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59. Motivation to Inspiration: Transform Your Leadership Style with Stephen Morris

personal development podcast episodes succeed at work Apr 08, 2024
59. Motivation to Inspiration: Transform Your Leadership Style with Stephen Morris



Today we delve into the power of inspiration with former Army Ranger turned leadership coach, Steven Jarvis Morris. Steven shares a tragedy that transformed into inspiration, highlighting the difference between motivation and inspiration. Through active listening, trust-building, and consistent actions, Steven emphasizes the importance, ultimately, of love in leadership. The episode showcases several ways inspiration can happen, regardless of your leadership style. Steven's insightful anecdotes and practical advice offer a refreshing perspective on inspiring and leading teams effectively.


We'll talk about:

  • How Inspiration is better than motivation

  • How to build trust with your team

  • The power of active listening and appreciation


About Steven Morris:

Steven Morris is the founder and CEO of Renowned Leadership, a retired Army veteran, and a dedicated family man. With a background in leadership coaching and a passion for inspiring others, Steven shares valuable insights on motivation, inspiration, and leadership through his (multiple) podcast guest appearances. His experiences in the military and as a business owner have shaped his unique perspective on building trust, fostering communication, and creating a culture of inspiration within teams. Steven's podcast has reached a milestone of 3,000 downloads per month, showcasing his commitment to sharing valuable content with his audience.


Stephen's guest episodes on The Uncommon Career Podcast


Resources Shared


Learn from Stephen and many other speakers on the Disrupted! 2024 Summit Happening April 8-11, 2024. 

Click here to register for the free Disrupted! 2024 - The Future of Work Virtual Summit:



Connect with me:



59. Motivation to Inspiration: Transform Your Leadership Style with Stephen Morris

PATRICIA:Today we're going to talk about inspiration and how to create and leverage more of those opportunities to be inspired and to inspire others. In addition to how it's different from motivation. We're going to walk through this with some pretty amazing stories from former Army Ranger turned leadership coach, Steven Jarvis Morris Steven has been on the episode multi or on the podcast multiple times before so I'll go ahead and link those Episodes in the description because he always has something good to share. Let's get started with today's episode Welcome back Steven. I'm so glad to be able to have you on the show again on this episode I know that not everyone Remembers or maybe heard the first episode. So before we dive in tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're doing nowadays.

STEPHEN: This is like my fourth episode of being on here, isn't it?

PATRICIA: Yeah, I think so. We've had multiple episodes. I'm actually going to put them in the description.

STEPHEN: Yeah, I don't remember. I know we've done so much work together. I don't even remember anymore. But yes, my name is Steven Morris. I'm the founder and CEO of Renowned Leadership. I'm a retired Army veteran. I'm married, family guy, do all that fun stuff. And yeah, I'm here to talk with Patricia, the amazing, amazing Patricia. I'm always so excited to be here. Thank you so much.

PATRICIA: Awesome. We're excited to have you today. And I know we're covering kind of a cool topic. And we're covering motivation, inspiration in leadership, and in just the work that we do. And so I thought I'd started off by kind of going back into your career journey. So from your career, What are specific instances where leadership and inspiration kind of, you know, took the forefront of a particular story?

