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Today Matters by John C. Maxwell Summary

Reading Length: 9 minutes

The 1 Key Idea:

  • Be intentional and aware of what you do everyday when it comes these 12 areas: your attitude, priorities, health, family, thinking, commitment, finances, faith, relationships, generosity, values and growth.


We often want overnight success and want success without paying the price. We think success comes from luck, productivity, recognition, an event, or connections. But the secret to success is based on what you do everyday.

Decision #1: Attitude
Your attitude affects how you start and finish your work. Attitude itself is contagious so check to see how others respond to you. If you want a better day, you need to change your attitude. Focus on the possibility instead of the problem. Take responsibility for your attitude, change the bad areas of your attitude and think and talk like the person you want to become. To change your attitude, you need to:

  • 1) Recognize that your attitude needs adjustment.
  • 2) Find something positive in everything.
  • 3) Find positive people.
  • 4) Eliminate negative words in your vocabulary by saying “I can, I will, I will make time, absolutely.”

Decision #2: Priorities
What if you only had 6 months left to live? What would you do? Priorities is about focus and concentration. It is recognizing that time is our most precious commodity, not money. Eliminate the non-essentials. Ask for feedback, take personality tests and evaluate your personal experiences. Think of the Pareto Principle by focusing on the 20% to get an 80% return in life. Ask yourself:

  • 1) What is required of me?
  • 2) What gives me the greatest return?
  • 3) What gives me the greatest reward?

To set priorities, you need to:

  • 1) Evaluate priorities daily.
  • 2) Plan your time carefully.
  • 3) Follow your plan.
  • 4) Delegate whenever possible.
  • 5) Spend your time wisely with others.

Decision #3: Health
If you make decisions that are bad for your health, it will affect other areas of your life. Young people tend to spend their health for wealth. Get enough exercise and eat well. To take take care of your health, you need to:

  • 1) Have a purpose worth living for.
  • 2) Do work you enjoy.
  • 3) Find your own pace.
  • 4) Accept your personal worth.
  • 5) Laugh.

Decision #4: Family
Family can be a source of stability and strength. But we often don’t give them enough of our time. You can choose how long and how to spend time with them. Put your family on your calendar first and don’t let them have the left overs in your schedule. Rewrite your own definition of success which is to be close and care for your family. Make them part of your non-negotiables in your schedule.

Decision #5: Thinking
Good thinking can increase all value and serve as assets. There are many types of thinking which includes: big picture thinking, focus thinking, creative thinking, realistic thinking, strategic thinking, possibility thinking, reflecting thinking, questioning popular thinking, shared thinking, unselfish thinking and bottom line thinking. You don’t need to be a master at all the thinking types but simply find people who can compensate the weak areas. Everyday set aside a certain time to think, find thinking place and have a system. To think better, you need to:

  • 1) Focus on the positive.
  • 2) Gather good input.
  • 3) Spend time with good thinkers.

Decision #6: Commitment
Expect that commitment will be a struggle but it is worth it. Focus on your choices and stick with it. This requires hard work and dedication.

Decision #7: Finance
Recognize that money won’t necessarily make you happy. Debt itself will likely to make you unhappy as well. And having financial margin gives you more options. You need to learn how to make money, remain grateful and not compare yourself to others. The author personally lives by this rule: 10% to church and charity, 80% to living expenses and 10% to investments. When it comes to finance, ask yourself:

  • 1) Am I preoccupied with things?
  • 2) Am I envious of others?
  • 3) Do I fight my personal values?
  • 4) Do I believe money will make me happy?
  • 5) Do I keep wanting more?

If you answered yes to one of these, then you need to do soul searching. Materialism is an obsession and mindset.

Decision #8: Faith
This gives strength and reduces stress. Studies have shown that people with faith are less likely to fall ill compared to non-believers. Everyone has a faith including both religious people and Atheists.

  • 1) Embrace the value of faith.
  • 2) Put God in the picture.
  • 3) Explore and deepen faith.

Decision #9: Relationships
You will get far in life if you like people because the likable person always wins. Refer to “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Place a high value on people, expect the best from them, learn to understand them, compliment them, listen to them, speak to their needs and encourage them to win.

Decision #10: Generosity
People love givers rather than self centered people. Giving turns your focus outward, adds values to others and actually helps the giver. You usually feel good after giving. So give others your money, time, and energy. Make yourself valuable but also value others.

Decision #11: Values
Values serve as an anchor, faithful friend and your north star. Many things in life will stand in the way of your values. Everyday reflect and review your values. Articulate and embrace your values everyday. See how you can apply and practice your values.

Decision #12: Growth
We think that our bodies and minds will take care of itself automatically. We also think knowledge, information and experience are signs of growth. But it’s about reflecting on experience and applying the knowledge learned. This prevents stagnation in life. We also need to focus on internal change rather than external change. Develop and follow a personal growth plan by setting growth goals and putting yourself in an environment that supports growth. Keep asking yourself: “what is my potential?”

Rate yourself on the 12 decisions and rank them from 1-12. Pick two strengths to work on and pick one weakness to work on. Try not to add more than that. Reevaluate yourself to improve and see if you can move on. Keep repeating this process. Talk to a friend and ask how well you rated yourself.



Published by Jean Soo

My name is Jean Soo. I’m a physical therapy student and blogger. I’ve spent quarantine studying and reading over hundreds of self improvement content. I’ve personally faced my own life transformation through some of these books and articles which I will share with you. You can expect to receive valuable content about building better habits, enhancing productivity and promoting more happiness in life. Stay tuned!

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