Communication that Inspires (Part 2)

Today we finish our two-part series, Communication that Inspires. In this episode, John walks through the last two questions he asks himself to make sure he’s an inspirational communicator. By asking yourself these questions, you can identify growth areas in your own communication, and improve your ability to inspire others.

In the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole and Chris Goede discuss how communication should empower others to act and why pairing communication with application will equip others to act.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the Communication that Inspires Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Welcome once again to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. Mark Cole here in studio with Chris Goede and we're excited to dive in to part two of Communication That Inspires. Real quick before we listen to John, before Chris Goede and I come back and give application, let me share with you something we are excited about. Yesterday, John Maxwell's newest book Change Your World officially released. This is the book that we've been waiting for. This is the book that we believe is going to start a movement of transformation. I believe this is the book John Maxwell was born to write and it's already in the hands of literally thousands of people that are hungry to learn, to grow, but even more importantly, that are hungry to make a difference in their communities.

Change Your World is an incredible book. It's the secret sauce that can help anyone anywhere begin a movement that will change their community. The book is rooted in the values and principles John has taught and practiced for years. This is not just theory, this is tested, it is proven application on exactly how transformation happens. You can buy your copy right now by going to Again, that is J-O-I-N,

Since we're talking about change, let's change directions and come back to this week's episode on communication. Last week, John covered two of the four questions he asks himself to make sure that his communication, his talks, his speeches, his writings inspire others. Today, John is going to share the other two questions and you won't want to miss these questions. Go to and click on the bonus resource button to download the show notes and follow along with John's teachings. Friends, this is an invaluable lesson, it's an incredible series and you don't want to miss a moment. So let's jump right in, part two of Communication that Inspires. Here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  Number three, question number three, what do I want them to feel? What I want them to feel is empowered. When I speak to people, I want to release them. Now stay right with me on what do I want them to feel, people will not always remember what you said, they will not always remember what you did, isn't that true, but they will always remember, always, always, always remember, how you made them feel. The one thing that people do not forget is the emotion of acceptance. So when I'm done speaking they're not going to remember my speech, my words, or not most of them, but they're going to remember how it made them feel. And if you'll think about that in your connection with people, when the conversation's over it's the emotion of the feeling that remains whether it's positive or whether it's negative.

I played the AT&T Pro-Am out in pebble beach. It's an invitation only thing and a lot of fun and I'm just going to brag, I made the cut. I made the cut. And only 25 out of 153 teams make the cut. And that was just absolutely off the charts. Okay, forget that now, I'm playing at Spyglass on the third day and so they have hundreds of volunteers that are out there with their red hats and they're just helping, they're just out there helping.

And one of the volunteers, there was a shot that one of the pros shot, it reminded me of my shot, it wasn't where it's supposed to be okay. And it was over next to the driving range and the volunteer didn't see the pro shoot. It was a blind shot. And he saw the ball over there and he thought it was a range ball so he picked it up. He picked it up and the caddy was coming over the hill right then when he picked it up and the caddy started berating. The caddy said, "What are you doing," and called him some wonderful, terrible names. "And don't you know that the pro shot that and that you can cost us a stroke." And I mean, he just berated. I mean, he berated him from 50 yards till he got over beside him and I felt so bad.

So I said to myself, I'm playing in this foursome, it wasn't my pro, it was the other pro by the way. So I said, "Well, I've really got to shoot my shot." It was right next to me and I had to wedge it up there. But I said, "What I really need to do is I need to go talk to the volunteer." And so, I pitched the ball up and I went over to the volunteer as soon as the caddy got away from him and I put my arm around him and I said, "Let me tell you some of the dumb things I've done in life and I know how you feel. You're out here to help people and you feel really bad." And he said, "Well, I do. I didn't know." And I said, "It's okay." I just took a minute and just encouraged him and loved on him and said, "Look, you were well-intentioned. You just happened to run into a person that is not a good person."

And when it was all over he looked at me and he shook my hand and he said, "Thank you very much." He had tears in his eyes. I said, "It's okay." I said, "I've been there many times." Haven't you been there many times? Haven't you picked up somebody's ball before in life? Huh? Talk to me. Many times I've picked up somebody's ball hoping it was mine. You understand? Because it was better than my shot. So it's kind of like, "Would that be mine? Wrong, no it's not mine." That's a sad thing.

