27 John Maxwell Quotes That Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

John Maxwell Quotes | Sweet Fish Media

The last 6 months have been the hardest months of my entire life.

Last December, I lost my job — 2 months after getting engaged to the woman of my dreams.

Before I lost my job, I’d been dabbling my foot in the pool of entrepreneurship with projects like Worth Day and the Inspiring Awesome Podcast. But neither of those projects came close to paying my bills.

So in the face of unemployment, I had a choice to make…

Go the safe route, find a job, and prepare financially for my upcoming marriage.


Bet the farm, start my own thing, and pray that God does something big.

I went with the 2nd option, and I’m so glad I did.

The business I started in January has taken off faster than I could’ve ever imagined. And I firmly believe that a huge part of the company’s success can be tied back to a handful of amazing books.

One of those books is “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions” by John Maxwell.

This book had such a huge impact on me, that it made me want to soak up more wisdom from Maxwell’s other books (he’s written a TON of them!). Along the way, I found some great quotes that inspired, motivated, and challenged me as an entrepreneur.

So without further ado, here are 27 incredible John Maxwell quotes. I hope they’re as motivating to you as they are for me!

1) Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. 

Circumstances changed and now it seems like your business is falling apart. You can’t change what happened, but you can change how you react.

Instead of feeling like a failure and giving up, react differently. Take each mistake and obstacle and turn it into a challenge to conquer and overcome.

John Maxwell Quotes | Sweet Fish Media

2) Live to learn and you will really learn to live.” 

It’s hard to accept sometimes, but you don’t know everything. Knowledge is the key to success.

Taking the time to learn something new gives you the power to live a fuller, richer life.

3) The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” 

Mistakes are a requirement for success. Embrace them, learn from them, and move on.

4) Be willing to sacrifice pleasure for opportunity.” 

5) A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” 

We usually think of mistakes as something to be ashamed of. Great leaders admit when they’ve made a mistake. They then use them as an opportunity to improve.

6) If we are growing, we are always going to be outside our comfort zone.” 

Being uncomfortable is hard. But great things never came from comfort zones.

John Maxwell Quotes | Sweet Fish Media

7) Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary greatly in their desires to reach their potential.” 

8) Learn to say “no” to the good so you can say “yes” to the best.” 

If you try to do everything, you’ll end accomplishing nothing. This acronym for the word “focus” sums up this quote really well:

Follow One Course Until Success

9) Success is not a destination thing, it’s a daily thing.” 

I kept thinking I had to reach a certain point before I was successful. You don’t.

Success is about what you do each and every day. Succeeding in your tasks daily leads to overall success in life.

10) The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it.” 

The extended version of this quote goes on to say you feel more motivated after you start doing something.

Waiting for motivation to improve yourself as an entrepreneur isn’t enough. You have to just do it, even if you don’t feel motivated right now.

11) A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” 

Great leaders lead out of their passion for what they’re doing. Not because of the “Founder & CEO” title that lives in their email signature.

12) The more serious you take your growth, the more seriously people will take you.” 

John Maxwell Quotes | Sweet Fish Media

13) Make a point to continually search for a better way of doing things, even when things are going well, to ensure that a better alternative has not been overlooked and to keep your creative talents in practice.” 

14) Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them.” 

Challenges are a part of life, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. Stop trying to avoid them. Embrace challenges, and growth is inevitable.

15) If you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else?” 

It’s a hard question to ask yourself, but every entrepreneur should ask it.

16) The best leaders are humble enough to realize their victories depend upon their people.” 

You might try, but you can’t do everything by yourself. Your business is only as good as the team you build around it.

17) Although it’s admirable to be ambitious and hard-working, it’s more desirable to be smart-working.” 

As an entrepreneur, you have enough on your plate. Why work harder when you could learn to work smarter?

John Maxwell Quotes | Sweet Fish Media

18) If you don’t change the direction you’re going, then you’re likely to end up where you’re heading.” 

I’ll let you soak this one in for a minute.

19) Doing the wrong thing daily, compounds over time.” 

To improve, you have to first identify what you’re doing wrong. Do a self-assessment, get a mentor, read a book by someone who’s been where you want to go.

20) Reaching the top is a monumental achievement, but remaining there may be the most spectacular feat of all.” 

No one stays on top by remaining the same. You have to constantly learn, grow, and stretch yourself to remain successful.

21) Without failure, there is no achievement.” 

Failure happens to every entrepreneur at some point. It doesn’t mean you should scrap your vision or dream.

It just means you pick yourself up and try again. You learn from your failures and eventually, you end up where you want to go.

John Maxwell Quotes | Sweet Fish Media

22) All of the people in my life whom I consider to be close friends or colleagues are good thinkers.” 

You’re the average of your five closest friends. Who are you surrounding yourself with?

23) Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.” 

Maxwell says that “time is beyond our control” and he’s right.

We can’t magically create more time no matter how hard we try. Instead of focusing on finding more hours, start rearranging your priorities.

24) Plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.” 

John Maxwell Quotes | Sweet Fish Media

25) The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” 

You usually think of success as something you eventually achieve. But it’s way more than that.

Every day is part of that success. How you plan your day, what you accomplish, and how you prioritize are all key factors in becoming the best entrepreneur you can be.

26) People who use time wisely spend it on activities that advance their overall purpose in life.” 

Time management isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about focusing on the activities that help you become who you want to be.

27) Give up to go up.” 

At first glance, this quote seems like an oxymoron. But take a closer look.

As an entrepreneur, you have to give up things that others aren’t willing to give up (time, comfort, stability) for results that most will never experience.

Question: What’s your favorite John Maxwell book? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Posted on June 29, 2015 in Small Business Tips

James Carbary

About the Author

James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor for the Huffington Post & Business Insider, and he also co-hosts a top-ranked podcast according to Forbes: B2B Growth. When James isn’t interviewing the smartest minds in B2B marketing, he’s drinking Cherry Coke Zero, eating Swedish Fish, and hanging out with the most incredible woman on the planet (who he somehow talked into marrying him).

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