Rick Kraft

One of my mentors is author and pastor John Maxwell. I have listened to hundreds and hundreds of talks by him as well as many of his books on CDs. His wisdom has helped equip me teach to leadership to others. I had the opportunity to meet him once at a book signing after he spoke in Atlanta.

He has been named a best selling author by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week. In 2014 he was named the number one leadership and management expert in the world by Inc. Magazine. He has authored over 50 books. 

John Maxwell wrote a small paperback book titled similar to my column, “It’s Just A Thought. But It Could Change Your Life.” It has 160 pages packed full of motivational and inspirational sayings. As a student and teacher of leadership, I thought for today’s column I would share with you some of his leadership concepts from the book that can help all of us fly higher.

“Your attitude is either your best friend or your worst enemy, your greatest asset or your greatest liability.” It all starts in your head. What is between your ears drives your life. You choose your attitude. You can reap the benefits or pay the price based on what you choose to think. Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you respond.

Bruce Barton is quoted as saying “When you are through changing, you are through.” A John Maxwell quote is “The leader’s growth determines the people’s growth.” I like the saying “Change is mandatory, growth is optional.” If you are the same person today as you were a year ago, you are spinning your wheels and not growing. I expect my last day of growth to be the last day I take a breath.

“Leadership determines the direction of the company. Organization determines the potential of the company. Personnel determines the success of the company.” Three key attributes of any successful organization, all three of which I believe are critical, especially the people “moving the ball down the field,” the personnel.

“We first form habits. Then habits form us.” Most of our lives are run on “default mode.” This is a mode that we don’t have to think about. The habits we form drive who we are. Develop good habits and you can spend your time focusing on bigger and better things that you need to be accomplishing. 

I like Wayne Gretzky’s quote, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” John Maxwell adds, “The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” Aim for success in all you do, but if you don’t fail regularly, you have no hope of achieving success. And when you fail, fail forward. Learn, adjust, and try again. It is only then that you have any chance of accomplishing something great.

“Loving people precedes leading them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Effective leadership is about effective relationships. You can’t lead effectively if you don’t care about those you lead. A good leader cares about and develops relationships with those he or she leads.

“Leadership functions on the basis of trust. When trust is gone, the leader soon will be.” I agree and believe all relationships function on trust. Without trust any relationship will be unhealthy.

One of my favorite sayings is “Hurting people hurt other people. Once you learn this, it’s easier to ‘turn the other cheek.’” We live in a world of hurting people. They are miserable most all the time and they want to share their misery with others. They adhere to the concept that to rise higher you need to pull others down. Don’t give up on being kind to them, but the sooner you can recognize that they just want to be unhappy, the less you will be impacted negatively when they try to pull you down.

“I teach what I know, but I reproduce what I am.” I like this one as our lives should be about reproducing. I tell people to live a life worthy of being modeled by others. Then move into positions of influence so you can reproduce yourself in others with the hope that they will do likewise and the positive influence you have had on others will grow outward in others by multiplication, not addition.

A quote by Henry Kaiser, “I make progress by having people around me who are smarter than I am-and listening to them. And I assume that everyone is smarter about something than I am.” I sure do like the humbleness of this quote. It is the concept, “It is what I learn after I know it all that makes all the difference.” None of us know it all. Recognize this. With one exception, the world is made up of other people, each with a gift set that you can learn from if you ask the right questions.

A Lou Erickson quote, “Life is like a taxi. The meter just keeps a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or standing still.” This concept makes all the difference in my life. I recognize that each day is a gift and that I need to go to bed having accomplished something that needed to be accomplished that morning when I woke up. Wasted time can never be retrieved as life is not a dress rehearsal.

“People are like rubber bands: they must be stretched to be effective.” If you are not using your gift set outside your comfort zone, you are not accomplishing what you need to be accomplishing. Being stretched gives you hope of accomplishing great things. A rubber band that is not stretched is not serving its purpose. A spin off on this is “Nothing great has ever been accomplished except by a tired person.”

Henry Fonda said, “A thoroughbred horse never looks at the other horses. It just concentrates on running the fastest race it can.” The comparison game can defeat us before we ever leave the starting line. Your job in the days you have is to stay in your lane and run the best race you can. Looking left or right may cause you to slow down or even stop. Be the best you that you can be independent of what is happening on either side of you.

There you have it, some leadership thoughts from a motivational book with my comments.

My challenge to you is to learn from the above concepts to be a better you. Care about others, listen to the wisdom they have, develop better relationships, become a more effective leader, stretch yourself, grow, run the best race you can in the lane you have been given, and value the short time you have on this planet. Live a life that allows others to trust you and that is worth others modeling, move into positions of influence, and change the world by multiplication.

Just a thought...


Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202-0850.

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