Deep Dive Study Guide on Personal Growth: 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth John Maxwell – Live Them and Reach Your Potential (Summary, Notes, Key Lessons, and Tons of Additional Resources)

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The ‘Deep Dive’ series is something I’m hoping becomes a regular staple on this site. There are lots of good books out there, but here I want to highlight the GREAT ones. That means books that I find myself referring back to over and over again – and have had a transformative impact on me personally. The hope here is to create a resources page that supplements the book and lets you dive deep into concepts and gain further depth in your understanding. This is basically the page I wish existed for books I wanted to get into more detail on.

This deep dive focuses on personal growth. It outlines the key principles someone needs to have to close the gap between where they are, and where they want to be.

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The best way to utilize this resource page is by first reading the book, and then coming here to go more in-depth.

The Book (s)

Overview

15 Laws of Growth Webcast by John Maxwell

The 15 Laws

Live them, and reach your potential

Law 1. Law of Intentionality: Growth Doesn’t Just Happen

Growth doesn’t just happen automatically. It is an intentional process.

People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. -James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Maxwell identifies 8 major traps that prevent personal growth.

a) The Assumption Gap – “I assume I will automatically grow”

A state of continuous learning must be on purpose. Simply performing a job or task doesn’t automatically result in growth. Sometimes, the only thing we gain is getting more efficient at the task.

John Maxwell often says, “Wisdom doesn’t always come with age, sometimes age comes alone.”

b) The Knowledge Gap – “I don’t know how to grow”

After formal education, most people simply stop planning their own growth process. To grow, you need a personalize curriculum that identifies your skills gap, and how to bridge it. This might be seminars, books, courses, podcasts – in short, anything that helps you learn.

c) The Timing Gap – “It’s not the right time to begin”

Maxwell quotes the Law of Diminishing Intent – “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”

There will never be a perfect time to start something new. Growth is a process, and you have to set the wheels in motion now no matter how small.

d) The Mistake Gap – “I’m afraid of making mistakes”

Admitting that there are things you’re not good at or don’t know is the price of admission for personal growth. It’s impossible to move forward without making a couple of mistakes and learning from them. The key is to ‘intentionally’ utilize your mistakes as learning opportunities to help push you.

e) The Perfection Gap – “I have to find the best way before I start”

This is the hardest to master in the digital age. Sometimes all we need to do is read a book, but we spend umpteen hours asking people which book to get, and then combing through and comparing Amazon reviews, and then flipping through it at the bookstore. We want to have the best and most perfect version of everything otherwise we feel like we’re falling short or missing out.

Save that time researching the perfect method and start taking action. The more experience you build, the more reps you get, the quicker you’ll arrive at the optimal way of doing something (and learn more in the process). Stop looking for the best course, or best video – just do something to get the ball rolling.

f) The Inspiration Gap – “I don’t feel like doing it”

Motivation is a trap. It’s a drug inspiration junkies use to avoid taking action. It’s looking at motivational quotes set on sunsets on Instagram all day hoping it will somehow change your life.

This is similar to the other gaps. There needs to be a perfect time, or a perfect resource to get started. Looking for inspiration is saying we need to be in a perfect emotional state in order to start. That’s an excuse to procrastinate. Focus on the benefits the change will bring you, why you need the growth, and start executing on your plan no matter how you feel about it.

g) The Comparison Gap – “Others are better than I am”

It’s easy to look at others who are further ahead of us and think there’s no point in starting.

Sports is a perfect analogy for this. There’s millions of people who play basketball their whole life. They go to all the right camps, and the right schools, and with the right coaches – having every privilege and opportunity. Yet, there will be some kid who never touched a basketball until the age of 16 suddenly becoming a superstar.

In fact, the 2015 Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seahawks featured zero 5-star recruits in the starting lineups.

The cliche of being ‘outside your comfort zone’ becomes pertinent here. Be okay with where you are at, and focus on executing on your growth plan.

h) The Expectation Gap – “I thought it would be easier than this”

Maxwell gives this formula: Preparation (Growth) + Attitude + Opportunity + Action (doing something about it) = Luck.

In other words, there’s no such thing as luck. You might luck into opportunities, but your hard work is the prerequisite to be able to take advantage of them.

