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One Is Too Small A Number To Achieve Greatness

By John C. Maxwell | March 28, 2022
One Is Too Small A Number To Achieve Greatness

I was sitting on the front row at the International Maxwell Certification in Orlando, FL listening to my friend Mark Cole deliver a keynote presentation on the future of our organizations. Looking around at a room full of leaders from around the globe who were eager and willing to pick up the baton of leadership that I am passing to them and take our legacy to the next level, I was overwhelmed with joy. And in that moment, I was reminded of the Law of Significance: One is too small a number to achieve greatness.

You can become a successful person on your own, but not a successful leader.

We are right in the middle of the most growth we’ve ever experienced here at Maxwell Leadership. I want to take a moment to share with you how we got here, because I believe it will help you, too.

Increased effort to first focus on others and add value to them increases the energy of those you lead—and it increases your energy while you lead them.

In my book, Leadershift, I talk about the shift from soloist to conductor. This is a critical shift for leaders to make if they are going to take their organizations to the next level.

There was a point in my career when I realized I was more like a soloist than a conductor. You see—soloists focus on themselves, their playing, their agenda. Conductors, on the other hand, focus on bringing out the best in everyone around them.

It’s wonderful when the people help their leader, but it’s even more wonderful when the leader helps the people.

As a young leader, I was focused on how people could help me. It didn’t take me long to realize that kind of thinking was short-sighted and selfish. I needed to make a shift. I needed to be others-focused.

Good leaders look for ways to help others and add value to them. They give more than they take. They focus on sowing more than reaping.

Here are five ways to put this into practice:

  1. Focus on adding value daily. Every morning I check my calendar and ask myself, “Where can I add value today? What additional opportunities to help others will be given to me today?” When I expect to have opportunities, I’m able to act on them when they arrive. Be intentional by preparing this way, and you will sow more positive seeds in the lives of others.
  2. Add as much value as possible as often as possible. It seems obvious that the more seeds you sow, the greater the harvest you will reap. The amount of value we add to others determines the possible return. So, why do so many people sow so few seeds? Why do people not give more generously? Why do people not help others more? Surely, we can’t hope to have a big return with a small investment. Don’t miss an opportunity to add value.
  3. Never wait to add value. Don’t hesitate to help another person by sowing a positive seed in his or her life. Add value as early and often as you can. Help others to “play music better.” You just might become the leader someone remembers for encouraging them to greatness. Follow this motto: Be the first to add value to another person when you can.
  4. Give without keeping score so motives stay pure. Receiving should never be our motive for giving. As leaders who add value to others, we should never keep score. We should sow seeds because it’s the right thing to do. Giving is always the right thing to do—anytime, anyplace, anyone. And the right way to do it is any way you can. Any day we are giving is a good day—and we should never keep score.
  5. Welcome any return as an unexpected blessing. When you shift your mindset and begin giving more than you take, you will notice that you become more creative with how you do it. This is where the multiplication factor comes into play. If you keep sowing seeds, and you do it while focused on the giving rather than the receiving, I believe you will receive a harvest of unexpected blessings.

Leaders who shift from a soloist to a conductor focus on helping others to be their best. In the end, can you be a successful person as a soloist? Absolutely. Can you be a successful leader as a soloist? I would say maybe, but only in a very limited way.

Here’s the good news: The potential of a group is always greater than an individual.

I learned this a long time ago, and we are reaping the benefits as an organization today. I hope you will consider your own leadership and ask yourself: Am I a soloist or a conductor?

Healthy organizations are not about the one person who leads them—they are about everyone who’s in them. The sooner you realize this and begin living it out, the sooner your organization will experience sustained growth.

Looking for more ways to grow your potential and the potential of your organization?

We can help. Explore our solutions for transforming your organization – from leadership development workshops to executive coaching programs. And if you want to focus more on your personal growth as a leader, I invite you to download our C.L.E.A.R. app to access 30 days of resources – for free – and additional training from our hand-picked leadership experts – coming soon!

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