In fact, it was interesting they gave us golf balls out there with our names on them and I said, "No, thank you." Do I want somebody two weeks later to go 50 feet in the woods and say, "Boy, John Maxwell sure hit a bad shot." No, I want your name on my ball if you don't mind. You follow what I'm saying? So when it's in the woods they'll look over and say, "Boy Tom had a terrible shot there. He had a terrible shot." No, I don't want my name on my ball.

What I'm saying is feelings, how we say things to people that remains a lot longer than what the words are of what we said and feelings are, here this is key, it's in your notes, feelings are transferred by feelings. The conduit of transferring feelings to others is how you feel. And Winston Churchill said it so good he said, "Before you can inspire with emotion you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them you must yourself believe." Winston Churchill was one of the great communicators he said, "If you're not filled with emotion you're not going to fill people with emotion. If you're not filled with passion you're not going to fill people with passion. If you're not filled with care you're not going to fill people with care." He said, "It's got to start with you."

And when I get ready to speak, there's a ritual I have gone through for years, I did this this morning. I got up about 3:30 this morning and I sleep a while and then I wake up and work a while. And so, I got this lesson out and so I put it on paper, that's the head, that's the mental work. I mentally wrote this lesson. But today, I didn't do writing. I took it from the head to the heart and my bottom line of communication is I never communicate anything until I feel it first. If I don't feel it, I don't pass it on. I've got to know it, I've got to feel it. Because the moment I feel it, when I teach it you'll feel it. If I don't feel it, you won't feel it. So here's where it goes, head to the heart to hope. Hope is transferred not from the head, hope is transferred from the heart. What do I want you to feel? I've got to feel what I want you to feel or it will not have credibility, it won't come across.

So to inspire others when you communicate, always connect these two questions. One, will this subject help them? But I love question number two, has this subject helped me? If it hasn't helped you don't pass it on. Don't pass it on. Only pass on what's changed your life. Only pass on what's helped your life. Don't pass on something that you think might do but it's never affected you. So I've got always ask, "Has it helped me?" If it's helped me, I can help you. See, emotion without experience is passion. And I love passion but let me tell you something better than passion, emotion with experience is conviction and conviction convinces.

I don't want to be a person with passion, I want to be a person with conviction. I want to have my feelings backed up by my experience. So there are three Cs that I want to go of feeling. The first C is connection. I want to connect with the people. I want to connect with the people. Jim Rowan said it best he said, "The goal of effective communication should be for the listeners to say “me too” versus so what." Oh yeah, “me too,” wow that's how I felt. The moment you've got the listener saying, "I know what they're thinking. I know how they're feeling. “Me too.’” Not, "So what. So what. Are you done yet?" Now, that's what great communicators do. Great communicators they know how to connect. There's a statement I love in the notes, many people don't commit to you when they understand, they commit to you when they feel understood.

The second C is confidence. If you want to connect with people you've got to have confidence. The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are usually the ones who do. After conducting a national survey, the economist found that self-esteem correlated with higher wages and that higher wages increased self-esteem. A 10% rise in self-esteem boosted wages more than a 10% increase in education or work experience. So, what do I want them to feel? I want them to feel connection with me. I want them to feel confidence from me.

And then the third is challenge. I want them to be challenged. And the way to challenge a person, in fact when I'm ready to challenge a person I want to tell them that the prospect's never looked brighter and the problem's never looked tougher. I want them to see the potential and I want them to see the problems. And let me tell you something, if they salivate with the potential but they don't like the problems they're not who you want. They've got to want the problems along with the potential. Man, the potential's never been greater but boy the problem's never been tougher. Now, show me the person that bites into that and I'll show you the person that you connected with.

Three questions, you've got to go to the fourth one, what do I want them to see? I want them to see an example. What do I want them to know? Significant. What do I want them to feel? I want them to feel empowered.

Number four. What do I want them to do? That deals with application. Now as a communicator when I'm done what do I want them to do? We've got to talk about application for a moment. The leader's challenge is to help people from know how to do now. People many times know what to do, they just don't do it. We've got to now flesh it out. Jack Welch said, "No company big or small can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it." And then Jack Welch went on and said, "Strategy is first try to understand where you sit in today's world, not where you wish you were, not where you hoped you would be, but where you are. Then is trying to understand where you want to be five years out. Finally, it's assessing the realistic chances of getting there from here to there."

So a good strategic plan normally has behind it a strong team, a strong team that has worked through a process that includes vision what we want to be, mission why we exist, core values what we believe in, objectives what we want to do, that are measurable, strategies, our game plan, issues what needs to be addressed to achieve the vision, mission, et cetera, initiatives the actions that will be taken to address these issues, outcome expected results of our effort. This is great team stuff for you. And then evaluations where we review and where we revise. I put that in there because I thought when we talk about application what do I want them to do? I thought, "What a great grid to work through in your company to say, 'Are we doing these things? Are we fleshing all of these out?"

