Success: One Day at a Time

Success: One Day at a Time

by John C. Maxwell

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Here's the perfect gift for high school and college graduates. Popular author, speaker, and leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell shares insights into the process for achieving financial, personal, and spiritual success. Defining the essential principles that must be applied on a daily basis, Maxwell inspires readers to strive for excellence in everything they do.


Here's the perfect gift for high school and college graduates. Popular author, speaker, and leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell shares insights into the process for achieving financial, personal, and spiritual success. Defining the essential principles that must be applied on a daily basis, Maxwell inspires readers to strive for excellence in everything they do.

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Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
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One Day at a Time

By John C. Maxwell

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2000 Maxwell Motivation, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4185-3483-7





Behind me is infinite power. Before me is endless possibility. Around me is boundless opportunity. Why should I fear?



Do you take care of your "children"? You may never have thought of your dreams as children, but that's what they are. They are your offspring—the joy of your today and the hope of your future. Protect them. Feed them. Nurture them. Encourage them to grow. Care for them. For someday, they may take care of you.

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.



You cannot do it on your own. You will need the help of others—and you will need to give help to others—if you want to be successful. And that will require you to connect with others. To do that, follow these suggestions:

• Focus on people.

• Be likable.

• Show others that you care.

• Remember everyone's name.

• Walk slowly through the crowd.

• Be generous.

Seven Secrets of Success

There is no secret of success. Success is for everyone.

Your life becomes better only when you become better.

There is no success without sacrifice. Success is achieved in inches, not miles.

The greatest enemy of tomorrow's success is today's success.

No advice on success works unless you do.


A young man from the city graduated from college with a degree in journalism and got a job at a small-town newspaper. One of his first assignments was to interview an old farmer who lived twenty miles outside of town. As he sat with the grizzled man on his front porch, the young journalist looked at his notepad and started asking his questions. One of the first he asked was, "Sir, what time do you go to work in the morning?"

The old farmer chuckled and replied, "Son, I don't go to work. I'm surrounded by it."

We can learn a lesson from the old farmer. Opportunities are a lot like his work. They are everywhere. But the problem is that we often don't have the eyes to see them.

As you approach each day, look around. Be aware. If you don't see opportunities, remember that it's not because they aren't there. You're always surrounded by them. You simply need to open your eyes and see them. Then act on them.


More to improve and fewer to disapprove.

More doers and fewer talkers.

More to say it can be done and fewer to say it's impossible.

More to inspire others and fewer to throw cold water on them.

More to get into the thick of things and fewer to sit on the sidelines.

More to point out what's right and fewer to show what's wrong.

More to light a candle and fewer to curse the darkness.



You will be as small as your controlling desire, as great as your dominant aspiration.



One of the great dreamers of the twentieth century was Walt Disney. Any person who could create the first sound cartoon, first all-color cartoon, and first animated feature-length motion picture is definitely someone with vision. But Disney's greatest masterpieces of vision were Disneyland and Walt Disney World. And the spark for that vision came from an unexpected place.

Back when Walt's two daughters were young, he used to take them to an amusement park in the Los Angeles area on Saturday mornings. His girls loved it, and he did too. Amusement parks are a kid's paradise with wonderful atmosphere: the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, the gaudy colors of signs advertising rides, and the sound of kids screaming as the roller coaster plummets over a hill.

Walt was especially captivated by the carousel. As he approached it, he saw a blur of bright images racing around to the tune of energetic calliope music. But when he got closer and the carousel stopped, he could see that his eye had been fooled. He observed shabby horses with cracked and chipped paint. And he noticed that only the horses on the outside row moved up and down. The others stood lifeless, bolted to the floor.

The cartoonist's disappointment inspired him with a grand vision. In his mind's eye he could see an amusement park where the illusion didn't evaporate, where children and adults could enjoy a carnival atmosphere without the seedy side that accompanies some circuses or traveling carnivals. His dream became Disneyland. As Larry Taylor stated in Be an Orange, Walt's vision could be summarized as, "No chipped paint. All the horses jump."

... For Disney, vision was never a problem. Because of his creativity and desire for excellence, he always saw what could be. If you lack vision, look inside yourself. Draw on your natural gifts and desires. Look to your calling if you have one. And if you still don't sense a vision of your own, then consider hooking up with a leader whose vision resonates with you.

FROM The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

One Step Further

Do more than exist: live.
Do more than touch: feel.
Do more than look: observe.
Do more than read: absorb.
Do more than hear: listen.
Do more than listen: understand.
Do more than think: reflect.
Do more than just talk: say something.


Mrs. Field's Recipe for Success

Love what you're doing. Believe in your product. Select good people.


People who have given up are ruled by their darkest mistakes, worst failures, and deepest regrets. If you want to be successful, then be governed by your finest thoughts, your highest enthusiasm, your greatest optimism, and your most triumphant experiences.


It's Easier


It's easier to settle for average than strive for achievement.


It's easier to be saturated with complacency than stirred with compassion.


It's easier to be skeptical than successful.


It's easier to question than conquer.


It's easier to rationalize your disappointments than realize your dreams.


It's easier to belch the baloney than bring home the bacon.


The Door to Opportunity

Opportunities and motivation are connected. Motivated people see opportunities, and opportunities are often what motivate people.

Great attitudes precede great opportunities. Who you are determines what you see.

Today is the best day for an opportunity. Opportunity always takes "now" for an answer.

Opportunities are the result of pluck, not luck. The people who succeed seek out opportunities, and if they can't find them, they create them.

Opportunities don't present themselves in ideal circumstances.

If you wait for all the lights to turn green, you will never leave your driveway.

Opportunity without commitment will be lost. Abandoned opportunities are never lost—they are simply pursued by the competition.

