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John C. Maxwell! 15 Golden Rules of Personal Development! The principle of trade-off

Chapter 11. The principle of trade-off

You need to give up to grow

“People will often cling to an uncomfortable way of life

instead of changing

for the better

for fear of getting worse.” — Erik Hoffer

What will you need to move to the next step?

Vision? Right. Hard – working?


Personal development? Of course.

What about letting go of some of the things

you love and value most?

Believe it or not,

this is something

that often causes people to procrastinate,

even those

who have achieved some success.

When you start your career,

it’s not too hard to give up

in order to grow.

In fact, you are willing

to give up everything in exchange for a chance.

Why? Because your “everything” is nothing much!

But when you start

to accumulate something:

a job you enjoy,

a high salary,

a home,

a community of which you are a member,

a degree of security?

Are you willing to give up those things

for the chance to do something

that will bring you closer to your potential?



I recently read the story of an entrepreneur

who realized the importance of making trade-offs

to be more successful

and reach his potential.

The son of impoverished service workers,

working hard

and trying his best

to achieve everything they had,

he took care of his own education

and earned a degree in mathematics.

He began his career working

for the government,

but soon moved into business,

starting with Coca-Cola,

the company his father worked as a driver.

He is a manager,

but he believes his career will be limited while here,

because he thinks they will always see him

as the driver’s son and not judge him

based on his own ability.

So when he got a chance

to work at Pillsbury’s headquarters,

he took the opportunity and moved to Minnesota.

His superiors at Pillsbury,

whom he had known previously at Coca-Cola,

told him they were facing a tough challenge,

and if unsuccessful,

they would look for new jobs.

That did not discourage him.

“I am always encouraged

by the possibility success rather

than the fear of failure,” he explains.

He has worked hard and aims

to become Deputy General Director

before the age of 40.

At Pillsbury, he started in a management position.

He was soon promoted

to group director,

then to senior director

of information systems management,

and finally to deputy general manager of systems,

responsible for overseeing the construction

of the company’s headquarters.

Pillsbury World,

a 44-story twin tower complex in central Minneapolis.

He completed the project ahead

of schedule and under budget.

He achieved his goal four years ahead

of his self-imposed deadline.

He became Deputy General Director

and owns an office with a beautiful view

from the 36th floor of the building.

He achieved his dream

and went beyond the expectations

from his humble beginnings.

But for him, that’s still not enough.

He wrote;

I was only 36 years old,

and although I was blessed

with many accomplishments,

in a short time,

I knew at the time that I had to achieve more.

So I started to imagine how exciting it would be

if I were actually the decision maker running a business…!

After several successful years

as Pillsbury’s VP of Systems and Services,

I knew I had to dream higher;

I dream of becoming the President of some company,


If he sticks to his current path,

he may never become the Chairman of Pillsbury.

His problem is that although he is always successful

and handles all responsibilities with great competence,

he has never managed profit

and loss in any position.

What are you gonna do?

How did you achieve your dream?



He discussed his situation with the COO of Pillsbury

and was presented with a possible solution.

Go work for one of Pillsbury’s divisions: Burger King.

The move has potential,

but it also means he has to make tough trade-offs. I said:

Coming to Burger King meant giving up the position

of Deputy General Manager

that I had worked so hard to get;

salary decreased significantly compared to the original;

loss of stock options;

need to learn a new profession from zero;


if successful,

I may have to move to another part of the US

in other words,

his life would change completely in the opposite direction.

But that’s how the Trade-Off Principle works.

If you want to grow to reach your potential,

you must be willing to give up some of the things you value.


You have to give up to grow.

As he made the decision,

he wondered if this would bring him closer

to his dream

of becoming the president of a business.

He also said:

“I didn’t ask myself the wrong questions like:

How difficult will my new job be?

What would my friends think

if they saw me making hamburgers in a fast food restaurant?

What will I do if this new position doesn’t work as intended?”

He made a trade-off,

accepted the position,


He arrived at Burger King,

along with a host of recent college graduates

and restaurant workers

who received the opportunity

to become assistant managers.

He is an “old man”.

He learned about a whole new business,

starting with roasting chicken,

then operating the cash register,

and so on.

And when the training was over,

he became the 4th assistant manager,

working at the place.

It’s only a 15-minute drive

from his Deputy General Director’s office.

At Burger King, he progressed

from assistant manager

to store manager

to area manager and Philadelphia Area Deputy General Manager.

It’s not an easy path.

He has faced many challenges

and there are many people in the organization

who do not want to see him succeed.

But he persisted,

and he succeeded.

“In retrospect,” he says,

“the unexpected setbacks

I encountered at Burger King could have been a blessing in disguise.

If I had predicted them,

I would have lost sight of my dream.”

Have you ever dreamed of becoming the president of a certain company?

The answer is yes.

Four years after

moving from Pillsbury to Burger King,

he was invited to take over a failed company Pillsbury had bought:

Godfather’s Pizza. And if you haven’t guessed it yet,

I want to tell you that this businessman’s name is Herman Cain.

Although he failed to win the Chairmanship

and received a rain of criticism,

if you look at his life and career,

you can see that he understood the Principle

of Trade-off very well and gave up to grow.



Life has many turns,

ups and downs.

At these crossroads,

we are forced to choose.

We can add something to our life,

take something away,

or trade one thing for another.

The most successful people know

when to do one of these three things.

Here are some insights

that I hope will help you understand the trade-offs,

spot them,

and take advantage of them.

We can always make trade-offs throughout life

I’ve known the Trade-Off Principle since elementary school,

though I didn’t call it what I do now.

At that time,

I liked to play marbles.

We played marbles during lunch and breaks.

Trying to beat your friends

and get their best marbles is a great experience.

A friend of mine had a very nice,

big cat’s eye marble

that I really wanted to get

but he didn’t use it to play with,

so I never had a chance to win it.

He just held it up and showed it to us.

So I thought of a plan.

I suggest to change it.

I would first offer to exchange whatever pellets I have for it.

He didn’t care.

Then I offered to exchange two for it.

Then three pills.

Four tablets.

I think he will change

if I give up my seven marbles.

He was very happy when he got seven marbles.

And I’m so glad I got

that beautiful marble.

Everyone makes a trade-off in life,

whether they know it or not.

The question is,

have you made good or bad trade-offs.

Overall, I believe…

Unsuccessful people make bad trade-offs.

The average person makes very few trade-offs.

Successful people are very good at trade-offs.

I estimate that I have made over 26 major trade-offs

so far in my life.

I’ve made two trade-offs in the last three months!

At 64, I realized that I had to be willing to make tradeoffs

if I wanted to continue to grow

nd strive to reach my potential.

When I stop making trade-offs,

I will reach the end of my life’s journey.

And at that point my growth stopped.

And that will be the day

when my best years are behind me

and my potential is no longer ahead.


We must learn to see trade-offs as opportunities for growth

Nothing creates a greater gap between successful

and unsuccessful people than the choices they make.

Often, people make their lives more difficult

because they have made bad choices at crossroads in their lives

or refused to make choices out of fear.

But it’s important to remember

that while we don’t always get what we want,

we always get what we choose.

Although we don’t always get what we want,

we always get what we choose.

Whenever I’m faced with a trade-off,

I ask myself two questions:


What are the pros and cons of this trade-off?

Any time you react to one of life’s crossroads with fear

instead of looking at its merits,

you’ve excluded yourself from a potential opportunity.

By trying to figure out the pros

and cons of any choice,

I’ve been able to deal with my fear.

Observing harsh realities also helped me discover

that I tend to overestimate the value

of what I have and underestimate the value

of what I can gain by giving it up.


Will I stay the same or grow with this change?

Great trade-offs are not something you have to endure.

That reflects a passive attitude

and a mindset that says,

“I hope this works out.”

Instead, positive trade-offs should be viewed

as opportunities for growth.

After all, we will be more mature.

As we grow through change,

we become more dynamic.

We control our attitudes and emotions.

We become agents of positive change in our own lives.

Author Denis Waitley says:

“One sign of wisdom and maturity is

when you realize that your decisions bring rewards

and positive results.

You have to take charge of your life,

and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”

I agree with that,

and many years ago

I determined that

while others may live a lackluster life,

I am not.

While others may see themselves as victims,

I am not.

While others leave their future in the hands of others,

I do not.

Although others simply exist,

I will grow and live truly.

It’s my choice,

and I won’t give up.

Trade-offs force us to make difficult personal changes

I often hear people express hope that things will change.

In those moments,

I want to tell them that the difference

between where we are

and where we want to be is created

by the changes we are willing to make in our lives.

When you want something you’ve never had,

you have to do something you’ve never done.

Otherwise you will continue

to get the same results.

The difference between where we are

and where we want to be is created

by the changes we are willing to make in our lives.

Changes in our lives always begin

with the changes we are willing to make to ourselves.

This is usually not easy.

But to get through it,

we need to remember that…

Personal Change

– To change your life,

you need to change.

Change is possible

– Anyone can change.

Change benefits

– You will get results when you change.

Change may not always be easy,

but we can always do it.

As psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl notes,

“When we cannot change a situation,

we are forced to change ourselves.”

We just need to remember that we are the key.

Being willing to change is very important.

That’s when we make the change.

Changing just for the sake of change

will only make one person suffer.

Necessary advance changes can lead to big wins,

but are difficult to implement change

when you have to change brings you victory.

Changing after you have to change leads to loss.

Rejecting change is killing your potential.


“When we cannot change a situation,

we must change ourselves.”– Victor Frankl

One of the most difficult personal changes

I ever experienced occurred in 1978.

At that point,

I found myself at a crossroads in my life.

I realize that my ability to help people

as a speaker is very limited.

I can only touch the lives of the people I talk to.

That’s when I decided

that I would write the book.

The problem is that I’ve never written

a book and don’t know how.

I realized it would take a lot of time

and effort to become an author,

but I was ready to give it a try.

I spent many hours interviewing authors,

taking classes,

attending conferences,

and listening to tapes.

I have spent hundreds of hours writing

and revising what I have written.

This process took me a year,

and all I got was a small,

hundred-page manuscript.

It was rejected by publishers,

and there were times

when I asked myself:

“is all this effort really worth it?”

In the end, it paid off well.

I was able to publish my first book,

Think on these things.

Did I reach my potential to write that book?

No, but it set me on the path to being able

to reach my potential

because I was an adult.

And completing a book has helped me keep writing,

learning, and improving.

Today, I have written more than 70 books

with more than 21 million copies sold.

But I might never have sold a book

if I wasn’t willing

to make the hard changes needed to become a writer.

And I never reached most of the people

I had the opportunity to help.


The pain of trade-offs often lasts longer than the pleasure it brings

Not long ago, I visited the home of my son, Joel,

and found my grandson,

James, a three-year-old boy,

sitting in the laundry room.

The boy is waiting for his blanket to dry,

and he is not happy

because the blanket is in the dryer,

nothing to hug.

We are very much like James.

We really want change,

but we don’t want to wait for the results.

And often we are acutely aware

of what we lose in exchange

because we feel it immediately,

while we often don’t reap the rewards

of the trade-off until many days,

weeks, months, years or even decades later.

This waiting period can be a real challenge.

We want results,

but we have to deal

with the loss of what we want

and the uncertainty between the end of the trade-off

and the hope for a new beginning.

This change is like a loss.

Some people deal with uncertainty quite well;

others do not.

Some recover from psychological stress of change fairly quickly

and successfully overcome;

others do not.

How well you do will depend partly on your personality

and partly on your attitude.

You cannot change your personality,

but you can choose a positive attitude

and focus on the upcoming benefits of the trade-offs.


We can change at any time

We can make trade-offs at any time in our lives.

For example, we can give up bad habits

for good ones any time we are determined to change.

Getting enough sleep,

exercising instead of lying around

and developing better eating habits

to improve our health is a matter of choice,

not opportunity.

Obviously, the sooner we make decisions,

the better,

but not everyone does.

After making a bad trade-off,

people often panic,

feeling that they’ve lost it

and can never be saved.

But rarely is that true.

Most of the time,

we can choose to go back.

I know that was true for me.

I made many bad trade-offs,

but I refunded my trade-offs

and returned to my original state.

One of my favorite poems is Carl Bard’s work

that shows the power

from making positive choices after bad ones.

though no one can go back and make

a brand new start, my friend,

Anyone can start from now

And make a brand new ending.


Although no one can turn back

and have a whole new beginning,

but my friends,

Anyone can get started now

And create a whole new ending.

Therefore, when it comes to choices,

never say never.

Never a distant, unreliable thing,

and life has too many possibilities

for you to waste by imposing that restriction on it.


Some trade-offs appear only once

The cycle of change gives us the opportunity to make decisions.

Sometimes that cycle only happens once.

Missing it means letting the opportunity go.

Andy Grove, former President and CEO of Intel,


“There is at least one point in the history

of any company

when you have to make drastic changes

to get to the next performance ladder.

If you miss that point,

you will start to fall.”

I went through one of those situations a few years ago.

For more than a decade, the person

I most wanted to meet was Nelson Mandela.

It took a few years,

but I was finally able to make an appointment

to speak with him for a day.

But when that day came,

Mandela broke his hip so he canceled the appointment.

I could change my schedule to come see you,

but that would also mean

I had to cancel my talk in Kenya.

It’s a trade-off I’m not willing to make,

because I promised to get there.

Since Mandela was old,

I might lose the opportunity to see him forever.


The higher you go, the harder it is to change

As I noted before,

if you’re like most people,

you have to give up very little at the start of your career.

But as you get higher

and accumulate some good achievements in life,

you have to pay a higher price

if you want to trade it.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said,

“Every success buys a ticket to a more difficult problem.”


