#15: The Law of Contribution
Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others
"I would rather have it said 'he lived usefully' than 'he died rich.'" -- Benjamin Franklin
Over the last 14 weeks, we have covered every chapter of John Maxwell's book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, except the last. We've covered a lot of ground:
You must be intentional because growth doesn't happen by accident.
You must know yourself to grow yourself.
You must see value in yourself if you want to grow.
You must reflect in order to grow.
You can't rely on motivation to grow but must add discipline.
You have to cultivate the right environment for growth.
You must develop strategies to maximize growth.
You must grow through the hardships of life.
Your character determines how high you will grow.
You must stretch yourself to keep the tension between where you are and where you want to be.
You have to trade some things today to get something better tomorrow.
You have to be curious if you want to keep growing.
Your growth is accelerated by learning from good mentors.
Your growth continuously expands your capacity.
And as this book comes to a close, John and I share the same hope "that this final chapter will inspire you to be all you can be so you can help others to be all they can be. You cannot give what you do not have. But if you have worked to learn or earn something, you have the ability to pass it on to others."
Any progress you make in your personal growth also opens the doors for others.
John Maxwell calls this "adding value" to others, I call it making positive ripples, but the end goal is the same -- every day, you have the opportunity to do good in the lives of others.
So how do you increase your opportunities to help others and make a significant contribution in your lifetime?
Think of yourself as a river, not a reservoir.
Most people who make personal growth part of their lives do it to add value to themselves; they are like reservoirs that continually take in water but only to fill themselves up. But they should be a river; whatever water they receive, they give away to others.
This requires an abundance mindset, a belief that there is more than enough to fill everyone up, and as long as you keep growing, you will never experience scarcity and will always have much to give.
Giving your time, expertise, and resources without expecting anything in return is an unselfish act that makes the world a better place, and when you focus more on the wants and needs of others, more of your own wants and needs will be met.
John gives several key elements to help you cultivate an attitude of contribution:
1 - Be Grateful
"There is no success without sacrifice. If we succeed without sacrifice, then it is because someone who went before us made the sacrifice. If you sacrifice and don't see success, then someone who follows will reap success from your sacrifice." -- Unknown
2 - Put People First
"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these." -- George Washington Carver
3 - Don't Let Stuff Own You
"Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed." -- Richard Foster
“The measure of success is not the number of people who serve you, but the number of people you serve. ” — John C. Maxwell
4 - Define Success as Sowing, Not Reaping
"If you live life with the intention of making a difference in others' lives, your life will be full, not empty." -- John C. Maxwell
5 - Focus on Self-Development, Not Self-Fulfillment
"Self-fulfillment thinks of how something serves me; self-development thinks of how something helps me to serve others. With self-fulfillment, feeling good is the product. With self-development, feeling good is the by-product." -- Fred Smith
6 - Keep growing to Keep Giving
"The greatest give you can give to someone is your own personal development." -- Jim Rohn
This week, consider the following questions:
Is my underlying desire in life self-fulfillment or self-development?
Are my efforts designed to make me feel good or make me be my best?
Is my goal to be successful (when I add value to myself) or to be significant (when I add value to others)?
Am I trying to achieve so I can feel happy or so I can put myself in a place to help others win?
These distinctions may seem subtle, but they make a difference. Trying to feel fulfilled is a never-ending restlessness because you will never be fully satisfied with your progress. However, trying to develop yourself is a never-ending journey and will always inspire you because every bit of progress is a victory.
Next, make one list of your top 3-7 goals or dreams and another list of the names of the most important people in your life. Be honest with yourself; which comes first -- the people or the dreams and goals?
Make the decision to put others ahead of your own agenda. Serve others instead of yourself. Commit to it, and then invite others in your life to hold you accountable. And remember, sometimes the seeds you sow take a long time to grow. But you will always see a harvest.