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Interview with John Maxwell on the Neuroscience of Leadership + Tips on How to Lead During a Crisis, and Why We Need to Fail More

Dr. Caroline Leaf – Yes, we are in the midst of a global crisis. For many people, life is incredibly challenging right now. It is easy to lose hope, and fear what will happen in the future. But did you know that you can also use this time to grow as a person, learn how to make the most of living in the moment and discover the unique opportunities that present themselves?

It is often the case in life that something good is birthed out of something bad. Crises can be watershed moments, compelling us to get out of our comfort zones, teaching us to embrace our fears and helping us make the most of living in the moment, as I discuss in this week’s podcast with leadership expert and best-selling author John Maxwell. Even though events like the current COVID-19 pandemic can disrupt our schedules and plans, we can still find clarity in the present, and make the most of the only time we know we have: right now.

As John points out, it’s okay to be uncertain but it is not okay to be unclear. Today matters: you want to be very clear on what to do right now. Whether you are a leader or not, you can learn how to live in the moment and make the most of today, getting through the problem to find the opportunity, rather than begrudging the crisis and how it has changed your life. Don’t undervalue the power of the present, don’t overexaggerate what happened yesterday, and don’t overestimate the value of tomorrow.

The thing is, true leaders don’t provide all the answers in a time of crisis. They provide awareness and help prepare, which allows people to do well in the moment. They take it day by day, thinking about what they do now that can bring great value, and asking themselves three essential questions:

  1. What are my responsibilities? What or who do I have to take care of today?
  2. What are my priorities? What can I do right now to get the highest return?
  3. What are my possibilities? Many of us have something that we needed or wanted to do but didn’t have the time. Well, now we have the time! So, lay out your plans, write that book, start learning that language—there is no time like the present.

It is important to remember that crisis causes distraction, which is opposite of traction (as I discussed in recent blog and podcast episode #127). When we focus on the moment, however, we bring a degree of stability and clarity to an uncertain situation, which opens up possibilities for the present and the future, allowing us to get creative and use our imagination.

The truth is, you can choose to focus on what you can do now, rather than what you fear may happen. Remember, where you put your focus is where you put your mental energy, which shapes your perspective. The more we think about something, the more it will grow and become a mental habit!

Yes, we are going to be afraid at times, especially during a pandemic—this is completely normal! In fact, this fear creates a shift, moving us out of homeostasis and getting us out of out comfort zones. Fear can be a powerful motivator: we want to get back to feeling balanced, which can help us find opportunities to learn and grow during a crisis, if we embrace and face our fears and reconceptualize them. If we give up and just let our fears take over, however, we will fall, but, even then, we can pull ourselves up again! The human mind is incredibly resilient, and it is never too late to change the way we think and deal with any situation, so don’t beat yourself up if you fail!

Fear of the unknown and failure are actually an important part of the success cycle, which has three main elements:

  1. Testing: we have to try a lot of new things we don’t know, which is the only way to find answers.
  2. Failing: when we do a lot of testing, we do a lot of failing. We are never good the first time!
  3. Learning: when we test and fail, we learn a lot about what does and doesn’t work.

Failure has terrific value. It goes along with success: the more we fail, the more we learn. Failure is an essential part of success, because if we don’t learn from something then we repeat it!

Failure also helps us keep on keeping on. When we keep testing, failing and learning, we keep moving; we don’t just rest on our laurels and become stagnant. The cycle of success never let’s us say we are finished. This works in tandem with the brain, which is designed to be constantly stimulated. When we cross the finish line, we are finished, mentally and physically!

This article has been modified. To read the original article click here.

For more articles from Dr. Leaf click here.

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