Exponential Leadership Impact with Steve Cockram
GiANT co-founder Steve Cockram joins Ray via phone to discuss his experiences starting a multi-national leadership training business with his friend and former Bottom Line Faith guest, Jeremie Kubicek. Steve shares profound insights on Jesus’ approach to discipling and leadership, as well as the importance of self-awareness and identity when shaping your business practices.
Steve is the co-founder of GiANT Worldwide, a global leadership consultancy. He is an international speaker, author, and consultant to top-level executives and leaders around the world.
“You have to know yourself to lead yourself first.”
“My identity is not conferred upon me because of what I do, but because of who I am.”
“My strength is very limited, but my weakness aligned with His strength is incredible.”
1. Just as there are laws of physics, there are laws of business and economics.
2. Learn to go slower to go faster.
3. The rhythmic pattern of work and rest is vital.
4. There is a huge difference between a 75+ leader and a 100x leader.
5. Are you taking on the multiplication challenge?
6. No one summits Everest without a Sherpa.
Ray: Hello everyone. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith. This is the program where we explore the intersection of faith, business, and life. We get an opportunity to interview some of the most amazing Christ following business leaders, not only from the States, but today in an international setting and we’re going to tell you more about that in just a moment.
But if you’re a first time listener, welcome to Bottom Line Faith. If you’re a regular subscriber here, you know that we are so blessed to bring these amazing leaders who teach us how their faith guides and instructs the way they lead on a daily basis in the marketplace.
Well folks, we have all the way from London, England, Steve Cockram who is the co-founder of GiANT and we’re going to learn all about Steve on today’s program and his passion for Godly leadership. Steve, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Steve: Thank you, Ray. As a brit, I always love my American introductions because you always big it up such a way and you actually mean it unlike us cynical brits. So honored to be part of it and grateful for the opportunity to share.
Ray: That is fantastic. Well many of our guests, Steve, are aware recently we had an episode with your co-founder, Jeremy, at GiANT, but tell us a little bit about GiANT, who you guys are, what you’re doing, and then we’ll get into your background and story, but tell us about GiANT.
Steve: So GiANT really, or the iteration, Jeremy and I had both been in consulting for awhile, and six and a half years ago both of us came to the end of what we were doing. And they moved their entire family, Ray, so basically Jeremy, Kelly, and the kids, and then we all moved into this 10 bedroom country estate called [Henciprary 00:02:20], a bit like Downtown Abbey. And we actually spent a lot of time, far too much time talking from my wife’s perspective, basically asking this simple question at the age of 42. If God gave us another 25 years, what would we most like to do and who would we most like to do it with based on what we’d learned from the good, the bad, and the ugly, from the first number of years of life? And the two words that came out were, GiANT was based on transformation that lasted in the lives of the leaders we work with. I think we’d both been involved in everything from events to classic programs which were educational, informational, even inspirational, but in our experience very rarely lasting the transformational in leadership behavior.
And the second piece, probably the hardest, was could we create not only transformation, but could we create a way of multiplication that meant the people experiencing that change were equipped to multiply into their lives, into their families, their teams, or organization communities? So GiANT and it’s call was 100 X, that’s the new book that’s just gone live. How do we get people as healthy as possible? How do we build the healthiest possible teams? How do we build the healthiest possible cultures? And how do we multiply that in a way that creates scalability at cost?
And of course from a faith perspective, Jeremy and I sat there and said, “Well who’s the leader in history that we believe has been most affective at creating transformations that last in ordinary people and multiplying it through them?” So we basically agreed in the beginning that if Jesus was doing something and we weren’t, we’d assume he was right. And if we were doing something that he wasn’t, we’d assume he was right.
One of the ones that often challenges people is, we couldn’t find a lot of Jesus doing one to one coaching. We live in a very therapeutic, individualistic, confessional culture, whereas actually Jesus seemed to disciple people in teams, rather than as individuals. There’s a good example, I’m sure other things will come out, but this idea again, could we create a systemic way for putting wisdom, and basically health, into organizations of all shapes, sizes, creeds, sectors, the world over. That was the vision of GiANT. And most people it stays it’s vision. I think six and a bit years on we probably say we’ve been personally incredibly surprised at the growth and the success and in many ways the opportunities that are opening up around the world and the caliber of leaders and the people we get to work with.
