EP #54 Joe Newman: Parenting When the Road Gets Tough
Season 1, Ep. 54

Greetings everyone, my name is Julie Masters and welcome to another episode of Inside Influence. In which I delve into the minds of some of the world’s most fascinating influencers – or experts in influence – to get to the bottom of what it really takes to own your voice – and then amplify it to drive an industry, a conversation, a movement or a nation.

How do we raise, mentor, or lead the young people in our lives to be bold? In other words – how do we raise or lead lions and not lambs? It’s a good question and one that I’ve heard asked a lot – especially since becoming a parent. Which – along with running a business – and therefore leading teams of all ages – through good times and bad – has been one of the most significant (and therefore terrifying) journeys inside influence of my life.

But I digress – raising lions vs. lambs. A great question – but here’s a better one – and this is one you don’t hear asked out loud very often. But it’s there in the background for parents and leaders – like a quiet panic you don’t want to voice.

Can we actually survive raising lions? If we in-still that kind of strength, that kind of passion, the ability and NEED to question and test every hypothesis – every boundary – to take nothing for granted. Especially the instructions of those supposedly in charge. Do we – as parents and leaders – in our most quiet and overwhelmed moments – even want that?

And yet… don’t we need more of those skills? Especially now – with so many global issues requiring the type of fierce leadership – that increasingly only seems to come from younger generations. From those that haven’t learned to shut up and do as they’re told.

But let’s be honest – raising lions isn’t easy. Leading lions isn’t easy. In many cases families don’t survive. Teams fall apart. Governments collapse. Those in charge end up squashing the very passion they were hoping for – swapping innovation for speed – and diversity for consensus.

So here’s my question again. How do you lead lions without taming them? How do you raise passionate, robust, fierce human beings – without surrendering your sanity?

To get some insights into this question we hunted down my next guest – the incredible Joe Newman.

Joe was one of the very first children globally to be diagnosed with ADHD. A label that taught him to feel “broken,” and accept the diagnosis that he had limited potential.

Since then, Joe has dedicated his life to shattering that label, re-building his identity – and challenging our notions of the interplay between potential, passion, obedience and leadership. For the past 30 years he’s worked with children from every walk of life – all considered to have extreme behavioural issues.

In doing that he has shown repeatedly that – by changing the ways we interact – by getting deeply curious – and by respectfully holding our ground – behind those issues is more often than not EXTREME potential.

His work AND perspectives on parenting, power and relationships – have been shared and discussed by thought leaders across the world.

He has also since written the incredible book ‘Raising Lions – The Art of Compassionate Discipline’. Sounds like a book for parents – and it is. But here’s the thing – there’s not a single leader I know that doesn’t struggle with compassionate boundaries – with channeling the passion, friction and diversity in their teams. Same tools – just different language.

In today’s episode, Joe and I jump into the shifting waters of:

The personal attributes of a ‘Lion’ and what it takes to lead one.
Whether labels are useful – for children and adults – or whether they are just permission to separate from our actions
What does a child – or an adult for that matter – who can self-regulate actually look like? This one is important – because we all know you can’t be what you can’t see. If we can learn to recognise it – and move towards it when we do – our chances of becoming go through the roof
Why lions love conflict – and how to use that to propel constructive action
How to use consequences effectively and respectfully
And finally how to ‘meet someone’s hand’ and powerfully answer the inherent question in all lion interactions ‘I have power – do you?’

One of my greatest curiosities when it comes to influence – is how often and unintentionally we get it wrong. No one wakes up thinking they want to hurt or fail the ones we love or lead.

Unfortunately the usual suspects of influence – those we see so often being successful in the short term – charisma, bravado, force or sitting on the fence and avoiding any real conflict – rarely if ever get us where we need to go in the long term.

You can’t force someone to respect you, or listen to you, or love you, or collaborate with you. And trust me I’ve tried. Nor does anything get any better by avoiding the transformative friction that comes from conflict. Or by taming and caging diversity.

We need lions. But first we have to believe that we can survive them – or better than that – thrive because of them.

So – grab your coffee, or relax into whatever traffic jam you’re stuck in – and prepare to be challenged in all the best ways by the force that is Joe Newman.