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Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work by John C. Maxwell


Rating: (Read only if your interest is strong)


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John Maxwell’s books and seminars are packed with motivational stories, quotes, and an upbeat, positive attitude reminiscent of Norman Vincent Peale. Thinking for a Change is no exception to that pattern. Even more than usual, this book relies on strong-together quotes, and leaves some listeners with aphorisms but not ideas. Those readers who are addicted to self-help books will love Thinking for a Change. Given Maxwell’s background as a pastor, those readers who are inclined toward reading about Christian behavior will also enjoy this book. Most of us will turn the pages looking for insight, but not necessarily finding it.

Here’s an excerpt from Skill Three: Discover the Joy of Creative Thinking (pp. 112-115):

3. Develop a Creative Environment


Charlie Brower said, "A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow." Negative environments kill thousands of great ideas every minute.

A creative environment, on the other hand, becomes like a greenhouse where ideas get seeded, sprout up, and flourish. A creative environment:                                            

·       Encourages Creativity: David Hills says, "Studies of creativity suggest that the biggest single variable of whether or not employees will be creative is whether they perceive they have permission." When innovation and good thinking are openly encouraged and rewarded, then people see that they have permission to be creative. At the INJOY Group, I encourage creativity by regularly calling creative team sessions where thinkers gather to come up with new and better ideas. With the right people in the room three things always happen: the ideas always get raised to a higher level; the energy and synergy gets raised to a higher level; and the companies get raised to a higher level.

·       Places a High Value on Trust among Team Members and individuality: Creativity always risks failure. That's why trust is so important to creative people. Mystery writer Rita Mac Brown observes,  "Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work." In the creative process, trust comes from the fact that the people working together want what’s best for the organization and each other. It comes from knowing that people on the team have experience launching successful, creative ideas. And it comes from the assurance that the time coming up with creative ideas won't go to waste, because the ideas will be implemented.

·       Embraces Those Who Are Creative: Creative people celebrate the offbeat. Admittedly, they are sometimes off center. How should creative people be treated? I take the advice of Tom Peters: "Weed out the dullards—nurture the nuts!" I do that by spending time with them, which I enjoy anyway. I especially like to pull people into brainstorming sessions. People look forward to an invitation to such meetings because the time will be filled with energy, ideas, and laughter. And the odds are high that a new project, seminar, or business strategy will result. When that happens, they also know a party's coming!

·       Focuses on Innovation, Not Just Invention: Creativity needs to begin somewhere. Sam Weston, creator of the popular action figure GI Joe, said, "Truly groundbreaking ideas are rare, but you don't necessarily need one to make a career out of creativity. My definition of creativity is the logical combination of two or more existing elements that result in a new concept. The best way to make a living with your imagination is to develop innovative applications, not imagine completely new concepts."

Creative people say, "Give me a good idea and I'll give you a better idea!" Fortunately, I learned this lesson early. Seldom do I have an original idea. Often I take an idea that someone else gives me and raise it to a higher level. That has been my approach to creativity. When I speak at one of my conferences, I frequently describe the book idea I'm currently working on. Then I invite audience members to share their thoughts, ideas, and illustrations with me to make the book better. I tell them, "I'll take what you give me, make it better, and give you credit." Then I smile and say, "Then I’ll sell you the book." We all get a good laugh out of it. I’m happy to receive a good idea; they're happy to receive recognition. (And I send them a free book.)

If you like the world of quoteopia, Thinking for a Change is the book for you. Otherwise, take a pass.

Steve Hopkins, April 19, 2003


ă 2003 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the May 2003 issue of Executive Times

URL for this review: for a Change.htm


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