“Every success buys a ticket to a harder problem.” – Henry Kissinger

When we are in a low position,

we trade for despair.

We have an incentive to change.

As we climb the ladder,

we change for inspiration.

At this higher level,

we don’t need to do it anymore.

We feel comfortable.

As a result,

we don’t make trade-offs.

One of the risks of success is

that it can make a person unwilling to learn more.

Many people easily allow themselves

to take success as a ticket to stop growing.

They believe they know enough to succeed

and they start to slow down.

They trade creativity and development for a formula,

which they use over and over again.

They say,

“You can’t argue with success.”

But they were wrong.

Why? Because the skills that got you here may not be the skills

that will get you there.

This is especially true today

when things are changing rapidly.

Five years ago (since I’m writing this),

Twitter didn’t exist.

Now think about how that affects our culture

and our business.

Four years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist.

Now it’s normal to carry this high-powered computer

and media device in your pocket.

No matter how successful you are up to this point,

you can never “stand up”.

If you want to continue to grow and learn,

you need to keep making trade-offs.

In the end, in trade-off,

we are trading one part of ourselves for another.

Author and thinker Henry David Thoreau said,

“The price of anything is the portion of life

you are willing to give up for it.”

You give part of your life in return for another part.

That may not be easy,

but it is necessary.

“The price of anything is the part of your life

you are willing to give up to get it. – Henry David Thoreau

Trade-offs never make us the same

Business author Louis Boone asserts,

“Don’t be so afraid of failure that you refuse

to try new things.

The dullest summary of life is composed of three descriptions:


could be,

and should be.”

We all have the right to choose,

but every time we make a choice,

our choices affect us.

It changes us.

Even bad choices can help us change for the better,

because they open up our minds

and show us who we are.



and advocate C. S. Lewis wrote a book called The Great Divorce.

It is said that he chose that title

because faith requires a choice.

If we really test it,

we have to decide

which side we want to live on,

and that choice causes us

to part ways with what we once held.

Therefore, no matter which way we choose,

we can never be the old “us” when making choices.


Some trade-offs are not worth the price

I’m always ready to change.

I’ve seen trade-offs as a way of life.

But not everything in my life is a trade-off.

I don’t want to trade marriage for a career.

I am not willing to trade my relationship with my children

or grandchildren for fame or fortune.

And I don’t want to trade my values ​​

for anything or anyone.

These kinds of trade-offs only lead to regret.

And once these things have been exchanged,

it is very difficult to get them back.

Perhaps the most remarkable story of a bad trade-off is

that of Jacob and Esau in the Bible.

As the eldest son,

Esau is the first choice

for the position of inheriting everything

from his father, Isaac.

But then he traded it for a chance

to fill his stomach:

One day Jacob was cooking a stew.

Esau came back from the field and was very hungry.

Esau said to Jacob,

“Give me some red soup – I’m hungry!”

Jacob said: “Let’s trade it:

My stew for your birthright!”

Esau said, “I am hungry!

What’s the point of inheritance if I starve?

Jacob said, “First, swear.”

And Esau did.

He gave up the right to be born the eldest.

Jacob gave him bread and lentil soup.

He ate, drank, got up and left.

Esau gave up his right to be the eldest son.6

I believe most people

who make bad trade-offs like

this don’t realize they’re doing it

until it’s too late.

That’s why I believe it’s important

to create systems and boundaries to stay safe.

For example,

I gave Margaret the power

to veto my schedule to keep me

from spending too much time working.

I also avoid being alone

with any women other than family members.

And I take time each day to pray that values ​​guide

and play an important role in my life.

I recommend making choices

and using systems to keep yourself on track.



So far in your life,

what have you traded for?

Have you thought about that?

Do you offer guidelines to help you decide

what to strive for and what to trade off?

Allow me to offer five trade-offs

that I think can help you develop your own guidelines:


1. I’m willing to give up financial security today

for tomorrow’s potential

Doctor and author George W. Crane says:

“There is no future in any job.

The future is in the hands of the person holding that job.”

I have always believed it too,

and as a result,

I am always willing to bet on myself,

so much so that I often take financial risks in pursuit

of what I believe is an attractive opportunity.

“There is no future in any job.

The future is in the hands

of the person holding that job.”– George W. Crane

I changed jobs seven times in my life

and accepted a pay cut for it.

The first time was

when I chose my first job.

When I graduated from college,

two churches invited me

to lead their churches.

A church that offers a full-time salary.

The rest of the church does not.

I chose the second church

because I believe I will grow more there.

(And because Margaret is willing to work to help us!)

The second position

I hold with a larger church gives me a better salary.

That was in 1972.

Of all the career changes so far,

there was only one place

that offered a favorable salary

– it was 2010!

Why am I always willing to accept a pay cut when changing jobs?

Because I value chance more than guarantee.

And I know I will work hard

and possibly earn more in the long run.

As my friend Kevin Turner,

COO of Microsoft, puts it:

“The only job security we have is our commitment to personal growth.”

It’s a trade-off that always pays off.

“The only job security we have is our commitment

to personal growth.”– Kevin Turner


2. I am willing to give up immediate gratification in exchange

for personal growth

I am a very optimistic person,

and I like to have fun.

In fact, if you knew when I was a kid,

you’d probably guess

that my life wasn’t going to work out.

I’m useless.

All I want to do is play football

and spend time with my friends.

But as I became an adult,

I learned the words of opera singer Beverly Sills:

“There are no shortcuts to anywhere of value.”

Immediate rewards and personal growth never go hand in hand.

A friend of mine Darren Hardy wrote in his book

The Compound Effect about the war most people experience

when considering taking immediate rewards

or doing what’s best for them.

we are as follows:

We know that if we keep eating syrupy cookies,

our waistlines will never get smaller.

We realize that spending three hours a night

watching Dancing with the Stars

and NCIS will take us three hours

to read a book or listen to good music.

We know that paying for an expensive pair

of running shoes doesn’t make us ready

to run a marathon.

We are a “rational” species

– at least that’s what we say about ourselves.

So why do we become slaves of so many bad habit?

It is because of our need for immediate gratification,

which can turn us into the most passive,

thoughtless beings.

When it comes to growth and success,

immediate satisfaction is always the enemy of growth.

We can choose to please ourselves and settle down,

or we can delay gratification and growth.

That is our choice.


3. I’m willing to give up a fast life in exchange

for a beautiful life

We live in a culture that stereotypes movie and movie stars,

covets luxurious mansions,

idealizes travel,

and plays the lottery in the hope of one day having it,

opportunity to thrive with an admirable life.

But it was almost an illusion.

It’s like a well-groomed model on the cover of a magazine.

It’s not real.

It’s just one of the reasons

I choose to give up the rush life in exchange for a good life.

What is the good life?

In their book Repacking Your Bags,

Richard J. Leider and David A.

Shapiro offer a recipe for the good life.

They say,

“Living where you belong,

with the people you love,

doing the right job,

the right purpose.”

That’s a pretty good description.

I will also add to what evangelist Albert Schweitzer said:

“The great secret of success is going through life as someone

who never runs out of energy.”

In order to keep myself from being “out of energy”,

I try to create greater inner capacity

and thus always succeed in life.

If you want to create competence and succeed in life,

I recommend the following:

• Authorize you to work smarter,

not just harder.

• Do what you do best and ignore the rest.

• Take control of your schedule;

otherwise someone else will do it.

• Do what you love because it gives you energy.

• Work with people you like so your energy won’t run out.

if you do those things

while doing the right job

with the right purpose in the right place

with the people you love,

you will have a good life.


4. I’m willing to give up warranties in exchange for meaning

I know many people whose life goal is security:



and financial security.

But I don’t think it’s wiser

to measure progress with assurance as a yardstick.

I think we should measure by meaning.

And that requires development.

You’ll never get anywhere interesting

by always doing what’s safe.

Most people can make a living.

It’s a safe thing.

Meaningful work makes a difference.

The great men of history are not great

because of what they earned and possessed,

but because of what they spent their lives achieving.

Every trade-off is a challenge

to becoming the person we might actually be.

If they’re done correctly,

we can create opportunities

to help others become who they might actually be.

That is the meaning!

The great men of history are not great

because of what they earned and possessed,

but because of what they spent their lives achieving.


5. I am willing to give up the addition in exchange

for the multiplication

I started my career as a successful person.

I always have a lot of energy,

I’m happy to work with the people I love,

and I never need a lot of sleep.

So I threw myself into work

and was motivated to help people.

My attitude at the beginning was

“What can I do for others?”

But that’s an addition.

Once I started learning how to lead,

my question changed:

“What can I do with others?”

That is multiplication.

Where I’m investing a lot of time,


and resources to multiply is EQUIP,

the nonprofit I founded to teach leadership globally.

With the intention of collaborating with others

and helping more people,

we asked that:

What if a company led every day…

Efforts to add value to leaders and organizations

value the spirit of cooperation and actively pursue them;

Share, rather than hoard,

resources and knowledge with others;

Doesn’t care who gets the credit; and

Become a fishing rod instead

of a fish in the process of helping others?

The answer is multiplication!

As of today,

EQUIP has trained more than five million leaders

in 175 countries around the world.

That is a very rewarding result.

If you’ve never considered yourself a leader,

I’d like to encourage you

to explore your potential

for leadership development.

Even if you’ve been extremely successful in your personal growth,

skills and abilities,

if you learn to lead,

you can continue to influence those around you even more.

However, if you believe you are incapable of leading others,

then consider becoming a mentor.

Your investment in others will have a scaling effect,

and you won’t regret the time you spent.

Most people try to take too much

with them when they go on a life journey.

They want to keep adding

without taking anything away.

That won’t work.

You can’t do everything;

only a certain amount of time in a day.

At some point, you will reach your limit.

Besides, we need to always remember that if nothing happens,

nothing will change!

We can learn a lot about trade-offs from checkers.

As someone once said:

One step back,

two steps forward;

don’t take two steps at once;


instead of backward;

and when you get to the top,

you are free to move as you want.

If you want to reach your potential,

be prepared to make a trade-off.

As author James Allen once said:

“He who sacrifices little will gain little;

Whoever achieves much will be forced

to make a lot of sacrifices.”



1. Write down your personal list of trade-offs.

Start by using the list in the chapter to spark ideas:

� I’m willing to give up financial security today

for tomorrow’s potential

� I’m willing to give up immediate gratification in exchange

for personal growth

� I’m willing to give up a rushed life in exchange

for a beautiful life

� I’m willing to give up security in exchange

for meaning

� I’m willing to give up additions in exchange

for multiplication

Think about the worthwhile trade-offs you’ve made in the past

that you think will continue to be great ideas for the future.

Consider what you need to achieve your potential

or need to give up to reach it.

2. It’s important to know what you’re not willing to give up

in order to determine

what you’re willing to give up.

Think about the non-negotiables in your life

and list them out.

Then for each, identify its greatest potential threat

and the safety measures you need

to put in place to protect it.

3. What trade-offs do you need right now that you don’t want to do?

Most people prefer to settle down

and learn to live with a limit

or barrier that can be removed by trade-offs.

What’s the next thing you need to trade off?

And what do you have to give up to get it?


Chapter 12 The Principle of Curiosity

Is it possible to stimulate curiosity by asking why?

Some people see things as they are and ask why.

Others dream about things like

they never could and ask why not.”— George Bernard Shaw

When I was a freshman in college taking Basic Psychology,

everyone in the class was asked

to do a creativity experiment.

To my surprise and disappointment,

my grades were among the worst in my class.

What’s so bad? you can ask.

A lot of people aren’t creative.

The thing is,

I know I’m going to be a speaker for a living,

and there’s nothing worse than being a boring speaker.

How can I overcome this shortfall in my profession?

I rely on a distinct trait that I possess a lot:


I’ve been curious since I was a kid.

When I was a teenager,

I was just like you

– only with one difference.

They like to sleep in,

but I like to get up early in the morning.

I’ve always been afraid

that if I stayed in bed,

I’d miss something!

Now I find it funny

because I live in a small town in central Ohio

where very little can happen,

so what could I be missing out on?

However, this sets me apart from my friends.

I started using this nature to collect quotes,


and ideas.

I thought to myself,

the best way to avoid being bored is

to quote people who are not boring.

I started looking for ideas that were stated in a funny,


or inspirational way.

But guess what happened after

I’ve been doing that for years?

I began to ask why their stories

and claims were so interesting.

Why are they cute?

Why do people laugh at them?

Why are they creative?

Why do people connect with them?

Before long,

I was learning from the quotes

I had gathered how to create my own creative and memorable ideas.

It took my communication skills to a whole new level.

And better than that,

it also stimulates my personal growth and achievement.



Am I born curious?

Or was it injected into me afterwards?

I don’t know either,

but I do know:

I’ve continued to be curious

and nurtured that curiosity throughout my life.

And that’s important

because I believe curiosity is the key

to being a lifelong learner,

and if you want to keep growing,

you have to keep learning.

Curious people crave knowledge.

They are interested in lives,



experiences and events;

they live in a constant state of wanting to learn more.

They keep asking why?

Curiosity is the main catalyst for voluntary learning.

Curious people need not be encouraged

to ask questions or explore.

They just kept doing it

– always.

They know that trails to discover are as exciting

as discoveries themselves,

because there are great things

to be learned along the way.

Curiosity helps one to think

and expand possibilities beyond the average person.

The question why?

spark the imagination.

It leads to discovery.

It opens up options.

It takes people above mediocrity

and leads an extraordinary life.

You don’t know how deep the river is,

but as someone once said:

“The world belongs to those

who cross the river in their imagination

before anyone does it.”

I believe that is

why the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein said:

“Every meaningful and lasting change starts

with your imagination

and then works its way.

