Mark Cole: Welcome back to the John Maxwell Leadership podcast. Today is part two of How I Learned To Connect With People by John Maxwell. I mentioned last week in part one, John recently released his book, Change Your World. It's in this book where we talk about how anyone anywhere can make a difference. We're all focused on changing our world. The movement that we have started.
In fact, let me just say this here in the beginning of our show notes, if you have not joined the movement, not just got the book, but taken the free assessment on how you are faring against the transformation values in the book, Change Your World. Go to ChangeYourWorld.com . There is a free assessment there that will add value to you. As we, Jake and Jason, myself, as we were thinking through this Change Your World message and how we do believe anyone, anywhere can make a difference.
We felt like that we would add value to this conversation by going back to a lesson. John taught on how I learned to connect with people last week was part one where he covered points one through five. Today, he will cover points six through 10. Now, I want to challenge you go to Maxwellpodcast.com/connected, and you'll be able to download the show notes and be able to begin applying a better way to connect with people immediately.
When John is done teaching, I'm joined in the studio today by Jason Brooks, we will begin to dissect and apply from our perspective part two of How I Learned To Connect With People. Here is John Maxwell.
John Maxwell: Number six, I did my homework. In other words, once I began to understand the communication connecting, I said, "Okay, I'm going to pay my price. I'm going to do everything I can to get to my level." Now in your notes, if gifted, if you do nothing, you'll be in the top 50%. You with me? I mean, you married the kids that never had to study in school. You follow me? They were just gifted.
I mean, they're going to get A's. I'm going to get A's okay. If you're a gifted, you don't even have to do anything. If you're gifted and you do something, you'll be in the top 10%. If you're a gifted and you do everything, you'll be in the top 1%. This is the key, finding giftedness and then 100%.
I had a wonderful mentor, Fred Smith, who died a couple years ago. I think he was 92, just a precious mentor of mine. I remember him seeing me talking to me, or I don't know, in the early 1980s. He said, "John, you're very gifted." Then he looked me right in the eye said, "Look at me, John, don't take shortcuts. You're very gifted." Don't take shortcuts because he said it happens all the time.
He said the gifted always take shortcuts because they can goof off, give 80% still win. He said, "If you really want to get in that 1%." So what I'm saying to you is this in your strength zone, whether it's connecting, communicating, whatever it is, you got to always do your homework in the things that you do well, you got to do it with 100% of your effort.
Now in your weaknesses, take shortcuts and the things that you don't do well, go find somebody else to help you, delegate. I understand this world very, very well, because there are so many areas I'm not good at. I learned very quickly. Listen to me very carefully, you have no business doing something you're not good at because you're not good at it.
You bore people while you do it and you're not effective in your average, stop it. You can't be successful at it. Why stay in it? In the areas of your giftedness, in the areas of your strength, that's where you do your homework. That's where you pay your price. That's where you don't take shortcuts. Number seven, the seventh thing that helped me with connecting, I love this one because this is so truthful.
It's not going to help you any, but it's just so truthful. I got lucky. I know you're writing that down and said, "Okay, well, how do I get lucky?" I'll define luck, luck equals preparation, intersecting opportunity. I got lucky. I really got lucky. I'm going to take three minutes and tell you the story. That really was the thing that took me over the top.
I think to connect well with people, you have to be comfortable on the inside. Never known a person that can connect that was uncomfortable. So you have to be able to, before you speak or teach, you have to feel comfortable yourself. I started off like every because I started off in the ministry.
Again, you got to understand, my world was preaching. Your world may not be that, but it doesn't matter. You still have to learn how to communicate and connect. In my world, it was a big pulpit with a big voice and it was authoritarian and that's how I started, and that's how I began. That's what I do. I found out the longer I did it, that this wasn't who I was.
I can remember very simply can remember the day where I had the big pulpit moved and I put a little cross up it. I could look out there and see people. I mean, when you had the big one, you could be as naked as a Jaybird nobody know. You know what I'm saying? I went from the big one down to something else. I can remember when I went to a smaller pulpit, guess what happened? I got a realistic voice.
I didn't get a realistic voice as long as I could hide behind something. The moment that it became the fact that I'm going to have to be in front of you, all of a sudden, there was a realism in what I said and a realism in my voice. Then, I went to no pulpit where I just walk around and I would teach.