I would suggest, I mean you get together all the time anyway and study leadership, I would suggest that sometime you get together and check these off. And what I would suggest you do is evaluate yourself from a one to a 10, "What are we really good at what? Where are we in that eight, nine, 10, section?" Anything less than an eight it needs to be shored up. So I put that in for you and also for our subscribers so that you've got a game plan there. Last question, what dissipates energy? Activity without direction. Nothing sucks air out of people more than that. People dislike chaos, poor communication and goals that are unclear. When a leader consistently provides clear direction, keeps them organized, running smoothly and solves problems with regularity, people want to follow. People are inspired when things work. Momentum is a powerful motivator. Four questions. If you want to communicate to inspire, "What do I want them to see? What do I want them to know? What do I want them to feel? And then what do I want them to do?" That's it gang. Thank you very much.

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back Chris. Part two was just as good as part one.

Chris Goede:     Absolutely. I'm inspired. Thanks for having me back. I'm grateful to be here.

Mark Cole:       Glad you're here. Glad we get to break this down. These next two questions are really things that I've seen John really live out in our 20 plus years of being around him. And so, I look forward to sharing it with you today.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, absolutely. So let's dive in. So the third one he talks about, first one today, third one in this series is what do I want them to feel? And I think we can really spend a lot of our time here. I know personally for me, there's some personal conviction on some of this around tone and how I communicate. We'll get to that in just a minute. But I love him talking about, he made a comment in there about you want to release them. You want to give them motion of acceptance. And so, one of the things I'd love to just hear from you is you've been mentored from communicating stage one-on-one. What are some of the things you go through as far as when you think about, he talks about the head, first you know what you want to communicate, then the heart that then creates the hope. Talk through that process that you go through and communicating with people to inspire them in regards to how you want them to feel.

Mark Cole:       Yeah. And so many times, Chris, in our world we think communication is a stage, a microphone, a bright light, and some type of audience out there, for some of us 5,000, for some of us five people. But really communication in what John's talking about here is communication in a boardroom, communication in a leadership team meeting, communication with a family member. In other words, don't conceptualize this and say, "This podcast series is about John the speaker speaking to thousands." No, we're really talking about communication at its basic level and at its barest essentials. And so, keep that context both as you go back and listen to last month or last week rather and as you listen to this week. When I think about, I was a lot more comfortable in a board room, I was a lot more comfortable communicating to my team that could understand my does and doesn't and Southern and all that stuff. But then there was a different feeling that I got when I first started communicating on John Maxwell's stage, communicating on somebody else's stage easier, communicating right after John or right between John's talk a lot more difficult.

But really that difficulty was more in my thinking and in my lack of being comfortable than it was in my ability and what John is saying here on what do you want them to feel, that empowerment thing. I'm reminded here and Jake provided this for us but Simon Sinek, a friend of ours, we all know Simon, he says, "Leadership is about empowering others to achieve things they did not think possible." Now imagine that. I want to be a communicator that helps someone believe they can accomplish something that they didn't even know was possible.

If I then put my mind around that concept before I walk on stage, before I walk into a meeting or tonight when I leave the studio and I go home to my family, if I go, "How can I communicate here today in a way that empowers people to believe they can achieve things they did not think it was possible?" There is a different sense of excitement and passion and certainty that comes when that is the desired outcome. But most of us communicate you know what for? We communicate to get an attaboy, an attagirl. We communicate to feel good about getting a message across, not to communicate to inspire and empower someone that's listening to us to go do things they didn't think was possible.

Chris Goede:     Yeah and isn't that what John talks about when he says, "I'm not a motivational speaker, I'm a motivational communicator or connector." This is funny, this is so new to both of us this example I'm going to give you but I was just thinking the way John does it and when he is speaking to a team, our leadership team, our family, company, or two, five, 10,000 people, he's talking directly to one person. And I think that's how he goes in with the mindset and I think that's how we need to communicate to inspire is what is it that we need to release them from?

So this example I want to give you is we had a conversation this morning and this individual said that, "Live to Lead 2019 it was like John was talking right to me and said, 'Some of you have something inside of you that you need to go and do now." And he released that individual, gave them permission to fly to do something that one year later they worked on and you and I were just sitting there glad to be a part of the conversation.

