One of my favorite things to do when I worked at retreat centers was to facilitate team-building sessions on a challenge course. I presented problem solving scenarios to groups with as much imagination as I could muster. These scenarios would contain copious amounts of toxic peanut butter and bottomless pits with an accompanying story to explain their presence. Afterwards we would discuss what silly stories and trust falls had to do with work in the real world. To give the conversation a boost I would often refer to a cheat sheet of team work and leadership principles I copied from books by Dr. John Maxwell.
Last year I joined a book review program offered by Thomas Nelson Publishers. Choosing my first book to review was a no-brainer. Logging in to the site for the first time I immediately noticed a title by John Maxwell. I thought of the dog-eared cheat sheets that had been so helpful and clicked to make my selection. When the book arrived in the mail a few days later I tore into the packaging and began reading it immediately.
Initially I was disappointed. The format was different from the books I had read years before and I was a little thrown off by that. This really wasn’t a shortcoming of the book, nevertheless it colored my response and may have made other issues seem more significant than they are. A key message of the book is ‘communicators who connect make their communication about the other person’. And yet the book includes a section where Dr. Maxwell’s writing partner sings the praises of Dr. Maxwell for nine and a half pages! There are also a number of stories from readers used to illustrate points but the context of those stories is not communication. This was distracting for me and made it harder to follow the logic of the chapter.
Because I benefited so greatly from some of Dr. Maxwell’s books I wanted to write a glowing review of this one. After finishing the book, I dreaded writing the review so I put it off. When I finally returned to the book to make notes for the review, I was surprised to discover how much I liked it. Having time for my expectations to adjust freed me to enjoy the content. Not feeling obligated to march straight through the book, I dodged the sections I found distracting and really zeroed in on the message. I found the book is filled with nuggets of helpful communication tips. Each chapter ends with a recap of the main thought and suggestions for putting it to use when communicating one-on-one, with small groups and to audiences.
Although it’s rare these days for me to find myself on a challenge course, I still speak to individuals, groups and audiences on a regular basis. This book has earned a place on the shelf of books I reference in that work. That is, at least until I finish my new cheat sheet!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”