The Heart of the Matter – Adding Value


Have you experienced a time when someone went above and beyond the “call of duty”?  Perhaps it was a parent, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

When I first starting writing this blog last year, it took me a while to find my voice and my style.  At that time, a friend of mine agreed to help me by previewing my articles.  What I didn’t know was that this friend has a background in publishing.  He didn’t just preview, but he gave detailed feedback, pointing out gaps in the flow of information and providing valuable suggestions.  His input helped establish a firm foundation for everything that has followed.  He genuinely did so much more for me than I had anticipated.

My friend demonstrated the final step in the connected influence model, which is “when you’ve done enough … do more.”  If you want to have principled, integrity-based influence in people’s lives, you have to go above and beyond what’s expected; you have to go the “extra mile.”

John Maxwell says that “leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  That being the case, his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership provides 21 strategies for increasing your influence.  Law #5, the Law of Addition, states that “leaders add value by serving others.”  He says, “I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.  That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives” (p. 51).  This is the essence of connected influence.

Connected listening is the starting point of connected influence (or connected leadership).  Once you truly understand another’s point of view, hopes, goals, and challenges, you may be able to move forward together.  Mark Goulston and John Ullmen, in their book Real Influence, draw a connection between “the 3 gets” of step 3 with “the 3 value channels” of step 4:

  • You get “it” –> you can add insight
  • You get “them” –> you can add emotional value
  • You get their path to progress –> you can add practical value

No matter how much you understand, until you help the other person by adding value to them, you are no more than a sympathetic ear.  Don’t get me wrong – one of our greatest needs as humans is to feel heard and understood, so being a sympathetic ear is adding value to someone.  However, in order to take your influence to the next level, you will have to invest in people by pointing them towards solutions.

My challenge to you for this week is to identify one person in your life who you would like to develop greater influence with.  Make a point of asking about that person’s situation and look for opportunities to provide support and creative suggestions.  If you have never done something like this before, you will be amazed by the results.


Links and Resources:

Previous posts on this topic

Previous Posts on the Connected Influence Model

Intentional Connection – A Path to Influence


By Tasha M. Troy

A few years ago, I had great difficulty in managing my class.  There were two students in particular who were very resistant to my instruction and feedback, and I found myself growing more and more frustrated working with them. IMG_7225

Finally, at one point, through indirect channels, I learned that both students had gotten the impression that didn’t like them on a personal level, and this perception undermined any influence I might have had with them.

In order to create successful outcomes for them and for me, I had to put forth great effort to connect with them individually.  This included apologizing for giving the impression – intentional or not – that I didn’t value them as individuals.  It also entailed listening to their perspectives and understanding where they were coming from.  Further, I had to be quite explicit in stating what I saw as their strengths and their bright future prospects.  Because of my efforts and their responsiveness, both were able to successfully complete the program and go on to further personal and professional accomplishments.

I have the great fortune to teach in a program with small class sizes, typically working with ten students at a time.  Of those ten, eight or nine will be naturally drawn to my personality and teaching style.  John Maxwell’s Law of Magnetism states that “who you are is who you attract.”  This creates a connection with most of my students without much effort on my part.

Of course, over the years I have also learned to do a few things to encourage this connection, especially talking about what I consider “parallel experiences”; while I may not relate to each student’s situation, from day one, I emphasize stories of my own language learning and overseas life experience, things I share in common with all of my students.

However, what about those who don’t naturally connect?

I am learning to be more intentional about meeting those students where they are – understanding their perspective and motivations, their goals and aspirations.  In past years, I would do this as a response to a crisis.  Sometimes I find students don’t relate to my personality, and other times they have different leadership experience and skills that make them resistant to my feedback.

Whatever the reason for the disconnect, as the instructor, and therefore leader, I have to be intentional about connecting with all students.  I do this by focusing on the student and his/ her goals as well as explicitly expressing what I see as his/her strengths.  I also paint a picture for each of my students of what I see them achieving.

If you feel like you don’t have the influence in your life that you need, it may be time to learn to connect at a higher level.  This has been the case for me.  I have found the connecting principles and practices described by John Maxwell in his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect to be powerful tools for connecting with not only my students but also with others in my life.

John Maxwell says that “connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increase your influence with them.”  Next week, I will start leading a “mastermind group”* through this book with the aim of helping people grow in their connecting skills.  I would love to include you in the group!

Take It Deeper

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net


A Connective Approach to Influence


In my years of teaching, I have learned some hard lessons in effective leadership, especially when many of my students are strong leaders in their own right.  This week I want to share some of my insights, one of the key lessons I’ve learned that has really helped me to be more effective.

You can learn more of my thoughts on The Power of Connective Listening from a previous article.

You can read about some of my specific experiences with connecting with students in my articles on The Power of Gentleness, Persuasion through Selflessness, and A Well Connected Life.

Lollipop Moments


Drew Dudley, a leadership educator in Toronto, shares a story that changed his definition of leadership.

It is so easy to discount the small, everyday actions that can have a large impact, but that is the essence of building connections with people.

What “lollipop moments” have you experienced recently?

For His Purpose


IMG_6933Have you ever had the sense that you were doing what you were created to do? I don’t mean having a sense of accomplishment but something much deeper and foundational. The first time I felt like that was after I had graduated from college and had finally gotten a job in my field of TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). I was working at a small university in my hometown in an intensive English program, helping international students prepare to enroll in university courses. One day walking across the campus, I just got an overwhelming sense of rightness, of being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing with my life.

If we want to see God’s purposes for our communities and nation come to pass, we need to first discover and embrace His purposes for our lives as individuals.

