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How to Make a Colossal Difference with a Small First Step

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John Maxwell Sitting

By John C. Maxwell

Many people look at all that’s wrong in the world and mistakenly believe that they cannot make a difference. The challenges loom large, and they feel small. They believe they must do big things to have a life that matters. Or they think they have to reach a certain place in life from which to do something significant.

Does that seed of doubt exist in you? Have you ever found yourself thinking or saying, “I will only be able to make a difference . . .

  • “When I come up with a really big idea,
  • “When I get to a certain age,
  • “When I make enough money,
  • “When I reach a specific milestone in my career,
  • “When I’m famous,” or
  • “When I retire?”

None of these things is necessary before you can start to achieve significance. You may not realize it, but those hesitations are really nothing more than excuses. The only thing you need to achieve significance is to be intentional about starting—no matter where you are, who you are, or what you have. Do you believe that? You can’t make an impact sitting still. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy once told me, “Do the ordinary things better than anyone else and you will achieve excellence.” The same is true for significance. Begin by doing ordinary things.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That’s true. In fact, so does every human being’s first journey. As children, we had to learn how to take that first step in order to walk. We don’t think anything of it now, but it was a big deal then.

Every big thing that’s ever been done started with a first step.

When Neil Armstrong took his first walk on the moon, he stated, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But the first steps of that achievement occurred decades before. We can’t get anywhere in life without taking that first small step. Sometimes the step is hard; other times it’s easy. But no matter what, you have to do it if you want to get anywhere in life.

You never know when something small that you do for others is going to expand into something big. That was true for Chris Kennedy, a golfer from Florida. In 2014, a friend nominated him to do the Ice Bucket Challenge for the charity of his choice. Kennedy passed along the challenge to his wife’s cousin Jeanette Senercia because the two liked to tease and challenge one another. Kennedy chose ALS as his charity because Jeanette’s husband suffered from the disease. Jeanette accepted the challenge, posted the video on her Facebook page, and nominated others.[i]

That was a small start of something big. In today’s digital world we talk about things going viral. The term viral was coined because ideas and initiatives can spread quickly the way germs do. Almost anything that starts out as a single idea, a bold statement, a YouTube video, or a creative or memorable photo can gain vast popularity and quickly spread through word of mouth via the Internet.

The Ice Bucket Challenge soon went viral. If you somehow missed out on it, the idea was to either donate to the ALS Association or record a video of yourself being doused with ice water, and then challenge three other people to donate or get doused.

This turned out to be a brilliant idea to raise money for an important cause—to help fight a disease that many people otherwise might not have known about and would not have donated to see cured. I participated in the challenge. Sure, I was aware of the disease, but it wasn’t a charity I normally gave to. I was nominated by colleagues to take the challenge, and I was happy to participate.

Most people chose to give and get doused. When I accepted the challenge, I made a donation and asked three of my grandchildren to do the honors of soaking me. They used not one, but three, freezing cold buckets of water on me. Though I pleaded for compassion and warm water, the grandkids showed no mercy!

The best part is that over $113.3 million was donated between July and September of 2014 as a result of the ice bucket challenge, compared to $2.7 million dollars donated during the same period of time the previous year. On Facebook alone, over 28 million people uploaded, commented, or liked ice bucket related posts the last time I checked. The purpose of the campaign wasn’t just to raise money. It was about raising awareness. But they accomplished both with great intentionality.

What can you do now? As you think about making a difference, be willing to start small. You never know whether your passion-fueled idea will have an outcome similar to that of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

~ Adapted from John C. Maxwell’s new book Intentional Living

 [1] Alexandra Sifferlin, “Here’s How the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Started,” Time, August 18, 2014,, accessed January 29, 15.


Find out more about taking that first step by signing up to the FREE 7 Day Experiment

John Maxwell Team Tools

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‘Put simply, everything rises and falls on leadership!” (John C Maxwell)
Dr John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognised leadership expert, speaker, coach, and author who has sold over 20 million books. Dr Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and The John Maxwell Company, organisations that have trained more than 5 million leaders worldwide. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and organisations as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and the United Nations.

If you were to type “Leadership Gurus” into Google, John’s is the first mentioned name. The global John Maxwell Team has around 1400 accredited coaches/trainers worldwide.

