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An uphill climb

  • Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM
- Posted: July 18, 2017

Author note: This is the third in a year-long, seven-part series delving into personal growth and how to achieve your potential. Sharing from New York Times bestselling author John Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” combined with my personal experience with his program, this series will lay the foundation for continuous and intentional growth. View other articles in the series under 'Related articles & video' at the end of the article.

Achieving success, however personally defined, can only be continued through growth. Eventually, the skills and attitudes that one has will limit future achievement unless they are grown to overcome new obstacles. For most people, personal growth is not a natural process. They simply live day to day, observing and experiencing life, without ever realizing their full potential. 

It’s understandable why one would never choose to grow. Growth is scary! There is a major fear factor of failure when attempting new things. Growth is difficult! It takes lots of hard work to change. Most commonly, people assume that they will grow through their natural experiences. 

Law 5: The Law of Consistency
Motivation Gets You Going - Discipline Keeps You Going. Personal growth is dependent on a consistent effort. It is impossible to make significant changes overnight, which means that a person’s patience is a key indicator of their ability to grow. Unfortunately, this is a challenge that is becoming more difficult to overcome.

Today’s age of on-demand and instant gratification has led to a culture of impatience. Not convinced? Find a current advertisement for a product or service that doesn’t promote a quicker or easier solution. It’s almost impossible. 

Consider Domino’s AnyWare ordering campaign. It touts 10 ways to order pizza, including from a smart watch, Ford vehicles with SYNC, and tweeting a pizza emoji. If you think this is a trivial marketing gimmick, you’re wrong. Sales have increased 10.5% annually since its introduction in 2015 because people today want everything faster and easier.

Incredible personal growth is rare because it requires fighting popular culture. To be successful, four important questions must be answered to ensure the proper motivation is in place for consistent and daily growth:

  1. Do you know what you need to improve?
  2. Do you know how you are supposed to improve?
  3. Do you know why you want to keep improving?
  4. Do you know when you are supposed to improve?

It is not difficult to have a moment of motivation, but following through consistently requires a more fundamental understanding of the “why” behind growth. Consider the motivation in long-term vision, dreams and purpose. Then develop annual, monthly and daily goals that position you for achieving your potential. 

Everyone is motivated differently, so understanding our own motivational style and incentives will allow us to push through the natural desire to dismiss growth when daily activities seem to not be making a difference. Quitting is very dangerous, not because of a missed outcome necessarily, but because of the addictiveness of quitting. Vince Lombardi said, “Once you learn to quit it becomes a habit.” Leverage the power of momentum to push beyond the desire to quit and consistently improve.

Law 6: The Law of Environment
Growth Thrives in Conductive Surroundings. The first five laws of growth focused on the internal position, but it is very true that the environment in which we exist has significant effects on us and our results. How do we know if our environment will support growth efforts? Simply score from one to 10 based on facts that a growth culture is one where the following happens:

  1. Others are ahead of some.
  2. Each person is individually challenged.
  3. The focus is always forward.
  4. The atmosphere is affirming.
  5. People are kept out of their comfort zone.
  6. Everyone stays excited.
  7. Failure is not their enemy.
  8. Others are growing.
  9. Change is desired.
  10. Growth is modeled and expected.

The higher the growth score of your environment, the faster you can grow. If the score is five or less, then your environment is probably hindering your growth. The good news is that you can change your environment. Discuss your desire to grow with those around you and inspire them to seek growth as well. Find a mentor or coach to challenge everyone individually. Rally the team around common goals and vision. Spend time with people who will challenge you to grow.

Two big challenges will face you when seeking to grow. The first is timing because what we do now determines who we become. Although we may consciously recognize that “right now” is the most important to our growth, it can be difficult to capitalize on it because of past experiences. Other people may remind you of behaviors or failures in the past and undermine growth efforts. Remember, there is nothing about your past that determines your future.

The second big challenge that you will certainly face when trying to grow and create a growth environment is criticism. Growth requires action and action always brings criticism. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “Whatever action you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.” There are three keys to move forward despite criticism to reach your potential:

  1. Expect criticism when taking action.
  2. Know you must do what others, and even yourself, believe you cannot do.
  3. Take charge of your life and stop seeking permission from others to grow.

By taking ownership of our own actions and the environment we find ourselves in, we can create the positive change we desire for ourselves. In addition, we can empower others to learn and live with a growth mindset to achieve their potential. No matter how difficult it can seem at times, this is a win-win worth fighting for. 

Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM, does business development for Case Snow Management Inc. He is a John Maxwell team certified coach, speaker and trainer. Contact him at

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