Getting Started

The Grow Yourself to Greatness Handbook
Making a Positive Difference

Motivation comes from within. It manifests itself in outward actions. No one can see what you feel inside but they can feel the result of your intentions in your actions. Self -motivated individuals can accomplish great things for themselves and for others. The lessons of this book can only work if you put them into practice. This handbook will provide you with thought starters for action steps that will enable you to prepare yourself to become a more motivated individual and a stronger more self -aware leader.

Discover your purpose

Where you are now

  • Take stock of your life
  • Assess strengths
  • Address weaknesses

Take stock of your life. Consider your accomplishments. Think of what you have done professionally. Look at what you have done personally. Give yourself credit for getting to where you are now.

Assess your strengths. Think about your performance at work. Consider what you do well. Ask yourself why. The attributes that enable you to do well are those that will help you advance your career.

Look for opportunities where you can apply your talents and skills and make a positive difference.

Address your weaknesses. Again, think about your performance at work. Consider what you do less well. Ask yourself why. You can deal with deficiencies in two ways. One, more education or training. Two, find assignments that do not require those skills.

Team with someone who complements your skill set. If you are good at details, find a big -picture thinker. Or if you like to dream up scenarios, then find someone who likes to flesh in the details.

Find role models. It may be someone from your own life – your parents, your teachers, or a favorite coach. It may be someone from history or business, someone whom you felt made a positive difference. It may be someone from sports, someone who achieved success against the odds.

Study your role models. Consider the traits that enabled their success. For example, athletes demonstrate great discipline and an ability to hold fatigue at bay. Business leaders are often great communicators; people want to follow them and their ideas.

Where do you want to go and how will you get there

  • Determine your purpose
  • Why is it important?
  • How will you make a positive difference?

What gets you up in the morning? What do you like to do best? Why?

What goals to you have for yourself? Where do you see yourself in one year? Five years?

Consider your own “hot buttons.” What does it take to motivate you? Is it money, success, family, or need for personal achievement? Knowing what drives you is important to mapping your future.

Think about your interests. What have you not pursued that you might consider pursuing? Is cooking, cabinetry, teaching, or becoming a pilot? Whatever your choice, consider what you like about it and how you might make a career out of it. Or keep doing what you’re doing and make your preference an avocation.

Choose your path. Once you decide what you want to do, pursue it with vigor. If you need to go back to school, go back. If you need to change jobs, change jobs. If you need to get re -trained, get re -trained.

Learning to learn

  • Channel your curiosity
  • Approach a subject
  • Teach yourself a new skill
  • Open doors for yourself

Embrace change. Make change work for you. When you know things are going to change, determine the specifics like why, when and how. Consider how you can get on the right side of the change curve.

Challenge yourself. Learn about things that you find difficult. The process will be slow but it may force you to learn new study habits as well as broaden your skill set.

Read as much as you can. Reading enriches your mind, refreshes your outlook, and reinvigorates you with new ideas that may play a role in your life.

Keep current in your field. Read trade journals to gain insight into issues affecting your business and your market. Read newspapers to know what it happening in the world and how it may affect you and your organization.

Ask for assignments that broaden your skills. Look for opportunities to become cross -trained. It will make you a more valuable employee. As well as a valuable potential employee for some other employer.

Develop your skills

Becoming resilient

  • Know the odds
  • Acknowledge failure
  • Turn setbacks into comebacks
  • Solicit ideas for comebacks

Think tough. You may have suffered a setback. Do not despair. Ask yourself why it happened? If it comes down to things you did, or did not do, resolve to do better the next time. If you get into a funk, you will do yourself more damage.

Admit mistakes. Guess what? You are human and human beings make mistakes. It is what you do to correct those mistakes that makes the real difference. While we all fail, we all do not need to fail in the same way again and again. We are capable of learning how to do things better.

Look to improve. Consider what you can do better. You may need to ask for assistance from your boss. You may need to get more training. Or you may have to go back to school. Know what you need to do and do it.

Ask others for ideas about how you can improve yourself. Be open to suggestions. Everything you hear may not be “peaches and cream,” but you are asking for honesty not flattery. At the same time, do not take everything to heart, nor seek to implement it. You must do what is right for you.

Demonstrating creativity

  • Value imagination
  • Think out of the box
  • Apply your creative energies

Put yourself in creative places. It may be a museum. It may be an art gallery. It may be a park Or it may be the sea or the mountains. Or even an open field. Find this place and visit it often. [Even if you can only visit it via your imagination.]

Capture your ideas. Do it with a voice recorder or pen and paper. However you do it, do it. Transfer your ideas to a journal. Log into your journal and keep it fresh with new ideas.1

Review your idea journal. Look for thoughts and ideas from months past. What still holds up? What does not? Are there one, two or three ideas you can combine into one great big idea? Keep on journaling.