So GiANT is a bit of a success story, but as you’ll hear later, it really came out of failure, brokenness, learning from our own mistakes and applying those in a way that others could hopefully make different ones than the ones we did.
Ray: Yeah, and I do want to get into that, but let’s take just a step back for you personally, your story, just give us a framework of did you grow up in a Christian home? Or how is it that you came to faith and Christ?
Steve: Unusually, sadly for here in Britain, I’m a product of generational faith in the sense that my parents both strong leaders. I come from families where people were in Christian leadership for years. We were probably prayed for for years all our lives long before we were born, I’m sure. I don’t take that for granted. I grew up in a place called Exeter, it was a very quiet, very, very rural, in American speak. And in many ways my parents, bless them, have lived there all their lives. They will be there all their lives. They’ve never left. So in some ways I grew up in an environment where I could not have been more loved. Could not have been given that foundational piece, but nobody really had any idea how to deal with me. In terms of being this kind of quite a large character, and with an entrepreneurial heart, in a world, shall we say, was relatively conservative.
So I became a Christian at the age of 12. I still remember a camp that I went to. And I remember hearing the stories, this is what I heard, I remember talking to the head of the camp. They interviewed every boy at the end of it. And I remember going, “I hope you don’t mind, but I actually prayed a prayer last night to become a follower of Jesus.” And looking back I can imagine that is probably the reason they did the camp, but at the time I was worried. And really faith has been a totally integral part of all of my life.
There have been ups and downs and moments where I had to learn you can’t be the ultimate lad and the ultimate Christian at the same time, college was good for that but effectively that’s always been part of that journey. And in many ways Helen’s family, who I married very young, good job, she didn’t get a chance to meet anyone else really. We’ve been married 27 years. We met at college, we were college sweethearts. And her family is virtually the same, so there’s no divorce, all the grandparents are still faithful, but that’s our legacy and I don’t take that for granted.
I think one of the reasons why we’re the people we are is because of that investment and that incredible deposit, I think. Timothy calls it the deposit that was made in us, and hopefully we’re delivering a return on that in our own children and the rest of the extended family we care for.
Ray: That’s very encouraging. And so, I want to now circle back around. A few moments ago you talked about GiANT being birthed out of pain, out of brokenness, I don’t know many successful Christ followers that are in business that that’s not part of their journey. Will you just walk us through what you meant by that statement? Give us a little bit of context.
Steve: Yeah, I think two specific things come to mind, Ray. I think firstly, I didn’t know myself at all. I had no idea the impact I had on others. I would say I’ve been happily married for nearly 27 years. Helen for probably about the last 12 on the grounds that somebody, I think out of pity for Helen when I was 33, paid for me to go on a course to study Myers-Briggs. So I think what that did was that it gave me a lens in the mirror to actually see the impact I had on other people.
And in many ways, I guess that self awareness when it first happens is a really painful experience. And over the last sort of 15, 16 years, I’ve become a Jedi in human behavior and why people behave the way they do. So in some ways my own failure to understand the impact my voice, my personality had on others led to quite a significant change in all of my relationships a few years ago. And in many ways a lot of the GiANT resources really being with a leader saying you have to know yourself to lead yourself first.
So, that would be one area of failure that I wish I could do again. And I think the other was, I started life as a high school teacher. I taught religious education because we’re allowed to do that over here, and PE, sport. I had the best job in the world. I used to teach in the mornings in the classroom, and play sport every afternoon. I then became a pastor, which was really hard. I realized actually, they put a title on the name because that’s what they want you to do, and when it comes to actually pastorally caring for people, that was probably the least skill set that I actually had. I usually wanted to change the world.
