Seven Decades of Lessons (and A Gift)
This Saturday, I will turn 74 years old.
Like most birthdays when you get older, I’ll celebrate in some way with my family and friends, but for the most part I’ll treat it like most other days: focused on the mission of transformation. But that doesn’t mean I won’t reflect on my life and what I’ve been blessed to accomplish over its course. I’ll spend a lot of time thinking about the lessons I’ve learned in seven decades.
Of course, I’ve been doing that for a while now.
Seventy years is a long time—and that means there are plenty of lessons to learn, from both the good and the bad. I try to pass along lessons as soon as I learn them; it helps me not only pass the lesson along but cement it in my mind and heart. One of the biggest benefits of teaching others is the ability to really discover where your convictions lay.
You’ve probably heard me say that as I get older, I’m certain about fewer things—but the things of which I am certain, I’m more certain of than I’ve ever been in my life. My convictions about the things I deeply, truly believe have only gotten stronger. I’ve reached the age where I’m not bothered if someone disagrees with me or my convictions; I’m confident of what I believe, in part because I regularly test and review it!
For example, I am certain that Transformation is not only with our grasp, but also a goal I’ll see achieved in my lifetime. For years, my sense of Transformation’s importance has increased; what began as a vague notion has become a refined, thorough, and tested process for seeing real lives and communities changed through learning and living out good values.
I can go back to my book, Intentional Living, and see how the message of Transformation was in its early stages. I can trace how my thinking and understanding of the message of Transformation began there, with the emphasis on being intentional with your life and choosing to make a difference. That message has solidified over the years and now serves as a foundation of the process Rob Hoskins and I describe in Change Your World.
I’m also certain that personal growth is essential for every leader—and really, for every person. Of all the investments I’ve made in my life, none has paid off for me like the personal growth kit I purchased from Curt Kampmeier for $795. It was a significant investment for me and Margaret at the time—essentially one entire month’s salary for me—so it took six months and a lot of sacrifices on Margaret’s part for us to save enough to purchase the kit.
But once we did…it was the unlocking of my most significant discipline as a leader. Daily growth is now more than a habit; it’s the essence of what I do! It’s how I discover new ideas, challenge old mindsets, and add value to the countless men and women around the world who trust me to provide wisdom on leadership and life.
And that leads to one more certainty I have: that reproducing leaders is essential for success, significance, and ultimately Transformation. No one changes the world alone; one is too small a number to achieve greatness, which means leaders must produce other leaders to help carry the message and the load. Producing leaders isn’t something you leave to chance, either. It’s an intentional investment on the part of a leader to pour themselves into other people.
Ten years ago, I was presented an idea that sounded radical at the time and proved to be one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. I was pitched the idea of a coaching company that would train and certify leaders in the principles and practices I’ve developed over my career. These certified men and women would then be allowed to go into their communities and teach courses and lead trainings based on select material from my catalog.
It would be called The John Maxwell Team.
Today, the John Maxwell Team stands at over 35,000 certified coaches, speakers, and trainers, many of whom have become trusted leaders in their communities. These men and women not only have my content, but they have my heart, and they are the legs to my legacy. Our global movement of Transformation would not happen were it not for the leaders we’ve reproduced through the JMT.
These lessons help form the heart of who I am today. They influence and drive the man I want to be tomorrow. And they are essential for helping our work in training men and women to become the people they were meant to be.
I want you to be one of these men and women. I want to help you unlock the life you were born to lead, a life of purpose and meaning and Transformation. That’s why, for my birthday, I want to offer you a gift—the gift of growth.
My team has put together a digital course that holds an essential lesson from each of my seven best-selling courses, called 7 Principles for Building a Life That Makes a Difference. These aren’t just chosen at random, mind you; each of these lessons was essential for my personal growth journey, and I believe they will help you with yours.
My friend, you can accept your life, or you can lead your life but remember you only get one life—and it’s up to you what that life becomes.
I hope that when you reach my age, you’ll be able to look back, as I have, and say that you’ve chosen to make it your best life.