Success is not a destination
thing, it‘s 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,
he‘s created an amazing
knowledge base of leadership
patterns and practices through
his books and speaking
He takes up multiple shelves at the
bookstore. In fact, he’s written more than
50 books. The beauty of his books is that he
talks with you, not at you, while at the
same time challenging you to become a
better version of yourself. His 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.
I hope you enjoy these lessons as much as
I’ve 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.
Lesson 1 : Leadership is influence.
Maxwell defines leadership as influence. It‘s 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
can‘t 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.‖
Lesson 2 : Leadership isn‟t a position, it‟s 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, „I‟ll get a bigger job,
then I‟ll learn how to be a leader.‟ But showing leadership skill is how you get the
bigger job in the first place. Leadership isn‟t a position, it‟s a process.”
Lesson 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, that’s when
the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.”
Lesson 4 : Your attitude towards life is still under construction.
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. It’s never too late for a person to change his attitude.”
Lesson 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
Lesson 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
Lesson 7 : Build trust through competence, connection, and character.
You won‘t follow somebody you don‘t 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.‖
Lesson 8 : Success is a journey, not a destination.
Don‘t 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 journey.
Lesson 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.‖
Lesson 10 : Success is a decision at a time.
Maxwell says, “You don‟t 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.”
Lesson 11 : 7 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) don‟t 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.
Lesson 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.
Lesson 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.‖
Lesson 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.‖
Lesson 15 : Don‟t 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. You‟ll go farther in life and have a better time doing it if you
maintain a sense of humor, especially when it comes to yourself.”
Lesson 16 : Use failure as a springboard.
Unsuccessful people avoid taking any risks to try and avoid failure. Successful
people turn failure into feedback. They don‟t dwell on mistakes or the negative
consequences of failures. Instead, they focus on the rewards of success and on
learning from their mistakes.
Lesson 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 generation.” In 360 Degree Leader,
Maxwell says, “Great leaders don‟t use people so they can win. They lead people so they
can all lead together.”
Lesson 18 : Let people fly with you for a while.
In Maxwell‘s 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.
Lesson 19 : 10 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
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.
Lesson 20 : Don‟t make happiness your measure of success.
Happiness is fleeting while success is a stable path. In Your Road Map for Success,
Maxwell writes, “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 aren‟t stable. Happiness simply
cannot be relied upon as a measure of success.”
Lesson 21 : Achievement over affirmation.
Focus on achievement rather than
worry about fitting in. Maxwell says,
―Affirmation from others is fickle and
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 can‘t
be ‗one of the boys‘ and follow your
destiny at the same time.‖
Lesson 22 : 4 kinds of people when it comes to relationships.
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.)
Lesson 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) your emotions,
2) your time, 3) your priorities, 4) your energy, 5) your thinking, 6) your words, and
7) your personal life.
Lesson 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 leader‘s expectations – if they like the leader.
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.‖
Lesson 25 : Focus on production over 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 what‟s necessary, work
to control their own destiny, grow into the next level, base decisions on principles.
Each phrase is a stand-alone nugget of wisdom. The wonderful thing
about all this is that ―success‖ isn‘t applicable only to business. Every
meaningful goal we set for ourselves in life is an opportunity for us to
practice these lessons and tips. ―Leadership‖ is a quality we can
cultivate just for ourselves.
―Success is … knowing your purpose in life, growing
to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds
that benefit others.‖
Thank You Very Much