How I Learned to Connect with People (Part 1)

This week, we’re beginning a new series in which John Maxwell shares his journey of learning to connect with people on and off stage. This series offers ten lessons that John has learned throughout the years that has helped his communication become more affective at casting vision, communicating ideas, and connecting with people.

For the application portion of part one, Mark Cole and Jason Brooks share how they implement John’s principles of communication within the John Maxwell Enterprise. Mark reminds us that the goal of communication as a leader is not meant to simply convince, but to connect.

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

READ THE TRANSCRIPT

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, Mark Cole here. And I'm excited today to bring you part one of a two-part series. In this series, we're going to learn how John Maxwell learned to connect with people. And you will learn because as I listen to John today, I am excited to share with you how Jason Brooks, my co-host today. And I are using this in the Maxwell enterprise. The reason we chose this today is because as many of you know, in January of 2021, just a couple of months ago in this recording, John released his book, Change Your World. This is about how anyone, anywhere can make a difference. In this book. John talks about one is too small, a number to achieve greatness. That's why we need others on the team. That's why we need to learn to connect. So throughout this series, John is going to share 10 ways to connect with people through communication, to cast vision, and to inspire others to join us on our mission of transformation and on our calling of leadership.

John shares stories from his early days as a young communicator, presented with big opportunities and how he learned through out those opportunities, how to equip others and how to become an incredible connector. So in this series, you're going to learn how to connect with yourself, you're going to learn how to present yourself to connect with others. And you're going to learn how to accomplish your mission and vision. As always, we have a downloadable worksheet that is available to you, and you can get that at maxwellpodcast.com/connected. Now grab a pen, grab a piece of paper you are going to be impacted. Here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  In this session I want to talk to you on the subject, how I learned to connect with people. This is an auxiliary of my book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. It's a book really about how to connect with people, everybody talks. But when you think about it, very few people really grab you emotionally, mentally to the place where they really connect with you. And I've thought so often about the fact that we spend so much time, we're trying to communicate to our boss, we're trying to communicate to our family members. It's so important in our life and yet nobody's ever really taught us, how do you really connect with people so that when you're done talking, you realize that some value is going to come out of that process? And so I want to talk to you about it, and I want to read to you and it's in your notes, but I want to read to you just a couple sentences. That is in my book. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect that kind of sets the foundation for what I want to do.

If it is true that almost everything we become and accomplish in life is with and through other people, then the ability to connect and create a rapport with them is the most important skill that we can learn. I believe that with all of my heart. When I'm in a Q and A period, and it's not on the subject of leadership, but it's on other things. One of the questions constantly asked of me is, is "John, how did you learn to connect? And how'd you learn to communicate with people?" This is not in the book. And the reason it's not in the book is my publisher wanted it in the book, but I just felt uneasy about it because it sounds a little bit self-serving because I'm going to really give you my journey. I'm going to talk about how I learned to connect with people, because it took me years.

It wasn't a one-step two-step process, but it's not in the book, but I wanted to add it. I wanted to add it so that I could teach it. I've never taught this before. Literally I developed this lesson just to maybe six, seven weeks ago. So let's go with it. There are just some things I want to share with you of how I learned to connect with people. Number one, here we go. I understood the value of connecting with others. And then what's interesting is I understood the value of connecting with others at a very young age. And I don't know whether it's because I have some communication gifts that I was given by God? And so therefore it was always apparent to me who connected and who didn't, but I can still remember being in my third grade class and then go into my fourth grade class. Ms. Stein was my third grade teacher. Ms. Stacy was my fourth grade teacher. And there's a world difference between those two years. I mean, okay, one's a little bit higher. I know that.

But Ms. Stacy, every kid in the class loved, I mean, this lady knew how to connect with her class, Ms. Stein, totally opposite effect. And I can still remember being in the fourth grade and as a little kid saying, "Why is it that this teacher, everybody likes this teacher and in my last year, no one liked that teacher?" And I can still remember being in high school. You'll remember this, or maybe being in college where you have several teachers, maybe you can select for a course. Do you remember in college, how you used to fight to get into somebody's class? I mean, he got five different teachers teaching the very same course. The credits, the credit and hello, the you've got to pay for it regardless, but how everybody fought to get in somebody now, why did we all fight to get in somebody's class? And we all did everything we could not to get into someone else's class?

