Meeting John C. Maxwell

John C. MaxwellHave you been in the presence of a vibrant leader? I can now say I have. I enjoyed an opportunity to learn from and meet John C. Maxwell this week at Ohio Christian University‘s Leadership Forum. The Leadership Forum is an annual occurrence that as of this week, surpassed $1,000,000 raised for the university through the event's 11 year history.

If I could sum up the evening, and Dr. Maxwell's comments in one sentence, it would be: Successful people think completely differently from the unsuccessful. Read that a few times and let it sink in.

My Leadership Journey

My own personal growth journey this year has been to rethink my mindset, define what success means, evaluate my personal and professional goals, and take actions producing results in line with my goals. One key change in my mindset: I am making an investment in myself, and intentionally seeking opportunities for personal growth and improving my leadership capabilities. I am investing in coaching and conferences that align with my goals; opportunities I had not pursued on my own previously. In addition to being exposed to thought leaders at these events, I have access to and network with success oriented individuals intent on improving their lives and the lives of those around them.

I gladly bought two reserved seating tickets and asked my 18-year-old son, Daniel, to join me for the evening. We had good conversation on the hour drive to the event. Afterwards, Daniel and I enjoyed GREAT conversation on the way home. In addition to our normal fun banter, our conversation centered around challenges and opportunities for him as he enters college this Fall. He will be investing the next four years of his life in education, travel and personal growth. Dr. Maxwell's ideas permeated our conversation.

An Evening of Learning

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

Dr. Maxwell spoke for what seemed like a brief moment, summarizing his latest book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. I finished listening to the 7 CD audio book just last week. The 15 Laws is the only audio book I plan to re-listen to this year, especially after this “refresher course”. There is so much actionable content that listening once is just not enough. The 15 Laws represents the cumulative expertise of Dr. Maxwell's experiences. I am applying and will continue to apply these principles as I seek opportunities for personal growth and to lead myself, my family and my community.

The 15 Laws book came with our tickets, so both Daniel and I have our own copies. I also purchased How Successful People Think because I need to learn and absorb more as I study leaders and leadership to update my mindset. Daniel and his brother Jake will both read these books soon, providing more opportunities to discuss and check personal growth.

Learning Highlights

Dr. Maxwell's time speaking was devoted to the first three laws of his new book. Here's what struck me as I listened intently and took notes:

The Law of Intentionality

  • Growth does not just happen, you must be intentional, check progress, and continuously set higher goals.
  • You cannot coast to success, it takes ongoing effort and a mindset of never “arriving”.
  • Be purposeful about improving yourself first. All other things will follow.

The Law of Awareness

  • You have to know yourself to grow yourself.
  • It is impossible to change what we are unfamiliar with intimately, whether ourselves, our circumstances, or those around us.
  • The better you know those around you, the better you can add value to their lives.
  • If you know your giftedness, you can focus on your strengths.
  • People do not seek your advice until you have demonstrated proficiency.

The Law of the Mirror

  • You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself.
  • Your inner voice sets the course for success and failure. Guard your “self talk”, move yourself beyond self-limiting thoughts and beliefs.
  • If you can see yourself as God sees you, the you will have a greater understanding of the value you have and your potential to add value to others.
  • God values us so much, that He sent His Son.


Additional Advice

Leadership Forum

As the evening concluded, Dr. Maxwell shared the stage for a table discussion facilitated by Ohio Christian's President and visionary leader, Dr. Mark Smith and the evening's second distinguished guest Cal Thomas.

During the lighthearted conversation, I gleaned three more takeaways from Dr. Maxwell:

  • Find older, wiser and more experienced mentors to learn from and then model their lives, leadership and behavior. Mentors will make your path clearer and straighter, but not always easier. With good mentors you increase opportunities for growth and to carry out your purpose and goals.
  • Passion sets you apart front the crowd.
  • Don't expect to be good at first at anything, life is a learning and refining process. Success comes later.


Shaking Hands with Dr. Maxwell

At the end of my evening, Daniel and I got to meet and to shake hands with Dr. Maxwell. Meeting Dr. Maxwell has been a goal of mine for since I first read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership early in my career. He graciously autographed The 15 Laws and other books for us; my copy will soon take a prominent place in my library alongside many others autographed by authors I have enjoyed meeting.

My comments to Dr. Maxwell were simple and heartfelt as we shook hands: “Dr. Maxwell, we have not met before; I want you to know that you have been mentoring me over the past year and I greatly appreciate your wisdom and guidance. You are making a significant impact in my life.” Dr. Maxwell looked at me for a moment, and gripping my hand tighter, said “Thank you, thank you very much for that. I want you to keep in touch with me. That's the essence of the authentic Leader John Maxwell embodies and the essence of the leader he is mentoring me to be.

My greatest pleasure of the evening was introducing my son Daniel to Dr. Maxwell and getting a picture of the them together. A great leader, side by side with my son, a budding leader.

Daniel Coplin and John Maxwell

There are 12 more laws in the The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth beyond the 3 mentioned above. I urge you to seize an opportunity for growth; buy the book, read it, listen to it, re-read it, absorb it. When you do, let me know and we can share where we are on the leadership journey and encourage each other. If you've already read it, which of the 15 Laws has spoken to you and impacted your growth? What are you doing with it now?

Rick Coplin



Photo sources: for the portrait; Ohio Christian University for the table discussion.

I work alongside emerging companies on business formation, commercialization strategies, and capital planning. My passion is to find, support, mentor, coach, incubate, & fund start-ups engaged in innovative technology businesses.

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