TAKE SOMEONE WITH YOU
By Dr. John C. Maxwell
A year or two after my wife, Margaret, and I got married, we made
a critical decision. We didn’t have much money, but we decided
that, whenever I was invited to speak in a city she wanted to
visit, she would come with me.
This was important to me because I didn’t just want to come home
and tell her about all the wonderful places I’d seen; I wanted
her to experience them with me.
We’ve traveled together for several decades now, and the memories
and mementos we’ve collected from all the various places we’ve
visited have greatly added to the richness of our life together.
In fact, it’s made such a difference in our journey as a couple
that, whenever I see someone traveling alone, I always wonder,
“Doesn’t he have someone to take with him?”
In the last issue of “Leadership Wired”, I wrote about “traveling
light” through life, which involves getting rid of excess
emotional baggage and keeping short accounts with work
associates and loved ones. Today, and for the next several
issues, I’m going to stick with the theme of traveling through
life and offer a few tips that hopefully will make your own
journey a little more productive and fulfilling.
The traveling advice I want to give you now is the relationship
tip I alluded to before: On your journey through life, take
someone with you. As I already mentioned, I’ve practiced this
philosophy with my wife since the early days of our marriage,
and I’ve also tried to incorporate it into my professional life.
This traveling tip is especially appropriate for people in
leadership or mentoring roles; after all, you can’t be a leader
unless you have someone to lead, and you can’t be a mentor
without someone to mentor.
Now I must mention that, while being with people has provided
some of the highlights of my life, it also provided some of the
low lights. I’m sure you can relate to this. As I wrote in my
book, “Winning with People”, most people can trace both their
successes and their failures to the relationships in their lives.
That’s just how life works. I’ll be the first to admit that,
sometimes, taking someone with you doesn’t end well. But despite
this reality, if we believe that our value to society comes down
to what we do with and for other people, it’s very essential to
take the trip with somebody else.
In “Winning with People”, I identify a number of principles
designed to help readers get along well with others, many of
which highlight the value of taking someone with you. For
example, the community principle states that what we do together
is not as important as being together. The foxhole principle
advises that when preparing for battle, dig a hole big enough for
a friend. And the learning principle comes directly from a quote
by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Every man I meet is in some
way my superior and I can learn from him.”
As you think about the people that you are traveling with now, as
well as others you might want to take with you in the future,
here are two questions to consider:
1. How can I add value to them? This is a huge priority for me.
Every evening, I ask myself a very simple question: Did I add
value to someone today? In other words, did I encourage or help
someone? Did I do something to help someone become a better
worker, spouse or parent? If you’re going to take someone with
you, you must be intentional about adding value to their lives.
2. What can I learn from them? In order to learn, you have to
listen. In fact, both these questions require listening. You
can’t help or learn from another person without listening to
that individual. You have to find out where they are in their
life journey before you can discover what you can offer to them,
as well as what they can offer to you.
Before I close, I need to mention one more concept from “Winning
with People” that addresses a more sobering reality of taking
someone with you. I call it the patience principle, and it says,
“The man who goes alone can start the day, but he who travels
with another must wait until the other is ready.” Here’s the
application. When you take someone with you, it will
inconvenience you. You won’t get started as early as you wanted
to get started. You won’t get to stop at every place you wanted
to stop. And you won’t get to do everything you wanted to get
All that can be very frustrating. And yet, if you decide to
travel life alone because you don’t want to be inconvenienced,
all you will end up with is emptiness and loneliness. That’s
because we weren’t placed here on earth for ourselves; we were
placed here for others. And the moment that we understand and
accept that, taking someone with us stops being a choice and
becomes a responsibility.
“This article is used by
permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell’s free monthly e-newsletter
‘Leadership Wired’ available at www.INJOY.com.”