Archive for John C. Maxwell

WORDS TO LEARN BY by John C. Maxwell

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Words to Learn By with tags , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2011 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, and my own personal and business blogs, at Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO you will find the writings and videos of various thought leaders.

WORDS TO LEARN BY by John C. Maxwell

In my years of studying leadership and evaluating leaders, I have stumbled across a leadership shortcoming that continually amazes me. Leaders will manage a team, work with the same individuals every day, yet they hardly know anything about their people! These leaders have never prioritized acquainting themselves with the dreams, thoughts, hopes, opinions and values of those they lead.

The best leaders are readers of people. They have the intuitive ability to understand others by discerning how they feel and recognizing what they sense.

I have found that leaders overestimate the amount of time and effort needed to get to know someone. In fact, in only one hour with you in private conversation, I could, probably by asking three questions, find the passion of your life:

What do you dream about?

A person’s dreams are powerful revealers of passion. When a person starts to talk about their dreams, it’s as if something bubbles up from within. Their eyes brighten, their face glows, and you can feel the excitement in their words.

What do you cry about?

Passion can be uncovered by peering into the hurts deep inside a human soul. The experience of pain or loss can be a formidably motivating force. When listening to a story of grief, you hear a voice thick with emotion, you see watery eyes flooded with feeling, and in that moment, you glimpse the intense connections between a person’s deepest pain and their greatest passion.

What makes you happy?

I have fun hearing what makes people tick and seeing the smile that comes when they talk about where they find joy. Enjoyment is an incredible energizer to the human spirit. When a person operates in an area of pleasure, they are apt to be brimming with life and exuding passion.

If you can uncover a person’s dreams, hurts and joys, you’ve discovered the central dimensions of their life. This lesson is designed to show you the types of questions that can draw out the passion inside of a person. I’ve included my own answers to give you an understanding of how the process works. Try to limit your answers to one or two words. Also, notice how each question is asked both positively (what makes you happy?) and negatively (what makes you cry?). I have found that by expressing opposite feelings and emotions, you reveal your true inner self.

To maximize this lesson, I’ll give you four easy assignments.

1. Ask yourself and answer the questions posed in the lesson. In doing so, you’ll enhance your self-awareness.
2. Share your answers with your team to allow them to learn about you.
3. Ask your team to answer the questions to encourage their self-discovery.
4. Ask your team to share their answers with one another. This practice will bring team members closer together.

What is your biggest asset?
My greatest asset is my attitude. I discovered this when I was in high school, and the coach of my basketball team appointed me as team captain at the beginning of the year.

I was surprised because I wasn’t the best player on the team. John Thomas was the best player. I was the second- or third-best player, but I wasn’t the best. I was sitting on the floor of the gymnasium with my teammates, and I think the same question was in all of our minds: Why is John Maxwell going to be the captain of the team?

Anticipating our questions, our coach gave an explanation, “Of all the players on this team, the kid with the best attitude is John Maxwell. He doesn’t get discouraged, he believes that we’ll win the game, and he’s going to be the captain of the team.”

What is your biggest liability?
My biggest liability is unrealistic expectations. As with many weaknesses, my unrealistic expectations are the Achilles’ heel of my strength.

Many years ago I quit hiring, and I have stayed away from it ever since because I’m a terrible hirer. Why? Because I naturally look for the best in people. When I see a potential employee, I see the raw talent, and I begin thinking about how I can help shape the person into a star. I’ve had numerous failures hiring lousy leaders because I convinced myself I could mold a flawed leader into a top performer.

What do you like most from others?
For me, it’s encouragement. Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul, in that it allows you to breathe. Encouragement supports and sustains leadership, especially during the hard times.

What do I like least from others?
I cannot stand people who make excuses—blamers, complainers and explainers who refuse to accept responsibility for their mistakes.

I admire a person who will admit their faults, since it shows me the inner character of that individual. I can accept another’s imperfection if they take ownership of their errors, because we’re all human, and we all fail from time to time.

What is the best thing to have?
I think the best thing to have is friends. For me, nothing compares to the joy and fulfillment of going through life with friends you can laugh with, cry with and celebrate alongside.

