NEW EDITION, EXPANDED AND UPDATED
Take Charge of Your Future!
Growth is a fundamental human need—it is at the root of everything that gives us a feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, meaning, and progress. In this inspiring book, Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura offer ten simple laws that will help you continue to grow throughout your life. Through vivid real-life stories, Sullivan and Nomura illustrate each of the ten laws and show how with just a slight shift in thinking—regardless of your age, income, or position—you can use them to maintain a fresh, innovative perspective on the world around you and unlock your greatest abilities.
This second edition includes a new preface, new examples, and a self-assessment to measure your progress on each of the ten laws.
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About the Author
Dan Sullivan is the cofounder and president of the Strategic Coach, Inc. He has over thirty-five years of experience as a highly regarded speaker, consultant, strategic planner, and coach to entrepreneurial individuals and groups. Sullivan is the author of many products, including The Great Crossover, How the Best Get Better, The D.O.S. Conversation, How to Be a Global Thinker, The Producer Group Future, and The 21st Century Agent.
Catherine Nomura has spent the past twenty-five years helping entrepreneurial individuals and organizations grow through coaching, advising, strategic planning, and product development. She is the coauthor of Unique Ability and Unique Ability 2.0: Discovery.
Read an Excerpt
The Desire to Grow
Growth is a fundamental desire of all human beings. No matter what kinds of goals you have or what you strive for, whatever you want to see in your life that’s not there now is a sign of this desire. Growth is at the root of everything that gives us a feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, meaning, and progress. It is making your future bigger than your past.
Yet sometimes people do stop growing. We all have images we can call to mind. The movies and literature are full of them, as is real life. Been to a school reunion lately? There are people who haven’t changed much in the last 10, 15, or 20 years. Depending on where you’re at, this may be comforting or shocking. You may be familiar with the retiree who’s driving his wife crazy because he suddenly doesn’t know what to do with himself; the addict whose life has become solely focused on whatever it takes to find the next fix; the man who is still treating women the same way he did 40 years ago and doesn’t understand why they don’t respond the same way; the person whose life consists of clocking in and out day after day at a dead-end job, going home, sleeping, and then doing it all over again.
There are examples all around us of people who for some reason have stopped growing, either temporarily or indefinitely. If you’ve picked up this book, chances are you don’t want to be one of them. Maybe you’re feeling a bit stuck. Maybe you’re in the midst of a particularly challenging period of growth, so you’re looking for insight, encouragement, or direction; or maybe you just want all the resources you can get on your side as you pursue your own growth path. Most of us struggle with issues related to growth at various points in our lives, because as much as we desire it, growth is often not easy. The entrepreneurs we work with at Strategic Coach are some of the most successful and internally motivated people on the planet, and yet they face just as many challenges in their growth as anyone else does.
In a world where technology continues to speed up change exponentially, the ability to keep growing has become a basic necessity for anyone who wants to consistently thrive. The good news is that those who master it have access to unprecedented abundance. The road to such mastery lies in cultivating a growth mindset so that you naturally choose growth more often than not in the countless opportunities that life presents us every day.
The ten laws in this book are like mirrors you can use to reflect your behavior so you can see if it’s supporting or undermining your growth. Use them as you would a hallway mirror on your way out the door—do a quick check to make sure everything looks good, adjust if necessary, and then carry on. Or take a longer, more studied look to reveal areas that might take more work to transform. The laws are useful for this purpose because it’s often hard to tell whether you’re on the right path just by how you feel. Every once in a while, we can all use a “mindset reset” (as one of our team members calls it) when it comes to growth.
Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter has wisely observed that, “everything looks like a failure in the middle.” Sometimes growing pains can feel like failure —and sometimes failure is a part of growth. Successful entrepreneurs know this well. Most of them fail before they succeed. Dan refers to his experience of going bankrupt and getting divorced on a single day in August 1978 as “market research.” That doesn’t mean these events felt any less like failures at the time, but instead that the lessons he took out of them were essential to building the growing multimillion-dollar company he and his life partner, Babs Smith, run today.
Checking in with the laws can help you to stay on course or renew your commitment when growth is difficult. In many of the examples in this book, challenging or seemingly less-than-ideal situations offered people rich opportunities to grow their way into much better circumstances. The laws can help you to extract the maximum value from experiences you might otherwise try to avoid or forget.
It also pays to check your behavior against the laws when things are going well. Getting what you want or achieving your goals can make you feel good, but it won’t necessarily keep you on the path to further growth. In fact, it can often lead to growth traps. Things like money, applause, rewards, comfort, and even a brilliant past can be quite seductive. If these means to growth begin to overshadow purpose, performance, contribution, confidence, and the sense of a bigger future—things that drive growth—they can quickly undermine your ability to keep growing in the future.
These laws come from our observations about what makes growth happen. If the word law makes you uncomfortable, try thinking about this message on a tongue-in-cheek T-shirt we saw recently in the neighborhood: It had a picture of a policeman holding up his hand, accompanied by the caption “Obey gravity! It’s the law.” Of course, natural laws operate whether you obey them or not. If you disregard gravity and jump off a rooftop, it won’t be the “gravity police” that get you. Likewise, no “growth police” are going to come after you if you don’t follow these laws. You’ll just find that you probably won’t grow as much.
You might want to imagine each law as being prefaced by “You will continue to grow if ….” For example, you will continue to grow if you always make your future bigger than your past. That’s the way life works. You can rely on it. By understanding these principles, you can more consciously and predictably keep yourself growing, just as scientific laws help us to predict the outcomes of actions in the physical world.
Aligning your behavior with these laws gives you more control over your own future, which allows you to increase your freedom and self-determination. It also places the responsibility for your growth squarely on your own shoulders. You can choose to engage with life in this way, or not. Growth is not always easy, but its rewards are great. Life presents us with opportunities to grow almost constantly, so when you make growth a central goal, life will always appear to be full of opportunity.
As you become more growth oriented in your behavior and thinking and as you begin to experience how this impacts your life and the lives of others, it becomes increasingly clear that the rewards of maintaining a growth mindset greatly outweigh the challenges. The desire to grow is nothing less than the love of existence—a passion for being here and a deep desire to fully explore life. When you commit to aligning your actions with the principles embedded in these ten laws, you also commit to making the most of the life you’ve been given—all of it. And, after all, what greater gift could you possibly give to yourself, or to the world, than that?
Table of Contents
Law One: Always Make Your Future Bigger Than Your Past
Law Two: Always Make Your Learning Greater Than Your Experience
Law Three: Always Make Your Contribution Bigger Than Your Reward
Law Four: Always Make Your Performance Greater Than Your Applause
Law Five: Always Make Your Gratitude Greater Than Your Success
Law Six: Always Make Your Enjoyment Greater Than Your Effort
Law Seven: Always Make Your Cooperation Greater Than Your Status
Law Eight: Always Make Your Confidence Greater Than Your Comfort
Law Nine: Always Make Your Purpose Greater Than Your Money
Law Ten: Always Make Your Questions Bigger Than Your Answers
The Decision to Grow