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 Highly Effective Ways To Improve Your Child’s Leadership Skills

children and leadership skills, teens and leadership skills, improving child behavior, improving teen behavior

#1 New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell brings his common sense self-help lessons to teens!

Any setback–a championship loss, a bad grade, a botched audition-can be seen as a step forward when teens possess the right tools and leadership skills to turn that loss into a gain of knowledge. Drawing on nearly fifty years of leadership experience, Dr. Maxwell provides a roadmap for becoming a true learner, someone who wins in the face of problems, failures, and losses

Parents there are many ways to enhance your child’s leadership level.  However, I want to focus on 3 highly effective ways to improve your child’s leadership skills.  You have to take advantage of home field, take charge of away games and take the time to explain the rules. I will walk you through and explain the importance of taking home field advantage.  How to make the most out of when your child is involved in away games (activities outside the home).  And the importance of both explaining and ensuring your child understands basic rules of life.

  1. Parents you need to play an active role in mentoring and assisting your children in the choice of those they play and hang out with.  This is best done on your home field. Parents, home field is your home.  You are there everyday.  It is the place both you and your kids live, eat and sleep.  Invite your children’s friends over to your home or yard for play time, activities, to work on school work, etc. so you can get to know your child’s friends.

    Now it is not going to be the most convenient thing to do. Home field can be loud, messy, demanding and infringe on your personal time.  I so get it, believe me I do. But think about it. Home is the best place to positively influence your son or daughter’s interactions with their friends.  This is much harder to do when your child is playing away from home. Outside your home you lose home field advantage and diminish your overall influence on your child’s interactions with others. Be the influencer and make play, homework, sleep overs or whatever the activity, a home field event. From you your child will learn to positively influence others.  And if your child is positively influencing others, they are moving well along the path of self leadership.
  2. Now while home is best, not every game is played on home field.  So mom, dad, grand parents, guardians, you have to take charge of away games.  Specifically, you need to place them in areas where they will have a chance to interact with adult mentor leaders who can inspire them.  I have a friend, who works with me in the Royal Ranger ministry.  Royal Rangers is a christian mentorship program created for boys and young men. Some of the kids call him Big Daddy Bill.  And he is that, a fatherly mentor to his young charges. He regularly challenges them to be the best they can be. He also holds them accountable for how they lead themselves. Parents place their sons into this program for its positive mentorship and its ability to teach leadership skills. Also, because the program helps develop their sons into the next generation of servant leaders.

    Joel Olsteen has said, “You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.” Parents, choose wisely where your child spends time away from home.  Engage them with mentors who can inspire them, as well as, affirm your family values. The foundation of your child’s life is being laid down here and now.  It is from this foundation that everything they can be, will be built upon.  Let’s not limit their leadership foundation.  Expand your child’s opportunities to become positively self led. Give them every opportunity to be around positive examples, so they can hear, see and learn from successful leaders. 
  3. We’ve touched on two of the 3 highly effective ways to improve your child’s leadership skills. The third way is this, Parents you need to teach your children the rules of the game. You have teach basic manners and how to behave. Rest assure, if you don’t teach your child how to behave, the world will.  More times than not, it won’t be the type of behavior you wish your child to emulate. If normal looks like being rude, disrespectful, discourteous, bad tempered, a bully, or any combination there of, this is what your child will likely gravitate downwards to.  Children need to know that it is abnormal to be rude, disrespectful, discourteous, bad tempered, and or a bully. 

    Solomon, King of Isreal said, “Though you may be wise, foolish friends will eventually destroy you. Though you may be foolish, wise friends will show and teach you success. This is an easy way to prosper.” Poor choices in friends and acquittances will have an eventual adverse affect on your child. A poor choice never enhances anything.  A foolish choice only has the power to lessen or destroy, never the power to prosper  This is what Solomon meant when he said foolish friends will eventually destroy you. And the same can be said in modern times. Vanilla Ice, a former pop icon and current DIY (Do It Yourself) TV host once stated, “Show me your friends and I would show you who your are.

    So, parents, who are your children? Are they the foolish ones or the wise ones? The answer, parents, has a lot to do with your influence as their parents. If you wish for them to grow to be the “wise ones” then influence who your kids to hang out with. Be watchful for those “friends” who regularly drift towards or revel in bad behavior. Such negative acquaintances will limit your child’s self leadership success. John C. Maxwell says, “Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” If your child cannot lead themselves, learn to respect others, be courteous, control their temper, and add value to others; they limit their overall effectiveness as future leaders. 

 The 3 highly effective ways to improve your child’s leadership skills are: Take advantage of home field by influencing your child and their friends in your home or yard; take charge of away games by placing your child where they can learn from positive adult mentor leaders; and take the time to ensure your child knows the rules of the game.  When you as parents and guardians take charge by playing an active role in mentoring your child, you are growing their ability to self lead.

