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In this episode, you’ll discover… 

  • Why humility is the single most important trait for leaders today — both at work and at home (2:39) 
  • The one question to ask yourself before walking to your home after work that neutralizes petty arguments before they happen (5:45) 
  • The “Simmer Down” secret for humanizing your business and attracting new customers and team members in droves (6:29) 
  • How developing your values and character can ease your anxiety and depression (11:55) 
  • Why trusting your feelings fills you with misery (and how to learn from your feelings without self-sabotaging) (14:14) 
  • The “Precious, Not Perfect” mindset tweak that helps you forgive yourself after making a boneheaded mistake (20:41) 
  • Why helping your kids avoid pain results in them developing a victim mindset and ungrateful attitude (even if it feels like the right thing to do) (26:18)

If you’d like to connect with Joe, you can email him at joe@youthfrontiers.org. Or you can check out his website at https://youthfrontiers.org.  

Are you crushing it at work but struggling at home? If you want to learn how to win at home, then go to https://CoryMCarlson.com and download your free copy of “10 Ways To Win At Home.”

If you're looking for a resource to help you with these times when your work is now in your home, check out my book Win At Home First on Amazon. Forbes Magazine rated it one of 7 books everyone on your team should read.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to the win at home first podcast. I'm your host, Cory Carlson. This podcast is where we talk about how successful business leaders win, not only at work, but also at home. On this podcast, we will go behind the scenes with great leaders to hear stories of how they win. Thank you for listening and on to today's episode.

Hello, this is Corey, today's episode with Joe Cavanaugh, who you'll learn more about in a minute, is packed with wisdom and insights. As I was having the conversation originally, I was taking notes as I always do. I was circling all kinds of different phrases. He was talking about, we discuss reentry into the home and he said, do I want to be right or love? And he thinks about that as he walks into his house, we talked about productivity and his comment do less, better than more worse.

(00:55): We've talked about the importance of slowing down. We talked about how raising our kids. We need to remind them that they are not perfect. They're not supposed to be perfect, but instead their precious and beloved sons and daughters we talked about. Do we even know what we value as individuals, as leaders, as companies, do we even know what we value? And at the end of it, we talk about the importance of raising and creating and being strong, responsible, humble leaders and companies. Great episode packed with lots of nuggets. Hope you enjoyed as much as I did on to today's episode. Hello, this is Corey Carlos, and you're listening to the win at home first podcast today, I'm joined by Joe Cavanaugh and I was introduced to him by a mutual friend. And when we had our first initial conversation, I was just kind of blown away by his story, the ups and downs, and meanwhile is still married and has a daughter.

(01:53): And so he's winning at work when at home. And, and part of the story that I was blown away is he started youth frontiers, 1987. They've served 2 million people, but before COVID, they had 875 retreats a year COVID happens. They have four. And so they had to completely, every buzzword we've, we've heard too much of they've had a pivot. They were disrupted all those different things they had to do. They did it, and now they are, you know, moving in the right direction. And so it was just an incredible story of faith of determination, persistence, meanwhile, continuing to have success at home. So, Joe, thank you very much for being on the podcast today.

(02:37): Pleasure to be here, Corey, thank you,

(02:39): Joe. What is the key trait for leaders to win at both work and at home,

(02:45): If you'd asked me this question five years ago, or even 10 years ago, I would answer that differently. I don't know what I would say because my memory is fading in life. But today I would say the key character trait that is needed is humility. We're living in a time of ideology, of demagoguery, of absolute certainty in our rightness of fundamentalism in thought in an alarming lack of curiosity and humility at its core comes from the word humus, which means of the earth. It means to be human. And I would argue, I would state that the number one responsibility of leaders today in our world, in our country, our nation in our communities, in our organizations is to humanize the organization, to humanize their surroundings. The number one responsibility of leaders is to humanize their surroundings. And you cannot do that without a genuine spirit that rests in your soul of humility.