But when I was involved there, I got involved in helping with a night club project. So this is how good of salesmen me and a friend of mine were, we managed to persuade our Baptist church, which many of them were T-total, to basically invest close to over a million dollars in a bar, night club venture in central Manchester with the goal really of living a life in the midst of the club culture and the club scene there. And to be basically an incarnation al expression of Jesus while also running a business there. Let’s just say the diligence on the missional model was far greater than the business model, and it really ended up about three months in turning over about 30% of projected revenue.
And it had broken what I’ve come to discover after as every, every rule about business planning. And we owed money to a lot of interesting characters in that world. And effectively, I became the full-time manager and director to try and save the money of all the people that I’d tapped up for most of this thing. And, of course, I’d never been a businessman up until that point, but they said, “No, we don’t need business. People listen to you. We need somebody to face up to the banks, the creditors to buy us time. And we’ll give you someone that’s been the CO of a company,” and he spent a day and a half a week with me for 10 months trying to find a way to make this nightclub break even.
People used to threaten to shoot me, shoot the children, and it was horrible. Then I had to go to church every Sunday and it was like going to a shareholders meeting where all they wanted to hear was stories of missional breakthrough. And it eventually went into administration, which would be your chapter 11, and eventually into for long insolvency. And my last job was trying to negotiate a half million of personal guarantees the three of us assigned to actually find a way to make this thing work.
So I think I say I did the most expensive that anyone has ever done. I think I learnt a huge amount, but just because God had called us to do something, didn’t just mean you then just went and got on with it. And I think that’s probably one of those learnings for me. The learning that came out of it said, “Steve, I know you’re exciting about making things happen, but if you don’t walk one step behind what I’ve already done, you will basically get into trouble, because as a pioneer you’re going into places where the enemy’s had sway for a long period of time.” And let’s just say we were very naïve, I think, in terms of spiritual battle of warfare. We’d just assumed because the Lord had called us to go and do this that if we marched around the wall seven times it would all work.
So I think that’s quite a vulnerable place. That 15 years ago, but I would say in some ways that’s defined my leadership. Certainly for Helen and my story, because our second child was born in the midst of it. How she was conceived still remains a mystery. I reckon I was physically present, but emotionally and intellectually absent for at least 18 months. Where I was desperate to avoid failure. I’d never failed anything and I realized that how unattractive that proposal was.
So all of that rate has shaped both the self awareness, the understanding, and also, I guess, the ability to see that just because someone has a vision, doesn’t necessarily mean they have a strategy, or a business, or a model. And in the same way there are laws of physics that allow us to understand the world that got made, I also believe there’s laws of economics and there’s laws of business. Can the Lord do miracles? Yes, and I’ve seen them. But in my experience most of the time, business is the laws of economics apply, and in the end learning how to be a good steward effectively of business and resources, means doing your diligence in that plane.
So they were the two biggest learning moments of my life, I would say, that shaped my desire that others would make different mistakes. And I guess we’ve all been through those things, but they would be the two most obvious when you ask the question.
Ray: That’s a powerful and amazing story and as I was listening to you share that, Steve, I was reminded of the passage in Psalm 78:72 where it says, David shepherded them with integrity of heart and with skillful hands he led them. There’s two parts to that verse. The integrity of heart’s about doing the right things, but the skillful hands are about doing things right. And so, as I was listening to your story, it sounds like your heart is in the right place, but there was a lot of skillset that needed to be developed. There was still some of those kinds of things in place. So as you do what you do now within GiANT, I know you coach CEOs and business leaders, what principles from that story and chapter of your life do you bring into your leadership coaching and development with CEOs and business leaders? How does that story now have value to those that God’s allowing you to coach and mentor now?
Steve: I think the combination, Ray, of human behavior is very predictable. So the reality is once leaders understand that God has given them a particular personality or wiring, in which there are very predictable behaviors in relation to stress, and ultimately how they will undermine their own influence, their own leadership, and their own reputation.
