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High Road Leadership By John C. Maxwell

In life and in leadership, you will find that people treat you badly. That is an unavoidable fact. You have three options when you are treated in this manner. You can take:

(1) the low road where you treat people worse than they treat you;

(2) the middle road where you treat people the same as they treat you; or

(3) the high road where you treat people better than they treat you.

As a leader, you must commit to taking the high road when others—intentionally or unintentionally—do you wrong. We all mess up. We all have annoying quirks, and there are times when we’re not pleasant to be around. When you recognize your humanness and know you need and have received grace, you are more open to taking the high road and extending grace to others.

No one takes the high road by accident. You must consciously choose that path. The high road is not the easiest road—it goes uphill and takes more effort to travel—but it is the only road that leads to the highest levels of living and leading.

Find encouragement in the words of Kevin M. Keith, who wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments.” They will help you to choose the high road in your leadership:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.

Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

Leaders don’t take the high road because it’s the only available option, but because it’s the best option. High roaders aren’t victims—they’re victors. The author of Proverbs stated, “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11). When you respond to ill-treatment with grace and forgiveness, you display an admirable character that elevates you in the eyes of others and allows you to experience the High Road Principle: You go to a higher level when you treat others better than they treat you.


John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than thirty million books in fifty languages. He has been identified as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association and the most influential leadership expert in the world by Business Insider and Inc. magazines. He is the founder of the John Maxwell Company, the John Maxwell Team, EQUIP, and the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, organizations that have trained millions of leaders from every country of the world. The recipient of the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network, Dr. Maxwell speaks each year to Fortune 500 companies, presidents of nations, and many of the world’s top business leaders. He can be followed at For more information about him, visit


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