Act Knowledge founder Jürgen Oschadleus is part of the John Maxwell Team, and is accredited by the John Maxwell Company to provide leadership coaching, training and presentations.

Tools and Resources from John Maxwell Co.

Act Knowledge can offer some of the world finest leadership training and development programmes. Whether it’s running a stand-alone programme, or including them within your existing leadership development framework, we can help significantly increase your organisation’s leadership capability.Here’s an example of just some of the programmes we can offer you:

Maxwell-21laws21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership –Discover the 21 laws that make leadership work successfully and learn valuable techniques that will help you to improve your ability in that area. By incorporating these laws into your life, you are certain to transform the quality of your leadership immeasurably. As you develop your people in the area of leadership, you will begin to see a positive impact on your whole organisation.
 Maxwell-15lawsThe 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth – John C. Maxwell says in order to reach your potential, you must be intentional about personal growth. This training curriculum will help you understand how personal growth really works, and how you can develop yourself to become a more effective and fulfilled individual. You will learn how to build up your sense of purpose and become more successful in every area of your life. Come alongside John in your growth journey to become the person you are destined to be!
Maxwell-dreamPut Your Dream to the Test – Your dream has power. It can inspire you. It can empower you. But will it reward you? In this course to reaching your dreams, we show you how to do the things needed to make your dream come true. Most people fail to realize their potential   because their dream remains hypothetical. Put Your Dream to the Test takes your dream from ethereal to achievable. Dr Maxwell’s program shows you how to  crystallise your vision and galvanize your commitment by instructing you how to answer ‘yes’ to questions like:

  • Is my dream really my dream?
  • Am I depending on factors in my control to achieve my dream?
  • Do I have a strategy to achieve my dream?
  • Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?
  • Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
  • Does my dream benefit others?
Maxwell-successHow to be a Real Success – Success   is not a destination. It is a process – a lifelong strategy of building on   strengths, minimising weaknesses, and focusing on the people and points of life that are most important. In How to be a REAL Success, John Maxwell will help you understand the keys you need to succeed in life.Whether you are a civil servant or a corporate executive, you will achieve great things by understanding four very important success building areas: Relationships, Equipping, Attitude, and Leadership.
Maxwell-ConnectEverybody Communicates, Few   Connect“Only One Thing Stands Between You and Success. It Isn’t Experience. It Isn’t   Talent.”World-renowned leadership expert John C. Maxwell says if you want to succeed, you must learn how to connect with people. And while it may seem like some folks are just born with it, the fact is anyone can learn how to make every communication an opportunity for a powerful connection. In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, Maxwell shares the Five Principles and Five Practices to develop the crucial skill of connecting, including:

  • Finding Common Ground
  • Keeping Your Communication Simple
  • Capturing People’s Interest
  • Inspiring People
  • Staying Authentic in all Your Relationships

The ability to connect with others is a major determining factor in reaching your full potential. It’s no secret! Connecting is a skill you can learn and apply in your personal, professional, and family relationships – and you can start now by taking this course!

Maxwell-influenceBecoming A Person of Influence –Creating positive influence will not only be a catalyst to your own success, it will become the legacy you will leave behind. In this course, you will be lead through the principles of influence. Learn the importance of influence and its direct impact on your leadership ability, and be introduced to ways to increase your influence within your organisation and beyond.
Leadership GoldMaxwell-goldDelivering Dr John Maxwell’s most valuable lessons gained from forty years of leading people; this course offers the best of the best, the tried-and-true lessons of leadership.We venerate great leaders, and we have the tendency to assume their accomplishments came about regardless of the assistance they received from others. The truth, however, is that no leader would be great without the support and help of teammates.As a leader, you will never get ahead until your people are behind you.Emerging leaders will love the foundation the Leadership Gold Mastermind Group provides. Experienced leaders will enjoy the insights and examples and will   want to use the materials to develop the next generation of leaders on their team. Remember, good leadership always makes a deference!It has turned around organisations and positively impact the lives of thousands of individuals.

If you are a CEO, Vice President, Business Owner, Manager, Director, or someone in a professional   leadership position that wants to grow professionally while also building a strong team in your organisation, this Mastermind Group is the perfect opportunity for you.