Pick a problem at work. It might be people arriving late to meetings, or teams missing deadlines. How can you think of a way to prevent that? Turn the situation on its head. That is, how could you make certain everyone was always on time. Reward them with coffee. Or push back meeting times. Or dispense meetings all together.

Learn to look at issues from all sides. Pick one side and follow it through. For example, if you want to improve customer service, consider the customer. How does she view your company? What can you do to make it easier for her to do business with you? By adopting the customer’s POV you gain new insight into your own issues.

Selling ideas

  • Give your ideas “sizzle -appeal”
  • Create urgency around your ideas
  • Present your ideas

Master the elevator speech. That is, if someone asks what you are working on, give them a quick synopsis that makes what you do seem interesting and compelling.

Practice developing your elevator speech. Write it out. Read it aloud. Let it sit for awhile then revise as often as you like.

Position your ideas as a means to achieve team goes. Demonstrate how what you like to do will help the entire team, or company. That way your idea takes on its own life and you’ll have a better chance to make it happen.

Your elevator speech is like an elevator in one way – it moves. You will have liberty to change your story as your interests and projects shift. This is a healthy sign of a creative and energetic person.

Study the way sales people make a pitch. Listen for the enthusiasm in their voices and watch their body language. Incorporate that same enthusiasm and energy into your own pitch. [Yes, you are selling and that’s a good thing! It means you care deeply about your ideas.]

Teach yourself to lead

Creating allies and teaching others

  • Become the “go –to” guy/gal
  • Become a team player and coalition builder
  • Take credit gracefully
  • Giving voice to others
  • Teach others to how to learn
  • Create learning exercises for work
  • Create lesson plans for life

Look for ways to make yourself indispensable. Volunteer for assignments, especially those that help get the work done.

When disputes arise, look for points of commonality. If you can get people to see that they have more in common than in disagreement, you can help bring people together. [At the same time, know when to say when; if two people are at loggerheads, separate them and let them work alone or somewhere else.]

Share the credit for work well-done. Deflect to the team.

Look for ways to bring everyone’s contributions to the team. Give everyone an opportunity to contribute.

Teach others. Look for opportunities to share what you know with others.

Coach your teammates or colleagues. Provide constructive feedback. If they trust you, advise on things they can work on to improve their performance.

Invite trusted colleagues to coach you. Feedback is good for everyone. [Hint: Always consider the source. You must evaluate the credibility of those who coach you. Accept insights that make sense for you. Act on them, if they make sense for you.]

Managing up

  • Understand your boss
  • Deliver what your boss wants
  • Anticipate your boss ’s boss

Look for things to do that make your boss look good. Do them if they are right for the team or the organization.

Make yourself the go-to person for your boss. Volunteer when necessary. But also be a team player. Put others forward to help with assignments. Make everyone look good and you will make yourself look better.

Gain the confidence of your boss by demonstrating that you are trustworthy and reliable. That is, do what you are asked to do. Do not spread gossip. Listen to others. Model positive behaviors that affirm people’s dignity and self -worth.

Demonstrate positive behaviors: timeliness, neatness, and above all, courtesy to others.

Study your boss’s boss. What is she looking for? Find ways to enable your boss to meet her needs in a timely and responsive fashion.

Apply what you do to make yourself look good to your boss to making your boss look good to her boss.

Projecting hope and humility

  • Lead with hope
  • Lead with humility
  • Lead with humor
  • Enable others to succeed


Radiate optimism. When you are feeling upbeat, share that feeling with others. [Hint: When you are down, try to keep it to yourself, unless you are asked.]

Look for leadership role -models who project hope. How did they do it? How did it help them meet challenges? How did it help them bring people together?

Find ways to push peers forward into new assignments that may help them grow their skill set. Make it known you are available to help or advise – if asked. [Hint: Don’t impose, just suggest.]

Be humble. If you share credit with others, you demonstrate that you are team -first person.

Look for ways to lighten things up. Post cartoons on billboards or in the break room. [Hint: Always observe the cardinal rule of workplace humor – Keep it clean and keep it upbeat – no putdowns of other people or cultures.]

Stop taking yourself so seriously. Make jokes at your own expense.

Look for funny stories about people in the news. Share them with others.

Find ways to relax. Abraham Lincoln liked to tell stories. So did Franklin Roosevelt. Dwight Eisenhower liked to read dime novels set in the Old West. Bill Clinton did crossword puzzles. Find your passion and pursue it.



1 The author would like to acknowledge a presentation by John Maxwell made at Living Leadership 2003 11/5/03. It focused on creating a thinking place, writing ideas down, and keeping an idea journal. For more on this topic, readers can refer to John Maxwell Thinking for a Change New York: Warner Faith 2003