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  • 2. What Draws Others to Me?

    Understanding What People Like About You and Why "If you desire to become a people person, then you need to develop an appealing personality that causes others to respond to you." -- John C. Maxwell What is it that draws people to you? John Maxwell sums that exceptional, magnetic quality up in just one word: charisma. You can likely identify "charisma" in someone else, maybe even yourself, but can you define what it means to be charismatic? The internet defines charisma as: A compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. A personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm. A personal quality of presence or charm that compels others. That certainly sounds like something we could all benefit from having, so how do we get it? The good news is that charisma is a quality that we can develop! "Each one of us has certain abilities that will increase the charisma of our personality" if we learn how to be intentional. Let's dig in and define the outstanding characteristics of charismatic people. John Maxwell does this by using "charisma" as an acrostic. Concern Help Action Results Influence Sensitivity Motivation Affirmation As we go through each of these, remember that these are not simply born within you. Instead, they are attainable by anyone who cares about other people and wants to develop their relational skills. Concern - the ability to show you care Charismatic people have developed the ability to show concern for the feelings, needs, and interests of others. You can sense their interest and care when you are around them, and you feel important because of their attention. Help - The Ability to Reach out Charismatic people are helpers; they make an effort to see others profit by helping them solve their problems. Tell them it takes time. Expose yourself to their problems to relate to them. Assure them of your confidence in them to overcome. Creatively help them find a solution. Offer them hope through the process. Action - The Ability to Make Things Happen Charismatic people always seem to be in the middle of something exciting. They have the ability to say things creatively and confidently do things. They are never dull. “Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are in making them feel good about you.” — Dan Reiland Results - The Ability to Produce Charismatic people want to be on the winning side of life, but they not only want to win but also want others to win. This creates productivity! Charismatic people use their strengths to help others. Influence - The Ability to Lead What happens to you speaks of your circumstances. What happens in you speaks of your character. What happens through you speaks of your charisma. Charismatic people can influence people to move forward through their experiences, expertise, and example. Sensitivity - The Ability to Feel and Respond Charismatic people have the ability to be sensitive to changing situations. They display discernment and courage by leaving their comfort zone to make others feel comfortable. Motivation - The Ability to Give Hope The secret to motivating others is to provide them with hope. Charismatic people achieve this through learning affirming skills, and problem-solving techniques, verbally encouraging others, and conveying belief and support in others. Affirmation - The Ability to Build Up Charismatic people intentionally affirm the accomplishments of others. They think the best of others, believe the best in others, and express the best to others. This week, honestly consider your charisma level by grading yourself for each statement on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 = not evident in my interactions with others 10 = highly apparent in my interactions with others I make others feel important by showing concern for their feelings, interests, and needs. I take the time to help others solve their problems. I use creativity in my communication and confidence in my actions. I use my strengths to ensure the success of myself and others. I can influence people to move forward through my experiences, expertise, and example. I get out of my comfort zone to make others feel comfortable. I convey hope to those around me. I verbally and actively believe in others and expect them to respond positively. If you're on the lower side of the scale, in which areas can you actively improve your score, and how can you take action this week to grow? If you're on the higher side of the scale, how can you further develop your charisma and take action this week to continue your growth?

  • 1. What Draws Me to People?

    Understanding the Qualities You Enjoy in Others "The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other." -- John C. Maxwell Today is our first week in a new chapter of a new book! After much consideration, I've decided to guide us through another John Maxwell book titled, Be a People Person. But before we jump into the wisdom within the pages of the first chapter, I have to be completely honest and confess that I would never have considered myself to be a "people person." If you've ever interacted with me, you may find this confession slightly shocking since I am generally a bubbly, engaging individual who has chosen a profession that is all about people. I show up to every event with a smile and a skip in my step, ready to value and add value to as many people as possible, but by the end of the day, I long to retreat to a place of solitude. As a general rule, people wear me out, and I'm much more comfortable being alone than in the company of others. If you ask people who have known me for a decade or more, they'll tell you that I've come a long way in finding balance, including others in my life, and not burning out. But if I've learned one thing, being a "people person" isn't about personality, preferences, backgrounds, careers, religious beliefs, etc.; it's about consciously choosing to value, respect, and intentionally connect with others. As John Maxwell says, "The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other. Our success, fulfillment, and happiness depend on our ability to relate effectively." I believe this so strongly that I have built my entire personal and professional life on that foundation. As we grow through these eleven chapters, I hope you will be better equipped to understand your own tendencies and intentionally navigate the challenges we all face in connecting with and relating to one another. Think briefly about the qualities and characteristics that the people you enjoy spending your time with possess. Which characteristics drew you to them? Are there similar characteristics that different people share? How do you feel when you are with these people? John Maxwell offers five universal qualities everyone needs, likes, or responds to in relationships. 1 - You want others to encourage you. There is no better exercise for adding value to others than reaching out and lifting people up. As you consider the people you enjoy spending time with, how many regularly offer you encouragement? I would wager that you don't have many strong relationships with people who tear you down rather than build you up. 2 - You want others to appreciate you. William James once said, "the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." How do you feel when others express their appreciation for your work or contribution? How do you feel when they make you feel appreciated for who you are and not even for something you did? When we treat others as important, they will respond accordingly! 3 - You want others to forgive you. It's no secret that part of being in relationship with people is that inevitably you will get hurt, and you will hurt others; often, this pain is not even the result of conscious or intentional action. Consider a time when you hurt a good friend. How did you feel when you realized the harm that had been done? How did you feel based on their response to you? While hanging on to a grudge gives some a sense of satisfaction, the truth is that people who do not forgive are hurting themselves far more than they are hurting others. “The happiest people are those who have invested their time in others. The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to make them happy.” — John C. Maxwell 4 - You want others to listen to you. Whether you are telling a story, offering an opinion, sharing an update on a work project, asking a question, etc., something profound happens when someone gives you their full attention and actively listens to you. Think about a time when you tried to connect, and you could tell the person was not listening. How did this make you feel? How did you respond? 5 - You want others to understand you. Research shows that approximately 50% of workplace conflict and almost 70% of marital/relationship discord result from misunderstandings and miscommunication. Have you ever been misunderstood in your personal or professional relationships? What was the result of that misunderstanding? How did it make you feel? This week, consider someone in your personal or professional life that you enjoy spending time with and answer these questions: How do they exemplify these five qualities in their interactions with you? How do you respond to them when they exemplify these qualities with you? How does this relationship make you feel compared to one that does include these qualities? Now consider these qualities for yourself: How do you exemplify these five qualities in your interactions with others? How do others respond to you when you exemplify these qualities with them? Which of these qualities do you need to be more intentional to develop? How can you be more intentional in developing that quality, and when will you start?

