Musician Bruce Springsteen once said, “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.” When you look at your life thus far, do you see yourself making progress or going nowhere? In his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential, John C. Maxwell says that in order to become better, we can’t just try harder, we have to try better. Here are his tips for reaching your potential.
1. The Law of Intentionality
You’ve probably heard people say things like “good things come to those who work hard,” but Maxwell asserts hard work doesn’t always lead to success. Instead, he says, it takes intentionality and planning. You have to map out your route to success. It isn’t going to come to you: you have to make time for it, go for it, do it.
2. The Law of Awareness
How well do you know yourself? Maxwell says that without self-awareness, we wander aimlessly through life without any clear direction. This not only hampers your growth but also can leave you feeling lost and frustrated. The solution is to see yourself as someone to get to know. Maxwell says you should ask yourself questions that will help you discover more about yourself such as:
What do I want to do?
Do I like what I’m doing now?
Am I able to do what I want to do?
What is the “why” behind what I want to do?
What steps do I need to take to do what I want to do?
“There is definitely a direct connection between finding your passion and reaching your potential.”John C. Maxwell
3. The Law of the Mirror
Another principle Maxwell talks about in his book is the importance of knowing your own self-worth: “You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself.” (Essentially, if you don’t like what you see in the mirror, you have the power to change it!) If you’re not making much progress these days or you’re demotivated, try listing your accomplishments and strengths, and regularly remind yourself of your self worth. Certainly, you are worth more than what you do, but the way you see yourself directly influences how quickly you grow and reach your full potential.
4. The Law of Reflection
In close conjunction with the law of the mirror is the law of reflection. Maxwell asserts that after we act, we should also spend time in quiet contemplation. Self-evaluation can be an incredibly effective way to grow as a person, because it forces you to take a good look at who you are and what you value. If, during your reflection time, you realize that your actions and values aren’t lining up, you can use your reflection as a launching point for actionable change.
5. The Law of Consistency
The fifth law that Maxwell discusses in his book is the law of consistency, which says that there is power in the daily habits we form. Do you have big goals for your business but have no clear or defined path for getting there? Try starting small. Set manageable, bite-size goals that you can complete today that will contribute towards that larger goal. Reaching your goals may take longer than you would like, but show up each day and do the little things well, getting you one step closer to reaching your full potential.
6. The Law of Environment
A toxic environment is not conducive to growth. Just like you wouldn’t try to grow flowers in a rocky flower bed, so too you shouldn’t expect yourself to grow in an environment that doesn’t foster growth. If the content you’re consuming or the people you’re surrounding yourself with aren’t supportive, challenging, and hard-working themselves, you certainly can’t expect yourself to be those things.
7. The Law of Design
“There’s no substitute for being strategic,” Maxwell says. “To maximize growth, you must develop strategies.” Reaching your full potential requires much more strategizing than you may think. We can’t stumble upon success, we have to evaluate our lives and what we’re putting our time and energy into and determine which things are contributing to our growth and which ones aren’t. If you want to grow, be sure to set aside time for strategic planning.
8. The Law of Pain
No one likes to fail or experience rejection. But Maxwell says that even though pain has the potential to derail us, it is also a powerful motivator: “Pain can stop us dead in our tracks. Or it can cause us to make decisions we would like to put off, deal with issues we would rather not face, and make changes that make us feel uncomfortable. Pain prompts us to face who we are and where we are. What we do with that experience defines who we become.”
9. The Law of the Ladder
Maxwell’s ninth law stresses the importance of character, mentorship, and thinking like successful people think. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in: character goes a long way! Growing as a person in areas like honesty, dependability, and respect leads to other growth. So find people with similar purpose to you, ask questions, make connections, meet together on a regular basis for accountability. Write down who you want to be and what you want to be known for and then seek out people that help you become those things!
10. The Law of the Rubber Band
Maxwell says, “Rubber bands are useful only when they are stretched! That can also be said of us.” Just like rubber bands, life stretches us. And every time we are stretched, we are presented with opportunities to grow. Of course, being stretched can be painful at times, but if we want to grow we have to press into these circumstances and see them as growth.
11. The Law of Trade-Offs
The law of trade-offs says that in order to get where you want to go, you might have to give something valuable up. Unfortunately, a good number of people are too short-sighted to see that delayed gratification or giving up something now could lead to bigger things down the road.
12. The Law of Curiosity
Curiosity leads to growth, Maxwell says. Why? Because curious people are never finished learning! They consult others, they study, they research, they ask questions. They are always ready to learn something new. Every time you glean wisdom from others, you set yourself up for growth.
13. The Law of Modeling
How many voices do you have in your head? Hopefully not just your own! Maxwell says there is much value in having a mentor or leader to follow. We were not made to live in a vacuum. We were made for community, and we can learn a lot from others who are more experienced, older, and wiser than we are. Be quick to listen and take advice from others who know more than you do.
14. The Law of Expansion
Maxwell says, “The only way to increase your capacity internally is to change the way you approach personal growth. Learning more information isn’t enough. You must change how you think and you must change your actions.” Changing your mentality and forming habits can be daunting. But, bit by bit, you can gradually grow yourself as a person by expanding your mind and heart. Small changes can lead to big progress.
15. The Law of Contribution
Last but not least, Maxwell’s law of contribution says that one of the most rewarding aspects of reaching your potential is being able to pass on what you learned to others. How amazing to think that the experiences you’ve had might be able to impact others!