Every step, by the way, every step that I was doing this, it got more comfortable. Let me tell you something. This took me from 1969 to where I'm going, from 1969 to 1983. It took me 14 years to finally find. I'll tell you, you know where I'm going, sitting on a bar stool. This is me. Let me tell you what happened. It went back in the early '80s.
When I lived down in San Diego, I played a lot of racquetball and it was in a racquetball tournament. I went for a low shot and I pulled into the lower part of my back out real bad. I'm talking about real bad, I'm talking about serious pain, doctors, chiropractors the whole works. For five days, I couldn't, I laid in bed. I mean, it was bad, bad pool.
Well, about a week after that, I was supposed to be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at a conference speaking. I thought, "Man, how am I going to pull this one off: Finally I said, "Mark, you're going to have to go with me, because I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't dress me up. You're going to have to help me."
I had my assistant say, "Look, he's going to come, but he won't be able to stand. He needs to have a stool, a bar stool, something high so I could know I wouldn't have to go all the way down, so that he can sit on. I went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania had a bar stool for me and I set back then I was very dumb. I did three-day conferences.
Can you imagine three-day conferences? I mean, that's what happens when you have high energy and low IQ. Anyway, and I'm for three days, I've got to do this teaching and I'm on a bar stool. I started teaching and I'm thinking, "Man, this is going so good." We're going back to the airport. I said, "Margaret, I've never had energy like this after I spoke. I'm still trying to search it."
She said, "John, could it be the fact you sat down almost the whole time?" That was the day I realized two things, if I sit down, I conserve energy, but number two is I'm conversational and that's who I am. That fits me. The bar stool, "Hey, don't go out and say, dear God, I figured it out. I'm getting a bar stool." You know what I'm saying? No, no, no, no, no.
I'm here to tell you something. People can tell when you're comfortable yourself when you communicate with them. They can also tell when you're not comfortable. I got lucky. I literally got lucky. Then I realized sitting and teaching has a very calming effect on people. I got lucky.
If I wouldn't had the racquetball problem, I don't think I'd ever started sitting on a stool, to be honest. I don't think I was as smart. I kept knowing intuitively I needed to go somewhere else with it, but I couldn't figure it out. God and racquetball injuries are what I owe it all to. Number eight, I left my comfort zone. I left my comfort zone.
If I always do what I've always done, I'll always get what I've always gotten. Then, I remember when I crossed over the secular community, the biggest deep dive I ever took was when I went into the business community. Do you realize every illustration I had got dumped? Do you realize that 95% of everything I ever taught I couldn't use?
Again, it allowed me, it caused me to dig for because I was over my head. I don't know about you, but you know what? I won't dig like I have to, unless I'm over my head, you know what I'm saying? As long as I'm standing on the bottom, I have a tendency bounce around and play a little bit.
Number nine, I practiced. I practiced. It's true that we play at the level of our practice. I began to really develop a practice level for connecting people. Talk about the ability to connect. I know it's a strong gift that I have. I understand that completely. I look at my sash, certainly ought to be able to have taught, I've taught and spoken 15,000 times.
I mean, hello, if you can't do it after 15,000 time, give it up. Give it up. Here's the practice level we we're calling connecting. Number one, know my subject. If you've done it long enough, you'll know the subject. Number two, know my audience. I still practice when I travel pre-calls. I never go anywhere to speak without talking to the person at least a week to 10 days ahead of time to get their expectations.
What do you want? What are you looking for? What can I say that's going to help you to get there? A lot of times they don't ask for it. They don't have, it doesn't matter. I'm not doing it because they asked for it or don't ask for them, do it because I need it, because if I'm going to go there and I'm going to really help them, I've got to know exactly where they are.
Number three, know myself. When I say know myself, let me say this. I cannot effectively connect with people on a subject unless it's connected with me. I don't do well transferring knowledge that has not somehow been embedded in who I am. When I say know self, what I'm saying is I've got to know myself enough to say how in the world is what I'm teaching. How is this affecting me?
Here's what I've discovered until it affects me, it won't affect the people I'm teaching it to. Knowledge transferred is quite worthless. Number four, just give a 100% of your time. Don't cheat. Just don't cheat, not in your strengths. Number five, strive for continuous improvement, continuous improvement.
