Where Leaders Come to Think

John Maxwell

Walking the Talk – John C. Maxwell


Perhaps you can understand this? Have you ever had very high expectations of someone? Maybe you have been a fan or at least followed someone who appears to be larger than life? My experience proves that often high expectations of others in those positions leads to low-levels of continual disappointment.

What a buzz kill.

This week I was able to meet and spend time in the presence of John C. Maxwell. I’m not an autograph kind of in your face Maxwell fan. I like to offer people space – I am more of a casual observer. As it should be because I am on John’s Team as a coach, speaker and trainer. I’m here to add to my skills vault and add value to others.  This was my first opportunity to see John at work and learn about his value systems in action. What I am finding out may surprise you.


“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John C. Maxwell

The fact is John C. Maxwell is perhaps one of the hardest working leaders I have ever met. From the moment, he shows up, and he comes early – he is available. He is truly interested in people and yesterday alone spent many hours posing for pictures, shaking hands and signing books. He then immediately came into the session and spoke for four hours. I am not sure when he had the chance to dine because right after that he was available again. Last night we celebrated his birthday.

Happy birthday John.

He looked at us all and said, “I’m here  – whatever you want to do.” (Another several hour photo shoot and meet and greet.) John served his team on his birthday.

There is something very authentic about a leader who actually likes the people he is leading. The truth is there is some great teaching going on this week; however, my largest lessons are coming from my observations.

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” – John C. Maxwell

Here are my Top 5 observational lessons from John Maxwell.

  1. John is completely available – He really values people and is here to serve. He stays connected to those around him and in the moment.
  2. John’s hair gets messy – When you work hard and invest in people it takes a lot of energy. John doesn’t fuss about his hair getting messy or cake spilling on his coat. He is an authentic leader who enjoys life.
  3. John bleeds his cause – “Everything rises and falls on leadership” – To John this statement is a calling. He has dedicated his life to improving people’s ability to lead so that people can be led well.
  4. John’s authenticity runs deep – As a person of faith and of people – John truly does walk the talk. (And he talks a lot.)
  5. John is a transformational leader – His efforts are naturally multiplied. I believe this is because he is value driven and dedicated to becoming his best self.

Perhaps for the first time I have witnessed the reason behind his success. Notoriety has not gone to John’s head, and he doesn’t teach on anything he does not live himself.



Reflecting over the last several days I’m finding that I have some work to do as a leader. I need to find ways to increase my energy level and connect with people more deeply. I see even greater opportunity in living out the servant leadership model, and the impact it can make on the universe.

For now, the biggest lesson learned is that I can coach, speak and train with extreme confidence – knowing that my team captain is the real deal.

What leadership quality do you value the most?  Why? 


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  1. Gary Korisko
    Gary Korisko02-21-2013

    Good stuff, Mark.

    I’m a Maxwell fan of sorts too – and it’s fantastic to hear how unassuming and generous he is with his time.

    So lets just call those two as a tie for my favorite leadership qualities!

    I really enjoyed this one, Mark – and I’m glad you had such a great experience on your trip.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia02-21-2013

      That is awesome Bill – great verse to live by.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia02-21-2013

      Gary – It was fantastic and thanks for sharing this post. I see a lot of John in you. Safe travels my friend.

  2. Bill Bowes
    Bill Bowes02-21-2013

    Now to answer your question: “What leadership quality do you value the most?” I’ll go with I Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

  3. Bill Bowes
    Bill Bowes02-21-2013

    Mark, I sure relate to what you said about needing to increase your energy level and connect more deeply with people. I’ve known I need to do more connecting – I’m just not sure of how to go about it yet. As for the energy, I know exercising helps tremendously (expend energy to gain energy). I think the other factor in that is if you LOVE what you are doing, you are going to have the energy when you need/want it. Thanks for the posting – great work as always!

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia02-21-2013

      Bill – John spent his last few hours teaching directly on how to connect. It was amazing I learned so much. If you are interested I will compile my notes and pass them
      on to you. Take care my friend and thanks for serving the city.

      • Bill Bowes
        Bill Bowes03-01-2013

        Mark – I would greatly appreciate it if you would pass your notes on. I’d love to read through them. Thank you!

        • Mark Mathia
          Mark Mathia03-04-2013

          Bill I emailed my notes to you tonight. Let me know if you have any questions. If anyone else would like a copy just let me know.

          • Gary Korisko
            Gary Korisko03-04-2013

            Heck, yes!

            If you’re willing to share them, I’d love to see it, too. Very nice of you, Mark.

            • Mark Mathia
              Mark Mathia03-04-2013

              Gary, I forwarded them to you. It’s my pleasure.

  4. Eddy

    “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” Powerful quote…I appreciate your desire to acquire more energy to do just that…let me know if there is a “18 Hour” Energy Drink out there!

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia02-21-2013

      Eddy I don’t know about the drink but if anyone can find it you can.

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