Fifteen Laws of Growth



I will summarize the third book in John Maxwell’s Laws series(The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, and The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork), which is 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. This is the third Laws book: the first was to help the leader understand how leadership works. The second was to help people understand teamwork and develop stronger teams. And this book is published to help understand how personal growth works and to help the leader to become a more effective and fulfilled individual.

Are there tried and true principles that are always certain to help a person grow? John Maxwell says the answer is yes. He has been passionate about personal development for over fifty years, and for the first time, he teaches everything he has gleaned about what it takes to reach our potential. Because of that started to write this book by word potential, the word based on possibilities. Maxwell (2012) asks” what appositive thought I believe in your potential just much as I believe in mine? what about unfulfilled potential? that phrase is as negative as the word potential positive. how do you do it? the answer is growth “(p. 1). In particular, to reach your potential you must grow, and to grow you must be highly intentional about it. Learn your strengths, passion, purpose, and develop your skills. Thus, to reach your potential you must grow, and there are 15 invaluable laws of growth as following:

First Law: The law of Intentionality

Maxwell (2012) believes that most people have one or more mistaken beliefs that create a gap that keeps them from growing and reaching their potential, the following are eight misconceptions about growth that may be holding you from being intentional. The assumption gap; I assume that I will automatically grow. The knowledge gap; I do not know how to grow. The timing gap; It is not the right time to begin. The mistake gap; I am afraid of making mistakes. The perfection gap; I have to find the best way before I start. The inspiration gap; I do not feel like doing it. The comparison gap, others are better than I am. The expectation gap; I thought it would be easier than this (pp. 2, 9). I believe that Maxwell (2012) tried to say that the intentionality is how to close the previous gaps. So, to close the gaps you have to make sure no one improves by accident, you must have inside faith to lead you to know how to grow, you must remember that life lived for tomorrow will always be a day away from being realized, a mistake is simply another way of doing things, you have to start in a growth plan, and the motivation is not going to strike you like lightning, the whole idea of motivation is a trap. So, you cannot change destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight (pp. 10, 12).

Second Law: The Law of Awareness.

First of all, you must know yourself to grow yourself. To grow, you must know your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and opportunities. You must be able to gauge not only where you have been, but also where you are now. To reach you potential, you must know where you want to go and where you currently are (Maxwell, 2012, pp. 17, 18). Moreover, you must know your needs. Bolman & Deal (2008) believe that needs are important because we all have them, but identifying what needs we have at any given time is more elusive. Needs energize and guide behavior and vary in potency at different times (p. 123). Maxwell (2012) says to know yourself, ask yourself these questions: do you know the difference between what you want and what you are good at? do you know what drives you and what gives you satisfaction? do you know what your values and priorities are, and what your organization’s values and priorities are? do you know people who do what you would like to do? will you pay the price to do what you want to do? When can you start doing what you would like to do? (pp. 23, 32).

Third Law: The Law of the Mirror.

You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself. Many people fail to grow and the reason is low self-esteem. Many people do not believe in themselves (Maxwell, 2012, p. 35). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs mentions self-esteem in the top two levels which is ego needs for esteem, respect, and recognition. At the top of the hierarchy is self-actualization (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p 125). Maxwell (2012) provides steps to build your self-image as: 1) Guard your self-talk; tell yourself that you are paying the price for growth and that you will learn to do better next time. 2) Stop comparing yourself to others. 3) Move beyond your limiting beliefs. 4) Add value to others. 5) Do the right thing, even if it is the hard thing. 6) Practice a small discipline daily in a specific area of your life. 7) Celebrate small victories. 8) Embrace a positive vision for your life based on what you value. 9) Practice the one-word strategy; select the one word that best describes you. And 10) Take responsibility and believe in yourself to get started (pp. 41, 48).

Fourth Law: The Law of Reflection.

Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you. Maxwell (2012) provides personal awareness questions to teach other people how to ask questions effectively, which can be a difficult challenge because the questions they ask usually must be tailored to the situation. What is my biggest asset? What is my biggest liability? What is my highest high? What is my lowest low? What is my most worthwhile emotion? What is my least worthwhile emotion? What is my best habit? What is my worst habit? What is most fulfilling to me? What do I prize most highly? (pp.59, 63). The most important thing you must do is write out the questions and write out the answers. Writing helps you to discover what you truly know, think, and believe. Then you can do what you have written.