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight” – Jim Rohn

The greatest gap is the chasm between knowing and doing. This is why growth has to be an intentional process.

Action Plan

  • Identify which gaps are affecting you
  • Schedule time on your calendar that is dedicated to personal growth

Additional Resources

Why Watching MasterChef Junior Made Me Want to Stop Learning, and How to Fix It – “Do I stop, take out a month, and figure out the most efficient way to learn cooking, from which expert, and which style? And by figure out, we mean watching lots of YouTube videos to see what is best, reading through a hundred Amazon reviews to see exactly which book is perfect, and so on. Do I try to hunt down a super expensive cooking class from a celebrity chef? Or do I just wait until I feel motivated to learn how to cook better and go from there?”

Law 2. The Law of Awareness: You Must Know Yourself to Grow Yourself

“There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long.” -Woodrow Wilson

Do you know what you’re good at? Most people only pay attention to what they think they like doing, but stop and assess where your strengths lie.

Identify the gap between what you want to do and what you are able to do. Then work to close that gap.

“Discover your uniqueness; then discipline yourself to develop it.” -Jim Sundberg (MLB Catcher)

What this law boils down to is taking initiative. Many people fall into a trap of thinking that once they identify their passion, everything will magically work out. Once you identify what you want to do, you have to relentlessly take action to create the circumstances to make it happen.

One way of identifying your course of action is by finding people who have gone where you want to go. Find them and talk to them. Get the blueprint from them and ask them for the ‘cheat codes’ to help you avoid major pitfalls. This is the essence of mentorship. When speaking to a mentor, always be prepared and teachable. Prepare intelligent questions to ask them, and then demonstrate the results you’ve gotten from the advice they give you.

Maxwell says,

Get committed. Pay people for their time if necessary.

Be consistent. Meet purposefully every month with someone who can teach you.

Be creative. Start with books if you can’t meet them in person.

Be purposeful. Spend two hours in preparation for every hour of interaction.

Be reflective. Spend two hours in reflection for every one hour of interaction.

Be grateful. These people are gifts to your personal growth; be sure to let them know.

Action Plan

  • Identify not just what you want to do, but the talents, skills, and opportunities that support your desire to do that
  • What steps must you take to get there
  • Who can you find that can give you the cheat codes for the journey?
  • What price are you willing to pay? Time, resources, sacrifices?

Additional Resources

Gary Vaynerchuk: Self-Awareness Is Your Most Important Attribute – “Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths.”

Why Being Self-Aware Is Key To Succeeding In Business – “Reaching high is good, as long as people hold on to their sense of reality. For Vaynerchuk, that meant learning to stay away from the things he wasn’t good at and instead highlighting his strengths.”

Video: #AskGaryVee and Eric Thomas

Book: #AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk

Book: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Book: Do Over by Jon Acuff

Law 3. The Law of the Mirror: You Must See Value in Yourself to Add Value to Yourself

You will not give yourself time to grow if you think you are not worthy of it.

Low self-esteem, or lack of self-confidence, is one of the biggest barriers that prevent people from growing and reaching their potential.

“No factor is more important in people’s psychological development and motivation than the value judgments they make about themselves.” -Nathaniel Branden

To counter this,

a) Guard your self-talk. We tend to be tougher on ourselves more than anyone else. It’s okay to be your own cheerleader. When you do something good, don’t beat yourself up by saying “well, I should’ve been doing that anyways.” When you make a mistake, don’t tell yourself this is how things always go. Shift your mindset to one of growth. Remind yourself that whatever you’re going through is simply the price you pay for the goals you are working to achieve.

The most important person you listen to all day is you.

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b) Stop comparing yourself to others.

This is similar to the growth gap trap from the first law. The only comparison you should be making is to yourself the day before. Are you managing the things in your control, and improving each day? Is your overall trajectory in the right direction?

c) Move beyond your limiting beliefs. The biggest limits many of us face are the ones we put on ourselves. This causes us not to take action, because we convince ourselves action is then futile.

d) Add value to others. This helps shift away from feeling inadequate. The more you can impact someone else in a positive way, the more it slowly builds your confidence. It doesn’t have to be something huge. Start with something easy like simply smiling at someone when you greet them. When you add value to someone else, or make a positive impact on someone else, you not only feel better, but they also value you more. It creates a positive cycle.