Same subject, same school, same tuition, nothing changes, except one proff can connect, one cannot. I still remember even watching kids at recess. And why was it that some kids had other kids around them and they were just absolutely be having a good time together and then you see some kids and they were just over there by themselves. And I remember looking at him and say, "Why don't those kids connect with other kids?" When I realized I was going to go into the ministry, I became greatly concerned because I was used to preachers that were boring. And I can remember, I think He God's called me to bore people.

God's called me to get up and say things that people can understand in such a way that they don't care. And I remember how God brought great concern to me because I thought this is not a good thing. And I don't know if I want to be like that because basically the models that I had pretty much were those that weren't really not effective in their connecting and communication skills. And so at a very young age, even though I didn't understand how to connect, I understood. I mean, at a very elementary age, I understood that some people connected and some people didn't and those that connected were successful. And those that did not connect were not as successful period case dismissed. I knew that in elementary school and it within me gave me a desire to say, "I've got to figure this out. I don't know how to do it, but I got to figure it out."

Now, the second thing I'm going to share with you on my journey of connecting was a mistake. Okay? It's the only negative example, but I've got to put it in there because it was such a problem for me that I have to pass it onto you with integrity and authenticity. Number two, I tried to imitate connectors that I admired. The few, again my world was that the pastor world. Okay? The few that I knew that were good, I thought I got to become like him. And I can still remember there was a guy named Charlie Williams and I'm telling you, the guy was just great to look at as a good looking guy. And I mean, he was massive and he looked like he was a bodybuilder. And I mean, I don't know if he was a great preacher, but everybody just thought he was great. Just look at him. Okay? And he was an orator, major orator. And I thought, okay, I've got to learn how to do oratory.

As a very young pastor. I tried that. And I mean, I memorized by the hour phrases so that I could say things like I've been to Vermont where I've seen the daffodils tucked down with the green hillside. And I just talk about, and I use this phrase geology, and I was so bad at it. I would mess it up every time and I'd have Rose bushes tucking down azaleas or something. And I was just, it was not my gift. And I remember I would try it and try it and I would retry it. And I would memorize. I remember there was a guy named Lawrence Six one time who preached a message, great orator, there must be a heaven somewhere. And he said it with, he preached it with a Southern drawl.

I even got the Southern drawl down and I preached this there must be a heaven somewhere. When I went to my second church to get into church you had what they called trial sermons. You had to go do a sermon and the people sat there and they decide if they wanted you to be the pastor based upon your sermon as a stupid way to pick a pastor. But you got to understand. I grew up with a bunch of waterfall stupid people. So I mean, it really works in that context.

I remember I went to that church and I really wanted to go to that church so I preached there must be a heaven somewhere. And I mean, they thought I was an orator. Now what they didn't notice. That was the only message I had. You understand that? Yeah, next week they're going out. We're going to be preaching. There must be a sermon somewhere. You know what I'm saying? And I haven't been able to find it, but I'm sure it's somewhere here. But I made a huge mistake I tried to imitate people that I admired or people that I thought could communicate with. And again, I saw, it wasn't who I was. I had to in my communication and connecting, come to grips with the fact, there were a lot of gifts in connecting communication that I did not possess. And I was never going to be like those people.

So number three, I determined to be myself and to build on my strengths. Willy Allan one time said my only regret in life is that I'm not somebody else. And I think we've all felt that door's Mormon one time said until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have. As a young kid, trying to communicate and connect. Still looking to find my way. This took me years. This is not something I got quickly.

