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Leadership teacher John Maxwell shares secrets for success

April 25, 2006

John Maxwell, author of more than 30 leadership books and popular international speaker, spoke to 500 people at an Abilene Christian University luncheon Tuesday regarding the four things highly successful people do well.

Maxwell was the last of eight presenters in ACU's Centennial Speaker Series, which also included "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts, long-time sports commentator Pat Summerall, and MSNBC co-anchor Lester Holt.

First, Maxwell said, people who are highly successful are good at building relationships and have a way of getting along with people.

"Good relationship skills are the foundation of both leadership and success," he said.  "Successful people relate emotionally, spiritually and intellectually with others."

He said both in the workplace and in their homes, people need to understand and practice the hammer principle: "never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone's forehead."  In other words, don't overreact.

The second quality of highly successful people is that they equip, train and develop people, Maxwell said.

"Successful people understand that for their success to compound, it must include others," he said.  "They must have the ability to gain buy-in.  One is too small a number to achieve greatness."

The third quality is attitude.  "Successful people have an uncommon attitude, especially about adversity," Maxwell explained.  "It's not that they have fewer problems than less successful people; they just have the tenacity to work through obstacles and problems."

Maxwell added that "attitude is not everything, but it is the main thing – the difference maker.  However, a great attitude cannot make up for incompetence."

Fourth, Maxwell said, successful people are good leaders.  They have a vision, and they understand that leadership is about influence – not title or position.

"People can lead wherever they are in the organization," he said.  "They can lead up, across and down."

He encouraged individuals to prepare for future leadership opportunities now.  He quoted his friend, longtime UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who says, "When the opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare."


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