Thursday, May 8, 2014


Growth must be intentional— nobody improves by accident.

-          If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. I can’t think of anything worse than living a stagnant life, devoid of change and improvement. Most people don’t realize that unsuccessful and successful people do not differ substantially in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. And nothing is more effective when it comes to reaching potential than commitment to personal growth. If you want to be successful, you have to keep growing. The happiest people I know are growing every day.

-          1. CHOOSE A LIFE OF GROWTH: The people who reach their potential, no matter what their profession or background, think in terms of improvement. If you think you can “hold your ground” and still make the success journey, you are mistaken. The only way to improve the quality of your life is to improve yourself. If you want to grow your organization, you must grow a leader. If you want better children, you must become a better person. If you want others to treat you more kindly, you must develop better people skills. There is no sure way to make other people in your environment improve. The only thing you truly have the ability to improve is yourself.

-          2. START GROWING TODAY:  Napoleon Hill said, “It’s not what you are going to do, but it’s what you are doing now that counts.”  The old English proverb says, “One of these days means none of these days.” The best way to ensure success is to start growing today.
Growth is not automatic: The road to the next level is uphill, and it takes effort to keep growing. The sooner you start, the closer to reaching your potential you’ll be.
Growth today will provide a better tomorrow: Everything you do today builds on what you did yesterday. And altogether, those things determine what will happen tomorrow. Oliver Wendell Holmes offered this insight: “Man’s mind, once stretched by new ideas, never regains its original dimensions.” Growth today is an investment for tomorrow.
Growth is your responsibility: When you were a small child, your parents were responsible for you—even for your growth and education. But as an adult, you bear that responsibility entirely. If you don’t make growth your responsibility, it will never happen.

-          3. FOCUS ON SELF-DEVELOPMENT, NOT SELF-FULFILLMENT: Self-development is a higher calling; it is the development of your potential so that you can attain the purpose for which you were created. No matter how it makes you feel, self-development always has one effect: It draws you toward your destiny. Rabbi Samuel M. Silver taught that “the greatest of all miracles is that we need not be tomorrow what we are today, but we can improve if we make use of the potential implanted in us by God.”

-          4. NEVER STAY SATISFIED WITH CURRENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Rick Warren says, “The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is today’s success.” Charles Handy remarked, “It is one of the paradoxes of success that the things and ways which got you there are seldom those things that keep you there.” No matter how successful you are today, don’t get complacent. Stay hungry. Sydney Harris insisted that “a winner knows how much he still has to learn, even when he is considered an expert by others; a loser wants to be considered an expert by others before he has learned enough to know how little he knows.” Don’t settle into a comfort zone, and don’t let success go to your head. Enjoy your success briefly, and then move on to greater growth.

-       5. BE A CONTINUAL LEARNER: If you want to be a continual learner and keep growing throughout your life, you’ll have to carve out the time to do it. Henry Ford said, “It’s been my observation that most successful people get ahead during the time other people waste.” Frank A. Clark stated, “Most of us must learn a great deal every day in order to keep ahead of what we forget.” Learning something every day is the essence of being a continual learner. You must keep improving yourself, not only acquiring knowledge to replace what you forget or what’s out-of-date, but building on what you learned yesterday.

-          6. DEVELOP A PLAN FOR GROWTH: Earl Nightingale says, “If a person will spend one hour a day on the same subject for five years, that person will be an expert on that subject.” I recommend that you make it your goal to read twelve books and listen to fifty-two tapes (or read fifty-two articles) each year. Exactly how you go about it doesn’t matter, but do it daily. That way you’re more likely to follow through and get it done than if you periodically put it off and then try to catch up.

-          7. PAY THE PRICE: A trade-off of growth is that it is sometimes uncomfortable. It requires discipline. It takes time that you could spend on leisure activities. It costs money to buy materials. You have to face constant change and take risks. And sometimes it’s just plain lonely. That’s why many people stop growing when the price gets high. But growth is always worth the price you pay because the alternative is a limited life with unfulfilled potential. Success takes effort, and you can’t make the journey if you’re sitting back waiting for life to come along and improve you. President Theodore Roosevelt boldly stated, “There has not yet been a person in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.”

-          8. FIND A WAY TO APPLY WHAT YOU LEARN: Jim Rohn urged, “Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action.” The bottom line when it comes to personal development is action. Successful people develop positive daily habits that help them to grow and learn. I also make an effort to apply information as soon as I learn it. I do that by asking myself these questions anytime I learn something new:
Where can I use it?
When can I use it?
Who else needs to know it?
These questions take my focus off simply acquiring knowledge and put it onto applying what I learn to my life. Try using them. I think they’ll do the same for you.
Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to stay on a plateau. Commit yourself to climbing the mountain of personal potential—a little at a time—throughout your life. It’s one journey you’ll never regret having made. According to novelist George Eliot, “It is never too late to be what you might have become.”

 Culled from Self Improvement 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know by JOHN C. MAXWELL

Other Chapters include: 

JOHN C. MAXWELL is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. EQUIP, the organization he founded in 1996 has trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was named the World’s Top Leadership Guru by He was also one of only 25 authors and artists named to’s 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies.

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