Daily Productivity Tips for Military Leaders: 14 Lessons from John Maxwell

Today, I want to share some daily productivity tips for military leaders.  I’d like to take credit for these ideas as being my own, but I can’t.  All 14 of these lessons are quotes from John Maxwell, in his book “Make Today Count.”  Just so you know I am a BIG fan of John Maxwell.  This guy really did teach me almost everything I know about leadership, and I’ve never even met him in person.  His books are incredible, to the point and easy to follow.

He’s authored at least 50 books.  Other than “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” his book “Make Today Count” is my favorite.  If you haven’t purchased his books, I suggest you go to Amazon and order a few of them.

In this post, I want to share 14 John Maxwell quotes from the book “Make Today Count.”  These are tips and lessons that will really benefit military leaders of ALL ranks.  The quotes are geared around daily productivity and self improvement.  Each quote is in bold and italic.  At the end of each quote I will also provide my own two cents.  Let’s get started.

# 1 The secret of success is determined by your daily agenda.  People either manage their day or it manages them.  If you really want to be successful, you need a daily game plan.  This means you have a prioritized to do list every day.  You never “wing it” during the day.  Everything you do is planned out.

# 2 If you decide to change yourself, then start with your mind.  What you think is what you get.  If you really want to achieve success in your career, and in life, you need to learn to think like a successful person. This means you need to develop a positive self-image. You need to program your brain with positive thoughts.

# 3 If you don’t decide how your day will be spent, someone else will.  Successful people determine how they will spend their day.  If you’re still waiting on your boss to tell you what to do every day, you are missing the boat.  You get paid to think.  You get paid to lead and make tough decisions.  Regardless of your military rank, be proactive and come up with a daily game plan every day.

# 4 Experience isn’t always the best teacher – evaluated experience is.  Just because you do the same job over and over for a period of years does not give you experience.  It’s not until you EVALUATE that experience through self thought and analysis that you will really learn and benefit from the experience.  You must constantly analyze what you are doing, what is working and how you can improve.

Make Today Count# 5 If someone else can do a task I’m doing 80 percent as well as I do, then I hand it off.  Don’t be so stuck on being a perfectionist that you have to do everything yourself, because you don’t think other people can do it as well as you can.  As a military leader, you get paid to get things done through others, not to do everything yourself.  Learn how to delegate and accept that good enough is good enough. Realize there are a million ways to skin a cat and just because someone else does a project differently than you would does not make them wrong.

# 6 No executive has ever suffered because his subordinates were strong and effective.  Surround yourself with talented people.  Don’t be scared or intimidated of superstar subordinates.  If you have good people working for you, it makes you look good.  Look for the best people you can find and get them on your team.

# 7 I found that it’s often easier to get the approval of strangers and colleagues than it is to get respect from those who know you best.  It’s hard to be a prophet in your own land.  Even if you are OUTSTANDING at what you do, people who work closely with you will know your strengths and weaknesses.  That’s why I think it is often best to switch units every couple years and meet new people. The more time people spend with you, the harder it will be to get their approval.  I’ve often heard that an expert is someone with a briefcase, from out of town.  I think that about sums it up.

# 8 People forget how fast you did a job – but they remember how well you did it.  When you are given a task do it right the first time around. Always take pride in what you do, whether you are cleaning toilets or leading 10,000 troops.  Your job is important. Remember, the Army is a team effort.  Without everyone doing their job well, the team will fail.

# 9 The number one managerial productivity problem in America is, quite simply, managers who are out of touch with their people and out of touch with their customers.  Know the people who work for you.  Know what motivates them and inspires them.  Know their weaknesses, hopes, dreams, goals and desires.  As a leader, you are really in the people business.  Make sure you take the time and effort to get to know your people as people.

# 10 The best way to help people is to see the best in them.  Everyone has good qualities and bad qualities.  Stop focusing on the bad qualities in people.  Figure out what they are good at and focus on those things.  If you can do that, you will think well about others and you will encourage more good behavior.  Focusing only on the negative doesn’t help anyone.