(04:09): I am human. I am not God. My faith is very important to me in life. It always has been, but the reason I go to church and different people would disagree with this, perhaps, but it's to remind me that I am not God. And the anti character trait of humility is arrogance and our world, our, our communities, our country has no shortage of arrogant leaders. People who think they know it all. And you, you know, you and I know what it's like to be with. No one else. It ain't fun. It ain't fun to live with them. It infant to work with them. It ain't fun to be led by them at its core. The leadership trait of humility says, I need others. I don't have the whole perspective. I have a frame of truth, but it's not the whole truth. I need to listen.

(05:21): I need to have two years and one mouth. And we have, as leaders have flipped that around. We mess with the human body and think that we have two mouths and one ear and leaders that lead that way are poor and dangerous leaders. Now take that at home. It's the same thing. When I pull up to my, in my driveway at the end of the day, when I pause for a moment before I walk in the front door, the question I say to myself is Joe, do I want to be right tonight or loved tonight? And that is my mantra as I walk in the front door and when I choose to be right, it's usually not a very good evening. And I regret that choice when I choose to instead be loved. I sleep well.

(06:20): It's a great question. Do I want to be right or loved back to the word human eyes for the leaders listening? How does one humanize their organization?

(06:32): Well, maybe first and foremost, it's to be present. We're living in a dehumanized world from technology to the fast pace of communication and to really humanize our environment it's to slow down and be present. There's a saying that says, we are become a people moving faster and faster forgetting where we've come from and not knowing where we're going. My dad, when cars would zip down the front and wouldn't even be outside raking and they would zip down the street as I was growing up, he would sometimes shout out in those in that baritone voice that has those two words slow down. Well, that might be the two Wises words that we can be saying today is to slow down and be with people. When you rush you, miss things, you miss, maybe the facial expression of someone you work with that if you slow down, you would see that they were in a state of anxiety or concern or alarm in a boardroom. When we rush through decisions, we make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes are very costly, fortunately, rarely, but still sometimes they're deadly rushing instead of sitting in a, at the family dinner table at home and throwing the food down your throat and you get into as Justin, but even worse, you aren't present to the people that are closest to you that you love most in your life. And technology has accelerated that as turbocharge, that as made that nuclear,

(08:27): What is your recommendation for that listener? Who's like a slowdown. I have meetings all day long. I don't even control my calendar. People put meetings on there. Then I come home is taking kids to activities. There's no time to slow down. What would you tell that leader in ways to slow down your encouragement, to slow down from your experience of leading a large

(08:55): Organization? Well, the almost trite thing to say is do less better, and rather than do more worse, some of it is you, you have the choice, the power to choose, and don't dehumanize yourself by becoming a robot or being controlled by others. And part of the responsibility. And I use that word as a leader is to prioritize and say no. In a family situation, I became a dad at 48. So I was older. I'm 62 years old now with a 16 year old. When I was young in my thirties, everything mattered and I had to do everything. And if I had had my daughter tests at 30, I would be trying to cram everything in and to give her every opportunity and to do everything and not have a moment free.

(09:59): Now that I'm 62, I'm a little wiser for the wear and that's not because of light intellect. It's because of my battle scars, but I've learned that not everything matters, but what matters really matters. And so keep the important, important, and let the rest be less important. So for Jane and me, whether tests rushes her teeth or cleans her room in the right way every night or morning, that is important, but not that important for me with tests. What really matters is to always be honest, your word is your bond. You give up your word and you are not honest. You lose everything because you lose trust. So that's important. That's really important. That matters. Second thing we say to her Jane and I at our age, our elder age show people, respect and respect is really the word respect to see, to receive, to see differently, to see a new is to look in the eyes of people and see their humanity, the dignity of who they are to look in their eyes and realize that everyone you look at is sacred.

(11:37): They're a child of God, whether you agree with them or not, whether you vote with them or not, whether you like them or not. Whether they think look at they are a child of the third thing is to be courageous, to live a life of character, to live your values and not compromise those. You know, perhaps if kids lived out their values and their character, they would be experiencing much less pain today, much less anxiety, much less depression. If they stood their ground on character, they would be more stable and young people and old, all of us, you know, this is the same things. I try to live myself. We're living in a, in a, a time of instability. And if we lived according to some of the character traits and the values that our elders taught us, our traditions, our insights, our faith, so much of the pain and suffering that we cause or caused, or some of the experiences that we find ourselves in would be mediating.

