Is passion enough to be an effective leader? In the summer of 1992, as Alex and his teammates struggled to find ways to bust through the barrier during a wall exercise in a leadership team building, he found himself learning about an important leadership trait which he still lives up to until this day.
Alex talks about how the all-in principle or leading from behind can help any struggling leaders get over their respective walls. He gives examples of some of the best leaders in history and tackles why 100% commitment counts more than a burning passion.
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The ‘ALL IN’ Principle
In this episode, you’ll learn three key insights which I believe are critical to making you a highly skilled ethical influencer. It’s a learnable skill. It’s not something you’re born with. You’re going to learn that passion doesn’t produce commitment. Commitment produces passion. You’ll also learn that passion is overrated because the heart overshadows the hands when you want to do something. It’s the hands or action and commitment that get things done.
You’ll also learn that WIT or the Whatever It Takes mindset means that there’s no turning back. It’s like burning the ships behind you. This episode could have a significant impact on how you can quickly and easily win the hearts of others.
Leadership Is A Choice
Leadership is a choice. That’s what I learned in the summer of 1992. It was a clear blue afternoon in the shimmering Northern California heat. I was climbing the wall or at least I was supposed to. It was one of those team-building exercises: physical feats, mental competitions and emotional contests. It was an obstacle course like the others who were taking part in this outdoor adventure. I was there to find out what made me tick and what exactly is it. Why exactly is it that I do what I do?
I was only 28 at the time. This was the final challenge of a very challenging day. I was up for it despite the pain. I wanted to show everyone, there were dozens of others seeking self-knowledge, that I had what it took to inspire, to amaze and ultimately to lead. I wanted to be a leader because my life was not going well then.
As the coach bucked us up for the course, I used my swollen hands to wipe away the streams of sweat that were dribbling down my neck. My shoulders were aching because of the long day. I wiggled my toes, tested my creaking shins and I stretched my throbbing thighs. They were throbbing because it was a long day. As a whole, I felt battered. I was ready for the challenge. Can you see it? Have you been there before?
Back to the story, the pain didn’t matter to me because if I could prove my mettle, if I could get my brain focused, if I could see this competition through, I would impress my fellow competitors and more importantly I would impress myself that I could do this.
I was there side by side with two dozen other rival leaders and all of us were bent on climbing this twelve-foot wall. There was no rope on either side. There was nothing but physical strength, stamina, determination and a bit of help from others to get over. This was called team building, as you can imagine, but it was also leadership.
[bctt tweet=”When the leader’s job is done, his aim is fulfilled.” via=”no”]
“Do it and others will follow,” that’s what I thought. If I do it, others will follow. My instincts told me that if I scaled the wall first, then I would inspire the others by my feat and my determination to do the same. That was leadership in my view back then. Going first, being first. It was like breathing to me. I was who I was.
The instant the coach shouted, “Go.” I rushed forward to beat the clock. Within seconds, I was up and over, thanks to my teammates, mission accomplished. I was all alone over the wall. That was it. The others were there on the other side. They were trying to get over the wall as well. I couldn’t help them. I could do nothing to help them.
My inspirational abilities got me over the wall, but I couldn’t be of much help to the others now that I was standing on the other side. I put myself in a powerless position and witnessed the rest of the group struggled to climb the wall one by one. My leadership amounted less to inspiration than to cheering people on from the sidelines on the other side of the wall as they struggled to get over.
In the meantime, one of my closest friends during the competition, he stood at the base of the wall and help the others get up over it. As he did that, they were joining me on the other side. I watched him hoist teammates on his shoulders, push them up and grabbed the top of the wall.
I watched him clasp his hands and lift people up and over. I watched him arch his back to others. Even the heavyset and lifelong couch potato friend that we had, what he did is he created a human step ladder so the heavyset gentleman could go over.
My friend, the one at the bottom of the wall heaved more than a thousand pounds of life while I watched myself do pretty much nothing. He was left standing at the base of the wall, knee skin, nose bleeding, and looking worse than I’d felt when we’d begun. He was the picture of someone who gave more than he took.
After catching his breath, my friend took several steps back, lunged forward, and with a giant leap of faith into the hands of our tallest teammate with the longest arms. The long arm friend leaned over the top of the wall, grabbed my other friend who was the leader from behind. As both hands clasped, everyone gave a sigh. He was pulled over safely in time.
I was speechless. My choice had left me watching rather than leading. My feelings of inadequacy after my wrongheaded leadership decision, my ineffectiveness at helping a team accomplish a shared goal, that sat heavily with me for many years. What transpired that day became a defining moment in my life. It sparked a new way of thinking about leadership.
