Trade Secrets: You Have to Be Willing to Give Up in Order to Grow Up

By Maxwell, John C. | Success, Spring 2019 | Go to article overview

Trade Secrets: You Have to Be Willing to Give Up in Order to Grow Up


Maxwell, John C., Success


Children's toys have come a long way since I was a boy. We didn't have video games and "smart" toys back then. We had marbles.

Smart or not, you can learn a lot from something as basic as a marble. In fact, I learned an incredible lesson that would stick with me for the rest of my life when I was just in elementary school--although I didn't realize it at the time.

Some days back then, we would play marbles all during lunch and recess, and it was a lot of fun trying to beat friends and win their best marbles from them. One of my best friends had a big, beautiful cat's-eye marble that I wanted very badly, but he wouldn't risk it, so I never had a chance to win it from him. He just held onto it and liked to show it off. So I developed a strategy. Rather than convincing him to play me for it, which he wouldn't, I offered him a trade. First I offered any marble I had for it. He wasn't interested. Then I offered two for it. Then three. Then four. I think he was finally willing to make the trade when I reached seven. He was happy because he got seven marbles. I was happy because I'd given up several average marbles for one beautiful marble.

Here's the lesson: Life has many intersections, opportunities to go up or down. At those points, we make choices. We can add something to our life, subtract it or exchange one thing for another. The most successful people know when to do which of those three--when to trade off their dead-end career to take the risk of starting a new business; when to exchange the relationships that are holding them back for those that will encourage and strengthen them; when to add a positive new habit at the expense of an old one that wasn't producing results.

In general, I believe that unsuccessful people make bad trade-offs, average people make few trade-offs and successful people make good trade-offs.

I've made dozens of significant trade-offs in my life, and I've come to realize that I have to be willing to continue making them if I want to keep growing and striving to reach my potential. When I stop making them, I will arrive at a dead end in life, and at that point, my growth will be done. That will be the day that my best years are no longer ahead of me, and my potential is behind me.

It is important to remember that we don't always get what we want, but we always get what we choose. What kind of choices have you been making so far in life? Have you developed guidelines to help you decide what to strive for and what to give up in return? Allow me to give you five trade-offs that I have thought through, which may help establish your own guidelines.

1. I am willing to give up financial security today for potential tomorrow.

Physician and writer George W. Crane said "There is no future in any job. The future lies in the man who holds the job. …

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