STEPHEN: So if we go all the way back to the beginning of my military career, I always got told something that I always thought was just absolute garbage. And that is false motivation is better than no motivation at all, which I get what they were trying to say, but that never really made sense to me. Like, what does that mean? And so a couple of years ago, I retired from the Army. And when I retired, I actually needed… So my kids grew up in the Army as… Army brats, right? And that's good and bad. Part of the bad is they move around a lot. So pretty much every year my kids were the new kid in school, whether we moved or all their friends moved, they had to make new friends every year, except my daughter, Isabel. She had the very unique and random experience of she made this friend, we'll call her V. And for some reason, V and her family followed Isabel and my family all the way everywhere we went, or vice versa, we would follow them. And it's just, I didn't know her family outside of Bell. I didn't, you know, her and me and her dad didn't work together. Anything like that is just a random chance, or it would appear that way. So fast forward to the end of my career, it's time for me to retire. We're in Germany now. So literally, these two have followed each other to Germany across the ocean. Right. And I'm getting ready to retire. We're coming back to the States, to North Carolina. Obviously, the girls are upset. They're 15 and 14 now, and they're upset because, you know, the friendship's coming to an end. But lo and behold, her dad got orders to go to North Carolina, be stationed in North Carolina, which was about an hour and a half from where we were moving to. They couldn't spend every waking moment together, but they could have long weekends, holidays, summers together. They could still maintain that relationship. So they were super stoked. Then we get back or we get back to the States, we start settling and it's almost time for V and her family to show up. And Isabel, her mom and myself all get a phone call from V's mom pretty much at the same time. I was at work, Isabel's mom was asleep, Isabel was on her way to school and she called her back and they came to find out V had been at school and passed out in the girl's locker room and she had stage four lung cancer. And they were only saying she was gonna, you know, estimate about three weeks to live. She didn't make it three weeks. I think she only made it like four days before she passed away. But V is 15 years old. She's a high school athlete, absolutely brilliant girl. Never touched a cigarette a day in her life. Her family didn't smoke. She was never around it excessively. Absolutely no reason whatsoever for her to have stage four lung cancer and not even notice, right? So Isabel obviously was absolutely my entire family. We were devastated. I mean, V grew up with us. I was I felt like I was a part of, you know, I was a non-biological dad to her because, you know, I practically helped raise her, you know. So we were all just all devastated at the loss and just the tragedy, you know, because you don't expect a 15 year old girl to have stage four lung cancer. So, and I would say the biggest heartbreak for me was Isabel didn't get to say goodbye. So, we start moving on and this is when I really realized the difference between motivation and inspiration. Um, Isabel came home one day and Isabel's always been a smart kid. She always got good grades, but she came home one day and she was like, Dad, I'm going to cure cancer. I was like, OK, you go spanky. Like, you know, it's one of those things, you know, it's not that I I don't believe her. It's just OK if you do great. But let's be honest. Right. But I didn't want to, like, douse her dreams or anything. So, OK, you know, you go, you And I'll support you any way I can. So she came home a couple of days later and she's like, I found out about this program where I can go to high school and college at the same time. And when I graduate from high school, I graduate with a high school diploma and an associate's degree. And, you know, I was like, that's going to be really hard. And she's like, I can do it. I was like, OK. So I helped her write her essay. You know, we got her in there and she crushed it, man, for years. And I mean, I can't tell you how many times I saw Izzy three o'clock, four o'clock in the morning studying, working, writing. Excuse me. And she ended up graduating not top of her class. She was third. Um, she graduated, she graduated with a 4.63 GPA. Now I'm sure I know you've worked in the academia space and they normally don't go to the hundreds when it comes to your GPA, but they had to because the, these three girls were so close in GPA, like they couldn't figure out who was the valedictorian and all of that. So they had to break it down by the hundredth.

PATRICIA: So outside of that, does she tie for first? Is that what you're saying?

STEPHEN: I mean, yeah, if you went by the normal 4.6 GPA, she would have been tied for first. So they had to go break it down another another number so that they can figure out who was actually the valedictorian. And she ended up coming in third with a 4.63 GPA, which is insane. I mean, that's just flat out insane. And so, you know, when it came time to choose college, She has all these offers, you know, of course. But she was like, I'm going to go to NC State because NC State has the best genetic engineering program in the world. And if I want to cure cancer, that's where I'm learning this going here. This is how I'm going to do it. So really hard program to get into. I don't remember the exact numbers, but they only accept a certain number of students into this program, let alone into the school. I mean, you know how all that works. And so she ended up getting accepted into the school, into the program, all of that. and she got a full ride along the way to do it, which is also very rare. Amazing. And that's really when I learned how to look at the difference between motivation and inspiration, right? When Isabel, she was motivated at the beginning, Because the pain of her friend dying so tragically was very fresh and that was a motivating factor for her, but she took it to the next level. She turned that motivation, that pain into inspiration. And inspiration is what carried her through 104 degree fever to be able to get the studying done so that she could go get an A on her test, on her exam, whatever it was. Well, you know, I can't. I mean, there were there were flus in there. There was covid in there. They're like all these obstacles trying to stop her. Yeah. But not none of them succeeded. It was because she wasn't motivated. She was inspired. Right. And so I do believe, you know, in the beginning, it was like, like I said, OK, Sparky, you go cure cancer. Now, I actually believe if anyone can, it's her.


