Be The Leader Your Team Deserves With Josh Copeland

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Podcasts

Speakers Who Get Results | Josh Copeland | Leader

 

Be the leader your team deserves; that means delivering not only what you can do but embracing who you are. As a leader, it can be so easy to lose ourselves under the weight of our role. But that will only be a disservice to you and the people around you. Josh Copeland reminds us in this episode that we need to be selfish, so we can be selfless. That way, we can fully show up as our best and be the leader our team needs and deserves. Josh is a powerful motivational speaker whose speeches help people maximize their full potential in their careers and their personal lives. Tune in to this conversation and find motivation in your role as a leader. Let Josh and our very own Elizabeth Bachman show you that you can still be the best and still be sane by the end of it.

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Be The Leader Your Team Deserves With Josh Copeland

This is the show where we talk about leadership skills, communication, and how to be the best leader that you can and still be sane by the end of it. Before I get into my wonderful guest, I’d like to invite you to see where your presentation skills are strong by taking our free four-minute assessment at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where you can see where you’re strong and where perhaps a little bit of support could get you the results you need and the recognition that you deserve. My guest is Josh Copeland. Josh was very helpful to me because I had a crisis. I had somebody who had to reschedule and I needed a speaker in a hurry. I only met him 24 hours ago. He got everything organized so that he could come and talk to us in a borrowed office.

He’s not in his regular office, but he showed up and shared a great deal of wisdom. The official bio for Josh is that Josh Copeland is a powerful motivational speaker whose speeches help people maximize their full potential in their careers and personal lives. He helps people become the best version of themselves, which will lead to them being the best partners, spouses, parents, and employees they can be. He’s very interested in being a good ally to the women in his life, including his daughter. He means a lot about women’s empowerment and equity.

Josh is a native of Fairborn, Ohio and he received a scholarship to play college football for the University of Buffalo. However, after graduation, he didn’t make it to the NFL and he had to realize he was in the 95% that didn’t get chosen. He moved back home and had a hard time finding his way when he wasn’t the football star he had been before. He struggled with depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse, trying to cope with transitioning to life after sports.

Josh started his company Learning 2 Cope LLC in 2017 and has impacted thousands of lives across the country with his message. Along with workshops and motivational speeches, he also offers training and professional development for businesses. He helps employers connect with their employees and helps bridge the gap between generations to make a healthy work environment for all. I had a delightful conversation with Josh. I’m glad I met him. We were going to keep talking. Onto the interview with Josh Copeland.

Josh Copeland, thank you so much for coming in and joining us on the show.

Thank you for having me. I’m excited. I’m honored to be here and I’m looking forward to our conversation.

Me too. I’ve much that I’ve read about you, about Josh Copeland Speaks, and all of that. I said, “This is someone who has some serious wisdom to share.” I’m going to ask you about that. Before I start, let me ask you, who would be your dream interview? If you could interview someone who’s no longer with us, who would it be? What would you ask them and who should be listening?

Be Selfish so you can be Selfless. Share on X

One of my favorite people ever in history is Harriet Tubman. She was an American slave. I would ask her about the courage it took because she ran away and then she came back to free her friends, family, and loved ones.

This is post-American Civil War.

I would ask her about the courage it took and then also the fear that’s involved as well because to do something great, which she did, you had to overcome some fear. I would love to have that conversation with her.

In order to do something great, you have to overcome some fear. Share on X

That would be great. I’ve often wondered if she ever lay awake at night and thought, “I’m not doing enough for the people I have rescued. Look at all those others who are suffering. Why can’t I do more? Why is nobody helping me? Why aren’t all those abolitionists in Boston who think I’m great aren’t they coming with me to help?”

This is what I tell people, and I’ve learned this the hard way in my life. You can’t help and save everybody. No matter how many people you help or reach, there are always going to be some that you can’t do, that won’t go with you, or that are not able to connect with. She’s a phenomenal person, but I wondered that as well. I wish she sat there and thought, “I wish I could do more,” which is crazy to think because she has done so much, but there’s always that other side of it.

You are a motivational speaker having come from a background as a football player. Could you tell us briefly about that journey? What got you here?

I played American football. I played sports my whole life. There’s a weird thing about playing sports or being good at something where people look at you, they fall in love with what you can do more than who you are. When you’re highly successful and when you can achieve something, people fall in love with what you can do more than who you are. The problem that I had was that I fell in love with what I could do more than who I was as well. I fell into an identity crisis because football and sports were my whole life.

Speakers Who Get Results | Josh Copeland | Leader

Leader: When you’re highly successful and when you can achieve something, people fall in love with what you can do more than who you are.

