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Lessons Learned from John


Success is not a destination thing, its a

daily thing. John Maxwell

When I think of leaders and leadership, I

think of John Maxwell.

He is a speaker and author, and

leadership is his super skill. He leads by example but more importantly, hes
created an amazing knowledge base of leadership patterns and practices
through his books and speaking engagements.

John Maxwell is a Leader of Leaders

Maxwells lifes work is writing and talking about leadership. His books take up
multiple shelves at the bookstore. In fact, hes written more than 50 books.
The beauty of John Maxwells books is that he talks with you, not at at you,
while at the same time challenging you to become a better version of yourself.

John Maxwells books equip you with a wide range of ideas and language to help
you frame out and master key areas of your life including your attitude,
relationships, leadership skills, and success. Along the way, he shares stories to
bring the ideas to life and to share how he learned these lessons from the
school of hard knocks and from multiple mentors.
From failing forward, to going on your success journey, to building a positive
attitude, to winning with people, Maxwell covers a variety of personal
development and leadership skills that you can use in work and life.

I hope you enjoy these lessons as much as Ive enjoyed putting them together

25 Lessons Learned from John Maxwell

Here are 25 key lessons that capture and distill what I think are some of the
most important insights from John Maxwell:

1. Leadership is influence.
Maxwell defines leadership as influence. Its simple, effective, and precise. In
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Maxwell says, True leadership cannot be
awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that cant
be mandated. It must be earned. The only thing a title can buy is a little time
either to increase your level of influence with others or to erase it.

2. Leadership isnt a position, its a process.

Leadership starts right where you are, from the inside out. Maxwell says,
Most people who want to get ahead do it backward. They think, Ill get a
bigger job, then Ill learn how to be a leader. But showing leadership skill is
how you get the bigger job in the first place. Leadership isnt a position, its a

3. Just do it.
Forget motivation and just do it. Maxwell says, The whole idea of motivation is
a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood
sugar, or whatever.

Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the
thing, thats when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on
doing it.

4. Your attitude towards life is still under

According to Maxwell, your attitude towards life is constantly being shaped by
the following factors: personality (who are you), environment (whats around
you), word expression (what you hear), adult acceptance/affirmation (what you
feel), self-image(how you see yourself), exposure to new experiences,
association with peers (who influences you), physical appearance (how you look
to others), and marriage, family, and job (your security and status.)

Maxwell believes that your environment shapes you more than your personality
or other inherited traits, and that your outward actions are a direct reflection of
your self-image (we tend to act consistently with how we see ourselves.) In
Attitude 101, Maxwell says, Whether you are eleven, forty-two, or sixty-five,
your attitude toward life is still under construction. Its never too late for a
person to change his attitude.

5. Use principles to guide you.

Drive from durable principles instead of a bunch of rules and policies. According
to Maxwell, policies are many, principles are few, policies will change,
principles never do.
6. Leadership is a collection of skills.
Leadership is something you can learn and improve at. Maxwell says, Although
it is true that some people are born with greater natural gifts than others, the
ability to lead is really a collection of skills, nearly all of which can be learned
and improved.

7. Build trust through competence, connection, and

You wont follow somebody you dont trust. As a leader, you have to build
trust. Maxwell says, There are three qualities a leader must exemplify to build
trust: competence, connection, and character.

8. Success is a journey, not a destination.

Dont think of success as a place. Think of it as a path. Success is a journey
you can enjoy a day at a time. Take the right people with you on your success

In Your Road Map for Success, Maxwell identifies 10 things to look for when
figuring out who to invest in or who to bring with you: 1) make things happen,
2) see and seize opportunities, 3) influence others, 4) add value, 5) attract
other leaders, 6) equip others, 7) provide inspiring ideas, 8.) possess
uncommonly positive attitudes, 9) live up to their commitments, and 10) have

9. Success is a daily thing.

You can be successful one day or one decision at a time. Maxwell says, If you
can handle today correctly, tomorrow will take care of itself.
10. Success is a decision at a time.
Maxwell says, You dont become a success when you get your diploma. You
became a success when you decided to go to college. When you get your
diploma you get the rewards of success.

11. Seven Steps for success

In Success One Day at a Time, Maxwell shares 7 steps for success: 1) make a
commitment to grow daily, 2) value the process more than events, 3) dont wait
for inspiration, 4) be willing to sacrifice pleasure for opportunity, 5) dream big,
6) plan your priorities, and 7) give up to go up.

12. Look for the landmarks of success.

The highest levels of success require a series of significant trade-offs. Maxwell
identifies the following trade-offs that serve as landmarks: 1) achievement over
affirmation, 2) excellence over acceptability, 3) personal growth over immediate
pleasure, 4) future potential over financial gain, 5) a narrow focus over
scattered interests, and significant over security.