My question went from, what do they have that I want? In other words, what are they, how do they communicate? So I can learn how to do it that way too. What do I have the people will want? And I just totally changed the question. What's within me. What to do I have, what gifts do I have abilities I have, it will help me to connect that people would want. And I'll tell you what I did. This is the most fun part, maybe of the lesson for me, because I can still remember about 21, 22, still very young in my communication. I remember it dawned on me one day, no one taught me this, but one day in my searching to learn how to connect. It dawned on me that if I was going to connect, I had to find out what was within me, the strengths that was within me, and somehow use that into my connecting repertoire.

And I slowly began over the next couple of three years to find out what is innately John Maxwell that allows me to have authenticity when I communicate and connect in such a way that it touches people's lives. That allows me to plug into them, the listener over about a three, four year period. I hit it.

And this was huge in my turn to learn how to connect. There are five things that are just me. Now, there may be you too, but I tell you they are me. And I don't have to imitate anybody. It's just who I am and what I do. And it's just who I am. And I begin to inject it into my communication and it really helped me to connect. Number one is humor. I enjoy my audience, I enjoy my subject, I enjoy myself when I speak. No one needs to feel sorry for me when I'm communicating. I love this right here. I mean, I don't get nervous. I don't get dear God. I go home. And all of a sudden I realized in my communication and connecting because it's who I am. I see humored about everything. I think all of us have to laugh at ourselves because people have free years, I think we might as well loosen up a little bit.

And all of a sudden I began to understand that, to use humor when I connect really, because that's who I was. And it was very easy for it to spill out naturally in my life. So I began to say, then this is one area that I need to inject in my sharing. Number two, now this was the biggest battle of the five authenticity. I can still remember in my first church teaching expositionally out of the scripture and getting into areas of the Bible that I didn't live. Now, this is going to disappoint a lot of people but I'm sorry. That's just who I am. And I don't always fulfill your expectations and I surely don't fulfill mine. But when I would teach verse by verse, chapter by chapter, I'd get the passage the scripture that I was coming shorted. And I still remember trying to teach that stuff. And it was so hollow inside of me.

I remember coming to about my second year of pastoring coming to a very important decision my life. And it was very, I'll tell you what it was. I said, I will not teach or indicate what I truly either do not believe or do not understand. I'm just not going to go there. And I remember there were certain subjects because of the denomination I grew up in that I was just a little bit shaky on and those issues, and I would bring in a speaker to deal with the subject. I just bring them in, say, "It's yours." You know what I mean? I'll sit down on the front, I'll take notes, but I'm not going there. That was huge for me because what it did is it allowed me when I get up to communicate and speak, it allowed me to go open up all barrels and go for it. Because if I want to teach it, if I want to pass it on, I'm going to live it. It's going to be who I am. It's going to be something that I have found really works in my life.Number three was confidence. I realized that that was something that I naturally did well. I've always felt good about myself and I've always felt good about others. It's because of my home background. And I was just blessed and I wish everybody would had it, but they don't, but I don't have a confidence problem. And all of a sudden I realized that when I teach, when I connect, confidence is huge. I find that when I work with people and I connect when I speak to people, I so believe in them. And I just know they're going to make the right response. And I know they're going to make the right decision. And it never enters my mind that they're not going to make the right decision. And it allows me to connect in a way that I think that I would not connect if I didn't realize that's a strength that I have. Number four is hope. I naturally am an encourager. I'm a natural lifter. That's who I am. That's what I do. That's who I am.

And all of a sudden, I said, then let all of your communication have the sense of hope in it, bring light, shed light, shed light in people's lives. And number five simplicity. It was an important day of my life when I came to the conclusion and I had a talk with myself and basically the talk was John Maxwell. You are not an intellectual, I'm not, I mean I wish I was smart. I'd like to be smart. I see smart people and I say, dear God, I'd like to be smart. You know what I'm saying? But I'm not, I'm not an intellectual. Complex things just don't grab me. They really don't. I just raise my hand said, I don't understand it. If you can't bring it down and get it simple for me, I'm not going to be able to do it real quick. And I used to remember when you went to school in year two, you just had people teach you things and you'd say, could we break it down? And do we have to confuse everybody all the time and be happy about it?