 

After I graduated and I didn’t make the NFL at a professional team league, I struggled. I battled depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse. I had a DUI. I had a real scare with a panic attack from mixing drugs and alcohol and I was on a downward spiral. The whole time I was going on this downward spiral, the high school I graduated from would ask me to come speak to the students because I’m an alumnus. I graduated. I would go back and speak. The whole time I’m dealing with all this behind me, but I’m still trying to impact the people in front of me. What led to the motivational speaking thing is that I was able to see that I could make an impact on people’s lives and encourage and empower them, but I had to first do it for myself.

That speaks to a history I know very well because, in the opera business, it’s the same. I did 30 years in the opera business and fewer than 5% of people who get Master’s degrees in the Arts even wind up making a living that way. It’s very similar statistics to sports. When my opera career ended, basically the phone stopped ringing. I went through about two years of not knowing who I was. I had some physical challenges at the same thing. I couldn’t do anything. I get it. I’ve been there. For people who had their whole identity caught up in their jobs or what they could do, how do you then learn to see the you who’s behind what you can do?

That’s extremely difficult because you forget that you’re a person because you’re doing many things that you forget that you’re an actual person, you have human emotion and you go through things that humans go through. There’s a certain point that when you’re successful or you are doing good at something, in a way you think you’re above being a human. You don’t develop and you stop developing and prioritizing yourself because you start to prioritize everything else you have to do. When you do that for long, you lose yourself and you become your job, not the person that does the job.

I tell people that it’s important to figure out who you are outside of what you do because what you do is just a part of who you are, but you have to be able to know the person who makes all that go through. One of the problems is we don’t know ourselves. We spend all day 24/7, 365 with ourselves, but we don’t know the person we spend the most amount of time with because we get so caught up in what we do.

It's so important to figure out who you are outside of what you do because what you do is just a part of who you are. Share on X

For many of us, you have to get to a point where you crash, fail, where something happens and you have to sit down and say who you are. I knew a very famous opera singer once who was world famous and lived his whole life in fear because people loved his voice and what he could do, who he was as a brand. He was terrified to figure out who he was as a person. Ultimately, I think he died without ever having gotten to that. It was a big lesson for me to say, “You can be rich, world-famous, and have fans following you everywhere. If you don’t know who you are in yourself, it does not necessarily get you that happiness.”

Happiness is internal. Many times, we look for external things and external validation to bring us happiness and we realize all along that it’s internal and it’s up to us. When we are successful at something, we forget that aspect of it.

Talk to me a little bit more about, “Being selfish in order to be selfless.” I love that phrase.

That came to me after my panic attack. I was always the helper. I didn’t drink alcohol in high school or college. I was always the designated driver. I was always the responsible one. When I had my panic attack, I was calling people and nobody was there to answer. It was 3:00 in the morning. I’m running down a college campus and nobody is answering the phone. I get up the next morning and I realize that I need to be selfish, take care of myself, and do the things I need to do to make sure I’m fine before I can help other people.

“Be selfish so you can be selfless” means exactly that. Many times people think that being selfish is a bad thing, but sometimes you have to secure yourself first before you can help other people. The perfect example of this is Harriet Tubman. I told you she’s one of my favorite people. She was an American slave. She ran away. She had freedom by herself. She was selfish at that moment, but she came back to get her friends, families, and loved ones. She was selfish and then was able to be selfless. That’s why I tell people all the time, “Sometimes you have to secure yourself and be selfless so you can be selfless.”

I think from Harriet Tubman, at least I know this from the movie, when she went back to her husband, he thought she was dead. He had remarried. It’s like, “It’s not necessarily there if you go back for that.” She was living in a story which turned out not to be the same story and she still kept going.

Sometimes when you take the leap of faith and when you go do the things that you think you’re called to do and that you know you’re called to do, you have to leave people behind. Sometimes when you come back with a better version of yourself, some people are not ready to receive that because they keep remembering you from the old version when you left. You have to be willing to move forward even if people still want to hold you in a certain box.

How do you get the support then to do that? It seems sounds like a very lonely thing. Anyone who gets to a certain stage in life, you’ve been through things like that, how do you recommend having the courage to ask for help? Where do you find that courage?

That’s a big one. Growing up playing American sports, there was this big misconception that asking for help is a weakness and that you’re either mentally weak if you ask for help for mental health reasons or you’re physically weak if you ask for help. It’s this idea that you’re weak, but asking for help is a strength. It takes a strong person to realize where they lack in, where they need help, and to get the help. That’s a strong individual.

Speakers Who Get Results | Josh Copeland | Leader

Leader: Asking for help is a strength. It takes a strong person to realize where they lack and where they need help and to get the help.