” Einstein made his great inventions

because he was a curious person.

And he considers his curious nature and imagination

to be his greatest qualities.



I like curious people.

I love spending time

with them and chatting with them.

Their excitement for knowledge

and learning is contagious.

I often wonder why so many people are not curious.

Too many people seem indifferent.

Why don’t they ask why?

Are some people born without the desire to learn?

Or are they lazy?

Or has life become so cliché that they don’t mind

when they’re living a boring life,

doing the same things day in and day out?

Can such people “awaken” their minds

and become more curious

so that personal growth becomes more natural to them?

I hope yes.

I believe yes.

That’s why I wrote this chapter.

And that’s

why I recommend following these 10 tips to foster curiosity:


1. Believe you can be curious

Many people fill their minds with limiting beliefs.

Their lack of confidence

or self-esteem causes them

to create barriers for themselves

and impose restrictions on how

and what they think.


They fail to reach their potential

– not because they lack competence,

but because they

they don’t want to be willing

to expand their beliefs

and break new foundations.

We cannot achieve disproportionately superior

to what we think within.

You can’t be the person you believe you can’t be.

But the good news is:

You can change your mind

and thereby change your life.

Allow yourself to be curious.

The biggest difference between curious,

progressive people and the rest is the belief that

they can learn, grow,

and change.

As I explained in the chapter

The Principles of Intention,

you have to stick to growth.

Knowledge, understanding

and wisdom will not find you.

You have to find them.

The best way to do that is to be curious.

The biggest difference between people

who are curious,

growing and those

who are not curious

or growing is the belief that they can learn,


and change.


2. Have a Beginner’s Mindset

The way you approach life

and learning has nothing to do with age.

You can do anything with your attitude.

Having a beginner’s mindset means asking yourself

why and asking lots of questions

until you have the answers.

It also means openness and vulnerability.

If your attitude is like that of a beginner,

you have no image to defend and desire

to learn more to save face.

You are not influenced by preset principles

or the so-called accept-ability mindset.

“My biggest strength as a consultant is being clueless

and asking a few questions,”

says management expert Peter Drucker.

That’s a beginner’s mindset.

“My biggest strength as a consultant is being clueless

and asking a few questions.”– Peter Drucker

People with a “beginner mindset” approach life the way a child does:

with curiosity.

They were like a little girl asking her mother question after question.

Finally the mother had to shout:

“Oh, please don’t ask so many questions, baby.

Curiosity killed the cat!”

After a few minutes of thinking, the child continued to ask,

“So, what does the cat want to know, Mom?”

The opposite of those

with a beginner’s mindset are the know-it-all.

They consider themselves experts.

They have a lot of knowledge,

education and experience,

so instead of asking

why and starting to listen,

they start talking and giving answers.

Anytime a person answers more than questions,

you can be sure that they have slowed down their growth

and have lost their motivation

for personal growth.

Anytime a person answers more than questions,

you can be sure

that they have slowed down their growth

and have lost their motivation for personal growth.


3. Make “why” your favorite word

Albert Einstein said,

“It is important not to stop asking.

Curiosity has its own reason for existence.

One can do nothing

but marvel as one contemplates the mysteries of eternity,

of life,

of the wondrous structure of reality.

That’s enough if one is just trying

to understand a little bit of this mystery every day.

Never lose your holy curiosity.”

The secret to maintaining that “holy curiosity” is

to always ask why.

In my early years as a leader,

I thought I was supposed to be an answering machine.

No matter what someone asks,

I guide,


and answer questions clearly

– whether I really know what I’m doing or not!

As an adult,

I’ve discovered that development leaders focus on asking questions

instead of answering them.

The more we ask, the better we,

as a team,

will get.

And the urge to ask more questions increases.

These days I always force myself to learn about the people I meet.

I have become a questioning machine.

Speaker and author Brian tracy says:

“A great stimulus for creative thinking are focused questions.

There is something about a carefully worded question

that often hits the heart of the matter

and generates new ideas and insights.”

Most focus questions begin with the word “Why”.

Words can really help clarify an issue.

And what matters is how you ask the question.

People with a victim mindset will ask,

“Why me?”

Not because they want to know why,

but because they feel sorry for themselves.

Curious people ask questions to find solutions

so they can continue

to progress and grow.

Scientist and philosopher Georg Christoph Lichtenberg observed:

“One’s first step towards wisdom is

to question everything

and the last step is to accept everything.”

It is the basis for continuous development.

Ask why.


Rate what you discover.


That’s a pretty cool recipe for growth.

Never forget,

whoever knows all the answers is not asking the right questions.


4. Spend time with other curious people

When you think about curiosity,

growth and learning,

do you think about formal education?

I think that in the early school years,

curiosity is encouraged,

but after that, it is not.

Most formal education programs direct people to answers,

not questions.

If you were in college,

how many times have you seen a professor ask students

to stop asking questions

so he could finish or finish his syllabus?

Do you see an open and information-seeking attitude in organizations?

Usually not.

Most corporations don’t try to encourage curiosity.

Jerry Hirshberg, in his book The Creative Priority:

Putting Innovation to work in your business, writes:

No one in a company deliberately stifles an innovative idea.

However, a traditional bureaucratic structure,

with its need for predictability,

linear logic,

acceptance of standards,

and the dictates of the most recent “foresight” vision statements,

is a standard machine.

Kill the idea almost perfectly.

Everyone in the group retreated to the safety

of the familiar and well-controlled.

Even creators do.

That’s easier.

It avoids ambiguity,

the fear of the unpredictable,

the threat of the unfamiliar,

and the confusion of human intuition and emotions.

So what do you have to do to foster curiosity

and stimulate growth?

You have to look for other curious people.

A few years ago,

Margaret and I went to Jordan on vacation.

We love history and art,

and over the years we have heard

and read about Petra,

the old city built of sandstone.

If you’ve seen Indiana Jones and the last Crusade,

you may remember the stone facade engraved

with a message about

where the Holy Grail is hidden.

That scene in the movie was filmed outside the Treasury in Petra.

When we visited Petra,

we walked many miles.

At the time,

I needed knee replacement surgery,

so I found the experience difficult and painful.

By lunchtime,

I was exhausted

and had terrible knee pain.

As we were eating, the guide told us

there was a nicer place

to see what’s carved in the rock.

It was on the next mountain,

and we could see it,

but we had to climb it ourselves.

Most people choose not to participate.

Like me, they were tired.

I also refused.

But as we sat down for lunch

and a few people decided

to join in and get ready to go,

I started to wonder.

They were curious and excited about the trip,

and their excitement began

to excite and inspire me.

Arousing my former curiosity and unable

to bear the thought of missing something,


and I decided to join the group.

It took us an hour to climb the mountain

and two hours to get back,

but it was worth it.

I didn’t even mind having

to soak my knees in a hotel room all night.

Being surrounded

by curious people is amazing.

I don’t know of a better way

to nurture and maintain curiosity.


5. Learn something new every day

One of the best ways to stay curious is

to start each day with a determination

to learn something new,

experience something different,

or meet someone you don’t know.

Doing this requires three things.

First, you must wake up

with an open mind

to new things.

You have to treat that day as a day filled

with opportunities to learn.

Second, you must stay open and receptive

to new information throughout the day.

Most unsuccessful people accept their day

as it should be,

see things as they are, and simply look forward

to the end of the day.

Most successful people stick to their day,

focus on it,

and ignore distractions.

Developing people both focus

and maintain a sensitivity

and awareness

that helps them embrace new experiences.

The third factor is thinking.

Seeing something new without taking the time

to think about it doesn’t work.

The same goes for hearing something new without applying it.

I’ve found that the best way

to learn something new is

to take time at the end of the day

to ask yourself questions

that make you think about what you’ve learned.

Over the years,

I’ve made it a habit to sum up the day

and list the highlights.


experience is not the best teacher;

It’s the experience that has been evaluated.

Experience is not the best teacher;

It’s the experience that has been evaluated.


6. Reaping from failures

A curious, developed person sees failure in a completely different way

than a non-curious person.

Most people see failures,


and flaws as signs of weakness.

When they fail, they say,

“I will never do that again!”

But developers see failure as a sign of progress.

They know that there must also be times

when they fail in a series of attempts.

It’s part of a curious journey.

Therefore, they befriend failure.

When failure is your friend, you don’t ask,

“How can I stay away from this experience?”,

instead, you ask,

“Why is this happening?

What can I learn?

How can I grow from here?”

As a result,

you fail fast, learn fast,

and try again faster.

That leads to future growth and success.


7. Stop looking for the right answer

By nature, I am someone who is always looking for options.

However, I know that there are many people

with unusual personality types looking

for the right answer to any question.

Believe it or not, that’s the point.

People with this “single solution” mindset are not

in the best position to learn and grow.

Why? Because there is always more

than one solution to a problem.

If you believe there is only one solution,

you may feel frustrated

because you cannot find it,

or if you think you have found it,

you stop looking and may miss out on new ideas,

thought better.

Also, when you get what you think is right,

you become complacent.

No idea is perfect.

No matter how good it is,

it can always be improved.

You’ve probably heard the saying,

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This sentence is definitely

not from someone determined to grow personally.

If that has been your mindset in the past,

I recommend you change to the mindset

of the person asking the question and replace it

with the following:

• If it’s not broken,

how can we make it better?

• If it doesn’t fail,

when is it likely to fail in the future?

• If it doesn’t break,

how long will it last when the world changes?

Curious people are constantly asking questions,

and as a result,

they are constantly learning.

A few years ago,

I sold my companies

so I could focus my energy

and spend more time writing and speaking.

But after a while,

I got nervous.

I can see that the resources

I’ve developed over the years to help others grow

and learn to lead have not reached everyone the way

I thought they would.

So in 2011 I bought them

and started the John Maxwell Company

so I could direct that process again.

I’m so glad I love my team.

The team is small,

consisting of people who are agile,


and talented.

I put everything in their hands

and let them do as they please.

And I told them I wanted them

to come to work every morning

with the mindset that there was a better way

to do everything they did,

determined to find out

who could help them learn how to do it,

and willing to do anything better than ever.

And they have been doing so!

Roger von Oech,

author of A Whack on the Side of the Head says:

“Almost every advance in art,


medicine agriculture,





and design happened

when someone challenged the principles

and tried a different approach.”

If you want to avoid growing too comfortable

and becoming should stagnate,

continue to question and challenge the process.

Keep asking if there is a better way to do things.

Would that make complacent

and lazy people uncomfortable?

Right. Will it energize, challenge

and inspire those who are growing?


“Almost every advancement in art,






politics, education,

and design has happened

when someone challenged the principles

and tried a different approach is different.”– Roger von Oech


8. Overcome yourself

If you ask questions and let yourself fail,

there will be times

when you will look stupid.

Everyone doesn’t like that.

Do you know what my reaction is?

Overcome yourself! As Roger von Oech put it:

“If we hadn’t tried anything

that would make us look ridiculous,

we’d still just eat the fur in the hole.”

Instead, we need to think like children.

What I like about the kids is that they always ask.

They don’t think the question is silly.

They just ask.

They don’t worry about

whether they’d be foolish

to try something new.

They just do it.

And as a result, they learn.

Richal Thalheimer,

founder of Sharper Image, says,

“It is better to appear stupid than

to be really stupid.

Let go of your ego and keep asking questions.”

That is great advice.


9. Get out of the rut

I love the words of inventor Thomas Edison:

“There are no rules here!

We’re trying to make something happen!”

Edison always tries to innovate,

thinking out of the way.

Most groundbreaking ideas break existing conventions.

They upset the old order.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“Life is an experiment.

The more you experiment,

the better you do.”

“There are no rules here!

We’re trying to make something happen!”– Thomas Edison

I value creative thinking,

and I am easily frustrated by those

who refuse to think outside of their own self-imposed ways.

When failure is your friend,

you don’t ask,

“How can I stay away from this experience?”,


you ask,

“Why is this happening?

What can I learn?

How can I grow from here?”

As a result,

you fail fast,

learn fast,

and try again faster.

That leads to future growth and success.


10. Enjoy your life

Perhaps the best way to stay curious

and keep growing is to enjoy life.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence,


“The race will be on those

who are curious,

a little crazy,

and those who have faith.

Endless passion for learning

and daring to find.”

I believe that thanks to God,

we can enjoy life

and live it well.

That means we have to take risks

– sometimes failure,

sometimes success,

but always learning.

As you enjoy your life,

the lines between work

and play begin to blur.

We do what we love and love what we do.

Everything becomes a learning experience.



Would you say that someone who earned a doctorate,

was a professor at a prestigious university,

and won a Nobel Prize in physics must have reached his

or her full potential?

What if you also learned

that the person was invited

to help invent the first atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project

when he was only 20 years old?

It’s a remarkable achievement, isn’t it?

What is the key to such a person’s success?

Most people would guess intelligence.

But this scientist is famous

for having an above average IQ of just 125.4

Sure, he is smart,

but the real secret to his growth and success is curiosity.

His name is Richard Feynman (pronounced Fine-man).

The son of a uniform salesman from New York City,

Richard is always encouraged

to ask questions and think for himself.

At the age of 11,

he created electrical circuits,

did experiments at home,

and soon gained a reputation

for his ability to repair radios.

He was always exploring,


questioning why.

He began studying algebra in elementary school.

He was very good at trigonometry

and both calculus and differential at the age of 15.5

When his high school physics teacher started

getting upset with him,

he gave him a book and said,

“You talk too much and make noise.

You know why?

I have nothing to do.

Read this book and

when you know everything in the book,

you can continue talking.”

It’s an advanced calculus textbook

for college students!