  • #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.

  • #14: The Law of Expansion

    Growth Always Increases Your Capacity "There is no finish line." -- Nike Simon Sinek writes in his book, The Infinite Game, "infinite-minded leaders understand that “best” is not a permanent state. Instead, they strive to be “better.” “Better” suggests a journey of constant improvement and makes us feel like we are being invited to contribute our talents and energies to make progress in that journey." If you think you've reached the top, it's time to check yourself. If you're still breathing and of sound mind, you still have room to keep increasing your capacity and be "better." Authors Robert J. Kriegel and Louis Parker agree that "the potential that exists within us is limitless and largely untapped... when you this of limits, you create them." The only way to increase your capacity internally is to change how you approach personal growth. Learning more information isn't enough; you must change your thinking and acting. How to Increase Your thinking Capacity 1 - Stop Thinking "More Work" and Start Thinking "What Works?" Because more of the same usually results in more of the same, more work will not necessarily increase your capacity. Instead, focus on what you must do, what you ought to do, and what you want to do. Ask yourself, What am I required to do? What gives the most significant return? What gives me the greatest reward? 2 - Stop Thinking "Can I?" and Start Thinking "How Can I?" "Can I?" is a question filled with hesitation and doubt. It is a question that imposes limitations. But "How can I?" assumes there is a way; you need to find it. Most of your limitations are not based on a lack of ability but a lack of belief. Every person has the potential to grow, expand, and achieve. The first step is believing that you can. The second is perseverance. As Price Pritchett says, "everything looks like a failure in the middle." 3 - Stop Thinking "One Door" and Start Thinking "Many Doors" Expansion means: There is more than one way to do something successfully. The odds of arriving anywhere increase with creativity and adaptability. Movement with intentionality creates possibilities. Failures and setbacks can be great tools for learning. Knowing the future is difficult; controlling the future is impossible. Knowing today is essential; controlling today is possible. Success is a result of continued action filled with continual adjustments. “Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. ” — Oliver Wendell Holmes How to Increase Your Capacity for Action 1 - Stop Doing Only Those Things You Have Done Before and Start Doing Those Things You Could and Should Do The process of expanding your potential is ongoing. It ebbs and flows; opportunities come and go, and the standards you must set for yourself are constantly changing. What you can do changes as you develop, and what you should do also evolves. And as hard as it can be, you must leave behind some old things to take on new ones. 2 - Stop Doing What is Expected and Start Doing More Than is Expected To expand your potential, you have to rise above average by Asking more of yourself than others ask of you Expect more from yourself than others expect from you Believe in yourself more than others believe in you Do more than others think you should have to do Give more than others think you should give Help more than others think you ought to help Doing more than is expected trains you to develop a habit for excellence that compounds over time. Continued excellence expands your capabilities and your potential. 3 - Stop Doing Important Things Occasionally and Start Doing Important Things Daily To do what's not important every day does nothing for you. It merely uses up your time. To do the right thing only occasionally does not lead to consistent growth or expansion in your life. But consistently doing the right thing daily leads to personal expansion. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "the purpose of an apple tree is to grow a little new wood each year. That's what I plan to do." He also wrote that our destined end is "to live that each tomorrow finds us further than today." This week, consider if you have made the mental shift from "I can't" or "Can I?" to "How can I?" Ask yourself these questions and write the answers: If I knew I could not fail, what would I attempt? If I had no limitations, what would I like to do? If finances were not an issue, what would I do with my life? Do you look at them and think, "That's far-fetched" or "Impossible?" Or do you look at them and think, "How can I do that? What must I do or trade to make this happen?" If your thoughts fall under the "I can't" responses, spend some time figuring out what's stopping you from believing you can make the changes necessary to expand your life. Next, consider if you have a plan and a system to ensure you do what's important daily. Make a list of what is essential for you to do daily, then figure out how to follow through on each of those priorities every day to expand your potential.

