Welcome to the Leaderquest Podcast. This season will consist of interviews conducted for the Building With Purpose Conference I held back in May. This is Episode 18 – My Interview with Leah Zimmerman.
If you failed to register for the full course, stay tuned for the rest of season two! I’ve got interviews coming up with each of the contributors. You’ll be able to glean wisdom from them and apply them in ways to grow yourself and your business.
For the conference, I assembled a diverse team of business professionals to examine the stay at home order and how we can achieve maximum productivity and success while in quarantine. The conference focused on the front of a newly issued stay-at-home order. Now, four months later, it seems all the more timely as the economy is looking to reopen.
This is Episode 18 – My Interview with Leah Zimmerman.
My Interview with Leah Zimmerman
In this episode, I’m having a conversation with Leah Zimmerman. She is a business coach focusing on family-run small businesses. Her specialty is crucial conversations, helping business owners, and their families, prosper during difficult conversations, transitions, and succession.
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What’s one takeaway you have from Episode 18 and my interview with Leah from the Building With Purpose Conference? How will you take control of your business’s future?
I love the wisdom and sense of calm she brings to the table. In the midst of COVID, many businesses are struggling. This is especially true of family businesses. A change in finances and vision can affect many people in the same house. Each has stake in the game. Each needs to be heard. Yet every person can become defensive and make the attacks personal because they know the other parties well. Leah’s presence and wisdom are reassuring and helpful. As a trusted coach and guide, she can help business owners pivot and family members celebrate more wins by having productive “difficult conversations.”
Like a ship without a rudder is a leader without a compelling goal.
Steer the Ship
Next week, I will be teaching a master’s level course in ethical leadership. I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing for lectures, reading, assignments, and everything that goes into making a class like this successful.
Honestly, I think I’m the most excited to hear from everyone in the class. What their goals are, what their vision for the world is, and how they see themselves developing into world-changing leaders.
It’s also forced me to reflect on my own life.
That led me to the thought that just as a boat without a rudder is unable to steer or navigate, so too will leaders be incapable of change without a clear or compelling goal.
It is pointless for a captain to steer the ship if the rudder is broken.
It is similarly pointless for a leader to expect change without a target goal in mind.
This has been a frequent musing of mine lately. Some days, if I’m honest, I struggle to stay engaged with my work. I love what I do and it meets many of my deepest core convictions and desires in life.
Other days, I wake up with a fire in my soul. I spend the day fanning that flame and watch the world around me light up.
What’s the difference?
For a long time, I wasn’t sure. Recently, over a load of dishes, I made a discovery. That particular day, I had a clear goal in mind. I knew exactly what I had to do to make that day a success. It was quite clearly going to be a ‘win’ or a ‘lose’ kind of day.
In contrast to that, I had also been struggling recently. One day, in particular, was a real drag. The only thing that sounded remotely interesting was over-consuming food and seeing how many games of Madden I could paly in 24 hours.
That day, as you may have guessed, was one without a clear goal. I had hopes. Expectations. Longings. Things that ‘would have been nice’ to get done. What I didn’t have, was a clear, concise, or compelling goal to draw me forward.
Ultimately, that’s the mission. I want to fill my life with a clear and compelling mission. A vision of what the world could be if I were fully awake and engage. My desire is to create a series of goals that better me, my family, our community, and ultimately the world.
We can, only do that if we set a clear and concise goal each day. Otherwise, we drift like a boat without a rudder. We chase every mildly exciting thing that ultimately distracts us from our true goals, identity, and ultimate sense of accomplishment.
Set The Intention
My goal for this class is to help them further that voice inside of them that is urging them forward. I want to equip them as leaders to continue to make a difference in the lives of those around them.
To help you, here are three things you can do to set the intention for each day.
1.) Set long-term goals … then distill them into short term ones.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt and his Full Focus Planner.
(If this is your first post here, two things: 1.) Welcome and 2.) Now You Know)
One of the genius ideas behind his system is the goal breakdown. Yearly goals become quarterly goals become daily objectives.
Simple, but it works.
The point is to find something outside of yourself that allows you to wake up determined to reach a goal and hungry enough to get after it.
Implement a system of rewards (or punishments) if goals aren’t met. I had a client once that kept neglecting an important task. I gave them a goal of completing it by our next session or paying me an additional $500. The ending? By our next session, their goal was completed. (And I was genuinely more excited for him to complete the goal than I would have been about the money).
3.) Keep a record of where you’ve been.
Just as important as looking forward, is reminding yourself where you’ve been. Just as a ship keeps logs and maps, we must do the same. Part of knowing where you’re going is to know where you’ve been.
What obstacles have you overcome?
How have your previous experiences been a blessing?
