Most people believe that success is an event or a destination, or that it simply means being in the right place at the right time. Some people even believe that success is way out of their reach. However, as John Maxwell points out in this episode, success is for anyone who knows their purpose in life, grows to the maximum potential, and sows seeds that benefit others. In this lesson, John will teach you exactly how to do these three things so you can begin or continue your success journey with confidence.
After John’s lesson, Mark Cole and Traci Morrow join to discuss why leaders must be able to answer these questions for themselves and lead others to do the same. When we “know, grow, and sow” we allow ourselves to create powerful, positive change in our organizations and in our world.Our BONUS resource for this episode is the “Success is for Everyone Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.
Mark Cole: Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership Podcast. This is the podcast that adds value to leaders who multiply value to others. My name is Mark Cole. I'm the CEO of Maxwell Leadership. Today, we're talking about the components of success, knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others.
Many people think that success is lofty or unattainable. Others think that success is only for the chosen few. But in this episode, you'll discover that success is within reach of anyone who is able to answer the three question that John poses in this lesson today. I love that in this lesson, John says, "Success is for everyone." And then he acknowledges in the content that this is quite a bold and risky statement. But I believe today after John is done, I believe you're going to understand that success is not only attainable, it is destined for you to experience. After John is done today, I'll be back with my co-host Traci Morrow and we'll discuss how we have answered these questions ourselves and how we apply these principles to our own life and to our leadership.
Every week we provide you a bonus resource. This is a fill in the blank worksheet that accompanies John's lesson. If you would like to access that PDF, please visit Maxwellpodcast.com/success and click on the bonus resource button. For those of you that are listeners to our podcast, we have another option for you and is viewing our podcast on YouTube. So if you would like to do that, go to Maxwellpodcast.com/youtube, and you'll be able to visually participate in our podcast as well.
All right, that's it. Here is John Maxwell.
John Maxwell: Success is for everyone. When I was working on this lesson, I will honestly tell you, there was a little tension when I wrote that, because I know a lot of people that aren't successful. I thought, "This probably could be challenged. Of all the statements that I'm going to make about success, this is the one that probably can be challenged the most, when I say successes for everyone." What I mean by that is, I believe that there are a lot more people that could be successful than are being successful, if they just understood what I know about success.
I believe most people in life shortchange themselves. And let me tell you something. When you shortchange yourself, you shortchange the people you work with, everybody gets shortchanged when you underestimate yourself too. That's why I put this quote in here, there's a forward formula for success that applies equally well to organizations and to individuals. Make yourself more useful.
That's simple. That's why I wrote in my book, The Success Journey, three things. Success is knowing my purpose in life, growing to my maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others. And everyone of us can be there. Everyone of us can do that. Everyone of us can know a purpose, everyone of us can grow and everyone of us can sow seeds to benefit others. So let me take those three things and let's ask three questions. Question number one, how do I know my purpose in life? Well, ask yourself three questions. If you ask yourself three questions, you'll come close to being able to find your purpose in life.
Question number one, what is my desire? What do I dream about? What do I love? Number two, what are my talents? Nothing is worse than a person having a dream that doesn't fit their talent mix. You're in a heap of trouble. You're going to be a wannabe all of your life. And number three is, what are my opportunities? When you can put those three together and you can line them up, you're getting close to knowing what your purpose in life is. So let's go to the second question.
How do I grow to my maximum potential? Three things. Number one, concentrate on your strengths. You always develop your potential by playing to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Number two, write out a plan for personal growth. Sit down and write out a plan, a personal plan for you in the area of development and growth and three, create a growth environment around you. Very simply, what I mean by that is, get other people like-minded. Don't you love to be around growing people? But you grow by doing those three things, concentrating on your strengths, write down a personal growth plan for your life and creating a growth environment. There's one more question, and that is, how do I sow seeds that benefit others since knowing, growing and sowing are part of the success deal?
Well, there are three things. How do I sow seed that benefit to others? Number one, develop a generous spirit. And a generous spirit has nothing to do with how much money you have or how much money you don't have. I know many people who have a lot of money that are not generous. I know people who have very little money that are very generous. Isn't that true? Generosity is not a bank account, it's an attitude. Always has been, always will be.
