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To the drawing board

  • Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM
- Posted: August 28, 2017
Author note: This is the fourth 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. Let’s look at the next two laws that can help ease the way.

Law 7: The Law of Design
To maximize growth, develop strategies. No significant goal is ever achieved without having sound processes; the same is true of personal growth. To grow in the way many of us desire, creating a systematic approach is critical.

As humans, we tend to overcomplicate the simplistic. A plan for growth can be easy to follow when there is a simple process that can be received personally (internalized by someone), repeated easily and transferred strategically. As with most challenges faced by businesses, systems are the solution. When designing a process for systematic growth, consider these six guiding questions:

  1. The Big Picture - How will the process help reach big-picture goals?
  2. Priorities - Is the process consistent with goals?
  3. Measurement - What is the tangible means of determining success?
  4. Application - Is there a built-in focus toward action?
  5. Organization - Does it make better use of time than the current state?
  6. Consistency - Is the process repeatable on a regular basis?

There is nothing worse than a system that is so complicated it is no longer used. Keep it simple and executable to increase results. One of the best ways to increase growth is through accountability. Ask: “Who can this be shared with who will keep me on track?”

Law 8: The Law of Pain
Good management of bad experiences leads to great growth. This law, more than any other, requires a positive life stance and can teach the most valuable lessons. Unfortunately, it is a universal truth that we must experience some things to learn them, even if someone tried to warn us beforehand. Bad experiences are painful, but those who have a growth mindset will learn and improve from them.

We can experience many different types of pain in life. Consider the list that follows and determine which you may be experiencing. To help self-identify, consider the representative statement after each.

  1. The Pain of Inexperience - “I have never been through that.”
  2. The Pain of Incompetence - “I should have seen that coming.”
  3. The Pain of Disappointment - “I wish it had never happened.”
  4. The Pain of Conflict - “Human encounter doesn’t always feel good.”
  5. The Pain of Change - “I didn’t want that to happen.”
  6. The Pain of Bad Health - “I lost what I thought I would always have.”
  7. The Pain of Hard Decisions - “You can’t make everyone happy.”
  8. The Pain of Financial Loss - “If I could only get that back.”
  9. The Pain of Relationship Losses - “Some people will grow in a different direction than I.”
  10. The Pain of Not Being Number One - “I deserved to be there.”
  11. The Pain of Traveling - “When I am away, I feel...”
  12. The Pain of Responsibility - “They expect so much from me.”

Now that you have identified some pain, a distinct choice needs to be made. Either indulge in self-pity or take stock of yourself during this learning opportunity. Exercise creativity and responsibility for your life to determine what lessons can be learned and grow from the experience.

This is a difficult law to deal with and it may seem callous; but no matter what happens, our attitude toward a bad experience will determine our growth and character. Those who are mature beyond their years are those few who have chosen to be accountable for their life and decided to improve. John Maxwell wrote a book “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.” There is no more truthful statement than that.

Personal growth requires action. Take the opportunity now to decide what your attitude will be when the next painful experience arrives. If you choose to have a positive, grateful and learning attitude, then growth will be inevitable.

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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