“You can connect with people and lead them only if you value them.” –John Maxwell
It all comes down to connecting with others. You either do or you don’t. I’m a simple guy, so one way I look at this is 1) communication is telling someone how you want something done where 2) connecting is investing in others and inviting them to share the journey with you.
When I think of connecting with others I can’t help but think of Zig Ziglar’s words of advice, “Help enough people get what they want and they will help you get what you want”. And, in order to do that you have to connect. If we are going to identify with people and connect with them, we must value them.
Value Others: For fifty years, John Maxwell has lived by the advice his father gave him. His advice was to every day “intentionally value people, believe in people, and unconditionally love them.” Valuing others is never about showing others how great you think you are. It’s always about showing others how great you think they are or how great they have the potential of becoming. Valuing others is humbling yourself and connecting with them on common ground so that you can inspire them to go to higher ground.
Being respectful of where others are and helping them get where they want to be is a process. “Even when you find common ground, you can face obstacles in the communication process. If you detect that people you’re trying to connect with are tentative about your approaching them, then try to meet them on emotional common ground. An excellent way to do that is to use something called feel, felt, found to help them relate to you. First, try to sense what they feel, and acknowledge and validate the feelings. If you’ve had similar feelings in the past, then share with them about how you’ve also felt the same way before. Finally, share with them what you’ve found that has helped you work through the feelings”. (“Becoming A Person Of Influence” by John Maxwell and Jim Dornan, page 166).
When we value others, meet them on common ground, we become a reliable guide that others are more willing to journey with. There is a responsibility of bringing out the best in others once we’ve done the hard work of connecting. It opens the door to adding value through words of encouragement, acts of kindness and gifts of generosity at whatever level available to us to resource them towards the best version of themselves they can be. So, in order to connect with others, you must want more for them than you do for yourself. One last thought that will help us in valuing others is to keep making yourself more valuable so that you have more value to give. When you daily make yourself better, what you give others will always be better than yesterday’s best.
Let’s go back to the beginning and revisit the advice that John Maxwell’s father gave him. These questions can help us know if we are connecting well with others.
1. Do I intentionally value people every day?
2. Do I let people know I believe in them every day?
3. Do I consistently and unconditionally love them every day?
John Maxwell and Jim Dornan said it well in the book, “Becoming A Person Of Influence”, when they wrote, “The breadth of your influence on others relates directly to the depth of your concern for them”. Nurturing provides the fuel for a person’s tank to go further down life’s road. Most of the world has run out of gas, functioning on fumes or parked on the side of the road because their life is on “E”!
People don’t need a self-serve gas station experience – when you’re out of gas it’s difficult to fill yourself back up. You need a full-service gas station experience. When my dad was a young man, he worked at a full-service gas station. When a customer pulled in, a bell rang indicating that someone was in need of a fill-up. My dad would check the oil, tire pressure, wash the windshield and even provide a trash bag for your trash while you waited for your tank to be filled up. But, it was more than your tank that got filled up. Dad tells a story of an elderly lady who needed a fill-up. She drove into the station, asked for my dad. When she was told that he was off for the day, she left. The next day she returned when dad was on-duty and expressed her joy to see him. He filled her car’s tank and her heart every time she pulled into the station. He showed her that she was more than a customer, but a person to be cared for. When you care for people, they will come to you to be filled-up so they can tackle the next stretch of road before them.
People of all ages need the same full-service experience. The fuel – Affirmation, Affection, Acceptance, Availability, Accountability, Award (Recognition), Respect, Hope, Help, Encouragement, Equipping and a little humor to top it off.
Greeting – HUMOR – I’m not talking about slap-stick stupidity! I’m talking about a greeting that breaks down walls and allows one to connect with others. Fun draws people to you in a way that communicates, “I’m safe and here to help you”.
Windshield – ENCOURAGE – We get a lot of negative bugs on our life’s windshield. Positive words reassure us and clear the way for a person to see that they matter.
Tires/Oil Change – EQUIP – When your tires are filled with air and the dipstick shows even with the mark, you gain a confidence that you can go a few extra miles. Equipping others is key in helping them get where they are going.
Trash bag – HELPFUL – Providing a trash bag helps a person know there’s a place to put the trash they accumulate. They don’t have to hang on to it for the stretch of road before them.
When you genuinely care for others, you fill their tank with every encounter. If we nurture them properly, they will never need roadside assistance.
When you work hard to be somebody’s HERO today, you bring out the HERO in them for somebody tomorrow!
If you were surrounded by those you’ve directly had an influence on, what does that picture look like? Do you celebrate what you see or panic and wonder what went wrong?
We reproduce who we are. Those we influence become what we’ve displayed to them through our example. So, what does that look like? How could you have made the outcome even better? Our successes in life are found in our daily agenda. Those we influence remind us how we live and what we truly value. If you want to know how you’re influence is going, just take a look at those you influence.
To be honest, how we influence others is a direct result of those who have influenced us. So, if we want to better our influence on others we need to ask a question – who is on my team of influencers that will help me in influencing those closest to me in the best possible way? The answer is important because those we influence will look for similar influences to continue their own growth as they establish influence on those around them.
The true measure of a person isn’t found in what he/she has become on their own, rather it is found in who was allowed to influence, shape and mold them into the person they have become.
Keep in mind that we can’t give what we don’t have, but we can give all we do have and recruit from a hand-selected team of influencers who have fine-tuned an area of life we would like reproduced in our sphere of influence. It is true that we reproduce who we are and what we are exposed to.
In “Becoming A Person Of Influence”, John Maxwell gives us the criteria for a team of influencers. “An influencer means…
Be somebody’s HERO and create your team of influencers that you want to help you influence those in your sphere of influence.
The answers are important to those you will influence.
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