Thursday, July 02, 2009

Book Review: Put Your Dream to the Test by John Maxwell

It’s taken me about 2 months to read this book and write this book review. I hate to think how many good books have gone through Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers program while I’ve been working on this one. Shortly after receiving the hardcover from Thomas Nelson, I found the Kindle version was available for free for a limited time, so I downloaded that in the hopes that I could read the book faster. Sadly, I’ve been through a busy period of life, and even having the Kindle version of this book on my iPhone hasn’t gotten me through it any faster than I’d hoped.

I finally finished today, and therefore, here is my review. Thomas Nelson’s product page for the book is here.

To date, I haven’t paid much attention to John Maxwell. I’m sure that I’ve been missing out because of it. My church did a class once on his workbook for “The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork” and I took his “Developing The Leader Within You” book from the church library to read once. I have begun following John Maxwell’s blog and his Twitter feed. In a very short time, I’ve come to wonder if I somehow handicapped my future by not acquiring more of John Maxwell’s books earlier in life.

Do you have any dreams? I hope you do. Life is no fun drifting aimlessly from one crisis to another like a ping pong ball in a clothes dryer with no hope or plans for the future. If you have a dream, no matter how great or small, this is the book for you. This is a fairly simple and highly focused book, and for anybody else should be a fast read. It took me a couple of months to get through, but I was travelling, working loads of overtime, and helping to clean out my in-laws’ house and get them settled in ours. Somewhere in the middle of that I might have played with my boys once or twice and I think I slept a few times. I didn’t have much “free time” when my eyes were willing to follow the text on my iPhone screen. You should be able to read it much faster.

“Put Your Dream To the Test” has a very simple premise: testing your dream out. John Maxwell presents 10 questions for you to run your dream through. Each question gets a chapter. Each chapter includes a relevant story followed by instruction related to putting your dream through that question. Some of the stories I’ve heard before. Others were new. Some, such as the reference to William Wilberforce in Chapter 10 were a welcome refreshment and a reminder that true dreams do require great sacrifices. The 10 questions are as follows (I borrowed the bullet points from Thomas Nelson’s product page, linked above):
  • The Ownership Question
  • The Clarity Question
  • The Reality Question
  • The Passion Question
  • The Pathway Question
  • The People Question
  • The Cost Question
  • The Tenacity Question
  • The Fulfillment Question
  • The Significance Question
I will not exposit each of these points in this book review. I will say that the book starts in the right place: is this even your dream? I was fairly fortunate in that my parents left me fairly free to pursue a career that fit me. I’ve known others who weren’t so fortunate. Some of us were told what to do. Other times, we get our dreams from an external source. While I was involved in the “big-A” Multi-Level Marketing organization, my goal/dream was to achieve the status represented by a popular mineral often associated with jewelry. I realized later that it wasn’t my dream. I wasn’t even cut out for trying to sell people on an MLM.

Once you’ve established that the dream is, in fact, yours, you can run the gauntlet of questions provided by John Maxwell. Is your dream clear enough? Is it “realistic” enough? Are you passionate about it? Can you get there from here? Can you get people to help hold you accountable to your dream and support you in pursuit of it? Are you willing to pay the price? (Some dreams cost great sums, not only of money).

I found the final question to be at least as significant as the first question. Will your dream affect others than yourself? John Maxwell states that William Wilberforce has been dead for more than 175 years, but his influence lives on. (If you don’t know who William Wilberforce is, you better look him up.) It’s great to have dreams that involve only ourselves, but truly great dreams will live on long after we’re gone.

I’ve said before that I tend to avoid this genre because its not always easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some books are full of “rah-rah” motivation with little objective content. This book is highly objective, with about a proportionate amount of inspirational material placed throughout.

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