Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

What will you remember about 2019?

As the last days of this year trickle by and your thoughts turn towards presents and parties and preparations for 2020, I wonder what your memories of this year will be.

What will spring to mind when you think back over the year’s-worth of days you’ve lived?

I ask because this is a reflective time for me, but also because it’s a reflective time for many people. We look back before we look ahead because reflection is the process that turns experience into insight. I’ve taught that principle for years, but I want to offer a qualifier for your consideration:

What you reflect on determines what you will learn.

I always guide my reflection process by my calendar; I look back on appointments I’ve kept, meetings I’ve held, talks I’ve given, and other time commitments I’ve made to help me invest my time wisely in the year that’s to come. It’s a process that works well for me, and I’ve recommended it to many over the years.

But if I were to only reflect on my calendar, then the only lessons I would learn would be about priorities and scheduling. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s also so much more that should be learned.

My calendar is only the starting point for me—I look beyond just where and how I spent my time, and I call to mind the people and purpose for which that time was spent. I focus on the real faces and causes that invited me to add value to them, and I reflect on whether I succeeded in that mission.

I’m not afraid to say that I’m not always as successful as I’d like to be, and I glean from those moments ways that I can continue to grow and improve. But I look at the successes too.

There’s just as much to learn from when we win, but people don’t often look there while reflecting. We tend to think that the only way we’ll really learn is by examining what didn’t work. My friend, nothing could be further from the truth.

We have as much—if not more—to learn from our successes, if we’ll spend the time looking at them.

One of my favorite stories about this idea comes from the John Maxwell Team. A few years ago, we’d just completed a Certification event in Orlando, and everyone raved about the quality and the excellence they experienced during our time together.

Mark Cole, my CEO, came across Paul Martinelli, President of the John Maxwell Team, and congratulated him on a job well done. Mark commented how by all measures it was the best event we’d ever done, and congratulated Paul on his hard work.

That’s when Paul showed him the list: 37 things that could make the next event better. He’d taken the time to reflect on each success while the event was happening and took notes on future improvements!

So what will you remember about 2019? Will it be only what went wrong—or will you also spend time thinking about what went right?

When it comes time to reflect, make sure you’re looking back in a way that will help you move forward. Spend time reflecting on your wins and losses because each hold their own lessons that can help you grow.


  1. Dan Williams on December 3, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks John This has been a wonderful year. My bladder was clear of cancer. Praying for my health Thank you

  2. Karen Cole-Ainley on December 3, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Greetings John and Team,

    Thank you for the wonderful sharing of how wonderful life truly is. I embrace every day that I wake up and by gods grace, he is leading me through my last year of my Doctoral Program. I especially feel like a higher power is at work here, because all the years before, I was not able to get back into school. Some miracle occurred in November of 2019, where the universe open the gates of possibilities and intentions for me to fulfill my dreams.

    I had been leading wonderful positive Changes in District 39, Toastmasters and within my workplace. Then, I received the life changing decisions, which came from a simple phone call and email. How many times do we get the chance to make life a continuous cycle of joy? As a person who life has been gifted by gods grace, its amazing that his plan for me is not yet done. I am amazed at the power of knowledge and education, as my research books have cited your works as well. This literally tells me, there is connection beyond anything we see know about leadership and leading in our community. I am thankful for your communications and god’s plan for my life. It’s even amazing that my husband, who 71 years old kept telling me to wait to finish my dream. Mary Morrisey and you have both shared the opposite thoughts about positive leadership and growing in who we are.

    I wish you and your team a wonderful 2020, as we move into the next century with inspiration and new callings.

    God Bless!

    Karen Cole-Ainley

  3. StevenHowell on December 3, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Thanks John for all you do!

  4. Nathan Lacy on December 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    As usual, good stuff. I look at this as strategic versus tactical evaluation. While I may be executing things well tactically are those things truly moving my overarching strategic goals forward? And ARE my strategic goals actually still “valid”? Dr. Maxwell’s encouragement for us to dive a bit deeper into the process is, as usual, spot on.

  5. Victor on December 5, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Praise the Lord. It’s more than a good news!

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