John Maxwell needs little introduction. A noted leadership and communication guru he is sought-after the world over for his accumulated expertise and wisdom. Actually, that is only half of his attraction. The other side of the coin is that Dr. Maxwell is a brilliant communicator himself, taking people with him on journeys of belief and expectation.
So when a new book from this New York Times Best-Selling stable is released with the title, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect there is a lot to anticipate.
I have a handful of Maxwell’s 30+ books on my bookshelves and have learnt much from him already. As a young man with a vision of my own I gravitate towards inspirational men who have can-do attitudes. These may be men I know and work with, men such as Carl Beech or the late Dr. Kit Lauer. Or these may be men I observe from afar such as Dr. John Piper and Dr. John Maxwell. Positive, forward-moving, encouraging people are attractive and also vital to the health of a vision, movement, organisation or team etc.
What I experienced first hand with Kit and from a distance with John Piper, is a strong arm around the shoulder championing me and urging my forwards with clarity and fidelity towards my goals. What men like Carl do is enable you to see mountains as targets for tunnels instead of dreaded obstacles of setback.
John Maxwell encompasses these traits and more and manages to convey them clearly, through the excellent help of his writer, Charlie Wetzel.
How I Read Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
I read this book a chapter a morning, marking up the book where things stood out to me and interacting in the form of asking questions of the text and it’s application to me. I also keep a Moleskin notebook where I can chew over thoughts that come to me from the text. Essentially, the notebook is a place for my ideas to roam with more space to breathe. So to speak.
Reading at this pace allowed me to think through the chapter for the rest of the day. I was taking each chapter as a separate lesson and gleaning what I could from it before progressing. The highlighting of the text will serve me well when I return to the book in reference at a later date.
What I Learnt From Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
With wisdom springing from every page it would require a lot of space to reflect on all the lessons that I have learnt. Here’s just one point that came home to me from chapter 2, Connecting Is All About Others. Essentially, what I learn was that if my agenda demands that I talk about me, without taking into consideration the thoughts, views, feelings, expectations and requirements of the person/people I’m trying to connect to I’ll lose my audience.
I must possess a genuine care and concern for my audience if I am serious about communication actually taking place.
This is highlighted through a question Maxwell asks:
“Think about the best experiences you’ve had with people in your life. Really stop for a moment, and try to recall three or four of those experiences. What do they all have in common? I bet that the person or people involved in them genuinely cared about you!”
Immediately my friend, Trevor, sprang to mind. Trevor jumped on a plane with me when he heard about a situation I was facing and thought to himself that I could do with the support of a friend. A red-eye across 6 time zones at the drop of a hat, no questions asked. Yeah, that was an experience created through genuine care that I’ll never forget.
The truth is, there is a wealth of wisdom in everyone Maxwell book, and Everyone Communicates, Few Connect has chock-full. One gem I have taken from earlier books is this little maxim: “Vision comes first, resources will follow.” To this day I can be heard muttering that to myself when big opportunities appear on the horizon!
Two lessons that I take from this book as a whole and from Dr. Maxwell in general are these:
- Stories have immense potential as connectors
- Competence counts for nothing when character is lacking
Ravi Zacharias is a master story teller. The famed Christian Apologist has a gift for communicating compelling truths through the brilliant use of timely stories. Indeed, most memorable lessons I have learnt from Dr. Zacharias come off the back of a well told-story.
John Maxwell is also a champion of this method. Stories, little anecdotes, a personal tale, they are all used to engage the imagination and home in on the point at hand. These stories have been amassed over time and it is a skill that has been invested in. So now I keep notes on stories through my Moleskin or in my ‘Clippings’ folder on my laptop.
Dr. Os Guinness wrote a short book entitled ‘Character Counts’. This book examines the characters of four noted leaders from History. The premise is simple, to succeed in leadership and life in general your character is crucial.
John Maxwell chooses to finish his book on this note as well. It is something that Maxwell takes pain to highlight throughout the entirety of his writings. It is the point that demands the most reflection from the reader.
“Credibility is currency for leaders and communicators. With it, they are solvent; without it they are bankrupt.”
We are only credible to the point that our character backs up our what we say. If we say one thing and don’t appear to live it then we are contradicting ourselves and poisoning our message. Character development, whilst often slow and sometimes painful is the only way to both land and sustain your message. So if you have something to say, put in the time to work on your character so when you say it your message is heard and received.
There are no short cuts to a robust character. Like getting fit it’s tough, but worth it.