Book Review: Make Today Count by John C. Maxwell - Marks in the Sand



Make Today Count

Introduction

The premise of Make Today Count is summed up by its subtitle, “The Secret of Your Success Is Determined by Your Daily Agenda”. Maxwell points out that what we become is the result of what we do today, that every day is preparation for the next. Therefore, the only way to change your life is to change what you do daily.

Maxwell approaches this task by listing his “daily dozen”, the 12 areas of life that he focuses upon in order to make his own life a success. Dedicating a chapter to each of these areas, Maxwell gives practical advice and examples from his own life on how each area can be developed.  At the end of the book, he encourages the reader to make their own list, using the “daily dozen” as a model, and to work on these priorities daily in order to live a successful and fulfilled life.

Maxwell’s Daily Dozen

Attitude

  • Choose and display the right attitude daily.
  • Decision: “I am going to keep a positive attitude and use it to influence others.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I will make the adjustments necessary to keep my attitude right.”

Priorities

  • Determine and act on important priorities daily.
  • Decision: “I will prioritize my life and give focus and energy to those things that give the highest return.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I will live my life according to my priorities.”

Health

  • Know and follow healthy guidelines daily.
  • Decision: “I will take good care of myself by exercising and eating right.”
  • Daily Discpliine: “Every day I will eat low-fat foods and exercise for at least thirty-five minutes.”

Family

  • Communicate with and care for my family daily.
  • Decision: “Success meant having those closest to me love and respect me the most.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Everyday I work hard on gaining the love and respect of those closest to me.”

Thinking

  • Practice and develop good thinking daily.
  • Decision: “I will think on things that will add value to myself and others.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I will set aside time to think, and I will determine to think on the right things.”

Commitment

  • Make and keep proper commitments daily.
  • Decision: “If something is worth doing, I will commit myself to carry it through.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I will renew my commitment and think about the benefits that come from it.”

Finances

  • Make and properly manage dollars daily.
  • Decision: “We will sacrifice today so that we can have options tomorrow.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I will focus on my financial game plan so that each day I will have more, not fewer options.”

Faith

  • Deepen and live out my faith daily.
  • Decision: “I will accept God’s gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, as my Saviour.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day to live and lead like Jesus.”

Relationships

  • Initiate and invest in solid relationships daily.
  • Decision: “I will initiate and make an investment in relationships with others.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I make the conscious effort to deposit goodwill into my relationships with others.”

Generosity

  • Plan for and model generosity daily.
  • Decision: “I will live to give.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I will add value to others.”

Values

  • Embrace and practice good values daily.
  • Decision: “I will lead others on the values I embrace.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Every day I review and reflect on my values.”

Growth

  • Seek and experience improvements daily.
  • Decision: “I will develop and follow a personal growth plan for my life.”
  • Daily Discipline: “Ever day I will grow on purpose with my plan.”

Presentation

The book is well written. It has a clear objective, is well structured and divided into self-contained chapters. The writing is concise, uses plain language and contains plenty of concrete examples to illustrate Maxwell’s points. The book is relatively short – at around 160 pages (3.5 hours audio), it makes for a fairly quick read. The narration of the audio version is evenly paced, and I found the narrator’s voice neither tiresome nor grating. Maxwell’s occasional humorous remarks were delivered rather deadpan, but I admit that this is vastly preferable to over-emphasizing the jokes. I also found the pace of the narration a little slow. Indeed, I turned playback speed on my player up to 120% without missing a word. With its smart, business-like cover the printed book would look quite respectable on bookshelf or in any briefcase or handbag.

Maxwell’s Worldview

Faith is a subject of an entire chapter of Make Today Count, and I was intrigued to see how Maxwell presents his religious convictions in the book.

Maxwell’s earlier books have had significant success amongst business leaders and in other secular markets. Nevertheless, in Make Today Count Maxwell unashamedly proclaims that his Christian faith has formed the basis of his life’s work, and cites the Bible as the source book for many of his ideas. For him, faith is fundamental. Of course, some people will find any reference to religion unpalatable. In Maxwell’s defence, he is simply stating what has worked for him. He doesn’t say that his list of priorities is right for everyone, rather that it is a model upon which we can base our own personal list.

On the other hand, significant numbers of Christians also read Maxwell’s books. For some believers, however, Make Today Count may appear be too secular. Why? Because, for may Christian readers, a clear Biblical mandate for the principles by which they live is essential. However, Maxwell provides few Bible references or examples to back up his assertions, and he chooses to put the faith chapter in the middle of the book rather than in first place where it belongs. As a believer myself, I quite understand these objections. Nevertheless, I recognise that Maxwell has succeeded in writing a book that is intended to be accessible to people with a wide variety of religious perspectives. I can only hope that it will inspire a few to research the basis of the author’s own growth and development. So, can a book like this help me grow as a Christian? Maxwell contends that his principles are to be found in scripture, even if he doesn’t always tell us where to look. Clearly, if I want in-depth Bible-study on these topics, I will have to look elsewhere.  Nevertheless, a life wholly dedicated to God should be the aspiration of every believer, and the areas that Maxwell covers in Make Today Count are certainly important in that respect. As such, I find that Maxwell’s Make Today Count deeply challenging and inspirational.

Value for Money

According to Amazon, much of the material in the book was covered in his earlier work, Today Matters, so readers of the earlier volume may not find much new material here. Others may find much of the material self-evident or common sense. Frankly, I envy such people! For everyone else, I think there are valuable lessons to be learned from this text. As such, I think it is well worth the cover price.

Conclusion

Apparently, Stephen Covey called this book,

A persuasive, inspiring, and greatly needed message!Stephen R. Covey

I can’t help but agree. I found it profoundly challenging, and will undoubtedly read it again.

Acknowledgements

 

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