A few days ago I had the great opportunity to spend five days with John C. Maxwell and my fellow leadership coaches and the John Maxwell Team faculty. A few of us who are in a mentorship program spent one day with him watching the movie Braveheart and uncovering the leadership principles in the movie. (Side note: can ya’ll believe that movie came out in 1995?? Almost twenty years goes by fast. I remember watching it with my dad as a teenager and really loving it and talking about the passion that William Wallace had for his people as a leader. My dad was an amazing leader himself who I was blessed to learn from in the first 19 years of my life. I wish he was still here.)
So fast forward to present day and I got to watch it again, this time with the #1 leadership guru in the world, John Maxwell. So many great discussions happened in that day that I cannot cover it all here, but I want to share the biggest takeaway that I took from the experience and the leadership lessons from the movie.
First, here is brief overview of what Braveheart is about - William Wallace is the main character who leads a grass roots revolution in Scotland against England in the 13th century. He begins with just a few followers that turns into a revolution and although he sacrifices his life for the cause, the momentum he started continued and the Scots continue to fight and win their freedom. There is a lot more in the plot and and the fight scenes are pretty gruesome, so beware weak stomachs, but there is some amazing dialogue and really great story telling in this film. I cried off and on throughout the whole movie because of the passion, dedication and servant leadership Wallace showed in the film. I couldn’t even talk with my table mates about my takeaways for at least five minutes because I was still crying. Now on to the lessons I learned from the experience and movie...
Leaders Evaluate Life
The thing that John did so masterfully at the end was engage us by asking our individual takeaways, what we thought was the #1 most important leadership lesson from the movie. Mine was: Leadership is about sacrifice and service to people, especially your people. This is important to note because this activity got us exercising our thinking skills to evaluate what we had just experienced in a meaningful way and how it translates into daily life. This is something that he encouraged us to do as leaders on a daily basis: at the end of each day, spend 10-15 minutes evaluating the lessons you have learned from the day. Do a daily debrief and think into what the day has taught you and how you will apply the new learning to your life. Leaders evaluate life.
Transformational Leaders Inspire Others
After we each stated our individual takeaways at our tables, we synthesized our responses to one response from our table. Then we broke for lunch and John spent his lunch break compiling 25 table’s responses into a few themes and created one sentence with the biggest lessons from the movie. Those themes were: sacrifice, cause, passion, legacy, courage = transformational leadership.
“Transformation that endures requires a leader to possess a calling that gives clarity, a cause that instills courage and a moral authority that influences others.” He then elaborated...Moral authority is when your walk and talk match, which is different than positional authority. Moral authority doesn’t require a title. Wallace didn’t have a title, he wasn’t even a noble, he just led by example. Wallace’s calling was leadership, but his cause was freedom. The cause of freedom gave him and his followers passion and courage, enough to sacrifice their lives for it. This along with his greatest asset, his mind, gave him influence. He was able to think into how to win battles and strategize, and inspire others to follow him, eventually transforming his country.
Wallace was a great leader, but he did make mistakes along the way. Some of those lapses in leadership and judgement ended up getting him killed. We discussed at length all the leaders in the film and their greatest assets and weaknesses, but I won’t cover all of it here. I will say the movie is well worth your time to watch it, maybe with your leadership team, and do a deep debrief. I took away a list of questions to ask myself in order to become a better leader. These questions might be of help to you too in your journey of leadership development.
Have you seen the movie? If so, I’d love to hear your biggest leadership lessons you learned from the film!
P.S. The movie was heavy, but John likes to have a good time....He dressed up for the occasion!
Summer is winding down and parents everywhere are looking at the upcoming school year...some with joy and excitement, others with fear and trepidation. You see, some parents have kids that do well in school, get along with others, lead themselves and their peers well. But some parents have kids that are picked on, harassed or bullied by other kids. And some parents have the bullies. To help you prepare your kids for back to school, I have put together some tips from John Maxwell's YouthMAX Leadership Program that can help you and your child deal with the new school year in a positive, empowering way.
Leadership Is Influence
Everything rises and falls on leadership, and leadership is all about influence. Kids are never too young to be taught these principles. By teaching our kids how to lead themselves well, we can give them the coping skills to handle the situations that they face every day. In order to do that, we must first teach them integrity. And you guessed it - the way to teach/influence/lead them is by modeling it ourselves! Setting up a strong moral code for them gives kids the foundational beliefs that will guide them through their entire lives. Very simply, teach them what you believe and teach them by your example. Kids watch their parents and learn by imitation, rather than by memorization. It's the old "do as I say, not as I do" thing that we need to be careful of here. Hopefully, they will begin positively influencing their peers as well by acting with integrity.
Choices Determine Character
Helping kids build character is another important part of teaching them about leadership. "Character" is the accumulation of qualities that make us dependable and trustworthy. Things like honesty and integrity are the keys to good character. It is that concept of doing the right thing even when no one is watching. They will see that, by being honest, people will learn to trust them - Mom and Dad included. Another good character behavior to model is keeping your word. When they see you follow through with plans or promises, they will know that it is an expected behavior. Teach them to do what they say they will do.
Character, and life in general, is a product of the choices we make. This applies to adults and children. Teaching kids to listen to their inner voice can be challenging if you're trying to do it out of context. Look for "teachable moments" with your kids and it can be a lot simpler. When you witness someone else making a poor choice, you can use that opportunity to discuss what they would do in the same situation and talk about possible outcomes. Maybe it was your not-so-great choice that you can discuss with them - a traffic violation, for example. Or maybe you were the bully in school and you can teach them what not to do. I tell kids the story of going back and apologizing to the kids I made fun of in junior high because as an adult I finally realized the impact of my stupid behavior, and even though it was years later, I wanted to make things right. We have to teach our kids to accept responsibility for their own actions, and teach them the self-discipline to make good choices. Everyone makes mistakes, but how we recover that mistake is important - owning up and apologizing when we have made a bad choice is a sign of good character.
Lift Up, Stand Up, Pick Up
We frequently hear news reports about kids being bullied. Some leading to terrible tragedies, like suicide and severe beatings or even death. There are three really simple principles to teach your kids that can help them deal with various interpersonal situations - and teach them how NOT to be the bully. First of all, kids need to use their words to Lift Up others. Words are very powerful and can emotionally tear another person down. They can also build a person up! Encourage them to use them to Lift Up others and celebrate their good attributes and support them! Offensive language, put downs - or insults, and threats of pay back are all typical tactics used by bullies. Remind them how bad it feels when they are spoken to in this way and help them understand other's feel just as bad when they do it to them.
Empower your kids with the knowledge that leadership is influence - and that they have influence - and you empower your child to Stand Up to bullies on behalf of themselves and others. Statistics show that, in most cases, if someone says something in the first five seconds, the bullying will stop. If kids are confident in their leadership skills, they will be confident enough to help someone who is being bullied. By teaching them all of these skills and empowering them to believe in their own leadership abilities, you can help your son or daughter Pick Up someone who is being bullied.
Here are some ideas to implement at home to help kids develop values and make decisions based on those values:
P.S. Bullies grow up and go into the workforce! All of these tips apply to us as well. We can show strong character, we can lead ourselves and our teams to do the right thing - Lift Up, Stand Up and Pick Up others at work, too!
I'd love to know how you're preparing your kids to be little leaders this school year. Do you talk with them about character, bullying and leadership? If so, share with us your recommendations in the comments!
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