  • #13: The Law of Modeling

    It's Hard to Improve When You Have No One but Yourself to Follow "The most important personal-growth phrase you will ever hear a good leader say to you is 'follow me'." Personal growth without the benefit of personal mentors can only take you so far. If you haven't already, you need to find models who are ahead of you to learn from. Most people who decide to grow personally find their first mentors in books, podcasts, and videos. Some of my personal book/podcast/video mentors are John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, Valorie Burton, Patrick Lencioni, John Delony, Scot McKnight, Tim Mackie, and many others. In today's world, there are many resources available for you to discover mentors within, but at some point, you must also find personal models. If you only follow yourself, you will find yourself going in circles. However, as we've learned, you must be careful about who you allow to influence your life. As we allow John Maxwell to continue to mentor us through his book, he has developed six key characteristics of what a good personal mentor should look like. 1 - A Good Mentor is a Worthy Example You become like the people you admire and the models you follow, so if you want tour models to help you along your personal growth journey, you need to make sure they will lead you where you want to go. A good mentor must not only display professional excellence and possess skill sets from which you can learn, but they must also demonstrate character worthy of emulating. Your values will be influenced by theirs, so you must be intentional with who you choose to follow. 2 - A Good Mentor is Available For you to be able to observe your models and see what they do, you must have some contact with them or they are no different than reading a book or listening to a podcast. To be actively mentored, you must have time with them to ask questions and learn from their answers. 3 - A Good Mentor has Proven Experience I love the Chinese proverb, "To know the road ahead, ask those coming back." and that is part of the benefit of having an experienced mentor. Hearing about their bad experiences can make you aware of the potential problems you might encounter. Hearing about their good experiences can give you excitement and encouragement for the possible opportunities for you. “Great things happen whenever we stop seeing ourselves as God's gift to others and begin seeing others as God's gift to us.” — James S. Vuocolo 4 - A Good Mentor Possesses Wisdom Mentors with wisdom -- understanding, experience, and knowledge -- help you solve problems that you would have a harder time handling on your own. They can also open your eyes to worlds you might not have otherwise seen and help you see opportunities you could otherwise miss without their help. Learning from wise mentors makes you wiser than your years and experience as a result. 5 - A Good Mentor Provides Friendship and Support If the person who offers to mentor you doesn't support and offer you friendship, you will never be able to build a healthy relationship with them. Knowledge without support is sterile. Advice without friendship feels cold. Candor without care is harsh. Growth comes from the head and the heart and only supportive people are willing to share both with you. 6 - A Good Mentor is a Coach Who Makes a Difference in Your Life "Coach" is a word derived from the horse-drawn vehicle of days gone by to transport people and their valuables from point A to point B. Today, a "coach" continues to be someone who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. Coaches help you grow, improve your potential, increases your productivity, and help effect lasting, positive change. You can be good on your own, but without coaching, you will never be as good as you could be because we all do better when someone is watching, evaluating, and seeing our life from a different perspective. As a professional coach, I think it's important to say that a Coach is not a Mentor, but a Mentor can coach. Professional coaching aims to help you discover the answers you need to move forward in a way specific to you and your strengths. Mentoring aims to guide you by showing you how others have done it before you. No matter who you are, what you have accomplished, or how low or high life has taken you, you can benefit from a mentor. If you've never had one, find a worthy one and watch your life improve. If you have had mentors, you should start creating positive ripples by becoming a mentor to others because you know the benefits of having someone else to follow. This week, think about the people who can help you sharpen specific strengths or navigate certain problem areas. Who do you talk to when you have questions related to marriage, parenting, spiritual growth, personal disciplines, hobbies, and so on? No one person can answer all of your questions, so you need to find several individuals to mentor you. Create two lists; one with the specific strengths and skills you want to develop to reach your potential and the other with the specific problem areas where you feel the need for ongoing guidance. Begin looking for good mentors with expertise in these particular areas and ask them if they would be willing to answer questions when you have them.

