3 Part Action Plan For Personal Growth Today, So You Can Positively Influence Others Tomorrow!

personal growth, leadership development

Each of us invest time in doing something.  Even if it is to do nothing but sit on a couch; you are still investing time.  And many of us receive no return of investment on the time we place towards our current activities.  So much so, we might as well be sitting on the couch.  I want to give you several reasons to invest in yourself first and foremost.  Just as you should pay yourself first, each pay day, and invest it for you future; you need to invest in you first.  And the way to pay yourself is to focus time on your action plan for personal growth today.  If you wish to lead by influence tomorrow; you need to start with today, because today matters.

When I think of growth, it reminds me of farming and the old saying, “You reap what you sow.”  John C. Maxwell says, in his book Today Matters-“We grow only when we apply what we know. Be intentional about developing and following a personal growth plan. Each day, endeavor to acquire knowledge and put it to use. No one else is tasked with making sure you grow; you are responsible for improving yourself personally and professionally.”  In short, today matters. What you plant today, in terms of your personal development will determine what you harvest tomorrow.

1. The first step in this action plan for professional growth is to cultivate the field.  Any farmer would tell you a key step towards growth is one has to prepare the field for sowing or planting seeds. And if you are going to cultivate or plow a field; you are going to have to be intentional about it.  After all no field ever plowed itself.  The field I am talking about is you.  You have to prepare yourself to receive knowledge.  So how do you prepare to cultivate your field?  Start by setting aside time.  We all have busy and hectic schedules, You have to carve out that time.  And time makes the ground very hard too plow.  But keep in mind, you are more important than your schedule. Your  schedule should be developed around you, not you around your schedule. As you invest in your personal growth today, every facet of your schedule will improve tomorrow.  Then when you participate in personal development training, read a book, listen to a recording or work with an executive coach, be present.  Meaning you need to focus on what you are doing.  You need to make the most of this time.  When I went to Gonzaga University, in pursuit of my Master’s in Organizational Leadership, I’d tuck my babies in bed and kiss my wife good night.  Then I would turn my focus on my course work.  Believe me after a long workday and family time, all I wanted to do is to kick back and relax. However; I had goals for my family and I wanted growth, so I could seize upon future opportunities to become a leader. A leader who leads by influence.  So cultivate your fields by intentionally setting aside time to develop yourself and maintain focus, so you make the best use of your time.

2. The next part of the action plan for personal growth is to invest in some good seed. You will need to water and feed the seed, as well as, keep your field weeded. Keep in mind you get what you sow or plant. If you want to grow your ability to be a great leader, then find good seed to plant so you can bring forth a good crop.  The seed can take many forms.  Perhaps there are leadership classes and workshops in your area which you can take part in. The John Maxwell Team regularly holds workshops and training on leadership.  Seeds also need to be watered and fertilized.  A great way to do this is improve the way you communicate.  Each of us communicates, but most of the time we do so without making a connection with the person or persons we are speaking too.  Becoming an effective communicator will enhance your leadership and bring forward a richer harvest.  Seeds need nutrition as well.  Weeds will fight fo steal that nutrition away from your seeds.  One of the best ways to feed and weed your field is coaching.  A coach can help you self-develop your field.  A coach can also help you self-discover the weeds in your field, so you can remove them.

3. Another important step in your action plan for personal growth is to avoid doing nothing.  If your field is not growing good seed, it is going to grow weeds.  Weeds do not need much to take root and destroy any opportunity to lead by influence.  What weed crops might pop up and over run your field: Apathy, unfulfilled dreams, discontent, frustration, and anger.  The weed of apathy seeds will blow in. And if there is no action taken; indifference takes root.  The weed of unfulfilled dreams accompanies apathy.  You’ll dream about being more and doing more, but apathy keeps your dreams in check.  A dandelion of frustration blossoms out of the unfulfilled dreams and the chaotic winds of life spreads the seeds of frustration.  Frustration gives life to anger. And anger further disengages us from being the best version of whom we can be.  Therefore doing nothing is not only detrimental to your personal growth; It robs the world of you being able to lead as you were truly meant to lead. It steals away the possibility of you positively influencing others.

I wish to encourage you to invest in yourself today, so you’ll be leading by influence tomorrow. Maxwell was very insightful when he said, “When we add value to ourselves, we add value to others.” This is so true. When you make the commitment to add value to yourself by investing in your personal growth, you in turn add value to others. So get out there and cultivate your field. Invest in some good leadership seed and don’t forget to water, feed and weed it.  And speaking of weeds, remember if you do nothing you’ll invite a crop of detrimental weeds onto your field. And make no doubt, these weeds can and will overrun you. And the world may be robbed of your leadership and the potential positive influence you could have had on others.

