When one of the greatest leadership voices and authors of the past 50 years is asked to share “a single piece of piece of advice” with young leaders, you immediately grab a pen and paper. That’s exactly what I did when I had the opportunity to hear John Maxwell speak at Catalyst Conference in 2008.
John Maxwell is a man who has devoted his whole life to leadership development. He has published dozens of best-selling books on the topic. He actually founded Catalyst Conference in the late 90’s as a way to invest in the next generation. In 2008, John decided to pass the Catalyst baton onto the next generation and speak for one final time at the conference. And I was prepared to transcribe every word.
John Maxwell’s Greatest Piece of Advice for Young Leaders
As he started his presentation, he told us how much he struggled with what he was going to say. Ultimately, he decided to take the time to answer this question:
“If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders, what would it be?”
John could have used his final time on the Catalyst stage to provide a comprehensive guide to leadership. He could have taken a deep dive into the 21 steps to becoming the best leader in the world. He provided five leadership laws to live by if you want to succeed.
Instead, he gave one short, simple piece of advice.
“Intentionally add value to someone’s life… every day.”
That was it.
Of all the incredible leadership insights Maxwell has provided over the years, he chose to encourage young leaders with this simple principle, and it’s a principle I will never forget.
It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
As Millennials, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when we think about everything that goes into becoming successful. We subscribe to dozens of blogs that tell us how to get noticed for our work and earn respect in our companies. We read books about how to win friends and influence people. We’re constantly searching for the magic formula that will help us achieve our goals and make a difference in the world. But is it really that complicated?
When we take John’s advice and simply focus on intentionally adding value to others in every interaction, the path to success becomes a lot simpler. And when we apply it, we become people that others never forget.
So, what do you think about John Maxwell’s one piece of advice?
What are some practical ways we, as young leaders, can live it out on an everyday basis?