J.C MAXWELL: LEADERSHIP & RELATIONSHIP

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WHY SHOULD I GROW AS A LEADER ?
The higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness. Ioften open my leadership conferences by explaining what I call the Law of the Lid because it helps people understand the value of leadership.

If you can get a handle on this principle, you will see the incredible impact of leadership on every aspect of life. So here it is: Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential.

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The higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness.
To give you an example, if your leadership rates an 8, then your effectiveness can never be greater than a 7. If your leadership is only a 4, then your effectiveness will be no higher than a

3. Your leadership ability—for better or for worse—always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization. Let me tell you a story that illustrates the Law of the Lid.

In 1930, two young brothers named Dick and Maurice moved from New Hampshire to California in search of the American Dream. They had just gotten out of high school, and they saw few opportunities back home. So they headed straight for Hollywood where they eventually found jobs on a movie studio set.

After a while, their entrepreneurial spirit and interest in the entertainment industry prompted them to open a theater in Glendale, a town about five miles northeast of Hollywood.

But despite all their efforts, the brothers just couldn’t make the business profitable, so they looked for a better business opportunity. A NEW OPPORTUNITY In 1937, the brothers opened a small drive-in restaurant in Pasadena, located just east of Glendale.

As people in southern California became more dependent on their cars in the thirties, drive-in restaurants sprang up everywhere. Customers would drive into a parking lot around a small restaurant, place their orders with carhops, and receive their food on trays right in their cars.

The food was served on china plates complete with glassware and metal utensils. Dick and Maurice’s tiny drive-in restaurant was a great success, and in 1940, they moved the operation to San Bernardino, a working-class boomtown fifty miles east of Los Angeles.

They built a larger facility and expanded their menu from hot dogs, fries, and shakes to include barbecued beef and pork sandwiches, hamburgers, and other items. Their business exploded.

Annual sales reached $200,000, and the brothers found themselves splitting $50,000 in profits every year—a sum that put them in the town’s financial elite. By 1948, their intuition told them that times were changing, so they made modifications to their restaurant business.

They eliminated the carhops and started serving only walk-up customers. They reduced their menu and focused on selling hamburgers. They eliminated plates, glassware, and metal utensils, switching to paper products instead.

They reduced their costs and the prices they charged customers. They also created what they called the Speedy Service System. Their kitchen became like an assembly line, where each person focused on service with speed.

Their goal was to fill each customer’s order in thirty seconds or less. And they succeeded. By the mid-1950s, annual revenue hit $350,000, and by then, Dick and Maurice split net profits of about $100,000 each year.

Who were these brothers? On the front of their small restaurant hung a neon sign that said simply MCDONALD’S HAMBURGERS.

Dick and Maurice McDonald had hit the great American jackpot, and the rest, as they say, is history, right ? Wrong. The McDonalds never went any farther because their weak leadership put a lid on their ability to succeed.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
It’s true that the McDonald brothers were financially secure. Theirs was one of the most profitable restaurant enterprises in the country, and their genius was in customer service and kitchen organization, which led to a new system of food and beverage service.

In fact, their talent was so widely known in food service circles that people from all over the country wanted to learn more about their methods. At one point, they received as many as three hundred calls and letters every month. That led them to the idea of marketing the McDonald’s concept.

 
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WHY ARE RELATIONSHIPS IMPORTANT TO SUCCESS ?
Relationships are the glue that holds team members together. In the early 1960s, Michael Deaver was a young man with a political bent looking for a leader he could believe in and follow.

The person he found was an actor-turned-politician named Ronald Reagan. In 1966, Reagan was elected governor of California, an office he would hold for two terms, from 1967 to 1975.

During that tenure, Deaver became Reagan's deputy chief of staff, an office he also held when Reagan became the nation's fortieth president. Deaver admired many things about the man he worked with for thirty years:

his convictions and love of country, his understanding of himself, his skill as a communicator, and his honesty. Deaver said, "I would go so far as to say that he was actually incapable of dishonesty."

But perhaps what was most impressive about Ronald Reagan was his ability to relate to people. Deaver commented, "Ronald Reagan was one of the shyest men I'd ever met." Yet the president was able to connect with anyone, whether a head of state, a blue-collar worker, or a feisty member of the press.