STEPHEN: because I've seen just how hard she's willing to work to do it. So when I started looking at that and started thinking about what I got told back in the day in the army, false motivation is better than no motivation. I realized that we kind of take the wrong approach. We look at motivation and inspiration is the same thing, or we just completely ignore inspiration and think motivation is all we need. Let me tell you, I am the least motivated freaking person you will ever meet in your life. Motivation, man, I gotta pump myself. I get up at four o'clock in the morning, the first 30 minutes of that is just to pump myself up to get out of bed and go for a run. And I need that because I am not motivated. But I'm inspired to go exercise, right? Because I mean, if you go back and listen to the first podcast we did, you'll hear me talk about how much weight I gained when I left the army and how devastating that was for me to be so unhealthy. And so now I'm inspired to not let that happen again, because it shocked easy to put on the way hard to get this stuff back off like, man, it was horrible. So, you know, I'm inspired now to keep my body in a good physical condition. When it comes to my work, I'm inspired, right? I'm motivated when I get on with my clients, right? Because yeah, I got a client, I'm motivated. But then you actually get into the hard work of it, and you start hitting those brick walls, and they start pushing back against you, it can get tiring. And I'm telling you, like, if you've never worked with a client in the way that I do, like when, man, sometimes I'm drained by the end of it. right? Because it takes so much energy to give them to, you know, get the results we need. And so, man, if I wasn't inspired to do what I do, I would have quit by now. Not to mention starting your own business is hard. Seriously. I mean, that requires a massive amount of inspiration as well, which I mean, and hearing your story, I know you're inspired to do what you do. That's why you've been able to push through all the roadblocks. And then you have Martin, an amazing teammate to push you and keep you inspired, to remind you that you're inspired. Right. That's that's important as well. But we think that, like, all we need is motivation. And that's that's not right. When you think about. We'll use the space shuttle as a great example. Right. How does it get into outer space? It's got these giant booster rockets. Right. It propels it at a high rate of speed. Right. When you're like, yeah, I'm going to lose 30 pounds this year. I'm going to go to the gym every day. Man, you run to the gym because you're excited. But the second it gets hard, man, those booster rockets burn out pretty fast, don't they?

PATRICIA: Interesting.

STEPHEN: Once you're in space, what keeps the ship moving? Its thrusters. Is it the same speed? No, not necessarily. It probably slows down quite a bit, and that's OK. But it's still constantly moving to its destination. That's what inspiration is for us. It's not the boosters that get us off the ground, that's motivation. Inspiration are those thrusters that keep us slowly turning towards our goals, towards our purpose. And then once you have that and you get a hold of it and you sink your teeth into it, I'm telling you, there is not a more satisfying feeling So when I look at my business and the clients I help, I don't even do it for the individual clients, the leaders I work with. I do it for the people around them, right? That's what inspires me is knowing that the leader is my rock that I'm throwing into water. And the ripples are all the people's lives that are affected vicariously through the work I do with these people. That inspires the crap out of me, because I know I'm making their lives a little bit better through the work that I do. So I mean, as long as you're inspired, you literally can't fail. It takes an act of God to make you fail, right, if you're inspired.

PATRICIA: OK, so what I'm gathering is that there are mental processes that get kicked off in those moments of inspiration that we couldn't naturally make happen as a form of motivation. Is that what you're saying? So I mean, yeah.

STEPHEN: But motivation is motivation, right? Like the problem with motivation is the second life gets hard, you quit. Motivation doesn't have the power to push you through, right? If Isabel was just motivated, you know, the 104 degree fever, you know, there was a day I made her stay home from school. I physically forced her to stay home because it was an exam. It was a big deal. She needed to go take it. And it's like, you're a danger to people around you. You're contagious. Stop it. You're staying home. And she was like, no, like, I gotta go. And I was like, look, I will go talk to the professor myself. I don't care. You're not going to school. And so like that motivation doesn't get you there. That wasn't motivation at all. That was straight inspiration. Inspiration is what causes, you know, is what caused Tom Brady to sit and watch 12 hours, 14 hours, 16 hours of game film straight. If you listen to him talk about some of the Super Bowls he's won, that's what was required of him. 16 hours of games. Could you imagine how boring and tedious that would be? I love football.

PATRICIA: I don't.

STEPHEN: I've watched football my entire life. I've played it my entire life. And like, I don't think you could have a gun to my head. And I still don't think I would do it like horrible. But again, that's why Tom Brady's won so many Super Bowls and I've won zero. I'm not inspired to do it. But when it came to being an elite soldier, my inspiration was through the roof. When it came to starting my own business, my inspiration is through the roof. When it came to podcasting, my inspiration is through the roof. And that is what carries me through. You know, and I'm sure you've done, I don't know how many episodes you're up to now. I assume it's over a hundred. Um, and no, never. Yeah, be close.

PATRICIA: We are at no, no, we're in the same one. We started on the same time where I'm at. I thought you were way ahead of me. No, no, no. Okay. 50s.

STEPHEN: Yeah, my bad. My bad. Yeah, I just hit 52.

