewed him in episode one 23 of the podcast and he said, you know, when I first became the first day I became a manager within the first month, I called every coach that I ever had in my entire life and apologized to them. Why? Because he had no idea the weight that came with that role.
Doug Smith: 10:39 And, you know, I, I want to do the same thing in my thing. Management has been a huge area of growth for me this year. And I’ve told people that I’ve reported to the exact same thing that I’m sorry I didn’t realize the weight that you carried. Thank you for carrying that weight. Thank you for leading when you didn’t feel like it. Thank you for taking extreme ownership over our department because now I’m in that role and I get it. I get it. I wish I would’ve got it before. And as a young leader, I wish I wouldn’t have judged so many leaders that that were over me cause I had no idea of the weight that they had to carry. But let’s say I just want to share a few things that I’ve learned about management. And these are areas of growth in my life because management has been a huge area of growth as I’ve said.
Doug Smith: 11:16 And so I learned this at that. As a manager, your time and your life are no longer your own. You exist to serve your team and get the most out of them. So your time and your life are no longer your own. In fact, for you to have time, you’re gonna have to work before and after everyone else works because the rest of your day is basically devoted to them. But here are some things I learned about management throughout the year. And again, I’m not, I could do a whole teaching on management someday. But these are all lessons I’m currently learning. So until I learned them, I’m not going to teach a lesson on them. But in management, there is an absolute necessity to build and trust your team, right? Teamwork makes the dream work. And listen, as a, as a manager or a leader, you either inherited or built your team regardless, they are your team.
Doug Smith: 11:54 And you have to train them, coach them, and trust them to carry out their jobs. You absolutely have to build trust and empower your team. As a manager. There’s a necessity to be crystal clear in your expectations. I absolutely learned this this year. I learned very, very early on that I am not always the clearest person even though I think I am and so this has been a huge area of growth for me and I’m learning how I can be as clear as possible and I could do a whole lesson on that sometime. Our team has been really helpful in telling me how to be clear. The third thing I’ve learned about management is there is a necessity to develop systems for accountability. You have to have systems in place and to resources that have been extremely helpful for me have been a book by Gino Wickman called Traction.
Doug Smith: 12:36 He has a whole system for leading organizations that I absolutely love. It’s called traction and then he also wrote a followup book called How to Be a Great Boss and that’s a phenomenal resource. If you’re a manager, it’ll give you the systems you need. For management and accountability. Another thing I learned about management is there is a necessity to over-communicate. You have to over-communicate over and over and over and over and over and over again. I love what George Bernard Shaw said. He said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” You have to over-communicate. As a manager, as a manager, you also have to make fast decisions. This was, this is a huge area of growth for me, in general, make fast decisions. My personality, my makeup. I tend to be a collaborator and want to make decisions together and I want everyone to be happy and I want us to make a decision versus me making a decision.
Doug Smith: 13:26 But that’s not leadership, right? And so I’ve had to learn that to be a leader, you have to make fast decisions. And so decision making and managing or have been an area of growth for me. And I am absolutely committed. I’ve gotten better. I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be. But if you’re going to be a leader, you have to make fast decisions and stick by them. As a manager, there’s a necessity to lead people and not need them. Again, these are all areas that have been huge, huge areas of growth from me, but you can’t lead people if you need people and I’m so relational, so making that shift from peer to manager has been a big shift for me and I’m committed to growing through that. And then lastly, as a manager, you have to learn to deal with all these staff issues.
Doug Smith: 14:09 There’s going to be transitions, there’s going to be hiring, there’s going to be firing, there’s going to be coaching, there’s going to be tension between staff, but you have to learn how to deal with staff issues. Again, these are all huge areas of growth, but I truly believe that the path to leadership is through management. So hopefully some of these things have been enlightening for you. The fourth thing I’ve learned about leadership in the last years, that there is no such thing as work-life balance. There is no such thing as work-life balance and the sooner you can own that reality, the better off your life will be. Listen, we all have a million things going on and we all need to prioritize our health and fitness, our family, our spiritual lives, our career, our friendships. But too often we just pick one or two of these.
Doug Smith: 14:50 We go all-in with them and then all the rest suffer as a result. And so how do you actually try to balance out your life? I would just tell you this, that you need to constantly live with extreme intentionality and adaptability. Laura and I over the past year have had to make multiple changes to the way we live our lives for the season that we’re in. I love a quote by Eminem in one of his songs, he said, “I’m not a rapper. I’m an adapter. I can adjust.” And for me, when I took on this new role, I was also doing a ton with L3 Leadership snow on the side. And it got to a place where it just was not sustainable. And I, looked at Laura and I said, listen, if we don’t make changes, either one, I need to resign this position.