Feynman has covered it all.

It became another tool in his toolbox

for learning about the world.

He was extremely fond of puzzles and decoding.

When he was in high school,

Richard’s classmates knew this

and threw him all sorts of puzzles,

equations, geometry, etc.

they could find.

You can handle it all.



Feynman’s desire to know why prompted him

to study anything and everything.

He was not only interested in physics or mathematics.

Any idea might interest him.

For example, while majoring in physics at MIT,

he took a summer job as a chemist.

While studying for a PhD at Princeton,

he had lunch with fellows in other fields

to see what questions they were asking

and what problems they were trying to solve.

Thus, he obtained both a doctorate in philosophy and biology.

That curiosity continued throughout his life.

One summer he decided

to conduct genetic research.

Another time,

while on vacation in Guatemala,

he taught himself how

to read ancient Mayan script,

which led to mathematical

and astronomical discoveries about an ancient manuscript.

He became an expert in art,

learned to draw,

and knew enough to have a one-on-one performance.

He was a lifelong learner.

Feynman’s curiosity also waned at times.

That was after years of devoting himself

to the Manhattan project.

He was going through a period of stagnation

and thought he was down.

He lost his will to explore.

But then he discovered the problem.

Feynman wrote:

I used to love doing physics.

Why do I like it?

I used it to play…

For me, it doesn’t matter whether it is important

to the development of nuclear physics,

but it is important to have fun

and be interesting.

When I was in high school,

I saw water coming out of an increasingly narrow faucet,

and wondered

if I could find out what determines that curve.

I find that pretty easy to do.

I don’t have to do that;

it doesn’t matter to the future of science;

someone else has already done it,

it doesn’t make any difference:

I discover things

and play with them for my own amusement.

So I embraced this new attitude.

Now I am stagnant,

and will never achieve anything…

I will play with physics,

whenever I want,

without worrying about any importance.11

That change in mind allowed him

to awaken his curiosity

and cure the disease of “stagnation”.

As a result he began to ask why back.

Not long after,

he saw a man in the university dining room spin a plate by tossing it.

He wondered why the disc was spinning

and spinning like that.

He relied on math to figure out the principle

and drew some drawings,

just for fun.

The graphs and math he did in doing this,

which he called “fun fiddling with the turntable,”

are what led to him receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics.12

So what he did eventually work for science.

But it happened simply

because he wanted to find out

why to satisfy his curiosity!

Feynman lived by the Curiosity Principle.

How about you?

For the answer,

ask yourself these 10 questions:

1. Do you believe you can be curious?

2. Do you have a beginner’s mindset?

3. Do you make why your favorite word?

4. Do you spend time with curious people?

5. Do you learn something new every day?

6. Do you reap from failure?

7. Have you stopped looking for the right answer?

8. Have you overcome yourself?

9. Are you out of the rut?

10. Do you enjoy life?

If the answers are yes,

then you are probably curious.

If not, you need to change.

And you can change.

Being able to answer

Yes to these questions has nothing

to do with natural intelligence,

talent level,

or access to opportunity.

The point lies in being curious

and willing to ask why?

Author Dorothy Parker says:

“The cure for boredom is curiosity.

There is no cure for curiosity.”

That is very true.

When you are curious,

the whole world opens up

before you

and there are very few restrictions on

what you can learn

and how you can grow.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity.

There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker



1. Think of three to five major areas in your life

where you focus most of your time and energy.

How do you see yourself in each of those areas?

Do you think you are an expert

or a beginner?

If you see yourself as an expert,

you could be in trouble

when it comes to further development.

Beginners know they have a lot to learn

and are open to every possible idea.

They are ready to think outside the box.

They are not limited to pre-existing concepts.

They are willing to try new things.

If you have a beginner’s mindset,

do everything you can to maintain it.

If you already think of yourself as an expert,


Find a way to reawaken the beginner’s attitude.

Find a mentor who is ahead

of you in that area.

Do what Richard Feynman did:

Find joy again.

2. Make a list of the people

with whom you spend the most time in a given week.

Now rate each person on their level of curiosity.

Most are people who like

to ask questions?

Do they often ask why?

Do they enjoy learning new things?

If not, you need to make some intentional changes

to spend time with more curious people.

3. One of the biggest obstacles to curiosity

and learning is the reluctance

to look silly in the eyes of others.

There are two easy ways to tell

if this is a potential problem in your life:

The first is fear of failure.

The second is to take yourself too seriously.

The cure is to take

what I call a “learning risk”.

Sign up to do

or learn something

that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Take an art class.

Sign up for dance classes.

Study a martial art.

Learn a foreign language.

Find a calligraphy or miniatures master to study.

Just make sure you choose something that makes you happy,

your field of study cannot be seen as an expert,

and is outside your comfort zone.


Chapter 13 Principles to set an example

It’s hard to make progress

when you have no one to study with

The most important personal development phrase

you will ever hear a good leader say to you is:

“Follow me!”

In the chapter on Intentional Principles,

I wrote about how I unsuccessfully searched for people

with growth plans who could help me learn

how to grow in 1972.

That led me to purchase the kit Curt Kampmeier offered

and start my own path of purposeful personal development.

That gave me a great start,

but I have to admit that my early development

was ruined or missed.

I learned by trial and error.

On the positive side,

personal development became my top priority.

I learned how to choose books to read,

lessons to listen to,

and conferences to attend.

At first I used the “batch” approach.

I embrace whatever appeals to me.

But I didn’t get the motivation I was hoping for.

Then I discovered

that I needed to focus on developing areas of my strength:



and communications.

As I did, my effectiveness in personal development began

to increase.

I also started learning how to glean what I was learning.

Resources are of little value

unless you can extract what you need.

That means taking helpful notes,

collecting quotes,

and reflecting on what you learn.

I often summarize whai

I have learned

and write milestones of action that are special

to me on the inside of the front cover of the book.

I also collect,


and save stories

and quotes on a daily basis.

I also apply whatever

I have learned as soon as possible.

All of these things have become part of the daily discipline

for the past 40 years.

My car became my classroom

when I listened to tapes and CDs afterwards.

My desk always has a stack of books

that I regularly read.

My document files are constantly growing.

I am growing, my leadership is improving,

and I have seen better results at work.

On the negative side,

I realized something also during this time.

Personal growth

without the support of personal mentors can take me so far.

If I want to be a leader

– and believe that God made me to be

– I need to find role models to learn from.

Why? Because it’s hard to improve

when you have no one to follow.

That is the lesson of the Principle of Modeling.



I have learned a lot from people

I have never met.

Dale Carnegie taught me human skills

when I read Winning Human Hearts in middle school.

James Allen helped me understand that my attitude

and the way I think affects my life

when I read When People Think.

And Oswald Sander showed me the importance of leadership

for the first time when I read his book,

Spiritual Leadership.

Most people who decide

to develop themselves find their first mentors in the pages of books.

That’s a great place to start.

It’s also a great place to move on.

Every year,

I still learn from dozens of people

I will never meet.

But at some point,

you also have to look for personal role models.

If you just do it your way,

you’ll find yourself just walking around.

Most people who decide

to develop themselves find their first mentors

in the pages of books.

I have had the privilege of connecting

with many leaders whom I find very rewarding.

People like mentor Fred Smith,

speaker Zig Ziglar,

and coach John Wooden have helped me tremendously.

Other people “seem” interesting

but in person are disappointing.

That said,

you have to be selective about mentors and role models.

I smile every time

I think about the homeless guy sitting on a park bench.

The first guy said,

“I’m here because I don’t listen to anyone.”

The second guy replied,

“I’m here because I’ve heard everyone.”

None of the above actions helped.

You must choose carefully

who you will choose to be your advisor.

From the positive

and negative experiences

I’ve had with mentors,

I’ve come up with criteria to determine the “worthy”

of a role model for me to follow.

I share them with you in the hope

that they will help you make good choices

for this area of your development.

1. A good mentor is a worthy example

We become like the people we admire

and the role models we follow.

For that reason,

we should be careful when identifying

whom we ask to be our mentors.

Not only must they demonstrate professional excellence

and possess skill sets we can all learn from,

but they must demonstrate admirable character.

Many athletes,

politicians, and business leaders try

to refuse to be any role models

when others follow them

and imitate their behavior.

They want people to separate their personal behavior

from their work,

but that’s unthinkable.

Religious leader and author Gordon B. Hinckley offers this advice:

It is unwise to separate private behavior

from public leadership

– although many have tried

to argue that this is the only possible view

of “enlightened” individuals.

They were wrong.

They were deceived.

In essence, true leadership carries

with it the burden of being an example.

Is it too much to ask for any public servant,

elected by their constituencies,

to stand up straight

and be a role model

to everyone

– not only in terms of ordinary leadership

but also about their behavior?

If values are not established

and held firmly in the executive position,

the behavior of subordinates will be severely affected

and destructive.

Indeed, in any organization where this is the case

– be it a family,

a company,

a society or a country

– neglected values will gradually disappear over time.

As you look for role models and mentors,

examine their personal lives

and community performance carefully.

Your values will be influenced by their own values,

so you should not be too careless while choosing.

2. Always have an effective advisor available

Steel magnate and philanthropist Carnegie said:

“As I get older,

I care less about what people say.

I just watch what they do.”

In order for us to be able

to observe patterns up close

and see what they do,

we have to contact them.

That requires your reach

and the willingness of the other party.

For proactive mentoring,

we must spend time

with people asking questions

and learning from their answers.

“As I get older,

I care less about what people say.

I just watch what they do.”- Andrew Carnegie

When I was a mentor,

we usually only met formally a few times a year.

However, during that year,

we sometimes spent some informal time together.

Many of their mentoring questions are fueled by my actions,

not my words.

That thought broke my heart,

because I knew there were times

when I fell short of the ideals and values I taught.

As I often say,

my biggest leadership challenge is leading myself!

Teaching others is easy.

But setting an example for them is much more difficult.

My biggest leadership challenge is leading myself!

The best piece of advice

I can give about partner willingness is

when you’re looking for a mentor,

don’t ask too much too soon.

If you are considering entering politics

for the first time,

do not expect to receive advice

from the President of the United States.

If you’re a high school student thinking

of learning to play the cello,

you don’t need to be mentored by Yo-Yo Ma.

If you’re fresh out of college

and just starting your career,

don’t expect to receive in-depth consultation time

from the CEO in your organization.

You might be thinking:

Why shouldn’t I?

Why not start with the best?

First of all,

if you’re just starting out,

nearly all of your questions can be answered

by someone two

or three levels higher than you (rather than 10).

And their answer will be fresh

because they have just dealt

with the problems you are facing recently.

Second, CEOs need to take the time

to answer questions

from people close to their level.

I’m not saying you should never approach people at the top.

I’m just saying spend most of your time being mentored

by people who have the time,

are willing,

and are a good fit for your career stage.

And as you make progress in your growth,

find new mentors commensurate

with your new level of growth.


3. An effective mentor is someone with proven experiences

The further you go in your pursuit of your potential,

the more you have to discover new things.

How did you figure out how to handle that?

As the Chinese proverb says,

“If you want to know

what the road ahead is,

ask the people

who are going back there.”

“In the early 1970s

when my church was growing rapidly,

I realized that I was moving into territory

I had never been to before,

and didn’t know anyone there.

To find out how to lead better in this new area,

I started looking for successful church leaders in major churches

around the country.

I have told many times the story of how

I offered to pay them $100 in exchange for their 30 minutes.

Many people happily agreed to meet me.

I would go to the meeting with a notebook full of questions

and collect answers from them.

I don’t know how much more I’ve learned from these encounters.

“If you want to know what the road ahead is like,

ask those who are returning from there.”- Chinese proverb

Every time I join a new project,

I seek advice from people

with proven experience.

When I started my first business,

I talked to successful entrepreneurs

who could give me advice.

When I wanted to write my first book,

I studied under successful authors

who could guide me.

To learn how to communicate more effectively,

I studied communicators.

Hearing about their bad experiences made me

aware of the potential problems

I would face along the way.

Hearing about their good experiences helps me predict

the potential opportunities ahead.

I don’t know successful people

who didn’t learn from people

who were more experienced than them.

Sometimes they follow in the footsteps of their mentors.

Sometimes they use their mentor’s advice

to explore new territory.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said:

“All leaders are influenced by people they admire.

Reading about them

and studying their personalities

will certainly allow an inspired leader

to develop his

or her own leadership traits.”

“All leaders are influenced by the people they admire.

Reading about them and studying their personalities

will certainly allow an inspired leader

to develop his or her own leadership traits.”- Rudy Giuliani

4. An effective advisor possesses wisdom

There is a famous story about a specialist

who was invited by a company

to review their production system.

It’s broken and everything is at a standstill.

When the expert arrived,

he brought nothing but a small black bag.

He quietly walked around the device

for a few minutes and then stopped.

When he focused on a specific area of the device,

he took the small hammer out of his pocket

and tapped it lightly.

Suddenly everything started running again,

and he quietly left.

The next day,

he sent in an invoice

that stunned the manager.

A $1,000 bill!

The manager promptly e-mailed the specialist saying,

“I will not pay this bill

without listing the repair items

and explaining in detail.”

Immediately he received a receipt

with the following content:

Hammer on the machine: 1 dollar

Cong discovered the place to type: $999

That is the value of wisdom!

Wise counselors often tell us

where to “hit the hammer.”

Their knowledge,

experience and knowledge help us

to solve problems

that we would not have been able

to handle on our own.

Fred Smith is a very influential mentor in my life.

One day I asked him

why very successful people often ruin their lives

and hurt their careers.

“Never confuse a person’s ability

with that of another,” he said.

