Book Summary

Change Your World – John C. Maxwell

We Can’t Wait for Change

You probably know intuitively much of what can be read in newspaper headlines. We have reasons to believe our world needs to become better. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have better schools? Better neighborhoods? More positive workplaces? Would you like to have a more connected family? Communities where people get along and work together for everyone’s good? Wouldn’t the world be better if people were more respectful, unified, and positive?

If change is possible, why aren’t we doing more to change our world? The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “If we don’t change the direction we’re going, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” The reality is that most of us are waiting for somebody else to do something about the problems we see. We want change, but we hope that someone somewhere will do something to bring it about.

Become a Catalyst for Change

We often think of changing the world as something big that takes big plans, large teams, and huge resources. We overestimate the importance of big events and underestimate the value of small actions taken to help others. Some of the greatest catalysts for change in the world took small steps that seemed insignificant at the time—without fanfare, recognition, or reward—and simply allowed one step to lead to the next, ultimately leading to great change.

Many things in life just happen, but positive change isn’t one of them. Changing anything in our world requires someone to be the ‘catalyst’.

When it comes to changing our world, the first person transformed is the catalyst—the agent of change—and then it expands. That doesn’t happen unless it starts within an individual.

#1 Change from good intentions to good actions

We tend to want others to judge us on our intentions. But what ultimately matters isn’t what we intend to do. It’s what we actually do. How do we miss this? We rarely tell ourselves, “I’m never going to do this good thing.” Instead, we tell ourselves, “I’m going to do this tomorrow.” But when tomorrow comes, we don’t follow through. Maybe we mean to, but we don’t. That’s why the biggest gap between failure and success is the distance between I should and I did.

#2 Become a possibilist

We need to both do something to change the world and see positive things happening in the world. When you think like a possibilist, you are actively on the lookout for the possibilities in the world. Are you a possibilist? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are.

  • Do I think progress is possible but not easy?
  • Do I see things as they are but not get discouraged?
  • Am I unwilling to look away from problems that move me?
  • Am I willing to do what I can to make my world a better place?

#3 Take ownership

If the dream you intend to pursue isn’t really yours, you won’t own it. And if you don’t own it, you won’t do what it takes to achieve it. Your dream becomes your dream when you recognize the contribution you can make. The same is true for becoming a catalyst for change. Only if you own it will you be able to fulfill it.

#4 Use your past changes for future change

Whatever changes you have fought for and won in the past should inspire you to believe you can change again in the future. And those changes—even incremental internal changes—will help you to make changes in your world. The Greek philosopher Plutarch said, “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

#5 Invite others to join the cause

When you become a catalyst for change, one of the most significant things you can do is invite others to join you in the cause. As soon as another person works with you and is influenced by what you’re doing, you are a leader—a leader whose why is bigger than you.

We All Need One Another

Team means Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

Entrepreneur and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman said, “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” So the first question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I ready to play on the transformation team?”

The odds of success in any endeavor increase dramatically when you team up with other people. Leadership consultant and speaker Gustavo Razzetti noted, “A study by the Association for Training and Development (ATD) found that you are 65 percent more likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. If you also establish an ongoing partnership, your chances increase to 95 percent.”

A group of people becomes a team that can make a difference when the majority of its members make the transition from thinking “The group is here to benefit me” to “I’m here to benefit the group.”

6 Ways Transformations Happen

#1 A Waterfall
Top-down, it requires leadership

Transformation begins with influence, and influence always flows from the top down, like a waterfall, not upward. To have any chance of significant transformation, the leaders must give their voice, approval, influence, and involvement to the movement.

#2 A Ladder
Bottom-up, it encourages mobility

While influence flows down, transformation climbs up. That’s why we associate it with the image of a ladder. When you help people to improve their lives, they rise up. They begin to dream of a better world, which is fantastic, because the only tragedy greater than dying with dreams unfulfilled is never to have dreamed at all.

#3 A Heart
Inside-out, it embraces values

Businessman Bill McDermott said, “Every movement has a single point of origin.” That origin is always in the heart of a person. It is an expression of the heart, birthed in the values that person has embraced, and from there it flows outward and manifests itself in the individual’s behaviors and communication. From there, it can spread to others.

#4 A Joined Hands
Side by side, it desires partnerships

Transformation begins in an individual, grows in community, and impacts a society. But the process always starts with partnerships based on common ground. That’s possible even when people come from completely different backgrounds and cultures.

#5 A Table
Few to many, it enables growth

Mass movements don’t begin with the masses. They begin with a few people. When people can sit around the table together as equal contributors, everyone wins.

#6 A Bridge
Here to there, it leads to transformation

The ultimate goal of any movement is to create a better future. It starts with good values. Good values create growth. Growth creates transformation. Transformation creates movement. Movement creates change. And change helps us cross over into a better future

Transformation Happens One Table at a Time

#1 Come to the table

If you want to help people to transform their lives, then you will want to learn how to gather small groups around a table and get them talking about good values and how to apply them to their everyday lives. Here’s how transformation tables work and how you can start using them to change your world.

#2 Start small

Big things come from small beginnings. A movement can begin with a single person: you. One of the fantastic things about transformation tables is that anyone, anywhere can start using them to create transformation.

#3 Find common ground

Everything good in human interaction starts with common ground. It’s where connections are made, relationships are built, trust is formed around shared values, and progress begins. Transformation tables provide the fertile soil where growth happens because they offer a place and time for people to gather for a common purpose.

#4 Reinforce identities

Values are at the core of every person’s identity. Because transformation tables focus on good values, they reinforce the positive aspects of a participant’s identity. But they also help people to re-form their identities, when good values replace poor ones.

#5 Connect awareness to application

If you’ve ever tried to lead a team or work with a group where one of the team members refused to talk or engage, then you know how frustrating that can be. Disengaged people rarely grow or stimulate growth in others around them. But when people are open and engaged, incredible things happen.

#6 Track the progress

As people engage at transformation tables, there are two important things to keep in mind for tracking progress. Did I ever miss a day? Of course. I’m far from perfect. And life is full of surprises. But I made it a priority to grow every day. And whenever I did miss a day, I was determined never to miss two days in a row.

The second thing people can do to keep tracking their progress is to ask themselves, “Does this value help me become the person I want to be? Does this behavior work for or against my desired identity?” Values that conflict with a desired identity are not helpful.

It’s Your Turn to Change Your World

Remember, you don’t need to worry about changing the whole world. If you can just make things better for someone in your world, you will experience the reality, joy, and satisfaction of making a difference.

Get started today and find out where it leads. Even if it turns out totally different from what you expect, you’ll enjoy the journey and you’ll never regret working to make a difference. What step will you take to change your world? Where can you help other people and make a difference?