Show Highlights

Nobody can prevent your choice to become extraordinary.

No matter what we’ve achieved so far, we can achieve better.

There’s never a lack of opportunity of what we can do.

True achievement comes from letting our inner and outer life complement each other.

The most influential person you’ll talk to today is you – Zig Ziglar

Every day is a blank slate, every day we get a chance to try again.

It’s time to start living the life you imagined – Henry James

If you don’t expect much, you won’t be disappointed.

Most people think of disappointment as a negative thing. If you’re not being disappointed occasionally, you aren’t aiming high enough.

There’s no hopelessness as long as you’re willing to try something.

Be grateful for what you’ve accomplished, but don’t be content with it. This is called positive discontent.

Gratitude is the antidote for negativity.

Anyone can change when they have to, Leaders change before they have to.

Show Transcription

[00:00] Welcome to The Ziglar Show, I’m your host Kevin Miller and today I bring you Mark Sanborn. Many know him from one of his bestselling books, “The Fred Factor”. In this show we discuss his new book, “The Potential Principal” – A proven system for closing the gap between how good you are and how good you could be. Let me tell you, this is not a ra-ra motivational speech on “we all have more potential”, nor is it an admonishment that you just need to do more, push harder and push out everything in life you enjoy to be a pure workhorse for achievement. It’s a real look at our opportunity to improve and the hope and joy that comes from it. And it’s a program to work through to effectively, efficiently and healthfully groom your own potential. Mark knows his stuff; this was a real rubber to the road conversation.

[01:20] Mark is the president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea lab for leadership development. he has written and co-authored 8 books and is the author of more than two dozen videos and audio training programs on leadership, change, teamwork and customer service. He has presented over 2400 speeches and seminars in every state and a dozen countries. Mark is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame (CPAE). Mark’s book, The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary is an international bestseller and was on the New York Times, Business Week and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.

[02:02] Mark’s new book is The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap Between How Good You Are And How Good You Could Be and it covers, How do you keep getting better when you’re already the best? Or what happens when complacency, outdated thinking or weariness stunts performance? What do you do when growth stalls, or when your team is working below its true potential?

[02:40] And friends, if you get value from this show, would you Leave a rating and review in iTunes for us? We’d be mighty grateful. OK, here now, Executive Vice President of Ziglar, Inc and my cohost for this show, Mark Timm and I bring you…Mark Sanborn!

[03:05] Mark, I’ve known of you from writing the Fred Factor for many years, it’s not only an honor to have you here on The Ziglar Show, but I’m proud to call you a relative neighbor in the majestic state of Colorado! I don’t often get to coordinate schedules with someone in the Mountain Time zone!

[03:27] So interestingly, I ran across an article in Forbes magazine, published only a week ago, titled “6 ways to know it’s the right company, before you accept the job. The author of the article took insight from top experts in various areas, including…you. You have become a top go to as a thought leader and influencer. When did you discover you had…big potential? When did you become Mark Sanborn?

[03:56] Yes I was lucky and I was born into the family where I was encouraged to be everything I want to be. As I work with different people of organizations and audiences over a year, I realize it is not everybody is fortune enough to come from the background where courage is required to pursued your potentials. And one of the messages that becomes so central in my work is even if you are encouraged enough in order to do it or taught how to do it but ultimately nobody can prevent you to chose and become extraordinary.

[05:02] So was Zig Ziglar a part of your path?

[05:07] I got to meet the Zig through the national speaker’s associations but when I was in the college I thought CEO are on the top but Zig was the example of someone who is a professional speaker. At the time most people didn’t really think about speaking as a career as they do today. And over a year me and Zig becomes very close mutual friend with Charlie. Charlie was a spiritual mentor for me and becomes one of my closest friend before he passed. So attending the national speaker’s association and company od Charlie allowed me to spend some time with Zig.

[06:08] To start off with…as I saw the focus of the book, even reading the back cover where it says, “No matter what we’ve achieved so far, one thing is for certain: we can still be better.”  Regarding achievement, I think we all think…we can achieve more. Do more. I can get up earlier, work harder, cut out anything unnecessary, stay up later…do more, do more, do more. But back to what you said…we can BE better. Be more. Is that a point you are making, it’s about being better, not just doing more?