Mark Cole:       That's right.

Chris Goede:     And so whether or not you're communicating to a big group, I think this is key, or if it is to your family members, which is just as important if not more, we've got to think about what is it and how do we want them to feel. Now, I want to talk a little bit about this because I struggle with this and this is a conversation that happens maybe more in my personal life than it does professionally but it's the whole how we say it makes them feel. And that's a big deal when it comes to communicating whether it is your team member or whether it's somebody in your own personal life the tone behind how we say what we say drives So much of how they feel. Talk a little bit about some of the things you've learned from John and how you apply that in your daily life to make sure that the passion's there yes but the tone of what you're communicating ultimately is probably more important than the passion because that's how it's going to make them feel.

Mark Cole:       Well I mean go back to what John says that the three CS of feeling connection. That's what you're asking a question about so this connection idea. I remember hearing John for the first time when I was, I think I was 21 or 22 and I remember when I listened to him I went, "That dude's talking to me." Now don't tell John I called him a dude back then but I did, "That dude is talking to me." Well, then the next time I heard him I went, "That dude is talking to me again." There was something about John whether I was reading his book or listening to his voice, there was something so compelling about him that I would say me too. And that's what John says on connection. You want your audience to feel like, "Whoa, me too."

And again, too many communicators whether it's in a boardroom with our significant other are in front of a mass of people we want to tell people how we overcame not tell them how to overcome. And we create this gap, we create this thing that makes people think, "Well, I can never achieve that because he has already been through this and he got better." You don't connect with people that are in a difficult time when you talk about the way you triumphed from that difficult time. You connect with them when you relate with them on how difficult it was for you too. And so this idea that how do we relate with people, how do we shrink the gap rather than expand the gap, all comes back into our ability to let our significant other, our leadership team, our peers, to feel the me too moment. That moment that goes, "That's hitting me right here."

John then goes on Chris, just to keep going, he goes, "The three Cs of feeling is connection, confidence and challenge." Well, here's what he means. Connection is the me too moment and have you created a me too moment to where someone goes, "I resonate with that." The confidence feeling is the I can moment when you go, "If Mark can do it I can tell too. If Chris Goede can do it I can too." It's what Maxwell does when he minimizes his success and makes himself very approachable. He works hard to make people feel like that he's just one of the struggling leaders because he wants that I can transaction.

The third C is the challenge, so connection, confidence, challenge, me to, I can, and the challenge is all about I will. I'm going to walk out of this session, I'm going to walk out, listen to this podcast and I will improve my communication. I will become a better communicator. And it was when John gave me the I will in mentoring me on communication is when I promise you people started going, "Wow, somebody flipped the switch Mark. You're doing a lot better." It's because all of a sudden he went from this me too, I can, to I will. I will be a better communicator. And that's the empowerment moment.

Chris Goede:     John in this gives great illustrations when he talks about this connection. Real quick and then we're going to move on to number four. But he gives us that illustration him walking up around that volunteer and putting his arm around him and saying, "Man, I've been there before." Then the next one he talks about even is the success gaps. He gives us another connection point and a visual image in order for us to connect with people. And I think it's just key. We've said this, no matter if you're communicating to one person or to many people it is how do we make them feel and then be very careful when it is one-on-one the tone of which you're using to communicate. If you want to inspire people, make sure that you're checking the tone behind what you're doing.

So let's talk about this fourth question that he poses to us here when we're trying to communicate that inspires, what do I want them to do. This is really that application, the no and the do. And I think this is something that we're big in our enterprise as a whole. It's like, "Boy, that's a great message. Yes we're going to connect, that's a great message but the now what." And as you work through communicating and inspiring with people what is that process that you go through that it's an intentional communication, intentional conversation with everybody to get them to a point to where now it's like, "Hey, now it's time for us to go do something," versus, "Boy, that really sounded good now let's just sit around and talk about it."

Mark Cole:       I get asked a question a lot of times, "What's it like to be with John? What's the greatest lesson? What's the thing that you admire the most about John?" And it's always these superlative questions or comparative questions rather that people want to know, "Hey, what's it like?" For years when I started leading John's company they'd say, "What's the greatest business lesson that you learned?" And I love answering that question and it's going to apply right here to the communication piece because here's what I call it, it's the back of the room lesson. The back of the room lesson. And here's what the back of the room lesson is that has taught me a lot about business. It's the what next question. They did business with us here, what do we want them to do business with us with next? What is that next step?