The second thing to help you to sow seeds that benefit others, is place others at the top of your agenda. You've heard me teach enough about this, that I don't need to go into it tonight, but charisma is nothing more than putting other people first when you meet with them, that's what charisma is. That's how you attract them, that's how it draws people to you, is when you put their agenda at the top of your list. There's one more thing that I would encourage you in sewing seeds that benefit others, and that is, add value to someone everyday. There's a thoughtfulness. Think about it for a moment. The people you love the most are the people that put you at the top of their list. Think about it.
When they walk into your life, you can tell, they've been thinking about you. You can tell that your interest is their interest, your concerns are their concerns. That's how you sow seeds in the lives of others. Danny Thomas said it so well, it's in your notes. "Success in life," he said, "Has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others." And a terrific paragraph here, learn, earn, return. These are the three phases of life. The first third should be devoted to education. The second third, to building a career and making a living. And the last third, to giving back to others, returning something in gratitude. Each stage seems to be a preparation for the next one. And I believe that. You got to take them in sequence.
This is not in your notes and you don't have to put it in your notes, but when I was working on this statement, because success is for everyone, I think it's a bold statement. I think it's a risky statement. I think it's out on the edge a little bit. I think that somebody could say, "I'm not sure success is for everyone." I believe it is. I especially believe it is when you go back to the definition of what I think success is. Knowing my purpose in life, growing to my maximum potential and sowing seeds.
I believe everybody can know the purpose. I believe everybody can grow and I believe everybody can help others. So when you take that, what I call a good mature definition of success, because I believe everybody can be successful, but as I was wrapping this up and looking back, what I do is, as I write my notes and I got them here, as I write my notes, sometimes when I finish one thought, I go back and look at it. And when I look back at success is for everyone, in the bottom page here of my notes, I jotted down just a few things and just listen to this. When I say success is for everyone, what I mean is that most people sell themselves short and therefore they sell those around them, short. Most people need someone to believe in them. Once success is understood and experienced, it's easier to reproduce it and do it again. And then I put down the last thing, my greatest joy is helping other people become successful.
Do you really want to be successful? Let me tell you something, help other people become successful. It compounds. The only thing I want you to know is, if you just strive to be successful yourself, the good news is, you may someday climb the top of the mountain. The bad news is, nobody's with you. That's why you hear the statement, "It's lonely at the top." That's used as a leadership statement. But can I tell you something? A leader never said that. A leader never said it was lonely at the top. I guarantee you. You say, "Why do you mean by that John?" It's very simple, how do you define leadership? You define leadership by the fact you've got followers. If nobody's following, you ain't leading nothing. So the guy that says it's lonely at the top, can I tell you something? He's not a leader. He just took a journey by himself. Don't do that. Take someone with you.
The greatest joys I have, I have to have Steve with me, who's my son-in-law. And we've talked all the way down here. We were on the plane, we talked in the airport, we talked in the car, we talked on the plane. We talked all the way down here. And I had such a warm feeling when I was done, because I thought, "I'm pouring into his life." He's a kid, but I'm pouring into his life. You make other people successful and it will compound your success unbelievably.
Mark Cole: Hey, welcome back. Thanks for joining Traci and I today. As we sat here in the studio today talking, I went back and Jake, thanks for providing this Albert Einstein's quote, "Try not to become a person of success, rather become a person of value." And I love that Traci, because, and I'm going to take a couple of minutes here, because I really resonate with John's lesson today. And I love how he shared it's a risky statement. When I first heard it, I was like, "Success is for everyone." And I made a joke here. "Oh, success all around. I'm buying success today. Let me spread it around." And we laughed about that.
Traci Morrow: Yeah.
Mark Cole: But then as I heard John teach, I went back to my story and I went back to a story that perhaps those of you that listen to the podcast, you're very familiar with. I truly joined John Maxwell's team on May, 1st of the year, 2000. Bankrupt relationally, bankrupt financially, I wasn't giving any money, I wasn't making any money. I had no generosity in me. I think I still had a spirit an attitude of generosity, but I had very little, I didn't bring any relational equity to the table. Nobody gave me a great reference that got me in the door. I had to introduce myself to every soul on the team because nobody knew me.
