Today Matters – John C. Maxwell – Leap Year Book Review

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So far this morning, February 29th, 2012, it’s been a common theme on Twitter and Facebook. Today is an extra day that only comes around once every four years. What are you going to do today to make the most of today’s opportunities?

It’s definitely one of those things, that when you notice it, will cause you to stop and think about it. I’m all about maximizing opportunity and seizing opportunity when it arises, so today is just the kind of day to talk about a book like this.

Today Matters – 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success is a really practical guide on making the most of “today.” It’s inspiring, and challenging, and filled with great examples and practical advice to help you on the road of living by principle on purpose.

The premise of this book is that you can’t really worry too much about the past because we tend to exagerate successes and failures, and we often have unrealistic expectations of the future due to the fact that we’re not usually doing much “today” to prepare for success. But “today”, well, that’s a different story. We underestimate the value of today and what can be done today alone to set us on a new course for success and it’s today where we need to be focusing.

To become the person you want to be in the future, to enjoy the success you hope for, doing something today is vitally important. This work by John Maxwell is a fantastic road map to help put you on the path. 

The theme of daily practical principle-centered, disciplined living is nothing new. Dave Ramsey talks about this principle of daily discipline with his adage, “live like no one else, so that later, you can live like no one else” Jim Rohn talks about how a few simple disciplines practiced daily lead to great success and that “it’s not what you get in life that makes you successful, it’s what you become,” and Anthony Robbins talks about the quest for “constant and never-ending improvement” that is a daily investment in becoming the person you want to be. 

This guide gives us a practical guide on how to get there. There are things that need to be done and commitments that need to be made in twelve areas of life and Maxwell points out that “just for today” these commitments can lead to great personal growth and achievement. When you keep these commitments, you can, in the future, reap the rewards of a life well lived. Maxwell’s “daily dozen”:

  1. Just for today – I will choose and display the right attitudes.
  2. Just for today – I will determine and act on important priorities.
  3. Just for today – I will know and follow healthy guidelines.
  4. Just for today – I will communicate with and care for my family.
  5. Just for today – I will practice and develop good thinking.
  6. Just for today – I will make and keep proper commitments.
  7. Just for today – I will earn and properly manage finances.
  8. Just for today – I will deepen and live out my faith.
  9. Just for today – I will initiate and invest in solid relationships.
  10. Just for today – I will plan for and model generosity.
  11. Just for today – I will embrace and practice good values.
  12. Just for today – I will seek and experience improvements

Just for today –  I will act on these decision and practice these disciplines and then one day – I will see the compounding results of a day lived well.

This book is full of great examples that illustrate each discipline and each chapter contains an applications and exercises area that will help you clarify and improve these various different areas in your life. I’m not usually a fan of these kinds of things, but there are some things here that should really get you thinking.

One of my main take-aways from this book is the principle of taking things one day at a time. Commit to the practice of personal discipline “just for today”. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” His practical tips on focusing in on just a couple areas at a time is timely. It can be a little overwhelming to just jump right in and start trying to work on each of these areas, so he recommends to pick two strengths and one weakness to begin and then reevaluate and move to other areas.

I read this book very quickly and was constantly engaged throughout. John Maxwell is a fantastic communicator and his life serves as a fantastic example of how living intentionally, one day at a time, can reap great rewards. It’s definitely inspiring and really should be read more than once so that, after having become familiar with the “daily dozen” you can dig deeper and work on your life as you go back through.

This book, as with Maxwell’s other books, isn’t about “success” in a cliché way that’s devoid of real meaning. It’s about principle-centered living and living the right way on purpose, one day at a time. It’s full of great advice and practical instruction on making the most out of today, which, in reality is the only day that matters.  So, this leap year take advantage of the extra day and make the most of it!