PATRICIA: So oh, yeah, we're right in the same pocket.

STEPHEN: Okay, I thought you started way before I did. So my bad, my bad. Anyway, so but anyway, so you're done 50 in the 50. Like, you know, you've done enough to know, like, sometimes you just like, I do not want to talk to this person. I don't want to be on camera. I don't want to be on a microphone. I just I don't want

PATRICIA: I've had bad days. Yes, I will. I will acknowledge I have had some bad days where I'm like, Oh, I'm so tired. Oh, I don't want to.

STEPHEN: Yeah, right. And it's not personal to the person you're talking to or anything. You just don't want to. Yeah. And so I mean, like, I did a radio interview last night, I did not want to do it. Like, it was nine o'clock at night. Like, it's on a topic I really didn't know a whole lot about. I just don't want to do it. But I did because a friend asked me to. OK, fine. You know, but that is that inspiration is what drives us to do these things, not motivation. Motivation gets us off the couch. Right. That's that's the fumes in the gas tank. If you're if you're constantly running off of motivation, then you're running on your your tanks on E and you're running on fumes. Right. Inspiration is your fuel.

PATRICIA: So, so kind of hopping on to like really focus in on inspiration. How do you help inspire, right? Like there's those moments where something inevitable and sometimes tragic happens, right? But how do you harness inspiration in moments where maybe you don't know if there's going to be a significant event?

STEPHEN: Have I ever inspired you?

PATRICIA: Um, yeah. Yeah.

STEPHEN: There you go. But it's not intentional. It's about communication. It's about understanding. It's about listening. Right? It's about being honest with yourself and the people around you. Right? It's literally inspiration is literally just communication when you break it down. You know, you've inspired the crap out of me several times, right? And it's like, well, OK, I need to I need to shift and focus or, you know, a good one. Shoot. What was it you just hang on or remember? Oh, the word thing. What was it? The word of the year. So what is that what you called it? Your word for the year.

PATRICIA: That's what it was. Yeah. Yeah.

STEPHEN: Yeah, like, I was like, Whoa, like, I've never thought of that. I need to do that. I need to have a word. And so you inspired me to go down this whole long rabbit hole of, you know, figuring out what my word is for the year. And so You know, my word, in case you're wondering, is discipline.

PATRICIA: I was going to ask you, so what is it? What's the word?

STEPHEN: It's discipline. My discipline is slack since I left the Army, and I want to get my discipline back to where it used to be. And so, you know, discipline is the word I'm going to focus on this year. But that was so inspiring to me because I never even thought of that before. Never even crossed my mind. So inspiration can come in many different ways. And a lot of times you're not even looking to inspire. You're just communicating. Right. And that inspiration, you know, you never know what's going to inspire somebody. If it comes to working with my clients, I'm constantly looking for little threads to pull that are going to land. Right. And the biggest thing Motivation is your job, right? If you work for me, Patricia, motivating yourself, that's on you. It's not my job to motivate you. It's my job to inspire you to do the company mission, right? How do I do that? Well, first, I have to understand the company mission. I have to understand the company goals. I have to make sure that the mission and those goals align with my mission and my goals, because if they're out of alignment, the communication is going to be off and it's not going to inspire anybody. So I have to make sure that I'm in alignment. And then I have to make sure my actions are in alignment. Once I have everything in alignment, then I can go to you. And when I start communicating with you, my view, my mission, my goals, the company's mission, the company's goals, the company's view, and you see all my action and how it all lines up with, and it's all perfect straight arrow, then that starts inspiring you. If it doesn't, then that's a problem. And we need to either figure out if you're the wrong fit for this position, you maybe you'd be a better fit elsewhere, or, you know, the whatever the solution meal, unfortunately, maybe it'll be time for for us to part ways. But it's, you have to be inspired and you have to be able to to communicate that inspiration. So did that make sense? Like it's all about communication.

PATRICIA: No, definitely. I mean, I think kind of what I'm gathering as we're having this conversation is that motivation is having the right motive for taking action, whereas inspiration gives you not just a reason, but a direction.