When asked about why Reagan had such rapport with the press corps, Deaver remarked, "Well, Reagan basically liked people, whether they were part of the press corps or whether they were just ordinary people. That comes through.

While many of the press wouldn't agree with Reagan's policy, they genuinely liked him as a person."3 Part of Reagan's skill came from his natural charisma and glib verbal aptitude developed in Hollywood.

But even greater was his ability to relate to people, something he honed while traveling the country for a decade as the spokesman for General Electric. It's said that Reagan could make anyone feel like his best friend, even someone he'd never met before. But more important, he connected with the people closest to him. He truly cared about the people on his team.

"The chief of staff, or the gardener, or a secretary would all be treated the same, as far as he was concerned," remembered Deaver. "They were all important."4 Deaver related a story that tells much about the connection the two men experienced.
In 1975,

Reagan gave a speech to a group of conservation-minded hunters in San Francisco, and the organization gave him a small bronze lion as a gift. At the time, Deaver admired it and told Governor Reagan how beautiful he thought it was.

Ten years later, Deaver prepared to bring his service to President Reagan to an end after having written his letter of resignation. Reagan asked Deaver to come to the Oval Office the next morning.

As the deputy chief of staff entered the room, the president stood in front of his desk to greet him. "Mike," he said, "all night I've been trying to think of something to give you that would be a reminder of all the great times we had together."

Then Reagan turned around and picked up something from his desk. "You kinda liked this little thing, as I recall," the president said, his eyes moist.

And he handed the bronze lion to Deaver, who was totally overcome. He couldn't believe that Reagan had remembered that about him all those years. That lion has held a place of honor in Deaver's home ever since.

SOLID RELATIONSHIPS Everyone liked being around Ronald Reagan because he loved people and connected with them. He understood that relationships were the glue that held his team members together—the more solid the relationships, the more cohesive his team. Just about everything you do depends on teamwork.

It doesn't matter whether you are a leader or follower, coach or player, teacher or student, parent or child, CEO or nonprofit worker; you will be involved with other people. The question is, will your involvement with others be successful ?

Your best chance for leadership also depends upon connecting with those on your team. Here is how you know whether you have built solid relationships with others. Look for the following five characteristics in your relationships:

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1. RESPECT When it comes to relationships, everything begins with respect, with the desire to place value on other people. Human relations author Les Giblin said, "You can't make the other fellow feel important in your presence if you secretly feel that he is a nobody."

The thing about respect is that you should show it to others, even before they have done anything to warrant it, simply because they are human beings. But at the same time, you should always expect to have to earn it from others. And the place you earn it the quickest is on difficult ground.

2. SHARED EXPERIENCES
Respect can lay the foundation for a good relationship, but it alone is not enough. You can't be relational with someone you don't know. It requires shared experiences over time. And that's not always easy to achieve.

For example, right after Brian Billick, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, won the 2001 Super Bowl, he was asked about the team's chances for repeating a championship season. He commented that it would be very difficult.

Why? Because 25 to 30 percent of the team changes every year. Newer players don't have the shared experiences with the team that are needed to succeed.

3. TRUST When you respect people and you spend enough time with them to develop shared experiences, you are in a position to develop trust. Trust is essential to all good relationships. Scottish poet George MacDonald observed, "To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved." Without trust, you cannot sustain any kind of relationship.

4. RECIPROCITY One-sided personal relationships don't last. If one person is always the giver and the other is always the receiver, then the relationship will eventually disintegrate. The same is true of all relationships, including those on a team.

For people to improve relationally, there has to be give-and-take so that everyone benefits as well as gives. Remember to ask your teammates, colleagues, and friends questions about their hopes, desires, and goals. Give people your full attention. Show others you care about them.

WHEN IT COMES TO RELATIONSHIPS, EVERYTHING BEGINS WITH RESPECT, WITH THE DESIRE TO PLACE VALUE ON OTHER PEOPLE.

5. MUTUAL ENJOYMENT
When relationships grow and start to get solid, the people involved begin to enjoy each other. Just being together can turn even unpleasant tasks into positive experiences. How are you doing when it comes to being relational ?