Lose yourself by giving yourself to otheres.

e) Practice a small discipline daily in a specific area of your life. Self-worth comes from positive habits and actions we do daily. We tend to get overwhelmed by major parts of life – family, money, work, health, and so on. Figure out what you can do that is small, but consistent. Chip away at it daily. This creates discipline, and discipline raises morale.

Get a win every day. Look at your schedule and find something that will give you a win and make you feel good.

f) Take responsibility for your life. No matter what your life story or background, you have the ability to grow. Not only do you have the ability to grow, but you have a responsibility to share your unique talents with the world. You can become the person you have the potential to be.

“Every time you take a step, think a positive thought, make a good choice, practice a small discipline, you’re moving one step closer. Just keep moving forward, and keep believing.” -John Maxwell.

If you feel you’re worth it, you’ll invest in yourself to grow. If you don’t think you’re worth it, you won’t invest that time.

Action Plan

  • Make a list of your best qualities, and review them daily. Use it as a springboard.
  • Ask close friends or family to tell you whether they think you see yourself in a favorable or unfavorable light. Pay attention to your self-talk and flip it from negative to positive.
  • Add value to others however you can.

Additional Resources

How to Reframe Your Self-Defeating Frame of Mind – “Envisioning tomorrow’s potential is a powerful way to realize the extent of your personal control over your success. Reinforce this mindset power and give it freedom to roam. By doing this, you are priming tomorrow and beyond to be productive and giving opportunity to resist and rebound from self-limiting thought patterns.”

Replacing Negative Self-Talk With Positive Self-Talk – “Therefore replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk is not trading authenticity for inauthenticity, it’s making the active choice to no longer mistake inauthenticity for authenticity, to realize that negative self-talk did not originate from within but from without.”

Positive Self-Talk for Personal Growth – “This kind of internal dialogue can serve to make you stronger, help you be more of the person you want to be, and give you greater confidence. The more you do it, the better you will feel. I’m not suggesting that every thought be focused on your own personal growth, but rather that you take some time, every day, to give yourself a good talking to. The effects are pretty quick and last as long as you continue the process.”

The Antidote to Our Anxious Times is A Learning Mindset (Carol Dweck) – “People had to know there were desirable jobs available, and they had to understand that the skills for these jobs were acquirable.”

The #1 Person You Need to Ignore (Jon Acuff) – “If someone talked to you the way you talk to you, you’d never get coffee with him.”

Book: Mindset by Carol Dweck

Law 4. The Law of Reflection: Learning to Pause Allows Growth to Catch Up With You

Experience is the best teacher only if you are able to pause and reflect on your experiences. This is more and more difficult in the age of social media and digital hyper-connectivity.

Practices such as meditation are rising in popularity as more and more leaders start to realize the benefits of giving the mind some quiet time. It should be no surprise that every significant religious figure spent time in solitude.

We tend to come up with an idea and want to execute right away. Sometimes, things need to marinate a bit in our minds in order for us to get the most effective insights.

It’s not what you did, it’s what you learned from what you did. Learning without application quickly becomes lost.

When you sit and ponder something, you develop questions to attain more insight.

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” -Tony Robbins

Action Plan

  • Schedule a time and place to sit and reflect. It could be a quiet room where you can sit, or a nearby park where you can go for a walk.
  • Ask yourself tough questions. Reflection goes hand in hand with introspection.

Additional Resources

How Can I Accelerate My Personal Growth (Evan DeFilippis) – “People are constantly asking themselves things that masquerade as questions but which avail themselves to no real answers. Why? Because if the question is broad enough, you never to interrogate what’s going on in your own life. Successful people don’t ask themselves: “How can I develop many skills?” They’re too busy developing them. They identify their weaknesses, they remind themselves of what aspects of life they’re deficient in, and then they fix those things. The moment at which you form a question like: “How can I advance my career?” you have already revealed yourself as the type of person who is simply uninterested in actually advancing his or her career.