Their abilities allow them to do great things

but the person can be emotional,

which ultimately causes harm.”

That little bit of wisdom helped me a lot.

First, it has helped me better understand

how to work with talented people

and help them grow.

Second, it’s also a warning

to me personally.

I know that having talent

in a certain area does not make me immune

to discipline or personality problems.

We are all just one step away from stupidity.

Wise people often use just a few words

to help us learn and grow.

They help us better understand other worlds

that we might not see without their help.

They help us through difficult situations.

They help us see opportunities

that we might otherwise miss.

They make us wiser than before.


5. An effective mentor offers sincerity and support

The first question most mentors ask their mentors is:

“Are you interested in me?”

The reason for this question is very clear.

Who wants to be guided

by someone who doesn’t care about them?

The selfish person will support you only in moderation.

Good mentors offer sincerity and support,

making an effort to help you reach your potential generously.

Their mindset is expressed

through the comment of business coach

and author James S. Vuocolo,

as follows:

“Great things happen

whenever we stop seeing ourselves as a gift from God.

give to others,

and begin to see others as God’s gift to us.”

“Great things happen

whenever we stop seeing ourselves as God’s gift to others,

and start seeing others

as God’s gift to us.”– James S. Vuocolo

One evening

I was enjoying dinner

with former Girl Scouts CEO Frances Hesselbein

and author Jim Collins.

Both were mentored by Peter Drucker,

often called the father of modern management.

I met Drucker and learned from him,

but they had a long relationship with him

and knew him very well.

I asked them what they learned from him,

and their responses focused on

man’s friendship is more than his wisdom as an expert.

What Jim Collins told me that evening

was expressed very succinctly in an article

he wrote after Drucker’s death:

But for me, Drucker’s most important lessons cannot

be found in any text

or lecture but in the example of his life.

I went to Claremont, California in 1994

to seek wisdom

from the greatest management thinker of our time,

and I felt that I had met a man of compassion and kindness,

a genius with talented.

We have lost not only a great master

but also a respected professor

who welcomed students into his humble home

for a warm and inspiring conversation.

Peter F. Drucker is motivated not

by the desire to say something

but by the desire to learn something

from every student he meets

– and that is why he has become one of the most influential teachers

in the world,

with the greatest influence most of us have ever known.1

If the person offering you mentoring doesn’t really support you

and build a good relationship,

the relationship will always fall short of your expectations.

Knowledge without support is useless.

Advice without sincerity is aloof.

To be frank but heartless is cruel.

However, when you are helped

by someone who cares about you,

you feel emotionally fulfilled.

Development comes from both the mind and the heart.

Only supporters are willing

to share both with you.


6. Effective mentors make a difference in people’s lives

A major theme in my life is the desire

to add value to people

and make a difference in their lives.

One of the ways

I do that is by mentoring them.

But my time is so limited

that I can only guide a few people.

This has frustrated me

and many people

who have asked me

to coach them

or train them to coach others are equally disappointed.

Finally, I have discovered a solution

to this problem.

In 2011, some friends helped me

create a coaching company called John Maxwell Team.

It has become one of my greatest “make a difference” commitments

as it allows me

to add value to many people

by helping train and certify coaches

who teach principles in my switch.

Together, we are making a difference in the lives of many.

“A ‘coach’ is still something or someone,

bringing a valuable person

from where they are to where they want to be.”— Kevin Hall

I like the word ‘coach’.

I read in the book Aprire by Kevin Hall,

a friend of mine,

that the word came from the draft horse trainers

that appeared in the town of Kocs in the fifteenth century.

The vehicles were originally used to transport nobles,

but during that time they also carried valuables,

mail and ordinary passengers.

As Kevin observes: “a ‘coach’ is

still something or someone,

bringing a valuable person from

where they are to where they want to go.”

So if you have a coach,

you know you’ll get where you want to go.

In a section entitled:

A Coach By Any Other Name,”

Kevin goes on to describe

what it means to be a coach. He wrote:

In other cultures and languages,

coaches are known by many different names

and titles.

In Japan, “sensei” is someone

who has a lot of experience.

In martial arts,

it refers to a master.

In Sanskrit, “guru” is a person of profound knowledge

and wisdom.

“Gu” means darkness,

and “ru” means light

– a “guru”

is someone who brings someone

from darkness to light.

In Tibetan, “lama” is a person

with the spirit and right to teach.

In Tibetan Buddhism,

the Dalai Lama is the highest teacher.

In Italy, a “maestro” is a master of music.

It stands for “maestro de cappella”,

which means bishop of chapel.

In France, a “tutor” is a tutor.

The term dates back to the 14th century

and refers to someone

who served as a watchman.

In the UK, a “guide” is someone

who knows and shows the way.

It denotes the ability to see

and point better directions.

In Greece, “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor.

In The Odyssey,

Homer’s Counselor is someone

who is capable of protection and support.

All these words describe the same role:

a person who leads the way.

No matter what word you use to describe them,

coaches make a difference in the lives of others.

They help these people grow.

They improve potency.

They help increase productivity.

They help people achieve positive changes.

As my friend Andy Stanley says in The Next Generation Leaders,

“You will never maximize your potential in any field

without coaching.

That’s impossible.

You can do well.

You may be even better than everyone else.

But without outside input,

you’ll never do as well as you could.

We all do better

when someone is observing and evaluating…

Self-assessment is helpful,

but judgment from others is essential.”

“Self-assessment is helpful,

but judgment from others is essential.”- Andy Stanley

In my opinion,

good coaches have the following five things in common:

• Take an interest in the person they coach.

• Observe the coach’s attitudes,

behaviors and performance.

• Put the trained person in a position commensurate

with their own strengths

for maximum effectiveness.

• Communicate and give feedback on the coach’s performance.

• Help the coache improve life

and performance.

I have been supported

by hundreds of people over the years

who have become role models

for personal growth,

guided me through their successes,

and coached me to greater performance

by use these five characteristics.

I owe them deep gratitude.

The development process

with the help of a mentor often follows this pattern:

It begins with awareness.

You realize that you need help

and that doing it yourself is not a viable option

for effective personal growth.

I was fortunate to realize this very early in my career.

I realized that I didn’t have the experience,

the reputation,

and the role models in my relationship

to develop to my potential.

When a person realizes that,

one of two things can happen.

The first is that his pride is on the rise

and he won’t go and ask for advice on his own.

This is a common reaction.

In The Corporate Steeplechase,

psychologist Srully Blotnick says that people in their 20s

who start their careers tend

to be embarrassed to ask questions.

When they are 30,

their ego makes it difficult

for them to seek advice from their peers.

In order not to be humiliated in front of others,

they hide their ignorance.

Another reaction to that realization is

to put yourself down and say,

“I need your help.”

That decision not only brings more knowledge,

but also makes us more mature.

It reinforces that people need each other

– not just when they are young

and just starting out in their careers,

but throughout life.

As Chuck Swindoll eloquently states in his book

The Finishing Touch that:

No one is a whole chain.

Each person is a link.

If any link is removed,

the chain will break.

No one is a team.

Each person is a player.

If one person is dropped,

the match will be lost.

No one is an orchestra.

Everyone is a musician.

Without one person,

the symphony would not be complete…

You know what I mean?

We need each other.

You need someone and someone needs you.

We are not isolated islands.

To make this a lifelong job,

we need to support

and rely on each other.

Give and receive.

Confess and forgive.

Reach and grab.

Release and lean on…

Since none of us are a whole,




let’s give up pretending to be that person.

Life is lonely enough

even if we don’t play that silly role.

Game over.

Let’s connect.

As I look back on my life,

I realize that my greatest asset

in my growth journey is people.

But then again,

it’s the biggest debt.

The people you follow,

the people you follow,

the mentors you ask for advice

make you who you are.

If you spend time with people

who are your “minus”

who devalue you or undervalue you,

every step forward you try

to make will be very difficult.

But if you find wise leaders,

role models,

and good friends,

you’ll find that they help speed your journey.

I have been fortunate

to have many great mentors in my life.

My first role models were my parents,

Melvin and Laura Maxwell.

I learned integrity and unconditional love from them.

Elmer Town and Zig Ziglar were

two of the first mentors outside of the family.

Elmer was the first to teach me to grow my church.

Zig was the first personal development speaker

I followed.

Both became good friends.

Tom Philippe and my brother Larry Maxwell have mentored me in business.

Les Stobbe helped me learn how to write my first book.

Peter Drucker helped me understand the importance

of developing people to the point

where they can replace me.

Fred Smith helped me refine my leadership skills.

Bill Bright showed me the impact

that business thinkers can have on the world’s faith.

John Wooden taught me

how to be a better person.

No matter who you are,

what you do,

whatever your status,

you can still benefit from

owning an advisor.

If you’ve never had a mentor,

you don’t know how it can improve your life.

If you’ve ever had a mentor,

you already know

– and you should start relaying the benefits

of being a mentor to others,

because you know it’s hard to progress without a mentor.



1. Find a mentor for the next step.

Think about where you are in your career

and where you want to go.

Find someone you admire

who is two

or three levels ahead of you.

This person doesn’t have to be in your organization.

Look for the qualities needed in an effective mentor:

being a role model,

willing to help,

proven experience,

expertise and coaching skills.

If these qualities are present in an individual,

ask that person to help you.

Before any meeting with a counselor,

prepare three to five thoughtful questions,

the answers to which will help you tremendously.

After the meeting,

make an effort

to apply what you’ve learned

to your own situation.

Don’t suggest the next meeting

if you haven’t already done so.

At your next meeting,

start by letting your mentor know

how you applied what you learned

(or tried to apply it and failed,

so you can how to learn from those mistakes).

Then ask your new questions.

Doing it this way,

makes your instructor feel rewarded

for their efforts and contributions,

which in turn will likely be happy

to continue helping you.


2. We all need people

who can help us strengthen specific strengths

or work through certain problem areas.

Who do you talk to

when you have problems related to marriage,


spiritual development,

personal discipline,

hobbies, etc.?

No one can answer all these questions.

You need to find personal “counselors”

to help you.

Take the time to make two lists.

First, list specific strengths and skills that you want

to improve to reach your potential.

Second, list specific problem areas

where you feel you need ongoing guidance.

Start looking for people with expertise in these specific areas

and ask if they’ll be available

to answer questions as you pose them.


3. Do you have lasting role models that you observe,

follow and learn from

who can give you advice about your life

and career in general?

Or are you trying to improve yourself

while having no one to follow?

If you haven’t asked others

to help you on your journey,

it’s time to start doing this.

Most of us start by finding worthy role models

by reading about them through books.

Start from there.

But don’t just stop there.

Look for people

who are directly approachable in life.

For me, such a person is John Wooden.

For decades,

I have learned from him from afar.

I watched his teams play on television.

I follow his career.

I read everything he wrote.

However, when he was about 90 years old,

I had the privilege

of seeing him twice a year for many years.

I have learned a lot from him

and am grateful

for the time he spent with me.

When looking for role models and mentors,

I want to give you some advice.

Many times, there are people

who seem interesting from a distance,

but as you approach them,

you will discover qualities you don’t admire.

If that happens to you,

don’t let it discourage you.

There are many people out there

who deserve

to be respected

and followed (like John Wooden).

Just keep going and you’ll find them.


Chapter 14. Extended Principle

Growth always enhances your abilities

“There is no such thing as a finish line.”

— Nike Commercial

Have you maximized your potential?

Have you reached your maximum potential?

I believe that

if you are reading this book,

your answer will be no.

But the good news is

that you can continue

to increase your abilities.

In the book

If it ain’t broke…

Break it! (roughly translated:

If it’s not broken, break it) authors Robert J. Kriegel

and Louis Patler write:

We don’t know where the limits of man lie.

Every test, timer,

and finish line in the world cannot measure human potential.

When someone follows their dreams,

they go beyond what seems

to be their limitations.

The potential that exists

within us is limitless and largely untapped…

when you think the limits,

you’ve created them.

The potential that exists within us is limitless

and largely untapped…

when you think of the limits,

you’ve created them. — Robert J. Kriegel & Louis Patler

How can you boost your potential

and increase your potential?

I’ve written quite a bit about how

to increase your efficiency on the outside.

You do that by bringing in other people

and learning how to work with people.

But the only way

to increase your inner power is

to change the way you develop personally.

Learning more information is not enough.

You have to change your thoughts and actions.

How to increase thinking capacity?

I’ve heard that most experts believe

that people usually only use 10% of their true potential.

That statement is amazing!

If that’s true,

then the average person also has the ability

to make great progress.

It’s like we have hundreds of samples of possibilities

but only grow in half an acre.

So how do we tap 90% of our unused potential?

The answer is found in changing the way we think and do.

Most experts believe that people often

only use 10% of their true potential.


1. Stop thinking about more things

and start thinking about what works?

Ask most people how they can increase their capacity

and they will tell you to work harder.

There is a problem with that solution.

More work does not necessarily increase your ability.

Many of the same things often bring many of the same results,

when what we really want are better results.

I fell into this trap

when I was just starting out.

In fact, when people started asking me

to help them be more successful,

my response to them was

to work harder.

I suppose their work ethic is not as high as mine,

and only by doing more will they succeed.

However, I realized this mindset error

when I started going to underdeveloped countries,

where many people,

despite working very hard,

achieve very little for all their efforts.

I learned that hard work is not always the answer.

This made me start looking at how

I approach my work.

As an energetic person,

I worked very hard

and kept my morale high for many hours.

But I know that I am not getting the desired effect.

I realized that the problem was

that I valued effort more than efficiency.

I did a lot of things

instead of the right thing.

My to-do list goes on and on,

but my influence doesn’t grow.

I realized that I had to change my mind.

