John Maxwell on Leadership

The Law of Environment: Growth Thrives in Conducive Surroundings


The season of spring got its name from nature’s sudden display of growth. The word “spring” literally means to leap, burst forth, or fly up. When conditions are right—warmer temperatures, longer days, and more sunlight—grasses and flowers seem to spring up from the ground overnight. However, in the wrong environment, where there’s inadequate rainfall or freezing temperatures, growth gets delayed. 

To grow to our full potential, we have to be in the right environment. Growth thrives in favorable conditions. You and I grow the most when we surround ourselves with people and opportunities conducive to our development.

What does a good growth environment look like?

1) A place where others are ahead of me.

Seek to spend time with people who are smarter, faster, and more successful than you are. If you’re always at the head of the class, then you’re probably in the wrong class.

2) A place where I’m continually challenged.

A good growth environment puts pressure on us to improve. If our daily work is too easy or comfortable, then we shortchange ourselves and stunt our development. It’s healthy to be in over your head from time to time. It forces you to swim, and you grow stronger as a result. Yet, while being out of your comfort zone challenges you to swim, being out of your strength zone causes you to drown. Ideally, you want to be in a place that pushes you to sharpen your strengths, but not one that expects you to perform well in areas where you have no natural ability.

3) A place where my focus is totally forward.

Some organizations attempt to preserve yesterday instead of changing tomorrow; their definition of progress is to walk backwards slowly. They impede the growth of their people. On the other hand, influential companies—those that look to the future and consider how to transform it—inspire their people to grow.

4) A place where the atmosphere is affirming.

Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul, and everyone needs it. Search out environments where people cheer one another on to greatness.

5) A place where I wake up excited.

Do you dread going to work or do you look forward to it? Gravitate toward environments that tap into your passion. When you find them, no one has to provide you with motivation because you’re already inwardly energized to do your job.

6) A place where failure isn’t my enemy.

It’s difficult to develop in an environment where you’re not free to fail. The best growth atmospheres reward risk-taking and daring, and they accept that mistakes are a natural part of life. In them, failure is viewed as a stepping-stone to success rather than as a source of shame.

7) A place where others are growing.

Just as a group of long-distance runners tend to push one another to maintain a fast pace, a team of people who prioritize personal growth spur one another to keep getting better.

Thought to Ponder

Is your current environment conducive to growth? Why or why not?


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