What is the worst thing not to have?
I can’t imagine a life without hope. Even if my health is failing or my financial situation is grim, if I have hope, I can see a way out of my difficulties.

Hope is the foundation of all change. When people come to me as leaders, and they say, “I want to create change within my organization. What should I do?” My response is the obvious answer, “You have to create hope.” Nobody changes unless they think life is going to improve. Hope is the motivation that allows people to change.

– John C. Maxwell

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Robert Finkelstein, for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

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TRUSTING YOUR INTUITIVE INSTINCTS by Dr. John C. Maxwell

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Trusting Your Intuitive Instincts with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2011 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, and my own personal and business blogs, at Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO you will find the writings and videos of various thought leaders.

TRUSTING YOUR INTUITIVE INSTINCTS by Dr. John C. Maxwell

Survey after survey has noted that top leaders are able to make tough decisions, in part, because they have learned to trust their intuitive instincts. Henry Mintzberg of McGill University said, “Organizational effectiveness does not lie in that narrow-minded concept called rationality. It lies in the blend of clear headed logic and powerful intuition.”

Intuitive people tend to be able to plunge right into a problem, gathering information and facts on the run while also listening for that inner voice that speaks truth. People looking in from the outside might interpret these actions as impulsive. In reality, they are able to make quick decisions based on a lifetime of accumulated wisdom and understanding.

While intuition does appear stronger in some people than in others, I believe that any leader can learn to be more intuitive. It is simply a matter of learning to trust your heart.

Sometimes the first step toward trusting your heart is simply acknowledging and letting go of our absolute trust in logic. Roy Rowan said, “This feeling, this little whisper from deep inside your brain, may contain far more information – both facts and impressions – than you’re likely to obtain from hours of analysis.”

I don’t have to know how an internal combustion engine works to drive a car. Neither do I have to know why I know what I know! Intuitiveness will also be stifled if we believe we cannot change, should not change, or if we refuse to cultivate a flexible attitude.

There is a certain element of risk in intuitive leadership, but that is the very nature of leadership. Andr Gide said, “One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” A neglect of cultivating intuition results from doing what is safe and secure. I can’t think of very many things of value that are won by staying safe and secure.

While leaning on your intuition is a leadership advantage, it can also be a weakness. You’ll gain the trust of others when your intuitions lead to good decisions. And you’ll forfeit trust when you fail because you continually ignore the wise advice of those around you. Robert Heller said, “Never ignore a great feeling, but never believe that it’s enough.” Great leaders learn to trust the intuition of their confidantes as well.

I’ve tried to pay attention to how I make a decision, and here are some steps I’ve developed for tapping into my intuitive instincts:

1. Write down the issue at hand.

2. Identify as many options as possible.

3. Pull away from the process and pray.

4. Start playing out consequences of your options, eliminating them one by one.

5. Bounce a couple of your top options off of wise people both inside and outside your organization.

6. Do a heart check. This involves looking at:
My motive – “Why am I doing this?”
My responsibility – “Should I be doing this?”
My emotional status – “Can I feel right about doing this?”

7. Make a decision.

8. Hold to that decision.

No leader ever reaches perfection when it comes to decision-making. But a leader who strives to obtain all the facts possible, who trusts the intuition of his or her team members, and who cultivates and trusts his or her own intuition will have a batting average good enough for the Hall of Fame!

– Dr. John C. Maxwell

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session, for more information, please refer to my Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email me at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. I welcome your comments below. Thank you.

THOUGHT BUSTERS by Dr. John C. Maxwell

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Thought Busters with tags , , , on January 24, 2011 by Robert Finkelstein

In addition to the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, my own personal and business blogs, the recommended reading list, and information on my consulting business, I would like to share some of the writings of various thought leaders.

THOUGHT BUSTERS by Dr. John C. Maxwell

The power of thought is indisputably great. For illustration, look at the life of Henry David Thoreau, a 19th-century Massachusetts philosopher.