I re-examined everything

I was doing and started asking myself,

“What is working?”

That’s what I recommend you do.

Find out what works.

To do that,

ask yourself these three questions:

What can I do?

What gives the best results?

What gives me the biggest reward?

These questions will help you focus your attention on

what you have to do,

what you should do,

and what you really want to do.


2. Instead of thinking “Can I do this?”,

start thinking “How can I do this?”

At first glance,

these two questions seem very similar.

In reality, however,

they are worlds of difference in outcome and manner.

Can I do this? question full of confusion,

hesitation and doubt.

It is a question that imposes limitations.

If that’s a question you frequently ask yourself,

you’re undermining your efforts

before you even start.

How many people can achieve much in life

but don’t dare to try because they doubt

and answer “No” to the question ”

Can I do this?”

The most common reason people can’t get through is

that they don’t challenge themselves enough.

When you ask yourself,

“How can I do this?”

You give yourself a chance to make an effort

to achieve something.

The most common reason people can’t get through is

that they don’t challenge themselves enough.

They don’t test their limits.

They don’t push their capacity.

Question Can I do this by?

How? show me there’s a way.

You just have to find it.

As a young leader,

I was challenged

by the words of Robert Schuller, who said,

“How would you try

if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

To me, the answer is very clear.

Trying a lot harder than the current me!

Schuller’s question encouraged me

to think outside the box.

It makes me want to take more risks,

push more boundaries,

test my own limits.

It made me realize that most of our limitations are not

due to lack of ability,

but to lack of faith.

Sharon Wood, the first North American woman

to set foot on Everest,

said of her experience:

“I discovered the problem was not physical strength

but psychological strength.

Conquest is in my mind, pushing me

to break through self-imposed barriers

and move towards my destination

– a destination called potential,

90% untapped.”

If you want to exploit them,

ask yourself,

“How do I do it?”


great achievement is only a matter of how and when to do it.

Recently, a friend gave me a book

by Price Pritchett titled, You2.

In it, Pritchett writes:

Your skepticism,

which you claim to be rational

and objective assessment of the facts about yourself,

is rooted in the garbage in your mind.

Your doubts are not the product of correct thinking,

but habitual thinking.

Years ago you accepted incomplete conclusions as true,

started living life

as if your distorted ideas of potential were true,

and stopped engaging in daring life experiences

that brought gives you a lot of disruptive behavior as a child.

Now is the time to find the faith

that you already have in you.2

If you’ve ever lived in a negative

or abusive environment,

you may find this thought transition difficult.

If so, let me take a moment to encourage you

and explain something.

I’m asking you to move on from asking “Can I do this?”

to the question

“How can I do this?” I believe

that if you read this part of the book,

you will also believe

that you can achieve many things.

I believe you can.

I believe God has placed

in each of us the potential to grow,


and achieve.

The first step to doing that is to believe you can!

I trust you!

Second is perseverance.

When you get started,

it may seem like things are not going well.

That’s not a problem.

Do not give up.

Pritchett says everything looks like a failure in the middle.

“You can’t bake a cake

without making a mess in the kitchen,”

he wrote.

Midway through the operation seemed

like a murder in the operating room.

If you send a spacecraft to the moon,

it’s about 90% deviated

from its intended course

– it “fails” on its journey

to the moon by constantly making mistakes

and correcting them.”

Everything looks like a failure in the middle.

You can change your mind.

You can believe in your potential.

You can use failure as a resource

to help you find the core of your ability.

As psychologist Fritz Perls admits,

“Learning is discovering something with potential.”

The principle of expansion lies in our ability to learn,


and enhance our capabilities.

“Learning is about discovering something with potential.”- Fritz Perls

It is said that one day,

the great artist Michelangelo entered Raphael’s salon.

He looked over to one of his first drawings,

examined it for a moment,

then took a piece of chalk

and wrote the word Amplius,

meaning “bigger”

or “bigger” over the entire drawing.

Michelangelo is encouraging Raphael to think bigger.

That’s what we need to do.


3. Stop thinking about “one door”

and start thinking about “many doors”

When it comes to development,

you don’t want to bet your future on “one-stop”.

That door may never open!

It is better to consider many possibilities

and seek multiple answers to all your questions.

Think about options.

I made the mistake of looking for a one-stop shop

when I was just starting out.

I wanted to build a great church,

so I went looking for the key to my success.

I started interviewing people

to find out who could give me my “secret”.

It’s almost like I’m looking for someone

who can grant me a wish.

That thought of mine was wrong.

I want someone to give me a formula for my dream

so I can act on it.

It was then that I realized

that I had to fulfill my dream

and create my own recipe along the way.

Flexibility is important to progress,

and my strategy begins

to evolve beyond my exploration.

One of my favorite words is options.

Anyone who knows me knows

that I don’t like being “stopped”.


Well, my desire for options is not driven by my desire

to avoid the fear of mental captivity.

It was motivated by my desire

to increase my capacity.

The more time passes,

the more I want to explore creative options and the less

I want to rely on other people’s systems.

As I learned to think about multiple doors

and explore options,

here’s what I learned:

• There are many ways

to do something successfully.

• The ability to go anywhere is directly proportional

to creativity and adaptability.

• Intentional movement creates possibility.

• Failures and roadblocks can be great tools

for learning.

• Knowing the future is very difficult;

Controlling the future is unthinkable.

• Knowing today is essential;

Today control is possible.

• Success is the result of continued action accompanied

by constant adjustments.

Knowing the future is very difficult;

Controlling the future is unthinkable.

Knowing today is essential;

Today control is possible.

The biggest challenge you will ever face is

to open your mind.

It’s like crossing a vast border.

You must be willing to be a pioneer,

to enter unknown territory,

face unfamiliar people,

conquer your own doubts and fears.

But this is good news.

If you can change your mind,

you can change your life.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes observed:

“The human mind,

once stretched by a new idea,

never regains its original size.”

If you want to expand your possibilities,

the first place to start is always in your mind.

“The human mind,

once stretched by a new idea,

never regains its original size.”- Oliver Wendell Holmes



If you want to expand your potential

and thus increase your capacity,

you must change your mind.

However, if you only change your thoughts

without changing your actions,

you will not be able to increase your potential.

To begin expanding capabilities,

follow these three steps:


1. Stop just doing the things you did before

and start doing the things you can and should do

The first step towards success is doing well at

what you know how to do.

But the more you do what you know,

the more worthwhile things you’ll discover you can do.

When this happens,

you need to make a decision.

Will you keep doing what you’ve always done,

or will you take the leap

and try new things?

Doing new things leads

to innovation and new discoveries,

and among those discoveries is realizing

what you should be doing on a regular basis.

If you do those things,

you will continue to grow and expand your potential.

Otherwise, you will lead a mediocre life.

My friend Kevin Hall described the discovery

and development process in Aspire

when he wrote about a discussion he had

with one of his mentors,

retired professor Arthur Watkins.

This gentleman describes the growth of an entrepreneur

from an apprentice to a teacher.

Kevin recalls their conversation as follows:

One does not become a teacher overnight,

he explained.

There is a whole process.

One must first become an apprentice,

then a craftsman,

and finally a teacher.

Apprentice. Worker. Teacher.

These three words show how important

it is to go through the basic

and necessary steps

to acquire the humility

that is commensurate with true leadership.

Arthur became excited

as if he was about to reveal an ancient truth.

“Did you know that ‘apprenticeship’ means learner?” he asked,

then said that the word came

from the French word “appendre” which means to learn.

In earlier times, apprentice was the name given

to a person who would choose a profession,

then find a master in the village

and ask this person

to teach him the necessary skills in the profession.

After learning all that is needed from this teacher,

the apprentice will then go elsewhere to expand his learning.

After that journey,

the apprentice will become a craftsman.

A craftsman will go a long way

to study with a teacher

who can help him hone his skills

to the best of his ability.

Over time, a craftsman can eventually become a master

– and can start the cycle again.

The process of expanding one’s potential is always ongoing.

It has many ups and downs.

Opportunities come and go.

The standards we have to set

for ourselves are constantly changing.

What we can do changes as we grow.

What we should do also changes.

We have to leave some old things behind

in order to embrace the new.

It can be a very difficult task,

but if we are willing,

our lives will change.

In 1974, I began to believe that all ups

and downs were due to leadership.

With that belief, a passion

for leadership begins to emerge.

I work hard to learn how to lead effectively

and then reach out to people

is different.

After a few years,

I was able to comfortably lead others

and teach on the subject.

I enjoy what I have done

and reach for success.

But then I started to see opportunities,

other things that I could do.

I have the opportunity to reach more people.

I am at a decisive point.

Should I enjoy life or try to expand it?

Expansion means leaving your comfort zone.

I will have to set up a business

to produce teaching materials.

I will have to develop my team.

I would have to learn how to write books

so that I could reach people

I could never talk to.

I will need to travel to learn the customs

and cultures of people living in other countries

so that I can communicate beyond the borders of the United States.

All of these changes take time.

I made a lot of mistakes.

Often I overestimate myself.

Most days I feel like Pablo Picasso

when he said,

“I always do the things that I cannot do,

to learn how to do it.”

“I always do the things that I can’t do,

to learn how to do it.”- Pablo Picasso

The process of adaptation

and expansion has been and continues to be for me.

Recently, I have been learning

how to use social media to expand my reach.

I have founded two companies.

I learned how to start a coaching initiative.

And I’m continuing

to learn how to connect

with people in other countries around the globe.

I never want to stop learning.

I want to continue to expand myself,

expand my potential,

and improve my skills

until the day I lay down.

I want to live as author

and pastor Norman Vincent Peale says:

“Ask God, who created you,

to continue to pay attention to you.”


2. Stop doing what is expected

and start doing more than is expected

We live in a culture that rewards those who perform,

whatever their contribution.

Therefore, many people think

that they are doing well

if they only do what is expected.

I don’t think that helps people reach their potential

or expand their possibilities.

To do that, a person must do more than is expected.

We live in a culture that rewards those who perform,

whatever their contribution.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch called this “beyond mediocrity.”

To differentiate yourself

and elevate your career,

you need to do and do more.

You have to be above average.

You can do this by asking yourself more than others,

expecting more of yourself than others,

believing in yourself more than others,

doing more,

giving more and helping more.

I love the way Jack Johnson describes this:

“Going beyond what’s required of that mission,

doing more than others expect,

excellence is what it is!

And it comes from striving,

maintaining the highest standards,

paying attention to the smallest detail,

and going beyond.

Excellence means doing the best you can.

In all things! In every way.”

Doing more than expected

not only helps differentiate you

from your peers by giving you a reputation for performance.

It also helps you get into the habit of excellence.

And it accumulates over time.

Continued excellence will help expand your abilities and potential.


3. Do the important things every day

Have you ever heard the saying “life is one big picture

and you should throw all the paint in it if you can?”

I like the meaning and spontaneity of those words,

but I don’t think this advice works

unless you want a mess.

A better idea is to turn your life into a masterpiece,

which requires forethought,

a clear idea,

and choice

when it comes to the paint you use.

How do you do that?

By doing the important things every day.

Writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau writes:

If someone walks confidently in the direction

of his dreams and strives

to live the life he has imagined,

he will encounter an unexpected success in ordinary times.

He will cross an invisible line;


more universal,

and freer principles will begin

to take their place around

and within him;

and he will live with the right

to be in higher ranks than others.

I believe that moving confidently in the direction

of your dreams means doing important things every day.

Doing the right things every once in a

while won’t lead to consistent growth

and expansion in your life.

Both components are needed.

Daily growth leads to personal expansion.

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow compared his growth

to the growth of an apple tree.

“The purpose of the apple tree is

to grow a little bit of wood each year,” he said.

That is what I intend to do.”

He also expressed similar thoughts in one of his poems

when he wrote:

Not enjoyment

and not sorrow is our destined end always;

But to live that each tomorrow finds us further than today.

No enjoyment and no sorrow

is always the end of our destiny;

But live to make every tomorrow better than today.

If we do important things every day,

that may be true for us.



One of the biggest rewards

I get from writing

and speaking is sometimes receiving news

that my work has positively impacted someone.

Recently, I received a letter

from Tim Williams,

a police officer with the county sheriff’s office in Colorado Springs,


He wrote me to tell me about the purposeful growth path

he has chosen to take

and how he has expanded his abilities.

Tim wrote:

I was asked to read 21 Golden Rules of Leadership

as part of my promotion exam.

I told myself that I would first read the books

I was assigned to read,

then reread each book,

and finally reread each book carefully with a marker

to highlight the test questions in potential investigation.

The first reading of 21 Principles left no impression on me.

Rereading it made me feel better

and agree with most of the statements in the book.

Upon re-reading it,

I concluded that I had a better leadership foundation

for the rest of my life.

Prior to being a non-commissioned officer in the sheriff’s department,

I spent 25 years in the U.S. Army Special Forces,

[so] I didn’t see leadership as a new concept.

Tim went on to say that he still reads books

as part of his personal development plan.

They changed his thoughts and actions.

As a result, he has continued to advance

within the organization.

“When I was promoted,” he writes,

“I was also able to institute some organizational changes thanks

to what I learned…

I was able to influence others

and be of great help in many people.”

Tim has acquired two habits thanks

to what he has learned.

First, he was the one

who took the initiative

to go to where the employee was

“I spent many nights in the prison going

from ward to ward visiting staff on duty and talking

to them about anything,” says Tim.

I spend time listening to them talk about their family

and sometimes their complaints.”

As a result, he started connecting with people.

The second is to write personal notes about people

to let them know that you care about them

and appreciate their work.

He is also intentional about recording

the positive things his employees

do in addition to candid criticism in their evaluations.

“It boosts their morale,” says Tim.

