The 15 laws of personal growth

Economy March 07, 2012 00:00

By Heinz Landau
Special to The

18,291 Viewed

Here's a taste of the wisdom contained in John C Maxwell's yet-to-be-published new book

Last month, I participated in a leadership training and certification program of John C Maxwell in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA. John is highly respected internationally as a leadership expert, speaker, coach and author who has sold more than 20 million books.

On his 65th birthday on February 20, 2012, he taught us the main lessons of his forthcoming book “The 15 Laws Of Personal Growth”. He told us that he had just handed over his manuscript to the publisher a few days ago. The book is scheduled for publication in October 2012. Dear reader, you have the privilege to know some of the key content of the book.

John has been passionate about personal development for over 50 years. He shared with us the following tried and true principles that are always certain to help a person grow and to reach her/his potential.

1 The law of intentionality

Personal growth is intentional. You have to grow on purpose, not by accident.

2 The law of awareness

You must know yourself in order to be able to grow. You must know what your strengths and your gifts are in order to build upon them.

3 The law of the mirror

You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself. The question “How do you feel about yourself?” is key. You must think: “I am a person of worth.” John said that a lot of people are sabotaging themselves and are setting themselves up for failure due to the lack of self-esteem. You have to think well of yourself to do well in life. If you don’t believe in yourself and bet on yourself, who else do you think should? That’s why it is so important that you find your strengths.

John also mentioned that the most important thing for kids is their self-image. You have to help them to find their strengths and gifts. You have to believe in your kids and bet on them.

4 The law of reflection

Learning to pause and reflect allows growth to catch up with you. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t make time for reflection in their schedule. Reflection turns experience into insights. John’s definition of wisdom is reflection on experience.

5 The law of consistency

Motivation gets you going, but it is discipline that keeps you growing. John defines discipline as the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.

6 The law of environment

Growth thrives in conducive surroundings. John thinks that many of us don’t have a (positive) growth environment around us. He said that in five years, you will be the product of the people you are associated with and the books you read. John’s definition for “providing a positive environment” is being around somebody that lifts you rather than being with somebody who sucks life out of you.

I suggest you spend a few minutes to think about this and, depending on the outcome, draw the necessary consequences.

7 The law of design

To maximise your growth, develop your strengths. John emphasised the importance of “strategic growth”, which he defined as growth in your area of strengths and giftedness.

Assuming you are right now on a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best) in a certain area, John encourages you to put lots of efforts in that area in order to move up to 8, 9 or even 10 (world class) over a period of time.

Although relevant weaknesses need to be addressed when they are on an unacceptable level, you have to put efforts to bring them to an acceptable level, but please be aware that you probably will never be very good in such an area. You might move up with a lot of efforts from eg a 2 to a 4, but you will probably never be excellent at it, if it doesn’t suit your talent.

8 The law of pain

Good management of bad experiences leads to great growth. Bad experiences happen to all of us; it always depends what we learn and make out of them. I like John’s quote: “Some days you win, and some days you learn...”

9 The law of the ladder

Character growth determines the height of your personal growth. You need a solid foundation to build something great. This foundation is your character.

10 The law of the rubber band

Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be. Your desire to grow is the tension of your rubber band.

11 The law of trade-offs

You have to give up to go up. Growth is a continuous series of trade-offs. The higher you grow in life the bigger your give-ups.

John stated that life makes you pay. You pay now, you play later. You play now, you pay later. If you don’t pay at the front-end, you will pay later with interest and inflation. The lowest price that you pay is today.

A good example is education. You invest your money and time into it now (ie, you pay now), you reap the benefits later in form of a good job and good income enabling you to live a good life (ie, to play).

12 The law of curiosity

Growth is stimulated by asking why. Only when you ask questions, you will learn something. So be aware: if you give answers, you learn nothing. Only if you ask questions, you learn something.

13 The law of modelling

It is hard to improve when you have no one than yourself to follow. People do what people see. Therefore, it is important to have role models around you.

14 The law of expansion

Growth always increases your capacity. People who are growing are excited about what they are learning and where they are going.

During my long flight from Bangkok to West Palm Beach, I read the book "Mindset – the new psychology of success – how we can learn to fulfill our potential” by Stanford University psychologist Carol S Dweck. In her book, she explains why it is not just our abilities and talent that brings us success, but whether we approach our goals with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. People with the growth mindset learn better and get better grades than people with a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence (or any ability) is a fixed trait, that you are born with and can’t do much to change. A growth mindset is a belief that intelligence can be developed. The key to why some people reach their potential while equally talented others don’t, isn’t ability. It’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.

Dweck does not deny that people differ in their natural abilities but she stresses that it is continued effort that makes abilities blossom.

15 The law of contribution

Developing yourself enables you to develop others. John recommended that just when you learn something, then you should do the teaching. That’s when you have passion.

And that’s why I am sharing John’s teaching today with you!

I encourage you to think about the above stated 15 laws of personal growth and how they can help you to achieve your goals in life. And, most important, then take the necessary action.

Heinz Landau is former chairman and managing director of Merck Thailand.  He may be reached at