Where are there parts of your story that need to be retold or reexamined?
When was a time you felt most alive?
One of my wavering beliefs is that we have all been called to something great. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a client say, “You don’t doubt that I can do this?”
Never for a second.
You were called to something great, something world-changing. Don’t lose sight of that and miss your goal. Set your intentions and make them clear.
Last night, the Kansas City Chiefs were crowned the champions of the NFL season.
As a lifelong fan of the Chiefs, I beyond thrilled. I’ve been able to witness the postseason droughts end for both the Royals and the Chiefs in recent years.
As a sports fan, what a game last night! An even chess match in the first half, a good third quarter for the 49ers and a steller six minutes for Kansas City that saw them storm back from ten down to win.
We threw a party last night with several families and their kids coming over. We at tons of food and enjoyed some laughs at the commercials as well.
But enough of that, on this channel, we talk about mental performance and how to get better so I’ll keep my fanboy squeals to a minimum. Let’s analyze the game and use it to pursue our goals.
1.) Preparation is Key
There are two weeks between conference championships and the championship game. Each team spent time analyzing the other. Learning their tendencies. Scripting new plays. Figuring out weaknesses. They paid attention to detail.
We need to do the same thing. Life is a battle. There is a struggle going on inside of us. Preparation is key.
When I worked in the fitness industry, I did a lot of first day consultations for new gym members. I walked them through the gym, talk about equipment, and give them some tips and strategies for success.
One of the big ones was preparing food ahead of time. If you go shopping when you’re already hungry, it’s too late. You’ll make bad choices and not meet your fitness goals.
Life works in much the same way. Committing to self-improvement and success takes planning. We must look at the details of our life. Just like how the food we eat fuels us (good fuel equals good energy), our commitment to planning the details of our lives leads to breakthrough success.
2.) Unwavering Belief
Listening to the player interviews after the game is usually a fascinating experience. While some dislike their need for media appearances, most do it it willingly and provide great insight. One player, when asked about their fourth-quarter ten-point deficit how they handled it on the sideline. Their response? “We never lost hope or belief. We know what we are capable of.”
It worked. Multiple times in fact. The Chiefs were down ten points in all three of their postseason games. While nervewracking for a fan, it never was for them.
Their preparation (see point one) had given them one extra benefit: an unwavering belief in themselves. They were still positive. They knew how to handle this situation. The ultimate destination of the game was in their full control.
Confidence is key. But confidence comes from being ready.
When preparation and opportunity meet, success is bred.
3.) “Finish the Game!”
Late in the game, playing with the lead that would ultimately give them the win, the camera cut to the Chiefs sideline. Patrick Mahomes was imploring his teammates to, “Finish the Game!” The defense needed one more stop to all but ensure a victory. Though San Francisco had three timeouts, it was a two-possession game. One good stop could get the Chiefs the ball back where they could hopefully run out the clock.
They did one better.
The defense did get the stop. Kansas City got the ball back with about ninety seconds left. I was on the phone with my dad and my brother at the time, anticipating the outcome.
“One first down,” I said, “That’s what we need to seal the deal.”
Instead, the Chiefs scored again on a run to the left side. Now, instead of a four-point lead, it was eleven.
From down by ten to up by eleven in six minutes.
Because they had a plan. They were committed, and they chose to finish the game.
The world is dealing this week with the death of Kobe Bryant.
I’ve spent hours this week watching the news and scrolling through social media. I wanted to wake up today and have it all be a dream.
The Death of Kobe Bryant
In a tragic accident, Kobe, his daughter, and seven others are dead after a helicopter crash in southern California. While we wait for details to emerge, we mourn and grieve. For him, his wife, his daughters, the Lakers family, and NBA fans around the world.
I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. I’m not a Lakers fan.
I do recognize and understand greatness though, and Kobe was one of the best. His attitude, consistent commitment to excellence, and drive led him to be among the greatest players of all time, in any sport.
I spent time yesterday engaging in conversations around how to handle this tragic death.
Those are all valid answers.
I also have a feeling that Kobe would want us to do more. While I don’t know him personally, his life is well chronicled. He cares about excellence. He demanded it from himself, and from others.
In a celebration of life, here are three things we can do to honor the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant.
1.) Commitment to the Details
Tim Grover recounts the story of training Kobe. In part, he writes:
Each of Kobe’s workouts takes around ninety minutes, and a half hour of that is spent just working on his wrists, fingers, ankles . . . all the details. That’s how the best get better—they sweat the details … It all comes back to this, no matter what you do in life: Are you willing to make the decision to succeed? Are you going to stand by that decision or quit when it gets hard? Will you choose to keep working when everyone else tells you to quit? Pain comes in all sorts of disguises—physical, mental, emotional. Do you need to be pain-free? Or can you push past it and stand by your commitment and decision to go further? It’s your choice. The outcome is on you.”
