Habits of People who aspire to greatness v. success

According to John C. Maxwell, the most successful people:

  1. Plan and think
  2. Focus
  3. Surround themselves with successful people
  4. Take risks
  5. Accentuate the positive
  6. Seek adventure

I’m a long-time follower of Maxwell’s work and I’ve had the privilege of hearing him speak on several occasions. His is a prolific teacher on how to be successful and he inspired me to think deeper about my own beliefs on success.

I believe it is possible to do more than be successful. I believe we each have an inherent level of greatness, and that we can manifest that level of greatness if we gain enough clarity and focus.

Success is often defined as the attainment of wealth, positive, honors or the link. However, this definition doesn’t take into account what the individual could have done. 

Greatness is defined as being successful to an extreme or notable degree.

In his first game out of retirement, Michael Jordan scored more points than the average for all players at that time who were younger and not making a comeback. The sports writers all said that he should have stayed in retirement, “He’s going to ruin his legacy!” but how could he when he was still better than most of the current players?

He was not as good as he once was but not as good as he could have been. He was manifesting success but not greatness. By applying the same formulas, strategies, and tactics that have been used for centuries, you can achieve success in your own life.

But what would happen if we took Maxwell’s characteristics of success and applied them to greatness? Below I share my best practices in part I for each of Maxwell’s categories to help you manifest your inherent level of greatness.

Best practices to manifest greatness

Plan and think

Activity alone does not equate to success. You must ensure that the hours you spend at work are productive and result in achieving bottom-line goals.Everyone on your team must think about the best things to do. The first thing in the morning, take about fifteen minutes and figure out what activity will give the biggest bang for the buck. Even better, think about it the day before and you’ll be ahead of the curve.


Focus on what you’re doing at the time rather than jumping from one project to another. In her article, How Multitasking Hurts Your Brain (and Your Effectiveness at Work), Jessica Kleiman discusses the work of Julie Morgenstern, a productivity expert and bestselling author. Morgenstern has made it her life’s mission to help people find focus and asserts that multitasking is ineffectual because,

“…it has been scientifically demonstrated that the brain cannot effectively or efficiently switch between tasks, so you lose time. It takes four times longer to recognize new things so you’re not saving time; multitasking actually costs time. You also lose time because you often make mistakes.” – Jessica, Morgenstern, productivity expert

To be as effective as possible, stay on task and keep your mind from wandering to the next thing you need to do. The need to maintain focus makes planning and thinking even more important.

Spend time with people who are manifesting greatness

Who in your circle is accomplishing things to an extreme or notable degree? Spend time with those people because their lives and actions lead a roadmap for your own manifestation.

Part II will address approaching creative thinking, opportunity seeking, positivity, and willingness to adventure outside of the ‘norm’ from a perspective of greatness.

These and other similar strategies are delivered in the personal leadership presentation: ‘Hangin’ Round The Barrel’ How To Get Paid Everything You’re Worth And Be Worth Everything You’re Paid. Contact us to hear more live!

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Art Jackson, Professional Speaker, Executive Coach

Art Jackson

Art Jackson is a professional speaker and executive coach. He is a recognized expert in the areas of leadership, performance improvement and interpersonal skills.

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