[06:43] The central part of the book is that if you only focus on the performance then you can end up kind of extensional crisis where you go like why did I work so hard, why did I spent no more time in the important relationship. So if you don’t develop an inner life, that is the part of potential principle is about, it recognizes that there is an outer world and an inner world and both are equally important. If you don’t develop your inner life you will get away from your sense of purpose, sense of meaning, your sense of spirituality, faith. There is a famous quote from the book and it says, “You are what you have done”. So there is never a lack of opportunity to change what we are and what we do.

[11:38] It reminds me Kevin, you know Mr. Ziglar had so many quotes around him but Selftalk was such a big thing for him. And he would say that the most influential person you can talk to you today is you. And we don’t spend enough time, you know that’s kind of what I hear you said, we don’t spend enough time talking to our inner self. And that’s is who we are going to be most influenced is the guy I would see in the mirror, the morning I get up we see the same guy.

[12:41] So in wondering how much better we could be, what our potential could be, you say most of us are afraid to set the bar too high and that we may have been “criticized for aiming to high or trying to accomplish too much. We failed to meet a goal. It reminded me of that phenomenon I see. I have a 7-year-old who can do 10 pull ups straight and believes he can win America Ninja Warrior when he grows up. And we of course say, “Absolutely Buddy!” Full support. But then I have a 22-year-old who has written and played over 70 songs in the past year, really good songs. And he wants to pursue song writing. But as a responsible, sensible parent, I’m supposed to caution him and steer him toward something more…reasonable. Why do we have this cultural dynamic to lessen ours and other’s potential?

[13:40] That’s an interesting question, we want encouraged you know to our children who are young but you know at some point in the development process we go through courageous to discourages. And the motives appear right. I think it is about making sure of two things. The first one is to not let own thinking but let our kids thinking.

[19:29] You talk about the Pygmalion or Rosenthal effect which reveals that higher expectations lead to better performance.  So why don’t we expect more from ourselves? But one reason you cite is…we don’t want to set the bar high, fail and be disappointed. So we limit our expectations to limit our disappointment. Then…is then raising our expectations must also be accompanied with become more comfortable with failure?

[20:16] Indeed, you know we learned that one of the best way to manage expectations is that you don’t expect much so you never be disappointed. But the problem is that if you don’t expect much you will have limited your opportunities in more. So we all have to balance ourselves from the people we leave, kids we raise, that tension between realism and aspiration.

[29:03] OK, so I’m sure you’ve been hit by some people who are on the bandwagon of self-acceptance about the health of “being at peace with yourself”, saying “I’m ok now just as I am” and not always striving to be better. I can say that with disdain, but I can also admit some ill health in here as well and have many times had my wife say, “Kevin, stop trying to do everything and be superman and be perfect…it’s ok to be human?!” I’m sure you know this issue well…will you speak to it?

[29:50] Not everyone can get the better and I am fine with that. I am speaking of people who tries to get things better and also to make case that striving to get better is really fun. And the way I tries to explain to my audience is that I say that I wanna tell you today is the day as good as it can be. That from this day forward everything was same the day down the hill.

[31:30] I liked what you said on page 18, “It is exciting to wake up in the morning knowing that more is possible.” Honestly to me, that is the biggest value. To wake up in the morning and think…well, same thing today and forever, or to go to work and have nothing new to look forward to…I don’t see the point. Is that what you see, that the chance to be better is what Zig devoted himself to…hope!?

[31:54] I say hope is having something to try me to willing to try. You know, there is no hopeless relationships, there is no hopeless financial situations and there is no hopeless career as long as you have something you need to try and this is the beginning, you are willing to try it. I am a hopeful person and I think when we stopped to look at all the capable doing in our lives and I am not saying don’t be content, actually it is written in my other book and is calls as positive discontent. Be proud what you accomplished. Be joyful for what you accomplished, be grateful for what you have accomplished but don’t be content with it. Ask yourself where can I contribute a little more.

[38:30] Now from a business standpoint, and I imagine we could say career as well, you say we can’t afford to NOT strive to get better, because if we do, we’ll get passed over by another company or person who is. That feels pretty irrefutable. We never reach good enough. We never arrive. Should people take that as overwhelming, or inspiring?

[39:18] One of the professional reasons to get better is competition. And the good news is that you don’t have to run scared but you can run fast. I think sometimes people think about the people who are scared as lethargic.

