Make Today Count–Book Summary

Part II – November 13, 2012

In 2004 John C. Maxwell wrote a small 130 page book called Make Today Count. It is a treasure of a book. Over three days this week I will summarize this little book. If you want a real treat read the book. But just don’t read it and put it down. Really read it. Study it and put what you learn from it to work in your life.

The book covers 12 key values that one should focus upon every day. Today we will look at the second four of those.


James Allen wrote that “All that a man achieves or fails to achieve is the direct result of his thoughts”. With this quote Maxwell begins to examines the role that thinking plays in our success and failure. Among his observations:

Effective thinking is a skill that is learned from constant practice. Great thinking comes from practicing good thinking over time. You must practice thinking, real thinking, on a daily basis to improve that skill.

Maxwell then lists 11 different types of thinking and how to make use of each of them. He argues that we all have strengths in some forms of thinking and are weak in other areas. He argues that we would best focus most of our thinking energy on those areas where we are strong and delegate to others the weaker areas for us, assuming the others you delegate to are strong in those areas.

To develop your thinking skills you must dedicate a period of time each day to think. That may sound odd, but life is full of distractions that can impair our ability to think clearly and well. He also discusses that different people have different styles and approaches to thinking and you should find the ones that work best for you.

When you think many ideas will flow through you mind and you will likely forget most of them in a short time. It is important than to capture your best thoughts by writing them down. A journal is a good place to do that. When you are in your thinking time, or any time a good thought comes to you, have your journal handy and jot it down so you do not lose it. You can review those notes periodically and when appropriate think further on your best ideas and develop action plans to implement them.


Achieving the things you desire require tenacity. Tenacity requires commitment. Commitment is the engine that keeps us on track to complete what we set out to do.

As an illustration of the power of commitment Maxwell discusses the commitment made by Churchill at the beginning of WWII to oppose the Nazi domination of Europe. The battle of Britain was a long and bloody battle. The British, led by the indomitable Churchill, never gave up their commitment.

An integral part of commitment is to ascertain what the price will be for what you want to commit to and then be willing to pay that price. In making the commitment you must determine that the goal is worth that price.

A strong sense of commitment includes a commitment to excellence. If you are going to do something you should commit to excellence. The world is full of mediocrity, what merit or achievement is there in the mediocre?

One must expect commitment to be a struggle. You will want to give up if the task is great. Your commitment will be tried and it requires tenacity and perseverance to stay on course and complete what you are committed to do. Few things however provide greater satisfaction.

To realize your potential a strong work ethic is essential. Maxwell includes a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

Focus on your choices not conditions. Conditions are transitory. They change and shift like the wind. Achievement comes only through commitment to your choice no matter the condition.

To be single minded in our commitment focuses your energy and efforts on your goal. It is essential to achieve great things. If you wish to achieve anything significant it requires single mindedness.

Do what is right and do what must be done even when you do not feel like it. When Olympic athletes come into the stadium one of the things they recite is this:

I have prepared.

I have followed the rules.

I will not quit.


To achieve success requires the right stewardship of one’s finances. It requires a decision to sacrifice today so that you can have options tomorrow. Maxwell and his wife made a pact early in their marriage to live by this formula:

10% of their income went to the church;

10% of their income went to investments;

80% of them income went to living expenses.

In order to stay on top of finances they must be managed daily. It is also important to put a proper value on things and keep that in perspective as life is not just about things.

Recognize the seasons of your life. When you are young you learn and you discover your purpose in life. In your middle years you earn, care for your family and put aside money for your old age. In all times it is important to give back in gratitude for all you have. Giving back is not just about giving money – it is about giving time and effort. In old age there may be the greatest opportunity to give back.

Reduce debt. Maxwell cites the work of Michael Kidwell and Steve Rhode, authors of Get Out of Debt: Smart Solutions to Your Money Problems. They provide five important steps to getting out of debt and avoiding it:

1. Stop incurring debt.

2. Track your cash.

3. Plan for the future.

4. Don’t expect instant miracles.

5. Seek professional help.

Be grateful every day. Don’t compare yourself to others.


Maxwell is a deeply religious man and has been a minister for much of his life. He stresses the benefits of faith. He stresses the importance of leading with the heart and with character.

Maxwell says that we already have faith, the choice is where we put it. Understand that faith is birthed through difficulties. A faith not tested cannot be trusted.

Maxwell believes that faith and dedication to it is a critical aspect of success. If you have a religious faith it only makes sense to live it truly and dedicate yourself to it. If you are not religious then ascertain what values and principles you find important, maintain your faith in those things and live by them.

Wishing you Success and Prosperity,

Daniel R. Murphy

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.