So one of the things, I often call it Screwtape revisited, so C.S. Lewis’ books. I can literally, based on how you’re wired, describe how the enemy will take you out. And basically how if I was Screwtape, this would be the strategy I would use to undermine your reputation and influence. So it takes a lifetime to build a reputation. It takes a very small amount of time to actually completely destroy it. And so for me I think that’s one of the most common ones. It’s amazing how CEOs, they’ve all heard about coaches and consultants, and you only have a limited time to prove your competency and relevance to their world. I’ve found that that one opens the eyes relatively quickly when they go, “Oh, so you’ve just described my deepest, darkest secret and the thing that I think no one knows. And you can describe it based on order.” So I think that’s the place it comes to bear.
And I think also, as well, it’s not that we’re coming here with all the answers that we’ve mined out of our success. I think that most leaders are looking for, I say three things, competency, confidentiality, and chemistry, and they don’t usually find it in the same person, because they go, “If I share something with you, will it come back to bite me?” Because most leaders are lonely. Being the CEO or being a founder, it’s difficult place. Who do you share with? Who do you trust? So confidentiality. Many have chemistry, do I actually like being with you? If I’m going to share I need to know. And do you have competency that means that even if I go through that time and investment, that you could really help me win in what I’m doing.
So I would say at my best as a GiANT, what I’m really doing is finding people that I believe in with a vision that I’m excited about. And affectively becoming part of their team, often a partner to them, particularly when we’re able to share faith. So I do it with people who are not people of faith, and I’m sensitive to that, but in relationship, that’s where I would say those things really come together most. It’s that place of going, once people understand our struggles, and they still don’t judge us and they still love us, you end up in a place where basically, there’s a safe place to process the things of life as many people know.
But we can never advertise and say, “Hey, why don’t you work with GiANT because it will change your marriage in the way you decide for your kids,” because people won’t pay for that. But if you ask the average person we work with over a period of time where the biggest impact happens first, I would say most leaders major on being very good in their business world because they get a lot of identity, a lot of success from it. And they have positional authority and power. They also bring the same leadership processes home, where they don’t necessarily have position or power, and then wonder why it doesn’t work. And it’s usually even worse with children, because in the end you have to calibrate the way you lead in all the areas of your life, rather than just the ones you find easiest.
Ray: No doubt about it. Our listeners are engaging in this and hearing this. What’s the best way for them to learn more about you, about GiANT, or about how they can get involved?
Steve: Steve Cockram, we’re over at LinkedIn, Facebook, you can find me in all the usual social media places. I always tell people if you’re brave enough to email me, this is my personal email, so this will come straight to me. There’s no filters. So Steve@giantworldwide.com, if there’s anything in this that you’d like process further, I’m always, always open. The myth of leadership is that those at the very top are incredibly busy. I say if you’re incredibly busy, then you’re not being strategic with your time. So if you’re brave enough to reach out, I will respond to you, I promise. So Steve@giantworldwide.com is the direct line to me. Find me on social media or giantworldwide.com, I guess is the easiest website as well.
Ray: Fantastic. And something you just said there, I don’t want to skim over, because I want to write this down, first of all. You said that if you’re incredibly busy, I think I’m going to say this right, you’re not being very strategic with your time. Did I catch that right? And elaborate on that. That’s a pretty powerful statement.
Steve: So I think it’s a provocative statement, one that usually gets attention. What I mean by that is, if you are the owner, the founder, the CEO, in the end, you have an excuse to be at anything you want to be at and avoid anything you don’t want to be at. And in the end, I would say that if your organization can’t run without you, then basically you probably haven’t multiplied capacity in the right way. Now that’s not to say you’re not involved. That I believe CEOs, founders need the ability to have a lot of spare time in their calendar because then they can choose where is the most strategic place, person, that I can invest the time in. So I always challenge COs, if you don’t have venture capital time, then basically you’re probably too scheduled, because in the end, you’re probably too in the micro and you’re not enough in the big picture of what it is you’re doing.
So, I’m always interested to know if somebody wants to talk to me, and I want to talk to them, I can probably do it inside a day. Couple days, max. If somebody says to me, “Oh by the way I’m free in four weeks time,” then that’s usually a giveaway that they’re way too busy. They’re probably way too in the micro of what they’re doing and effectively, they’re not prioritizing time effectively from my perspective.