In 1849, Thoreau, as a relatively unknown scholar, published his thoughts in a controversial essay about civil disobedience. The essay expressed his ideas about justice:
– Not all laws are just.
– A person should respect justice more than the law.
– Without resorting to violence, a person of conscience is justified to transgress the law to protest its injustice.

Thoreau’s thoughts, as the basis for nonviolent resistance, would end up fueling two of the greatest social advancements of the 20th century – Ghandi’s struggle to free India from Britain’s colonial rule and the American Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING

Thoughts never begin fully formed.
Have you ever looked through a microscope? At first glance, the image appears blurry and indistinct. However, after adjusting the lens, the image comes into focus, and you can see with remarkable clarity.

When thoughts enter my mind, they are hazy and disordered, much like the initial image seen through a microscope. I have to fine-tune my thoughts by dwelling upon them, and connecting them to other thoughts I’ve had. It takes awhile for me to wrestle with a thought before its merit becomes clear.

Thoughts take time to develop their potential.
I am not a naturally brilliant thinker. My mind doesn’t overflow with out-of-the-box creativity. However, I do leverage experiences to stretch my thoughts. I have found that reflection turns my experience into insight. At the close of each day, I’ll review important lessons I’ve learned. I’ll mine failure until I’ve gained a nugget of wisdom, or I’ll consider how the day’s events validated or invalidated one of my ideas. Through time, evaluating my experiences helps my thoughts to expand and mature.

Thoughts take others to develop their potential.
Alone, my thoughts are shallow and unexceptional. However, I am able to polish and refine them through my interactions with other leaders. I enhance my own thinking by piggybacking on the wisdom of friend and colleagues. In conversations or observations of their behavior, I strengthen and confirm my own inklings about leadership and life.

Each of us is trapped inside our own perspective and limited by blind spots and prejudices. If we isolate ourselves, we diminish our minds, and our thoughts atrophy.

We are wise to seek out others to test our assumptions and sharpen our thinking.

Thoughts are very fragile in the beginning.
Gardeners know the delicate nature of a newly planted seedling. To survive, the plant must receive nourishment and be protected from harsh winds, weeds, or hungry animas. Until its roots take hold and its stem grows, the seedling is vulnerable.

Likewise, our thoughts are fragile at first. They are endangered by pessimism, busyness, insecurity, forgetfulness, and a host of other threats. In the words of Bob Biehl, “Ideas are like soap bubbles floating in the air close to jagged rocks on a windy day.”
In order to grow, our thoughts need careful attention and cultivation.

THOUGHT BUSTERS
Thoughts only reach their potential in a healthy environment. During my time as a leader, I’ve encountered the following environmental hazards, or thought busters, which threaten to destroy good thinking.

Criticism
When leaders pay any cost to ward off criticism, they sacrifice their best thoughts. In the words of Elbert Hubbard, “If you have something others don’t have, know something others don’t know, or do something others aren’t doing, then, rest assured, you will be criticized.” In my opinion, thinking requires boldness, the courage to be second-guessed, and readiness to endure conflict.

Lack of personal commitment to thinking
Taking action is by no means a negative quality in a leader. However, when a leader is all action, it’s only a matter of time until he or she falls behind, steers off course, and surrenders the reins of leadership. I like Gordon MacDonald’s appeal to mental fitness:
“In our pressurized society, people who are out of shape mentally usually fall victim to ideas and systems that are destructive to the human spirit and to the human relationship. They are victimized because they have not taught themselves how to think, nor have they set themselves to the lifelong pursuit of growth of the mind. Not having the faculty of a strong mind, they grow dependent upon the thoughts and opinions of others.”

As leaders, thinking keeps us in front. Before we shape the future, we must get our minds in shape.

Excuses
“I don’t have enough time,” has been my most common excuse to avoid thinking. However, blaming time constraints is not a legitimate excuse. After all, a great idea is one of the greatest commodities a person can own. Besides, by taking the time to think, we invent smarter ways to expend our energy and resources.

“I’m not creative,” has been another excuse of mine. Of course, blaming my lack of creativity is actually a sorry excuse for being lazy. Thinking well isn’t easy. It takes concentration, focus, and, most challenging of all, the discipline to stop moving for a few moments.

