Last week I got a big surprise at the Christmas lunch given for the John Maxwell Company.
John Hull, the CEO of EQUIP, and Mark Cole, the CEO of the John Maxwell Company, asked me to tell the story of what got me started on a lifetime of personal growth. It’s a story I’ve told many times before, so I gladly complied.

It began in February of 1974 when I met a man named Curt Kampmeier for lunch and he asked me an important question. I had just told him about all of my dreams and goals—all of which would be a real stretch for me—and he asked, “Do you have a plan for personal growth?”

After hemming and hawing for a few minutes, I had to admit that I didn’t have a plan. Curt’s response? “John, personal growth doesn’t just happen.” He went on to explain the value of a personal growth plan, and he offered to sell me a kit that would cost the equivalent of a month’s salary.

Though it took Margaret and me six months of scrimping and saving, we came up with the money. We skipped lunches and did without some things, but I bought that kit. My lunch with Curt is what connected the dots for me between personal growth and success. It changed my life.

At the lunch, I told the story as they requested, and then I started to go on about how I was disappointed that I had never seen Curt again, even though I’d told the story so many times over the past 37 years.

I cannot tell you how shocked I was by happened next. They invited Curt Kampmeier to step into the room!

Somehow members of my team had found Curt and invited him to join us for lunch. He had traveled down from Ohio to be with us!

Few things take me by surprise and I’m rarely speechless, but this was one of those times when words didn’t suffice to express what I was feeling. This man’s question long ago changed my life! And now I would finally get the chance to thank him for it.

Seeing Curt was one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received. Why? Because personal growth changed my life. Since my meeting with Curt back in 1974, I’ve planned it into my daily life, reading books, listening to great teachers, and developing measurable goals and plans to make it happen. I believe the consistent discipline of growth has made it possible for me to add value to people and achieve many of my goals.

I believe it can do the same for you.

And I’d like to help you in the same way that Curt helped me. So in January and February, I’m going to offer a growth opportunity with a group study of my latest book, The 5 Levels of Leadership.

Each week, participants will be invited to read a section of the book, read my current thoughts on those concepts, enter into the discussion by answering questions I provide, and take action to grow.

You can join and participate at any time. If you want to experience the whole study, pay attention to upcoming posts for details on when and how we’ll launch. Also, you’ll get the most out of this if you learn with others – ideally, your friends or colleagues, your team, or a group of like-minded leaders – so now is a good time to start thinking about gathering a group. The comment section here will also be a good place for discussion. I’m hopeful that it will generate lots of interaction. So even if you have to study alone, the blog can serve as your group.

I’m looking forward to growing in 2012. I hope you are too.

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