Posted December 7, 2020 in Podcast
Don’t Get Caught Up in the Chaos with JB Spisso
What does it take to be a warrior?
When you picture a warrior in your mind, what do you think of? Maybe you imagine a knight in a shiny suit of armor charging into battle. Maybe you think of a soldier fighting in the Middle East. Or maybe you picture one of the ancient Spartans carrying a shield and spear.
Those are the kinds of answers my guest today, JB Spisso, gets when he asks that question in his leadership seminars. But did you ever think that you yourself could be a warrior? The truth is, warriors come in all shapes and sizes, and they don’t have to be skilled in combat.
Being a warrior is all about being an effective leader — and I know that’s not always easy. Every day, we deal with any number of challenges and pressures from social media, from our friends and families, and even ourselves. But JB and I are here today to tell you that you can overcome all of those challenges and become a strong and capable leader-warrior despite those challenges.
I learned a lot from my conversation with JB, and I believe you will too. In our conversation, JB shared some insight into his career in the military, and he told me about what it takes to become a leader in the premier military regiment in the world. He also shared some of his wisdom for you leaders today. And finally, JB gave some incredible tools you can use to start building a warrior mentality in your life.
You can be a warrior, and JB is the man to help you get there. I think you’ll find this conversation thought-provoking and inspiring. I know I did.
Who Is JB Spisso?
JB Spisso has over 30 years of experience in transforming individuals into leaders. He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Organizational Management & Leadership from Nyack College and studied under notable sports psychologist Dr. Derek Anderson from 2014-2017.
He is also a veteran of the United States Army with 26 years of service, including ten years in Special Operations with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, leading the country’s most talented soldiers in combat. JB retired at the prominent rank of Sergeant Major, the highest and most respected Non-Commissioned Officer position in the military.
JB is extensively well-versed as a leader, trainer, and educator. He has executed effective team building and leadership training for several professional sports teams, including NFL and NHL clubs. He was also the first in the National Hockey League to hold the position of Executive Director of Leadership and Cultural Development, spawning similar roles with other professional teams throughout the league. Fun fact: I asked JB my signature TED Talk question, and he told me he’d probably give a TED Talk about hockey — he says he can break down hockey plays with the best of them!
Today, JB routinely advises C-suite executives on leadership and culture and is a sought after speaker for industry gatherings and leadership podcasts. If you’re interested in learning more about JB’s services, I’d encourage you to check out his website. There, you can learn all about JB’s coaching programs and check out his blog, which is full of helpful tips, tools, and tricks.
JB has also recently published his first book, Warrior Leadership: Steps to Success for Leaders on the Ground. This book contains all of his secrets and wisdom to help you become the best warrior-leader you can be. I’m a good chunk of the way through it, and I think it’s a great read. I recommend picking up a copy for yourself or for someone else during this holiday season.
With JB, what you see is what you get. He is a motivator with an energetic passion for helping others. He understands the rigors, the risk, the teamwork, and the mindset needed for success. He’s also excellent at teaching others how to maximize their potential and become top-notch warrior-leaders. I’m grateful to him for coming on the podcast today, and I can’t wait to get started.
JB’s Story: What It Takes to Lead in the Military
Starting out in his military career, JB didn’t know much of anything. He was an 18-year-old kid from Pittsburgh in Fort Benning, Georgia, without a clue what was happening.
“I remember the first day standing in formation at probably 4:30 in the morning … and I’ll never forget the senior instructor walked out, and … he said, ‘I don’t care if any of you make it.’ So I believed him. … I just had to really buckle down and say, ‘Well, I’m not going to get cut today. They might cut me tomorrow, but they’re not going to cut me today.’ So that became [my] mantra.” – JB Spisso
Throughout his time in the Ranger Indoctrination Program, RIP, JB maintained that mantra. It helped him sustain the mental toughness he needed to be successful in those intense circumstances.
But that wasn’t the only lesson JB learned in the military. During his time there, he had the opportunity to serve under a leader for whom he had a lot of respect — Sergeant Hugh Roberts. Sergeant Roberts was unique in that he treated each one of the members of his team as individuals.
“I think sometimes in leadership we want to just blanket everything — ‘Well, this is the way it’s going to be.’ … But, you know, you and I have a lot of similarities … but we probably also have some differences too. So I think great leaders learn that because if you really want to extract the talent out of your people, you have to get to know them as individuals.” – JB Spisso
If you’re a leader — whether in your business or in your community — take the time to get to know the people you’re leading. You’ll be able to lead so much more effectively if you really know those people and cultivate a relationship of mutual trust and respect. And if you still come to a place where you’re not sure how to lead, that’s okay! Just keep moving forward, and lead by example.
“When in doubt, lead by example. … I often caution young leaders [who] … want to have 100% of the plan. … You got 70% of the plan. That’s probably pretty good. Let’s go, you know, start moving in that direction. We’ll figure the rest out.” – JB Spisso
In any leadership position, there will be times when you don’t know what to do — that’s okay! Don’t let that faze you. Just keep pushing forward and cultivating those positive relationships with your team. Develop that mental toughness, and you’re sure to succeed.
Defining a Warrior
I talked earlier about the definition of a warrior, and I mentioned that you can be a warrior, even if you’re not rushing into a literal battle. If that’s true, then what is a warrior?