Do you know? I'm simple. I'm very bottom line simple. And here, let's just, can we not just break it down So, hey, put the food on the lower shelf so everybody can have some. Don't stick away up there and make them get a ladder. This freed me up when I said, okay, I can use Schumer. I'm only going to talk about the things I really have bought into. And it's a fact that I'm going to use the confidence that I have in people that allow them to act upon that issue. And I'm going to always shed hope. And I'm going to be very simple. When I begin to camp, come to grips with this is who I am, and these are my strengths. And this is what has to be in my connecting communication teaching. Everything began to turn positive for me, spend time and ask yourself, what are my strengths?

Because you have them and you've got to find them. And once you find them, then you just literally inject that into your communication, because that's going to allow you to rise higher because that's what you naturally are. And that's what you naturally do. Number four, the fourth thing I did in learning to connect was I asked for feedback. Stephen Covey said, "It takes humility to seek feedback and it takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it." I sought feedback everywhere every time with everyone. I mean, when I was going to speak anybody that I knew, I'd say, do me a favor. I don't care if you take notes, just listen to me and help me tell me what I don't do well, give me some feedback. Tell me what I did well, but help me out.

And I know I sought feedback because my father, who was a speaker and communicator, he paid my brother and I 10 cents every time we could, when we listened to him, if he had a grammatical error, if we could catch it, he'd past 10 cents. If he said something that really was good for the people and we caught it and he taught us how to read communicator. And when we were kids, when we were kids in junior high, we went to church to hear my dad just because we needed money.

So we did that. And Larry and I get each other, I we punchy because he would only take one of us. So we couldn't both come and get 10 cents off the idea. So he was bigger. So he got two to one. I mean, we had a distribution system, the whole deal, but it taught me. And so when I started communicating, I said, "Listen to me, help me out. Tell me what I did well, what didn't I do well, give me feedback?" When I hired Charlie Wetzel to write with me, because I was his pastor in San Diego. I had him every Sunday, take notes. And on Monday, he and I would sit for 30 minutes on the phone and talk it. And I would say, "Charlie, what were my best three minutes in that message? What were my worst three minutes? When did people glaze over?"

And over that period of time, I taught him how to read a crowd, I taught him how to read a sermon, I taught him how to effectively realize what was good, what wasn't good. And I taught because I understood the only way he could ever write for me is to understand what works and what doesn't work. If you can't figure it out, I can promise you. You'll never learn how to connect if you cannot figure out what works well for you, what doesn't work well, what you got to change the whole process in your notes, non-connectors. These are people that are good people. They just can't connect. Can tell if you disconnect, but only connectors can tell you why. Boy did I discover that? And what I discovered is I don't need feedback. Then I began to get a little bit more careful about my feedback.

I realized I needed feedback from people who knew how to connect themselves. That you don't need feedback from somebody who can't connect it. I don't mean this kindly, you don't need swimming lessons from a person that can't swim. You understand? And you don't need connecting lessons from person that can't connect. And there a whole bunch of people they communicate and you know, as well as I do nobody's home, they've never been home. Okay? Number five, I studied the great connectors. And when I studied the great connectors, there were two questions I always ask. In fact, I still do this. I do this, I can't help myself. It's just who I am anymore. But I asked myself two questions when I sit there. And when anybody communicates, I ask myself two questions. How did the person connect? And how long did the person connect? The how is so key people say, "Well, I really enjoyed the sermon last night. I enjoyed the sermon too." Okay. What made it enjoyable? How did they connect? And how long did that person connect?

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back. I am so glad to have you back after these five points that John covered, I'm excited today to bring my friend, my co-leader, you know him as our co-host to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. But I'm going to tell you, I know him as a connector of people. Now what's fun Jason is, you're an introvert, I'm an extrovert. And we're going to talk about doing something from either one of those perspectives. Either of those personalities and to effectively connect with people, glad you're on today, let's get started man.

