Real Leaders

Lead Like a Musher: How Leading from Behind Can Drive Effective Change

PODCAST PEOPLE: A Summary from the Real Leaders Podcast

“I think when you’re in alignment with what is truly in your soul, the discipline comes easy. And there is no place on earth that I wanted to be except on ice. And I was willing to sacrifice quite a bit for that dream.”

Val Jones is a former professional figure skater and current author, motivational speaker, peak performance expert, and fitness instructor. She helps executives lead from behind to establish and maintain peak performance habits and mindset.

The following is a summary of Episode 132 of the Real Leaders Podcast, a conversation with figure skater and performance coach Val Jones. Watch, read, or listen to the full conversation below.

An Event, Not a Description

Val shares her journey as a professional figure skater which helped shape her philosophies on human potential. A devastating injury prevented her from ever reaching Olympic status, but helped her to gain a more holistic view of “failure” and a chance to reevaluate herself. This insight she now channels into coaching others, helping them to learn through their athletic or business objectives that negative outcomes are merely events, rather than destinations, and that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.

I think that there’s a difference between being cocky, which says I can just show up, I haven’t done the work, and I’m still going to win. Versus confidence, which says, I know I’ve put in the hours, I know I’ve done the theoretical reps. And I know that when I do my best, my best is good enough. But here’s the catch. Even when you do your best, you cannot control the outcome.

Listen to Episode 132 on Spotify, Anchor, Crowdcast, and Apple Podcasts

Lead from Behind

Val encountered a life-changing representation of leadership while on a dog-sledding team. The head musher preparing her for the ride explained that the musher’s role was the most important because he was at the back of the team and had the ability to see how each individual member in front was faring. The musher has to lead from behind, determining who on the team is struggling and when to switch them out so the group can finish the race — the only way to succeed is to be united in a common goal.

“I don’t think leading from the front is a bad thing, as far as work ethic or attitude, but if you’re leading from the front, how do you know what’s behind you? How do you know if your partners and your teammates are fatigued or bored or injured? And so it just dawned on me, that is the most beautiful representation of leadership. And I learned it from a sled dog.”



Find more of Val’s insights here:

Most Recent Articles