13. Leadership is a visual thing.

The greatest leadership is by example. Maxwell says, A leader is one who
knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

14. Everybody needs encouragement.

No matter who you are, you still need encouragement. Maxwell says,
Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little
buttering up.
15. Dont take yourself too seriously.
In Your Roadmap for Success, Maxwell says we need to be able to laugh at
ourselves, success depends more on your attitude than it does on how
important you think you are. Life should be fun. Even if your job is important
and should be taken seriously, that doesnt mean you should take yourself
seriously. Youll go farther in life and have a better time doing it if you maintain
a sense of humor, especially when it comes to yourself.

16. Use failure as a springboard.

Unsuccessful people avoid taking any risks to try and avoid failure. Successful
people turn failure into feedback. They dont dwell on mistakes or the negative
consequences of failures. Instead, they focus on the rewards of success and on
learning from their mistakes. In Your Road Map for Success, Maxwell shares 10
ways to fail forward effectively:

1) appreciate the value of failure

2) dont take failure personally
3) let failure redirect you
4) keep a sense of humor
5) ask why, not who
6.) make failure a learning experience
7) dont let failure keep you down
8.) use failure as a gauge for growth
9) see the big picture
10) dont give up.

17. Win with people.

Growing people is the key to growing your success. Maxwell says, The growth
and development of people is the highest calling of leadership and true
success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next

In 360 Degree Leader, Maxwell says, Great leaders dont use people so they
can win. They lead people so they can all lead together. If that is truly your
motivation, you can become the kind of person that people want to follow
whether they are beside, above, or below you in the organizational hierarchy.

Maxwell makes people development a priority. To avoid spreading himself too

thin, he focuses 80 percent of his time developing only the top 20 percent of the
people around him. Maxwell says, your time is limited, and it makes more
sense to help a few learn how to fly and reach their potential rather than show a
big group only enough to whet their appetite.

18. Let people fly with you for a while.

In Maxwells experience, the most effective way to mentor and ramp people up
is the same way craftspeople have done for years: 1) do it, 2) I do it and you
watch, 3) you do it and I watch, 4) you do it.

19. Ten principles for personal growth.

In Your Road Map for Success, Maxwell shares 10 principles for improving your
personal growth: 1) choose a life of growth, 2) start growing today, 3) be
teachable, 4) focus on self-development, not self-fulfillment, 5) never stay
satisfied with current accomplishments, 6) be a continual learner, 7)
concentrate on a few major themes, 8.) develop a plan for growth, 9) pay the
price, 10) find a way to apply what you learn.

20. Dont make happiness your measure of

Happiness is fleeting while success is a stable path. In Your Road Map for
Success, Maxwell writes, The continual search for happiness is a primary
reason that so many people are miserable. If you make happiness your goal,
you are almost certainly destined to fail. You will be on a continual roller
coaster, changing from successful to unsuccessful with every mood change.
Life is uncertain, and emotions arent stable. Happiness simply cannot be relied
upon as a measure of success.

21. Achievement over affirmation.

Focus on achievement rather than worry about fitting in. Maxwell says,
Affirmation from others is fickle and fleeting. If you want to make an impact
during your lifetime, you have to trade the praise you could receive from others
for the things of value that you can accomplish. You cant be one of the boys
and follow your destiny at the same time.

22. Four kinds of people when it comes to

In Success 101, Maxwell says there are 4 kinds of people when it comes to
relationships: 1) some people add something to life (we enjoy them), 2) some
people subtract something from life (we tolerate them), 3) some people
multiply something in life (we value them), 4) some people divide something in
life (we avoid them.)

23. Lead yourself exceptionally well.

Leadership starts from the inside out. Lead yourself first. In Success 101,
Maxwell identifies 7 areas that successful people must self-manage: 1) you
emotions, 2) your time, 3) your priorities, 4) your energy, 5) your thinking, 6)
your words, and 7) your personal life.
24. Treat people like a 10.
Who gets your better effort? a leader who treats you as a 2 or a leader who
treats you as a 10? Maxwell says that in his experience, people usually rise to
the leaders expectations if they like the leader.

Treat people like a 10 if you want their best.

Maxwell says one way to do this is to focus on a skill or strength that somebody
has that is a 10. If you cant find a 10 in terms of skill, then rather than
write somebody off, look to a non-skill area where the person can grow into a
10, independent of skill, such as attitude, desire, discipline, and perseverance.

25. Focus on production over politics.

In the 360 Degree Leader, Maxwell says there are two ways to get ahead:
production and politics. Maxwell says avoid office politics and instead focus on
production. Maxwell says that people who rely on production: depend on how
they grow, focus on what they do, become better than they appear, provide
substance, do whats necessary, work to control their own destiny, grow into
the next level, base decisions on principles.