I truly believe that God has a purpose for each individual. In Psalm 139:16, David says, “Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do.” (CEV) There are many other verses that make reference to God being intentional about the lives of His people.  We are wired to pursue a purpose.  In his article “The Power of Purpose,” Dr. Steve Taylor says:

“The need for purpose is one the defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings crave purpose, and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don’t have it. Purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.”

I was very fortunate to be raised in a family that encouraged me to pursue what I felt was my calling, what I now view as my purpose for life. In his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell describes three types of people (paraphrased):

  • those who don’t know their purposeIMG_6952
  • those who know their purpose but are not pursuing it
  • those who know their purpose and are living it

One of the things that make me the saddest when I encounter people is when they haven’t developed an understanding of their purpose or aren’t pursuing their purpose. Dr. Steve Taylor describes purpose-driven people:

“When you’re ‘in purpose’ – that is, engaged with and working towards your purpose – life becomes easier, less complicated and stressful. You become more mono-focused, like an arrow flying towards its target, and your mind feels somehow taut and strong, with less space for negativity to seep in.”

There have been short seasons when I lived without this sense of purpose and its benefits, and it grieves me when I meet people who have lived this way for years, perhaps for their entire lives.

If you don’t feel like you have found your purpose, there is good news! I believe that God has designed each person to be perfectly suited to succeed in fulfilling the purpose for which he or she was created. If you believe that God is purposeful, the next step is to see that God has given us clues to understand His purpose for us as individuals. In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren says, “Each of us was uniquely designed, or ‘shaped,’ to do certain things.” He goes on to describe a simple way of exploring that S.H.A.P.E., and I see these five areas as clues to our individual purpose:

  • Spiritual gifts – how does God use you to minister to others? (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
  • Heart – what issues stir your passion? (Psalm 37:4)
  • Abilities – what are you naturally talented in? (Exodus 31:3-5)
  • Personality – how do you interact with the world around you? (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • Experience – where has your journey through life taken you so far? (Romans 8:28)

Several years ago, I began documenting and tracking my own S.H.A.P.E., and I refer to it any time I am facing a major life decision. I find it helps me to have clarity in making good choices that will line up with where God has brought me and where He is likely taking me – including my decision to start writing this blog.

If you feel that you haven’t yet found your purpose, or if you are at a crossroads and uncertain of your path forward, I highly encourage you to explore your own S.H.A.P.E. If God designed you for a specific purpose, the world needs you to live out that purpose. You owe it to yourself and the people within your sphere of influence to discover and embrace God’s purpose for your life!


Links and Resources

Steve Taylor, Ph.D – The Power of Purpose

Resources for discovering your SHAPE

  • a list of online resources I compiled to help some of my young friends understand their SHAPE

66 Bible verses about our purpose


2015 – A Year of Purpose


Ed DeCosta is an executive coach who has greatly impacted my life this year with his free weekly video podcast.  Today, as we face a new year, I wanted to share his 5-minute message on Purpose, Priorities, and Intentionality.

Ed is offering a “task management” tool on his website, which I have found very useful myself.

If you are interested in defining your purpose, I would love to help you.  Contact me at for more information.


Do You Still Dream?


IMG_6220I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to walk through the new Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, DC. It was a powerful experience for me, especially reading the quotes engraved around the memorial. His dream and life message is even more relevant today in light of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country.

Who among us hasn’t been moved by Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic speech? And who among us has not felt intimidated by the scope of his dream?

I believe that God is a God of dreams; He has big dreams, and He invites us to participate in His dreams for our world. I believe God places dreams in our hearts to lead us towards His purpose for our life, but dreaming itself is only the first step to walking into our purpose. Recently, Stephen Mansfield spoke at my church on the topic of “Dreamers of the Day.” His main point was that there has been much teaching on destiny and purpose, but very little on process, and he describes a six-step process that God uses to bring people into the fulfillment of their dreams:

  1. Receive the dreamIMG_6391
  2. Embody the dream
  3. Redefine the dream
  4. Equip for the dream
  5. Declare the dream
  6. Live out the dream

We see all six stages demonstrated in the life of Nehemiah. In the days of the Babylonian and Persian captivity of Judah, Nehemiah had a dream to see Jerusalem rebuilt, and we can trace the development of his dream into reality in the Book of Nehemiah.

  1. Receive: He received a report from his brother about the condition of Jerusalem, which inspired him to pray (1:4, 11).
  2. Embody: When given the opportunity, he boldly requested a leave of absence from his position as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in order to pursue the fulfillment of this dream himself (2:4-8).
  3. Redefine: When he arrived at Jerusalem, he discovered that achieving his dream would be no simple task and that there would be severe opposition (4:1-3, 7-8, 11).
  4. Equip: Because of the threat, Nehemiah equipped the builders with not only building tools but also swords and spears and set a guard for the workmen so that they could complete the work safely (4:16-23).
  5. Declare: In spite of the opposition, Nehemiah was able to inspire his work force by reminding them of what was at stake, namely their families (4:14).
  6. Live Out: Finally, Nehemiah was able to live out his dream – “So the wall was finished . . . in fifty-two days” (6:15).

To be honest, I am impressed that the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt in fifty-two days. The dreams I have will take much longer than that!

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

This year, 2014, I have begun to dream again, and I have been inspired with a fresh vision and purpose for my life. This has really served to energize me and motivate me to set some pretty audacious goals for 2015 and beyond. Some of these are MLK-sized dreams that I have only recently received. I am committing this year to defining and embodying these dreams.

The world needs us to become everything God has designed us to be. What dream has God placed in your heart? What stage are you in towards pursuing that dream – or have you faced opposition and given up on your dream? What are the next steps you need to take to see that dream become a reality?

May 2015 be the year we pursue our God-given dreams wholeheartedly.


Links and Resources

Stephen Mansfield: Dreamers of the Day

6 Bible verses about dreams

34 Bible verses about dreams and visions

35 Bible verses about purpose