By Dr. John C. Maxwell
At what age did you stop growing taller? The average age when the human body stops getting taller is debatable, but it’s generally between the ages of 16 and 21. I often wonder at what age most leaders stop growing. Unfortunately, in my experience, most people settle into average by the end of their 20’s. Rarely will you find a person committed to a comprehensive personal growth plan into their 30’s, 40’s, or beyond.
As children we grew year after year, sometimes in spurts, sometimes imperceptibly, but our bodies were always growing. The growth of a leader can be similar. At times, it may feel like the wheels are spinning and no headway is being made. In other seasons, new breakthroughs and victories are clear indicators of a growth spurt. To grow consistently, the key is to manage your daily agenda. I wish I could pass along an easier solution or secret formula for leadership growth, but daily discipline makes all the difference between growth and stagnation.
In this edition of Leadership Wired, I would like to pass along a few growth principles to guide you in your daily journey of leadership growth. This lesson draws heavily upon a brilliant resource, The Laws of Lifetime Growth, authored by Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura. You may visit their website at http://www.lifetimegrowth.com.
Law #1 – Always Make Your Future Bigger Than Your Past.
“The past is useful because it is rich with experiences that are worth thinking about in new ways-and all of these valuable experiences can become raw material for creating an even bigger future. Approach your past with this attitude, and you will have an insatiable desire for even better, more enjoyable experiences. Use your past to continually create a bigger future, and you will separate yourself from situations, relationships, and activities that can trap you there.”
– Sullivan & Nomura
Thoughts about the Future:
Abraham Lincoln said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. We spend each day either repairing the past or preparing for the future. We can try to fix our past, but we can’t rewrite it; we can only author our future.
The future is that time when you’ll wish you had done what you aren’t doing now. Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.
Law #2 – Always Make Your Contribution Bigger Than Your Reward.
“As you become more successful, numerous rewards will come your way: greater income, praise, recognition, reputation, status, capabilities, resources, and opportunities. These are all desirable things, but they can be growth stoppers. They may tempt you to become fixated on just the rewards, rather than focus on making still greater contributions. The way to guarantee that rewards will continually increase is to not think too much about them. Instead, continue making an even more significant contribution.”
– Sullivan & Nomura
Thoughts on Contribution
To make your contribution bigger than your reward, adopt an anti-entitlement attitude. Believe you must give before you receive. Expect to serve before feeling like you deserve a reward. Determine success by the seeds you sow rather than the harvest you reap. Each morning, I ask myself, “Who can I add value to and how can I do it?” It’s amazing how much I’ve been able to contribute by answering this simple question each day and following through to help a friend or colleague.
Law #3 Always Make Your Performance Greater Than Your Applause.
“The greatest performers in all fields are those who always strive to get better. No matter how much acclaim they receive, they keep working to improve their performance. Continually work to surpass everything you’ve done so far, and your performance will always be greater than your applause.”
– Sullivan & Nomura
Thoughts on Performance
To make sure your performance stays a step ahead or your applause, be growth-driven instead of goal-driven. I’m not criticizing goals, but if we aren’t careful, they can limit our growth. If we set them too high, they de-motivate us. If we set them too low, we are tempted to relax when we hit them rather than pushing for our best performance. Growth is a long and consistent process. No substitutions can be made or shortcuts taken which avoid the day-to-day process of growth.
Law #4 – Always Make Your Gratitude Greater Than Your Success.
“Only a small percentage of people are continually successful over the long run. These outstanding few recognize that every success comes through the assistance of many other people – and they are continually grateful for this support.”
–Sullivan & Nomura
Thoughts on Gratitude:
We see the value in people and things through proactive gratitude. Once we see this value, we naturally treat these people and things with greater respect. People and resources are drawn to where they are valued most. The world responds to gratitude by making more of everything we appreciate available to us.
To adopt an attitude of thankfulness, Oprah Winfrey keeps a gratitude journal. She recommends her habit to others: “Every night, list five things that happened this day that you are grateful for. What it will begin to do is change your perspective of your day and your life. If you can learn to focus on what you have, you will always see that the universe is abundant; you will have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.”
Review: Laws of Lifetime Growth
- Always Make the Future Bigger Than Your Past.
- Always Make Your Contribution Bigger Than Your Reward.
- Always Make Your Performance Greater Than Your Applause.
- Always Make Gratitude Greater Than Your Success.
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
~ Erich Fromm
“Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.”
~ Jacob Bronowski
“No one travels so high as he who knows not where he is going.”
~ Oliver Cromwell
On this day...
- We must be able to exhort and convict those who contradict - 2011
- God is merciful - 2011
- Teach - 2011
- Wisdom - 2011
- Worketh - 2011
- Jesus should be the hero of every sermon - 2011
- SHALL I ROUSE MYSELF UP TO THIS? - 2009
- Can You Hear Me Now - 2008
- THE LAWS of Lifetime Growth - 2008
- THE NEVER-FAILING GOD - 2007