This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s personal development resource, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost leadership and personal growth experts for more than 40 years, and this guidebook for achieving success and significance contains invaluable insights. You can pick up a copy here.
Have you maxed out your capacity? Have you reached your full potential as a person? I believe that if you are reading this, the answer is no. If you’re still breathing and you are of sound mind, then you have the potential to keep increasing your capacity for personal growth. In their book If It Ain’t Broke… Break It!, authors Robert J. Kriegel and Louis Patler write,
We don’t have a clue as to what people’s limits are. All the tests, stopwatches, and finish lines in the world can’t measure human potential. When someone is pursuing their dream, they’ll go far beyond what seems to be their limitations. The potential that exists within us is limitless and largely untapped… when you think of limits, you create them.
Take Action to Fulfill Personal Growth Potential
How do you push toward your potential and keep increasing your capacity? Externally, you do that by including others and learning how to work with people. But the only way to increase your capacity internally is to change the way you approach personal growth. Learning more information isn’t enough. You must change how you think and you must change your actions. Make these three adjustments to your choices, and you will grow toward your greatest good:
1. STOP DOING ONLY THOSE THINGS YOU HAVE DONE BEFORE AND START DOING THOSE THINGS YOU COULD AND SHOULD DO.
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. Will you continue doing what you have always done, or will you make the leap and try new things? Doing new things leads to innovation and new discoveries, and among those discoveries is the realization of things you should do on a consistent basis. If you do those, you will continue to experience personal growth and expand your potential. If you don’t, you will plateau.
This is an ongoing process. It ebbs and flows. Opportunities come and go. The standards we must set for ourselves are constantly changing. What we could do changes as we develop. What we should do also evolves. We must leave behind some old things to take on new ones. It can be difficult work, but if we are willing, our lives are changed.
2. STOP DOING WHAT IS EXPECTED AND START DOING MORE THAN IS EXPECTED.
We live in a culture that awards trophies to people for simply showing up, regardless of their contribution. Because of that, many people think they are doing well if they just do what is expected of them. But that doesn’t help people reach their personal growth potential or expand their capacity. To do that, a person has to do more.
Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch calls this “getting out of the pile.” To distinguish yourself, get noticed, and advance your career, you need to do and be more. You have to rise above average. You can do this by asking more of yourself than others ask, expecting more from yourself than others expect, believing more in yourself than others believe, doing more than others think you should have to do, giving more than others think you should give, and helping more than others think you should help.
3. STOP DOING IMPORTANT THINGS OCCASIONALLY AND START DOING IMPORTANT THINGS DAILY.
Have you ever heard the expression “Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it that you can”? The words mean well, but it’s not great advice – unless you want a mess. A better thought is to make your life a masterpiece, which requires much thought, a clear idea, and selection when it comes to what paint you put on the canvas. How do you do that? By doing the important things every day. Writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote,
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.
To do what’s not important every day does nothing for you. It merely uses up your time. To do the right thing only occasionally does not lead to consistent personal growth and the expansion of your life. Both components are necessary. Daily growth leads to personal expansion.
Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow compared his personal growth to that of an apple tree. He said, “The purpose of that apple tree is to grow a little new wood each year. That is what I plan to do.” He also expressed a similar thought in one of his poems when he wrote,
Not enjoyment and not sorrow is our destined end always;
But to live that each tomorrow finds us further than today.
If we do what’s important every day, that can be true for us.
What if you had a full day dedicated to your personal growth?
And what if that day featured some amazing speakers… like John C. Maxwell, Atomic Habits author James Clear, Juliet Funt, Ryan Leak, and Ally Love? Well it’s no longer “what if”—it’s actually happening. Go here and explore your options to attend Day to Grow.