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.
I have one life and one chance to make it count for something…My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference. – Jimmy Carter
For most of us, the journey of self improvement begins for selfish reasons; you want to find a better job, make more money, start or grow your business, etc. This was certainly the case for me. There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow for your own personal reasons. We should all aspire to be the best we can be in all phases of life.
But according to Maxwells 15th law of growth, the law of contribution, our “selfish” desire to grow eventually turns into an opportunity to help others. Our growth can be used to lift those around us, to teach them what we have learned on our journey and to inspire them to take the same growth journey we took. Not to mention the skills and experience we obtained along the way can be used to help others in countless ways.
Be a River, Not a Reservoir
If we use our growth only to help ourselves and increase our own lot in life, we are like reservoirs. We continually take in water, but only to fill ourselves up. In order to get even more out of our growth, Maxwell says we must strive to be like rivers instead, giving away whatever water we receive.
Maxwell offers seven suggestions to make sure our growth is like a river and not reservoir:
1. Be Grateful
People who aren’t grateful aren’t givers. The are far more concerned with who can help them than who they can help. Maxwell says their selfishness keeps them from sowing and their ingratitude makes them wonder why they don’t reap a harvest.
In order to be like rivers and reach the highest possible level of growth, we must constantly be grateful for what we have. Countless people have helped you get to where you are. Be willing to do the same for others.
2. Put People First
You can get everything in life you want if you help enough people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar
All the stuff you accumulate in life will die with you. But what continues to live on long after you are gone is other people. By helping other people, you ensure that your wisdom, experience and knowledge will continue to be passed down, helping countless people, long after you are gone.
3. Don’t Let Stuff Own You
People can be divided into three groups; haves, have-nots, and have not paid for what they have. – Earle Wilson
We live in a culture obsessed with accumulating material things. So much so that we purchase them with money we haven’t even made yet. This makes us slaves to our stuff and reduces our ability to help others.
Maxwell says contributors take the stuff they own and use it as an asset to make this world a better place to live, regardless of how much or how little they have.
4. Don’t Let People Own You
Is there someone in your life who is constantly helping you financially? Someone who picks up the tab every time you go out and helps you live a lifestyle you couldn’t otherwise live? It could be a parent, a boss, a co-worker or anyone else in your life.
The minute you let someone else finance your life, you let them own you. You constantly owe them one (or twenty). Maxwell says we cannot make an impact on other people if someone else owns us.
5. Define Success as Sowing, Not Reaping
I consider the success of my day based on the seeds I sow, not the harvest I reap. – Robert Louis Stevenson
The idea of sowing before you reap is tough for most of us. We don’t want to wait weeks, months or years to reap the benefits of what we sow. But this is exactly what is required to maximize our growth and our contributions to society.
Sowing solely for quick returns doesn’t do anyone any good. Be willing to focus more on sowing than proper seeds than worrying about reaping quick benefits.
6. Focus on Self-Development, Not Self-Fulfillment
Self-fulfillment is thinking of how something will serve you. Self-development is thinking of how something will serve others. With self-fulfillment, feeling good is the product. With self-development, feeling good is the by-product.
We need to switch our motives from doing what will make us feel the best and offers us the most rewards, to doing what we are talented and uniquely fit to do. Fulfillment depends on circumstances out of our control, but development can be done under any circumstances.
7. Keep Growing to Keep Giving
There are many reason people stop growing; they feel complacent, they are ignorant to the idea of growth, they try to minimize cost and effort. But regardless of what the reasons are, when we stop growing, we stop giving.
By continuously growing, we fuel our passion and our ability to help other people. Constant growth equals constant giving. If you aren’t willing to grow for your own sake, do it for what you can offer the world through your growth.
It’s Not About You
This entire series on Maxwells 15 Laws of Growth is about how we can better ourselves in every area of our life. But the ironic part is that through all this growth that betters your own life, you drastically multiply your ability to help others.
Start your journey of personal growth for your own sake, but by constantly looking for ways we can help others in their journey, our growth can increase exponentially.