Do you spend a lot of time and energy building solid relationships, or are you so focused on results that you tend to overlook (or overrun) others ? If the latter is true of you, think about the wise words of George Kienzle and Edward Dare in Climbing the Executive Ladder:

"Few things will pay you bigger dividends than the time and trouble you take to understand people. Almost nothing will add more to your stature as an executive and a person. Nothing will give you greater satisfaction or bring you more happiness." Becoming a highly relational person brings individual and team success.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OTHERS ?
People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. If your desire is to be successful and to make a positive impact on your world, you need the ability to understand others. Understand


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PUBLISHER'S PREFACE
No one undertakes a journey alone.

We depend upon others constantly—in ways both tangible and intangible—to move us toward our destination. We cannot succeed without the help of others, but forming positive relationships can be a challenge.

In Relationships 101, John Maxwell reveals the secrets behind connecting with other people. He points out the barriers to relationships, emphasizes the shared needs among people, and describes the ways to connect with others on many different levels. Naturally, he also shows how relationships impact leadership.

Most of all, he explains how relationships help us reach our fullest potential.

As America’s leadership expert, Dr. Maxwell has spent a lifetime helping others become successful. Through this series of books, his goal is to help others become a REAL success in four crucial areas:

Relationships, Equipping, Attitude, and Leadership. Relationships 101 provides the fundamentals you need to master relationship skills.  Equipping 101, Attitude 101, and Leadership 101 will give you the other skills you need to reach your goals.

We are delighted to publish Relationships 101 because we recognize the significance of positive relationships in every aspect of life. Building positive relationships with others involves risk, but Dr. Maxwell shows that the rewards outweigh that risk. This short course on relationships will equip you with valuable skills for connecting with others as you journey toward success.

 
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PART I
THE NATURE OF RELATIONSHIPS
1  WHY ARE RELATIONSHIPS IMPORTANT TO SUCCESS ?

Relationships are the glue that holds team members together. In the early 1960s, Michael Deaver was a young man with a political bent looking for a leader he could believe in and follow.

The person he found was an actor-turned-politician named Ronald Reagan. In 1966, Reagan was elected governor of California, an office he would hold for two terms, from 1967 to 1975. During that tenure, Deaver became Reagan's deputy chief of staff, an office he also held when Reagan became the nation's fortieth president.

Deaver admired many things about the man he worked with for thirty years: his convictions and love of country, his understanding of himself, his skill as a communicator, and his honesty. Deaver said, "I would go so far as to say that he was actually incapable of dishonesty."

1 But perhaps what was most impressive about Ronald Reagan was his ability to relate to people. Deaver commented, "Ronald Reagan was one of the shyest men I'd ever met."

2 Yet the president was able to connect with anyone, whether a head of state, a blue-collar worker, or a feisty member of the press. When asked about why Reagan had such rapport with the press corps, Deaver remarked, "Well, Reagan basically liked people, whether they were part of the press corps or whether they were just ordinary people.

That comes through. While many of the press wouldn't agree with Reagan's policy, they genuinely liked him as a person."

3 Part of Reagan's skill came from his natural charisma and glib verbal aptitude developed in Hollywood.

But even greater was his ability to relate to people, something he honed while traveling the country for a decade as the spokesman for General Electric.
It's said that Reagan could make anyone feel like his best friend, even someone he'd never met before.

But more important, he connected with the people closest to him.
He truly cared about the people on his team. "The chief of staff, or the gardener, or a secretary would all be treated the same, as far as he was concerned," remembered Deaver. "They were all important."

4 Deaver related a story that tells much about the connection the two men experienced. In 1975, Reagan gave a speech to a group of conservation-minded hunters in San Francisco, and the organization gave him a small bronze lion as a gift. At the time, Deaver admired it and told Governor Reagan how beautiful he thought it was.

Ten years later, Deaver prepared to bring his service to President Reagan to an end after having written his letter of resignation. Reagan asked Deaver to come to the Oval Office the next morning. As the deputy chief of staff entered the room, the president stood in front of his desk to greet him.

Introduction Potential is one of the most wonderful words in any language.

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It looks forward with optimism.
It is filled with hope. It promises success.
It implies fulfillment.
It hints at greatness.
Potential is a word based on possibilities.

Think about your potential as a human being and you get excited—at least,
I hope you do. What a positive thought.
I believe in your potential just as much as I believe in mine.
Do you have potential ? Absolutely. What about unfulfilled potential ?

That phrase is as negative as the word potential is positive. My friend Florence Littauer, a speaker and author, wrote a story in her book Silver Boxes about her father, who always wanted to be a singer but never was.