3 Reasons Why You Need Power and Influence In Leadership

America’s leadership, John C. Maxwell, expert teaches that if your life in any way connects with other people, you are an influencer. Whether its your family, vocation or other area of life , you can increase your power and influence in leadership, with Maxwell’s simple, insightful ways to interact more positively with others. Watch your personal and organizational success go off the charts!

First of all there is nothing wrong with having the corner office, nothing at all. If this is where success leads you, my heart felt congratulations.  What I want to talk about is why effort and time alone won’t make a leader. Why position alone doesn’t equate to positive change. And why you need to lead where you are, so you’ll eventually will lead where you want to be. I hope to make it clear in your mind that leadership is not about effort and hard work alone. Power and influence in leadership begins with influence. It’s not just about being the boss. Leadership is rooted in influence. Like John C. Maxwell says, “Leadership is about influence, nothing more and nothing less.”

  1. Why effort and time alone won’t make you a leader.

    Here’s the first of 3 reasons why you need power and influence in leadershipChristian Simpson, a mentor of mine, says, “Some people are more attached to their struggle and adversity than success.” Effort and hard work are both critical components of a great leader.  But is how you apply your effort.  It is having self leadership. It is working hard, plus immersing yourself in both personal growth and adding value to others. Many good people expend a lot of effort and work hard, yet fall short of success more times than not. While they may fail more than they wish, many follow the same unproductive daily routines of life and never achieving the success they desire. So how can we change our daily routine? 

    If you will invest just a portion of your daily efforts into growing and developing who you are; it will open up whole worlds of opportunity you did not know existed. Investing effort and hard work into your personal development prepares you for when opportunity presents itself.  Also, take what you learn and invest some of your daily efforts into adding value to others around you. Adding value is nothing more than finding a way to lift up, encourage and develop others around you.  As you do so you cannot help but influencing others around you. And there in lies the spark of leadership.
  2. Why position alone doesn’t equate to positive change.

    Let’s now discuss being the boss.  Will things really change when you become the boss?  Better yet, it that really the question we should as?.  I agree things will change.  Especially, if you desire change and force the change to come about. However, I would challenge you to think upon this. What changes would be best for both your people and still address the mission of your organization? I remember when I was a police officer and I got into a high speed chase. After speeds of unto 100 mph and onto streets of a neighboring city, I finally caught the individual.  After I had taken him into custody, my lieutenant came to my location and asked me why the individual ran?  I told him, the individual knew they had warrants and wanted to get his car home so it wouldn’t be towed.  My lieutenant was incensed.  He yelled out to the individual, “You put my officer’s life in jeopardy! The car is facing the wrong way and is too far from the curb.  Tow it!”  What I took away from this is my lieutenant valued me as a person. He was angry that someone had placed my life in jeopardy.  At that point, I’d done anything for the man. 

    And even now, many years later, if he called me as a character reference or had a need; I would be there for him. Maxwell says in his book, Becoming A Person of Influence that,  “Influencers pay attention to the needs of those around them, and then pour out of themselves out to meet those needs. The average person goes through life looking for validation. They want to know they’re respected and valued. Leaders nurture others by extending genuine care, offering a sense of belonging, and being generous with encouragement.”  When this happens, people want to follow you. They want to put in that extra effort simply because you asked it of them.”  Yes, things may change when you’re the boss, but if you want truly productive change, become a person of influence.
  3. Why you need to lead where you are.

    If you want to be a person of influence, you simply need to lead where you are.  Start out by leading your self. Expand your ability for self leadership through personal development.  Then apply what you learn.  And you don’t need subordinates to begin to lead.  Take what you learn and pour it into your peers.  And purposely lead upwards, by helping to remove hurdles from your manager’s path.  Ask your manager, what challenges you can help them meet and overcome.  Then follow through.  Also learn what your particular gifts are.  We all have gifts.  Let me say that again, “We all have gifts.”  Being self aware is knowing one’s gifts. Everyone of us needs to be aware of our gifts and then both develop and grow them. And that growth and development will expand your vision of what you can do. It will magnify your ability to influence others. A wise man once said, “Opportunity is everywhere. The key is to develop the vision to see it.” 

Now you have 3 reasons why you need power and influence in leadership. Now go forth and apply your efforts wisely.  Work smart by investing in you and then pouring into others. Strive to be more than “the boss.” Be the influencer in your workplace, at home and in your community. And you will move from leading where you are now; to leading in ways you did not know existed. You will lead in places you’d never thought you would aspire to. And, eventually,  you’ll find you have lead yourself where you always wanted to be. 