  • #12: The Law of Curiosity

    Growth is Stimulated by Asking Why "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not." -- George Bernard Shaw Curiosity is the key to being a life-long learner. And if we have learned anything in growing through these chapters, it is that if you want to keep growing and developing, you must keep learning. Curious people thirst for knowledge and are interested in life, people, ideas, experiences, and events. They live in a constant state of wanting to learn more and do so by asking, "why?". People who remain curious don't need to be encouraged to ask questions or explore. They do it and they do it all the time. Curiosity helps people think and expand beyond the ordinary, leading to extraordinary living. It sparks the imagination and opens up possibilities. So is it possible to develop curiosity? Let's start with a quick assessment to see how curious you are by simply asking yourself these ten questions: Do you believe you can be curious? Do you have a beginner's mindset? Have you made "why" your favorite word? Do you spend time with curious people? Do you learn something new every day? Do you partake in the fruit of failure? Have you stopped looking for the right answer? Have you gotten over yourself? Do you get out of the box? Are you enjoying your life? If your answers are yes, you are probably more curious; but if not, you need to change to grow and develop. 1 - Believe you can be curious We cannot perform outwardly in a way inconsistent with how we think inwardly. You cannot be what you believe you aren't, but you can change your thinking! 2 - Have a beginner's mindset Having a beginner's mindset means wondering why and asking many questions. Your desire to learn more is stronger than the desire to look good. You may have much knowledge and experience, but there is always room to learn and experience more. If a person starts answering questions more than asking them, they have likely lost their growth momentum. 3 - Make "Why" Your Favorite Word There is something about a well-worded question that often penetrates the heart of the matter and triggers new ideas and insights. Ask why". Explore. Evaluate what you discover. Repeat. “Almost every advance in art, cooking, medicine, agriculture, engineering, marketing, politics, education, and design has occurred when someone challenged the rules and tried another approach. ” — Roger von Oech 4 - Spend Time with Curious People Being around people with curiosity is contagious. 5 - Learn Something New Every Day Begin each day with a determination to learn something new, experience something different, or meet someone you don't know. Start with an open attitude, look for opportunities throughout the day, and reflect on what you've learned. 6 - Partake in the Fruit of Failure It is impossible to continue to grow and try new things without sometimes failing. Remember that failure is a sign of progress and another opportunity to learn! 7 - Stop Looking for the "Right" Answer If you want to avoid becoming too comfortable and stagnant, keep asking questions and challenging the process. There is always more than one solution to a problem; no matter how good it is, it can always be improved. Keep asking if there is a better way to do things. 8 - Get Over Yourself "It's better to look uninformed than to be uninformed. Curb your ego and keep asking questions." 9 - Get Out of the Box Good ideas are everywhere, but it's hard to see them if you won't look outside the box. Just because "you've never done it that way before" doesn't mean it's not an option. 10 - Enjoy Your Life When you enjoy life, everything becomes a learning experience because you do what you love, and you love what you do. And who doesn't want to find more and better ways to find enjoyment? This is the heartbeat of curiosity. This week, think about the 3-5 major areas in your life where you focus most of your time and energy. Do you consider yourself an expert or a beginner in those areas? Do you enjoy those areas? Do you push boundaries, ask questions, or take risks in those areas? Next, list the people you spend the most time with throughout the week. Rate each person on their level of curiosity. Are the majority of people in your world questioners? Do they often ask "why"? Do they like to learn new things? Finally, evaluate how many new things you try in a week; look for something that stretches you out of your comfort zone and could make you look foolish.

  • #11: The Law of Trade-Offs

    You Have to give up to grow up "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 Just a short time ago, I was making a life for myself in Colorado Springs, CO. I was a successful business manager for an excellent company where I had good relationships with my employers and my team members, plenty of vacation time, benefits, consistent salary increases, and a flexible schedule. I had purchased my first home and had just completed a series of remodels to make it a place I could call home. I lived at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and enjoyed the splendor of creation every day. Good food, shopping and entertainment options, cultural experiences, and more surrounded me. But I couldn't shake the sense that I was made for and could do more. The Law of Trade-Offs says that if you want to grow up to your potential, you must be willing to give up some things you value. And that's precisely what I did. I quit my safe, steady job. I moved to Pennsylvania to have a lower cost of living and be closer to a support network. I took the proceeds from selling my house to start my own business. Did I take a risk? Absolutely! Did it hurt? You bet! Do I still question whether or not I made the right choice? Sometimes. But I had a vision for my life, and I was willing to give up everything I had built for a chance at doing something that would take me closer to my potential. Everyone makes trade-offs throughout their life, whether they recognize that or not. Life is full of intersections, opportunities to continue in the same direction or veer onto a new path. We make choices at each of these intersections; we trade one option for another. The question is whether you will make good or bad trades. 1 - Trade-Offs are an Opportunity for Growth Author Denis Whaitley once said, "A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you realize that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make." When we grow through change, we become active and take control of our attitude and our emotions. 2 - Trade-Offs Force Us to Make Difficult Personal Changes As a general rule, people fear what they can't predict or fully understand. Eric Hoffer's quote from the start of this post sums it up nicely; unsuccessful people are unwilling to change because they would rather be unhappy in the known than take the chance at happiness and success in the unknown. But the difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to make. It's often not easy, but making the right changes are always personal, possible, and profitable. “Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” — Louis Boone 3 - Trade-Offs Usually Feel Like a Loss Before We Gain From Them We often want a change but don't want to wait for the result. We immediately feel the loss of the trade-off, but it may take days, weeks, months, years, or even decades before we see the gain. There is no sugar-coating that this transition period can be challenging. How well you adjust to this uncertainty depends on your personality and attitude. You can't change your personality, but you can choose to have a positive attitude and focus on the upcoming benefits of the trade-off. 4 - Not All Trade-Offs are Worth the Price While making trade-offs is part of life, we must be intentional with them; not all trade-offs are of equal value, and some are not worth the price. For example, a bowl of soup isn't worth the cost of an inheritance, but a buried treasure in a field is worth the cost of the land. Do you know what kinds of trade-offs you've been making? Have you developed guidelines to decide what to strive for and give up in return? If not, John Maxwell gives several trade-offs that might help in the development of your own: I am willing to give up financial security today for tomorrow's potential. I am willing to give up immediate gratification for personal growth. I am willing to give up the fast life for the good life. I am willing to give up security for significance. (It's important to note that Maxwell's definition of "significance" is investing in the lives of others.) This week, write your list of trade-off principles. If you're unsure, use the four "I am willing to" statements above as a guide. Think about what might be needed to reach your potential and what you must give up to fulfill it. It's just as important to know what you are not willing to give up as it is to know what you are willing to give up. Think through and list the things that are not negotiable (i.e., family, values, personal time, etc.), and then identify the most significant potential threat and what safety measures you need to put into place to protect it. Finally, think about the trade-off you must make now but have been reluctant to make. Maxwell recognizes that "most people settle in and learn to live with a limitation or barrier that can be removed by making a trade." What is the next thing you need to trade for, and what must you give up to get it?