Law 5. The Law of Consistency: Motivation Gets You Going – Discipline Keeps You Growing

Do you know what you need to improve? You need to improve yourself. That involves the choices such as discipline and attitude, how you think, and you need to improve your strengths and abilities.

Self-discipline is the most essential skill needed for success.

“All the time I see people with purpose who are inconsistent in their progress. They have the ambition to succeed and they show aptitude for their job, yet they do not move forward. Why? Because they think they can master their job and don’t need to master themselves.” -John Maxwell

The problem we face is that we think a magical moment of motivation will take us where we need to go. Instead, it is the compounded effect of our daily habits and routines. You have to be constantly doing something every day to grow. Maxwell says discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments – and that bridge must be crossed daily.

The motivation comes from being connected to why you are doing something.

“Having a strong why will help you to keep going when the discipline of learning becomes difficult, discouraging, or tedious. If your growth is connected to your values, dreams, and purpose, you’ll know why you’re doing it. And you will be more likely to follow through.” -John Maxwell

Another trap we fall into is constant goal setting. This can actually limit what we’re able to accomplish. We should have a mindset of being focused on growth instead – i.e. keep the focus on the journey and allow yourself to grow past whatever goals you may have set.

Action Plan

  • Make a list of everything you like about personal growth.
  • Start compiling all the reasons why personal growth is important for you.

Additional Resources

Book: Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Also check his popular Ted Talk by the same title.

Screw Motivation, What You Need is Discipline – “The point is to cut the link between feelings and actions, and do it anyway. You get to feel good and buzzed and energetic and eager afterwards.”

Video: Forget a Big Change, Start with a Tiny Habit by BJ Fogg

Passion vs. Self-Discipline by Steve Pavlina – “Using passion as your only fuel will no more assure you of success than being in love will ensure a successful long-term relationship.”

4 Personal Development Goals You Should Be Setting – “Determine what “crushing it” means to you.”

Book: Take The Stairs by Rory Vaden

Why You Need to Stop Setting Goals – “Not only had I failed to reach any of the goals (36 months later), despite working exceedingly hard, but I realized why I had failed: The words in fancy lettering were nothing but a best-case scenario, a dream. Let it be said that while dreams are important, they are not actionable.”

Law 6. The Law of Environment: Growth Thrives in Conducive Surroundings

The key litmus test for knowing if you’re in the right environment is this: Are you looking forward to what you’re doing, or back at what you’ve done? If you’re looking back, you are probably not growing, and it might be time to make a change.

Changing your environment will give you a fresh start, but it goes hand in hand with changing yourself. If you only change the environment, your growth process will still be slow.

Changing your environment also means who you spend time with.

“You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” -Charles “Tremendous” Jones

A growth environment is putting yourself where others are ahead of you. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

Action Plan

  • Assess your current environment. Are you challenged? Looking ahead? Out of your comfort zone?
  • Who is in your inner circle (friends, family, co-workers, mentors, etc) – anyone you spend time with. Who on that list is further ahead than you? If your circle isn’t pushing you forward, find people who will and build relationships with them.

Additional Resources

Auren Hoffman on Accelerating Personal Growth – “Find a company where at least 30% of the people are smarter than you You will grow the most through the people who surround you, so make sure those people are really impressive. Because people tend to hire those they know, many of these people will likely be your colleagues for the next 30 years. So pick your colleagues wisely.”

Law 7. The Law of Design: To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies

The focus of design should be on your life in general, not your career. If you plan your life well, the career will work out. But if you focus on only your career, it will limit you.

Your growth process should be systematic. You should be reading a certain amount every month, and have a way of processing the material you read. Your car should be a university. Make listening to podcasts or audiobooks your habit while commuting. This creates a consistent and systematic way for you to accelerate your growth.

“[S]ystems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably. However, without a system, even extraordinary people find it difficult to predictably achieve even ordinary results.” Michael Gerber, The E-Myth

Maxwell calls a system a process for predictably achieving a goal based on specific, orderly, repeatable principles and practices. They are intentional, practical, and leverage your time, money, and abilities.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.

For your system to be effective, it must take the big picture into account. For example, simply reading books isn’t necessarily the most productive way to grow. The books you read need to have a focus and target the areas essential to your success.