After all, I was 28 at the time. I had lost over $242,000. I was on a park bench for a week. I lived with my mom for three years. This leadership ropes course was the lynchpin to catapult me forward so that I can finally live like a leader. I was feeling inadequate because leadership, I learned that day, is more than one thing. In fact, it’s two things, front and back.
By electing to go first, I had chosen the classic leading from the front position, or many people call it the command and control leadership style. This is an incomplete leadership style whether it’s an obstacle course or in business in the real world. Can you relate?
The command and control or follow me leadership style has worked well, but it’s not a collaborative or servant leadership style. I’ve learned again and again over the years that the key to sustainable leadership, that’s the key: sustainable, is to complement the command and control leadership with what’s called the engage and enroll style of leading. That’s the style of leading from behind.
Take others with you and count on their support to assist you in accomplishing your goals. It’s known as servant leadership. Leaders from behind are not at odds with leaders from the front. They simply are more sensitive to the immediate needs of the people they are leading.
Does it sound familiar? Maybe Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi or several spiritual leaders from thousands of years ago. They are the most collaborative type of leader. They remain anonymous and invisible for the most part. I have an upcoming book I’m writing called Discover Your Verb. I’m strongly considering to make it anonymous.
In other words, the author is unknown. I have several business friends and partners who say, “Don’t do it.” I’m seriously considering it because that’s ultimately the leader from behind style. Many other leadership books that have been written in the past ignore the leader from behind. That’s because these leaders are assistance. They are understudies. They’re sentinels, the Secret Santa rather than the main characters who get all the attention and credit.
[bctt tweet=”The heart doesn’t always lead you in the right direction. ” via=”no”]
They’re like the drummer in a band. In the biblical verses, it would be John the Baptist. He was necessary. As the Bible states, he was the cousin of Jesus, but he wasn’t the big man. He was responsible for leading from behind. He’s my favorite character in the Bible whether or not you believe in the Christian tradition. It’s a great character to study.
My friend led from behind that day. He came out on top. He was the engage and enroll leader. He embodied what Lao Tzu meant when he wrote, “A leader is best when people barely know he or she exists. When the leader’s job is done, his aim is fulfilled. All the people say we did it ourselves.”
If you’re a parent, you’re definitely a servant leader. The all-in principle is about leading from behind. It’s the essence of leadership and although the title of this episode is the all-in principle, what yields and the outcome from the all-in principle, when you’re all in, 100% you’ve got to get over that wall.
It means 100% commitment. It means removing options so there’s only one choice. That’s the simplest way to move away from the Paradox of Choice, which is a great book. You have one choice and that is getting over the wall, bust through the barrier.
That summer of 1992, I learned what all-in means. During the wall exercise, I discovered that I was all out the moment I went over the wall first because I could no longer lead. It was masquerading as leadership. It wasn’t true leadership. My friend who stayed behind to help everyone over the wall, he attempted it himself at the very end. He was all in. That experience changed me forever.
When you’re enrolling people, when you’re selling people and you truly are all in and paying attention to what your candidate prospect or that hyper-qualified lead is telling you and insisting what they believe in, hopefully, you will lead them from behind, shepherd and usher them to say yes to your offer.
As I’ve said many times as Jeffrey Gitomer said over the years, “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.” The all-in moment taught me. That all-in moment back in the summer of 1992, when I felt I was at rock bottom, it was a bedrock to learn. That was my foundation. That was my base.
My hope is this story can inspire you because it comes from 52 Life-changing Stories of 100% Commitment I wrote with my good friend and partner, T. Harv Eker and Andrew Lock during the years that we taught the Ultimate Internet Bootcamp and the Ultimate Membership Sites seminar. If you’re a student of any of those training, then you will remember The All-in Principle. It’s available on Amazon.
In 711 AD, the Muslim commander, Tariq Ziyad ordered his ships to be burned as he led the charge to cross the Strait of Gibraltar from the North African coast. He got his troops consolidated. That area is known as the Rock of Gibraltar named after him.
Another similar incident 800 years later was in 1519 AD during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Hernan Cortes, the Spanish conquistador or commander scuttled his ships. That’s a fancy word of saying he sunk them so that his men would have to conquer or die.
I don’t advocate war. In fact, I do the opposite, but like in war, you have much bigger battles to fight every single day. It’s the war between your ears, your mind. I challenge you to have your greatest conquest each morning, afternoon and evening and conquest your mind utilizing the all-in principle when you sell something or when you have an enrollment conversation.