My kids last Christmas gave me some audio programs of the 100 greatest speeches ever given. I'm going through it for the second time. I can't get enough of it because every time I listened to these great speeches and these great speakers, it teaches me something. Continually improve. Finally, number 10, and this one is very personal and again, understand my, my background and who I am and my context.
Be patient with me. I can only teach you out of what I know, I can't teach him where I haven't been. Number 10 is I believe absolutely essential to be a great communicator. I am not the main attraction. I may deliver the goods, but I'm not the goods. I better understand the difference between those two. In my teaching, a lot of it is faith building and so I can present God.
What I got to understand is I am the communicator. That is an absolute fact, but I'm not the main attraction, he is. What I've got to do is I got to make sure in all of my connecting, that that is very, very obvious. When I talk about I deliver the goods, I'm not the goods. I just deliver the goods. The goods are the principles. The God values, the ideas.
These are the things that help people and you got to be able to communicate them, but begin to understand that you're not the reason, if the lesson is great, you're not the reason the lesson is great. It's because the subject you had was a great subject and you handled it correctly. Let me close with something that... I debated about doing it, but I just have to do it because it's who I am. Just bear with me.
I read this every month I pull this out. I've got a filing system and I have certain things that I pull out on periodic basis to read to, or to remind myself. I read this every month and it's just perfect for me so let me give it to you and you'll find it hopefully a little bit humorous, and I hope you won't find it sacrilegious, but it's just me.
My name's John and I'm your friend. It was the first Palm Sunday here came Jesus riding in Jerusalem on an ass. Great crowds began to shout "Hosanna, Hosanna." Some threw down their coats on the road, others spread out palm branches. The ass perked up his ears. "Wow" He said, "I had no idea they thought so well of me." Get the point?
If anyone comes to you after you've sung a song or preached a sermon, or done some noble deed and says, "Wow, that was terrific." They're not actually saying Hosanna to you. You're just the ass who carried Jesus. I'm not the main attraction. 10 things that taught me how to connect with people. Thank you very much.
Mark Cole: Welcome back, Jason. We were sitting here listening to what John was sharing. Here we are, again, you as the writer, the content director of all of John's content, which certainly is a way John Maxwell has connected with people. Can we say 34 million copies of books? 34 million pair of hands have had a John Maxwell book.
You and I have a lot of responsibility here to continue the legacy of John's connection. I loved last week. Here we are this week. Glad to be dissecting this with you, my friend.
Jason Brooks: Man, I'm glad to be back with you. This is such a helpful area to learn from John, especially. There's nobody that I've seen that connects better than John from stage. It even reminds me, as we've been talking about this, there is a great digital teaching that John does in partnership with Steve Harvey called Elevate Your Communication.
The two of them on stage riffing about what they have learned over their decades of communication, John, from the business and church side and Steve from entertainment and comedy. It's amazing how different the stories are, how unique the experiences are about how similar the lessons are.
I mean, if you get energized by what Mark and I were talking about today, that would be something great that you could go check out for yourself. You would learn a ton and laugh yourself silly while you're doing it.
Mark Cole: We made a digital course out of it to where there's hours of content of John and Steve, hilarious, but truly some tangible, quantifiable ways to actually improve your communication. As Jason said, it's Elevate Your Communication. It's at JohnMaxwell.com at the store. You'll be able to get it.
Also Jason, if you're like so many of us, you want a free resource several weeks ago on this podcast, we had John Maxwell and Steve Harvey share about communication and go back in the podcast list of episodes, and you'll be able to see that or go to JohnMaxwell.com to Elevate Your Communication. Jason, I'm excited to jump in today for sure.
Jason Brooks: I wanted to ask you the first thing that John talks about in this episode is he does his homework or he did his homework. I wanted to ask you two questions. I wanted to ask you, first of all, where do you do your homework in the area of connection? Then John was talking about usually, when we have a strength in a certain area.
I think we're reasonably gifted at communication. It can cause us to take a shortcut mentality. How do we avoid, or how do you avoid taking shortcuts in this area, because you grew up in a family of communicators. You've sat now with John as a communicator. You've had an incredible accelerated journey as a communicator and a connector.
How do you avoid the temptation of taking shortcuts and where do you do your homework in order to get that up?