She says he died with the music still inside of him. That’s an apt description of unfulfilled potential. Not reaching your potential is like dying with the music still inside of you.

Since you are reading these words, I believe you have the desire to reach your potential. So the question becomes, how do you do it ? I have no doubt that the answer is growth. To reach your potential you must grow. And to grow, you must be highly intentional about it.

This book is my effort to help you learn how to grow and develop yourself so you have the best chance of becoming the person you were created to be. My desire is to help you develop the right attitude, learn more about your strengths, tap into your passion, become more in touch with your purpose, and develop your skills so you can be all you can be.

You may be aware that this is the third Laws book I’ve written. The first was developed to help leaders understand how leadership works so they could become better leaders.

The second was to help people understand teamwork and develop stronger teams. This book is dedicated to helping you understand how personal growth works and to help you become a more effective and fulfilled individual.

While it’s true that I may include a few leadership insights along the way, you don’t need to be a leader for this book to help you. You don’t need to be part of a team to grow (though it certainly helps). You just need to be a person who wants to grow and become better than you are today.

What do I mean when I write about growth ? That will be as unique as you are. To discover your purpose, you need to grow in self-awareness. To become a better human being, you need to grow in character. To advance in your career, you need to grow in your skills.

To be a better spouse or parent, you need to grow in relationships. To reach your financial goals, you need to grow in your knowledge about how money works. To enrich your soul, you need to grow spiritually.

The specifics of growth change from person to person, but the principles are the same for every person. This book offers laws that will teach you how to approach the worthy goal of growing.

It is a key that unlocks the door. You will have to put in the work to actually grow. My recommendation is that you tackle a chapter of this book every week. Discuss it with some friends.

Do the application exercises that are at the end of each chapter. Keep a growth journal. And incorporate what you’re learning into your everyday life. You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day.

By learning the laws and then living them, you will be on your way to reaching your potential. If you keep learning and growing every day over the course of many years, you will be astounded by how far it will take you.

1 The Law of Intentionality Growth Doesn’t Just Happen Life is now in session. Are you present ? Do you have a plan for your personal growth ?” Curt Kampmeier, the man who asked me the question, waited patiently for my response. It was a question that would change my life.

I fumbled for answers. I listed my accomplishments from the previous three years. I talked about how hard I worked. I outlined my goals. I explained the things I was doing to reach more people. All of my answers were based on activity, not on improving. Finally I had to admit it.

I had no plan to become better. It was something I had never considered before, and it exposed a major flaw in my approach to work and success. When I started my career, I was intentional about working, reaching my goals, and being successful. I had a strategy: hard work. I hoped that would get me where I wanted to go. But working hard doesn’t guarantee success.

And hope isn’t a strategy.
How do you get better at what you do ?
How do you improve your relationships ?
How do you gain more depth and wisdom as a person ?
How do you gain insight ?
How do you overcome obstacles ?
Work harder ?
Work longer ?
Wait for things to get better ?

That conversation happened over lunch at a Holiday Inn restaurant in 1972. At the time, I had just been given the opportunity to move up in my career. I had been offered the best church in my denomination. Think about being offered the top leadership job in the premier location in your company.

That’s what it was for me. The problem was that I was twenty-four years old, I was in way over my head, and I knew that if I didn’t rise to the occasion, I would fail spectacularly. Curt was a salesman who was selling a growth kit—a year-long plan with materials designed to help a person grow.

He slid the brochure across the table to me. It cost $799, which was nearly a month’s salary for me at the time. My mind was racing as I drove home. I had believed that success would come to anyone who poured himself into his career. Curt helped me to realize that the key was personal growth.

It occurred to me that if you focus on goals, you may hit goals—but that doesn’t guarantee growth. If you focus on growth, you will grow and always hit goals.
As I drove, a quote from James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh came to mind.

I had first read that book in seventh grade and had subsequently read it nearly a dozen times. Allen wrote, “People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.”
I couldn’t afford what Curt was offering.

Yet in my heart I knew that he had uncovered the key to the ability to meet my next leadership challenge and go to the higher levels in my career. I could see the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be—where I needed to be! It was a growth gap, and I needed to figure out how to bridge it.

Growth Gap Traps If you have dreams, goals, or aspirations, you need to grow to achieve them. But if you’re like I was—and if you’re like most people—you have one or more mistaken beliefs that create a gap that keeps you from growing and reaching your potential. Take a look at the following eight misconceptions about growth that may be holding you back from being as intentional as you need to be.

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1. The Assumption Gap—“
I Assume That I Will Automatically Grow” When we are children, our bodies grow automatically. A year goes by, and we become taller, stronger, more capable of doing new things and facing new challenges.

I think many people carry into adulthood a subconscious belief that mental, spiritual, and emotional growth follows a similar pattern. Time goes by, and we simply get better. We’re like Charlie Brown in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip, who once said, “I think I’ve discovered the secret of life—you just hang around until you get used to it.”

The problem is that we don’t improve by simply living. We have to be intentional about it. Musician Bruce Springsteen commented, “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.” No one improves by accident.

Personal growth doesn’t just happen on its own. And once you’re done with your formal education, you must take complete ownership of the growth process, because nobody else will do it for you.

As Michel de Montaigne observed, “No wind favors him who has no destined port.” If you want your life to improve, you must improve yourself. You must make that a tangible target. “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.”
—Bruce Springsteen

2. The Knowledge Gap—“
I Don’t Know How to Grow” After my meeting with Curt Kampmeier, I talked to everybody I knew and asked the same question Curt had asked me: “Do you have a growth plan ?” I was hoping that somebody had figured this out and I could simply learn from him. Not one person said yes.

Nobody in my world had a plan for growing and improving. I didn’t know how to grow, and neither did they. Designer, artist, and consultant Loretta Staples says, “If you are clear with what you want, the world responds with clarity.” I knew what I wanted.
I wanted to grow into the new job I was taking.

I wanted to become someone capable of accomplishing the big goals I had set for myself. I just needed a way to do that. Many people learn only from the school of hard knocks. Difficult experiences teach them lessons “the hard way,” and they change—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

The lessons are random and difficult. It’s much better to plan your growth intentionally. You decide where you need or want to grow, you choose what you will learn, and you follow through with discipline going at the pace you set.

After I met with Curt and came to realize that I didn’t know anyone else who could help me, my wife, Margaret, and I talked about ways we could scrimp, save, and go without to put aside $799. (You have to remember that this was before credit cards!)
I skipped lunches.

We canceled the vacation we had planned to take.
We made do. It took us six months, but finally we did it. You can’t imagine my excitement as I opened up the growth kit and started to flip through the five areas it covered: attitude, goals, discipline, measurement, and consistency.

Outside of my faith, the decision to grow has impacted my life more than any other.
I look back now and I can see how basic those things were that the kit taught me.
But that’s what I needed. Learning those lessons opened the door of personal growth a crack for me.

And through that crack I began to see growth opportunities everywhere.
My world began to open up. I accomplished more. I learned more.
I was able to lead and help others more. Other opportunities began to present themselves. My world expanded. Outside of my faith, the decision to grow has impacted my life more than any other.

3. The Timing Gap—“
It’s Not the Right Time to Begin” When I was a kid, one of my father’s favorite riddles to us went like this: Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off.
How many are left ?

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The first time he asked me, I answered, “One.” “No,” he responded. “Five.
Why ? Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing !”
That was a point that Dad often drove home with us.

American politician Frank Clark said, “What great accomplishments we’d have in the world if everybody had done what they intended to do.” Most people don’t act as quickly as they should on things.

They find themselves subject to the Law of Diminishing Intent, which says, "
The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”
The Law of Diminishing Intent says, “
The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”

Back when I was deciding whether to try to buy that first personal-growth plan, in a way I was lucky because I knew I was headed to a job where I would be in way over my head. I would be challenged beyond anything I’d ever done before.

I would be under a microscope, with high expectations (some for me to succeed, some for me to fail) from everyone who knew me. And I knew that if I didn’t get better as a leader, I would fail. That prompted me to act as quickly as I could. You may be under similar personal or professional pressure right now.

If you are, you’re probably anxious to start growing and developing. But what if you’re not? Whether you feel prompted to or not, now is the time to start growing. Author and professor Leo Buscaglia asserted, “Life lived for tomorrow will always be a day away from being realized.”

The reality is that you will never get much done unless you go ahead and do it before you are ready. If you’re not already intentionally growing, you need to get started today. If you don’t, you may reach some goals, which you can celebrate, but you will eventually plateau. Once you start growing intentionally, you can keep growing and keep asking “What’s next?”

4. The Mistake Gap—“
I’m Afraid of Making Mistakes” Growing can be a messy business. It means admitting you don’t have the answers. It requires making mistakes. It can make you look foolish. Most people don’t enjoy that. But that is the price of admission if you want to improve.

Years ago I read a quote by Robert H. Schuller, who said, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn’t fail ?” Those words encouraged me to try things that I believed were beyond my capabilities.

They also inspired me to write the book Failing Forward. When I received the first copy of that book from the publisher, I immediately wrote a thank-you in it to Dr. Schuller and signed it to him.

And I made a trip to Garden Grove so I could present it to him and thank him for the positive influence he had on my life. A photograph that was taken of us on that day sits on the desk in my office as a reminder of his investment in me.

If you want to grow, you need to get over any fear you may have of making mistakes. As author and professor Warren Bennis asserts, “A mistake is simply another way of doing things.”

To become intentional about growing, expect to make mistakes every day, and welcome them as a sign that you are moving in the right direction. “A mistake is simply another way of doing things.” —Warren Bennis

5. The Perfection Gap—“
I Have to Find the Best Way Before I Start” Similar to the Mistake Gap is the Perfection Gap, the desire to find the “best” way to get started in a growth plan. When Curt presented me with the idea of a growth plan, I went looking for the best way.

But what I discovered is that I had it backward. I had to get started if I wanted to find the best way. It’s similar to driving on an unfamiliar road at night. Ideally, you’d like to be able to see your whole route before you begin. But you see it progressively. As you move forward, a little more of the road is revealed to you. If you want to see more of the way, then get moving.

6. The Inspiration Gap—“
I Don’t Feel Like Doing It” Many years ago, I was stuck in a doctor’s waiting room for a really long time—so long, in fact, that I had completed all the work I’d brought with me for the wait and was looking for something productive to do.

I flipped through a medical journal and found the following text, which has become one of my favorite examples of the inertia of motivation (and by the way, this was before Nike coined the phrase): Just Do It We hear it almost every day; sigh, sigh, sigh. I just can’t get myself motivated to…
(lose weight, test my blood sugar, etc.)

And we hear an equal number of sighs from diabetes educators who can’t get their patients motivated to do the right things for their diabetes and health. We have news for you. Motivation is not going to strike you like lightning.

And motivation is not something that someone else—nurse, doctor, family member—can bestow or force on you. The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation and then guess what.

After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it. Motivation is like love and happiness. It’s a by-product. When you’re actively engaged in doing something, it sneaks up and zaps you when you least expect it.

As Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner says, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” So act! Whatever it is you know you should do, do it. When Curt suggested I needed to be intentional about growing, I had thousands of reasons not to do it.

I didn’t have the time, the money, the experience, and so on. I had only one reason to do it. I believed I should do it because I hoped it would make a difference. That certainly didn’t feel inspirational.

But I started. To my astonishment, after a year of dedicated growth, I started to pass some of my heroes. My reason for putting in the work changed from getting started to staying with it, because it did make a difference.

After that, I didn’t want to miss a single day! You may not feel inspired to aggressively pursue a growth plan if you haven’t started yet. If that’s the case, please trust me when I say that the reasons to keep growing far outweigh the reasons to start growing. And you discover the reasons to stay with growth only if you stick with it long enough to start reaping the benefits.

So make a commitment to yourself to start and stick with it for at least twelve months. If you do, you will fall in love with the process, and you will be able to look back at the end of that year and see how far you’ve come.

7. The Comparison Gap—“Others Are Better Than I Am” Fairly early in my career, I attended an idea exchange with three other leaders in Orlando, Florida. I went because at the time I realized that I needed to be exposed to bigger and better leaders outside of my own small circle.

At first when I arrived, I was intimidated. As we talked and shared ideas, it became clear very quickly that I was not in their league. Their organizations were six times the size of mine, and they had many more and much better ideas than I did. I felt like I was in over my head and trying to swim.

Despite that, I was encouraged. Why ? Because I discovered that great men were willing to share their ideas. And I was learning so much. You can learn only if others are ahead of you.

