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John Maxwell On “Pay It Forward”

September 21, 2009

In Phoenix at the April 4th DubLi North America Launch event, to all of our team members who attended I handed a copy of the movie “Pay It Forward.”  You can see an 8-min. clip of the movie highlights at:

I love the fact that the movie uses and validates the power of 3 x 3 x 3 … (the power of networking), but the concept of doing something for others without expecting something in return, then expecting others to do the same, is the really powerful message of the movie.

Then I saw John Maxwell’s Twitter post that he was speaking live online Friday, and I had to watch.  If you’re not familiar with Maxwell’s books, check them out:  One of his classics that I’ve listened to several times is “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.”

Friday night, coincidentally, he spoke on “The 8 Principles of ‘Pay It Forward’.”  (I don’t know if there’s an online recording of it.)  Whether you are a religious person or not, you can still get some serious inspiration from the notes I took below.

John C. Maxwell Sermon Sep. 19, 2009, given live online at

Pay It Forward’s 8 Principles are:
1.  Enlightening – recognize that others have helped us (we’ve been blessed).
2.  Necessary – realize we need to help others. Our “basic needs” are 1) for help, and 2) to help. (A life without helping others is empty, unfulfilled.)
3.  Altruistic – go beyond yourself and think of others’ needs.
4.  Action-oriented – do something.
5.  Intentional – mean it, sincerely.
6.  Viral – it multiplies when passed on to others and the process grows
exponentially beyond one action.
7.  Thoughtful – one’s actions are graded by effort, not results.
8.  Influential – it changes the world, one person at a time.

Questions to Ask Ourselves Before We Can Effectively “Pay It Forward”:
1. “What have I been given?”  Look backward (you cannot give what you do not have).
Application:  look backward and list 3 things you have been given:

2. “What do I have?”  Look inward.  To discover what you have to give, ask…
a.  What is my giftedness (what can I do well)?
b.  What is my passion (what do I love to do)?
c.  What is my opportunity (what can I do today)?

  • Start with what you have, not with what you don’t have.
  • Opportunity is always where you are, never where you were.
  • Great opportunities to help people seldom come; small ones surround us everyday.
  • NOTE: Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

3. “What can I do?”  Look forward.
a.  Think beyond yourself.  “A day lived without doing something good for others is a day not worth living.” ~ Mother Theresa
b.  Make a plan.
c.  Take action.

The rule of 5:
If you have a tree you want to cut down, take an axe and swing 5 times a day, and eventually that tree will fall.  The day it falls it wasn’t because that day you were really good; in fact, you weren’t any better THAT day – it fell because you did the right thing everyday over time to make it so.

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