  • #10: The Law of the Rubber Band

    Growth Stops When You lose the tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be "Only a mediocre person is always at his best." -- W. Somerset Maugham We're all familiar with the phrase "comfort zone" and unfortunately, that is where most of us spend our life; inside our little comfort zone. The only way to develop our potential is by stretching- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually- outside our comfort zone. That is a terrifying thought for most of us, myself included; after all, the implication of "outside of our comfort zone" is that it won't be comfortable. As a result, most people only use a small fraction of their ability and rarely strive to reach their full potential because too many people are willing to settle for "good enough." Are you willing to choose comfort over potential? To remind me of the importance of stretching myself outside my comfort zone, I have various quotes scattered around my work and living space to help me maintain a growth mindset. Some of my favorites include: "Life expands or shrinks in proportion to our courage." "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." "What would you do if you were not afraid?" "Refuse to be limited by your comfort zone." "Let your faith be bigger than your fear." "Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable." The Law of the Rubber Band is that rubber bands are only useful when stretched, and the same can be said of us. As John Maxwell writes, "you will only reach your potential if you have the courage to push yourself outside your comfort zone and break out of a mindset of mediocrity. You must be willing to leave behind what feels familiar, safe, and secure. You must give up excuses and push forward. You must be willing to face the tension that comes from stretching toward your potential." So how can you be intentional about stretching outside your comfort zone? 1 - Stretching starts from the inside out Instead of wishing, wanting, and waiting, you need to search inside for reasons to start. Remember that your situation in life is mainly due to the choices you make and the actions you do or fail to take. Jim Rohn once said, "Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice. You can choose to be all, or you can choose to be less. Why not stretch up to the full measure of the challenge and see what all you can do?" 2 - Stretching Requires Change Stop looking over your shoulder. It's difficult to focus on your past and change in the present. You should treat your history like your rearview mirror; it helps you stay aware of your surroundings, but if you stare into it too long, you'll crash instead of moving forward. Work on developing your "reach muscle." If you want to grow and change, you must take risks. According to John Maxwell, "People who take risks learn more and faster than those who don't. Their depth and range of experience is often greater. And they learn how to solve problems. The greatest stretching seasons of life come when we do what we have never done, push ourselves harder, and reach in an uncomfortable way." “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” — Abraham Maslow 3 - Stretching Sets You Apart From Others Successful people set themselves apart because they initiate the improvement that others need. When you get better, those around you benefit too. Make it your goal to make your bosses smarter, your team more effective, and the company more competitive because of your energy, creativity, and insights. 4 - Stretching is a lifestyle, not a Phase Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav said, "If you won't be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for?" When we stop stretching, we stop living; we become dead on the inside and to our greatest possibilities. This week, consider the areas of your life in which you've lost your stretch and settled in. Where are you falling short of your potential? What goals haven't you hit that you know you're capable of? What habits have you developed that are hindering you from moving forward? What areas of past success have you stopped winning in? Use your lack of satisfaction to get you started anyplace you've stalled. Be strategic to maintain the tension between where you are and where you could be by continually resetting intermediate-range goals for yourself. Set a specific time frame for your goals to maintain tension. Set your goals according to your personality and revisit them at the end of those time frames. Ensure your goals are barely within reach; not too easy, but not impossible either. If you need an overarching goal to keep you stretching, think about what significant action you could take if only you become what you could be. Dream big, and set this as your lifetime goal!

  • #9: The Law of the Ladder

    Character Growth Determines the Height of Your Personal Growth “Good character, with honesty and integrity at its core, is essential to success in any area of life. Without it, a person is building on shifting sand.” — John C. Maxwell We often think about success in terms of a ladder, with the rungs representing the steps we take to reach greater heights in our endeavors. While it is important to continue moving upward, let’s take a moment to think about the foundation on which we’ve set our success ladder. When you think about growth, the areas that come to mind first are likely competency-based, but your strength of character will determine the height of your personal growth and your ability to reach your potential. It acts as the foundation for your ladder. If your success ladder lacks the proper foundation, you can still climb the ladder, but the higher you go, the more precarious your position becomes until suddenly the world shifts, and you’re free falling back to the ground. John Rohn once said, “Character is a quality that embodies many important traits such as integrity, courage, perseverance, confidence, and wisdom. Unlike your fingerprints that you were born with and can’t change, character is something that you create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing." So how do you grow your character? John Maxwell gives five key takeaways when building that firm foundation. 1 - Focus on Being Better on the Inside than the Outside Because Character Matters Your character represents who you are on the inside. While it’s natural to be concerned about outward appearance, do you care more about how you look on the outside and what others believe about you or how you are on the inside? The good news is that if you focus on being better on the inside, you will also be better on the outside with time. The inside influences the outside; what you do or neglect to do in the privacy of your daily life impacts who you are. Inside victories precede outside ones. The right motions outwardly with wrong motives inwardly will not bring lasting progress. 2 - Focus on Adding Value to People Because They Matter In all of our relationships, we are either a plus or a minus in the lives of others. Think about that a moment; are you adding value to the people you interact with, or do you subtract value from them with your thoughts, words, or actions? 3 - Focus on Standing On Your Beliefs Because Passion Matters Your belief system gives you a starting point for growing character, giving you the energy and motivation to keep going! Borrowed beliefs have no passion and no power. John Maxwell says individuals who lack principles and passion become beige people. I want my life, work, and relationships to be full of color and passion! “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he hoped to make it.” — J. M. Barrie 4 - Focus on Humility Because Perspective Matters I think we can all admit if we’re honest, we fall short of where we could or should be in our growth and life, but this provides us with an excellent opportunity to practice humility. Recognize that everyone, including you, has shortcomings. Be teachable: ask questions, listen, try new ideas, and look at the world differently; never stop learning. Be willing to serve others because putting others first helps you maintain a proper-sized ego and perspective. Be grateful because it expresses your vulnerability and dependence on others. “Everything we do, every accomplishment we have, every milestone we pass has come in part because of the efforts of others. There are no self-made men or women. If we can remember that, we can be grateful.” 5 - Focus on Finishing Well Because Faithfulness Matters I believe pastor and radio broadcaster Tony Evans said it best, “If you want a better world, composed of better nations, inhabited by better states, filled with better counties, made up of better cities, comprised of better neighborhoods, illuminated by better churches, populated by better families, then you’ll have to start by become a better person.” It always starts with you — with me. If we focus on personal character, we make our world better, and doing it for our entire lives means that we’ve done the best thing we can do to change the world. This next week, schedule some time to assess where you have put most of your focus up until this point in your life. Has it been on improving the inside or the outside? Compare where you’ve spent your money. Compare where you’ve spent your time. Compare what has held your attention. If your assessment reveals more of an outward focus than an inward one, determine how to shift your focus by adding time, money, and attention to the things that will make you grow even if they do not show. Additionally, be intentional about acting on your answers to the following questions: Do I devote time to serving others and can I do more to develop humility, character, and others-mindedness? What am I doing every day to develop the habit of character growth?

