John Maxwell Reflection

After reading John C. Maxwell’s Developing the Leaders Around You, there are a couple points he talked about that particularly stood out to me, and I would like to elaborate on them:

  1. “Can [the apprentice] do what is required? Will he or she do what is required?” (Maxwell, 2014). This is one of the most important considerations for a mentor-apprentice relationship to work effectively. If the apprentice does not have the commitment to do what is required, then the relationship will turn into one almost completely based around the mentor, and the apprentice will not be involved enough to learn well. Even if the apprentice is fully committed, sometimes they will just be incapable at doing the tasks at hand. In this case, the learning process also falls apart. Even though this idea is so simple, I think it is still one of the most overlooked. If this principle is not considered right from the beginning, then the apprentice may not learn effectively, and the result will be wasted effort and time. In order for the grade nines to make the most out of the leadership projects and adventure trips, I can make an effort to specifically tailor tasks (for the leadership projects) and learning opportunities (for the adventure trips) based on their capacity and commitment. For example, if a grade nine is finding a task overwhelmingly difficult or does not have the preliminary knowledge to do the task, I may find another simpler task that is on the level of the grade nine’s capacity level.
  2. “Nothing is more confusing than people who give good advice and set bad examples.” (Peale, n.d.). Leading by example is one of the most important elements of being a good leader. As a learner myself, there have been numerous times when adults around me set bad examples and unknowingly followed them. Often, in real life situations, there is no one around you to correct these mistakes learned this way. However, the opposite is also true: Modeling can be a powerful tool for leaders when used in a positive way to support the other elements of leadership. It is also important that we recognize when we make mistakes and correct our apprentices’ mistakes in order to avoid developing bad habits. During the leadership projects and adventure trips, the grade nines, being younger and more inexperienced, will likely take in a lot just by watching more experienced people doing tasks. For example, if we are working on the leadership projects and some of the grade tens get distracted from their work, the grade nines will likely follow and be unproductive. Even if grade nines are told to stay on task, they may still think it is okay to fool around because they look up to the grade tens and feel they cannot get in trouble if they are just “following.” To avoid making mistakes, it is important that we pay special attention to what we do and ask Ms. Mulder or other teachers whenever we are unsure of anything.
  3. Maxwell says that an effective mentor must have the characteristics of self-disclosure and being able to keep things confidential. A mentor-apprentice relationship works best if both people are completely comfortable sharing all their thoughts. Learning is hindered when a person hesitates to ask questions; failure is a natural part of learning. This allows for insightful and engaging learning, as well as a deep connection between the people. Although it is possible to learn without such a connection, thorough learning requires it. The mentor must be able to put himself/herself down onto the level of the apprentice to the point where they know each other well. The TALONS program puts emphasis on this and encourages friendship between all students. For example, it is always fun when students share funny past failures and mistakes in their leadership lessons, which are used so the mistakes are never made again. Everyone usually listens well, and the process is much more engaging. It will be beneficial if I can make more grade nine friends during the leadership projects and the adventure trips, so that we can engage during activities like hikes and paddling together later during the adventure trips. It is also important that I remain open and honest throughout the whole process. Interestingly, having grade nine friends is also beneficial for me outside of TALONS, apart from the consideration that it allows for gathering and further learning outside of school.

    Learn more about the importance of asking questions 

Thanks for reading!

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