In other words, I walked into an environment and I didn't bring very much. And now look what this environment has given me. I've went from the stock room to now getting to co-own things with John, be the CEO for the last 12 years. And I did a lesson recently that just underscores that I do believe this lesson of success is for everyone. I did a lesson with several thousand of our coaches, our Maxwell Leadership Certified Coaches, and this was the lesson titled, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you.
If I can do what I am doing today with as little as I brought to the table, then success can happen for you too. And I believe it's wrapped in these components of knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential, sowing seeds that benefit others. And Traci, I know you have a story of extreme success.
What I want to do here, in this podcast is, one, make it believable. Success is for you. The second thing I want to make sure that we don't do is create a success gap. Traci and I are in a perceived, successful place in our life. And I don't want that to make successful out of reach for you. Go back to the core definitions that John's given us, apply that to you and begin as Albert Einstein said, begin that journey of adding value, and success will follow. And so I sounded like I just closed the podcast right there, Traci and I really didn't, but that was so on my heart, I was like, "I really want to get this out, because if it can happen to me, Mark Cole, I promise you, it can happen for you too."
Traci Morrow: And I totally agree, and I love this lesson because it is both of our stories. And I feel like we can sometimes become numb to people who are in a perceived position of success and think something magical happened for them or whatever. And really, it's just consistent, unseen steps that have been taken in a certain direction in the areas that John talks about here, because I'm the same way. When I first found John, I was 21 years old. I had not been to college. I was seeking out John because I wanted to grow. And I heard he was the guy to learn from. And so in these same three areas and I even broke them down into even four because he says, "Success is knowing my purpose in life, growing to my maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others." But here's how I hear it.
When I first came to John, I thought he was going to teach me, Mark, I don't know what I thought he was going to teach me. Things I didn't know, things I couldn't even title. And what I heard was, number one, I need to discover my purpose. Number two, intentionally grow every day. Number three, practice generosity and number four, add value to people.
Guess what? I could do all four of those at 21 years old without a dollar to my name. And probably that day I did not have a dollar to my name. And so I love that, because every single person, no matter what level of success you have today, as you're listening to this podcast, that you can do those four things today, no matter what age or stage you're in life today. And I love that so much [inaudible 00:15:31]-
Mark Cole: And going to that, I'm going to give a shout out to our intern, Kyle Ryczek that's in studio with us today. He's just come and helping us for a period of time in between classes at college. And Kyle was asking, I love this, an intern that is asking questions his very first week. He's not soaking it all in, he's engaging. He was asking me a demographic question of our podcast listeners. And then I gave him what age demographic information that we have in our world. And he said, "Let me tell you this, more of the students that I participate with, that I go to school with, needs to hear what I'm hearing in studio today." He said, "We've got to figure out a way to get this podcast into the next generation, into the college aged kids and to the high school kids."
And his point was, he's in that age group, "This will help us set the courses in life that will make decisions that will lead us to a greater life of success and definitely, a greater life of significance." And then Traci, you come out of this talk and say, "Hey, for me, it was 21 years old. I was at this shaping age, this age to where I wanted to figure out what I was going to do when I grow up." And that's where you began to set your course on these four attributes that you just shared. I love that.
Traci Morrow: Yeah. And you know what? Let me just say something before ... We aren't even into our first point yet, but let me just say, yesterday, I was in the kitchen with my 16 year old son and I was making pasta and he, you know how it goes with teenagers, the conversations just pop up when you're just doing regular life things. And it turned into a conversation very similar to this one, where he was trying to figure out something in his life. And he was processing it all in his own head. And he had said he had talked to some of his friends about it. And I had just said like, "Buddy, you know what? This is the value of parents. It's not just to process it through your head or other kids who are at your stage of life, who can only see from 16 years old and less, go higher. That's what the value of parents is. Talk to us and help us see, processing through maybe how you can add value in a different way and get your eyes off of yourself."
I love this statement that it's not that you should be thinking of less of yourself, but think of yourself less, that's generosity. And so don't think less of yourself. I don't want you to think less of yourself, but sometimes we need to think of ourselves less and look at other people. And that's when we really start to get in this first point is, how do I know my purpose in life? And I feel like there are podcast listeners because I know this was me too. And so I know you can relate to this. I don't know if this was you, Mark, but I just didn't know my purpose in life for a while.
