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If I Had Only One Day Together With You

Rick Kraft


I am both a student and a teacher of leadership. At a national conference, I attended I had the opportunity to hear one of my mentors speak on leadership.
Author and speaker John Maxwell was not on the speaker list, but he showed up at the conference and was given the opportunity to present a short talk on leadership that he packed full of tools and applications. Dr. Maxwell combined history of twenty-five years as a pastor followed by twenty years of leadership training in the business world.
He started with the question, “What would I share with you if I had only one day together with you?” He talked briefly about his faith in God is his top priority, but then moved to the business world and gave us some core concepts on living a meaningful life.
He said there is a difference between success and significance. Success is about you. You can be a success based upon what you accomplish for yourself. Significance is about others. You cannot live a life of significance without helping others. We need to strive to live a life of significance, not a success. Success may come along also, but it should not be our first priority. Our first priority should be pouring ourselves into others.
Dr. Maxwell shared that at age 22, his father told him three things that he should start every day striving for: intentionally value people, believe in people, and unconditionally love people. He quoted Zig Ziglar’s famous principle, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
A book Dr. Maxwell was given when he was young impacted his life. The title of the book on its cover was “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” He opened it up and all the pages were blank. The friend who gave it to him told him that the book is about his life and that what will be written on the pages will be determined by the choices he makes going forward.
Everyone has a story, but many of us don’t write our own. We don’t fill the pages of our story with acts and deeds of significance. We need to recognize that we choose what story is written on the pages of our life. Good intentions to write our story doesn’t cut it. Good intentions need to be bridged with good actions.
Dr. Maxwell shared with us his “Rule of Five.” He said that if you want to cut down a tree behind your house, go out back, pick up a sharpened ax and swing the blade five times into the tree. Put the ax down and go back inside. When you get up tomorrow go out back and do it again. Swing the ax five times and then put it down. Repeat the next day with five more swings and then the next day and so on. Eventually, the tree will fall.
He focused on the concept that if you have the right goal, the right tool, and are consistent, it is just a matter of time before you accomplish what you set out to do. Dream big, then use the Rule of Five to accomplish the dream.
This reminds me of a story I heard of Christopher Columbus discovering the Americas. He kept a journal on his trip in his efforts to discover the new world. Each day before going to sleep he would write in his journal. Included in his daily account of the journey were the words, “Today we moved further west.” Enough consecutive days of moving west resulted in his goal of arriving at our continent.
Dr. Maxwell talked about the many areas of influence each of us has. From family to religion to business to other organizations we are involved in, we each have a sphere of influence.
As we influence others he suggested we do five things every day. First, value people. He said Jesus is our model. He loved everyone he came into contact with regardless of their past or present circumstances. He even died for these people.
We can seek to connect or to correct. If we connect we will build bridges and relationships. If we correct we will become judgmental and separate relationships.
Secondly, we need to think of ways to add value to the lives of others every day. Ask yourself in the morning, “What am I going to do to add value to the lives of others today?” We need to think intentionally at the front end. If we do so then we will “prepare.” If we are reactive then at the back end we may have to “repair.”
Thirdly, we need to look for ways to value people as we journey through our day. It is an “other-focused” state of mind. We generally see things as we are, not how things really are. If we can get outside ourselves we can better help meet the needs of others.
Fourth, after thinking and looking for ways to help others, we need to do things that add value to others. If everyone had a number on their forehead that indicated how their day was going, we would each have times where our number would peak at ten and times when we dip down on a terrible day to one or maybe even zero. Regardless of the number on the forehead of the person we are interacting with, if we can add a number or two to them in our interaction with them, we have added value to him or her.
If you live your life adding value to the lives of others, you will also be adding value to the number on your own forehead.
Fifth and finally, Dr. Maxwell says we should encourage others to add value to others. My interpretation of this is that each of us should live a life that adds value to others and then to duplicate ourselves in others. If we can model for others and then reproduce who we are in the lives of others, we are raising the “tide” of this world. It is multiplication, not addition.
I have heard so many leadership talks by Dr. Maxwell that to a certain degree, over the past decades, he has reproduced himself in me.
My challenge to you today is to live a life of significance. To do so you will need to give of yourself for the benefit of others. Significance is more important than success.
Focus on adding value to the lives of others and you will add value to your own life. Those who bring happiness into the lives of others cannot keep happiness from their own lives.
Then duplicate yourself in others that you influence so that they can duplicate themselves in those they influence and so on. Impact the world by multiplication, not just addition.
Just a thought…
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.orgmailto:thekraftlawfirm@aol.com.

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