Ray: I love it. And my guess is this has something to do with this concept of The 100X Leader. What I’d like to do is, I want to hear from you maybe a couple of biblical principles or foundations that you have used to build your business, build your company, how you coach and lead. And I suspect something around multiplication is going to be a part of that, but tell us more just some of the biblical foundation of what it is that you’re doing.
Steve: So I said at the beginning, Ray, that Jeremy and I were almost idealistic in the beginning. And some of the people who helped us go, “Well you might have to compromise your ideals at some point.” One of the interesting things is, that for Jesus the minimum unit of team was two, not one. So if you started the gospels, you’re finding he sends out with 12, 2 by 2, he sends the 72 out, 2 by 2, and he was very committed to the process. When he wanted a donkey, he sent two people to get it.
So I think one of the things for Jeremy and I has been, we’ve never ever, neither of us have ever had Independent authority to make big decisions outside of the other. We’ve been so committed to that process, Ray, that we’ve even invited two or three others now into a board. And when it comes to big decisions on people, capital, strategy, everyone gets a vote. And basically what we’ve found is we say everyone gets a traffic light, there has to be more greens than yellows, and the red is a no. And I think what that did was, it established the principle that no one person has necessarily a monopoly on wisdom or a complete monopoly on a hotline to the Almighty.
So we’ve ended up making less decisions, Jeremy and I, as hot headed entrepreneurs would probably make, but I look back and go, we haven’t made many bad decisions. So that would be one principle that I always challenge leaders on. It’s hard if you’re already in that place. But how the decisions get made in your world and ultimately, do you really give others a chance to shape how those decisions are made. So that would be a foundational principle for us.
And I think the other one is, at least at the time, I was always stunned that Jesus… If anyone had an excuse for a calendar that was too full, that in the end, Jesus was probably more in demand than you or I will ever be. So we start healing everyone walking down the streets, you’ll find that you’ll get an idea of what demand for time is. Yet Jesus always had time for people. So he would always find time for people to be in their homes, and at parties, which I like, but the thing that always moves me most and I’m challenged most by is even in the busiest of his strategic plan that he was working out, there was still moments when it said, and Jesus had compassion. He saw Bartimaeus by the road, he had compassion with that. He still the ability to see the need of the individual in the midst of the big picture strategic objectives in what he did.
The words I hate most in the Bible, early in the morning while it was still dark. The cues that Jesus gives were, I only do what I see the Father doing, I only speak the words the Father gives me. So for me as a hot head who would run ahead with my own ideas, learning to go slower, to go faster, has been a really important concept. I would rather go slower now than in the past, because I found I would rather check in and make that happen.
Then is says, in the gospels it says, and Jesus went and spent the whole night laying in prayer. Which is usually a trigger that something significant or a big decision was being made. And the biggest decision of all for him, I guess, to choosing his team, and the clarity of the vision in his life happened in the wilderness where he spent 40 days alone. So the rhythms and patterns of the 100X leader, the healthiest leader, has to include a very, very deep commitment, I believe, to the rhythmic pattern of work and rest. And the intentional setting aside time for when you recharge your batteries and when you actually get out of the battle to be able to go up the mountain and see what’s going on.
I know a lot of faith based business leaders who would claim this is the world’s business, but they don’t have the pattern where they truly set aside time to actually go, “Well what is it you want me to do with the people and the resources you’ve given me?” And because of that, a lot of these that we work with would be what we would call 75 plus. They’re healthy, they’re doing well. To look at them they’re okay. And they add value wherever they go. So they’re adding value to their people, they’re adding value to their church, they’re adding value to their family.
It’s good, but there’s a huge difference between a 75 plus leader and what we would call a 100X leader. Someone who is as healthy as they can possibly be. And that’s means establishing rhythms and patterns so that rest and people are part of their process. But they take on the multiplication challenge. So Jesus last word, which is usually the important one, was to go make disciples. Well in non-Christian vocabulary, which is always helpful, we would say that the intentional multiplication of knowledge, skills, and expertise, is something that most leaders just don’t do. Well if you ever try and do it, you’ll find out why. It’s deeply costly. And there’s absolutely no guarantee you’ll get a return on that investment proportionate to what you put in.