  • #8: The Law of Pain

    Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth “Most successful people will point to the hard times in their lives as key points in their journey of development.” — John C. Maxwell Our lives are composed of a series of experiences; some of them are good and we enjoy them wholeheartedly, but some are painful and we’d rather avoid them altogether. But no matter who you are, where you live, what you do, or what your background is, you will never be able to avoid all negative experiences. Even now, you’re probably thinking, “Natalie where is the positivity?!” or maybe you’re thinking about closing this installment entirely because you don’t even want to think about the prospect of negative experiences, but stay with me! No one likes to have a painful or negative experience and we may not be able to avoid them, but we can grow from them! “Life’s difficulties do not allow us to stay the same. They move us. The question is, in which direction will we be moved: forward or backward? When we have bad experiences, do we become better or bitter? So how can you turn your pain into gain? 1) Choose a Positive Life Stance “Life stance” is a phrase used to refer to a person’s overall frame of reference, including their attitudes, assumptions, and expectations about themselves, others, and the world at large. If you can maintain a positive life stance, you will find that you can better manage negative experiences and turn them into positive growth. Family therapist and author, Virginia Satir said it best, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” You can rise above your circumstances, refuse to allow negative experiences to undermine who you are and what you believe, and become stronger as a result. Your attitude is the difference maker. Take a moment to assess your attitude toward past negative experiences; which of the following statements best describes how you have approached failure, tragedy, problems, conflict, and challenges that have caused you pain? I do anything and everything possible to avoid pain at all costs. I know pain is inevitable, but I try to ignore it or block it out. I know everyone experiences pain, so I just endure it when it comes. I don’t like pain, but I try to remain positive despite it. I process the emotion of painful experiences quickly and try to find a lesson in them. I process pain, find the lesson, and make changes proactively as a result. Your goal should be to progress from wherever you are currently on the above scale to the place where you make positive changes as a result of negative experiences. 2) Embrace and Develop Your Creativity In the chapter, John Maxwell tells a story about a chicken farmer whose land was flooded every spring and who struggled to get his chickens to higher ground before they drowned. After the worst flood he had ever experienced and finding he’d lost his entire flock of chickens, the farmer went to his wife. “I’ve had it!” he said, “I can’t afford to buy another place. I can’t sell this one. I don’t know what to do.” His wife replied, “Buy ducks.” Like the farmer’s wife, people who make the best out of negative experiences are the ones who find creative ways of meeting them. “They see possibilities within their problems.” When you have a negative experience, use your creativity to look at it from a different angle instead of letting it discourage or frustrate you. In the past, have you used negative experiences as a springboard for using your creativity? If the answer is “no,” use a current difficulty and the following steps to help you learn how to become more creative: Define the problem Understand your emotion Articulate the lesson Identify a desired change Brainstorm numerous pathways Receive others’ input Implement a course of action Remember, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” You must take a new path to arrive at a new destination. “Facing difficulties is inevitable. Learning from them is optional. Whether you learn is based on if you understand that difficulties present opportunities to learn and treat them accordingly.” -- John C. Maxwell 3) Make Good Changes After Learning From Negative Experiences It is often through negative experiences that we better understand the changes we need to make in our lives. This has a lot to do with how we feel during that experience. In the book, The Heart of Change, authors John Kotter and Dan Cohen explained that “changing behavior is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping them to see a truth to influence their feelings.” When negative experiences create strong feelings within us, we either face the feelings and try to change, or we try to escape. The next time you meet a negative experience, remind yourself that you have the opportunity to change and grow. Whether you do will depend on how you react to the experience and the changes you make. Allow your emotions to be the catalyst for change, think through how to change to ensure you make good choices, and then take action. Spend some time recalling the last five negative experiences you’ve had. Write down each experience and what (if anything) you learned from it. Then evaluate whether you decided to make changes based on what you learned. If you did, rate yourself on how well you implemented those changes in your life. Once you’ve assessed all five negative experiences, give yourself a letter grade (A-F) on how well you managed them. If your grade falls below a B, which response areas do you need to pay more attention to in the future to improve your grade? What changes can you make today to be proactive about this?