Fifth Law: The Law of Consistency.

Put your dream to the test. What people do not realize is that these small, seemingly insignificant steps, completed consistently over time, will create a radical difference. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. Because of that, Maxwell (2012) recommends questions about your growth: do you know what you need to improve? do you know what you are supposed to improve? do you know why you want to keep improving? do you know when you are supposed to improve? (pp. 70, 78).

Sixth Law: The Law of Environment.

Growth thrives in conducive surroundings. It is possible to change growing, but it is impossible to grow without changing. Maxwell (2012) brings the following six choices to put ourselves in a better place for growth: 1) Assess your current environment to know yourself, and to assess whether you are getting what you need in your current environment. 2) Change yourself and your environment, because if you change yourself, but not your environment, growth will be slow and difficult, and if you change your environment but not yourself, growth will be slow and less difficult, but if you change your environment and yourself, growth will be faster and more successful. 3) Change who you spend your time with, because you cannot take the growth journey alone, not if you want to reach your potential, your environment is people.4) Challenge yourself in your new environment, because a better growth environment will not help you much if you do not do everything in your power to make the most of it. 5) Focus on the moment, do not dwell on your past, do not worry about your future, because you cannot control it; focus on what you can do now. And 6) Move forward, despite criticism, because growth always comes from taking action, and taking action almost always brings criticism (pp. 87, 96). As you take action to change yourself and your environment, you will almost certainly be criticized for it. Burns (1978) states that “In contrast transforming leadership occurs when one or more persons engages with others to raise the level of motivation and morality, their purpose becomes fused and their power bases are linked as mutual support for common purpose” (p. 20).

Seventh Law: The Law of Design.

To maximize growth , develop strategies and look at the opportunities you pursued and judge which gave a high return which did not. Look at all the meetings and appointments, and determine which ones you should do more of and which you should eliminate. Because of this, Maxwell (2012) suggests an effective system to include: take the big picture into account, make use of priorities, include measurement, include application, employ organization, and promote consistency (pp. 110,115). Designing your life is more important than designing your career. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. So any system you develop needs to promote consistency, and you must follow it consistently (Maxwell, 2012, p.116).

Eighth Law: The Law of Pain

Good management of bad experiences leads to great growth. Each new experience becomes an opportunity for personal growth. Personally, I believe that after any pain you must receive a great thing. The pain is successful people’s gate way, because no one succeeds without pain. Because of that, Maxwell (2012) teaches us how we can turn our pain into gains by five actions: 1) choose a positive life stance, 2) embrace and develop your creativity, 3) embrace the value of bad experiences, 4) make good change after learning from bad experiences, and 5) take responsibility for your life (p. 128, 133).

Ninth Law: The Law of the Ladder

“Character growth determines the height of your personal growth. To be a success think like a success” (Maxwell, 2012, p.140). In my opinion, ambition is not enough; ambition without guidance is nothing. Anyone in this life has ambition to do something but there are fewer who can achieve their ambition. So, ambition with guidance is a very important thing to be successful. Ambition is one of the most important personal power, which is the individuals who are attractive and socially adept, because of charisma or some other characteristic. So, successful person who can create the ambition for himself first and then posed for others. Because the ambition is the fuel engine for growth and we can create it by myths, vision, values, heroes, heroines, stories, and fairy tales (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 268).

Tenth Law: The Law of the Rubber Band

Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be. Rubber bands are useful only when they are stretched! That can also be said of us. Maxwell (2012) says in the benefits of tension, are: 1) Few people want to stretch, because most people use only a small fraction of their ability and rarely strive to reach their full potential. 2) Settling for the status quo ultimately leads to dissatisfaction, you must give up excuses and push forward, and you must be willing to face the tension that comes from stretching toward your potential. 3) Stretching always starts from the inside out, find a mentor who can help you see yourself for who you could be, not who you currently are. And then use that image to inspire you to start stretching. 4) Stretching always requires change, and the greatest stretching seasons of life come when we do what we have never done, push ourselves harder, and reach in a way that is uncomfortable to us. 5) Stretching sets you apart from others, because successful people set themselves apart; they initiate the improvement others need. 5) Stretching can become a lifestyle. 6) Stretching gives you a shot at significance, a possibility is a hint from God, and one must follow it to make a difference (pp.160, 169).