The John Maxwell Team Service Offering

1. Mastermind Groups

A Mastermind Group is a gathering of like-minded people who desire to focus on, and achieve their goals through, the study of a specific set of information and/or material, usually from one specific book or author.

We offer a Maxwell-oriented Mastermind Groups (MMG) covering the above books by John Maxwell. Each Mastermind Group runs for 4-10 weeks, depending on the book, and each session lasts 60-90 minutes. We offer a combination of on-site meetings, as well as virtual webinar-type events.

View Jürgen’s JohnMaxwellTeam site for a list of upcoming Masterminds sessions, and to book your place on one of these.

2. “Lunch ‘n Learn” Sessions

Lunch ‘n Learn sessions are short (usually 45-60 minutes) informal events at which we address a specific leadership topic in a practical way. The sessions are ideal as lunch events or to add to a corporate team event. Lessons are based on the John Maxwell’s books, and can be tailored to suit specific organisational themes or requirements.

Request more information or make a booking by contacting Jürgen. This site also provides access to the Maxwell online store.

3. Presentations and Keynotes

Jürgen is an experienced speaker and keynote presenter, and has addressed audiences across five continents. Whether you’re looking for an in-house event or a major international conference, his humour and insight are sure to get your guests thinking. See our Keynotes page for more information about topics, or contact us for a presentation tailored to your specific event.

4. Workshops and Seminars

Need more depth? Each of the Mastermind, Lunch ‘n Learn and Presentation topics come with a wealth of knowledge, which we can present in workshop and seminar format. Contact us to discuss your needs and we will gladly tailor a program to suit.

Talk To Us Today…

Our mission is to help you increase your organisation’s leadership capability, and thereby increase the productivity and profit of your teams and your organisation! Contact us today to get started on the journey.

Waterloo – leadership that changed the world

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Waterloo – much more than an ABBA hit song or a stop on the London Underground. Today the phrase, “to meet your Waterloo” is woven into the very fabric of the English language, to signify an insurmountable problem, a decisive setback, the undoing of a seemingly invincible force.

It is a reference to the Battle of Waterloo, an epic confrontation which finally destroyed Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandiose attempts to conquer Europe. His comprehensive defeat on 18 June 1815 fundamentally altered the course of European and world history, bringing to a close the bloody revolutions and global wars of the 18th century, and heralding a century of relative peace, discovery, scientific advancement – and the rise of British imperialism.

Although decisive, the outcome of the battle hung in the balance to the last. In the words of the victorious Duke of Wellington, it was “…a damned nice thing – the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life”.

So what tipped the scales of success and defeat on that day, 200 years ago?

And what lessons can today’s project, program and organisational leaders take from the events of the day to avoid their own Waterloo and successfully implement their strategies?

Waterloo is a study of leadership styles, loyalty and courage, of strategy and execution, of trust and empowerment. Nowhere is the concept of agile leadership better exemplified than in the chaos of battle, with lives at stake.

Amongst other things you will discover:

  • How a quick decision, made in a few minutes by candlelight in the chaotic midst of a disintegrating army and driving rain, proved to be – in the words of Wellington – “the decisive moment of the century”
  • How strategy, planning and chance combined to create the conditions for success for those who were able to adapt their plans quicker to seize opportunities
  • The need to remain focused on objectives in the face of distractions and setbacks
  • The danger of allowing past successes to cloud our judgment, attitudes and willingness to listen to experts
  • The need to unite the leadership hierarchy, enable initiative, and deploy disparate, inexperienced resources in an integrated manner, even in the face of death

Waterloo was a battle of muskets, swords and regiments of 190 000 bright uniforms, in an era when the flow of communication was governed by the speed of men on horseback, and generals could see no further than telescopes and topography allowed. It lasted only one day and resulted in 71 000 casualties.

But the lessons from that day transcend time and are applicable to any leader having to manage large numbers of people and logistics in complex situations under extreme pressure.

In this gripping and intensively researched presentation, project leadership educator and part time historian Jürgen Oschadleus MA (History) MAIPM ILPF PMP takes you on a fascinating journey to a pivotal point in world history. He intertwines eye-witness testimonies, the reflections of key stakeholders, artist impressions and the analytical expertise of military historians to weave a compelling story of the time, the men and their decisions in one of history’s bloodiest projects.

waterloo cast of characters