Later, Grover reflects:
That’s Kobe: everything he does is all about excellence. Everything. Nothing else matters. You hear people say that all the time, “I’ll do whatever it takes!”—but he truly lives it. Every detail of his life, every hour of his day, the lonely time he spends in the gym, the people he seeks out to help him maintain that excellence, everything revolves around being on top and staying there.
“I’m not going to say our marriage is perfect, by any stretch of the imagination,” Kobe says. “We still fight, just like every married couple. But you know, my reputation as an athlete is that I’m extremely determined, and that I will work my ass off. How could I do that in my professional life if I wasn’t like that in my personal life, when it affects my kids? It wouldn’t make any sense.” The logic is weirdly airtight: If we concede that Kobe would kill himself to beat the Celtics, we must assume he’d be equally insane about keeping his family together. And he knows that we know this about him, so he uses that to his advantage.
This was due to his Catholic faith. He was very open about it and cared about it deeply. As a husband and father, he was called to something beyond himself. He threw himself into his projects deeply. Basketball, marriage, parenting, and philanthropy all got the best of him rooted in a transformative faith.
3.) Mindset Is Everything
Kobe’s book The Mamba Mentality is his reflection on the game. His game. The preparation he would make to be the best. It’s what he expected of himself … and what he expects of everyone else.
The mindset isn’t about seeking a result—it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life. I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality.
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book Shift: 7 Essential Mindset Strategies For Today’s Elite Performers. To keep aware of the release date and other excellent training material, please subscribe to my newsletter.
Shift: 7 Essential Mindset Strategies For Today’s Elite Performers.
Shift is about achieving ultimate performance.
In my work with my high achieving clients, I’ve discovered one thread in common with almost everyone: the biggest obstacle they face to success and transformation is the three pounds of grey matter lodged between their ears.
Our brains play host to all sorts of inherited narratives that influence our everyday lives. Take, for example, your thoughts about money. While I’m sure on some level you like it and know you need it, many of us carry around deep-seated issues towards money.
Is it a tool to be used for our own benefit or for the service of others?
A resource to be hoarded or given away generously?
A worry that consumes our thoughts or a blessing of enormous magnitude?
Chances are, whatever you think, you inherited those thoughts from your parents, your peer group, and other close relationships.
If you grew up in a house without a lot of money, it’s probably a constant stress or worry, even if you make enough of it now. It’s even worse if you don’t make enough. If you regularly experience more month than money, most of your stress (and spousal arguments) probably revolve around needing more of it.
If you think money is a sign of power and control, it will influence the way you approach all human interaction. Feeling stressed and need to seize control of a situation? Throw money at the problem. Feeling inferior, stressed, or irrelevant? A little retail therapy should help… Want someone to do what you want? Generosity with some strings attached could solve the problem.
Thoughts About Life
Whether you’ve consciously thought about your relationship to money or not, your life is dictated by it. As a business, you can’t survive without it. As a family, you can’t pay your bills without enough of it.
What is true of money is true of other inherited narratives as well.
What do you think about marriage? How do you explain your stance on family dynamics and relationships? How do you decide who’s house to go to for the holidays?
What is your view on loyalty in the workplace? Have you worked in the same place for more than five years? Ten? Twenty-five?
What about your own mindset? Why do you think the way you do? What story do you believe? Is it even true?
The reality is that we all have preconceived notions of how the world should work, look, and feel. My son once asked me if I was the boss of mommy. How would you respond in that situation?
Shift is about creating a new mindset around the narrative that we tell ourselves. It is about rewriting the script on your own life from two primary perspectives.
First, is about the habits of success. There are fundamental practices that you need to engage in to create success. While I don’t believe that there is a “secret formula” for success, if there was, this would be it. I’m going to peel back the curtain on today’s top performers, elite accomplishers, and world-changing leaders to reveal what they do to be successful. This formula can be boiled down to one overriding principle: working smarter, not harder.
Make no mistake, it will take hard work. But, at the end of the day, hard work will never be enough. If you’re not working on the right projects, at the right time, with the right frame of mind, you’ll never get the right goals accomplished.
Because I’ve never met a leader who was looking for more things to do. In my five-plus years of experience coaching pastors, entrepreneurs, executives, business owners, and various levels of employees, I’ve never once heard it. Quite the opposite is true. We’re all overworked, overbooked, overstressed, and overcommitted.
To be honest, I’m over it.
Instead, I decided to take back control of my life and help others along the way. Don’t just get more things done. Get the right things done.
This is a chance for you to examine your life.
Now it’s time to dive in so you can get the right things done.