[44:50] So you give us a map to follow that guides us to unleashing our true potential. You call it the Potential Matrix. I got excited seeing this because it resonated. I’m heavily invested in the health and wellness industry. And a big part of our initiative is battling against the rifle shot approach. Everyone is looking for a diet, a pill, a supplement, an exercise routine, a meditation, a sleep technique, and essential oil and more…to get better. But rarely will any one thing help them. It’s a comprehensive approach of addressing four areas, Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Mind & Body. In your Potential Matrix, you give us four areas of focus:

  1. Performing Quadrant
  2. Learning Q
  3. Thinking Q
  4. Reflecting Q

Will you give us a breakdown of each, but end with the area or areas that you find are the most neglected and probably need some affirmative action?

[45:36] Let me take you on reverse. That is most people, the majority people focus on and prefer the performing quadrant. Because that’s where we are most known. That is where we build reputation, that is where we generate revenue, we make sales. The problem is that a string of overviews become weakness. And the point of the potential matrix is that all four major areas complementary leverage each other. Learning improves performance. Thinking and reflecting improve learning. Performance can informs thinking. The key matrix of performance matrix is the number one you have to recognize. My number one is thinking part. If you wanna live kind of full life and a balanced life, then you got to move freely between those quadrants.

[49:54] Reading on, I see that much of your focus is simply, making a plan. Being intentional. And I appreciate you saying the point isn’t perfect balance, but to know when to lean more or less on the certain areas, depending on the circumstance. It reminded me of tools, as I’ve been making some functional art furniture for my home. My primary tools are a Speed square, Measuring tape, drill and screws. I don’t use them at the same time, they each get individual attention. Is this a relevant analogy?

[51:20] Yes it is common. Not only I just go into doing it but I thought about it and learned how to do it. But really upon reflection, what is it when you get a toy to your infant requires instantly assembling. You got to use all four conjunctions and you have to know in which order you need to use it.

[53:21] In response to “Why keep getting better” you give a short list; but #1 was interesting to me. It said, “Getting better is primarily how others evaluate you at work and in other situations.” It made me think of my realm of friends and acquaintances, I am pretty clear on who is seeking self-improvement and how is not. The ones who are…are 100% the ones I seek to be with most, as they inspire me. But what stood out more was that the ones who are not…are absolutely the least joyful. And thus the ones seeking self improvement are also most joyful and enjoyable to be with. It’s a win, win all around. It seems to make to a degree, self improvement and bettering yourself not simply and end in and of itself for one specific achievement, but a strategy that multiplies in benefit?

[54:14] If you say to somebody that you need to improve your attitude, the next day they don’t seem to have improved their attitude. But they tell you no it is improved. I am thinking differently. If it is not observational behavior, you will not have any evidence that his attitude is improved. When you try to grow and develop other people, don’t give them big expectation they can’t be observed and you never know.  

[55:12] You make a statement in the book that Performance Improves When You Enjoy It. My partner is a doctor who is devoted to helping people get as well as possible. His answer to the question of “what exercise is best”, answers, “whatever one you’ll do every day!” Which is generally the one you enjoy most. With Performance here, you mention “Play” and “Art”. Will you explain that more?

[55:45] Einstein said that love is a better master than duty. It is saying that we all like the opportunity we enjoy. Sometimes we have to do what we don’t like to do. But if you can find out the inner section between enjoyment and effort, then you will be going to be motivated to work harder.  

[57:35] You hit a crescendo in the book with part 3, starting with chapter 8 titled, “Disrupt Yourself”, If you don’t, something or somebody else will. My Dad, Dan Miller, is one of the foremost leaders in the career world and cites how often he has people who worked in jobs they did not like, say “Getting fired was the best thing to happen to them.” I’m thinking that is exactly what you are speaking about with “disrupting yourself”? before you get fired, in more aspects than just a job.

[58:08] Yeah, you are exactly right. You know I just tell people if you got somebody in your team who is not performing and you don’t disrupt them, then later when you have to let him go it will be worst than disrupt.

[1:00:35] You tell us some everyday examples of disrupting one’s self in the workplace, and business:

  • Disrupt
  • Refocus
  • Engage
  • Increase capacity

[1:00:55] Guys go to Mark’s website and get engaged with him and with his message on this. Mark I know you have other books too but this will be hard to beat.

[1:01:10] Well that’s encouraging, thank you so much for your time. It is great to be with both of you.