Lessons from Lunch with Dr. John Maxwell
Since 2008, Dr. John Maxwell has been my mentor, but always from a distance. Even though I have met him on several occasions, I had never had one-on-one time with him. Until now.
In this article, I would like to share a few of the lessons I learned from him during our lunch together.
Preparing to Meet with My Mentor
I traveled to Florida last week to conclude a year-long mastermind group I have participated in with Dr. Maxwell and thirteen other people. I arrived in West Palm Beach, where he lives. We met at a hotel restaurant at 11:30 for a two-hour lunch. I was honored to share a meal with him and have his undivided attention.
I was a bit nervous. But I was prepared. After all, John has done a lot of teaching over the years about how to get the most out of the time you have with your mentor. One thing he advises is to make sure you prepare a lot of good questions. And I did. Secondly, don’t get too busy eating. Let the other person eat, while you pay attention to your questions. So, I had only a small bowl of lobster bisque.
It was a real privilege to sit at the feet of someone I have such great respect and admiration for. I briefly shared my personal journey with him and sought his advice. His words were challenging, thought provoking, and affirming. I went on to ask him some of the questions I had prepared. I will share those with you here.
A Conversation with John Maxwell
Question: Do you set reading quotas for yourself? For example, do you read a certain number of pages per day, or books per month?
John said that he does not. He expressed that he tries to read every day, however some days he reads more than others. When traveling for a week or so, he will take three books to read on the plane during the flight. I know from previous teachings that he has taken three speed-reading courses and can go through a book in one to two hours.
He then spoke something so profound, that even he stopped to write it down. John said, “You can do the same thing every day, if every day is the same.” Meaning for example, that it is an unreasonable expectation to read the same amount every day unless your schedule is the same every day.
For me, this was an incredibly insightful point. I tend to want to structure each day with the same measured routine when it comes to reading and growth. But my schedule can vary greatly from one day to the next. His answer re-enforced the idea that I should allow myself some flexibility in this area.
You can do the same thing everyday, if everyday is the same.
- John Maxwell
Question: How do you make sure that what you are reading results in personal growth?
I wanted to ask him this because I know that he is not only a voracious reader, but also an expert in personal growth. It is so common for many of us to do a lot of reading, but neglect to take it to the next level of applying what we’ve learned. So unfortunately we experience very little impact on our actual personal growth.
Again his simple answer spoke volumes to me. He said, “Spend equal time reflecting and reading.” He continued, “People really need to read less and reflect more.” Definitely great advice if you are intentional about personal growth.
Spend equal time reflecting and reading. - John Maxwell
Question: How do you improve as a speaker?
In essence, Dr. Maxwell told me that when someone wants to speak publicly, they should start by speaking to volunteer groups. He said, “I’ve spoken hundreds of times for free to only a handful of people.”
I’ve spoken hundreds of times for free to only a handful of people. - John Maxwell
Other Advice from Dr. Maxwell
It takes a long time to develop a great team. This may seem intuitive, but coming from the premier authority on leadership in the world, I took some comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who takes a while to build a great team. Of course, this is not an excuse to tolerate a bad team and neglect improvement. Rather it’s an encouragement to know we are in good company if we are experiencing the growing pains of developing a solid team.
Speaking and writing go together. We discussed the impending publishing of my first printed book. John advised that when you speak as well, it enhances the exposure of that book.
It was unquestionably a tremendous honor to meet with Dr. Maxwell. I offer my heartfelt appreciation to him for all that he has taught me and millions of others around the world. God bless you, John!
Actionable step: If you are not already reading, start reading. If you are reading, start dedicating time to reflect on what you have read and made note of.
About me: I lived in Santa Monica for one year after college. Due to the high cost of living, I had to work two jobs as a hotel night auditor and as a valet at a special events company.
For Further Reading: