In The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential, New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell shares fifteen principles for maximizing personal growth.
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth are:
- The Law of Intentionality: Growth Doesn’t Just Happen
- The Law of Awareness: You Must Know Yourself to Grow Yourself
- The Law of the Mirror: You Must See Value in Yourself to Add Value to Yourself
- The Law of Reflection: Learning to Pause Allows Growth to Catch Up with You
- The Law of Consistency: Motivation Gets You Going—Discipline Keeps You Growing
- The Law of Environment: Growth Thrives in Conducive Surroundings
- The Law of Design: To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies
- The Law of Pain: Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth
- The Law of the Ladder: Character Growth Determines the Height of Your Personal Growth
- The Law of the Rubber Band: Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be
- The Law of Trade-Offs: You Have to Give Up to Grow Up
- The Law of Curiosity: Growth Is Stimulated by Asking Why?
- The Law of Modeling: It’s Hard to Improve When You Have No One but Yourself to Follow
- The Law of Expansion: Growth Always Increases Your Capacity
- The Law of Contribution: Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others
- The Law of Intentionality: Growth Doesn’t Just Happen
No one improves by accident. Personal growth doesn’t just happen on its own. And once you’re done with your formal education, you must take complete ownership of the growth process, because nobody else will do it for you.
Growth Gap Traps
1. The Assumption Gap—“I Assume That I Will Automatically Grow
2. The Knowledge Gap—“I Don’t Know How to Grow
3. The Timing Gap—“It’s Not the Right Time to Begin
4. The Mistake Gap—“I’m Afraid of Making Mistakes
Growing can be a messy business. It means admitting you don’t have the answers. It requires making mistakes. It can make you look foolish. Most people don’t enjoy that. But that is the price of admission if you want to improve.
5. The Perfection Gap—“I Have to Find the Best Way Before I Start
6. The Inspiration Gap—“I Don’t Feel Like Doing It”
7. The Comparison Gap—“Others Are Better Than I Am”
8. The Expectation Gap—“I Thought It Would Be Easier Than This
“Preparation (growth) + Attitude + Opportunity + Action (doing something about it) = Luck”
2. The Law of Awareness: You Must Know Yourself to Grow Yourself
“To reach your potential, you must know where you want to go and where you currently are. Without both of those pieces of information, you’re liable to get lost. Knowing yourself is like reading “You Are Here” on a map when you want to find your way to a destination.”
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung
3. The Law of the Mirror: You Must See Value in Yourself to Add Value to Yourself
“Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time, and energy needed to develop yourself.” —DENIS WAITLEY”
4. The Law of Reflection: Learning to Pause Allows Growth to Catch Up with You
Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”—PETER F. DRUCKER
Most good ideas are like skeletons. They provide good structure, but they need meat on their bones. They lack substance, and until they have it, they aren’t that useful.
5. The Law of Consistency: Motivation Gets You Going—Discipline Keeps You Growing
In the end, hard work is really the accumulation of easy things you didn’t do when you should have. It’s like diet and exercise. Everyone wants to be thin, but no one wants to make the right choices to get there. It’s hard work when you’ve neither eaten right nor exercised day after day. However, if you make small right choices each day, day after day, you see results.
6. The Law of Environment: Growth Thrives in Conducive Surroundings
If you try to…
Change yourself but not your environment—growth will be slow and difficult;
Change your environment but not yourself—growth will be slow and less difficult;
Change your environment and yourself—growth will be faster and more successful.
Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a plan of action and follow it to the end requires some of the same courage which a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men to win them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
7. The Law of Design: To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies
“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.” —JIM ROHN
Life Is Not a Dress Rehearsal!”
There is no warm-up for life, no dress rehearsal, yet that’s the way many people seem to be treating it. Each of us goes on stage cold, with no preparation, and we have to figure it out as we go along. That can be messy. We fail. We make mistakes. But we still need to give it our best from the very start. Regret over not being proactive enough is a common theme among people looking back on their lives.
“An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.” – Sydney J. Harris
8. The Law of Pain: Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth
Few People Make Bad Experiences Positive Experiences
Life’s difficulties do not allow us to stay the same. They move us. The question is, in which direction will we be moved: forward or backward? When we have bad experiences, do we become better or bitter? Will those experiences limit us or lead us to grow? As Warren G. Lester remarked, “Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well
“Expecting the world to treat you fairly just because you’re a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to charge you because you’re a vegetarian.” – Dennis Wholey
Choose a Positive Life Stance
Life stance” is a term used to describe people’s overall frame of reference—the set of attitudes, assumptions, and expectations people hold about themselves, other people, and the world in general.
Facing difficulties is inevitable. Learning from them is optional. Whether you learn is based on if you understand that difficulties present opportunities to learn and treat them accordingly.
9. The Law of the Ladder: Character Growth Determines the Height of Your Personal Growth
If you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then someday you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them. In other words, before you can do, you must be.
The right motions outwardly with wrong motives inwardly will not bring lasting progress. Right outward talking with wrong inward thinking will not bring lasting success. Expressions of care on the outside with a heart of hatred or contempt on the inside will not bring lasting peace. Continual growth and lasting success are the result of aligning the inside and the outside of our lives. And getting the inside right must come first—with solid character traits that provide the foundation for growth.
The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he hoped to make it. – J. M. Barrie
10. The Law of the Rubber Band: Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be
“For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’” – John Greenleaf Whittier
It’s wise to remember that our situation in life is mainly due to the choices we make and the actions we do—or fail to—take. The older we are, the more responsible we are for our situation. If you are merely average or if you are no closer to your dream this year than you were last year, you can choose to accept it, defend it, cover it up, and explain it away. Or you can choose to change it, grow from it, and forge a new path.
11. The Law of Trade-Offs: You Have to Give Up to Grow Up
“People will cling to an unsatisfactory way of life rather than change in order to get something better for fear of getting something worse.”—ERIC HOFFER
Everybody makes trades throughout life, whether they know it or not. The question is whether you are going to make good ones or bad ones.
- Unsuccessful people make bad trade-offs.
- Average people make few trade-offs.
- Successful people make good trade-offs
As psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl observed,
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
- Changing for the sake of change gives a person whiplash.
- Changing before you have to can lead to a big win, but it’s difficult to do.
- Changing when you have to gives you a win.
- Changing after you have to leads to a loss.
- Refusing to change is death to your potential.
When we’re at the bottom, we make trade-offs because of desperation. We are highly motivated to change. As we climb, we change because of inspiration. At this higher level we don’t have to anymore. We get comfortable. As a result, we don’t make the trade-offs.
“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” – Louis Boone
12. The Law of Curiosity: Growth Is Stimulated by Asking Why?
“Most formal education steers people toward answers rather than questions. If you went to college, how many times did you hear a professor ask students to hold their questions until later so he could get through his notes or complete the syllabus? The emphasis is often on information over inquiry.”
“It’s better to look uninformed than to be uninformed. Curb your ego and keep asking questions.” – Richard Thalheimer
13. The Law of Modeling: It’s Hard to Improve When You Have No One but Yourself to Follow
“Never confuse the giftedness of a person with the person. Their gifts allow them to do amazing things but the person may be flawed, which will eventually cause harm.” – Fred Smith
Knowledge without support is sterile. Advice without friendship feels cold. Candor without care is harsh. However, when you are being helped by someone who cares for you it is emotionally satisfying. Growth comes from both the head and the heart. Only supportive people are willing to share both with you.
“The people you follow, the models you emulate, the mentors you take advice from help to shape you. If you spend your time with people who subtract from you, who belittle you or undervalue you, then every step forward that you attempt to take will be difficult. But if you find wise leaders, good role models, and positive friends, you will find that they speed you on your journey.
Look for the qualities needed in a good mentor:
A worthy example, availability, proven experience, wisdom, willingness to be supportive, and coaching skills.
14. The Law of Expansion: Growth Always Increases Your Capacity
“The first step toward success is becoming good at what you know how to do. But the more that you do what you know, the more you discover additional worthy things you could do. When this occurs, you have a decision to make.”
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.” – Henry David Thoreau
15. The Law of Contribution: Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others
Be a River, Not a Reservoir
Think of yourself as a river instead of a reservoir. Most people who do make personal growth part of their lives do it to add value to themselves. They are like reservoirs that continually take in water but only to fill themselves up. In contrast, a river flows. Whatever water it receives, it gives away. That’s the way we should be as we learn and grow. That requires an abundance mind-set—a belief that we will keep receiving. But as long as you are dedicated to personal growth, you will never experience scarcity and will always have much to give.
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.