I felt like it was this big, huge abstract thing. And so I just started growing and trying to be generous in spirit. I didn't have a lot of money to be generous with, but I tried to be generous in spirit with my time. I started to be generous with the way that I spent my time with people. And the more I did that, the more I discovered my purpose. And so do you have any advice for people who are at that place where they want to dive into growth, but they don't really know their purpose yet? That age group, what you were talking about, might not know their purpose yet.
Mark Cole: Well, it's so funny as you were saying that. Number one, I'm going to question one and question two right here about how do I maximize my potential, which is where you talked about growth, Traci. And I'm sitting here and you're going, "Yeah, for a while. I didn't know my purpose." I'll be honest with you. It wasn't until 31 that I even knew I was supposed to know my purpose.
Traci Morrow: Have one.
Mark Cole: It wasn't until about 32 or 33 before I realized, "Hey, I've got a purpose too." And then it was a little bit later than that when I could state my purpose. So let's be really clear. People like Kyle in the studio today, Jeevan, all these young men and women that I get to interact with that's seeking purposeful things, I'm going, "You guys have no idea. You're a decade if not more ahead of me."
Traci Morrow: Yeah. Absolutely.
Mark Cole: Because I'm 30 years old, be bopping along joining John Maxwell's team as an entry level. And somebody said, "What's your growth plan?" And I went, "I don't know." And then they said, "Well, what's your purpose?" And I went, "Purpose? To wake up, to eat, to find somebody that likes me?" This purpose question was so much bigger than me.
Traci Morrow: Right.
Mark Cole: And so now let me tell you why I've got to link question. How do I know my purpose? And then two, how do I grow to my maximum potential together? I have to do that. Because it was as I began to chart my course for growth, that I began to realize my potential in life. I don't believe, based on my life. I spent 30 years living out a purpose, but guess what? It was everybody else's purpose for me. It wasn't my purpose?
Traci Morrow: Yeah.
Mark Cole: And when you young person live a life, choose a career and choose a relationship because everybody else in your life is pleased with that but you, you're on a train wreck. It's just a matter of time.
Traci Morrow: That's right.
Mark Cole: Because the purpose has got to resonate within you deeper that when all odds are stacked against you, you still chase your purpose. When everybody says, "No, that's the craziest thing I've ever heard." You still go after it. That's what a real purpose is. It is defiable against all odds and against all affirmation and confirmation of those around you. So for 30 years, Traci, I lived on purpose. It was just somebody else's purpose. It wasn't mine.
Traci Morrow: Right.
Mark Cole: Well, my life train wrecked. And then I began to realize that I didn't need to just have a purpose, I needed to have my purpose. And when I began an intentional path of growth each and every year, for three years, I just grew myself, I intentionally pursued growth. And in that intentional pursuit, I'll never forget it. The end of 2002 in a cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia, I'm reviewing how I've grown the last two years. I'm setting the course of how I want to grow the next year, and boom, it clarified for me what my purpose was.
Traci Morrow: Yeah.
Mark Cole: And I'm going to tell you what that is, because we're talking about it and perhaps some of you are new podcast listeners and haven't heard it. It's not going to sound that profound to you. But to me, it's everything. My life exists to inspire and motivate people to help them reach their full potential. You know why I woke up this morning and didn't stay in bed because my life exists to inspire other people.
I saw the podcast on my schedule this morning and I went, "Well, I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that today." I know some things I've got to do this afternoon that are a little difficult. They're not in my strength zone. They're not in my skillset to be honest with you. They're not in my appetite for my agenda. I'm going to do them. You know why? Because I exist to motivate and inspire people to reach their full potential. I'm not doing it because of my parents, my relationships, others around me want to do it. I'm doing it because it is what wakes me up in the morning. It's what keeps me up at night. And that was found by answering these questions. What is my desire? What are my talents? What are my opportunities? And I found answers to those questions by growing myself, surrounding myself in a group environment and writing out a plan for personal growth. For me, Traci, the answer for those two questions were so symbiotic that I can't separate them in the answering
Traci Morrow: Let me just tell those of you who are listening and you're maybe aligning what Mark's saying up to your own life. And you're trying to think, "Does that fit for me? Does that fit with what my personal life purpose is?" And I would just say to you, when you are in that zone and you are growing in that zone, it is going to be ... You will have hard times. It's not like it's just all smooth sailing when you're growing in your sweet spot and in your purpose. But there will be times when you'll feel like your hair's on fire. You're so outside of your comfort zone, but you will also at the same time feel so deeply fulfilled. So like mark said called out of bed in the morning.