“I put [up] a picture of Mother Teresa, and I say, ‘Is she not a warrior?’ … Yes, there are some physical attributes of being a warrior, … especially if you’re in the military or you’re law enforcement, you’re [a] first responder, [or] you’re in a stressful situation. … But being a warrior is more than that. Being a warrior is being the best at what you do and being polite and humble while you’re doing it.” – JB Spisso
We all have unique talents and skills. To be a warrior, you have to use them to the best of your ability while staying humble and true to yourself. It’s about showing up authentically and serving the people you lead by leading by example. It’s about getting back up whenever you find yourself knocked down and inspiring others to do the same.
If you’re a business owner — and I know many of you are — your job is to be a warrior for your employees and your clients. And to be a warrior, you have to work in your zone of genius, support your employees as they do the same, and treat your clients with humility and respect.
Sometimes, when you’re trying to balance all of those aspects of being a warrior, the pressure can mount. You might start to worry about meeting everyone’s needs in addition to your own, and you might find yourself facing burnout. The problem is that you have to be careful who you talk to — as a business leader, you can’t vent to those underneath you about your struggles at work. Especially in today’s cancel culture, it’s more important than ever to be careful with our words — especially when it comes to posting online.
What should you do in that situation? JB recommends finding an outside resource you can go to:
“They have to find another resource — they really do. Because what happens is … as the leader of whatever organization — and especially if you’re at the top — you have to be very stoic a lot of times. … You have to be very, very careful not to throw your weapon on the ground. … The stress gets you, but you have to be able to break away from that, and you have to be able to find a mentor or resource that you can talk to away from that.” – JB Spisso
That’s where a great coach or therapist can come in. If you need a safe place to vent, share your thoughts, and be encouraged to grow, you need a third party outside your work environment. If you’re a business leader in that situation, I’d encourage you to look into coaches and find an outside resource who can support you.
How to Develop Mental Toughness in Today’s Culture
To finish our fantastic conversation, I asked JB to share a few tips that today’s leaders can use to develop the mental toughness they need to handle leadership roles in our current culture, and he did not disappoint.
“First thing is, you gotta smile. It’s so easy, but you gotta get up. You have to enjoy the day. … You gotta continue to have humor in your life.” – JB Spisso
Friend, if there’s no room for laughter in your life, it’s time for an adjustment. If you’re not making the time and effort you need to enjoy your life, what are you working so hard for? Make sure to spend at least a few minutes a day simply enjoying yourself. Whether you drink a nice, warm cup of coffee, enjoy a conversation with your child or significant other, or take a walk outside, find a way to enjoy each day.
#2: Understand That Life Isn’t Fair
“The other thing we must understand during these challenging times is: Life isn’t fair. So don’t have the expectation that everything’s going to be fair. … What we must do is keep grinding it out, keep after it, keep challenging yourself.” – JB Spisso
It’s true — life isn’t fair, and we shouldn’t expect it to be. This year hasn’t been easy on anyone. Many of us have lost our jobs, and many more have had to completely rewrite their business playbooks to adapt to life during a global pandemic. That wasn’t fair, but it happened, and the best we could do was learn to deal with it.
And the best way to do that is to challenge ourselves. We have to keep learning and growing! What have you learned about yourself through quarantine? Maybe you’ve become a better cook than you were before, or perhaps you’ve finally started taking walks outside. Keep challenging yourself to do those things and broaden your horizons — you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish even through the unfairness of life.
#3: Have Faith
“The last thing I’ll tell you is you gotta have some faith. Now faith can be religious, but it doesn’t have to be. But faith is not hope, right? Hope is, ‘Things will get better on their own.’ Faith means you’re putting the work to it, right?” – JB Spisso
Have you ever heard the expression, “When life gets tough, the tough get going?” It’s true. Even when circumstances are difficult, you have to have faith in yourself and your ability to keep moving forward. Personally, I put my faith in God, but you might choose to have faith in something else — that’s okay! The important thing is that you believe in your future and use that belief to drive you.
Bonus: Take 30 Minutes of Personal Development Time a Day
“And then I did say last thing, but finally, take 30 minutes each day for your own personal mind development time … — 30 minutes to read, workout, meditate for yourself.” – JB Spisso
It’s so important to take time just to check in with yourself and intentionally develop your mindset. Even just 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference. So make sure you’re taking that time on a regular basis to do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. You can read a book, meditate, go for a walk, or something else entirely — the point is to allow yourself time to get away from the busyness of life to grow.
Reach Beyond with JB Spisso
I’m extremely grateful to my friend JB for coming on the podcast today. He is a fantastic coach and wise thought-leader in the leadership space, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to learn from him. He shared a lot of wisdom during our conversation, and I hope you got a lot of value from it.
Before I go, I want to share with you JB’s definition of success. I think it sums up the world pretty well, and I think it’s a great descriptor for JB himself:
“Success oftentimes is measured by money or things and that sort of thing. And I think it takes especially a lot of young up-and-coming professionals time to [understand] that that’s not how success is measured. Success is measured to me [based] on your quality of life. Are you sustaining a quality of life? Are you a great human being? Do you have the ability to help others? That’s really how I think success should be defined.” – JB Spisso
Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. If you got a lot of value from it, please share a screenshot along with your biggest takeaways on Instagram, and make sure to tag JB, @jbspisso, and me, @kyle_depiesse. And if you love this podcast and want to support me, please leave me a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Your reviews truly help this podcast find new listeners.
Until next time — keep developing mental toughness, and remember to lead by example. In that way, you, too, can be a warrior. Cheers to your success — I’m rooting for you.