"Nearly all successes are the fruit of initiative."
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Personal growth is about change, and change is about choices that if made consistently can eventually lead to a desired destination.
Most people understand that they need to grow in order to reach their potential, but few are intentional about it, and fewer still have a plan to direct their growth. People plan their vacations, careers, and even trips to the grocery store, but invest little time in plotting out their personal growth.
To address this problem John Maxwell explains The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. He concludes each law with an application section to help the reader digest the ideas taught and begin to put them to use. Through completing all fifteen exercises the reader gains a foundation for creating a personal growth plan.
While the author acknowledges that the steps each person needs to implement growth are situation-specific, the principles taught in the book are universally applicable.
The Big Idea
Be Intentional About Your Growth
"If you want to reach your potential and become the person you were created to be, you must do much more than just experience life and hope that you learn what you need along the way. You must go out of your way to seize growth opportunities as if your future depended on it. Why? Because it does. Growth doesn’t just happen–not for me, not for you, not for anybody. You have to go after it!"
“Do you have a plan for your personal growth?” Think about 2013, with nearly a month under your belt, have you grown? Have things improved the way you had planned at the beginning of the year?
No one sets out to be average. No one plans to be mediocre. Yet often by failing to plan and intentionally seek out opportunities to grow, that is where some end up. You may have the best intentions, but then life happens and you never get around to those plans. To remedy this unfortunate, yet likely outcome, Maxwell **strongly** recommends setting aside time on the calendar dedicated to personal growth.
However, it is not enough to block out time. You must keep the appointment for personal growth as if it were with anyone else. That time must be zealously protected, lest it be sacrificed to another more pressing engagement.
"Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably. Without a system, even extraordinary people find it difficult to predictably achieve even ordinary results."
You recognize that you need to be intentional about your growth, but where to begin? Leadership, communication, attitude? Or maybe you know what to work on, but don’t know how you should begin. It is difficult to try and glean every morsel of wisdom from experiences on a daily basis. Before long you may feel overwhelmed and see little progress, leaving you discouraged.
To avoid this problem Maxwell recommends developing systems. He describes a system as “a process for predictably achieving a goal based on specific, orderly, repeatable principles and practices.” A system will act as a form of leverage that will assist you in achieving a predetermined result. Effective systems helped Henry Ford and Ray Crock build empires. Imagine what they can do for your personal growth.
A system can help you focus on a specific area you want to improve and produce consistent results. Unlike a generalized school curriculum, systems can be uniquely tailored to your priorities. Maxwell describes several systems he developed over time to help him focus on areas of personal growth. For example, he developed a system for storing quotes from what he learns. His system allows him to easily sift through the tens of thousands quotes and find what he is looking for within a matter of minutes.
Since reading the book I compiled a system for a more effective approach to my schoolwork, reviewing my days, and a new morning routine that creates time for a personal growth study before classes start.
Through implementing systems you can be intentional about your personal growth.
Build Your Reach Muscle
"…most people are naturally tempted to settle into a comfort zone where they choose comfort over potential. They fall into familiar patterns and habits, doing the same things in the same ways with the same people at the same time and getting the same results. It’s true that being in your comfort zone may feel good, but it leads to mediocrity…"
In order to grow, you must change. To continue to grow you must stretch and do something different. It is only when you stretch beyond your current abilities that you grow. However, often this is done in reaction to circumstances out of your control. Imagine how much greater and frequent growth would occur if rather than react to change you initiated it? This is what Maxwell illustrates in the law of the rubber band saying, “Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be.”
If you fail to reach your potential, what do you miss out on? Ghandi believed, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” By continuously reaching and developing new capabilities you can avoid falling into a rut, or stagnating on a plateau for too long. What opportunities are you currently pursuing that you believe are helping you to reach and grow?
Set short-term goals to reduce the gap between where you are and where you could be. By actively seeking out new opportunities and developing your reach muscle you can become intentional about your personal growth.
As Jim Rohn says, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much.”
Being intentional about personal growth is difficult. It requires consistent effort and discipline, and it will be uncomfortable, which is why so few people are willing to do it. However, because so few people are willing to invest the time and effort to become intentional with personal growth you can easily stand out from those who are unwilling. You can become intentional in your personal growth by building systems that produce desired outcomes, and resolving to develop your reach muscle to help you close the gap between where you are and where you have the potential to be.
In the comments below, let us know…
Do you have a plan for your personal growth? If so, what are you doing today to implement it?