(13:09): I think some of the hard part is kids nowadays. And some adults don't even know what their values are. They have allowed their volumes to kind of crumble and trying to figure out what society says is important, what their values are. So as parents and as well as even leaders of organizations, but as parents, if we are going to win at home first, if we are going in still, we've got to be affirming values in our kids that we see affirming God's character into our kids and not just different competencies, they have how many goals they scored or that they got straight A's. But any of those, you know, what they do or how they did it. But instead a little bit of, of the, the, the, who that they are in there in affirming that. And I think as leaders at home and, and with our teams at work, we've got to be affirming values in people and not just what they do. What are you seeing with the youth in basically, you know what I said on that and what you're seeing, how that plays out with your leadership at youth frontiers and at home.

(14:14): One of the things that I'm experiencing and seeing is something that I never heard when I was growing up. My parents never said to me, Joe, always trust your feelings. Never heard that. What are we saying to kids today is always trust your feelings. Well, feelings are grounded in reactions and feelings are not bad. And I'm not saying don't listen to your feelings. So when we, when we say the test is test, never trust your feelings. And she looked at, I said, always listened to your feelings in a value in them, but never trust them because your feelings can lead you astray. And so you've been left out and you've been left out of of you haven't been asked to the dance and you feel like, like you're a loser outbreak. Is that true? Do you trust your feeling? No, you evaluate it. And you say, no, that is not true.

(15:16): So I think one of it is to shift from always looking at your feelings to instead looking at what is grounding of truth. So I just look at it from a, not from, not even from a faith perspective, but I could look at it from a cultural perspective. I could look at it from a philosophical perspective, different religions, different. It doesn't matter. The core truths are usually pretty close. If you just even take the golden rule, you know, whether it's the greatest commandment or the golden rule, or how it's basic human rules of kindness, of courage, of respect, of responsibility, of moral courage of honesty. I mean, these are pretty timeless values there. Whether you look at the, the ancient Greece, the Greeks would their values to my own personal papers. There's a lot of difference there. And I could look at the east or the west.

(16:27): It doesn't matter too much on that. So I don't know if that's answering that question, but it's, I think if we really sat people down, if you S if we sat our children down and said, what do you value? And, and really had them reflect and pause and not be on their phone and not be running around and shoving food down their throat and running out the door to a game and say, let's sit for a bit and pause and be in Sabbath, which means to be quiet and listen, my Benedictine collegiate background is listen with the ear of the heart, to the voice of God. If we really did that, we would most likely hear relatively the same things. The problem is we're not doing that. So you said, how do leaders lead at home or leave at the workplace? Some of it is to, you know, the other day here, we had to stop and we had to stop and pull people together and say, what are our core company values? Let's remember them. Let's pause. And our company values are quality, caring, and growth. Those are company values. And so

(17:49): Everyone in the company knows the, the vision, the values, it is meaningful, memorable.

(17:54): Yup. And, and we have them actually, we have a giant pillar in the, in our main room that it goes up to the ceiling. And those three words, words are emblazoned in, you know, in giant letters. And you will, if you come to our office, you will see no other, you won't see posters on the wall saying we will not harass people in the workplace. It's like, really, we have to put a poster on the wall that says that I point to that second word caring. And I said, that says it all. And if we have to actually have a list of rules on the wall about harassing people, we've made either a bad hire or we're very, very, very, we don't have enough intelligence to be able to interpret that. You know, again, Ron, many of us remember Enron Sullivan Lester's world. They were recognized for their integrity training seminars and their core values, I guess, on E-bay. And they're running their core value posters from an runner or running for a, quite a price. They have the values posted, but they never stopped to really think and reflect on them.

(19:12): Thank you very much for listening to today's episode. I hope you are joining so far before we go back to the rest of this episode. I want to share with you my book when at home first, some of you have read it. So thank you very much for others of you. You have not. And I encourage, if you're looking for a resource to help you with these times of your work is now in your home and your home is now in your work. And what this looks like. This book is being helpful to many leaders like you whores magazine said it was one of seven books. Everyone on your team should read in the book is broken up into four different sections to help you versus about you. Understand who you are. The second is marriage in ideas and tips to help with your marriage. Third is parenting and the last is work. So these four different sections to help you recalibrate during this time and to help move forward. So if you are needing additional resource, I encourage you to check out my book went home. First. It is available on Amazon, as well as audible and so on to the rest of the episode. Thank you very much.