  • #7: The Law of Design

    To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies “Most people allow their lives to simply happen to them. They float along. They wait. They react. And by the time a large portion of their life is behind them, they realize they should have been more proactive and strategic.” — John C. Maxwell Have you ever played a game of chess? In order to win, you need to grasp the purpose and rules of the game, understand the characteristics of each piece, think ahead to strategize your moves, and be able to anticipate the potential obstacles or setbacks brought on by your opponent. Our lives are a bit like a game of chess. In order to “win” — to be successful, reach your potential, and live life to the fullest — you must first understand the purpose of the time that you’ve been given and the rules of engagement based on your values and priorities. Next, you need to have a good understanding of yourself — what is your personality, what are you good at, where do you need support, what motivates you, etc. — and you should have at least a basic understanding of the people around you so you can better understand how they will move and why. And if you really want to get ahead, you need to establish goals and strategies to achieve them, but you also need to be able to anticipate what obstacles you might face or ways that you need to pivot depending on the season of your life. The key difference between chess and life is mindset. Chess is a finite game, meaning that there are a limited number of players, the rules are fixed, and there is a clear endpoint. But life is an infinite game; there is no limit on how many people can play on the board, the rules are constantly changing, there is no end to how we can grow, and our definition of success becomes more vibrant as our potential expands. And, most importantly, there are no winners or losers in an infinite game, there is only ahead and behind which means it’s never too late to start moving forward. But if you want to be ahead in the game, you need to develop meaningful strategies. There is an abundance of famous quotes about the importance of planning and strategizing in life, but my favorite is simply, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So how can you be strategic about your life and your growth? According to John C. Maxwell, the best way to be strategic is by designing and using systems that are meaningful to you because “a life without any systems is a life where the person must face every task and challenge from scratch.” 1) Effective Systems Take the Big Picture into Account Stephen Covey once said, “we may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.” What is your big picture? In what areas must you grow to achieve your purpose? What systems can you develop to advance yourself today and every day? One of the systems I put in place for myself was that for every fiction book I read, I read at least one nonfiction book that expands my thinking and growth in the areas of personal, professional, or spiritual growth because I understand that while I love to read, if I’m not intentionally reading with my big picture in mind, then I’m not stewarding my time as well as I could. 2) Effective Systems Make Use of Priorities A system has limited effectiveness if it doesn’t align with your priorities in this season of life. What are your priorities right now? When are you most productive and how can you best utilize that time? Are there things you need to say “no” to that don’t align with your priorities? What systems can you design to help you maintain your priorities? One of my priorities right now is to build my coaching business and part of that is getting this newsletter out to my subscribers on time — same day, same time, every week — and I have put a system in place that means that I don’t schedule appointments on Mondays so I can make sure that I have plenty of time to do my reading, research, and design before my Tuesday launch deadline. “Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it.” 3) Effective Systems Include Measurement H. James Harrington, IBM executive and performance improvement expert, observed that “measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand id, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” Are your growth goals specific enough that you can measure them? How can you use these growth metrics to evaluate your progress, diagnose obstacles, and course correct to get you back on the right track? What systems can you put into place to measure your growth? As previously mentioned, I love to read books, but if I don’t have a system in place to measure my reading, I can easily lose track of what I’ve read and when I’ve read it. So I have put together a reading list on my phone, tablet, and computer that tracks the book titles that I am reading (or want to read), who the author is, and who recommended the book to me so I can make sure to follow up with them once I’ve finished it, what date I started the book, what date I finished the book, and why I wanted to read it (i.e. enjoyment, personal development, professional development, spiritual development). This allows me to stay on track and ensure I’m achieving my goals (i.e. reading at least two books per month and making sure that I’m reading equal, if not more, nonfiction than fiction), and adjust if I’m not reaching my goals. 4) Effective Systems Include Application The founder of Nestle Purina, William Danforth, once said, “no plan is worth the paper it is printed on unless it starts you doing something.” Planning and taking action go hand in hand. The plan creates the path and the action provides the traction. What steps can you take now to implement your growth? Do your systems have application built-in or do they need further refinement? In staying with my reading goals, I could create a system that helps me determine what I want to read, when I want to do my reading, and track my reading progress, but if I don’t actually pick up a book or I fill my Mondays with other events or tasks, I’m still not going to reach my reading potential even with the systems. This is why I have reminders and motivators built into my systems to push me towards reading, not just thinking about it. 5) Effective Systems Employ Organization According to John Maxwell, “how you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected. But once time has passed, it’s gone forever.” How can your systems help you stay organized? What tools are you already using that you can apply to your systems? For myself, I use software and apps that I can access from my phone, tablet, or computer so that I have full access to my systems no matter where I am. I use a Google calendar to keep track of all of my events and tasks including when I set aside time for reading and I use a note-taking app called Notion to record my reading list information. 6) Effective Systems Promote Consistency Any system you develop needs to promote consistency because the secret to your success is found in your daily routine. How do your systems promote consistency in your routine and growth? Are there additional steps you could take to stay consistent? John Maxwell says that there are five things he does every day — he reads, he writes, he files, he asks questions, and he thinks. He calls this his Rule of 5. My personal Rule of 5 is that I learn, I read, I ask questions, I review the day, and I plan the next day. These are five things that I consistently and intentionally do daily that help me grow and move ahead to my big picture. Throughout this review, I have shared with you some of my practices, but the thing to remember is that you can’t simply adopt someone else’s practices as your own. You need to take these principles and customize your systems and practices to fit your needs and build your strengths to reach your goals.

