Great Quotes by John Maxwell that Will Inspire Your Greatness


Lessons Learned from John Maxwell 3

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” — John Maxwell

This is a collection of John Maxwell quotes you can use to inspire yourself and others.

As you’ll see in his quotes, John Maxwell flows inspiration and wisdom in a relevant way.

While many of John Maxwell’s quotes are focused on teams and leaders, he also tackles interesting topics like character, choice, and every day success,.

There is truly something for everyone.


John Maxwell’s 7 Steps To Success

Before we dive into quotes, let’s start with Maxwell’s steps for success which reflect his his philosophy, mindset, and values:

  1. Make a commitment to grow daily.
  2. Value the process more than events.
  3. Don’t wait for inspiration.
  4. Be willing to sacrifice pleasure for opportunity.
  5. Dream big.
  6. Plan your priorities.
  7. Give up to go up.

The Top 10 John Maxwell Quotes

Here are my top 10 favorite John Maxwell quotes:

  1. “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
  2. “Do not take the agenda that someone else has mapped out for your life.”
  3. “Growth inside fuels growth outside.”
  4. “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”
  5. “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”
  6. “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  7. “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
  8. “We all stand on the shoulders of the past generation.”
  9. “You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.”
  10. “You must manage your thought life daily and then you can manage your life.”


“Character creates consistency, and if your people know what they can expect from you, they will continue to look to you for leadership.”

“Character makes trust possible, and trust is the foundation of leadership.
It’s true that charisma can make a person stand out for a moment, but character sets a person apart for a lifetime.”

“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent.”

“Over time, is it easier or harder to sustain your influence within your organization?  With charisma alone, influence becomes increasingly more difficult to sustain. With character, as time passes, influence builds and requires less work to sustain.”

“There are three qualities a leader must exemplify to build trust: competence, connection, and character.”

“You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.”

Choice and Decisions

“Everything begins with a decision. Then, we have to manage that decision for the rest of your life.”

“If you don’t change the direction you are going, then you’re likely to end up where you’re heading… “

“The law of the [Cub Scout] pack guides the boys to move in the direction of being helpful, friendly, courteous, trustworthy and promote qualities which parents and the community are looking for. The whole purpose of scouting is to help the children grow up making good decisions in life.”

“There are two paths people can take. They can either play now and pay later, or pay now and play later. Regardless of the choice, one thing is certain. Life will demand a payment.”

“We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.”

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”


“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”

“Educators take something simple and make it complicated. Communicators take something complicated and make it simple.”

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.”

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

“Relational skills are the most important abilities in leadership.”

“Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.”

“Talk to people, not above them.”


“A highly credible leader under-promises and over-delivers.”

“Diligent follow-up and follow-through will set you apart from the crowd and communicate excellence.”

“Credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt.”

“Don’t hide bad news. With multiple information channels available, bad news always becomes known. Be candid right from the start.”

Daily Impact

“As you begin changing your thinking, start immediately to change your behavior. Begin to act the part of the person you would like to become. Take action on your behavior. Too many people want to feel, then take action. This never works.”

“Doing the right thing daily, compounds over time.”

“Doing the wrong thing daily, compounds over time.”

“It is truly one day at a time.”

“Stay focused instead of getting offended or off track by others.”

“Success is not a destination thing, it’s a daily thing.”

“The law of process says — leaders develop daily, not in a day.”

“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

“Today matters.”

“What is the main event today? What do you want me to focus on today?”

“What you are going to be tomorrow, you are becoming today.”

“Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.”


“Don’t buy into the notion that mistakes can somehow be avoided. They can’t be.”

“‘Failing forward’ is the ability to get back up after you’ve been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction.”

“Failure is not a one-time event; it’s how you deal with life along the way. Until you breathe your last breath, you’re still in the process, and there is still time to turn things around for the better.”

“Generally speaking, there are two kinds of learning: experience, which is gained from your own mistakes, and wisdom, which is learned from the mistakes of others.”

“Seek advice, but make sure it’s from someone who has successfully handled mistakes or adversities.”

“You are the only person who can label what you do a failure. Failure is subjective.”


“A difficult time can be more readily endured if we retain the conviction that our existence holds a purpose, a cause to pursue, a person to love, a goal to achieve.”

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”

“Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are.”

“The depth of your mythology is the extent of your effectiveness.”

“Life doesn’t do anything to you. It only reveals your spirit.”

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”

“The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.”

“You must do right before you feel good.”

Leaders and Leadership

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”

“A leader is great, not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others.”

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

“A leader who produces other leaders multiples their influences.”

“Believing in people before they have proved themselves is the key to motivating people to reach their potential.”

“Encourage the many; mentor the few.”

“Everyone is a leader because everyone influences someone.”

“Leadership is developed daily, not in a day.”

“Leadership is influence.”

“Leaders must live by higher standards than their followers.”

“Most People have a desire to look for the exception instead of the desire to become exceptional. “

“Not everyone will become a great leader, but everyone can become a better leader.”

“One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”

“The first step to leadership is servant hood.”

“The law of process says leaders develop daily, not in a day.”

“The more credible you are, the more confidence people place in you, thereby allowing you the privilege of influencing their lives.”

“We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.”

“What is the main event today? What do you want me to focus on today?”

“You can’t become a leader in one conference.”


“Happiness simply cannot be relied upon as a measure of success.”

“If you start today to do the right thing, you are already a success even if it doesn’t show yet.”

“Once our minds are ‘tattooed’ with negative thinking, our chances for long-term success diminish.”

“Successful leaders have the courage to take action while others hesitate.”

“Successful people are willing to do things unsuccessful people will not do.”

“To collaborative team members, completing one another is more important than competing with one another.”

“True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.”

“We all stand on the shoulders of the past generation”

“You don’t become a success when you get your diploma, you became a success when you decided to go to college when you get your diploma you get the rewards of success.”

“You have to sow excellent seeds to have an excellent life. You must start with sowing excellent thoughts.”


“Coming together is a beginning, and staying together is progress, but only when teams sweat together do they find success.”

“Talented performers flock to the best and brightest leaders, and these leaders in turn lift the lids off their people and uncork the latent talent inside of them.”

“Teams make you better than you are, multiply your value, enable you to do what you do best, allow you to help others do their best, give you more time, provide you with companionship, help you fulfill the desires of your heart and compound your vision and effort.”

“The best way to serve the individuals on the team is to see that the whole team wins.”

“The Wrong Person in the Wrong Place = Regression. The Wrong Person in the Right Place = Frustration. The Right Person in the Wrong Place = Confusion. The Right Person in the Right Place = Progression. The Right People in the Right Places = Multiplication.”

“Values hold the team together, provide stability for the team to grow upon, measure the team’s performance, give direction and guidance and attract like-minded people.”

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  1. These are very powerful, J. D.

    This one resonated for me in particular:

    “You must manage your thought life daily and then you can manage your life.”

  2. @ Sandra — That’s what I like about Maxwell quotes. His little wisdom and little ideas compound on a daily basis.

    @ Farouk — It’s like building a better language for our minds to aspire to.

  3. Hi JD .. I like his first one … “Change is inevitable, Growth is optional” … how true is that. Thanks – Hilary

  4. I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

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