Sometimes I wake up at 3:30 in the morning and I check my phone on my night table. I'll turn it over. And I'll see what time it is. And I think, "Is it too early to get up yet?" Yeah. I know what I need to do today. And I probably need a little bit more sleep. But sometimes I'm so excited to get into my day. I remember my mom saying that, "I look forward to waking up in the morning because I can't wait to get into my day and what I do." That is somebody who is driven by purpose and everyday, getting up to do your purpose so that while you might have days where you feel stressed or you might feel out of your zone or like your hair's on fire, because you're so uncomfortable because you're out of your comfort zone. Your heart's on fire. You're excited to get up and get into it.
And when you are in a growth environment where other people are in that same space, it even pulls you deeper. What's that quote? I'm going to misquote it. But John always says, "When you're in the deep waters, it doesn't matter how deep you are." It's like, once you go out of the shallow zone, it doesn't matter how deep the water is. Just keep going.
Mark Cole: Yeah. He also says Traci, he says that he doesn't wake up out of discipline, he wakes up out of anticipation.
Traci Morrow: Yes.
Mark Cole: And I'm telling you, for me, that happened as I began to discover the return on personal growth and the clarity of a personal vision and purpose statement. That anticipation, that's what I really want you to have at the end of this is this pursuit for growth. This pursuit for clarity in your purpose success will come with those things.
Traci Morrow: That's exactly right. And another thing I'd like to touch on and I know this is something that's important to you is, practicing generosity.
Mark Cole: Yeah.
Traci Morrow: And this is something that John does, I think, perhaps better than anyone. That's why he's a mentor to both of us. I am drawn in by John's generosity. He is just such a generous human being. And I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about his spirit of generosity. When you are around John, you just feel his care, his concern for you. You can tell he's prepared, he's looked forward, he's anticipated, spending time with you. And that is something that to me draws me in and I want to be like that. I want to make other people feel the way I feel when I'm with John, because he is so generous in his spirit. Can you talk a little bit about generosity and what that looks like for you in your leadership and in your personal life?
Mark Cole: Yeah. And I can give you a funny story that just happened this past weekend. We were recording this and John and I were just traveling together. And so this all backs up the John statement that I want us all to get. And I will tell you the story, but he said, "Generosity is not a bank account, it is an attitude." And so many people think that when they reach a certain earning threshold or when they pay off their car, their house, or when I start making real money for all you college students out there listening, I'll start being generous then. Yeah maybe. But it won't be because you got money. It's because you got an attitude of generosity. There's a big difference and a big bank account and people that have no generosity and a small bank account with people that are abundant at everything that they do.
And John's really taught me to by standards overtip, over express appreciation to those that are in the service industry. And so we were at a really nice hotel this past weekend and the guy helped us with our luggage, he helped us with this, he did a lot of great things. And so I gave him a very generous, John Maxwell inspired tip. I gave him a really nice tip for what he had helped me with that day. And the guy was just blown away. He said, "Mr. Cole, thank you." We came down one day later. "Mr. Cole, thank you." We came down the next day and he said, "Mr. Cole, you've just been so good, so nice. Thank you very much." Well, then I watched John slip over behind the car and slipping what I knew was a hundred dollars bill.
And he got back in the car and I said, "He remembered your name too. Why are you trying to get him to being so appreciative to me?" He said, "Mark, you just struck me." This is him. And I cut up with him and we had this crazy sense of humor, but I was acting like he was trying to trump me in being more generous.
Traci Morrow: How generous are you?