(20:20): That's so true. So many companies have them posted there, a plaque on a wall, or even on a column like you, or they're on their website. Many companies have them posted, but it sounds like you're living them out. How do you live them out the other day, you stopped and said, Hey, what are our values? What are other ways that you are living them out?

(20:41): Well, the first thing I'm going to say is we don't always let them know. That's why we need to remember them. We try to live them out, but we're human. Remember when we're not perfect, we're precious. I say that to to my daughter. You are not perfect tests. You are precious, but you're not perfect. So the key is to remember, remember, even you take that word, re R E membership, and to remember your core, remember who you are, remember your faith, remember your values, remember your relationships. Remember your grandparents don't move so fast. Remember your child's birthday, especially when times are difficult, because it pulls you back to, what's really important. Maybe it's not the storms and the stress that your family is enduring, but it's remembering your child. You know, what is more important as a parent than your child? You know, nothing,

(21:54): Not that spreadsheet or not that email inbox, is it?

(21:58): No. But you know what we forget? So, so what I, when I'm speaking to the business leader, sometimes I say at my age, at 62, I have the luxury now of saying, you know what? I'm not going to stay late, or I'm not going to be at that meeting because I'm going to go to my daughter's lacrosse game. You can't do that. Yeah, I can. Now I bet I'm lucky to be able to say that because I'm the top of the food chain here on the CEO and I'm 62. So both of those things help me. But you know what, in authenticity, everyone gets to say that now, of course there some times, and testing knows that too. And test, I say tests, I'm sorry, today. I can't go to the game. There is something I have to choose, but I want you to know this is an exception. This is not a rule. And she's like, no problem, dad. I get it. Cause she gets to do and that's life. But you know, hopefully I'm hitting 90% or 80%. If I'm dipping down to 60, 50 or 40%, there's a problem.

(23:07): Right? Joe, one thing I enjoyed about our first conversation and I want to have listeners hear it as well as talking about really the pre COVID and post COVID youth frontiers. And you you've mentioned, and obviously demonstrate how faith is so strong in your life. When you went from 875 retreats in 2019 down to four retreats, how was your faith? How did you show up every day? How did you not get frustrated, discouraged, and doubt, and just want to throw in the towel. You know, leaders are faced with all kinds of different challenges right now, supply chain issues, the resignation, you name it. Some company has some interesting challenges ahead of them. What can you share with us that helps you get through those difficult times? Not that you're all the way through it. Now I get that. But man, to me, 8 75 down to four, that feels like rock bottom. How did, how did you do it?

(24:05): There was a ride. Bottom zero would have been right by

(24:11): There. We got a chance.

(24:14): I got a chance. My wife said one in a million chance. If I was younger, it would have heard a lot more. I wear long sleeve shirts because of my battle scars and people can't see them, but stuff happens as they say, I'm trying to be appropriate on a podcast. And I've seen, well, you know, in the book, the road less traveled by one of the great books I've ever read by M Scott Peck. The opening sentence is life is difficult. That's the first sentence of the book. The second sentence says, the sooner you understand that the easier life becomes, wow. Well, let's take that concept and bring it elsewhere. Life is suffering and that's the Buddhist frame. Life is crucifixion is suffering in the garden of cause many that life is suffering. This is a truth of faith. One of my top three favorite movies, the princess bride, one of the classic lines is life is pain.

(25:36): And then the next line is anyone that tells you otherwise is just trying to sell you something. And now take that. And what are we living in now? Let's say they'll prepare a deck. Well, even if you take now, these last 20 years have been. So at the most been the most indulgent, grateful, inspiring, hopefully privileged over the top. Like, can you imagine living in any other time in human history or at every, in any other country in the world, we are so lucky. We are so blessed. We are so obsessed with also eliminating any pain or suffering and from a parenting standpoint. So, you know, our new parent academy, one of the most important things we say is, do not take away pain from your kids. Pain is a part of life. What we need to be saying to kids is life is difficult, but you are capable and you are tough enough to deal with that.