Jason Brooks:   Man, I'm excited to be on with you simply for that reason, I have definitely learned over my time with them, the Maxwell Leadership Enterprise, that there are different ways of connecting. And I've learned the value of watching people who connect in ways that are different from the ways I connect. And it's improved my connection skills overall. So I want to jump right in, as John is talking through his lessons, he starts out with he understood the value of connecting with others. And one of the ways that he learned that was he had models that showed him how to connect his dad Melvin being a big one. So I wanted to ask you what kind of connecting models did you have growing up and how have those models changed as you've gone along your growth and leadership journey?

Mark Cole:       Well, I think Jason, of course you know this because you've been an active part and participant in developing my communication skills, my connecting with people's skills specifically from stage. And I'm so humored, not only by that question, but by the process, because what I watched with John and how he connects with people and knew he wanted to connect with people at an early age, I thought I was pretty good at connecting with people to my context you know this our podcast listeners know this, my original context, much like John's was. And from stage in churches, in places of faith, in big camp meetings or youth conventions and things like that. And for me, the louder my volume got the more intensity that I felt. And then the applause and clapping of the audience was the indicator of how well I was communicating.

What I found out after John has been mentoring for a while. A lot of them just learn that too. And they would clap to get me to be quiet, not because they were agreeing with what I was saying, because my communication has truly evolved not only from a stage, but in leadership meetings, not only in leadership meetings, but in one-on-one because communication is more about connecting than it is about convincing. And I spent most of my 35 years before John began to work on me and my communication ability using communication or talking as a tool of convincing rather than a tool of connecting.

Jason Brooks:   I love being in leadership meetings with you now one of the things that you've talked about over the years that I've worked with you is that you do have passion for what you do. And that passion often gets translated by other people as an intensity and that intensity can make them draw back and not want to connect. Then you have really over the last several years, learn how to funnel that passion and intensity into an authenticity that invites people to lean in instead of lead out. And so now I even noticed this the last couple of leadership meetings, you've been very passionate and very intense about certain ideas or certain topics or certain directions that you want us to go, but you communicating connects with us from a place of authenticity and it's not a command, it's not a direction, it's a vision, it's a mission, it's a calling us out to meet you where you're at.

And it's really changed, especially over the last year, as we've become more one company, you've done such an exceptional job of connecting with people in that place of authenticity, where they understand your passion and your intensity, and aren't afraid of it. And you've turned something that you self admitted could turn people off. You've actually turned it into a positive, something that draws people in. It's been really interesting to watch you learn to make that shift.

Mark Cole:       Well, it's funny Jason, thank you for saying that. And I feel that shift John talks about in his third point about confidence. He naturally feels good about it. And I feel that confidence, especially in certain environments at certain times, I know what he's talking about with that, but you and I just got back at the taping of this podcast just last week we were in a leadership retreat. It was our first ever as one company, you and I was joined by 10 of our peers and people that's on the leadership team and Kimberly Wetsel, who is my executive partner. She's been assisting me as as an executive assistant for several years, she really runs the show. So now I call her she's really the executive and I'm her assistant, but anyway, Kimberly never cuts me any slack.

And so at the end of the retreat, she said, "I'm going to tell you that first session that you led, it was spectacular. Oh my goodness. It was awesome." The pace, Jason, what you were talking about, the approachability, there was no mistake of passion, but your intensity was not overwhelming. It was inviting much of the words you just used. She said, "Now that second session to close it out, not so good." She said, "Your intensity took over. You knew the direction that you wanted to go and you began to propel us, not compel us to get there." Now what's interesting to me Jason, as I think of connecting with people and understanding the value of connecting, I was convinced confident and passionate about both sessions, the vision, why we're going somewhere and the direction, how we're going to get there. I was not missing and passionate either one.

I was not missing and wanting to collaborate in either one, but in one, I'm in a strength zone. And I overpower and I resorted back in that same leadership retreat to the convincing of people, rather than the connecting of people and what I would challenge you, me, our podcasts listeners, as you listen to John, both this week and next week is don't just look at your communication from one angle. Look at it from a 360 degree view, how is it being received? How is it when I am passionate about one segment, vision for me or passionate about direction for me. How do I come across? Because our ability to communicate well rests in one undeniable, irrefutable quantifiable, did we connect? Not did we convince not, did people give us an out a boy out a girl? Did we connect people to what we were trying to say? Or did we convince people to what we were trying to say?

