Summary: Join us on this episode of Tomorrow’s Leader as we dive into the concept of the breakthrough process, how to trigger one, and how to implement it into your life as you grow to become an improved leader or business owner.
Introduction: Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn what I can about leadership, obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name’s John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leader so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
Alright, welcome to today's episode of Tomorrow’s Leader where we dive deep on all things leader related, related to leading yourself and leading other people. I am John Laurito, your host. And soon-to-be author of the book Tomorrow’s Leader. I know I talked about that in the last podcast. I’m very excited about the book coming out. I will be out, I think, in the next 2-3 months, and very excited. It’ll hit Amazon, online, and bookstores eventually later than two months out, but it will be in bookstores. Very excited about that. If you want more information, DM me. It will be a whole different type of leadership book. Full of stores, all that kind of good stuff.
So, in any event, done with this self-promo stuff. I’ve always been fascinated, I want to talk today about the concept of breakthroughs. I’ve always been fascinated by leaders that really breakthrough to the next level or anybody. Athletes, people in general, that in one area of their life or their entire life, they just figure out how to breakthrough to another level. People talk about that all the time, that term and what does it mean, how do you do it, whatever. Is there really such a thing? Yes, I believe there is, without a doubt. You see it all the time. You see people that ultimately change their norm, and we talked about this in the last episode, their internal thermostat and ultimately they are, they just, their whole norm and expectation was different than it was prior. They have a new capability, new skill set, new talent, a new level of influence, ability in impact. What I want to talk about today is how you do that. What it actually goes into when I’ve seen leaders that have done this, or myself when I’ve gone through breakthroughs, we can all probably think to a period of time in our life where we felt like we did, what actually was happening? And how, if it’s possible, how do we trigger a breakthrough. How do we create it? How do we make it happen? I want to share with you some ways to do that today. I’m going to take you back a bit.
When I was 14 or 15, I remember I was a freshman and I had just entered high school. I remember being in the hallway of the high school and basically getting bullied by some guy who was a junior or a senior. He was a big guy. Thick. And he put me in a headlock. It wasn’t even like a fight or anything like that, he just put me in a headlock. Kind of as a joke, I guess or whatever. I couldn’t get out of it. I couldn’t even budge, I couldn’t even move. I was basically like his little rag doll to play around with. I had no strength to overcome him whatsoever. I remember finally, after turning beet red and not being able to breathe, he let me go. I guess that would have been the moment I should have thrown a punch or done something, but I had not an ounce of muscle in my body. I had nothing. Here was this guy who looked like a linebacker, and I remember him vividly. He was just this big due, muscular guy. I’m like, “What the?” I remember being so, I was embarrassed, humiliated. I was angry. I was angry at myself for not being able to get out of the headlock. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I remember going home and in my bedroom I had this, like, skinny length mirror, and no pun intended, here I was a really skinny guy. I was 6”3, my height now, when I was a freshman in highschool. Crazy. I know I was over 6 feet, and I was just really thin. Skinny, skinny, skinny. No muscle. Now when I say this, I remember this like yesterday, I went to the mirror, held up my arm, and flexed. I remember squeezing as hard as I can, flexing my muscle, and I had no shirt on. I was looking at my arm and there was nothing! When I say, there wasn’t even like there was a small muscle. There was no muscle. I didn’t even know at that point how I managed to move my arm because there was no sign of any muscle whatsoever in that arm. Not biceps, not triceps, nothing! It was just skin, and like bone. And as hard as I tried to squeeze and show muscle, there was nothing. Literally. And I do remember vividly, and I really haven’t seen anything like that before.
Bottomline, at that moment I realized, I have to do something. I am not spending the rest of my life like this. Now, I will tell you at that point in my life, I became so embarrassed of my skinny arms, that I would never wear a short sleeved shirt. Honestly. For a period of time, it was a couple years in high school, even when it was summertime, I hated wearing a short sleeved shirt. I would wear a long sleeved shirt. I would do as much as I could, as much as I could possibly avoid, I would not wear short sleeved shirts. I hated it. Or if I did, I would wear one that would have really long sleeved, it was like a half shirt. One of those baseball shirts that covered up your upper arms because I had these skinny arms. It was ridiculously painful for me to show those off, because they were just embarrassing. So here I was, and I remember taking, it was funny, my son Nick has gotten into working out recently, which I’m thrilled. And he’s packing a muscle like he’s working out and I’m like, “This is great, man.” It took me a lot to build muscle and he’s just packing it on. But I remember, I just wanted to gain weight. I didn’t even care if my arms were fat at that point. I didn’t want them to be as skinny as they were, I ideally wanted muscle. But I remember taking weight gainers, shakes, I mean, at that point for somebody, and everybody would love to be a skinny person trying to gain weight, I think now, I think back, I’m like, “Wow, that must have been fun.” It wasn’t. It sucked, it was painful. It was painful being skinny, but it was painful trying to eat enough to gain weight. But the bottom line is, I was committed to it. I was going to do it no matter
what. No matter what it took, I was going to build muscle and build my physique. I hated the way I looked. When my shirt was off I just had ribs and bones, that was it. So, that began my mission. At the age of 14, I think it was, I started working out. I got a home set, and I worked out in the upstairs bedroom, which became my gym. And I never have stopped since that
period of time. At the most, I’ve taken a couple weeks off but I have been working out consistently, I’m 49 now, since that day when I was 14 years old and put in that headlock.