Systems also include prioritizing time. There will always be a million things you can or should do, but growth requires critically assessing what is the most productive use of your time at a particular moment. An example of this is knowing what time you have blocked out for family. It wouldn’t be a great idea, for example, to be reading this post while out on your weekly date night with the spouse. Be intentional about your time and set your priorities.

Focus on action. Sometimes if we don’t reach a particular goal, we change the goal. Instead, we should be paying attention to our action steps. Action provides traction.

Action Plan

  • What areas of your life receive the most strategic planning time from you? Is the time spent on those congruent with how important you say they are? For example, if family is your top priority – how much time is blocked out on your calendar for family time, and how strategically do you map out time with your family?
  • Brainstorm ways to develop systems to help you grow more efficiently.

Additional Resources

Using Design Thinking to Embed Learning in Our Jobs – “In today’s always-on, distracting work environment, people simply don’t take the time to learn unless it feels relevant and it’s embedded in the work. And when there are thousands of videos and other types of content available online, we need an experience map to help people find and apply just what they need.”

Book: Work the System by Sam Carpenter

Book: The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

Law 8. The Law of Pain: Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth

How you respond to bad experiences can shape who you are. Do you succumb to bad moments and give in to weakness? Or persevere through and come out stronger?

Everyone has bad days, and no one likes them. There is a way to manage them though.

Change the lens by which you look at difficulty. No matter how hard things are, there is always more to be grateful for. The more grateful you are, the easier it is to get through tougher times. Also focus on the story you’ll tell when the situation subsides. What role did you play, and how do you look at the end? Play the part of the story you want to tell when it’s all over.

Success comes from playing a poor hand well. A positive life stance creates a person’s overall frame of reference – the set of attitudes, assumptions, and expectations people have about themselves, others, and their world.

A positive life stance doesn’t mean the bad goes away, but it means both the good and the bad become better.

Use the emotion from difficulty as a catalyst to make changes in your life.

“Not every thing that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

Every difficulty has a silver lining. Instead of giving in to your circumstances, take responsibility for your actions. Look for the silver lining and pursue it.

Action Plan

  • Assess your previous bad experiences. Take a few and write them down along with what you learned from them. Then evaluate whether you decided to make changes based on what you learned and rate yourself on how well you did implementing those changes.

Additional Resources

Podcast: Tony Robbins on Achievement vs. Fulfillment

Book: Today We Are Rich by Tim Sanders

How I Silenced My Self-Doubt Through Humor – “My answer is simple: It’s the way we look at life. A comedian views life and all of its obstacles, tragedies, mistakes and embarrassing moments from an absurd or humorous perspective. I go on to explain that in doing so, we are not negating the seriousness of the subject matter, but rather looking at it from a different perspective—the humor perspective”

Law 9. The Law of the Ladder: Character Growth Determines the Height of Your Personal Growth

Developing your professional capacity without developing your character will always cost you in the end.

People often fall short when they don’t follow through, don’t study as much as they should have, or fail to grow because they spend time in other pursuits. Those failures are often blamed on capacity, but they are actually character issues.

Character is a ladder you keep climbing to get higher. Competency is what you can do as a leader, and character is who you are as a leader.

How we think manifests itself in action. Our character on the inside directly affects our reputation on the outside. This is one of the reasons visualization is important. It is not just visualizing success, but also your own self-image, attitude, and spiritual health.

“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.” -John Maxwell

Growth happens when our inside and outside are properly aligned.

“When we fail to make the right character choices within us, we give away ownership of ourselves.” -John Maxwell

The easiest way to build character is to constantly focus on the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. This develops empathy, and a habit of taking the high road. It also creates a mindset of gratitude, because you constantly become more appreciative of others.

Action Plan

  • Find ways to volunteer and serve others without getting anything in return.
  • Is there a relationship where practicing the golden rule could transform it? Apply it and see.

Additional Resources

Book: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

Book: The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale

Book: The Smartest Guys in The Room (Enron), also a movie.

Law 10. The Law of the Rubber  Band: Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be

If you place a rubber band on a table, it is useless. To have any kind of value, it has to be stretched. That’s when it holds things together.

Maxwell says most people use only a small fraction of their ability and rarely strive to reach their potential.

