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.
People will cling to an unsatisfactory way of life rather than change in order to get something better for fear of getting something worse. – Eric Hoffer
What if, for a chance at greatness, you had to give up many of the good things you had already gotten in your life? Things like a good job, financial security or your current living arrangements? Are you content with a merely good life, or are you willing to risk some of that in order to have a chance at a great life? This is John Maxwells 11th law of growth, the Law of Trade-Offs.
Early on, Maxwell says, the idea of trade-offs is easy. You don’t have much accumulated, so you are much more willing to risk what you do have to achieve more. But what happens when you start to accumulate some pretty good things in life? That’s when this law becomes difficult, and also when it is most important. In order to achieve greatness, we must be willing to trade in the good we already have.
In order to grow and reach our potential, Maxwell says there are five trade-offs we must be willing to make along the way:
1. Trading Financial Security Today for Potential Tomorrow
Maxwell says one of the most important, and also most difficult, trade-offs we must be willing to make is trading financial security now for potential tomorrow. Maybe this comes in the form of quitting a high paying job to start your own business or work from the ground up in a new, more promising career. Maybe it comes in investing a significant portion of your life savings to get your own business up and running. But in order to grow and get where we want to be, there will almost certainly come a time where we have to take a significant financial risk.
I believe this is especially true when it comes to entrepreneurs. We don’t have the “security” of someone else giving us a steady paycheck. Sometimes we have to go without weekly income or even invest some of our savings. But if you believe in your ideas and your business, the financial security you are trading today comes with far more potential tomorrow.
2. Trading Immediate Gratification for Personal Growth
The older I get and the more successful people I talk to, the more I’m convinced that being able to delay instant gratification in order to reap greater rewards later is the number one key to success.
Whether it is passing on desert to keep our future selves in better shape, putting money we could spend now into an IRA to help our future selves retire or quitting a good paying job now for a career that has much more potential down the road, the ability to turn down instant gratification is integral to our success.
As entrepreneurs, we will have to go through many short term pains in order to achieve long term gains. If we can learn to trade instant gratification for personal growth our chances for success will rise significantly.
3. Trading the Fast Life for the Good Life
The title of this one is a little confusing. But what Maxwell means by this is trading the material things that our society values for the things you truly value in life.
John uses the book Repacking Your Bags by Richard J Leider and David A Shapiro as what this really means. The book says the formula for a “good life” is “Living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work, on purpose”.
Maxwell also offers five tips for achieving this:
- Delegate so you’re working smarter, not harder.
- Do what you do best, and drop the rest.
- Get control of your calendar, otherwise other people will.
- Do what you love because it will give you energy.
- Work with people you like so your energy isn’t depleted.
If you can do those things while doing the right work with purpose in the right place with people you love, Maxwell says you will be living the good life instead of the fast life.
4. Trading Security for Significance
Security is fairly easy to achieve. It is average. It has having enough to get by. But Maxwell says that in order to grow and reach our potential, we must be willing to trade security for significance.
For entrepreneurs, this one is automatic. You are trading the safety and security of a job with the uncertainty of being an entrepreneur. In exchange for taking this “risk”, you are rewarded for the opportunity of significance. Significance may just come in the form of the impact you have on your family. Or it may be large enough to have an impact on the world. But in order to achieve any level of significance we have to be willing to trade in security.
5. Trading Addition for Multiplication
This one can be summed up like this: Addition is asking “what can I do for others”, multiplication is asking “what can I do with others”.
Most businesses are started with the idea of helping others in some way. It’s why your customers pay you, usually to solve some sort of problem for them. And asking how you can help others is a great question. But Maxwell says this is simple addition. Each person can only help so many other people. On your own, your scope is limited. In order to grow and help as many people as possible, we need to start looking at how we can work with others. How we can train them to help more people.
By thinking in multiplication instead of addition, you will significantly increase the reach of your business and grow along the way.
The Good is the Enemy of the Great
If you are reading this life, you are probably living a pretty good life. But when it comes to personal growth, the good is the enemy of the great. If you aren’t willing to trade-off some of these things in your life, you will never reach your full potential.
The Law of Trade-Off’s is not an easy one to follow. Giving up things that make us comfortable is difficult. But without it we will never reach our potential.