Doug Smith: 15:27 Two, I need to quit L3 or three, I just don’t know what to do. I feel out of control of this season of life does not feel manageable. So we sat down and we started going over our schedules and say, what do, what does our schedule need to look like in this season and this season? We might need to change it again in three or six months, but what can we try right now to make sure that we are still able to prioritize all the things we want to prioritize in our life? And those decisions have been, those conversations have been game-changers. And so listen, if you feel like you’re in an out of control season and that maybe you’re only prioritizing work or maybe you’re only prioritizing health and fitness, I, you know, I don’t know what your life looks like, but when it was the last time you sat down, either by yourself or with your spouse or significant other and actually said, what does our life look like and do we need to make any changes?
Doug Smith: 16:10 You know, maybe you need to change your work schedules. Laura and I changed our work schedules so we could manage being with the kids, being able to work full-time jobs. I mean, we changed our work schedules and it changed everything for us. Maybe you need to schedule your workout times. You know, for me, I have to get up and spend time with God at 4:00 AM and I have to work out at 5:00 AM in the current season that I’m in. Maybe you need to schedule your meals. Maybe you need to schedule your time with friends months in advance that you have friends over. Right. I believe the more you grow and develop as a leader, the more intentionality and adaptability you’re going to need to live your life with. So the takeaway here is a, sit down, evaluate your current life and see what changes may be necessary in this life for you to be able to prioritize all the areas that you need to prioritize in this season. There’s no such thing as work-life balance.
Doug Smith: 16:58 The fifth thing I’ve learned is that there will never be a day in your life or in your leadership that you don’t need to be growing. There will never be a day in your life or in your leadership that you don’t need to be growing. One of my favorite quotes in the past few years was from John Maxwell. He said, “Growth is the only guarantee of that tomorrow will be better.” “Growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will be better.” And so listen, I did a whole lesson on this. I’m not going to spend a lot of time here again. I would encourage you to go back and listen to Seven Things to do When You’re in an Intense Season of Growth. It was just a few episodes back. But, if you’re going to grow, you need to make a commitment to grow every single day. A commitment to being coached and a commitment to being mentored and being coached and mentored aren’t always fun.
Doug Smith: 17:39 But I believe, and this is certainly played out in this past year, when you enter new seasons or new levels of leadership, it’s going to require new coaches and new mentors. And, I had get surrounded by a different level of people than I’ve ever been surrounded by before to grow in this season. It’s been extremely helpful. It’s been painful, but it’s been helpful. But make the commitment to grow, to be coached, to be mentored. And let me just say this when it comes to growth, and this is probably something that I’m not great at, but I need encouragement and as well, give yourself grace. Give yourself grace when you’re starting off in any position, especially when you’re an intense season of growth. Give yourself grace. I quote this all the time, but it really did change my life. John Maxwell said, “Listen, in the beginning of any career or any new season of leadership, you’re not as bad as people think.”Right?
Doug Smith: 18:25 And he said, “Aren’t there times where you just want to look at people and say, listen, I’m bad. I know I’m bad, but I’m not that bad.” But he said, “If you do things right and you grow every day, in the end, you’re not as good as people think”. And somewhere in between those two is where you should live. And maybe you’re a leader who just needs to hear that today, that listen, you’re not as bad as people think. Just keep growing. Keep getting up every day. Give yourself grace and grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. Growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will be better. Just keep growing. Give yourself grace, grace, and show up every day and give your best. And the last thing I learned about leadership in the last year is this, do not throw away your shot. Leader, do not throw away your shot.
Doug Smith: 19:05 Laura and I had the privilege of going and seeing Hamilton the play in January. And if you haven’t seen it, it’s incredible. I haven’t encouraged you to check it out. But we’ve become obsessed with the soundcheck obsessed. Like I listened to it every day and there’s a song on there called My Shot and it’s a recurring theme throughout the entire play. But Hamilton basically says I am not throwing away my shot. I am not throwing away my shot. And that statement has been my statement for the year. There have been days where I wanted to throw away my shot. There have been days where I wanted to quit that I thought the growth was gonna be too difficult, that I didn’t know if I would make it through. But I just kept saying to myself, I am not throwing away my shot. I’m going to keep getting back up.
