Many motivational speakers and personal development trainers have told us that personal growth is a function of self- discipline, strong personal commitment, internal talents and capabilities..etc. Yet, sometimes we forget that the external surrounding environment is a big player in this equation as John C. Maxwell his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, explained in the six law which is called: The Law of Environment.
The first five laws in this book are summarized in previous posts as the following:
- The Law of Intentionality;
- The Law of Awareness;
- The Law of Mirror;
- The Law of Reflection; and
- The Law of Consistency.
This post outlines the sixth one; The Law of Environment.
What is the Growth Environment? And why it is important?
A growth environment is a positive, encouraging atmosphere that helps you to stretch yourself and stay motivated.
“In a growth environment…others are Ahead of me, I am continually Challenged, My focus is Forward, The atmosphere is Affirming, I am often out of my Comfort Zone, I wake up Excited, Failure is not my Enemy, Others are Growing, People desire Change, Growth is Modeled and Expected”.
The importance of this environment is that it acts as a conductive medium to success and personal growth. If you are in such an environment, then be grateful and thank the people who are in there. If you are not, you need to change that environment. Simply, “if you are always at the head of the class, then you’re in the wrong class”.
Six choices in order to get a better environment
In order to assess our current environment and change it if needed, Maxwell advised that we have six choices as the following.
Choice No. 1: Assess your current environment
We can start this process by clarifying and understanding what truly nurtures our personalities and our lives. Maxell suggested asking different questions such as:
- Music—What songs lift me?
- Thoughts—What ideas speak to me?
- Experiences—What experiences rejuvenate me?
- Friends—What people encourage me?
- Recreation—What activities revive me?
- Soul—What spiritual exercises strengthen me?
- Hopes—What dreams inspire me?
- Home—What family members care for me?
- Giftedness—What blessings activate me?
- Memories—What recollections make me smile?
- Books—What have I read that changed me?
In this way, we can understand what triggers our personal growth and examine if these triggers are already there in our current environment.
Choice No. 2: Change yourself and your environment
If we recognizing that our current environment doesn’t have those triggers, then, it is time to change it. More importantly, Maxwell reminded us that we need to change ourselves too in order to accelerate our chances of success.
- “Change yourself but not your environment—growth will be slow and difficult;
- Change your environment but not yourself—growth will be slow and less difficult;
- Change your environment and yourself—growth will be faster and more successful”.
Choice No. 3: Change who you spend your time with
A major part of any environment is its people. As Charles Jones said: “you are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read.”
Maxwell suggested creating a list of positive friends, colleagues, family members and influential people around us and who are already ahead of us. The purpose of this is to make sure to spend quality time with them. Better if we can find an accountability partner to walk the growth journey with us.
Choice No. 4: Challenge yourself in your new environment
Growth will not come naturally just because we are in the right environment. We still need to challenge and push ourselves to work harder. Maxwell, for example, stretches himself by making his goals public so he can have more commitment to fulfill them.
Choice No. 5: Focus on the moment
When we decide that we need to change our current environment, we need to keep focused on the present moment; not the past nor the future! Mother Teresa once said: “yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin”.
Choice No. 6: Move forward despite criticism
The final choice that we have when we try to improve our environment is to take actions no matter how much criticism we will encounter. Remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong”.
“When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission you give someone veto power over your life”. Albert F. Geoffrey