Jason Brooks:   Well, I will say this about that last session. And this is not inside a talk here, this is just a lesson that I took away. The way you closed it out was you were talking about a really difficult subject, something that you had a much deeper understanding and mastery of, something that other people at the table rival drill understanding your mastery. The rest of us were catching up and struggling with it. And there were people that were honest enough at the table to say, "I don't get it, I'm not seeing it helped me." And we worked through a really difficult subject. And at the end you arrived at a place where maybe some people felt more calm or propelled and then compelled, but I love the way you ended it. And you said "We don't have to be 100% in agreement, but we have to be in alignment."

And so you still gave us a way of being compelled. You gave us an avenue of where we didn't have to find ourselves on the opposite side of your passion, your intensity, or your direction. You gave us a way to invite us back into the conversation. And I thought that was a really smart move. It was one of the things that I really took away along with the saying that you had, that we learned from Craig grow shells. We have to trust the process, not the outcome, lean into the process, don't worry about the result. And that's what you were doing. You were inviting us to lean into the process, even if we couldn't fully see what that outcome was going to be. And I thought that was a really great way of closing it out because you invited us in, instead of shutting us out, you could have just shut us out and been like, screw it, I'll drag you guys along.

But instead you're like, if you can't get here, at least get here and we'll be together. And I thought that was really, really well done and a great kind of, you may not have connected the whole way through the way you had hoped to, but you did give us that piece at the end, it's still invited us in. And when you just said that we have to, as leaders, make sure that we're not just seeing our communication from our side of the communication piece or the connection piece. We need to know what the people are experiencing and how they're connecting. Well, the only way we're going to learn what the people are thinking is if we invite them to give us feedback, which John mentioned in his third point there or no his fourth point where he talked about, he asked for feedback.

I wanted to ask you you're a leading at a level now. And we'll come back to talking about your strengths in just a second, but I wanted to hit on this while it was still fresh. What types of people have you learned to empower, to give you feedback on your connection?

Mark Cole:       Thank you for asking that. I am a growing communicator. I don't think the greatest value I have added to John Maxwell and our enterprise up until the last year or two has been communicating. We've got the best communicator in the world, John Maxwell's incredible. And so for years, not only did that, whatever little ability I have lie dormant, it was completely, I was comfortable with it being dormant. So as I've picked that back up and realize that there are going to be moments that I need to communicate vision or engage the team or compel people to take a journey with me, I've really picked three types of voices to speak into and give me feedback. One is the voice of a mentor. Someone that can communicate so much better than I, that we have struck a deal that I will thicken my skin and hear whatever, however, and whenever he wants to speak into my communication, that's John Maxwell.

So John has chosen to speak about my communication in front of thousands of people, right after I communicated on his stage, right after I had followed him, communicating on his own stage. You want to talk about intimidation, and then you want to talk about pouring salt in a wound to have him come back up and give me observations, not just for the benefit of my growth, but for the benefit of the people in the room to give them hope that they too can improve their communication. But John, as the mentor to speak, however, whenever and whatever he wants to about my communication and being okay and trusting of him that however, whenever and whatever he wants to say and do, I will be okay with. The second is someone that knows my heart. They know what's inside of me to help me gauge on how it sounded when it comes outside of me.

So Kimberly would be an example. I mentioned her a little bit earlier. She's worked alongside me for 15 years. Kim knows my heart as a leader, as a teammate distance from me, worked for somebody that worked for me. If you allow me to use that language, which I hate, then she's moved into a proximity to where she knows what drives my schedule. She knows how passionate I am about my family. She knows that heart. So she gets to gauge what you hear on the outside compared to what she knows is on the inside. And then third is you and Erin who knows John's content better than I to make sure that I am on point with our message, our values and our vision.

So I have someone that critiques me on content, I have someone that critiques me on heart or context, and I have someone that critiques me on communication, how I speak, which has a mentor that is much better than me. So I have a 360 degree view of very intentional. There's a lot of people that speak into me, Jason, there's three types of voices that I listened to with great diligence and intention.