Tim continued,

“At the end of the year,

I decided to send an e-mail

to everyone assigned to my shift.

I want it to be positive

and transparent to everyone.

I held an annual event

and the results were amazing!

The use of my shift time off is greatly reduced.

I have attached the first version of the note

I named “Thank you guys! I know it all”:

Shift 4,

As the year comes to a close,

I wanted to take a moment

and think about the things you all personally have done

to make my duties as a supervisor easier.

Given the combative nature of our work,

I want all of you to know

what you’ve done for each other.

This year has passed,

in a way,

each of you has contributed to the success

that we all have and are having.

So for all the little things you might think have gone unrecognized,

let me just say:

Thank you guys,

I know it all.

Michael B., thank you

for postponing two planned vacations

so we have enough people for the shift,

for the math project,

for participating in the Academy Instructor challenge,

Thank you, I know it all !

Bruce B., thank you for coming

to work in pain,

not being able to hear

when you could take a break,

for being candid in your assessments,

for asking others questions

that you wouldn’t want to ask.

they want to,

because they have made efforts

to overcome difficulties to work.

Thank you, I know it all!

Rosemarie P., for reminding me of

what I had forgotten,

for giving up your place

as a member of my grand scheme in favor of Layne D.,

and for always waiting for me.

Thank you, I know it all!

Kelly S. for always being willing

to change your duties,

for coming here when you could say no,

to help us set the record

for midnight tire change among most people.

Thank you, I know it all!

John W. for being my first deputy superintendent

and the new commander of the shift

and knew very well that he would do his best,

doing it with his great personality.

Thank you, I know it all!

As a sergeant major

and retired officer of the Green Berets,

Tim Williams can say:

I have been a leader for over 25 years.

I know what leadership is

even when people’s lives are in danger.

I have completed my study program.

I will rely on my experience

and finish your career,

and everyone better do what I say!”

He could have done it,

but he didn’t.

Instead, he was open to development.

He decided to continue being a learner.

And for that reason, his life, his growth

and his potential continued to expand.

He lives by the principle of expansion:

Growth always increases your possibilities.

That quality is present in lifelong learners.

And for that reason,

their capacities continue to expand.

It is said that when Pablo Casals was 95 years old,

a young reporter asked: “Mr. Casals,

you are 95 years old

and the greatest violinist ever.

Why do you still practice six hours a day?”

Casal’s answer was:

“Because I think I’m making progress.”

You have the potential to continue

to improve until the day you die

– if you have the right attitude towards growth.

You need to believe what Rabbi Samuel M. Silver did.

“The greatest miracle of all,” he said,

“is that we don’t have to be our tomorrow today,

but we can improve ourselves

if we take advantage

of the potential that we have.

God has planted it in each of us.”

“The greatest miracle of all,” he said,

“is that we don’t have

to be our tomorrow today,

but we can improve ourselves

if we take advantage of the potential that we have.

God has planted the seed in each of us.”– Samuel M. Silver



1. You have made the mental transition from “I can’t! Or can I?”

to “How can I do it?”

Check it out yourself.

Do a dream exercise. Then ask yourself:

If I knew I couldn’t fail,

how would I try?

If I have no restrictions,

what do I do?

� If finances weren’t an issue,

what would I do with my life?

Take your time and write down the answers

to those questions.

Now, see your answer.

What is your reaction to them?

Do you look at them and think,

That’s so far away?

This is not possible.

It’s weird!

Or do you look at them and think,

How can I do that?

What do I have to do

to make this happen?

What do I have to trade

to make this transition?

If you are the latter,

you are mentally ready

to expand your capabilities.

If you are the first,

you still have to make an effort.

Take some time to figure out

what’s stopping you from believing

that you can make the necessary changes

to expand your life.

Test your own effectiveness

to make sure you’re thinking

What works?

instead of doing more.


2. Test your own effectiveness to make sure you’re thinking

What works?

instead of doing more.

Flip through your calendar

and to-do list from four weeks ago.

(By the way,

if you’re not already using some sort of system

to plan your day,

that’s the first step you need to take).

Try to quantify the amount of time you spend on each action

and activity during those four weeks.

Then think about

how much time you believe each activity should take,

and rate yourself from A+ to F.

Now categorize all activities into categories.

Where do you see the patterns?

What is working?

What not?

What are you doing too much,

because you are not efficient enough

or because the activity is not successful enough?

What do you need to change?

Use required criteria,

achievements, or rewards

to help you determine what needs to be changed.


3. Do you have a plan and system in place

to make sure you’re doing important work every day?

First, determine what is essential

to you on a daily basis.

In the book Today Matters,

I write about dozens of my daily tasks.

I list them here for your reference:

Choose and display the right attitudes.

Identify and act on important priorities.

Know and follow healthy guidelines.


and taking care of my family.

Practice and develop positive thinking.

Make and maintain the right commitments.

Earn and manage your finances properly.

Deepen and live my faith.

Start and invest in strong relationships.

Plan and model generosity.

Embrace and practice good values.

Find and experience the advancements.

Once you’ve created your own list,

figure out what you’ll do

to follow those priorities on a daily basis

to stay on track and continue

to expand your potential.


Chapter 15. Principles of Contribution

Developing yourself helps you develop others

If you’re not doing something with your life,

it doesn’t matter how long your life is!

I started my growth journey

after my conversation with Curt Kampmeier 40 years ago,

I had no idea where it would take me.

At first I just knew that I needed to grow

and that I was intentional about it.

I must confess that from the very beginning,

my motivation for personal development was very selfish.

I want to grow so I can be successful.

There are goals and milestones

that I want to achieve.

But along the way,

I made a life-changing discovery.

My progress in personal development also opens doors for others.

It made it possible for me to contribute to them.

It leads us not only to success,

but also to meaning in life.

In addition to what I receive,

I can also give in the process of self-development.

The confidence I gained gave me credibility

and made me believe

that I could start developing others.

And in the process,

I found life’s greatest joy and reward.

I hope that this final chapter inspires you

to help others become

who they can be.

You can’t give what you don’t have.

But if you have made an effort to learn

or earn something,

you are likely to pass it on to others.

If you live by the Contribution Principle,

you will have a lot to give

because self-development allows you to develop others.



Adding value to others is a priority in my life.

This desire appeared in my life as a teenager

when I read about Benjamin Franklin,

who once wrote:

“I would rather be referred to

as ‘he lived a productive life’ rather than ‘he died. in velvet’.”

More than words,

that’s how Franklin lived.

For example, when he developed

what became known as the Franklin stove,

he could patent it

and make some money from it.

Instead, he decided to share the invention with the world.

“I’d rather be referred to

as ‘he lived a productive life’ rather than ‘he died in luxury’.” – Benjamin Franklin

According to Dr. John C. Van Horne of the Library Company of Philadelphia:

“Franklin’s philanthropy is

what I call collective nature.

His sense of compassion has helped his fellow human beings,

contributing to the beautification of society.

In fact, in a sense Franklin’s philanthropy,

his sense of compassion, was his religion.

Doing good for people is,

in his opinion,

a very sacred thing.”

Franklin didn’t see the world based on

how much money he could make from it.

He saw it in terms of the number of people he could help.

He helped develop the concepts of loan libraries

and local fire departments.

Even his work as a printer reflects his desire

to share ideas,

not hoard them.

As a teenager,

I’ve known that every day Franklin asked himself in the morning,

“What am I going to do today?”

And in the evening:

“How well did I do today?”

That inspired me.

It has helped me realize

that I can become more intentional about my ability

to help others

and hold myself accountable

for it on a daily basis.

As I got older,

that changed

from a mere idea to my greatest wish.

Every day Franklin asked himself in the morning,

“What am I going to do today?”

And in the evening:

“How well did I do today?”

This became clear to me

when I had a stroke in 1998.

While in my hospital bed,

not knowing if I would survive,

I was not afraid of death.

I had two thoughts:

First, I wanted to make sure the people closest

to me knew how much I loved them.

But the second thing is

that I still have a lot of work to do.

There are still contributions I want to make.

51 years old is too young to die.

I later learned that David Rae of Young Presidents said that most CEOs

are less afraid of death than they are of not being able

to contribute to their world,

so my feelings were clearly normal.

CEOs are less afraid of death

than they are of not being able to contribute to their world,

so my feeling is clearly normal.



My desire to help others doesn’t just come

from reading about great leaders,

such as Benjamin Franklin.

I was also inspired by my parents’ example.

Over the years I have seen my mother,

a longtime librarian,

become the main source of encouragement

and confidant of many girlfriends at the college

where my father served as president.

She has made a difference in the lives of so many.

I also saw that from my father.

I saw him serving the parishioners

when he a local pastor.

Then I saw him serve and add value to pastors

when he was district superintendent.

And he continuously adds value to students

and faculty as he manages the university.

And dad is still helping others.

A few years ago,

Dad was getting ready to move into a new nursing home,

and he let me know

that he wanted to be the first to move in when it opened.

“That’s very important, son.

I need to be the first,” he insisted.

Now, it’s characteristic of the Maxwell family

to want to win at anything and everything,

but I suspect Dad has something on purpose.

“Why do you want to go there in the first place?” I ask.

“You see,” he replied,

“a lot of old people will move into that facility”

– I was almost 90 years old then!

– “and it will be strange to them.

They will be scared.

I want to be there first

so I can greet them

when they arrive,

introduce myself, show them around

and let them know that everything is going to be okay.”

When I get older,

I want to be like my father.



How do you increase your chances of helping others

and making a significant contribution in your life?

Treat yourself like a river instead of a reservoir.

Most people who consider personal development a part of life

do it to add value to themselves.

They are like reservoirs,

constantly receiving water

but only filling themselves.

On the contrary,

the river is always flowing.

Whatever water it receives,

it gives.

That’s how we should do it as we learn and grow.

That requires an abundance mindset

– the belief that we will continue to receive.

But the longer you stick with personal development,

the more you will never experience scarcity

and will always have plenty to give.

Recently Margaret and I listened to Gordon MacDonald talk.

He challenged us to find someone

who could encourage us

and then be a source of encouragement to others.

He asked the following questions:

Who mentors you and provides you with basic insights?

Who mentors you to inspire you

to be a better person?

Who challenges you to think?

Who cheers your dream?

Who cares enough to reprimand you?

Who has mercy when you fail?

Who shares stressful moments with you without your asking?

Who brings joy and laughter into your life?

Who gives you vision when you’re dismayed?

Who inspires you to follow God’s path?

Who loves you unconditionally?

These questions are a great way

to help you identify someone

who can encourage you

to be the best person you can be.

But we should also put ourselves in their shoes

to think about our similar roles to others.

Who will you advise?

Do you share in moments of pressure

without the person offering to help?

As former President Jimmy Carter once said,

“I have one life and one chance to make it meaningful…

My faith holds that I can do anything I can,

anywhere wherever I can,

whenever I can,

as long as I try to make a difference.”

“I have one life and one chance

to make it meaningful with something…

My faith holds that I can do anything I can,

wherever I can,

wherever I may be whenever I can,

as long as I try to make a difference.”

– Jimmy Carter



Giving away your time, expertise,

and resources

without expecting anything in return is an act of generosity

that makes the world a better place.

We need more givers.

I can’t explain why that works,

but as you focus more on the needs

and wants of others,

many of your own needs and wants are also met.


when you choose to hoard what you have,

instead of giving it away,

you become the center of your own lonely universe,

and you become lacking in diversity.

As a result, you repel both people

and potential blessings.

You can become a more generous person and give more,

even if you have those qualities.

However, to do that,

you have to be a developer.

And you must be purposeful in your efforts

to add value to others.

Here are some suggestions

to help you cultivate a contributing attitude:


1. Be grateful

Those who are not grateful are not givers.

They rarely think of others;

They only think about themselves.

They are always looking to others for help,

for support, and for service.

And whenever others fail to meet those expectations,

they wonder why.

Their conceit makes them unable to be seeders

and their ingratitude makes them wonder why they have nothing to harvest!

When I was a kid,

my father helped me understand

that everyone depends on each other

and gets each other’s help.

He used to say,

“When you were born,

you owed me nine months of heavy labor!” And

I started pursuing personal growth,

the concept of getting help

from others in that process was solidified.

In 1975 when I went to hear Zig Ziglar speak for the first time,

he said,

“You can have everything in life you want

if you help enough people get what they want.”

Those words are bold in me.

And I know well that many people have helped

– and are still helping me along the way.

Every author has written the books I’ve ever read.

Every leader has taken the time to teach me.

Every individual works as a volunteer at my church.

No one succeeds alone.

Many years ago,

I came across the following sentences

that helped capture this idea.

I don’t know who wrote them,

but I quoted them

and tried to live by them

– for 40 years:

There is no success

without sacrifice.

If we succeed

without sacrifice,

it is because someone

before us has to make sacrifices.

If you sacrifice

and don’t see success,

someone who follows will reap the rewards of your sacrifice.

I am the recipient of many achievements

that I do not deserve

and do not have to sacrifice.

Someone paid for them.

I’m so grateful!

How do I show my gratitude?

By investing in others

and teaching them things that help them go further

and achieve beyond

what I have achieved.

When you receive,

I hope you will give as well.


2. Put everyone first

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of others.

Everything in life is only temporary.

People are important.

Your career, hobbies and other passions will die with you.

Everyone is not.

What you help others make them high enough

that they can give to others.

It’s a cycle that can continue long after you’re gone.

Being kind to others not only helps people,

it also helps us navigate our lives better

and puts us in a place where we can learn from others.

As George Washington Carver observed:

“How far you go in life depends on your flexibility with the young,

your respect for the elderly,

your sympathy with the poor,

and your tolerance,

towards the weak and the strong.