The Power of Leading By Influence

“If You Don’t Have Influence, You Will Never Be Able To Lead Others” John C. Maxwell

Webster’s dictionary provides the following definition of  influence: It is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.  The power of leading by influence provides the most effective means of leading others.

John C. Maxwell gives a similar, but more detailed definition. Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, and nothing less.” And I’ve found this to be so true in my own journey as a leader.  I’ve discovered; if you are going to effective lead others, you will need to develop the capacity or ability to bring about positive change upon those whom you lead.  This includes helping those whom you lead to build character, providing your team a fertile environment for personal development and promoting positive behaviors in your people.

I remember moving up from the enlisted ranks and becoming a young naval officer. My very first leadership position, as an officer, was deck division and the boatswain mates. A Boatswain’s Mate maintains the exterior surfaces of ships, including painting, upkeep of ship’s exterior, deck equipment, and life boats. They also operated the ship’s small boats during a number of evolutions. Everyone told me the division was made up of a bunch of  malcontents prone to disciplinary problems. Those in the division were treated as malcontents. And the division’s low self belief met the low expectations everyone had of them.  John Maxwell says, “You never outperform your own self belief.”  When your people take in the negativity and poison from their work environment, it can wear down and limit their self belief.

I could have taken the same position everyone else had taken before. However, I decided to take a much different Approach.  I told them I believed in them. That if they took pride in their work, I would stand behind them. And I would acknowledge them up the chain of command.  

Things did not change over night. It was not easy. And believe me, that is an understatement. Change is never easy, but getting a group of people to believe in themselves. when no one else did seemed near impossible. Never-the-less, I stuck with it.  I set high expectations. I created a fertile environment. I sought out opportunities to praise excellence. Positive behaviors were publicly acknowledge and planted like a seed. Once they understood someone truly cared for them; the capacity to care for themselves grew inside of them.  As that capacity grew, it yielded the fruit of positive self belief. As their self belief grew, they sought out ways to make the division better. They took ownership of excellence and made it s common practice.

I have to admit I did not set out trying to prove Maxwell’s concept was true.  Meaning, I was simply wanting to treat others the way I had been treated as an enlisted man. As an enlisted man, I had privilege of being taught leadership by my Chief Petty Officer (Chief). 

My Chief created an environment for me which demanded and recognized excellence.  When I expressed an interest in becoming an officer, the ship’s executive officer took me under his wing. He piled me with extra responsibilities which stretched me. Both he and my Chief had high standards for themselves and held me to the same standard. Both praised excellence. My past has proven the following to me: “Leadership is influence, nothing more, and nothing less.”

When I look back now, understanding that leadership is all about influence. I now know why great mentors, teachers, pastors and leaders are so important. When a leader positively influences another, they lead others towards a pathways of excellence. Pathways; which are very difficult to find without a good mentor, a good teacher, or a good leader. A good leader help me find my path of excellence.  As a leader, what is your capacity to influence? Whom are you developing? Is the type of environment you’ve created suited to produce the excellence your company’s mission calls for? These are but a few of the questions we need to stop and periodically, ask our selves. 

And what of the importance of the environment in your workplace?  It is important, as a leader, to be proactive caretakers of our work place environment.  Your influence as a leader is critical if you wish to have a workplace environment where people are unafraid to take ownership of what they do. Where elevated self belief is common place. Where people are motivated to wade though failures in order to seize success and bring about excellence.

I would like to hear back from you.  Please take the time to answer the following and share your answers so that others can learn from your leadership experience:

  • How have you benefitted from having a leader, mentor, teacher, etc., invest in your life? 
  • What qualities should you look for, as a leader, when choosing a person to mentor? 

Leadership Is Influence

Everyone influences others. You don’t have to be in a high-profile occupation to be an influencer; whenever your life connects with another person, you exert influence. Everything you do—at home, at work, or at play—has an impact on the lives around you. No matter what your goals are in life, you can achieve them faster, you can be more effective, and the contribution you make can be longer lasting if you learn to develop your influence. 

People respond to one another according to their level of influence. The more influence we have, then the more people seek our advice, trust our decisions, and follow our lead. If we desire to be successful and lead the way, then we must focus on gaining influence. 

So let me ask you:

  1. What teacher, mentor, friend, relative, etc. had a profound influence on you & why?
  2. What traits did they have to make them such an awesome influencer in your life?

Your Thoughts, Insights, Experiences…?