Mark Cole: Well, so the homework question really is dissecting how other people communicated. I mentioned this last week in part one, but the real homework of last week, those of you that listened to part one is to go listen to how people communicate, not what they're saying when they communicate.
A lot of my homework these days, I'll now sit with John for years and years and years, I would travel with John and I would take the same notes, but have different application because I was leading differently. I had different exercises. I can still sit down to John and a lesson that I've heard him do before multiple times and still get content that makes me a better leader.
I have put aside that insatiable desire to learn and that ever ready student, ready to hear something to make me a better leader. I've started listening to become a better communicator. Certainly, one of my homework sources is to go and listen to how other people communicate.
Another source of homework is continuing to ask people that have been speaking into my communication for years to give me something new to work on. When you get a little better, those that know you when you were bad, thank God. He finally got better. There's nothing I want to do to speak into your communication.
I challenged those that I've invited into the journey. Don't let me have a hall pass on getting better, just because I have become less terrible. I want to get better. A homework still becomes these sources of people that are helping me and have been speaking into me for some time.
Jason Brooks: I love that last one, especially because it speaks to the avoiding the shortcut mentality. When you invite people in to point out where you can improve, it keeps you from thinking that you've arrived in and you're good and you don't have to work on it anymore.
I do want to ask this question. What are some of the greatest connecting lessons you've learned from watching John or what's another connector that you have observed in your homework that does something really, really well that maybe our listeners should be aware of or should, or could benefit from as well.
What are some of the connecting lessons that you've learned from John and the people that you study that stand out to you and have impacted your communication?
Mark Cole: Let me give you two. There's many people and are 100,000 that listen and download this podcast. There's many that communicate to audiences, whether that's an audience of 10 or whether that's an audience of 10,000, you're a communicator. What I have observed most the lesson I've learned from John is the change up.
You've got to change up your delivery style to keep people engaged. For instance, you've got to lean in, like I just leaned into the screen with you, Jason, right now you got to step back. You've got to use body language that changes the rhythm and the rigor.
The second thing you've got to do is you've got to change inflection. You've got to get really energized and passionate at times. Then, sometimes you got to slow down and get really thoughtful, methodical, and give people a chance to absorb what you're saying.
The third area that I've watched in John's public speaking, speaking to more than one is I've watched him change up the rhythm. He will make a point and he will build a point to finally deliver it. Then, let people really digest that. I watched him over and over again, build up.
Now I've got a fifth point, but I don't think you're ready yet. Are y'all ready for this fifth point? I mean, podcast listeners, are you driving or have I caught your attention? He builds anticipation to a point that the point to be honest with you may be mediocre, but by the time it's built up like this, it's the best thing you've ever heard.
Well, that is a communication strategy that I've watched Sean do. Now let me flip that, Jason, and give you something that I've watched John do in a one-on-one setting. I've watched John, one of the busiest people I know, work hard to not interrupt people until they are done.
I do a mentoring call in our John Maxwell team program, our certification program, every single Tuesday. It's a mentoring posture. It's a mentorship program and I have a mentoring posture. I have much fewer people that I get to in my question and answer cues than some of my counterparts, because I find myself mentoring like John, which is no interruption.
Let someone get through with their point and then communicate back to them on what they said, not what you want to say. I watched John use that tactic in a one-on-one setting as good, if not better than anyone I've ever met. It makes him a very effective one-on-one communicator as well.
Jason Brooks: I mean, those are such fantastic points. I love particularly just the art of the change up. Somebody that used to speak on a regular basis, that was something that it took me a while to learn. It's especially easy to get locked into just a certain pace, a certain way of doing things, especially when you're young.
You're just hoping to get through the thing, but the piece of communication as much as anything else. Now that I'm older, when I am presenting, I am more mindful of changing things up and not changing them up in a manipulative way, but allowing the content itself to dictate when you should change pace.
You don't want to be really, really energetic on something that's thoughtful and you don't want to take a thoughtful posture on something that requires a lot of energy. Those were really sharp observations that would help anybody be a better communicator.
I wanted to ask you this, John, in his eighth point, he talked about, he left his comfort zone. He stretched himself beyond what he was comfortable doing. I wanted to ask you, how do you make yourself leave your comfort zone in this area? What benefits have you found when you stretched yourself beyond what you're comfortable with?