(26:48): My daughter, when we moved to our new neighborhood, she's walking down the sidewalk and there are two other older girls in the neighborhood. And they were, I could tell they were, they were Tesla's five and they were seven and nine I of a couple of years old. And they were kind of walking in front of her and kind of teasing her a little bit. You could tell it wasn't very nice. And Tess came in the house and I could see, she was kind of sad. And I looked at her and I said, I saw what happened now on the sidewalk that molester hurt. And she kind of got teary-eyed and nodded. And I gave her a hug, but not too long of a hug. I said, I love you. I said, but I'm glad that happened to you and her eyes just got big.

(27:30): And I said, I said, the reason I'm glad test is now, you know what never to do to someone. In other words, all of a sudden there was purpose in her pain and pain is the Greek teacher in life. So how do we look at difficult times as a teacher? You know, the no pain, no gain, you know, that kind of bumper sticker, but this is a much deeper than that. This is a deep, psychological thing that we're not doing for our kids. We're really doing damage to young people, by giving them safe spaces. What we need to be doing is give them supportive places so they can learn and grow from them. That's very different. The intent might be the same. I think it's well-intentioned, but we all know the road paved with good intentions where it leads us. It's not a good place.

(28:35): And getting back to your question, how did it affect me this year? Pardon me? Those? I knew that, Hey, this isn't easy. Now I'm an entrepreneur. I was the founder. The first five years of youth frontiers worked way tougher than this last year. So it was like, yeah, this is tough. But I've seen tougher. I also was listening a lot and I saw people whose situations were way worse than ours. I also wanted to assume utmost responsibility. We had to make some really painful decisions by contracting our staff because we're a fee-based nonprofit. And so about $3 million evaporated overnight from our revenues. And about 85% of 90% of our payroll of our budget is payroll. So you can do the math. We can track it from 60 people to 15 people. It was brutal. And we're a culture that really has a tight family feel.

(29:41): And there was a lot of grief, anger, sadness, some gratitude, and it was tough. And there was a lot of people furious at me for letting people go. But I also, when w when the dust settled after contracting so drastically, I called the 15 people together remaining. I said, okay, we have a year. And we got to re-invent in three months and everything is in our control. We are not victims. We have to figure out how to get through this. And we got through it for three, with three reasons. One is luck. We were really lucky. And, you know, sometimes people miss a car accident or get through a cancer diagnosis or whatever. And it's, you know, at the next person next to them, doesn't it's luck, or, you know, and I don't say, well, God liked us more, loved us more than someone else. I don't, that's not my theology. Some of it is just, okay, we missed that car accident. Phew. Well, the point is there is luck that was involved with us getting through it. The second was we had some amazing talent in this company that was able to roll up our sleeves and figure it out. And then the third, maybe most important, we had an unbelievable donor base. We're nonprofit, our donors not only stuck with us, but leaned in to support us even more.

(31:19): So, Joe, what did some of the day-to-day look like during those difficult times? I mean, did you have moments of just difficult, quiet times and anger, or was it sadness or because as I talk with some different leaders, clients, I mean, they're the roller coaster of emotions and to talk to someone like you, you, you volunteered, you know, you're, you're 62 years old and, you know, kind of been around the block. You now know what matters. So how do you kind of help that leader as they listen to say, you know, Hey, this is kinda where we're to be with your faith and what that routine looks like. And some of the tactical things that we're helping you get through it from a faith perspective,

(32:04): From a faith perspective, I knew I was not alone. There's nothing worse than being alone. And at the core of my faith is knowing that I am not alone. I am loved by God. You know, if I was alone, that the worst times of my life was when I felt lonely, I can deal with pain. I can deal with suffering. I loneliness is what drives people to the abyss. That was the core. That's the core of who am. The second thing was I had dinner at home with the two most important people in my life, my wife and daughter, every night for 18 straight months, for me, nothing better. And I'm usually gone three nights a week, maybe more, sometimes less. And we, as a family got so close, I got to go home every night and it was an island and I didn't work. And when I, when I go home, I don't work people. I, you didn't answer my emails. Like, no, I was home with my family.