The first ten years that I was intentionally pursuing personal growth, I was always behind trying to catch up. I had to get over the comparison gap. I had to learn to become comfortable with being out of my comfort zone. It was a difficult transition, but it was well worth it.

8. The Expectation Gap—“I Thought It Would Be Easier Than This” I don’t know any successful person who thinks growth comes quickly and climbing to the top is easy. It just doesn’t happen. People create their own luck.

How ? Here’s the formula: Preparation (growth) + Attitude + Opportunity + Action (doing something about it) = Luck It all starts with preparation. Unfortunately, that takes time. But here’s the best news.

As Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” If you want to reach your goals and fulfill your potential, become intentional about personal growth. It will change your life.

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” —Jim Rohn Making the Transition to Intentional Growth The sooner you make the transition to becoming intentional about your personal growth, the better it will be for you, because growth compounds and accelerates if you remain intentional about it. Here’s how to make the change:

1. Ask the Big Question Now
The first year that I engaged in intentional personal growth, I discovered that it was going to be a lifetime process. During that year, the question in my mind changed from “How long will this take ?” to “How far can I go ?”

That is the question you should be asking yourself right now—not that you will be able to answer it. I started this growth journey forty years ago, and I still haven’t answered it. But it will help you set the direction, if not the distance.

Where do you want to go in life ?
What direction do you want to go ?
What’s the farthest you can imagine going ?

Answering those questions will get you started on the personal-growth journey.
The best you can hope to do in life is to make the most out of whatever you’ve been given. You do that by investing in yourself, making yourself the best you can be. The more you’ve got to work with, the greater your potential—and the farther you should try to go.

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As my dad used to say to me repeatedly when I was a kid, “To whomever much is given—much shall be required.” Give growing your best so you can become your best.

2. Do It Now In 1974 I attended a seminar at the University of Dayton, where W. Clement Stone spoke on the subject of having a sense of urgency.

Stone was a business tycoon who had made his fortune in insurance. His session was titled “Do It Now,” and one of the things he told us was this: “Before you get out of bed every morning, say ‘do it now’ fifty times.

At the end of the day before you go to sleep, the last thing you should do is say ‘do it now’ fifty times.” I’m guessing there were about eight thousand people in the audience that day, but it felt like he was talking to me personally.

I went home, and for the next six months I actually followed his advice. The first thing every morning and the last thing before I went to sleep, I repeated the words “do it now.” It gave me a tremendous sense of urgency.

The greatest danger you face in this moment is the idea that you will make intentional growth a priority later. Don’t fall into that trap! Recently I read an article by Jennifer Reed in SUCCESS. She wrote, Can there be a more insidious word ? Later, as in “I’ll do it later.”

Or, “Later, I’ll have time to write that book that’s been on my mind for the past five years.” Or, “I know I need to straighten out my finances… I’ll do it later.” “Later” is one of those dream-killers, one of the countless obstacles we put up to derail our chances of success.

The diet that starts “tomorrow,” the job hunt that happens “eventually,” the pursuit of the life dream that begins “someday” combine with other self-imposed roadblocks and lock us on autopilot. Why do we do this to ourselves, anyway ? Why don’t we take action now ?

Let’s face it: The familiar is easy; the uncharted path is lined with uncertainties.
1 By starting to read this book, you’ve already begun the process. Don’t stop there! Keep taking more steps. Pick a resource that will help you grow and begin learning from it today.

3. Face the Fear Factor I recently read an article on the fears that keep people from being successful. The following five factors came into play: Fear of Failure Fear of Trading Security for the Unknown Fear of Being Overextended Financially Fear of What Others Will Say or Think Fear that Success Will Alienate Peers Which of those fears most impacts you ?

For me it was the last one: alienating my peers. By nature I’m a people pleaser, and I wanted everyone to like me. But it really doesn’t matter which fear affects you the most. We all have fears. But here’s the good news.

We also all have faith. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Which emotion will I allow to be stronger ?” Your answer is important, because the stronger emotion wins. I want to encourage you to feed your faith and starve your fear.

4. Change from Accidental to Intentional Growth People tend to get into ruts in life. They get in an easy groove, and they don’t try to break out if it—even when it’s taking them in the wrong direction.

After a while, they just get by. If they learn something, it’s because of a happy accident. Don’t let that happen to you! If that is the attitude you’ve developed, then you would do well to remember that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the length !

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