John Maxwell: Developing the Leader in You [The Knowledge Project Ep. #80]

Leadership expert John Maxwell breaks down the four traits every successful person possesses and how to awaken the leader within you, no matter what your job title says.

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Today, I welcome author, speaker, coach, and world-renowned leadership guru, John Maxwell (@JohnCMaxwell) to the Knowledge Project.

John has been in the business of developing leaders all over the world for over five decades. You’d be hard-pressed to go anyplace where there are books and not see one of the 100+ he’s written, including The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You and Failing Forward. John’s books have been translated into more than 50 languages and have sold nearly 35 million copies.

In this discussion, John lays out the 5 levels of leadership and the surprising reason most people never develop past the first tier. He explains why experience is not the best teacher, the power of failing and failing often, and the difference between being a leader who builds other leaders and one who simply manages people.

No matter your position at work or your station in life, John affirms you have the power (and duty) to lead and influence others. In this episode, he shares lots of actionable ways to awaken that leader within you and affect positive change in your corner of the world.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

I know a lot of successful people that aren’t happy. I mean, they have a lot of stuff, but they’re not happy. I’ve never known a person that committed to significance which is adding value intentionally to others on a consistent basis that wasn’t happy.

Attitude gives you no advantage during good times because, during good times, everybody has a good attitude. When things are going my way, my attitude is fine. But it’s when the adversity comes and the challenges come, that’s when my attitude becomes what I call the difference-maker.

As a parent, you could affirm your children, tell them they’re wonderful and they’re going to do amazing things, but can I tell you something? They need to do some amazing things. The more I tell a person how good they are without them proving it to themselves, the more those words lack meaning and lack influence.

We hear a lot of people say that experience is the best teacher. Well, it’s a wonderful statement, it’s just not true. If experience were the best teacher, then everybody as they got older would be getting better. A lot of people go through experiences and they learn nothing. And they don’t improve themselves. I think evaluated experience is the best teacher. I think after the experience, we pull ourselves away and ask ourselves what did I learn from that?

Reflection turns experience into insight. And so, if I spend some time reflecting, I’m going to pull out what that experience taught me. I tell people to get beyond how you felt, and ask yourself, what did you learn? What did you experience that has the potential to make you a better person?

If I had some success in leading others and got some wins under my belt, all of a sudden, I replace the confidence that has been given to me by affirmation with confidence that is given to me by accomplishment. If you’re just affirming me, but I’m not seeing results in my life, that confidence gets shaken very quickly. But if I’ve lived in an affirming kind of a culture and then I’ve started to see some success, now all of a sudden, this confidence, I begin to own it.

You’re not only your brother’s keeper, you’re your brother’s lifter. And now, every time they are around you and every time they see you and experience you, it’s better for them. And I think that the moment that you live for others, value others and intentionally add value to them, I think you’re living a fulfilled life.

I don’t think people purposely go down the wrong path. I just think that they’re unaware. Blind spots mean that they’re blind spots. You have no idea. You’re totally surprised when all a sudden you see something that you never saw before. And one of the greatest things we could do for others is to come alongside them and help them with those areas.

Listen and Learn

Transcript

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