Jason Brooks:   And I love that because it's a great lesson for other leaders. If you don't have your own framework for who you're inviting to give you feedback on your connection and communication, I encourage you to borrow Mark's, the person who knows communication of the person who knows context or character of who you are and the people who know content, who can offer you insight into the subject matter that you're speaking into. I think that's a great rubric and maybe there are other people for certain leaders that need to have a higher rank, but that's at least a starting point for listeners of the podcast to be able to sit back and say, "Okay, who am I going to invite into this space?" I know for me Charlie Wetsel was my mentor. So I look at Charlie and if I've got a difficult writing question, I can go to him and I can ask him people that know my heart you Jake, our podcast producer, Chad Johnson Jason Stout, those are people that know my heart and I trust them.

And then the people who know the content, man, I listen to Aaron, I listened again to Charlie, I listened to you, John, Linda, Eggers is probably one of the biggest voices that I listen to. And so that's a really helpful framework for anybody who's wanting to grow in that area. But I know they're fresh to grow. We have to know where we're best investing in that growth. So that brings me back to John's third point about being himself and building on his strengths and John mentioned that he discovered his five connecting strengths. And I wanted to ask you, what are your strengths as a connector and how did you discover them?

Mark Cole:       Yeah, I'm glad we're going to take a couple more minutes and really dig into this subject. Because as John was talking about that, I get asked all the time. What is the thing that you are most impacted or most attracted to about John and his leadership or his communication or working alongside him? And hands down the answer is how comfortable he is in his own skin? He really does laugh at himself. He said, "I enjoy my audience. I enjoy my subject, but let me tell you something. I enjoy myself," and he does. He will crack himself up on stage. He takes himself serious and lightly on stage. He thoroughly enjoys that component. I got to be honest with you. When I first started communicating on John's stage, holding his microphone, standing in his spotlight, I did not enjoy it. I hated it. I was like, you know what? I have been willing to do anything and everything John wanted me to do in the area of leadership, but I'm ready to put my foot down and say, no, thank you.

I'm so glad I didn't. But the reason I'd wanted to was because I wasn't comfortable. I wasn't comfortable in my skin. I wasn't comfortable in communicating. I felt intimidated. I'm going to tell you what turned the corner for me is when I figured out how to get comfortable in my skin. And it was when I realized my right or my privilege or my responsibility to communicate. And here's where it came. What can only, I communicate that no one else can? And what that is for me as I've traveled more with John Maxwell than any other leader in the world, I have been exposed to more of John Maxwell leadership environments than anyone in the world.

And I have been partners with John in the area of leadership, more than any other person in the world. Therefore, I can speak from my strength of proximity to John and applying John's principles and leading his companies with his principles better than anybody in the world. I can do that. You can't do it Jason, you're a good communicator. You did a great devotion. Jake can't do that, Jake's an incredible performer. Incredible. I can speak from a place of proximity and application better than anybody in the world. And Jason, I remember the moment sitting in a hotel room in a Marriott in Orlando, Florida, when I realized I could speak from that position better than anybody in the world.

Now let me tell you what happened. I didn't immediately get good because I got comfortable, but I did immediately get comfortable because I became aware of my strengths. And that's very important. You want to get good, find the place that only you can speak from and speak about, and then you will get comfortable. It may still be a little while before you get good. I'm still on a journey of trying to get good, but I will tell you I'm much more comfortable because I figured out my strengths and the place that only I can speak from with authority.

Jason Brooks:   What are some of your, I love that because one, it speaks to something that I'm going through. Whereas the as a person in charge of content and publishing in the Maxwell world, there's going to be times that I have to communicate. And in fact, I don't even think I've told you this, but I'm meeting with the entire writing team at the John Maxwell team. There's nine people that do writing for the John Maxwell team. And they're champing at the bit wanting to be utilized cross-functionally in the enterprise. So the first 30 minutes, what I'm going to do is I'm going to talk to them about how I have learned to develop the John Maxwell voice. I have a very simple five letter acronym for teaching it VOIC it's right within John's wheelhouse, but I'll spend 30 minutes speaking on that. And then we'll do 30 minutes of Q and A and begin to figure out how we can utilize.

