The Lens Principle from “Winning with People” by John Maxwell


The lens principle from John C. Maxwell’s book “Winning with People” is a real eye opener. It’s scary to think that “who we are determines how we see others.” Many of us grew up with obstacles that hinder our ability to initiate, build and sustain good, health relationships. The Lens principle is as follows:

A traveler nearing a great city asked an old man seated by road, “What are the people like in this city?”
“What were they like where you came from?” the man asked.
“Horrible,” the traveler reported. “Mean, untrustworthy, detestable in all respects.”
“Ah,” said the old man, “you will find them the same in the city ahead.”
Scarcely had the first traveler gone on his way when another stopped to inquire about the people in the city before him. Again the old man asked about the people the place the traveler has just left.
“They were fine people: honest, industrious and generous to a fault,” declared the second traveler. “I was sorry to leave.”
The old man responded, “That’s exactly how you’ll find the people here.”
The way people see others is a reflection of themselves.

You are the lens through which you view the world.

Who you are determines what you see and the way you see it. What is around us doesn’t determine what we see: What is within us does. And who you are determines how you see others.

If you are a trusting person, you will see others as trustworthy.
If you are a critical person, you will see others as critical.
If you are a caring person, you will see others as compassionate.
If you see yourself as stinky cheese, chances are the people around you will smell bad also.
If I am an unhealthy leader, to have healthy followers. I have to fix myself. We don’t see others as they are; we see others as we are, because each of us has his or her own bent and that colors our view of everything.

Who you are determines what you see, how you see others, how you view life, and what you do. Who you are is a combination of genetics, self-image, experiences, attitudes, relationships and faith.


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