“I don’t know if people are aware of the gap between where they are and where they could be, but relatively few seem to be reading books to try to close it.” -John Maxwell

The status quo is usually comfortable – and most of us choose comfort over potential. Think of all the things we want to do, or know we could do – lose weight, get finances in order, learn another language, and so on. All of those require stretching and discomfort.

“Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice.” -Jim Rohn

As mediocrity spreads, excellence moves further and further away from the norm.

Taking the risks to stretch yourself leads to learning things faster than those who don’t. It gives you a broader range of experiences. You bump into obstacles sooner (i.e. find where the holes are), and learn how to get around those obstacles.

Action Plan

  • Where are you falling short of your potential? What goals haven’t you hit that you know you’re capable of?
  • Where have you enjoyed past success – and stopped improving?
  • Ask people close to you, or a mentor, what they think you’re capable of achieving.

Additional Resources

Book: StrengthsFinder 2.0

If You’re Not Outside Your Comfort Zone You Won’t Learn Anything – “And when you didn’t confront that coworker who had been undermining you, was it really because you felt he would eventually stop, or was it because you were terrified of conflict? Take an inventory of the excuses you tend to make about avoiding situations outside your comfort zone and ask yourself if they are truly legitimate.”

5 Ways Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone Made Me A Better Person – “Each experience outside your comfort zone builds upon the other1. And although you might not know where the journey into unfamiliar territory will take you, know that previously shut doors will start to open.”

Law 11. The Law of Trade-Offs: You Have to Give Up to Grow Up

Will you go through changes, or grow through changes? The value of trade-offs is not to endure them, it is to become better because of them.

“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.” -Denis Waitley

When you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done to get it. Otherwise you keep getting the same results. The difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to make in our lives.

The higher you climb, the tougher the trade-offs get.

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. … Many people are tempted to use their success as permission to discontinue their growth.” -John Maxwell

Fear of failure often holds us back from making trade-offs, and we are left with a list of things we could’ve or should’ve done.

It is also important to identify where you will not make trade-offs. Maxwell mentions how his wife has veto power over his schedule.

On the flip side, there are many trade-offs that are worth making. For example, giving up immediate gratification for personal growth, or giving up security for significance.

The more successful you become, the tougher the trade-offs get. Most people stop growing when they stop making trade-offs. It is only through the wise exchange of trade-offs that you can reach your potential.

Action Plan

  • What are you willing to trade-off? For example, financial security today for potential tomorrow, or immediate gratification for personal growth. What are your principles?
  • What are you not willing to trade-off?

Additional Resources

Life is a Series of Trade-Offs – “You can’t have it all. You can’t have all the advantages of the single life and be married. You can’t have all the advantages of having children and have lots of time for yourself or your career. You can’t take a lot of risks and enjoy a sense of safety. You can’t have a busy weekend and get lots of rest. You can’t be a leader and be free of responsibility. You can’t speak up and remain anonymous. There are just some things that don’t go together. Life is a series of trade-offs.”

Law 12. The Law of Curiosity: Growth is Stimulated by Asking Why?

Growth is driven by wanting to learn more, and curiosity is the primary catalyst for that. It is simply a state where you want to learn more. It is a thirst for knowledge, people, ideas, experiences, and events.

To cultivate curiosity develop a beginner’s mindset.

“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and as a few questions.” -Peter Drucker

Adopt the mind of a child. Constantly ask questions and seek to understand. When you find that someone answers questions more than they ask, it is a sign that their growth process has slowed.

Get in the habit of asking ‘why’ a lot. Pick the brains of people you meet. These questions help you find solutions to keep moving forward and make progress.

Part of your daily routine should be learning something new.

What holds most people back is the self-limiting belief that they can’t change or grow. And for others, it is simply uncomfortable.

“If we never tried anything that might make us look ridiculous, we’d still be in caves.” -Roger von Oech

Action Plan

  • What areas do you see yourself as an expert in? Find a way to apply a beginner’s mindset to that area to explore growth opportunities.
  • Take a learning risk. Sign up for something completely out of your comfort zone or expertise like an improv class or calligraphy class.

Additional Resources

HBR Assessment: What’s Your Curiosity Profile?