And I talked to John about it and for him, John, it's not a business principle, it's a journey principle. I'm not here to impress you with my speech, I'm here to invite you on a journey. But we turned it into a business principle. Never deliver today if you don't know what you want the client to do tomorrow. Now business leaders, I just gave you a powerful business lesson, I promise you. Don't deliver today's product without clarity on what tomorrow's product should be, what the next step should be.

Well, here it is in communication and I didn't get this, Chris, until about six months ago. The question in communication is not did I nail it with my message, not did I get an atta girl, atta boy, way to go, that's not the question. The question is what are they doing with what I just shared? What's the next step? In my language, what's the back of the room? What are they going to do with what I just said? And I've gotten too many compliments lately on how well I did and not what I inspired them to do. Good communication always has application. Good communication always has application. Perhaps I'm not communicating well. Good communication always has application. You have not communicated well if someone doesn't have something they intend to do because of what you said.

Chris Goede:     And I think listen, as John wraps this up he talks about that people dislike chaos, poor communication or even if the goals are unclear. And I've heard John say this before that momentum is the great exaggerator. And what we want to do is we want to be able to have them take action to create momentum. Even if it's just one step, what is it that you're going to do as you leave, go through the back of the room and out the door that you're going to be able to do to take the next step from a communications standpoint? So Mark wrap us up, two great lessons from who you and I believe one of the greatest communicators of all times to be able to inspire, to connect and to get us to action some closing thoughts on your end.

Mark Cole:       Well, for 20 years I have been in that me too that I was just talking about or that I can and now I'm in the I will. And as I watch John do that, the caution for every one of us after two lessons, we've spent two podcast lessons on this concept of communication that inspires and I will take it to the last point John leaves us with today and that is activity without direction dissipates energy. And you just talked about momentum, you just talked about we're trying to create momentum. Well, the greatest detriment to energy or to morale or to culture that is moving forward, to momentum, the greatest detriment to that is not a poor communicator, it's not even a bad message, it's not even a bad vision if you can believe that, it is a mission, a vision, a communication element that doesn't inspire people to do something.

And gang, if you've taken anything out of this lesson, the last two lessons, it's this, you need to be clear on what you want people to do next, that is called inspiration. Not edification, not excitement, not affirmation, we're looking for inspiration. We inspire people to reach their full potential. And Chris, I've loved doing debriefing and illustrating this lesson with you today but more importantly than that I'm going to look forward to people that have actually done something with this lesson.

Now I'm talking about doing more than going to to click on the bonus resource button, that's good. I'm talking about more than passing along to somebody else this link and getting somebody else impacted by this podcast. I'm even talking about more, Chris, than this idea of subscribing so you can hear us again next week. I'm talking about something bigger than that and here's where my challenge is to you today. I want you to write this down, or memorize it if you're driving, hashtag Maxwell podcast, hashtag Maxwell podcast.

Now listen, I'm trying to inspire you to communicate because that is a social media handle that we have created, hashtag Maxwell podcasts, to get the conversation going on podcasts like these. Some of you have been very good to go to and leave us a comment and all of that's great. Many of you let people know when you're listening to the podcast by snapping a picture and posting it on your social media. I'm going to challenge you to start conversations after the end of every podcast going forward and call it hashtag Maxwell podcast. Leave a comment. Our team's going to be looking for it and we want to start a conversation. That is what it means to have communication that inspires. Thanks for joining us today. Thanks for being a part of the podcast. We look forward to seeing you next week. Until then let's lead.

5 thoughts on “Communication that Inspires (Part 2)”

  1. I will listen to this podcast again and again because I will be doing my first zoom presentation about my book “And He Restoreth My Soul” and I always want to encourage and inspire those who have been abused sexually or in any other way to that stagnant is not an option but movement is always our option. No matter what!

    God is always timely!
    Thank you!

    1. Darlene, we are so happy to hear this podcast is an encouragement to you and your calling. Thank you for the good work you’re doing!

  2. Hey Mark, I just wanted to send a sincere thank you for all that you, John, and the team bring to the podcast. It has truly been an invaluable source of practical inspiration for me. I’ve been an avid listener for the last couple of years, however the last 3 months or so in particular have consistently struck some deeper chords within me that stirred up a sense of conviction to express my appreciation.
    Thank you for always being the voices of encouragement that I look forward to hearing from first thing as I start each Wednesday morning.

    Your Friend,
    Natasha T.

    1. Natasha, thank you for the kind words! We are so glad the podcast is challenging you to grow in your leadership! Thanks for being such a faithful listener.


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