Mark Cole: Well, let me first start with one of the greatest examples of this from John. John was a communicator in a faith community, in a faith environment. He had the worship singers to warm the crowd up. He had believers in the bubble of whatever he was getting ready to say. As long as he stayed within the concentrates of their instructional book, the Bible.
He was speaking to the home team and then he went and took some of his lessons to an environment that he didn't have a worship team. He didn't have people that was sold out to a particular model or a particular leadership example. He found himself having to redefine and reinvent himself.
I was a part of that after he had been doing it a couple of years and to watch him perfect that and stretch himself outside of the comfort zone, and lean into the uncomfortableness of that, was a powerful model that I go back control from 20 years ago to be honest with you.
For me, the stretch was nothing more than allowing myself to get on John Maxwell stage. I said this last week and in part one, but to hold his microphone to stand on his stage to stand in his spotlight is daunting. It's uncomfortable. To this day, it's uncomfortable. I have a lot more comfort because I found my niche.
I found my strength zone is still extremely uncomfortable. It's out of my comfort zone to feel when somebody wants John to come in and speak for an hour and 15 minutes and he lets me have five or 10 minutes of his precious time. It is outside of my comfort zone for sure.
Jason Brooks: How has that benefited you? I mean, there's obvious benefits. It's elevated your presence. People gotten to know you. More people become comfortable with your communication style. They become more comfortable connecting with you. One of the things that I hear a lot on Twitter and social media, whenever I do a podcast with you is the number of people who they love John.
They love hearing John, but man, they are really leaning in for what you're going to teach them because you're speaking from their seat. What other benefits have you found from being able to not just lead from the second chair, but literally speak from that second place?
You just said, John gets off the stage and you go up, what ways has that benefited you? How has it made you better at connecting once you've gotten past the sheer terror of, "Oh my God, this man just handed me his microphone and these people loved him and now they got to listen to me."
Mark Cole: I think the first answer that comes to mind when you asked that question and I love that question, I will reflect to that question the rest of the day. The first thing that comes to my mind is outside of communication. It's the power of victory. When you accomplish something and you know you sense that you've crossed a goal line, you've crossed a victory line, and something you were stretching yourself to do that you didn't believe you could do it.
It gives you power to try other things in other areas because of the power of victory is a multiplier in effort in other areas of discomfort. So, because I have stood on John's stage and became a bit believable, not completely believable, trust me, come hear me speak after John, I got a lot of work to do, but because there has been a bit of believability in communicating with John and on behalf of John, it gives me great sense of confidence that I can lead in other areas that John gives me the opportunity to lead in.
It's the law of the victory, reproducible victories is what I would say. The second thing that I would say inside of communication is as John and his friends, John gives me the endorsement. He gives me the opportunity. He gives me the endorsement. John said at exchange, which is an event that we do in our corporate business.
John said that exchange last November. He said, "I can introduce the room to Mark. I can give Mark my credibility on loan. Mark can get up here and do a decent job, but I can't make people respect Mark." What I'm watching is people that I respect that respect me are beginning to give that same level of appreciation, perhaps even respect because of the effort that we put into it, because of the progress that we make.
What I would tell you, listening to the podcast in the area of communication, but really this is in the area of leadership in general. If somebody gives you the privilege of an endorsement, somebody gives you the privilege of an opportunity. Somebody gives you the privilege of borrowed respect, it's now up to you and I to bring home the goods to deliver and to produce.
It goes back to don't shortcut that John talked about earlier. Do your homework. Get out of your comfort zone. Point number nine, I practice. I worked hard with people helping me to become better, to earn that respect, not be given it. It's one thing to give it. It's one thing to then expect it. It's an altogether different thing to earn it because you've worked hard for it.
Jason Brooks: That leads into my final question because over the last year or so, we've seen some incredible leaders come to the table with the organization and they have expressly said that they are here, not for John. They're here to support you, to support your leadership, your vision, where we're going, whether it's Rob Hoskins, whether it's people like Jeff Henderson.
Joel Manby, who I just got his book in the mail the other day, Love Works, reading through it, amazing book, but they have come because they believe in you. You have earned that respect. I wanted to ask you now, the last thing that John talked about is remembering that we, as the communicator are not the main attraction, it's the audience that should be the focus of everything.
