Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

John C. Maxwell

Author, Speaker, Founder and CEO of The John Maxwell Co. and EQUIP teaching Leadership

"A winner is big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them."

"Policies are many, principles are few. Policies will change, principles never do."

"Seven Steps to 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. 7) Give up to go up."

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

"We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are."

"Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it."

"Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another."

"Do not take the agenda that someone else has mapped out for your life."

"If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone."

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional."

"A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them."

"If you don’t change the direction you are going, then you’re likely to end up where you’re heading."

"If you start today to do the right thing, you are already a success even if it doesn’t show yet."

"A leader who produces other leaders multiples their influences."

"The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one."

"Relational skills are the most important abilities in leadership."

"Learn to say 'no' to the good so you can say 'yes' to the best."

"Success is... knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others."

"Stay focused instead of getting offended or off track by others."

"True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation."

"To collaborative team members, completing one another is more important than competing with one another."

"A successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others. "

"Have to sow excellent seeds to have an excellent life. Must start with sowing excellent thoughts."

"Must manage your thought life daily and then you can manage your life."

"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."

"Life doesn't do anything to you. It only reveals your spirit."

"Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are."

"The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying."

"Your success stops where your character stops. You can never rise above the limitations of your character."

"Look behind you: What have you learned? Look around you: What is happening to others? Look above you: What does God expect of you? Look besides you: What resources are available to you?"

"If you don't have peace, it isn't because someone took it from you; you gave it away. You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you."

"A dream worth pursuing is a picture and blueprint of a person's purpose and potential."

"Educators take something simple and make it complicated. Communicators take something complicated and make it simple. "

"We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it's a continuing choice. "

"You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything."

"People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision."

"Great communication depends on two simple skills—context, which attunes a leader to the same frequency as his or her audience, and delivery, which allows a leader to phrase messages in a language the audience can understand. Earn the right to be heard by listening to others. Seek to understand a situation before making judgments about it. Take the emotional temperature of those listening to you. Facial expressions, voice inflection and posture give clues to a person’s mood and attitude. Persuasive communication involves enthusiasm, animation, audience participation, authenticity and spontaneity."

""Failing forward" is the ability to get back up after you've been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction. Don't buy into the notion that mistakes can somehow be avoided. They can't be. Failure is not a one-time event; it's how you deal with life along the way. Until you breathe your last breath, you're still in the process, and there is still time to turn things around for the better. You are the only person who can label what you do a failure. Failure is subjective. Don't allow the fire of adversity to make you a skeptic. Allow it to purify you. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of learning: experience, which is gained from your own mistakes, and wisdom, which is learned from the mistakes of others. Seek advice, but make sure it's from someone who has successfully handled mistakes or adversities."

"Credibility is a leader's currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt. Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy. Don’t hide bad news. With multiple information channels available, bad news always becomes known. Be candid right from the start. A highly credible leader under-promises and over-delivers. Diligent follow-up and follow-through will set you apart from the crowd and communicate excellence. A trustworthy leader goes the extra mile to remedy strained relationships, even when it doesn’t appear to be required."

"It's true that charisma can make a person stand out for a moment, but character sets a person apart for a lifetime. You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain. Character makes trust possible, and trust is the foundation of leadership. Character creates consistency, and if your people know what they can expect from you, they will continue to look to you for leadership. Over time, is it easier or harder to sustain your influence within your organization? With charisma alone, influence becomes increasingly more difficult to sustain. With character, as time passes, influence builds and requires less work to sustain."

"When to quit: (1) Quit something you don't do well to start something you do well. (2) Quit something you're not passionate about to do something that fills you with passion. (3) Quit something that doesn't make a difference to do something that does."

"More than anything else, followers want to believe that their leaders are ethical and honest. When your people see that you are not only competent to lead but also have a track record of successes, they will have confidence in following you, even when they don't understand all the details. As a leader, it's your job to get your people excited about what their work will accomplish; it’s a natural motivator."

"People are an organization's only appreciable asset, but creative people are an organization's most needed asset. Be willing to absorb some risk and failures to allow people freedom to express themselves. Creative leaders inherently know when rules need to be challenged, and they can see when a more flexible approach should be taken. Handle the ideas of your people carefully: If an idea is half-developed but has potential, pass it to the people in your organization who are proven process thinkers and implementers. Sometimes giving your people permission to be creative is not enough; inspire them by modeling creativity. The word 'reactive' and the word 'creative' are made up of exactly the same letters; the only difference between the two is that you 'c' (see) differently."

"People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to. "

"When you are the leader in your field, it takes a greater level of innovation and commitment to stay there. Make a point to continually search for a better way of doing things, even when things are going well, to ensure that a better alternative has not been overlooked and to keep your creative talents in practice. Practice mental agility: Before you write off a far-fetched idea, back up and look at the big picture, because it might fit perfectly on another level. Have fun: When you are truly having fun in your work, creativity flows freely."

"Consider who you are working with: Part of the art of leadership is discovering the unique relationship between the needs of the individual and the organization. People only know that you and the organization intend to meet their needs when you tell them so. Determine how to help the person, tell them how you will do it, and follow through – before asking the individual to do things in return for you. People working together ultimately succeed or fail based on their commitment to one another. Never give up easily on one of your people; it does a disservice to that individual and to you."

"When you delegate a task to your people, make a point to help them capture your vision for what the completed task will look like. Hold your people accountable to a measurable standard of excellence, and make rewards and consequences a part of enforcing the standard. Give your people full responsibility (ownership) for the completion of specific tasks and the prospect of sharing in the rewards that result."

"Don't judge what your people want to tell you before they've told you. Listen to them. Part of your job as a leader is to help your people figure out what they're most passionate about, and then to help them pursue it. "

"The better you are at surrounding yourself with people of high potential, the greater your chance for success. Every relationship in your organization will affect you one way or another. Those who do not increase you will inevitably decrease you. "

"The more seriously you take your growth, the more seriously your people will take you. Leaders never outgrow the need to change. My leadership began to take flight when I allowed myself to press people to change—whether they thanked me or cursed me. Eventually, you must disengage from the relationships you’ve outgrown, or they will limit your growth as a leader. Leadership involves the heavy burden of responsibility, and the fear of getting it wrong can paralyze a leader. Confront your inadequacies and push your personal boundaries: It’s the surest way to grow, improve and expand the scope of your influence."