 

You have to understand that you don’t know it all and that there are people out there who do, even when it comes to yourself, we don’t know ourselves in that complete way. Some people can help you figure out who you are and become the best version of yourself. The first step is doing it. It sounds like an easy thing, but I know it’s not. It sounds easy when you say, “Go ask for help. That’s what it comes down to.” You talked about it. Sometimes we ask for help when it’s too late when we’ve already crashed. When we’re already at the bottom of the hill or the pit is when we ask for help. Sometimes if you know you’re spiraling out of control, that’s when you ask for help for preventative maintenance.

The people who love you, many of them love you more if they’re allowed to help. If you let them in enough, you say, “Will you help me?”

That can be hard to do because now you have to overcome some preconceived notions of that person and they have to overcome some preconceived notions of you. There are some vulnerabilities in asking for help because now you’re exposing the softest, most vulnerable side of you that needs help. That can be scary because now you’re leaving your vulnerability in somebody’s hands.

This now leads me to those who are tuning in. What you can’t see is he’s got a great hat on. It’s part of the brand. I know that you’re working from a borrowed office so you don’t have the whole setup, but your hat is part of your brand. Tell us about what your hat says and why you wear that.

My hat says, “You are not a mistake.” I heard a coach say this one day and it changed my whole perspective because many times, especially if you have a lot asked of you, especially if you are in a position with a lot of responsibility, a team leader, a manager, or whatever the case may be, there’s a lot asked of you. Sometimes you may feel like if you make a mistake, everything is going to start crumbling down, and then it makes you feel like you are the mistake.

Women and minorities think it’s not safe to make a mistake because then that proves that everybody who looks like you makes those mistakes. We’re getting better about that as a society, but it’s still out there.

It is tough because you realize that you have to work twice as hard, sometimes three times as hard to get the same thing if not close to it. You feel like you represent the whole race and a whole demographic of people are on your shoulders. There’s a lot of pressure there because if you don’t do a good job or you make a mistake, you think they might not bring somebody else that looks like you. That’s the bad thing. We have to get over it, but there’s this idea that there can only be one that looks like you that is the same color. Once we get that one, then we’ve checked that box. It’s tough. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells a lot.

It makes you a better and stronger person. It’s one of those myths that we get saddled with where maybe 10% of it’s true. I’ve had several conversations on this show with very smart people who I’ve said, “What do you do if you’re the one who screwed up?” Being a recovering perfectionist myself, I always thought I had to be perfect. It took me a long time to learn to be vulnerable and that sometimes there is a mistake you can’t fix. You have to move on. On the bad days at 3:00, I remember every single one of them. I try not to go there again. You talk often about being the leader your team deserves, which I have a feeling involves all of this. Talk to me more about that. What do you mean by that and what can we do?

I love talking to leaders about being the leader that the team deserves. The first thing I do is circle back to being the person that you deserve because I think that everything starts with you. If you can become the best version of yourself, whatever that looks like for you, that will allow you to become the best leader, spouse, or mother. It all starts with you. Many times we neglect the person who makes all these things happen. When I talk about these things, I circle it back to, “Are you doing the things that will make you the best leader for yourself?” Once you do those things, whatever that looks like, now you can become the best leader for your team.

Everything starts with you. If you can become the best version of yourself, whatever that looks like for you, that will allow you to become the best leader. Share on X

I suddenly had a flash of my mother who used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” If we’re trying to be the best person we can be, how do we then step forward and be a leader? You can still be the best person you can be and still not lead. Where does that come in?

This is just me. I believe that some people are born natural leaders, but leadership is a skill that you can develop. Once you tackle your own things that are holding you back, like becoming the best version of yourself, that will allow you then to be able to learn the skills of leadership, communication, and accepting constructive criticism. This is what I see in the work that I do. Sometimes there are a lot of reasons why somebody is not reaching their full potential in their job space. Sometimes a lot of it deals with stuff outside of the workplace and deals with either at home or deals with their kids or something that is taking your mind off of that.

That’s why I say that once you start developing that and handling who you are as a person and managing those things, then it’s easier to say, “Now let me go take this class. Let me learn how to do this leadership training. I could be wrong, but correct me if I’m wrong.’” If you have a lot of things going on in your life you’re not addressing, if somebody gives you constructive criticism, you feel like it’s a personal attack. It’s not necessarily what they’re giving you, it’s what you are dealing with. Now this is somebody else who’s telling me I’m doing something wrong as opposed to taking it and saying, “You are right. I could do this a little bit better and let me work on that.”

Another thing I would think, and I’d be curious how you address this, is recognizing that what works for you isn’t necessarily going to work for everybody else.

A big part of being a leader is understanding how everybody learns and works the best. Being part of teams my whole life, you have to manage people and say that what works for you may not work for them. As a leader, you have to be able to balance that and know your subject matter so well that you can teach it and explain it in different ways to different people who learn different ways or to learn the most out of people.