But I would say the leaders who I admire the most and the leaders that I would chose to follow, are not always the most strategic leaders, although that’s important, that anyone who has learnt how to multiply their knowledge, skills, and, expertise, intentionally in the lives of their people, will always end up leading the organizations everyone wants to work for.
So 100X is really that kind of, I guess, clarion call to say to all leaders, but particularity anyone that claims to follow Jesus, that’s really the model he gave us. His life was basically devoted to the intentional multiplication of His ministry into the 3, into the 12, into the 72, into the crowds. And it’s really interesting to ask that Jesus prioritized time for particular people, for particular reasons.
So I always say to people again, “I should be able to look at your calendar, your email list, your bank account, your phone records, and I should be able to see who were apprenticing, who are the 3? Who are you really coaching on a regular basis, who are the 12? Who are the people you’re training and pouring into on maybe a more occasional basis?” So that actually there’s a very intentional strategy for investing the most precious resource leaders have which is their time, their talent, and their treasure. So that’s what a 100X leader is. If you’re accidental and you don’t have an intentional strategy, there is absolutely no way you’ll ever be a 100X leader from my experience.
Ray: So that’s a lot that we’re digesting right there. It’s powerful and it’s very comprehensive. So I’m just going to for a moment, there’s somebody listening right now and they’re going, “Oh, this sounds great, Steve, but you really just don’t get it. You really just don’t understand all the demands. I don’t have time to go gather all these green light decisions and get everybody involved. It’s fast paced. It’s dog eat dog, and yes, I trust Jesus with my business, but I’m too busy for that. That’s sounds good, but I don’t think it would work.” What advice or what response or encouragement would you have to someone who’s, they’re wrestling right now as they’re listening to what you’re sharing? I’m sure you’ve been asked that before.
Steve: Oh, yes absolutely. And I think what I’d say to them is how committed are you really to patterning your life as a business leader on what Jesus did? So I can ask a simple question which is, do you think Jesus was a great example to follow? And they would all go, “Yes.” I mean to, people of all faiths say that Jesus was a great example.
Then the question really is, Ray, is how serious are you about that? Because my belief is, our experience has been that Jesus gave principles for giving life that applied to business and relationships in a way that actually is incredibly powerful when you follow it. So was Jesus always stressed and busy?
Ray: No, no.
Steve: No. Did he get tired through work and the work of the day the Father had given him? Yes. But you’d be hard pushed to say that Jesus always looked like he was massively overrun, stressed, so how did he do it? And all I say to people is, if your life feels massively chaotic and almost as you’re spinning plates all over, you have to go back and ask how did Jesus do it? And I think that helps people. And I think when it comes to multiplication investing in others, it’s always important but it’s never urgent. And that’s the problem. Yes, it’s always urgent when we’re running businesses there’s chaos, there’s things that happen. Life happens. But I think that the biggest picture, you have to ask the question well, what did Jesus prioritize?
So one of the big challenges in the faith world is, if you think of the 3, 12, 72, and crowds, if you ask the question in his three years of public ministry, where did Jesus prioritize time? I’d make a pretty good case of saying he prioritized a few over the many. So he taught the crowds, but basically 18 months of his public ministry was spent on the other side of the Jordan and the Decapolis because in some ways that he understood that the most important legacy as a leader was going to be not how many people followed him and thought he was a great guy, but how many people could actually do the work of ministry that he modeled for them to do?
It’s a lot easier to get the adulation of the crowd, I love it. Honestly, I can stand on a platform and people cheer, that’s a lot less costly than the having people in the ordinariness of your life, learning from watching you handle how you do good days and bad days. And I always say loosely, I totally understand why you might do it, but I think if you happen to call yourself a follower of Jesus, you’ve got less excuse because in the end I’m not sure he gave us an option. When he said, “Hey, last thing I want you to do is go and do for others what I’ve done for you, and pour and invest who you are into the life of others.” I would say personally there’s no greater joy than watching people achieve things and go on to do things greater than you do, ideally, through the fact that you were part of that story.
