Over the next few months we will be discussing the 15 laws of growth from John Maxwells book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. We will discuss one law per week and sum it up at the end with a complete call to action.
Achievement to most people is something you do…to the high achiever, it is something you are. – Doug Firebaugh
A ladder is only as good as the foundation it sits on. You can have the tallest ladder with the sturdiest steps, but put it on a bad foundation and you aren’t going anywhere. According to Maxwell, character is the foundation for our growth ladder. You can have the best career, the best family and the most money, but without a solid character it is bound to come crashing down. This is Maxwells ninth law of growth, the law of the ladder.
Like most areas of growth, character requires intentional effort to grow. While we may naturally be stronger in some character areas than others, without consistent intentional growth, our character is bound to suffer. And if our character suffers, the rest of our growth is meaningless.
Maxwell gives five keys to growing and maintaining a solid character:
1. Focus on being better on the inside than the outside- Character Matters
It is human nature to worry about what we look on the outside. We all want to look our best in the eyes of other people and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, your outward appearance will significantly impact your life in several areas.
Maxwell says that the problem comes when we worry more about our outside appearance than our inside character. He says that our inside victories- our character development- should precede our outside victories.
To see this principle at work, take a look at some of the successful, movie stars, actors and athletes whose lives fell apart despite tremendous outward success. The stories of people making millions of dollars at a young age and then losing it all and more are endless.
By working on your inside before worrying about your outside, you will be much more prepared to handle the success that comes your way.
2. Follow the gold rule- People Matter
Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. – John Maxwell
The Golden Rule has been taught for centuries. Treat people how you want to be treated. As you climb the ladder of growth and success, continue to treat those at lower levels the same way you wanted to be treated at that level.
The way you treat others will be one of the most important pieces of your character foundation.
3. Teach only what you believe- Passion Matters
Did you ever have parents or teachers or coaches who would tell you to do (or not do) one thing, and then do the complete opposite themselves? These people often justify this hypocrisy by telling you to do as they say, not as they do.
Maxwell says if you want to develop the best character possible, you should only preach what you are willing to back up in your own actions. Nothing teaches or leads better than passion, and you can’t be passionate about something you don’t even do yourself.
Don’t be a hypocrite. If you are telling other people to do something, follow your own advice.
4. Value Humility above all virtues- Perspective Matters
Oh God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.
Humility allows us to give others credit for our success. It keeps us growing. It allows us to lead people who want to get where we are. Maxwell says that to remain humble, we should keep the following characteristics:
- Be Teachable- Seek opportunities to learn from everyone
- Be Willing to Serve Others- Few things are better for cultivating character and developing humility than serving other people.
- Be Grateful- You are indebted to God and others for your successes in life.
Only by keeping our humility will we maximize our growth.
5. Strive to finish well- Faithfulness Matters
The biggest mistake you can make in your growth is to quit intentionally growing. Some people reach a certain level of success and think they have grown as much as they need to. The truth is you should never stop growing. This is especially true when it comes to character. Developing a single character flaw could cause your entire ladder to come crumbling down.
Strive to finish well in all areas of your growth, especially your character growth.
The Stronger Your Character, the Greater Your Growth
If we strive to grow and reach our potential, we must pay more attention to our character than our successes. – John Maxwell
Every decision you make has an impact on your character. The more of the right decisions you make, the stronger your character and the greater your growth. By focusing more on our character than our successes, we can achieve the greatest possible growth in all areas of our life.