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.
When we are children, our bodies grow automatically. A year goes by, and we become taller, stronger, more capable of doing new things and facing new challenges. I think many people carry into adulthood a subconscious belief that mental, spiritual, and emotional growth follows a similar pattern. Time goes by, and we simply get better. We’re like Charlie Brown in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip, who once said, “I think I’ve discovered the secret of life—you just hang around until you get used to it.” The problem is that we don’t improve by simply living. We have to be intentional about it.
Musician Bruce Springsteen commented, “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.” 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. As Michel de Montaigne observed, “No wind favors him who has no destined port.” If you want your life to improve, you must improve yourself. You must make that a tangible target.
Maximize Personal Growth by Becoming Intentional
The sooner you make the transition to becoming intentional about your personal growth, the better it will be for you, because growth compounds and accelerates if you remain intentional about it. Here’s how to make the change:
1. ASK THE BIG QUESTION NOW.
“How long will this take?”
This is the question so many ask that keeps them from getting started. But the question you should be asking yourself right now is, “How far can I go?” – not that you will be able to answer it. No one at any point in their personal development knows just how much potential they have. But the question will help you set the direction, not the distance.
Where do you want to go in life?
What direction do you want to go?
What’s the farthest you can imagine going?
Answering those questions will get you started on the personal growth journey. The best you can hope to do in life is to make the most out of whatever you’ve been given. You do that by investing in yourself, making yourself the best you can be. The more you’ve got to work with, the greater your potential—and the farther you should try to go. Give growing your best so you can become your best.
2. DO IT NOW.
The greatest danger you face in this moment is the idea that you will make intentional growth a priority later. Don’t fall into that trap! As Jennifer Reed put it in one Success magazine article,
Can there be a more insidious word? Later, as in “I’ll do it later.” Or, “Later, I’ll have time to write that book that’s been on my mind for the past five years.” Or, “I know I need to straighten out my finances… I’ll do it later.” “Later” is one of those dream-killers, one of the countless obstacles we put up to derail our chances of success. The diet that starts “tomorrow, ” the job hunt that happens “eventually, ” the pursuit of the life dream that begins “someday” combine with other self-imposed roadblocks and lock us on autopilot. Why do we do this to ourselves, anyway? Why don’t we take action now? Let’s face it: The familiar is easy; the uncharted path is lined with uncertainties.
By taking a moment to read this blog post, you’ve already begun the process. Don’t stop there! Keep taking more steps. Pick a resource that will help you grow and begin learning from it today.
3. FACE THE FEAR FACTOR.
There are five fears that keep people from being successful:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of trading security for the unknown
- Fear of being overextended financially
- Fear of what others will say or think
- Fear that success will alienate peers
Which one do you struggle with the most?
Regardless of which of these fears you see in yourself, we’re all afraid of something. But here’s the good news. We also all have faith. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Which emotion will I allow to be stronger?” Your answer is important, because the stronger emotion wins. I want to encourage you to feed your faith and starve your fear.
4. CHANGE FROM ACCIDENTAL TO INTENTIONAL GROWTH.
People tend to get into ruts in life. They get in an easy groove, and they don’t try to break out if it—even when it’s taking them in the wrong direction. After a while, they just get by. If they learn something, it’s because of a happy accident. Don’t let that happen to you! If that is the attitude you’ve developed, then you would do well to remember that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the length!
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
If you want to reach your potential and become the person you were created to be, you must do much more than just experience life and hope that you learn what you need along the way. You must go out of your way to seize growth opportunities as if your future depended on it. Why? Because it does. Growth doesn’t just happen—not for me, not for you, not for anybody. You have to go after it!
If you REALLY want to seize the opportunities for growth…
Then you will want to join us for one day in August in Orlando for Day to Grow! This is your chance! Day to Grow will feature major speakers like John C. Maxwell, Ally Love, James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) Juliet Funt, and Ryan Leak. Want to know more? Click here for the full event information.