# 11 Growth is not an automatic process.  You won’t develop as a military leader by accident.  You need a game plan for your personal development.  You need to read books, evaluate your experience, know which jobs you need, find a mentor, and be a student of your profession.  If you wait for someone else to develop you, you are in for an unpleasant surprise.

be productive# 12 The greatest handicap a person has is not realizing his potential.  Stop underestimating yourself and selling yourself short.  You are capable of great things.  You have the potential to do amazing things.  You are completely unique and there is only ONE person in the world exactly like you.

# 13 Focus on growing in your areas of greatest strength, not your weaknesses.  No one is good at everything.  It’s much easier to improve your strengths than it is to improve your weaknesses.

# 14 If a person will spend one hour a day on the same subject for five years, that person will be an expert on that subject.  If you want to truly master your craft, spend one hour a day reading books, listening to audio programs, attending workshops, etc.  I’m a big fan of enrolling in auto university and listening to a self-help CD to and from work every day.  Order audio programs about your area of expertise so you can learn new things.  Be a student of your business and profession.

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Final Thoughts

In summary, these 14 John Maxwell quotes provide some really helpful daily productivity tips for military leaders.  I hope you will study the information on this page and try to find some ways that you can become a better military leader.  Start with one tip on this list and focus on that for the next 30 days.

On a side note, if you have read “Make Today Count” or if you have some productivity tips of your own, please leave a comment to this post to share some of your insights (or favorite quotes).  I look forward to hearing from you.

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6 thoughts on “Daily Productivity Tips for Military Leaders: 14 Lessons from John Maxwell”

  1. I like John Maxwell myself and every single point you make in this blog post needs to be mentioned. I can’t really pick one or two or three out of the group to emphasize.

    This is an outstanding post, and we definitely have to be intentional about developing ourselves and the people we lead.

    As an Army officer, this post is invaluable. There is a time to push your men physically and mentally, for sure. One method doesn’t fit every man though.

    We have to constantly evaluate ourselves and evaluate our progress and successes and failures.

    I did like the part about a job being done by somebody 80% as good as we would means it’s time to delegate that job. I am gradually learning this one myself.

  2. These are some good points, Chuck. Everything on this list is true, but I had to laugh out loud when I read #3: If you don’t decide how your day will be spent, someone else will. I have found this to be unfailingly true. In fact, I have learned to simply avoid the question if someone asks what is on my agenda for the day (especially my husband). Even if I have not yet written out my to-do list, I would rather come up with my own tasks for the day. Unless one of my family members has a real need, of course. There is always something to do around here. That old saying “Nature abhors a vacuum” is absolutely true in my house!

  3. I have always believed that the military could learn things from civilians and vice versa. In some cases, I believe that some military leaders think they “know it all” and cannot learn anything more. When a leader has that kind of mindset, it will hurt not themselves, but the ones they are leading. We can see this scenario in today’s politics.

    John Maxwell gives some great tips here. Both politicians and military leaders would do well in reading and heeding them.

  4. I also love John Maxwell’s books and leadership training methods. As you have probably seen, I love quotes also.

    Some of the quotes here that especially stick are:

    #3: we control our destiny and that comes back to how we plan each day, hour and minute.

    #5: delegating responsibility is very important for every leader. If we try to do it all ourselves, we set ourselves up for failure.

    #10: many leaders look at people’s downfalls instead of their talents. If we focus on their best features, we can use that to help them succeed which will help us succeed.

    Yes, I agree, everyone should read this John Maxwell book.

  5. Every one of these tips is valuable in and of itself, but together WHOA!! They may seem like common sense, but it’s so easy to forget even the simplest. Planning for example. I hear people say too ofter ‘I’m waiting on so-and-so to call me back. I’m waiting on my parent/friend/ family member to lend me the money so that I can do this or that. Putting their destiny in others hands. You have to decide what you are going to do and then just do it!

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