I want to ask you, we've talked about John's journey. We've talked about your journey. Like I said, we've seen incredible growth and you have experienced incredible growth over the last couple of years. How do you maintain humility now in order to stay effective? When you get on the stage and not become somebody that turns an audience away. How do you stay humble? How do you keep the audience as the hero when you speak?
Mark Cole: One is truly Jason, what you and I, what John represents, we're only the guide. The people that we value, they're the hero. They're the ones that really are taking the journey and we're just there to add value to them. It's a real awareness that I am a servant leader, simply attempting to provide an opportunity for people that are the hero to become more effective.
Now that perhaps may be easier said than done, but I've got to be honest with you. That is the culture we've created. That's the culture I joined 21 years ago. It is the culture that we're at right now. I'm glad though that you brought this up because even this podcast has felt a little more self-serving. It's been a little bit about my communication. I know why that is because I was terrible and I've gotten just a little bit better.
What I will tell you is that needs to be an inspiration to all of us that want to effectively communicate better. That actually have a passion to connect with people in a greater way. You can do it. It is important that you do it, but the purpose, the heart behind what you do it needs to be to make them the champion, not to get your agenda across.
I said it at the very beginning, communication must be to propel people, not compel them are to demand of them what you're trying to get them to do. There is a responsibility of someone that has been given a platform, that has been given an opportunity to make the opportunity about the other person, the other individual and not about themselves.
Here's my, here's my biggest thing. I'll tell you how I do that. I look at people like you, Jason people on our leadership team and say, "If you ever see this becoming about me, call me out on it." When they do, whether I feel misunderstood, whether I feel miss-represented or accused, I let them win in their observation.
That way they'll keep coming back when they are accurate. I don't determine whether they're accurate or not, because that makes me defensive. I always assume if they are doing me the service of calling something out in me about my attitude, about me lifting myself up too much, they win period.
Not it's up for debate. Not let me explain myself. No, you win. That way, they'll keep coming back to me on the times that they may be a little more accurate because they're working with a blind spot that I have.
Jason Brooks: Well, and that's a phenomenal tip for leaders everywhere. When people do come to these feedback, let them have it, let them be accurate in that moment so that they keep coming back to you. I do want to say this, it may have felt a little self-serving, but we would not hold you up as an example of somebody to learn from. If you did not make the audience the hero every time you spoke.
I don't think I've ever heard you get up and try and put yourself as the center, whether that's in a lead team meeting or the times that I've heard you speak in public, it's the same way with John. We wouldn't be able to hold John up as a credible example if John did not make the audience the sole focus every time he got up to speaking.
He has that mentality, whether it's a book, whether it's a talk, whether it's a video course, our number one core value as an enterprise is we exist to add value to people who will multiply value to others.
Mark Cole: Hear, hear.
Jason Brooks: When we bring our applications, or when we use you as a case study, or we use John as a case study, it's because you exemplify that core value. I just want to say, as somebody that sits and learns from you on a regular basis on behalf of the podcast listeners who love sitting and learning from you on a regular basis, thank you for keeping us in mind as you grow.
As you go through your leadership journey, because as you get better, we are better because of it. I just want to say thank you. To the podcast listeners, man, if you have learned from Mark, from John, from anything that we've said, we invite you to go to MaxwellPodcast.com. You can go to /connected, leave a comment on this specific episode.
Go to whichever podcast platform that you download your podcast from. Be it iTunes, Google play, Stitcher, Spotify. We would love and ask that you would leave a review, explaining what you love about the podcast, what you take away from it, even how we can get better. We would love for you to be a subscriber. We make that easy and MaxwellPodcast.com. You can also subscribe through your podcast platform, whatever you need to do to get this weekly goodness into your inbox.
We want to make sure that you're receiving these week over week, because we truly do this to add value to you because we believe you're going to multiply that value to the people around you and make a difference in your world. That's all I've got, Mark. I'm going to get you have the closing thought. Maybe give a little application to the listeners.
Mark Cole: Well, you've given the application. Make others that hero. Get better, so you can get others the opportunity to get better. That giving of others the opportunity to get better is where the secret sauce of John Maxwell's message really is. We add value to leaders who multiply value to others.
Hey, I challenge you, let's do change our world. Let's do improve our and let's lead to make a difference. See you next week.