That for me was a triggering event that caused massive action and a whole change in my life. I look back and I’m like, you know what, certainly at some point, I would have gravitated towards weights. But I never would have gone to the extreme and I don’t think it would have become as big of a part in my life as it did. When I was in college I entered a bodybuilding competition, a little known fact. I never took steroids, I eat incredibly well. There was a period, I think, of three or four years where I never had a single piece of junk food. I was on a mission. An absolute crazy mission. I remember I drank, and up until college I never drank, I was so strict on every part of my life. Because I knew that everything I did was either going to help or hurt my goal and vision of building a better physique. I did. I changed everything. I never missed a workout, I didn’t care what it was. I never missed a meal that was a healthy meal, I just changed my whole life. Part of this is realizing that there’s two things that we’re fighting against. One is our current situation and the pain or pleasure of that current situation, and the pain or pleasure of our ideal situation or where we want to be. At that point, the pain of my current situation and the pleasure of the desired state or situation were so high that it just threw me into this mode of high, high action and doing things and changing things and sticking to it, and becoming incredibly disciplined. I had a powerful “why”. I wasn't going to live the rest of my life being put in powerful headlocks, not that there are many adults that get put in headlocks anymore, but, you know what I mean, I didn’t want to live that life. That to me, was not a way I wanted to be. I wanted to change and I knew I could. So I began that and I certainly did. My whole life changed. My confidence level changed, it affected more than my physique, it affected my whole personality, and it affected ultimately my life. I look back at it and I’m like, “I’m glad that guy put me in a headlock”. So, thanks dude whoever you were. I can’t remember your name. Big beefy dude with big muscular arms that put me in a headlock that I couldn’t get out of, thank you. Because you changed my life.
And maybe now, that’s helping to change other people’s lives. I think about this though, how do breakthroughs actually happen in life or in business. The first thing we have to realize is that most people are not honest with themselves. Most people lie to themselves. It’s not malicious, it’s not even intentional. It just happens. So if you think about people who are not happy with how they look, or their weight, they think back to how they eat, and most people are not honest really with how much they eat or how badly they eat. We tend to easily forget the things that we don’t want to remember, “Oh, jeez. You know what, I did, I had three Big Macs the other day. I had pizza Friday night. I had this and that…” We tend not to remember that. I was a financial advisor for many years, I had many clients I couldn't figure out where their money went. “Hey, we’ve got more month left over than money instead of money left over at the end of the month.” We’d walk through their expenses, we’d actually go
through an exercise and I’d have them track their expenses for 30 days in real time. They’d bring it back to me and are like, “Oh, my gosh. We never knew we were spending $1,000 a month going out to eat. We never knew it.” Well, that’s because we ultimately give ourselves permission to exaggerate or omit or even outright lie to ourselves about what we’re doing. I talked to these people all the time. I talked to business owners, I talked to sales people, I talked to leaders who when they ultimately think about it, they’re not being true about their activity or their key tasks it relates to what they are trying to accomplish.
I’ll give you an example. If you’re a sales person out there, I'll ask this question for you. How many swings are you taking each week? And I mean by that is how many times are you stepping up to the plate, how many selling opportunities do you have on a weekly basis? How many did you have last week? How many did you have the week before? If you have one or two, and you’re thinking you’re doing five or ten, there’s the problem. Most people sit and wonder, “Why am I not doing better than I am?” And in reality the answer is not that complicated. It’s just starting to be brutally honest, and looking at reality, and tracking it. And literally saying, “Well, I’m gaining a pound a week because I’m eating 4,000 calories a day. I didn’t realize that, but when I started tracking it, you know what, and I'm being truthful.” That’s what it is. It starts with the brutal honesty. So as a leader, I’m not really getting the results, well let me take a deep dive. Let me take a deeper look. Let me ask people. Maybe there’s things I’m not even seeing, okay? If I’m a leader am I present, am I communicating to my people? I’ve talked to leaders, I talked to one the other day, who we were having an in depth conversation about this person's leadership and where they felt they were going well. One of the things he was bringing up was he felt like his organization was starting to become fractured and there was not that level of cohesiveness anymore. And I said, “Okay, what’s your communication like? How frequently are you communicating with people?” Well, we figured out together was, bottomline, he wasn’t talking to people nearly as much as he thought he was.