Figure out the writer's strengths. Who's a good editor. Where can they be used and start thinking about how to cross-functionally use them as their talent and skill allow. And so my area that I can really speak into is what I have learned about developing the John Maxwell voice. It's things that I've learned from Charlie, but it's things that I've learned specifically by watching and listening to John, by reading John. And I feel really comfortable with this model and I've communicated it in bits and pieces to people, I think I gave a 15 minute overview of it to Lane Jones and Joseph Bojack, who worked for us in marketing in Joseph walkaway. And he was like, "That's the best explanation I've ever heard for something like that."

As you're talking about the space where you can speak into, and that's your authority, that voice piece is where I have to be comfortable, that that's my authority and I can speak out of it. You've been great encouraging me to do that. I've been reticent to do it, but now given what you've charged me with and what I know the company needs over the next year, man, I'm leaning into that and I'm trusting it and I've already started tweaking things and developing it, but it's so empowering for me to hear you say that because it reaffirms for me that I'm moving in the right direction and in line with what you want and need for the organization. So leaders pay attention to that. When you can speak from that place that only you can speak from then all of your other strengths can fall in line under it. And I can naturally use humor, I can naturally use my power of observation, connection, ideation. All those things can come out in play. Now that I know the ground that I can stand on solidly and present from.

Mark Cole:       Yeah. What I love about this Jason is the last point that John talked about is how he studied the great communicators. How does the person connect? How long did this person connect? And I'll tell you as a homework assignment today, this is part one, we're coming to part two shortly next week. But my challenge to you is do what I and Jason have challenged you in today's podcast. I'm going to distill it down for you. Go listen back to John Maxwell or some other communicator that you think is really, really good podcast listener. And don't listen to their content, listen to their method, their style, their rhythm, the inflections of their voice. How are they communicating? The next time you go to a meeting that is not really intensive on you having to take notes and do something, take less notes on the content of the leader of that team meeting and more how they lead the team meeting.

And as you study great communicators, I can tell you this, whether you're speaking in front of a crowd, whether you're speaking at a leadership team meeting, whether you're speaking one-on-one with someone significant in your life, you will grow when you become aware of what you are comfortable, your strengths. And as you get into a science of connection, of making it something that you study to make you effective, I can't wait Jason for us to be back next week. We're going to talk about communication. Again, we're going to talk about part two. Hey, if you have enjoyed this episode, I'm going to ask you to do a couple of things for us.

Our goal has been to add value to you. If we have added value to you, I'd love for you to go to your podcast player and give us a comment. Give us a five-star rating if you feel we've been five star today, give us an indication of how well we have done in serving you and adding value to you. Secondly, I'm going to challenge you to subscribe, get someone else to subscribe with you. Pass this along to other people that will add value to you. And until next week, let's make a difference, let's change the world, let's lead.

5 thoughts on “How I Learned to Connect with People (Part 1)”

  1. I’m a beginner English student and that amazing Podcast its have been help me to improve my English skill and open to me a lot of wisdom’windows

  2. Wow!! Wow!! Loved this podcast. I am preparing a first time ever message, and listening to this podcast helped to confirm my strengths, but also a red light of what I need to be careful of. Sometimes I want to repeat a point just to make sure you agree with me, Thanks. I love you all ❤️

  3. This is great stuff. Today’s lesson just confirmed that I am in the right track on improving my communication and ability to connect with people.

  4. I have always admired other people and wanted to be like them. But, when I discovered that being myself allowed people to fall in love with me. I am loving in my nature and it is natural and many people enjoy being around my caring nature. I do have some humour in me and it sometimes surprises me when it flows. I like to be focused on my strength, I am a natural encourager and lifter and able to shed light into others. I woul love to be more confident in many areas, like public speaking ETC. But I build upon my strengths. Thankyou John Maxwell you are developing me stronger and stronger ever day.

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