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? 

Transformational Leadership: Parents You Can’t Lead Your Children Where You’ve Not Gone Yourselves

“We can’t lead farther than we have gone ourselves”  John C Maxwell

Have you ever needed  to get to a certain location like a store, a restaurant, or a doctor’s office, but you are not 100 percent sure of where it was. You may even have a general idea of where it is located. But, you cannot recall the exact directions on how to get there?  You may even be confident you could get there if you had to, but it may take a while to get you bearings.  I mean you can ask for directions or even research the route using various GPS or map apps, but where is the sense of adventure in that?

Parents, when it comes to leadership, it is difficult to find your way unless you get directions.  And if you are going to mentor your children in leadership and direct them towards positive growth, you have to go there first.  John C. Maxwell says, “We can’t lead father than we have gone ourselves.”  Thus if you have not grown your leadership, it makes it difficult to take your child where you have not ventured yourself.

So what steps do you need to take in order to enhance your personal development as a leader, so you can guide your child on their leadership journey?  The steps are not always easy, but all four steps calls for consistency on the part of the parent or guardian. They are: Expand, Explain, Experience and Encourage.

Expand –  Expand calls for expanding your own personal development.  Parents lead by example. Again, you will have great difficulty taking your children where you have not gone yourself.  And to expand yourself, you have to be aware of where you are in your growth and development, before you can chart out where you want to go.  Robert Greenlieaf (Founder of modern day servant leadership movement) noted another special aspect of awareness. Greenleaf says, “Awareness also aids one in understanding issues involving ethics and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from an integrated, holistic position.”  As you expand your personal growth and development, as a leader, you can begin to pour that knowledge into your children, as you explain leadership concepts to your children. This is key in element in how parents influence child behavior.

Explain – If your child is going to learn how to take control of their lives as a leader and add value to others, you are going to have to explain to them what a leader is, along with, the values important to being a good leader.  And it needs to be in such a way they can imagine themselves as a leader. And it would not hurt for you to add to their imagination by helping them dream cast about what type of servant leader they can be now as a child, teen and as an adult.  Robert Greenleaf tells us, “For any thing to emerge there must first be a dream, an imaginative view of what might be. For something great to happen, there must be a great dream.

Experience – Your child needs to experience your leadership.  They need to see you model it. They need to see you put it into action on regular basis. I once heard John Maxwell say, “You should keep your bar of excellence high.  Never lower the bar on yourself and always raise it with others.” I remember when my children were young. I took them grocery shopping with me. We had a great time. When I got home, I discovered the cashier had not charged us for all of our items.  I gathered my children into the car and took my receipt and the unpaid items to the store.  I found the manager and explained the situation to him.  I told him I wanted my kids to see me do the right thing.  The manager told my kids they should always be honest like their father and follow his example.  I’m far from perfect and my kids will tell you the same.  But the grocery store manager’s words really hit home, with me.  And I was reminded that my example; the way I model my life before them would be critical in how my children would eventually live their lives.

Encourage –  You have more control over your child or teen’s environment at home than you do when they are in school or with friends. You need to encourage your child to seek out friends with positive self leadership traits or they may gravitate to hang out with friends or peers who have low leadership levels of self-leadership and defective moral compasses. But again you have to model a Leadership level your child/teen can aspire to.  Or you risk them spiraling down to dwell within the realm of lower expectations of pseudo friends and thus limiting their overall leadership capacity. Jim Burns, a writer with CBN wrote, “Knowing your teen’s friends will definitely provide insight into the morals and family values that are influencing your son or daughter. In the process of getting to know your teen’s friends, you will learn a lot about your own daughter or son as well.” One of the best was to know your son or daughters  friends is to open your home to them. Invite your child’s friends to play, do homework, have sleep overs, etc., at your home where you can get to know their friends.

Again, the steps do you need to take in order to enhance your personal development as a leader, as well as, your parenting skills as a parent or guardian, so you can guide your child on their leadership journey. While not always easy, all four steps: Expanding, Explaining, Experiencing and Encouraging will call for consistency on our part to raise the next generation of leaders. 

Children Spell Love – T I M E

How can we best use time to influence a child

Work days will come and go. Life’s situations will come and go. Even our friends and associates will  come and go, but family and your children forever. They may drive us crazy at times, but there’s no doubt the time we spend with our children play an integral role in influencing their lives. For many, family is everything and there’s nothing better than spending time with child. When life gets busy, it’s important to pause and enjoy some family time with each child.

In what ways, can we as parents, use time as a positive means to influence our children?

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…?