Also, accept that their solution might not be the one that you would’ve done, but as long as it gets the job done, that works. I imagine you have some lessons from your years in a team and sports that translate now to business.

Are you talking about me personally, in business, or in general?

In general, things that you’ve learned on a team. I was never very good at team sports. That’s something that I tried to learn from people who learned that. I was better with solo sports or the teamwork of creating an opera. That I could do. There must be things like learning to rely on others and when to take charge and when not.

There’s a lot of correlation between sports in general, life, and business. Part of being a team is understanding that I have a job and they have a job. I’m not trying to do their job and I’m trusting that they’re going to do their job and they’re trusting that I’m going to do my job. I’m going to hold them accountable. There’s an accountability factor that’s a part of that. It translates well in business because, in business, I have to hold you accountable for what you do and say.

In team sports, everybody has a goal. Just like a business, everybody has a goal to hit on certain metrics or numbers or things like that, but this is also individualized because you have to do your job to the best of your ability, and then trust that the next person is doing their job to the best of their ability. That’s how you move forward as a team. As a leader, you have to be able to realize the full potential in somebody and how to bring that out so they can be the best version of whatever their position or whatever their job title to help the whole company grow.

Speakers Who Get Results | Josh Copeland | Leader

Leader: As a leader, you have to be able to realize the full potential in somebody and how to bring that out so they can be the best version of that.

 

I know you work a lot with young people. How young is too young to learn about leadership?

You are never too young. I have a three-year-old daughter. I’m teaching her about leadership by leading by example. You could teach a kid to lead by example. I talk a lot about controlling what you can control. For her, it’s controlling what you say and what you do and teaching her that there are certain things to say and not say and lead by example no matter what her friends are doing. It trickles up. In high school, you could talk about leading by example, putting others along, and encouraging. In the job world and the working world, it brings in a whole lot of life experience in balancing life. When you leave home, how do you do that in an effective way to make sure that you’re a leader at home and in the workplace? It’s never too young to learn about being a leader.

This has been interesting and fun. Could you leave us with one concrete thing we could do? We get to the end of the show and you think, “I’m going to be the best leader I can and the leader that my team deserves.” Where should we start? One thing to start with.

I’m going to give you two that go hand in hand if that’s okay.

Two is even better.

The first way to start is you have to identify and answer yourself, where you want to go, what is your version of being a leader, and what that looks like for you and your company. Once you identify that, it becomes clarity. Identify clearly what that is that you’re looking to achieve and then tag in why you want to achieve it. The why is just as important as the what. Most people stop with, “I want to do this. This is how.

Identify what you want to do, which direction you want to go in your career, where you want to take the team, why you want to do that, and then how can you make that possible. Those are three steps. You write all that down. I’m big on journaling. I say that very vaguely because it’s different for everybody. You talked about what works for one person doesn’t work for somebody else. Identifying the what, why, and how will cover no matter what your position is if you can do those things.

I would add that it’s okay to be ambitious. Many of us grew up being told, “Don’t brag.” The one that I grew up with was, “Good girls don’t brag.” It’s okay to be ambitious. As you’re ambitious, think about the impact you can make if you’ve achieved this step. You don’t have to get to the CEO. You can make an impact on the way. I often think that recognition is one of the basic human needs. It’s one of the ones that women aren’t supposed to acknowledge.

It’s okay to be ambitious and then be smart about it. How are you going to get there without alienating people? Society says, “Women aren’t supposed to be ambitious.” This is one of my rants. It’s very interesting. Josh, thank you so much for jumping in at the last minute. I’m glad we got a chance to talk. We only met recently and put this together. It was a great conversation. To our audience, if you enjoyed this conversation, tell your friends, share the episode, and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts because that’s the one that people count. Please leave us a good review, and spread the word. In the meantime, I will see you on the next one.

 

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About Josh Copeland

Speakers Who Get Results | Josh Copeland | LeaderJosh Copeland is a powerful motivational speaker whose speeches help people maximize their full potential in their careers and in their personal life. He helps people become the best version of themselves, which will lead to them being the best partner, spouse, parent, and employee they can be.

Josh is a native of Fairborn, OH and received a scholarship to play college football for the University of Buffalo. After graduation, he moved back home and had a hard time finding his way. He struggled with depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse trying to cope with transitioning to life after sports. He started his company Learning 2 Cope LLC in 2017 and has impacted thousands of lives across the country with his message.

Along with the workshops and motivational speeches, he also offers trainings and professional development for businesses. He helps employers connect with their employees and helps bridge the gap between generations to make a healthy work environment for all.