(33:14): They're more important than you, sorry. But there was that the other part is, you know, the anger stuff. I quite frankly, I didn't have time to be angry. I had never worked so hard in my life then the last 18 months and right. I'm exhausted now. I'm, I'm just, I don't, I feel like one of those Saturn rocket boosters that used all the fuel to get the, the capsule in outer space, but now that the boosters kind of fall back and I'm hearing this from teachers, I'm not alone. I'm hearing this from every, you know, so many people were just, I meet with leaders. The only people that leaders know, they know that the only seat that leaders, again, the only people that know a leader seat or other leaders, and I was the other night with four leaders in the community, and we're all looking at each other and we're like, we just don't have the energy anymore.

(34:07): We're just exhausted. So we got to go to the well, and we'll hopefully figure out how to do that for our staff, some of our staff. Well, I went from keeping captain Stubing from the love boat for 10, 20 years at youth frontiers, you know, the cheerleader, the fun, fun guy to becoming captain Ahab in Moby Dick overnight. And we went from a big cruise ship with, at nightly entertainment and a pool and all thing, kind of activities to a small little Zodiac skiff that was fighting the stormy seas that was on the cusp of being sunk at any. And every moment. And I became literally the captain they had, and I was saying, this is one of going, no negotiating, no talking, sorry, it's a one, one direction. This is not consensus. We're going this way. And that rocked a lot of people because they weren't used to that.

(35:05): And it wasn't our typical culture. And for the 15 people left and they were not happy with me and didn't want to lose them. They were tremendously talented people, but that was it. A number of people were just really dealing with their own struggles. You know, a lot of people, this was unbelievably stressful. If their spouse lost their job or their kids, there was a lot of mental health stuff going on with kids and they're still, we're still dealing with it right now. We're dealing with the ramifications of it. And for so many families, it was just heartbreaking.

(35:47): I ain't taking it back to the very beginning. What we talked about how to win at work with, at home is humility. And when we're having conversation with our kids, with our leaders is to recognize that people are having some serious difficulties, your illustration of the two varying types of boats from cruise ships to basically a small bow getting tossed from wave to wave. It's just having that humility as we are talking with people that we don't have, it all figured out, we're all in this, I've heard. It said before, they were all in the same storm, just in different boats in the storm.

(36:20): Well, and when we are in the storm, the only thing that we have control over is how we stand or sing or dance, or sometimes just sit in that storm. We can't control the storm. There lies the humility. I am not God. You know, I have to walk through the shadows of death, but I'm not alone. You know, Psalm 23. Perfect. The perfect song shouldn't have been read probably daily during the pandemic, which is interesting. Cause I didn't read it once in the last 18 months, but wow. What a perfect song to read. Yeah.

(36:58): Maybe I would just end up podcasting encouraging to read Psalm 23 and to go from there, Joe, I enjoyed this conversation. I enjoyed our first conversation and I look forward to more of them. What is the best way for leaders to get ahold of you or to learn, you know, more about youth frontiers in your organization?

(37:17): Well, for sure you can email me, joe@youthfrontiers.org. And I can be happy to share more with you. You know, our, our parents academy right now, I kind of talked a little bit about some of the things we're doing. What we're trying to share with parents and with leaders is our job is to create strong, responsible, humble children, strong, responsible, humble leaders, strong, responsible, humble companies, you know, world. And that's the key. And you know, we're living in a time of difficulty, but it's not to make it easier. It's to be stronger. So your parents don't take away. Your kids fear, make them brave. And that's what gets us through this. And I think that's what gets us through the leadership challenges. Not only at home as a parent, but in our workplace,

(38:13): What a great way to end Joe. Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it greatly Corey. Thank you.

(38:23): I want to thank you for listening to my podcasts. When at home first, I am so grateful to hear from listeners like you, that this content has been helpful. So now I would love for you to pay it forward. I want to get this message in the hands of more listeners. We need leaders to be winning both at home and at work, especially during this time. So please take a minute to share this episode with somebody you think would find value in it, as well as rate and subscribe as a thank you, please visit my website@coriumcarlson.com to download a free resource that people are finding value in. Thank you very much.

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