– by Dr. John C. Maxwell

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session, for more information, please refer to my Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email me at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. I welcome your comments below. Thank you.

5 REASONS WHY DREAMS DON’T TAKE FLIGHT by Dr. John C. Maxwell

Posted in "5 Reasons Why Dreams Don't Take Flight" by Dr. John C. Maxwell, General Management, Life Management with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by Robert Finkelstein

In addition to the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, my own personal and business blogs, the recommended reading list, and information on my consulting business, I would like to share some of the writings of various thought leaders.

5 REASONS WHY DREAMS DON’T TAKE FLIGHT by Dr. John C. Maxwell

Most of us never see our dreams come true. Instead of soaring through the clouds, our dreams languish like a broken-down airplane confined to its hangar. Through life, I have come to identify five common reasons why dreams don’t take flight.

#1 We Have Been Discouraged from Dreaming by Others
We have to pilot our own dreams; we cannot entrust them to anyone else. People who aren’t following their own dreams resent us pursuing ours. Such people feel inadequate when we succeed, so they try to drag us down.

If we listen to external voices, then we allow our dreams to be hijacked. At some point, other people will place limitations on us by doubting our abilities. When surrounded by the turbulence of criticism, we have to grasp the controls tightly to keep from being knocked off course.

#2 We Are Hindered by Past Disappointments and Hurts
In the movie Top Gun, Tom Cruise plays Maverick, a young, talented, and cocky aviator who dreams of being the premier pilot in the U.S. Navy. In the film’s opening scenes, Maverick showcases his flying ability but also displays a knack for pushing the envelope with regards to safety. Midway through the movie, Maverick’s characteristic aggression spells disaster. His plane crashes, killing his best friend and co-pilot.

Although cleared of wrongdoing, the painful memory of the accident haunts Maverick. He quits taking risks and loses his edge. Struggling to regain his poise, he considers giving up on his dream. Although the incident nearly wrecks Maverick’s career, he eventually reaches within to find the strength to return to the sky.

Like Maverick, many of us live with the memory of failure embedded in our psyche. Perhaps a business we started went broke, or we were fired from a position of leadership. Disappointment is the gap that exists between expectation and reality, and all of us have encountered that gap. Failure is a necessary and natural part of life, but if we’re going to attain our dreams, then, like Maverick, we have to summon the courage to deal with past hurts.

#3 We Fall into the Habit of Settling for Average
Average is the norm for a reason. Being exceptional demands extra effort, sustained inspiration, and uncommon discipline. When we attempt to give flight to our dreams, we have to overcome the weight of opposition. Like gravity, life’s circumstances constantly pull on our dreams, tugging us down to mediocrity.

Most of us don’t pay the price to overcome the opposition to our dreams. We may start out inspired, but through time we fatigue. Although never intending to abandon our dreams, we begin to make concessions here and there. Through time, our lives become mundane, and our dreams slip away.

#4 We Lack the Confidence Needed to Pursue Our Dreams
Dreams are fragile. They will be buffeted by assaults from all sides. As such, they must be supplied with the extra strength of self-confidence.

In Amelia Earhart’s day, women were not supposed to fly airplanes. If she had lacked self-assurance, she never would have even attempted to be a pilot. Instead, Earhart confidently chased after her dream, and she was rewarded with both fulfillment and fame.

#5 We Lack the Imagination to Dream
For thousands of years, mankind traveled along the ground: by foot, by horse-and-buggy, by locomotive, and eventually by automobile. Thanks to the dreams of Orville and Wilbur Wright, we now hop across oceans in a matter of hours. The imaginative brothers overcame ridicule and doubt to pioneer human flight, and the world has never been the same.

Many of us play small because we do not allow ourselves to dream. We trap ourselves in reality and never dare to go beyond what we can see with our eyes. Imagination lifts us beyond average by giving us a vision of life that surpasses what we are experiencing currently. Dreams infuse our spirit with energy and spur us on to greatness.

– John Maxwell

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session, for more information, please refer to my Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email me at Consulting@RobertFinkelstein.com. I welcome your comments below. Thank you.