Doug Smith: 19:41 I’m going to keep getting back up again. No matter what God will, God is with me. I will make it to the next day. I will grow through this. Let’s go. I am not throwing away my shot and maybe you need to hear that today as a leader. Leader, do not throw away your shot. Do not throw away your shot. If you’re listening to this and you want to quit, do not throw away your shot. The world needs you to make it to your leadership finish line. The world needs you to lead and we need you to grow into the leader that you were created to be. So keep growing. Keep going and do not quit. There’s going to be seasons that are tough. There’s going to be seasons where you have to grow like you’ve never grown before and but God is making you into the leader
Doug Smith: 20:17 he needs you to be to go where he wants you to go and you don’t see where you’re going to be leading 10, 15, 20 years from now. But if you don’t grow through the season, if you throw away your shot, you have no idea what you’re going to miss out on as a leader. Keep going. Do not throw away your shot. Some other things that really encouraged me not to throw away my shot this year, one Craig Groschel was speaking at the global leadership summit and he basically said at one point in his leadership, he felt the exact same way. He wanted to throw away a shot and God dealt with his heart. He said, quit whining, you’re sharp. Fix it. I put you in this role. I could have put anyone else in this role go. And that’s what God spoke to Craig Groeschel. And it really administered me.
Doug Smith: 20:54 Same thing that God could put anyone else in this role, in this leadership journey right now. But he put me there and he put me there and he could have put anyone else there. But I’m there. And so I’m gonna, I’m not gonna throw away my shot. God, God, you put me in the game. I’m going to give it everything I have. And I was meeting with a mentor recently. My hero, Larry Bettencourt, you’ve probably heard me talk about him a million times and I was just sharing to, sharing some of these things with them of all the things I’m learning. And he just looked at me and he smiled and he said, Doug, you’re the leader. You need to be right now. You are the leader. You need to be right now. And hey, the leader, you need to be five years from now, you’ll be there.
Doug Smith: 21:29 You’ll be there. You’ll grow into that. But right now you are the leader you need to be right now. And maybe you need to hear that today. You are the leader you need to be right now. And the last thing that I’ll leave with you with that greatly encouraged me not to throw away my shot this year was, I was actually on a podcast interview just a few days ago. And, the interview he asked me, Hey, if you could go back and have coffee with your 17-year-old self, what would you tell him? And, you know, I joke that one of the things I would tell them is not to spend, I would tell myself not to spend five years worrying whether or not I would marry Laura, get married and have kids. I mean, if you go back and read my journals from 18 to 23, all you’ll read about is I wonder if I’ll ever get married.
Doug Smith: 22:06 I wonder if all your family boohoo I mean, it’s funny to make fun of myself now, but there was a legit worry then. And I remember one day God dealt with me. God dealt with me in my heart and he said, Doug, if I could fast forward your life 10 years and you could see a picture of your life and you knew that you’d be married and have kids, would you stop worrying about this and hand it over to me? And I said, yeah, do you have that video clip handy? And uh, and it didn’t show me a video clip it, he just dealt with my heart. And he said, Doug, I know the desires of your heart if you’ll just follow me all those things will come to pass. And I stopped worrying about it from that day forward. And it’s so funny, I was thinking about this other day and I was just spending time with God and God actually brought that up in my heart, that exact same story when he spoke to my heart about being married with kids.
Doug Smith: 22:47 And he said the same thing about my leadership journey. He said, Doug, if you could fast forward your life to that when you’re 45 when you’re 55 and you knew you’d be the leader that I called you to be and grow into the leader I need you to be, would you stop worrying about the day to day and just follow me and grow daily? And all of a sudden, man, it took so much weight off of me and pressure off of me and I just said, I just need to wake up every day, follow God and let him develop me and stop worrying. Stop worrying and cast my cares on him, right? We already talked about that today. So those are some things that have encouraged me to not throw away my shot. Listen, leader, do not throw away your shot. Do not throw away your shot. Keep going.
Doug Smith: 23:23 Keep leading the world needs you. Hey, thank you so much for listening to this lesson. I hope it adds value to your life. If you enjoyed the podcast, I would really encourage you to share it with a friend who may need to listen to this. Share it on social media. Let me know what your key takeaways were. I love hearing from you and I just thank you so much for allowing me to come into your life today and add value to you. I love you and I hope to talk to you soon. Well, hey everyone, thank you so much for listening to my lesson on the six things that I’ve learned about leadership in the last year. I hope that it added value to your life. You can find links to everything that I talked about in the show notes at L3leadership.org/episode230 as always, if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at L3 Leadership, you can sign up for our email list on our website at L3leadership.org and you’ll also receive a copy of my ebook Making the Most of Mentoring, which is my step by step process for getting meetings with leaders and building those relationships.
Doug Smith: 24:15 So make sure you pick up a copy of that. It’ll add a ton of value to your life. I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They’re jeweler, owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings through Henne Jewelers and we just think they are awesome. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. In fact, they give every engaged couple a book to help them prepare for marriage and we just love that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelers.com as always, I like to end with a quote, and Craig Groeschel said this, I love this. He said, “People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.” “People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.” Hey, thank you so much for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next episode.