Book Summaries

Book Summary – Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success by John C. Maxwell.

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We often exaggerate yesterday, overestimate tomorrow and underestimate today.

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In Today Matters, John C. Maxwell shares 12 decisions and disciplines – he calls the daily dozen that can be learned and mastered by anyone to achieve success. A lot of us exaggerate yesterday, overestimate tomorrow, and we underestimate today. According to John, Today Matters, and it is the most important day you will ever experience. The Secret of your success is determined by what you daily.

Here are my favourite takeaways from reading, Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success.

Today is the only time you have. It’s too late for yesterday. And you can’t depend on tomorrow. That’s why today matters.

The 12 Daily Practices (Daily Dozen)

  1. Attitude: Choose and display the right attitudes daily.
  2. Priorities: Determine and act on important priorities daily.
  3. Health: Know and follow healthy guidelines daily.
  4. Family: Communicate with and care for my family daily.
  5. Thinking: Practice and develop good thinking daily.
  6. Commitment: Make and keep proper commitments daily.
  7. Finances: Earn and properly manage finances daily.
  8. Faith: Deepen and live out my faith daily.
  9. Relationships: Initiate and invest in solid relationships daily.
  10. Generosity: Plan for and model generosity daily.
  11. Values: Embrace and practice good values daily.
  12. Growth: Desire and experience improvements daily.

Misconceptions of Success

  • We believe success is impossible – So we criticize it.
  • We believe success is mystical – So we search for it. (No Quick Fix)
  • We believe success comes from luck – So we hope for it.
  • We believe success is productivity – So we work for it.
  • We believe success comes from an opportunity – So we wait for it.
  • We believe success comes from leverage -So we power up for it.
  • We believe success comes from connections – So we network for it.
  • We believe success comes from recognition – So we strive for it.
  • We believe success is an event – So we schedule it.

The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. If you make a few key decisions and then manage them well in your daily agenda, you will succeed. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. You see, success doesn’t just suddenly occur one day in someone’s life. For that matter, neither does failure. Each is a process. Every day of your life is merely preparation for the next. What you become is the result of what you do today. In other words . . .YOU ARE PREPARING FOR SOMETHING.

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes.” -Benjamin Disraeli.

The most successful people in life are the ones who settle their critical issues early and manage them daily . The earlier you settle the critical issues in your life, the greater your potential for success.

When it comes to change, there are really only three kinds of people:

1. Those who don’t know what to do
2. Those who know what to do but don’t do it
3. Those who know what to do and follow-through

  1. Attitude: Choose and display the right attitudes daily.

    Your Attitude at the beginning of a task affects its outcome more than anything else. When you approach a task—especially an important one you don’t relish—fix your mind on the facts, not on your feelings. Focus on the possibilities, not the problems. That will put your attitude on the right track. And if it starts on the right track, it’s more likely to end up at the right destination.

Your Attitude towards others often determines their attitude toward you.

“All things being equal, attitude wins. All things not being equal, attitude sometimes still wins.”

Your attitude is a choice. If you desire to make your day a masterpiece, then you need to have a great attitude. If it’s not good now, you need to change it. Make the decision.

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”“John Wooden

2. Priorities: Determine and act on important priorities daily.

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”

British prime minister William Gladstone said,

“He is a wise man who wastes no energy on pursuits for which he is not fitted; and he is wiser still who from among the things he can do well, chooses and resolutely follows the best.”


Priorities don’t stay put; you have to revisit them every day. Why? Because conditions continually change. So do methods of getting things done. Your values, once defined, are going to be steady. You will be able to rely on them. But how you carry them out needs to be flexible.

According to a survey taken by Day-Timers, Inc., only one-third of American workers plan their daily schedules. And only 9 percent follow through and complete what they planned.6 If you want to be effective, you must be able to make the transition to planning.

 “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of the elimination of nonessentials.”Lin Yutang

3. Health: Know and follow healthy guidelines daily.

People are funny. When they are young, they will spend their health to get wealth. Later, they will gladly pay all they have trying to get their health back.”


Nothing is better than perspective for helping a person want to do the right thing. When you have something to live for, not only does it make you desire a long life, but it also helps you to see the importance of the steps along the way. Seeing the big picture enables us to put up with little irritations.

It’s hard to find motivation in the moment when there is no hope in the future. A sense of purpose helps a person to make a decision to change and then to follow through with the discipline required to make that change permanent.

“Though you cannot go back and make a brand-new start by You can start now, and make a brand-new end.

4. Family: Communicate with and care for my family daily.

When you have a strong family life, you receive the message that you are loved, cared for, and important. The positive intake of love, affection and respect . . . gives you inner resources to deal with life more successfully.

“Before going to War—pray once. Before going to Sea—pray twice. Before getting Married—pray three times.” – Russian Proverb

5. Thinking: Practice and develop good thinking daily.

Success doesn’t come by accident. People don’t repeatedly stumble into achievement and then figure it out afterward. Whether you’re a doctor, a businessperson, a carpenter, a teacher, or a parent, your level of success will increase dramatically if you place high value on thinking. The greater your thinking, the greater your potential.