Eleventh Law: The Law of Trade -Offs

You have to give up to grow up. What will it take for you to go to the next level? vision? yes. Hard work? of course. Personal growth? definitely. How about letting go of some of the things that you love and value most? Yes, and believe it or not, this is the thing that often holds people back, even those who have achieved some level of success (Maxwell, 2012, p. 173). Everybody makes trades throughout life, whether they know it or not. But it is important to remember that, while we do not always get what we want, we always get what we choose. For example, we can give up bad habits to acquire good ones anytime we have the willpower to make the decision (Maxwell, 2012, pp. 177, 182).

Twelfth Law: The Law of Curiosity

Growth is stimulated by asking why? I believe curiosity is the key to being a life- long learner, and if you want to keep growing and developing, you must keep on learning. Curiosity helps a person to think and expand possibilities beyond the ordinary (Maxwell, 2012, p.194). Maxwell (2012) offers some suggestions for cultivating curiosity: believe you can be curious, have a beginner’s mind-set. People with a beginner’s mind-set approach life the way that a child does with curiosity, make “why” your favorite word, spend time with other curious people, learn something new every day, partake in the fruit of failure, stop looking for the right answer because people with curiosity keep asking questions they keep learning, get over yourself because if you never tried anything that might make you look ridiculous, get out of the box, and enjoy your life (Maxwell, 2012, pp.194, 203).

Thirteenth Law: The Law of Modeling

It is hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow. Whom should I follow? can I learn from people I have never met?. Maxwell (2012) answers these previous questions and more, by saying that a good mentor is a worthy example: a good mentor is available, a good mentor has proven experience, a good mentor possesses wisdom, because wise people often use just few words to help us learn and develop, a good mentor provides friendship and support, and a good mentor is a coach who makes a difference in people’s lives. C.O.A.C.H. is: Care for the people they coach. Observe their attitudes, behavior, and performance. Align them with their strengths for peak performance. Communicate and give feedback about their performance. Help them to improve their lives and performance (pp. 212, 220). Role models open our eyes to worlds we might not have otherwise seen without their help. They help us navigate difficult situation. They help us to see opportunities we would otherwise miss. They make us wiser than our years and experience, even if we do not meet them; “Symbolic leaders lead by example” (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 368). Also, Bush (2011) mentioned the modeling, but he called it best practice (p. 15).

Fourteenth Law: The Law of Expansion

Maxwell (2012) says “Growth always increases you capacity, and people typically use only 10 percent of their true potential” (p. 227). So, how to increase your thinking and action capacity? The answer is found in changing how we think and what we do. Maxwell (2012) provides great Stop and Start strategy for that: 1) Stop thinking more work, and start thinking what work? 2) Stop thinking can I? and start thinking how can I? 3) Stop thinking one doors and start thinking many doors. 4) Stop doing only those things you have done before and start doing those things you could and should do. 5) Stop doing what is expected, and start doing more than is expected.6) Stop doing important things occasionally, and start doing important things daily (pp. 227, 236).

Fifteenth Law: The Law of Contribution

Growing yourself enables you to grow others. How do you increase your chances of being able to help others and make a significant contribution in your lifetime? Think of yourself as a river instead of a reservoir, and making the right contribution of choices (Maxwell, 2012, p. 246). The purpose of the leaders was “to satisfy the motives of their followers and to engage them to do things that elevate each other to a new height that is a good meaning of leadership (Burn, 1978, p. 13). Maxwell (2012) suggested to help you cultivate an attitude of contribution: be grateful there is no success without sacrifice, put people first if you are a leader, putting people first is even more important because your action impacts so many other people, do not let stuff or people own you, define success as sowing not reaping, focus on self-development not self-fulfillment, keep growing to keep giving (pp. 248, 255).


Bolman, L, Deal, T. (2008). Reframing Organizations, 4 th edn. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Bush, T. (2011). Theories of Educational Leadership & Management, 4 th edn. Los Angeles, CA: Sega. Maxwell, J. (2012). The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential. Boston, NY: Center Street. Maxwell, J. (2012, October 15). 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth [Web post]. Retrieved from…

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