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Don and Jim, two leaders I liked and respected insisted that a 7 hour round trip to hear John Maxwell would be a great beginning for my new role as lead pastor of a large church. I had never heard of John Maxwell but once we met there was no forgetting him. That daylong seminar in Calgary, Alberta in 1994 started a decades long appreciation for his work.

Maxwell gave me handholds of hope – I could be a leader. He sowed seeds into my life that benefited the people I lead as well as leading myself.

This is part one of 25 lessons that capture and distil some of my most important lessons of hope from John Maxwell.

25 Lessons – Part 1

  1. Leadership is influence.

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.”


  1. Leadership isn’t a position it’s a process.

Leadership starts right where you are, from the inside out.  “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.”


  1. Use principles to guide you.

Drive from durable principles instead of a bunch of rules and policies.  “Policies are many, principles are few, policies will change, principles never do.”

  1. 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.

  1. 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) 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.


  1. Just do it.

Forget motivation and just do it. “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.”


  1. Your attitude towards life is still under construction.

According to Maxwell, your attitude towards life is constantly being shaped by the following factors:  personality (who are you), environment (what’s 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.  It’s never too late for a person to change his attitude.”

  1. 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.

  1. Leadership is a collection of skills.

Leadership is something you can learn and improve at. “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.”

  1. Build trust through competence, connection, and character.

You won’t follow somebody you don’t trust.  As a leader, you have to build trust.  “There are three qualities a leader must exemplify to build trust: competence, connection, and character.”

  1. 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.   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 loyalty.

  1. Success is a daily thing.

You can be successful one day or one decision at a time. “If you can handle today correctly, tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Read Part 2 here.

APPLICATION: How long have you been in leadership? Which is your favorite lesson? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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