STEPHEN: Yeah, it gives you everything, you know, like I said, it's your fuel that fills your tank. And oh, shoot, what's his name? David Goggins. So I love the way he explains it. He says, motivation will leave you the second your face hits the brick wall. Inspiration will allow you to keep running face first into that brick wall until you finally punch through it. And that's such an awesome visual. Imagine running face first into a brick wall. Yeah, that's going to hurt. And then you do it repeatedly, intentionally, blooding your face, knocking out your teeth, right? And finally, you punch through the pain, the sacrifice, but the intention. To me, it's a gory image, but at the same time, it's a beautiful image because it's like, you know, that that's what victory is. And that's what you know, that's what inspiration gets you. So you can either operate on motivation, which is great. And you can always tell the people that operate solely on motivation, because they're always tired. They're always a drag. Yeah, people that are inspired, are the ones you know, has anyone ever told you you're too happy? Because you're too inspired. It's because you're inspired to make change, you're inspired to make a difference, whatever it could be. If you're flipping burgers, you're inspired to make your McDonald's customers as happy as they can be. And there are people like that. I'm sure you've been through a drive-thru and you left feeling good about yourself, even though you're making a horrible decision by getting fast food. But you left feeling good about yourself because of the person you were interacting with made you feel that way.

PATRICIA: They like give life.

STEPHEN: Right. That's inspiration. And those are the people that are going to go far. One of my bosses, when I first got out of the army, started working at a grocery store when he was 16 years old as a bag boy. And now 50 something, he's the president of that company. If you ask him when he was 16 if he wanted to be a bag boy for the rest of his life, which when most people think about working in a grocery store, being a bag boy, like, oh, well, who wants to do that their whole life? Did anyone ever think about that bag boy being president one day of the company? But he was inspired. He loved the company. He loved the people he worked with and it inspired him to do the best he could do. And now he's the president soon to be the CEO of a very large publicly traded company.

PATRICIA: That's amazing. That is amazing. Okay. So this is really interesting now. So let's say that you're coaching someone, right? Because this is what you coach folks on. Like let's say you're coaching someone and they are somewhere between the bag boy and the CEO. right? They're like somewhere in their middle management, maybe, maybe they're about to be a first time manager. What are some things that you might share with some advice for them as aspiring leaders that can help them to inspire their teams?

STEPHEN: So the first rule, if you want to inspire somebody, you have to listen to them. We've already talked about that. Communication, if you ask any communication expert that's worth their salt, they will tell you communication is 80 to 90% listening. So you have to listen to your people. Not just listen, you have to actively listen. That means you digest what they're telling you. I have a horrible memory, so I literally write everything down. Like every time I have a conversation with somebody, it's either recorded or I'm writing it down because I will forget. And, you know, I've been blown up a few times. Get off me. I have a bad memory. But so, you know, that act of listening is your first step. You have to develop these relationships with your team that they feel safe with you, that they feel like you know, they can come to you. And a story I like to use to explain this is I had a I had a worker. She worked under me. She was amazing. She was a superstar. And you know how superstars are like they get the brunt of the work. You know, I was no exception. You know, I leaned on her. I relied on her. She was my go to. And then all of a sudden, now the blue, just nothing, just garbage. And I couldn't figure out why. come to find out I had failed her. I didn't make her feel safe. I didn't actively listen to her. I didn't create a community in which she felt safe and obligated to come tell me that her husband of 30 years had cheated on her and was leaving her and they were going through a very nasty divorce. heartbreaking, right? I should have known that. Why didn't I know that? I completely failed. I failed on so many levels because not only did I not create a space where she felt good to talk to me, I didn't create a space where I could inspire her. If she's too scared to tell me something like that, or doesn't feel, you know, whatever. And I don't know exactly what she felt or why she didn't. Maybe she was embarrassed. I don't know. But regardless, I take it on myself. I'm the one that failed, not her. And so if that's the case, then there's no place, there's no environment in where I can inspire her. So I completely fail on so many levels. The next step is you have to create an environment where people feel safe to call you out. You've heard me get called out many times. You'll probably get to hear me get called out many more, and I don't like it. None of us do.

PATRICIA: Nobody does, right?

STEPHEN: Nobody does. But the way we react to it is so key. right? Do I want to scrunch my face? Do I want to tell them to shut up? Do I want to tell them to mind their own business? Absolutely, 100%. But I have to receive that information with grace. One, because I have to assume that the person telling me, one, is right, and two, they have my best interest at heart. Unless they've shown me for some reason that they don't, then I have to assume that it's coming from a good place. Far too often we don't take, as leaders, we don't take criticism well, especially when it's from our subordinates. But here's the bad news. If your subordinates aren't telling you what you're doing wrong, no one else is, right? The people over you, they don't see the vast majority of the things you're doing wrong, your subordinates are going to see that. If you want to be the best leader possible, you need to have them communicating that to you. Now, there's a very professional and What's the right word? I can't think of the right word. There's a professional way and an environment in which this conversation is had. It's not just like, hey, bro, you screwed that up. You suck. Or I might be, you know, in the army. That's definitely not a not a way that's that conversation goes. But I guess depending on your work environment, that could be. But, you know, you have to have a place where your team feels OK giving you that feedback. If they don't feel safe giving you that feedback, I promise you, you're not going to inspire them. They don't trust you enough, right? Which is the ultimate point. Your team has to be able to trust you. So that means your actions are consistent. Your communication is consistent. Everything you do aligns with the goals, with the mission of the company. Everything is in alignment. Everything is consistent. And yes, it is hard work. Being a leader is hard. It's lonely. Sometimes it sucks. But if you want to make change, if you want to change the world, this is how we do it.