“Every time a person puts an idea across, he finds ten people who thought about it before he did—but they only thought about it.” Ideas, put into action, give an advantage.” – Alfred Montapert

6. Commitment: Make and keep proper commitments daily.

Anyone who desires to achieve and become successful must be like a fine craftsman: committed to excellence. A great craftsman wants you to inspect his work, to look closely at its finest details. In contrast, sloppy people hide their work. And if anyone finds fault with it, shoddy workers find fault with their tools. Which are you most like? Excellence means doing your very best in everything, in every way. That kind of commitment will take you where halfhearted people will never go.

In general, people approach daily commitment in one of two ways. They focus on the external or the internal. Those who focus on the external expect conditions to determine whether they keep their commitments. Because conditions are so transitory, their commitment level changes like the wind. In contrast, people who base their actions on the internal usually focus on their choices. Each choice is a crossroad, one that will either confirm or compromise their commitments.

“Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them, day after day. What you promise today must be renewed and redecided tomorrow and each day that stretches out before you.” –  Arthur Gordon

7. Finances: Earn and properly manage finances daily.

To know whether your attitude about money and possessions is what it should be, ask yourself the following five questions:

1. Am I preoccupied with things?
2. Am I envious of others?
3. Do I find my personal value in possessions?
4. Do I believe that money will make me happy?
5. Do I continually want more?

Having money may not make people happy, but owing money is sure to make them miserable”

“If you owe $1,000, you’re a piker. If you owe $100,000, you’re a businessman. If you owe $1 million, you’re a tycoon. If you owe $1 billion, you’re a magnate. If you owe $100 billion, you’re the government.” – Rose Sand

Materialism is not about possession—it’s an obsession. I’ve known materialistic people with no money and nonmaterialistic people who possess lots of money.

“Money is like manure. If you let it pile up, it just smells. But if you spread it around, you can encourage things to grow.” – Gun Denhart

8. Faith: Deepen and live out my faith daily.

Faith not only can help you through a crisis, it can help you to approach life after the hard times with a whole new perspective. It can help you adopt an outlook of hope and courage through faith to face reality.

“A faith that hasn’t been tested can’t be trusted”

 In the past, many people hoped that science would provide all the answers to life’s questions. But science cannot do that. Ironically, what is embraced as scientific fact changes from generation to generation. Just look at the way scientists have viewed our solar system. Ptolemy believed the earth was at its center. Copernicus asserted that the sun was at its center and the planets moved in circular orbits around it. Kepler proved that the orbits were elliptical. Today, scientists no longer argue the structure of the solar system, but ideas about how it was formed change continually.

“Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”

9. Relationships: Initiate and invest in solid relationships daily.

Most people give away their relational energy on a first-come, first-served basis. Whoever gets their attention first gobbles up their time and relational energy. That’s why the squeaky wheels instead of the high producers at work consume so much attention and why so many people have nothing left to give when they get home from work.

• When people don’t like you . . . they’ll try to hurt you.
• If they can’t hurt you . . . they won’t help you.
• If they have to help you . . . they won’t hope you succeed.
• When they hope you don’t succeed . . . life’s victories feel hollow.

“If you have one true friend in life, you are very fortunate. If you have two real friends, it is highly unusual.” ”

If you desire to improve your understanding of people so that you can build positive relationships, then keep in mind the following truths about people—and actions you can take to bridge the gap often caused by them:

• People are insecure . . . give them confidence.
• People want to feel special . . . sincerely compliment them.
• People desire a better tomorrow . . . show them hope.
• People need to be understood . . . listen to them.
• People are selfish . . . speak to their needs first.
• People get emotionally low . . . encourage them.
• People want to be associated with success . . . help them win.

10. Generosity: Plan for and model generosity daily.

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of home and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson

True generosity isn’t a function of income—it begins with the heart. It’s about serving others and looking for ways to add value to them. That’s the way to achieve significance in your life.

“Today, 2.5 percent of our income goes to charitable giving. That’s lower than it was during the Great Depression (2.9 percent). And 80 percent of Americans who earn at least $1 million a year leave nothing to charity in their wills.”

“Greatness is not defined by what a person receives, but by what that person gives.”

11. Values: Embrace and practice good values daily.

“People without values are adrift on the ocean of life. When the waves come crashing down, they have no place to rest. Any big storm can threaten to put them under. Any current is liable to take them places they don’t want to go. However, when you have strong values, you have something that holds you steady, even when the weather gets nasty.”

Methods are many, Values are few. Methods always change, Values never do.”

Discrepancies between values and practices create chaos in a person’s life. If you talk your values but neglect to walk them, then you will continually undermine your integrity and credibility. And that will happen even if you are unaware of your behavior and are not doing it intentionally.

12. Growth: Desire and experience improvements daily.

 Often the most difficult part of the upward climb of growth is putting into practice what you learn. Yet that is where the true value is. The final test of any learning is always application. If what you’re learning can be used in some way to help and improve you or others, then it is worth the effort.

Author William Feather said:

“The only thrill worthwhile is the one that comes from making something out of yourself.” To make something out of yourself, you need to be willing to change, for without change, there can be no growth. The problem most people have is that they want things to stay the same yet also get better. Obviously, that can’t happen. If you truly want to grow, then commit yourself to not only accepting change, but seeking it.”

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

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