3 Most Important Skills That Helped Me Grow My Business (Ramit Sethi) – “When you see a kid playing at a park, they’re not sitting there looking at the slide, thinking, ‘I have a lot of internal fears about this slide. If I go down it, I’m going to look stupid and feel like an imposter.'”

Law 13. The Law of Modeling: It’s Hard to Improve When  You Have No One but Yourself to Follow

To be who you desire to be, find those further ahead of you in the journey.

Finding a mentor becomes this huge mental block for a lot of people. It raises a million questions. Make it easy on yourself, especially when starting out.

“Most people who decide to grow personally find their first mentors in the pages of books.” -John Maxwell

When looking for a mentor, find someone who is not just ahead of you professionally, but someone who also embodies good character and integrity. Also, you don’t need to find the ‘best’ mentor, just someone further ahead than you. For example, if you want to learn how to throw a football, a local coach can help you out – you don’t need to wait to meet Peyton Manning before getting started.

Make sure to look for people who also care for you and have a track record of making a difference in people’s lives.

Action Plan

  • Find a ‘next-step’ mentor. Get someone a couple of steps ahead of you, and set up a meeting.
  • Prepare for the meeting ahead of time with questions intended to provoke insights
  • Find people in  your circle who can mentor in different facets of life beyond careers – family life, parenting, spirituality, and so on.

Additional Resources

How to Use Natural Networking To Connect With People (Ramit Sethi) – “The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s far more powerful to spend a week trying to meet with one person than a week trying to go to random networking events. In this case, “less is more” is true — it’s far more effective to focus and meet interesting, relevant people than to blindly throw your business cards into the wind. I don’t even think I have business cards any more.”

Book: Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim – “Think about the current mentors in your life. Did you like and trust them immediately? Or did your relationship grow with time and work and mutual support? Sometimes in your desire to learn as much as you can from people you admire, you ask them for specific support and guidance without having any consideration for their time . A favorite is “You are an expert in my field, would you mind reviewing my twenty-page business plan?” Alternative: Respect your own time and that of busy people. Mentors grow naturally, they are not manufactured.”

Law 14. The Law of Expansion: Growth Always Increases Your Capacity

More work doesn’t necessarily increase your capacity. It could just keep spinning the wheel without you going anywhere.

Growth always increases our capacity – and there is no finish line.

Work with a growth mindset. One way of doing this is start doing those things you ‘could’ or ‘should’ do. Start finding ways to go beyond what is expected in your work. Ask ‘how can I?’ instead of ‘can I?’

Do important things daily. Many of the important things are not urgent, and hence do not get done daily. If you can master these tasks, your growth will accelerate.

Action Plan

  • Answer the following: If you knew you would not fail, what would you attempt? If you had no limitations, what would you do?
  • Assess your calendar for the past month, audit where you’ve spent your time and grade yourself on how effective of a use of your time that was.

Additional Resources

Book: The Startup Of You

Law 15. The Law of Contribution: Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others

Look at the world from the perspective of how many people you can help or what impact you can make. Seth Godin calls this ‘making a dent in the universe.’

Be a river, not a reservoir. Maxwell writes,

Most people who do make personal growth a 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.

Giving your time, expertise, and resources without expecting anything back is not only unselfish, but it requires an abundance mindset. This is what is needed to do your part to make the world a better place.

It also requires gratitude. People who are not grateful are not givers.

This holds true in relationships as well. Politics start when people keep score. Be the person who always gives more than you receive.

Have a seed-planting mentality. Focus on reaping, not sowing. Sowing puts you in a mindset of short term thinking that prevents true growth.

Action Plan

  • Answer the following questions: Is your underlying desire in life self-fulfillment or self-development? Is your goal to be successful or achieve significance? Are you trying to achieve to feel happy or putting yourself in a position to help others win?
  • Make an effort to give more in your relationships
  • What seeds can you plant that might not harvest until after your lifetime?

Additional Resources

Book: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, also see the video by the same title.

Book: How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen


Make sure to also check out the Deep Dive Summary on the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team for better teamwork. And CONTACT US to host training for your organization. 


Also published on Medium.

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  1. Pingback: 3 Lessons from How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen | Usman Consulting Group

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