PATRICIA: That was a long rant.

PATRICIA: No. So really, what you're sharing is to listen, to listen actively, to kind of open up those lines of communication where the voice of the other person is heard, first and foremost, because that's the way that once someone is heard, then they're open to kind of being inspired by someone when they feel like they're cared for in their environment. And then you mentioned creating an environment to be able to receive feedback, which is something that's really hard. I think in that are different layers, right? There's so there's this and actively, but there's also the layer of modeling vulnerability, there's the layer of letting go of your pride, there's the layer of inviting feedback, you know, being able to ask for it, because no one's gonna really give you negative feedback. I'm curious, if, based on your expertise, like you've seen some common misconceptions, or some pitfalls that leaders face when trying to inspire other people? Because you mentioned that it was not something that you really do intentionally.

STEPHEN: Yeah. I think the biggest pitfall would be that we think we need to motivate. Because if you think about every company you've ever worked for, it's like, yeah, guys, let's get motivated. Like, okay, that's going to work until 9, 10, 9, 15. What about the other seven and a half hours? that were here, like, you know, what's going to motivate me to make those phone calls instead of being on Facebook or checking emails or doing all the other things that don't make the company money? What what inspires me? A great, great example is. There's a company and I wish I could remember the name so I could give them a shameless plug, I cannot remember their name. But, uh, the owner of this company went to his sales team and he said, guys, look the month. So there's a local radio show that does, um, uh, uh, annual not red cross, uh, salvation army, uh, drive. It's a three day thing. And this year they raised like, uh, I want to say $750,000 for, um, the I keep wanting to say Red Cross Salvation Army in like three days. I mean, they do great work. Anyway, this guy goes in in November and he's like, look, December is coming up. The radio station is doing this, this dry or donation thing is I will double whatever sales you guys do out of my own personal bank. So if you guys do a million dollars in sales, I'm going to donate two million dollars. Mm hmm. And he was going to do it in their name from his own private bank account, not the company bank account. So which I thought was a nice touch. Right. Sure. Anyway, he when he was talking about it, he said that it was the best month. His like 40 year old companies ever had. Wow. Why? Because they're freaking inspired.


STEPHEN: They weren't motivated. They were inspired to do something good for their community. That's what that's what it's all about.

PATRICIA: It reminds me of movements, you know, when you have a movement, not a movement that's like created, hey, we're all going to do this at this time, but something that's like, you know, very organic and. it comes out of, oh gosh, it's going to be so hard to put words to this, but, um, it comes out of an emotional place, like a sense of appreciation for something that just took place.

STEPHEN: 100%. Um, but, and you only get the, I mean, think about it. You know, I get a, when I tell people, like, you know, you gotta be able to accept criticism, criticisms. They're like, well, what does that have to do with inspiring other people?


STEPHEN: It's all, again, it's about that safety. But think about all the people in your life, right? Think about who you're willing to accept criticism from. So we'll say your husband, right? Probably not your favorite person to get criticism from, but you'll accept it.

PATRICIA: But he has the best criticism. I mean, because he knows me the best, right?

STEPHEN: But also, who inspires you the most to do what you do?

PATRICIA: My husband, every time.

STEPHEN: So the more freedom we have to tell each other what's wrong, what's going on, the more freedom we have to receive inspiration from that person. It's all about trust.

PATRICIA: That's exactly the word that came to mind as you're sharing. Like, that's it. Like you're talking about listening actively, creating an environment to receive feedback, receiving the feedback well. What you're doing is you're creating trust between two people. Cause every time you give feedback, it's a risk. Giving feedback is a risk. So to be able to, you know, receive feedback well, every time that happens, you're growing trust, right? And when you grow trust, then that person is more likely to kind of really listen to what you're saying. And like you said, you pull a thread, right? Because you never know where true inspiration is going to come from.