On the other hand, people who rely on politics: depend on who they know,
focus on what they say, appear better than they are, take shortcuts, do whats
popular, let others control their destiny, hope to be given the next level, base
decisions on opinions.

Maxwell shares 6 ways to avoid politics: 1) avoid gossip, 2) stay away from
petty arguments, 3) stand up for whats right, not just for whats popular, 4)
look at all sides of the issue, 5) dont protect your turf, and 6) say what you
mean, and mean what you say.
Success Defined
Maxwell defines success in a very simple, but elegant way thats empowering:

Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum

potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

One of Maxwells greatest contributions to the leadership body of knowledge is

the identification of 21 laws of leadership:

1. THE LAW OF THE LID Leadership Ability Determines a Persons Level of

2. THE LAW OF INFLUENCE The True Measure of Leadership is Influence
Nothing More, Nothing Less.
3. THE LAW OF PROCESS Leadership Develops Daily, Not in a Day.
4. THE LAW OF NAVIGATION Anyone Can Steer the Ship, But It Takes a
Leader to Chart the Course..
5. THE LAW OF ADDITION Leaders Add Value by Serving Others.
6. THE LAW OF SOLID GROUND Truth is the Foundation of Leadership.
7. THE LAW OF RESPECT People Naturally Follow Leaders Stronger Than
8. THE LAW OF INTUITION Leaders Evaluate Everything with a Leadership
9. THE LAW OF MAGNETISM Who You Are is Who You Attract.
10. THE LAW OF CONNECTION. Leaders Touch a Heart Before They Ask for
a Hand.
11. THE LAW OF THE INNER CIRCLE A Leaders Potential is Determined by
Those Closest to Him.
12. THE LAW OF EMPOWERMENT Only Secure Leaders Give Power to
13. THE LAW OF THE PICTURE People Do What People See.
14. THE LAW OF BUY-IN People Buy into the Leader, Then the Vision.
15. THE LAW OF VICTORY Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win.
16. THE LAW OF THE BIG MO Momentum is a Leaders Best Friend.
17. THE LAW OF PRIORITIES Leaders Understand that Activity is Not
Necessarily Accomplishment.
18. THE LAW OF SACRIFICE A Leader Must Give Up to Go Up.
19. THE LAW OF TIMING When to Lead is As Important as What to Do and
Where to Go.
20. THE LAW OF EXPLOSIVE GROWTH To Add Growth, Lead Followers To
Multiply, Lead Leaders.
21. THE LAW OF LEGACY A Leaders Lasting Value is Measured by

If youre familiar with the original 21 laws, youll note the following changes:



You can explore the 21 laws in depth in Maxwells book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws
of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You.

The 21 Indispensible Qualities of a Leader

Maxwell identified 21 qualities of a leader:

1. CHARACTER: Be a Piece of the Rock

2. CHARISMA: The First Impression Can Seal the Deal.
3. COMMITMENT: It Separates Doers from Dreamers.
4. COMMUNICATION: Without It You Travel Alone.
5. COMPETENCE: If You Build It, They Will Come.
6. COURAGE: One Person with Courage Is a Majority.
7. DISCERNMENT: Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries.
8. FOCUS: The Sharper It Is, the Sharper You Are.
9. GENEROSITY: Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another.
10. INITIATIVE: You Wont Leave Home Without It.
11. LISTENING: To Connect with Their Hearts, Use Your Ears.
12. PASSION: Take This Life and Love It.
13. POSITIVE ATTITUDE: If You Believe You Can, You Can.
14. PROBLEM SOLVING: You Cant Let Your Problems Be a Problem.
15. RELATIONSHIPS: If You Get Along, Theyll Go Along.
16. RESPONSIBILITY: If You Wont Carry the Ball, You Cant Lead the Team.
17. SECURITY: Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity.
18. SELF-DISCIPLINE: The First Person You Lead Is You.
19. SERVANTHOOD: To Get Ahead, Put Others First.
20. TEACHABILITY: To Keep Leading, Keep Learning.
21. VISION: You Can Seize Only What You Can.

You can explore the 21 qualities in depth in Maxwells book, The 21

Indispensable Qualities of a Leader : Becoming the Person Others Will Want to

Top 10 John Maxwell Quotes

Here are my top 10 favorite quotes by John Maxwell:

1. Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

2. Do not take the agenda that someone else has mapped out for your life.
3. Growth inside fuels growth outside.
4. Learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.
5. Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
6. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you
7. The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to
change. The leader adjusts the sails.
8. We all stand on the shoulders of the past generation.
9. We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.
10. You must manage your thought life daily and then you can manage your

Quotes by John Maxwell

Ive included some of my favorite John Maxwell quotes below. For simple
scanning, Ive organized them using the following categories: Choice and
decisions, Communication, Daily Impact, Growth, Leaders and Leadership.