Leaders grow on purpose with a plan. ~John C. Maxwell
John Maxwell amazes me. As the big box bookstores have declined or even disappeared, real estate on the bookshelves in the stores that remain is privileged space. So when I go to my local Barnes & Noble, which is not a huge store, and see that John still commands nearly an entire shelf of the limited space devoted to management and leadership, I’m impressed to say the least. He must be doing something right.
One of John’s many books is entitled, Make Today Count: The Secret of Your Success is Determined by Your Daily Agenda, and this week’s quote was borrowed from the final chapter. While John outlined his own plan for growth, what I find most interesting about it is the number of times I’ve heard this same plan practiced by other leaders. So I’m thinking this recipe for growth is worthy of some serious consideration.
Listen to audio tapes. John listens to as many audio tapes as possible. He says that out of every seven he listens to, about four are average, two are good to excellent and one is outstanding. For each tape he listens to he tries to determine at least one “take away” that he can apply immediately. I would add that in addition to audio tapes there is an endless supply of presentations, interviews, speeches, TED Talks, etc. available online. The trick is doing enough searches to learn what criteria narrows the massive number of options to what you’re really looking for.
Read two books every month. John has an interesting approach to his reading. He has two stacks of books. One stack he identifies as the read thoroughly stack and the other is the speed reading stack. He reads one book from each stack every month. For those less voracious readers this could make reading two books per month sound less daunting.
Set an appointment every month. Of course we all have more than one appointment per month, but John deliberately schedules one appointment with someone with the intent to learn from them—someone who will help him grow. If they are an author, he reads their books; he does research on them and then prepares a list of specific questions to guide their discussion. I would think most people would be flattered to hear that you’d like to meet with them because of what you believe you could learn. And coming armed with a list of questions is typically impressive and viewed as a compliment.
File what you learn. In John’s case, I believe he means file, literally, as in hard copy files. While I absolutely agree with the practice of file what you learn, I’d encourage us to think a little more environmentally and be diligent about organizing our electronic files for easy reference.
Apply what you learn. I wholeheartedly agree with John; the final test of any learning is always application. If you apply it, then you’ve learned it. I have found that the sooner I apply it, the more likely I’m going to repeat that application and it will become embedded in my thinking. And thus, I’ve grown, on purpose.