Opportunity is birthed out of problems. If you're looking for a BIG opportunity, find a BIG problem.

Opportunities either multiply or disappear. The more opportunities you pursue, the more you find behind them.

Opportunities must be nourished if they are to survive. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, says, "Feed an opportunity; starve a problem."

To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.


To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.


I was a guy who practiced until the blisters bled, and then practiced some more. When I was a kid I carried my bat to class with me. I'd run a buddy's newspaper route if I could get him to shag flies for me. When I played for San Diego, I paid kids to shag flies on my days off.

–Ted Williams, Greatest baseball hitter of all time

Success the Disney Way

Think "tomorrow" Make today's efforts pay off tomorrow.

Free the imagination . You are capable of more than you can imagine— so imagine the ultimate.

Strive for lasting quality. "Good enough" never is.

Have "stick-to-it-ivity." Never, never, never give up.

Have fun. You're never truly a success until you enjoy what you are doing.


A young entrepreneur in Gilmer, Texas, opened a fast-food franchise along with two partners. During their first week in operation, he overheard two little old ladies in the restaurant talking about their disappointment with the soft drink selection. One of the ladies, who was diabetic, wished they had Diet Dr. Pepper.

The entrepreneur got in his car, drove to the nearest convenience store, purchased a six-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper, and returned to his restaurant. Then he brought the lady a cup of ice and a can of the drink.

"Ma'am," he said, "There will always be a case of Diet Dr. Pepper with your name on it in a refrigerator in the back. Anytime you come in, you just tell the person at the counter who you are and that you would like a Diet Dr. Pepper, and they'll get it for you."

The woman was shocked.

"Young man," she said, "I have lived in this town my whole life. I have many influential friends, and they will all hear what you just did for me. Thank you. From now on, we will be regular customers." And she was as good as her word.


A man died and met Saint Peter at the gates of heaven. Recognizing the saint's knowledge and wisdom, he wanted to ask him a question. "Saint Peter," he said, "I have been interested in military history for many years. Tell me, who was the greatest general of all times?" Peter quickly responded, "O, that is a simple question. It's that man right over there." The man looked where Peter was pointing and answered, "You must be mistaken. I knew that man on earth, and he was just a common laborer." "That's right," Peter remarked, "but he would have been the greatest general of all time—if he had been a general."


All You Can

Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.


It is your duty to find yourself.



Robert Lopatin thought it was too late. As a boy, he had dreamed of becoming a doctor. But when he went to college, he gave up the idea. Instead, he went into the family business of manufacturing women's clothing. He stayed there for twenty-seven years! Then he and his father sold their business. If he wished, he could retire.

But then, at a friend's wedding, he sat next to a young man who had just finished medical school. Chatting with the new doctor made him think about his boyhood dream. And at age fifty-one, Robert Lopatin decided to become a doctor.

Today he is fifty-five. He graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and is currently serving his residency at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York. And he's loving it—even the one-hundred hour workweeks and the graveyard shifts.

"I feel like I died and was born again," he says.

You may have a dream in your heart that you think is too old to pursue. Another person may have told you that it's too late to do what you desire. But it's not. Writer Joseph Conrad published his first novel at age forty. Robert Lopatin will be in his late fifties when he begins to practice medicine as a full-fledged doctor. Artist Grandma Moses started painting when she was seventy-five years old—and she still had a twenty-six-year career. Pursue your dream, no matter how farfetched it may seem.


Think of the pursuit of your dream as being like a major athletic event. Train for it. As you prepare and "exercise," you will get stronger—mentally, emotionally, and physically. To successfully achieve your dream, you need to keep improving. The best way to do that is to ...

• Keep your body fit.

• Keep your heart flexible.

• Keep your mind open.

• Keep your comfort zone expanding.

Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.


All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.






Never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.



A poor, hungry young man sat moping on a bridge, watching a group of fishermen. Looking into a basket and seeing a bunch of fish nearby, the young man said, "Boy, if I had a mess of fish like that, I'd be in good shape. I'd sell them and buy some clothes and something to eat."

"I'll give you that many fish if you do a small favor for me," a fisherman replied.


"Tend this line for me awhile. I've got some errands to do up the street," said the older man.

The young man gladly accepted the offer. As he tended the man's pole, the fish were really biting, and he reeled in one fish after another. It wasn't long before he was smiling, enjoying the activity.

When the older man returned, he said, "I want to give you the fish I promised. Here, take all the fish you caught. But I also want to give you a piece of advice. The next time you're in need, don't waste time daydreaming and wishing for what could be. Get busy, cast the line yourself, and make something happen."


As you discover your purpose in life and pursue your dreams, you will inevitably spend more and more of your time doing what you enjoy and do best. That's good. You can achieve your dreams only if you focus on your priorities.

But success requires something else: discipline. One of the best ways I know to improve discipline is to do something you don't enjoy doing—every day. If you learn to do what you must, you will be able to do what you want.

Do something you hate every day, just for the practice.



Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.


Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.


If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.



Dr. Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago conducted a five-year study of leading artists, athletes, and scholars. It consisted of anonymous interviews with the top twenty performers in various fields, including pianists, Olympic swimmers, tennis players, sculptors, mathematicians, and neurologists. That information was supplemented by additional interviews with those people's families and teachers. Bloom and his team of researchers sought to find clues to how these high achievers developed. What they discovered was that drive and determination—not talent—led to their success.


Excerpted from Success by John C. Maxwell. Copyright © 2000 Maxwell Motivation, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

John C. Maxwell, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach and speaker, was identified as the #1 leader in business by the AMA and the world’s most influential leadership expert by Inc. in 2014.His organizations—The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP—have trained over 6 million leaders in every nation. Visit for more information.

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