  • #6: The Law of Environment

    Growth Thrives in Conducive Surroundings “If we want to grow to reach our potential, we must be in the right environment. That usually requires us to make changes in our life." — John C. Maxwell I don’t know much about gardening or houseplants. You can ask anyone who knows me well that the only kind of plant I manage to keep alive is a fake one. But in admitting this, I can also admit that I do understand what I am doing wrong — I don’t provide them with the right environment to thrive. Unlike those poor plants, if you want to grow, you have a choice to make. Nido Qubein, Lebanese American businessman and motivational speaker, sums it up perfectly when he says, “whether you are a success or a failure in life has little to do with your circumstances; it has much more to do with your choices.” John Maxwell’s, Law of Environment says that if we want to grow we need to be willing to make the right changes to better position us to reach our potential. What changes do you need to make? 1) Assess Your Current Environment Change just for the sake of change isn’t going to help you. If you want to make changes, you have to makes sure that they’re the right ones. But I can hear your question already, “Natalie, what if I don’t know what the right ones are?” The key is to start by assessing where you are now and why you want to change. I’ve provided you with three links below for different assessment tools that you may find beneficial in choosing the right changes for you. The first one is the State of Your Life Assessment; this is a free assessment to anyone who wants to gauge where they are today. The other two are links to facilitated assessment services I offer to my clients; these help to define what you do really well and what your personal preferences and styles are. The main idea is to know yourself and to assess whether you’re getting what you need in your current environment to thrive and grow. 2) Change Yourself and Your Environment You can choose to change yourself, but not your environment and your growth will be slow and difficult. You can choose to change your environment, but not yourself and your growth will be slow and less difficult. Or you can choose to change yourself and your environment and your growth will be faster and more successful. According to John Maxwell, there are 10 elements that create a conducive growth environment: Growth is the soil we grow in: Others are ahead of me. I am continually challenged. My focus is forward. Purpose is the air we breathe in: I wake up excited. I am often outside of my comfort zone. Failure is not my enemy. People are the climate we live in: The atmosphere is affirming. Others are growing. People desire change. Growth is modeled and expected. Do these statements apply to your current situation? What choices do you need to make in order to change yourself and your environment to ensure that you are not hampered in your growth? They say if you put a pumpkin in a jug when it’s the size of a walnut, it will grow to the size and shape of the jug and never grow beyond that. That can happen to a person’s thinking. Don’t allow that to happen to you. “If you want to grow, then spend time with great people; visit great places; attend great events; read great books, listen to great tapes.” — Elmer Towns 3) Change Who You Spend Your Time With According to research conducted by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, “the people with whom you habitually associate… determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life.” Another way to look at this is that the people in your life can be divided into three tiers: The Bottom - these people suck the life out of you because nothing is ever good enough for them. They take energy and motivation out of the environment. The Middle - these people are happy and positive when things are going well, but down when adversity strikes. Circumstances dictate their attitude. The Top - these people maintain a positive attitude even through the storms. They are the kind of people we should try to be and spend our time with. Remember the first element on the list of a conducive environment: “others are ahead of me”? It’s not always comfortable to spend time with people who are “larger” than ourselves, but it is always beneficial. These are people of integrity with positive attitudes. They are ahead of us professionally, but who also lift us up instead of knocking us down. These people take the high road and never the low. And above all, they are continuously growing! Make a list of the people who are currently most influential in your life: friends, family, colleagues, employers, mentors, and so on. Be sure to also include anyone you spend a substantial amount of time with. Scan the list and determine who is “larger” than you. If the majority of the people on your list are not stretching you, you need to find additional people who will help you change and grow. You may also need to consider minimizing your time with people who you know have a negative impact on your attitude or growth, if not pulling them out of your garden altogether. 4) Challenge Yourself in Your New Environment A better growth environment won’t help you much if you don’t do everything in your power to make the most of it! Significant growth will not happen in your life if you are not intentional about finding and creating growth opportunities. This means that you need to be continuously challenged. Set specific goals for yourself that are beyond your current capabilities and look for the best potential growth opportunity each week, follow through on it, and learn from it! What are you looking to learn? How can you be positively influenced by someone else? What can you apply to your current situation to make it better? Who do others know, what have they read, or what have they done that can help you find more growth opportunities? What feedback or advice can others who are “larger” than you offer that might support your growth? 5) Move Forward Despite Criticism Growth always comes from taking action, but taking action almost always brings criticism from others. Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed that “whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.” Before making a major change, seek wise counsel if you can and from someone in that “larger than me” list, but make your own decisions. You are accountable for the choices you make in your life, not anyone else. Some will support you, some will criticize you; some will try to lift you up, some will try to pull you down — but “someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” Move forward anyway. To reach your potential, you must do what others believe you can’t, and you must do what even you believe you can’t. Most people underestimate themselves, but if you don’t try to create the future you want, you must endure the future you get.

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