STEPHEN: Have you ever watched a war movie and the leader of the group is like, hey, guys, bad news. We got to go do this. And everybody's like, well, it's a good day to die, I guess. Or even better, it's like, hey guys, so we're supposed to do this, but that's wrong. I'm gonna go do this instead. You don't have to follow me. I totally understand, but everybody follows them. Things like that are real. Maybe Hollywood does it wrong, but stuff like that really does happen. And I can't tell you how many times it's like, guys, we got to go in that building. And everybody just looks at me like, are you stupid? Like, we're going to get shot if we go in that building. And it's like, yeah, but command needs that building. So we're going to go take that building. All right, let's go do this. Let's let's go try not to die. And, you know, there's some jokes, probably some very dark humor mixed in there. And then we go do the mission. that comes from the deepest level of trust, right? And it's not even, man, it's not even, at that point, it's more about just love for the other person, right? Like, I'm not gonna let Joe Schmogo die by himself. I'm going to be there with him. Right. Or whatever the case may be. But it's just it's such a deep connection. And the only way you can get to that deep connection is being able to fully trust and understand the other person. I was actually just talking to my wife about this. I've never been on a team in the army where I didn't physically fist fight at least half of them. At some point in time, like we got into some sort of my best friend in the army. Big old black dude. I mean, he played defensive end for Troy University. Big dude, fastest dude I've ever seen in my life, and he's huge. And he and I fist fought probably on a monthly basis. I'm not saying go fist fight everybody. I'm just saying that's how deep of a connection we had. And we're in a very violence-driven occupation, I guess, so it fit. My point is, like, Kelvin would go to Helen back for me and I would do the same for him. He could also tell me when I was being stupid. Like straight up, and he didn't even have to sugarcoat it, you just, you know, pop me in the mouth and be like, you need to calm down, you're being an idiot right now. Like, oh, okay. And so, you know what I mean? And that's how you get to that. That's how you get that level of inspiration. And there isn't a single person I've served with in all my years in the Army that didn't inspire me to some level. And to this day, no matter what, I got their back.

PATRICIA: And so far you've shared so many great stories. You've talked about listening actively so that people know they're cared for. You've talked about, you know, creating a space where people are free to give their feedback and then having that vulnerability to receive feedback gracefully. You've talked about a willingness to take a risk. You've talked about building trust. And one thing that you mentioned that in my mind kind of bubbled up is kind of principles, like that idea of do the right thing, even if it's hard, do the right thing. And that's where, you know, you had mentioned, like the scenes in war movies that actually happened in real life when someone says, Hey, we've got to go do this mission. And even though it means you're going to risk your life, people say, I'm with you. Like they're willing to come with that leader. And that reminds me of sort of like that principle, there's trust and there's love there. And there's this, like do the right thing principle, or maybe it's not do the right thing. Maybe it's something different. Love your neighbor as yourself, right? Whatever that principle is. But I think those are the pieces that maybe come together to inspire. I don't know. What are your thoughts on that?

STEPHEN: I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head and I don't, I don't typically like to say it because people think I'm being too mushy and I have this big, tough persona I have to maintain. But at the end of the day, it comes, it boils down to 100% love when you love your people. And I mean, cause I mean, I loved all my guys. I still do. Like I said, to this day, I still love them. You know, they're my family. They know me better than my wife. Like they know they know me better than anybody. And, you know, I love them. And to this day, I die for them.


STEPHEN: You know, you want you want to create a team that will die for you, then it all comes down to love. They have to love you in order to take a bullet for you.


STEPHEN: So, I mean, you know, That yeah, you hit the nail on the head 100% it all boils down to love But those are the steps to get there.

PATRICIA: Yeah. Yeah You don't go to work and say well today I'm gonna love my employees like, you know, people don't think about that. I was actually talking to a dear mentor so dear mentor like you're like a mentor who I find dear and

STEPHEN: Oh, dear to you.

PATRICIA: Yes, dear to me. A dear to me mentor. And one of the things, you know, we're talking about like business and, you know, and he's like, well, what are you focusing on now? And I thought it was silly, but I was like, I feel like what the Lord's kind of guiding me right now is to, you know, it doesn't sound very businessy, but it's just appreciation. Like that's just something that is, I don't know, like I just, it keeps coming up, appreciation. Like I need to slow down and appreciate every human being that's in front of me, like truly appreciate, like at a level that I don't think I've done before. And we started talking about kind of what appreciation is and the fact that when you appreciate something, it actually increases in value, like a house appreciates. And I found that to be just mind blowing. And I think for some people who are naturally gifted in relational skills, and in like this sense of appreciation, they're like, of course, but for me, it was It was just mind-blowing, like, oh my gosh, when I give my full and undivided, like you said, active listening, complete attention to someone, not that they weren't valuable before, but you help someone to feel valued and to help them feel that increase in value because you are worth not only my time, but my complete and undivided attention. And it just reminds me of like how you mentioned, right? Like we don't start at love. We don't say, go show love to your employees and you'll inspire them. No, there's like phases and layers and steps to building an environment and getting, you know, building that relationship on a deeper and deeper level to where ultimately they see you, they trust you. They see that you have your principles and they're willing to kind of open up and listen to be inspired at the things that you do and the way that you act. I don't know. It was just really interesting how you brought everything together to a head at that love piece.