So 100X came out of the Sherpa. We always say, no on ever climbs Everest. There’s lots of pictures of them on the news of big lions going up Everest, nobody every summons Everest without a Sherpa who’s gone before you. And has basically prepared the way. So the very best leaders are the ones who don’t measure how much did I achieve, and how much publicity did I get? We love the Sherpa’s because they measure their true worth on how many people did I help climb to a level they never would have done if I hadn’t helped them do it. So I feel like I’m preaching now, Ray, so come on. Bring me back to home.
Ray: That’s all right. I almost want to pass the offering plate. That’s good preaching.
Steve: That’s the joy as a businessman, I don’t have to anymore. In the old days I’d have been sorely tempted.
Ray: That’s fantastic. And so, Steve, we have just a few moments remaining in our conversation today. If you could go back and advise the 20 year old Steve Cockram, what would be that advice that you would give to the 20 year old you?
Steve: I think the first is to work on self awareness. To really take the time to understand what’s it like to be on the other side of you. Hold up the mirror, find people that have got tools to help you do that. I think for me would be one of the most important things because you have to know yourself. I mean, I know my self so well now, I look back I didn’t discipline talent . I was naturally lazy but naturally talented. I thought that was a virtue, but actually looking back it was probably I wasn’t a good steward of all the talents I was given when I was growing up. But if I’d known myself, I’d have known that tendency, and I could have chosen a different action.
And I think the other thing would be is to say, and I’m not sure whether you can learn this, Ray, without actual experience, but I think that actually there’s a huge difference between you believing that you are doing something that God called you to do, and doing something where you generally believe without Him it cannot happen. I think looking back I thought, point me in the right direction, I’m your man, I’ll make it happen. As opposed to, if you don’t abide in me and my love doesn’t remain, then you can do nothing. That’s the John 15, that’s been a huge part of, I guess, my learning. Where actually in some ways, abide in me, remain in me, and you’ll bear much fruit. If you don’t, then basically it doesn’t matter how much effort you put in in your own strength, you won’t see fruit.
So that’s another reason why I guess for me, pace your lead. When I’m working and scurrying, it’s usually because I think it’s down to me. When I’m learning to abide and recognize what is the work of the day? What is the yolk that is easy and light? Now if I rest myself, that’s when I know that I’m in a place where I’m co-laboring with the one who has all the results in the world and that feels very, very different. So that would be the two things I wish I could have told my 20 years old self, Ray.
Ray: That’s powerful. And so, one of the things we define as success here at Bottom Line Faith is if one person, Steve, can be hearing this conversation and be encouraged to take that next step of obedience, of who and what God has called them to be, and as a Christ follower in business and in leadership, that that person they know we’re talking to them right now. They’re discouraged, they’re frustrated, what encouragement would you pass along to them as a follower in Christ in business, wanting to obey Christ in business?
Steve: I think business in of itself can sometimes become your identity, and therefore we define our identity through what we achieve and that’s always a dangerous place to be. So I think you have to keep going back to this, for me, this fundamental identity understanding of who am I at my core? Am I Steve Cockram who’s running a business called GiANT? Or am I first and foremost a dearly loved child of The King?
Steve: You basically, my identity is not conferred upon me because of what I do, but because of who I am. So I think I met a lot of people who are still striving to prove themselves to others. And actually, sometimes I think just to know there is nothing I can ever do or perform, or earn, that would ever actually make me worthy to be a child of God. But once I understand that’s my identity, He confers above me. I am a co-heir with Christ. The Spirit that raised Christ that lives in me. That is who I am.
I don’t know about you, but in Britain we often go to dinner parties and the first question people ask is, “What do you do?” And basically, a lot of people say, “I’m just a this, or I’m just a that,” and I’m sometimes tempted to say to people, “Well, if you really want to ask who I am and what do I do, I am Steve Cockram, I’m a dearly loved child of The King. I’m a co-heir with Christ. The Spirit that raised Christ that lives in me, and I get every day to be about my Father’s business. What about you? What do you do?” Now I don’t do it very often, but I think that’s the thing that I would say to anyone in their business. When you’re fearing failure, you always get a sense of how much is your faith in you and how much is the trust in the father that says every provision in the world is mine?