So if the leader is not communicating and bringing people together, well, the result of that is going to be a fractured organization and less cohesiveness. Culture is going to take an impact, results are going to take an impact. It wasn’t until we really started looking and looking at the calendar even, going through the last day or two days or whatnot, it became pretty clear quickly that, “Wow, you know what? The problem is that I'm not talking to my people enough. I have to do that.” So what came out of that was one specific action step that enabled him to make a dramatic difference. Oftentimes this happens, I see this with business owners all the time. You know, I did an episode a little bit ago about how often you are working on your business versus in your business. Most business owners would say, “Yeah,” or leaders, “I work on my business a lot.” The difference is very drastic. Working on your business is essential, working in your business is essential. But if you do one versus the other too much then that’s a breakdown. Most leaders say, “Yeah, I do work on my business a lot.” But when they break it down you’re like, “You know what, I’ve been so busy working in it that I don’t work on it.So I’m not coming up with new ideas. I’m not looking at the strategy. I’m not actually implementing and executing against our plan and vision.” So these are all gaps that could easily be solved. Breakthroughs are created and they start with brutal honesty,
remember that. Every breakthrough starts with brutal honesty at the onset, okay? I’m not eating right, I’m not exercising enough, I am spending too much, I’m not communicating to my people, I’m not being authentic as a leader, I’m not being present as a leader. I’m not being transparent, I’m not being clear, I’m not setting expectations enough, I’m not following up and inspecting those expectations, whatever the case may be.
Secondly is once we’ve done that, we’ve got to understand what is our “why”? What is the pain of the present state to the pleasure of the desired state? There’s got to be a “why” in there. And if you can’t, and sometimes we find it and we think we know it, but you will know if you have it or not by how well you stick to the activities that you need to do. So if my “why” is not strong enough, I may say to myself, “Yeah, you know what, I want to set ten 10 appointments a week but I set 3. I need to do this, I need to do this.” And you commit verbally, but then the action doesn’t happen. That’s an example of why your “why” is not strong enough, okay? There’s nothing really keeping me accountable to that. If my “why” is really accountable, or powerful rather, then I am going to be able to keep myself accountable. I’m going to stay disciplined. So if it’s not working, search for it. “Why do I want this desired state? What happens if I don’t get this desired state? What happens if I stay on my current path? What happens from a health standpoint. What happens from a business standpoint. What happens to my self-respect? What happens to the influence I have? What does this look like if I stay?” You’re going to hit something that’s so painful, potentially, that causes you to immediately wake up and almost shutter. Because you think about, “I don’t want that. I don’t want that situation. No way. No way.” And then thinking about the desired state about, “If I do this, what happens? What happens if I run that race and I get to the finish line, how do I feel? How do other people feel? How does my family feel? How do my kids feel if I do this marathon? If I achieve this goal, if I grow this organization, if I lead in this direction, if I overcome this obstacle, if I lose this 15 pounds, if I build up wealth and I get my budget under control.” Whatever the case is, what’s the pleasure of that? How am I gonna feel? What’s that going to open up to me? What other opportunities? What other ways might I be able to experience life that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise? Sometimes those pictures are so drastically different. The “why” is in there, right? You have to explore it a little bit more.
So if you’re trying to go down, and we’re coming up on New Year's resolution, I know January 1st through January 21 the parking lot at the gym is going to be packed if you’re in a place where a gym is open. Hopefully yes. The parking lot is packed, everybody’s in there. Everybody. Because everybody wants to get in shape for their New Years' resolution and then three weeks later they quit. They stop. Well, you’re “why” is not strong enough and you’re not being honest with yourself. You start to say to yourself, “Well, I can do it without doing this. Or I can lead my organization with less communication. They know me, they know what’s expected. I don’t need to keep droning on.” That’s, no. That’s where great leaders become mediocre, ultimately. And that’s where ultimately people start going down that road of failure. That’s how it happens. That’s how easy it is. But ultimately, I’ve got to figure out my current state, the pain of that, my pleasure of the desired state. It’s the “why” that’s going to bring us together. That will motivate you to take the action. For me, I didn’t want to get put in headlocks and I didn’t want to wear long-sleeved shirts for the rest of my life. I wanted to feel good about how I looked. That for me was my “why”. I had envisioned all the things that would come from that, okay? I had many breakthroughs in business where I’ve done that and
thought through, “Okay, what does this look like if I stay on this path?” Let me be very honest with myself. I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it. In one of my next episodes, I’m going to talk in-depth about a personal decision that I made, and a professional one, which was incredibly eye-opening and an unbelievable experience. And I’m going to give examples of it in real-time. So stay tuned for one of the next episodes.
So, I hope this was helpful for you. I hope, I’d love some feedback. I’ve gotten so much feedback recently, thank you, everybody. I’ve loved the messages, please keep them coming, because it keeps me excited. Sometimes I talk into these cameras and microphone and you don’t have a live audience. It’s tough to know, “Does this resonate?” So if it does resonate with you, if it helps you at all, please let me know. Just shoot me a message, I don’t care, on Facebook, text me, email me, whatever. I’m at email@example.com. Easy, lauritogroup.com. John@lauritogroup.com. So I hope you found some benefit to this. Take it, do something with it. Don’t just let it sit in your brain. Do something with it, take some action. And keep on liking, subscribing, sharing, commenting, go down below and give some feedback. Rate this show five stars, and thanks for your time today. Have a great one!
Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, that’s email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!