The Alexism for this episode is this. There are two types of problems entrepreneurs face each day: the ones you currently have and the ones you will have. Isn’t that true? You can fill in the word parent as well or manager, sales assistant, personal assistant, executive assistant, online business manager. It doesn’t matter. No problems, no growth.
Here’s a quick review about the specific insights you and I rediscovered in this episode. First, passion is overrated. You can have passion for anything you’re going to do like I did with that wall. It’s the commitment that counts most. Just like my friend, T. Harv Eker, says, “First you need the wood, then you have the fire.” The wood is commitment and the fire is passion.
Your heart is where the passion is. If you only think with your heart like I did that one summer afternoon of 1992 in the Sacramento area of Northern California, then the heart doesn’t always lead you in the right direction. You have to commit with your hands. That’s what my friend did. Clasping his hands, putting his hands on the butts of other people to get them over, making a human ladder of himself so other people can get over.
[bctt tweet=”Use passion and commitment together with your head, and you will know what to do, why to do it, and how to do it.” via=”no”]
That is a handheld commitment. Passion is the heart and commitment are the hands. Use them together with your head. You will know what to do, why to do it and how to do it. Let’s take for example the Acapulco cliff diver because this is the final reveal I want to give you.
Acapulco cliff diving, which you can watch on YouTube is fascinating. Over 120 feet up in the air, the diver has to climb up a rock to get there. He bows to an altar, which looks like a Catholic altar. He goes up to the rock. He curls his toes over the rock. He dives into very shallow water. He has to dive at the rocks down below when the surf has gone back into the ocean.
If he dives at the water, by the time he hits the water, he would hit the rocks. He’s diving at the rocks. By the time he lands, the surface comes back in. Plus, he has to dive out 22 feet. Doing this for a living for $1 like I saw when I was eight years old, holding my mother’s hand. When I saw the Acapulco cliff diver look at the cliff, was he 100% committed? No. He climbed the cliff all the way to the top.
I clapped. I thought that was the feat. 125 feet climbing with his bare hands and speedos. My mom said, “He hasn’t done anything yet.” I said, “He climbed that hill.” She goes, “No, keep watching.” I held her hand. Was he 100% committed? No. Maybe 99% but not 100%. When he was praying to the altar at the top, was he 100% committed? Of course, not.
His toes curled over the rock looking down, spreading his wings, his arms. Is he 100% committed? No. The moment his toes leave the rock, is he 100% committed? The answer is yes. Does he dive at the water or does he dive at the rocks? He dives at the rocks because if he dives at the water, he will hit rocks and die.
If he dives at the rocks, the water and the surf will come back, and he will safely live diving into about fifteen feet of water and getting his $1 or $2 tips. That’s the Acapulco cliff diver story, remember it. All of these insights can only work for you if you work them.
Speaking of reviews, I want you to go to AllSellingAside.com/iTunes and type in your biggest a-ha or biggest takeaway moment you experienced from this episode. It was storytelling, but it’s also seeding. I’m trying to hook your mind because seeding through storytelling is the new selling. Hopefully, these analogies and true stories will hook your mind to sell better and sell more often without rejection.
In giving in a review, go to AllSellingAside.com/iTunes. You can do this in the review section. iTunes will ask you to rate this episode when you give a review. My hope is I’ve earned five stars from you. If I didn’t, go to another episode but don’t review yet, and when I’ve earned five stars, rate me then because I only want five stars.
That’s a call to action I talked about. Go ahead, declare your one big takeaway in the iTunes review section, AllSellingAside.com/iTunes. It will take three minutes out of your day. What you declare could provide you a lifetime of learning, and if you’ve already given me a five-star review, thank you for that.
I appreciate you. Write down your biggest takeaway on an index card and keep it in a file. Let’s call it the All Selling Aside takeaway file. I have a final gift in honor of this episode of All Selling Aside. It’s a complimentary copy of the digital version of my book, Alexisms: Useful Lessons from a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur. You can instantly download it for free at AlexismsBook.com.
That does it for this episode. I hope our paths cross again for All Selling Aside. This is the show dedicated to making an ethical influence, not only within your reach, but I want it so that you can exceed your potential, whether in sales or any other part of life, be a true leader from behind, and don’t burst through your comfort zone. That’s way too scary.
I want you to expand your comfort zone. What was once uncomfortable is now like breathing. Please do whatever it takes to join me next time because our topic will be the Public Speakers Magic Formula. It has existed for over 100 years. I encourage you to invite a study buddy with you because it’s more fun to learn this stuff with someone else. I can’t wait to connect with you.