Author note: This is the sixth 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 occur through growth. Eventually, your current skills and attitudes will limit future achievement unless they are developed to overcome new obstacles. For most people, personal growth is not a natural process in their lives. They simply live day to day, observing and experiencing life, without ever realizing their full potential. Growth is difficult. It takes hard work to change.
Law 12: The Law of Curiosity
Growth is stimulated by asking why. Personal growth is fueled by an exploration of the unknown. It is only by seeking that you can reach your full potential and examine the roots of your actions. Cultivating curiosity is an important step in the growth process. Ten tested strategies ensure a curious nature is maintained.
- Believe you can be curious; have a desire to learn.
- Have a beginner’s mindset, with no assumptions about knowledge.
- Make “why” your favorite word and ask focused questions to cut to the core.
- Spend time with other curious people who will stimulate curiosity and ask good questions.
- Learn something new every day (perhaps from experiences).
- Partake in the fruit of failure. Failed experience is a teacher; learn, don’t lose.
- Stop looking for the right answer; there is usually more than one correct response.
- Get over yourself and try new things with a childlike attitude.
- Get out of the box and find new solutions.
- Enjoy your life and the excitement of learning new things.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to curiosity is experiencing success. It can be difficult to challenge the processes that have created a growing and profitable company. Yet achieving true potential is impossible without challenging the status quo. There may be no better example than Apple, a company that was so invested in this idea that “Think different” was its key marketing slogan from 1997 to 2002.
Although the mid-’90s was not the most successful time for Apple, the company had nearly two decades of experience building and selling computers, as well as billions in annual sales. From 1995 to 1997, aggressive competition gained from a poor licensing decision began to dramatically hurt Apple’s sales. When Steve Jobs returned to the company, he challenged the status quo. Among many great business decisions, the curiosity that he fostered in the organization led to the introduction of the iPod in 2001. Computers eventually took a backseat and the iPod led to the development of the iPhone, which currently represents over half of all revenue for Apple (Mac is less than 15% of revenue).
In the 15 years during which Jobs led Apple to think differently, the company experienced a 35% compound annual return rate with annual revenues of over $110 billion. Apple continues to appreciate in value as the world’s most valuable brand because of its culture. Completing a shift of this magnitude certainly would never have been possible if many people along the way lost their curiosity and believed they already knew the answers.
Average people think, “Can I do this?” Those who have an abundance mindset ask, “How can I do this?” Curiosity is the key to unlocking the real answer to find success.
Law 13: The Law of Modeling
It’s hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow. There is a popular myth, particularly in American culture, of a self-made man - someone who achieved “The American Dream” and defied the odds to find wealth and success on their own. The truth is that no one has ever been self-made. It takes many people to help a leader be successful, and it takes a mentor to show the way.
Selecting a mentor requires careful evaluation. First, a mentor must be a worthy example of the desired growth. A mentor must have the relevant experience to draw on, and their personal life must reflect the highest standards. Competence inspires confidence, which is especially true when seeking a mentor.
Next, a good mentor must be available. They must have the time to invest in your life and the relationship. Sometimes, this requires you to change mentors as life circumstances evolve. The time commitment is necessary because a good mentor provides friendship and support. A mentor will care for you intellectually and emotionally. People who give advice are not mentors - the relationship is much deeper than that.
Finally, a good mentor is a coach. Coaches care for the people they coach. By observing attitudes, behaviors and performance, coaches align people with their strengths and help them improve. Mentors impart wisdom to develop peak performance.
Everyone needs a coach to get to the next level. My career would be nothing without the many mentors and coaches I have had along the way. Here are just a few mentors I’ve had in my career and what they’ve taught me:
- Jason Case: operations, leadership and management
- Bill Carello: accounting, strategy and analysis
- Kirk Armstrong: sales and negotiations
- Leslie Boomer: emotional intelligence
- John Maxwell: leadership and teamwork
There are many more I could name. I still regularly work with mentors in many aspects of life because the best way to grow to the next to level is to learn from someone who has been there.
If you don’t have a coach in your life, be prepared to experience limited growth. The good news is that achieving amazing growth is possible by intentionally finding a mentor and being prepared with a vision of where you want to grow in your life. It may take some time to find the right person, but overcoming the growing pains is part of the process.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.