STEPHEN: And I think another key aspect to understand at least is it's not always going to look the same. It looks different based on you. It looks different based on the organization. that looks different based on your team. You know, there is a guy that I didn't work under him. I worked alongside him. And. Watching him interact with his people. It was insane, he was not polite. He wasn't rude, he was just very short. Never smiled. Never hung out with him, never laughed with them. And by my, if you ask me, he was doing everything wrong. But then when it came to it, they freaking loved him. And so I started trying to figure out why. And it's no matter what happened, he was always there. He was always consistent. They knew how he was gonna act every single day. And by the way, interacting with him outside of work, completely different than interacting with him inside of work. But they got the same exact person every single day. He made decisions the exact same every single day. He was constant every single day. And he had their back every single day. If it was working late, he was always the last person out of the door. If they were swamped in work, he was the first person to jump in and help them. But if something was going on and the team was in trouble, he was the one that took the brunt of everything. And obviously, some has to trickle down, but he tried to control as much of that as he possibly could. And his team never felt that stress. He bared it all. And they absolutely loved him for it. And so it looks different. That was his personality. That's how he did it. But he embraced it. He learned how to use it. And man, he crushed it. While I was screwing everything up, looking at the guy I thought was doing everything wrong. So I mean, that's just, you know, understand it's going to look different for you than it does for me. And, you know, you just you kind of have to figure your own path. You know, I wish I could sit here and give you a magic pill. I can't. But at least I can do is make you understand.

PATRICIA: This was a great conversation. I know that we always get into like these conversations and, you know, we can go for hours, but I'm glad that we are able to kind of bring this and wrap it up. Come to come to a head here to finish out this podcast and let you go off into your evening. But thank you again so much for just spending some time with us and sharing some concepts around inspiration.

STEPHEN: Thank you for having me as always. It is such an amazing pleasure. Um, I love being on your podcast and I love your fam. You guys are the best.

PATRICIA: Awesome. Okay. Well, before we go, one last thing, one last thing and tell us where we can find you, your podcast, all the things.

STEPHEN: Yeah. Um, oh, can I share another funny story? You'll love this. So my podcast is not huge people. So, um, I just recently hit 3,000 downloads a month on average, right? I was so stoked, yo. 3,000 downloads a month. I was pumped, pumped, yo. So I go to our mutual friend, Chris Granger. He hosts the podcast called The Lion Within Us. I went to him, and he's been podcasting for years. I went to him, I'm like, yo, bro, 3,000 a month, what up? And he's like, dude, I'm so proud of you. That's so awesome. Congratulations. That's such a big milestone. I was like, thank you. What are you at? He's like, oh, twenty seven thousand a month. And I just like, oh, and then another mutual friend of Chris's of mine who does a finance podcast, he's at seven hundred and fifty thousand a month. And so my balloon, it didn't get popped. It got shot down with a scud missile.

PATRICIA: That's funny.

STEPHEN: I got humbled so freaking fast, which is fine. I was sad because I was so excited. But you know what?

PATRICIA: That is 3,000 people who are really benefiting from what you have to share, you know?

STEPHEN: 100%. But yeah, by all means, I would love for your listeners to check out my podcast, just go to search renowned, renowned leadership on any of the platforms, you'll find me or you can go to renowned And there's all the links for it there as well. And about me and all my stuff.

PATRICIA: That sounds great. Well, thanks again for being here. And we'll see you on the next one.

PATRICIA: Thank you.

PATRICIA: Hey, thanks for listening. I really appreciate you spending time with me today. If you found this episode helpful, please tap the five-star review on the show's homepage in your podcast app. It would absolutely make my day, and it helps others discover the Uncommon Career podcast. Now, to download your free career resources and learn how I help seasoned professionals land amazing offers in as little as 90 days, click on the link in the description or go to Thanks again, and I'll see you on the next one.


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