Because one day in your life,

you’ll probably end up like them.”

If you are a leader,

putting people first is even more important,

because your actions affect so many people.

For example,

you always hear that in every organization,

people are always the most valuable asset,

but many leaders don’t behave as if that is the case.

I should know:

As a young leader, I made the mistake of thinking

that my vision should come first.

I believe that my most important responsibility is

to make people respect me,

where I have been, what I do, what I ask.

I think people are obligated to serve me for the sake of the vision.

The problem with that kind of attitude is

that the line between encouraging people

and manipulating them is thin and easy to cross.

When a leader tries to engage people,

the first question they ask is not:

“Where are you going?”

but “Do you care about me?”

This is true whenever two people want

to do something together,

not just between leaders and employees.

But people especially want to know

that they matter to their leader

and that they can trust that person.

Once people feel secure that your motives are right

and that you will put them

before your own interests,

then they will be ready

to be your partner on the journey.

That’s what they aspire to be,

not a passive follower

– or worse, a tool to be manipulated.

The measure of success is not the number of people serving you,

but the number of people you serve.

When people hold the

#1 position in your life,

it becomes natural

to add value to them.

You do it as part of your lifestyle.

You add value to people because you value them

and you believe they are valuable

for you to value.

The measure of success is not the number

of people serving you,

but the number of people you serve.


3. Don’t let things rule you

According to my friend Wille Wille,

people can be divided into three groups:

yes, no, and not paying

for what they have.


more and more people are being added

to the third group every day.

People are becoming slaves of desire to have.

That is one of the reasons the United States

and Europe are in such dire financial crises.

They continue to borrow

to compensate for their spending habits.

“Owning things is an obsession in our culture,” writes Foster.

If we own it, we feel it will bring us more joy.

It was an illusion.”

Owning everything does not bring real satisfaction.

In general,

if you try to meet mental

or emotional needs with material things,

it will

It just makes you crave for more.

It does not bring satisfaction.

However, if you meet those needs properly,

then you can be content with having

or not having much wealth.

No one should become a slave to his tools.

No one should want more just

because they want more ownership in their work.

There is a story in the Bible about a man

who let everything control his thoughts and life.

His selfishness keeps him from seeing the big picture.

He is only focused on accumulating wealth

and feels this will go on forever.

However, his life is short

and he cannot invest in the lives of others.

Author John Ortberg writes about him:

He devoted his life to the wrong things.

If you had to make a list of his priorities,

it would probably look something like this:

What’s most important

1. Harvest bountiful crops

2. Build a large barn

3. Financial security

4. Eat

5. Drinking alcohol

6. Have fun

7. Remember not to die

And of course,

the last item is one of the really tough ones.

Sooner or later we will have to return to Mother Earth.

And to whom will the things you hoard belong?1

In 1889, millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie

wrote an essay called “Gospel of Wealth”.

In it, he said that a rich person’s life should have two stages:

a time to accumulate wealth

and a time to distribute them.

The only way to maintain a generous attitude is

to make it a habit to give:

your time,

your attention,

your money,

and your resources.

Richard Foster advises:

“The mere act of giving away money,

or other valuables,

creates something in us.

It destroys your greed.”

“The mere act of giving away money,

or other valuables,

creates something in us.

It destroys your greed.”– Richard Foster

If you want to master your heart,

don’t let what you own control you.

The question is:

“Do you own your tools or let them own you?”

Contributors use their tools

to make the world a better place.

And they do this no matter how much

or how little they have.


4. Don’t let others own you

When Margaret

and I first got married

and I started my career,

we had very few resources.

Basically, we have to live hard.

During that time,

we became friends with a wealthy couple.

Every Friday night,

Jack and Helen would take us

to a fancy restaurant and invite us to dinner.

That was the highlight of my week,

because Margaret

and I never had enough money to eat there.

Over a period of two years,

we have benefited greatly from this friendship,

and we are very grateful.

After three years in that position,

I received an offer to become the leader of a larger church.

It’s a great opportunity

with great advancement opportunities and potential.

When I announced

that I was leaving to take that opportunity,

Jack was not pleased.

I will never forget his words:

“John, how can you go after all

that I have done for you?”

That’s when I realized Jack was slowly starting to possess me.

He’s in a winning position

and I don’t know it!

It was a wake-up call.

That was the day I made the choice.

I will always strive to give more than

I receive in relationships.

And I will never hold the part in control.

From that day on,

I never let one of my leaders take the bill at a restaurant.

I will be on the giving side whenever possible.

Obviously I still get from other people.

I explained that.

I am blessed for receiving so much that others do for me.

But I don’t want giving to control my life.

It’s hard to give when someone else owns you.

I want to be able to judge people

without being tied down to anything.

A life of giving should be liberating

for yourself and for those you help.

“I define my success by the seeds I sow,

not the crops I reap.”– Robert Louis Stevenson

5. Define success as sowing, not reaping

Novelist Robert Louis Stevenson said,

“I define my success by the seeds I sow,

not the crops I reap.”

That’s how we should measure

not only success in our industry but our lives.


most people sow very few seeds

but expect a bountiful harvest.

Their focus is on the day of the harvest.

Why so?

There is clearly a problem of natural selfishness.

But I think there’s more to it than that.

My friend Nabi Saleh,

who owns Gloria Jean’s Coffee, once told me,

“After sowing, there is a period

when it seems like nothing has happened.

All development happens below the surface.”

People often don’t realize it,

nor predict it,

and plan it

for it. They become impatient.

And they give up.

“After sowing,

there was a period of time

when it seemed as if nothing had happened.

All development happens below the surface.”- Prophet Saleh

In his book Halftime,

Bob Buford wrote about an executive

looking for advice on how to live.

Buford wrote:

A friend of mine who was the president

of a large publishing company was once

looking for a world-renowned Zen master.

After telling the great enterprise of his life to the Zen master

that elicited many reactions in him,

he decided to remain silent for a moment.

The Zen master began to pour tea into a cup

until the water overflowed onto the grass

and flowed towards my friend.

At that time, my friend asked the Zen master

what he was doing.

The Zen master replied:

Your life is like a cup of tea, overflowing.

There is no room for anything new.

You need to take away, not add.2

If you sow seeds only to quickly reap in life,

then you will often be dissatisfied with the results

and cannot continue to give and live and wait.

On the other hand,

if you sow a lot of seeds and sow continuously,

you can be sure that you will have a good harvest in the right season.

Successful people know this and focus on planting the seeds,

knowing they will reap the rewards.

This process is automatic.

If you live with purpose about making a difference in the lives of others,

your life will be full.

I like the way George Washington Carver interprets this idea.

“No individual has the right

to enter the world and go out

without leaving clear and legitimate reasons

for having gone through it,”

he said. That is something we must always keep in mind.

“No individual has the right

to enter the world and walk out

without leaving clear and valid reasons

for passing through it.”

– George Washington Carver

6. Focus on self-development, not complacency

One of the more important things my mentor,

consultant Fred Smith,

taught me is to never focus on complacency in your life.

He said:

The complacent person thinks about how something serves him.

Self-developed people think about how something helps them

to serve others.

With complacency,

feeling good is the product.

With self-development,

feeling good is a by-product.

What is the main difference?


Complacency means doing

what I enjoy most

and will receive the most praise for doing it,

while self-development means doing

what I am most qualified and fit to do,

which becomes a responsibility.

Pursuing complacency is like pursuing happiness.

It was a feeling that couldn’t be sustained.

It depends too much on the circumstances.

It depends on one’s mood.

On the contrary,

you can develop yourself no matter how you feel,

your situation,

your financial situation

or the people around you.


7. Keep growing to keep giving

Whenever people stop actively learning and growing,

the clock starts to go back to a time

when they had nothing left to give.

If you want to keep giving, you have to keep growing.

If you want to keep giving, you have to keep growing.

Sometimes people stop learning

because they become complacent.

They believe they have developed enough,

or they just want to make the most of

what they already have in terms

of skills and knowledge.

But when that happens,

they start to stabilize and then fall.

They lose their creative spirit.

They start thinking about efficiency

instead of breakthrough.

They cut costs instead of investing in development.

Their vision becomes narrow.

And instead of playing to win,

they started playing not to lose.

The second thing that happens to people

who stop trying for positive growth is

that they lose their passion.

We all love to do what we’re good at,

but being good at something requires us to hone our skills.

Limited skills lead to less enthusiasm

and ultimately dissatisfaction.

If we reach this stage,

we will begin to look behind us,

because that was our golden age.

We think of the beautiful,

glorious days that have passed.

At that point,

we’re just a few feet away from obsolescence.

No one wants to learn from a “used to be”.

What can we contribute

if we get to this point?

I want to give everything I have.

To do that I have to keep growing

until I can’t grow anymore.



In December 2009,

a legendary teacher, writer,

and personal development mentor passed away.

His name is Jim Rohn.

As a child,

Rohn grew up on a farm in Idaho.

After graduating from high school,

he attended college but only stayed there for a year.

“One year in college,

and I think I was well educated,” says Rohn.

Rohn became a stockbroker at Sears,

but he only made enough money to live on.

At the age of 25,

he started to get discouraged.

I hope to find a

way better.

A friend of Rohn’s invited him

to attend a seminar presented by J. Earl Shoaff,

a speaker and salesman. Key message:

Put more effort into yourself than on work;

your income is directly related

to your philosophy,

not the economy;

For things to change,

you have to change.3

Shoaff mentored Rohn for five years,

encouraging him to develop himself

and follow his dreams

to create a better life for himself and his family.

By the age of 31, Rohn was a millionaire.

Rohn may have had a success story

that very few people know about,

but then his life took an unexpected turn.

A friend invited him to share his successes at a Rotary Club meeting.

Rohn accepted and delivered the message he called

“From the farm boy in Idaho

to Beverly Hills”.

It was a hit. Others began to invite him to talk.

He initially spoke at service organizations,

high schools,

and colleges.

But he soon realized that people were coveting

what he wanted to teach.

In 1963, he founded an event organization.

During a career in people development spanning more than four decades,

Rohn has written more than two dozen books,

spoken at more than 6,000 events,

and grown about five million people.

And during that time,

he never stopped learning and growing.

“The biggest gift you can give someone

is your personal growth.

I used to say,

‘if you take care of me,

I’ll take care of you.’

Now I say, ‘

I’ll take care of myself for you

if you take care of yourself for me.’”

“The greatest gift you can give someone is your personal growth.”– Jim Rohn

One of the biggest gauges of Rohn’s influence

is the number of established authors

and human developers who consider him a mentor.

At a party honoring him held in Anaheim,

California on February 6, 2010,

guests honored him including famous speakers and mentors such as:

Anthony Robbins, Les Brown, Brian Tracy ,

Chris Widener, Denis Waitley and Darren Hardy.5

How can Rohn help so many people grow?

And how have you helped so many people become famous teachers

and mentors on their own?

By continuously developing yourself.

He understands that self-development allows you

to develop others.

He lives by the Contribution Principle.

George Bernard Shaw,

the writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925,

understood that the best use of one’s life was in the service of others.

He said:

This is the true joy of life,

used for a purpose recognized

by oneself as an extraordinary person;

be a force of nature instead of a body full of selfish afflictions

and complaining that the world won’t make an effort

to make you happy.

I think my life belongs to the whole community,

and as long as I live,

it’s my privilege to give whatever I can.

I want to be fully utilized until I lie down,

because the harder I work,

the more meaningful my life becomes.

I am happy to enjoy life.

Life to me is not a faint candle.

It is a bright torch

that I hold for a moment and cause it

to burn brightly before handing it on to future generations.

If you want your life to burn brightly

before passing it on to others and future generations,

keep growing.



1. What is your basic desire in life:

Is it complacency or self-development?

Are your efforts designed to make you feel good?

Or feel the best?

Is your goal to be successful?

Or to gain meaning?

Are you trying to achieve results so you can feel happy?

Or are you trying to put yourself in a position to help others win?

These differences may be very small,

but they really make a difference.

Trying to feel fulfilled is a constant jittery

because you will never be completely satisfied with your progress.

Self-development is a never-ending journey

and will always inspire you,

because every progress is a victory;

But there will always be new challenges

to excite and inspire you.


2. Make sure no one owns you.

Make a list of the important people in your life.

Now think about each relationship

and determine

if you are a major or moderate giver or receiver.

If you are primarily the receiver,

then you need to adjust

so that the other party does not have control over you.

How do you do that?

By making an effort to give in life

without bothering to receive.

You can do this not only with your family and friends,

but even with your superiors.

Strive to do more than the organization pays you to do.

Not just the people you do

giving and working with will value you

and you will also add value to them.

And if you have the opportunity

to move on to bigger and better things,

you’ll be able to do so thinking

that you’ve always given your best.


3. I have one last applicable exercise for you in this book,

and that is to put people first in your life.

Write down your top three to seven goals and dreams.

Now write down the names of the most important people in your life.

Be honest with yourself.

Who is first?


Or your goals and dreams?

If you’re like me in the early years of my career,

scheduling comes first.

Fortunately, I soon realized after marriage

that Margaret was the first priority.

That opened the door for me to be less selfish

in other areas of my life.

Then when my children were born,

I prioritized them over many other things.

The older I get,

the more important people become to me.

At this stage of my life,

nearly everything I do

– even in regards to personal growth

– is motivated by a desire to help others.

Decide to put others first in your schedule.

Put family before work.

Put everyone’s growth in the workplace ahead of your own.

Serve others instead of yourself.

Commit to it,

and then invite others in your life

to observe to hold you accountable.

And remember,

sometimes the seeds you plant take a long time to grow.

But you will always see a good harvest.

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