This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John C. Maxwell’s bestselling personal growth guidebook, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. If you’re on a journey of personal development and seeking practical action steps toward achieving new heights of potential, you can pick up a copy here.
As of today, would you say your life has been built by chance, or by choice?
Many people just let their lives play out. They relegate strategic thinking to their major decisions. They think hard on things like where to live, but in the busyness of the day-to-day, they do not see why they are living. They might see time as a resource at work, or in their errands, but not in their lives – not in their own personal growth.
They live their lives with little intention.
Maybe you have something you’ve wanted for a long time – something you’ve wanted to be, do, or have, that would take you outside of the familiar and comfortable – something that would require you to grow.
In The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell states that growth demands strategy: “There’s no substitute for being strategic. To maximize growth, you must develop strategies. That’s the Law of Design.” And one of the most effective strategic tools you can use to leverage your time is a system.
Creating Strategic Systems for Successful Personal Growth Outcomes
What is a system? John Maxwell says, “It’s a process for predictably achieving a goal based on specific, orderly, repeatable principles and practices.”
A system empowers you to use what’s at your disposal to its greatest impact, including your time. And it is built, executed, and improved with intention. A system requires you to take a strategic approach to your time, money, and talents. It reminds you that you are the one solely responsible for creating your life, motivating you to pursue your goal even further.
Good systems work across the board, but the most efficient processes are personally tailored to you. As you create systems to support your success, consider these crucial qualities.
1. EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS TAKE THE BIG PICTURE INTO ACCOUNT.
Steven Covey said, “We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.”
Systems are not in place to fill your time and spend your resources; they are in place to leverage your time and resources. Processes only fulfill their purpose if they act in support of the person you want to become.
What practices point you in the direction of the growth you want to achieve? They should show up in the system you put in place for your personal growth.
2. EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS MAKE USE OF PRIORITIES.
There are two kinds of growth: linear and exponential. Linear growth adds by a steady amount – one by one, two by two. Exponential growth expands explosively, multiplying and making more out of what you’ve put in.
An efficient system seeks to position you for exponential growth by prioritizing. When are you at your most focused throughout the day? Your most engaged? Your most creative? Save that time for your growth activities.
3. EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS INCLUDE MEASUREMENT.
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
With these words, former IBM executive H. James Harrington succinctly summarizes why effective systems keep track of outcomes. Systems are in place with intention. If we don’t measure our results, we have no way of knowing if processes are supporting that intention. We can’t know if we need to be changing course. Measurement not only tells us if we need to improve, but it encourages the personal growth process by letting us know when we have improved. When we see a track record of better outcomes, we move with that momentum and lean even more into growth.
4. EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS INCLUDE APPLICATION.
Systems offer growth-minded people a way to craft their lives. Processes help those who want to grow direct, organize, and prioritize their way to success.
But they only work if they are action-oriented. Systems don’t work if you do nothing with them. Nothing does anything if you don’t use it.
What does your system have you doing daily? What action steps does it apply to your schedule? What looks different about your to-do list today because of the system you’ve put in place to grow yourself?
As you seek out personal growth, these three questions will help you act on what you’re learning:
- Where can I use this?
- When can I use this?
- Who needs to know this?
5. EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS EMPLOY ORGANIZATION.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that “organize” is a synonym for “systematize.”
Growth requires intention, and intention requires organization. When you know your purpose and priorities and you have ordered your day, week, or year according to them, you have a clarity of thought that strengthens everything you do. You develop an efficiency that helps you to follow through on everything you do. There are few things like it. Make sure your systems make you as organized as you can possibly be.
6. EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS PROMOTE CONSISTENCY.
Spending time with your family every day makes you closer with your family. Watching a television program every day makes you more knowledgable about that program. Making healthy choices every day makes you a healthier person over time.
What you do consistently shapes your life – what you do occasionally shapes nothing, unless it prompts something else that you do consistently.
Put systems in place that are sustainable. Often, we have noble aspirations, but they are never realized because we put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve everything at once. Only what’s consistently doable will give you results.
Here’s one practical step toward growth that you can take today…
If you’re looking to direct your personal growth journey, here’s a tip: the Maxwell Leadership app is free to download and contains hours of guided personal growth and development content to support any goal you’re growing toward.