Mark Cole: Yeah. Out tip me and get more affirmation from the guy that was serving us with our luggage and all that. And I said, "John, why did you just out tip me?" And he said, "Anybody that appreciates something so much as he did the first day we got here, probably has a need Mark bigger than you and I could imagine. And I just felt compelled that I need to go double and triple what you had done for a guy that was showing that much generosity."
And I went, "God, what a brilliant ... I'm not making this. This just happened. "What a brilliant attitude of generosity?" John goes, "Man, this guy is so grateful, I bet you a little bit more generosity would go a long way in this young man's life." Because we're in a city that has truly been shut down until recently, if he's dependent on tips, he's probably accumulated a lot of bills. And my relatively generous tip to him inspired John to a greater letter of generosity. Not because he wanted to, outgive, not because he has a big bank account, but because he has a heart, a spirit of generosity.
And Traci, you said it at the beginning and we're speaking in John's absence here, but I too, I've never experienced the level of generosity that I see on a daily basis with John Maxwell. And I want to experience that.
Traci Morrow: I do too. And we can all start practicing that now. Even if you don't have money, the resources financially, you can start with your time. You can start with being generous with love and kindness toward people. That not everybody's kind to people, especially, gosh, you just go out. There's a lot of angst with people right now. Because of those bills, because people haven't been able to work. There's a lot of angst in private lives. And so when you're generous with kindness to people, you can just see how they're taken aback and they're, they're grateful for it. And so imagine if we're giving two and three times more generosity and kindness towards people-
Mark Cole: That's right.
Traci Morrow: ... how that's going to be. Last, I'll toss it back to you. But the last thing that I really want to share with people is, the other day, when I had a phone call with John, I would just want to share with our audience what he shared with me, because it was greatly impactful for me and I wrote it down. And he said to me, "Traci, I have found that most people do better when they're believed in." He said, "I do better when people believe in me. And I've just found that most people do better when people believe in them." And he said, "So I want to believe in people so that they can do better." And I thought, that's a generosity again, but it's also valuing people and I, what a lesson.
And so I share it with you because it's impacted me and that private conversation, I'm sure he said it to many people too, but I share it with all of our listeners because, what a beautiful lesson?
Mark Cole: Yeah. It's how successful people think. You're sitting here and we're truly rightly so, taking a lot of time talking about success, but showing you how success is really all about others. It's really about significance. And we're taking a lot of time here at the end of this to show you how successful people think and you don't gain success, and then all of a sudden start thinking, you think your way along until you see that level of success.
Traci Morrow: So good. Yes.
Mark Cole: So John wrote a book, How Successful People Think. In fact, Jake, I'd like to make that available to everybody. Let's put it in our show notes. We'll put a link. You go to that link, put in a promo code, podcast, and we'll give you 15% off of this book, How Successful People Think.
I want to give you that next step because listening to this podcast is one thing. But getting into your awareness, how you should be thinking is truly one of the first and major steps on your way to a successful life, on a way to successful decisions and processing life from a successful perspective. So I want you to take that book and get it, because again, we're talking about generosity, we're talking about John, you quoted John, gave us an experience of John, Traci. There is this unbelievable sense of fulfillment that will come to you as you realize that your life has substance, that your life has significance that your life is successful. And we want you to have that here. That's our passion.
I'd love to share a podcast comment from a listener that said, this is actually from Lena. Lena also, a few weeks ago, I referenced somebody from episode 200. It was a good lesson. We want you to listen to that. We'll put it in the show notes, but Lena was listening to episode 200 and she said, "Hey, thank you so much for the link to the 21 laws. I've been listening to this podcast while posting payroll every Wednesday. And I've been doing this every morning for the last three years. I can't begin to count how many changes, small and big I have made in the last three years that has been directly influenced by the podcast. Thank you and good work." And Lena, that right there is why we'll be back next week and the next week and the next week. Because that's what we do.
In fact, if you're like Lena, and this has impacted you today, or you've been impacted by the podcast, show us appreciation maybe by giving us a comment, maybe by giving us a rating on whatever podcast player you listen to, but even more important than those two things, why don't you subscribe and why don't you forward this podcast to somebody else in your area of influence and let them know of a way that can add value to them too. Because I'm going to tell you, I want you to take this podcast, I want you to take this lesson and I want you to go create powerful, positive change because the world and people deserve good leadership.