John Maxwell is one of the leading influencers when it comes to leadership hopefuls. He taught me about making my car a university on wheels. His idea was to use commute time as an opportunity to listen to leadership tapes. I bought in to his “Injoy Life Club” and played his tape-of-the-month every morning and evening.
All of formative lessons on leadership came from John.
25 Leadership Lessons – Part 2
- Success is a decision at a time.
“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.”
- 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.
- Leadership is a visual thing.
The greatest leadership is by example. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
- Everybody needs encouragement.
No matter who you are, you still need encouragement. “Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.”
- 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. Even if your job is important and should be taken seriously, that doesn’t mean you should take yourself seriously. 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.”
- 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. In Your Road Map for Success, Maxwell shares 10 ways to fail forward effectively:
1) appreciate the value of failure
2) don’t 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) don’t let failure keep you down
8) use failure as a gauge for growth
9) see the big picture
10) don’t give up.
- Win with people.
Growing people is the key to growing your success. “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. 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.”
- 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.
- 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, “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 aren’t stable. Happiness simply cannot be relied upon as a measure of success.”
- Achievement over affirmation.
Focus on achievement rather than worry about fitting in. “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 can’t be ‘one of the boys’ and follow your destiny at the same time.”
- Four 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.)
- 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. 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 can’t 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.
- Focus on production over politics.
In the 360 Degree Leader, Maxwell says there are two ways to get ahead: production and politics – avoid office politics and 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. 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 what’s 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 what’s right, not just for what’s popular, 4) look at all sides of the issue, 5) don’t protect your turf, and 6) say what you mean, and mean what you say.
Maxwell defines success in a very simple, but elegant way:
“Success is … knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.”
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