I feared failure until I really failed. And then I realized that actually it was used as a vehicle for refining character and sadly, my father is more interested in refining my character than necessary developing my competence. I’d much rather be judged from competence because I’m better at that. But he keeps saying, “I’m working on your character, because I want you to trust me.” And I think that’s the hardest thing for most people. You either trust yourself when things are going well, or you get fearful when things are going badly. Either way, you’ve forgotten who you are and whose you are, is my little word to anyone listening that that’s helpful for.
Ray: That is so spot on. And you just nailed this inter tension that I am here from Christ followers over, and over again, between the trust factor and the do factor, that is powerful. Well, Steve, we’re winding down here to our time together. One more time, I’ve got just one more question for you, but one more time before we depart, what’s the best way for our listening audience to follow up with you or to learn more about you or GiANT?
Steve: So my personal email, Ray, is Steve@giantworldwide.com. That’s probably the easiest way, and all social media, I’m on Facebook as Steve Cockram, LinkedIn, Instagram, all those usual places. I’m happy to correspond with anyone who has questions or would like to know more because I love talking about this stuff. It’s, I guess, a passion of who I am that I get to express who I am in multiple dimensions now, not just in faith but in business and entrepreneurship, so happy to help anyone who would value a conversation.
Ray: That’s fantastic. So Steve, the last question, my regular listeners here at Bottom Line Faith know this is what I always close the program with, is what I call my 4:23 question. Of course, based out of Proverbs 4:23, where Solomon writes, Above all else, guard your heart for it determines the course of your life. So Steve, if you have an opportunity toward the tail end of your time this side of eternity, here on Earth, and you had a chance to gather your family, your friends, your loved ones, and to pass along the single greatest piece of advice. I’d like you to fill in the blank for our audience today. How would you answer the question, above all else?
Steve: Gosh. Above all else I think that for me personally, it really goes back to The Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Most entrepreneurial business leaders actually think they want things to be made perfect in their strength, and for me, what I’ve discovered is that my strength is very limited but me weakness are lined with His strength is incredible.
So I think that fundamental belief, you have to get to a point which says, without you Lord, I can do nothing. That doesn’t mean I can’t have lots of activity and lots of hot air, and maybe even some success, but if I don’t abide in you, and your love remain in me, then in the end, it’s usually worthless. But that bit for me I think, my grace is sufficient for you, or my powers made perfect in your weakness, and I think that for me is a constant reminder that actually I own my weakness and Paul then says, “Well I boasted my weakness then.”
I think in someways for most people to actually own their weakness, to boast in it and say, “Hey anything good that happens, any growth that happens, anything good that’s going on in my business, is more likely to be the work of The Lord’s grace in my weakness than it is in me being clever.” And I think that is one of those things, because staying humble, humility is, I think, one of the key mental’s for leadership. Because the moment you believe your own publicity and you’re never far from a fall. So humility, and actually recognizing that it’s our weakness that is the context for his strength.
Ray: That’s fantastic. Well folks, we have been speaking today with Steve Cockram, co-founder of GiANT. Folks, check out their latest book, The 100X Leader. Previous books include The 5 Leadership Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead. As well as, 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time. And I feel like that, Steve, I don’t feel like we’ve had enough time today, so I’m going to invite you back. I can’t thank you enough. Thank you so much for being our guest today and encouraging our listeners here at Bottom Line Faith.
Steve: Thank you, Ray. Pleasure.
Ray: Well folks, that was an amazing conversation from Steve Cockram, co-founder of GiANT. Listen, the best thing you can do to help us is spread the word. Go online, give us a review of today’s conversation or any of our other interviews. Share it with your friends, with your family, with your co-workers, and associates. Help us spread these amazing stories of leaders who are living out their faith every day in the market place. Until next time, I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, Ray Hilbert, encouraging you to live out your faith every day in the market place. God bless and we’ll see you next time.