The Hot Poker
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Recently I was preparing to teach on John Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  During my preparation, I was reminded of a story in the chapter on The Law of Environment where John mentions an experience he had with author Elmer Towns. John had admired Towns for years and was thrilled to be seated next to him on a flight from Waterloo, Iowa to Chicago. During the flight, Elmer taught John the Hot Poker Principle. Elmer asked John if he knew how to get a poker hot. Without much delay, Elmer simply said, you put it next to the fire.  I am sure you are beginning to wonder what this might have to do with growth and leadership. Well, we are all just like a metal poker, either hot or cold depending upon our environment. Which prompts the questions, what kind of environment are you in?

The advice that Elmer Towns gave John was quite simple: “If you want to grow, spend time with great people; visit great places, attend great events; read great books, listen to great tapes.” Quite simply, create an environment that stimulates your growth. An environment that keeps you fired up like a metal poker nestled deep within the red coals of a roaring fire.

So how about you? With whom are you spending your time? Harvard social psychologist Dr. David McClelland refers to this group as our reference group. He goes on to add that this group can determine as much as 95 percent of our success or failure.  So let me ask again, with whom are you spending your time? Are they people who are ahead of you on your growth journey? Are they people who can share meaningful insights into your life, or are they peers who revel in meaningless activities and frivolity.

What books are you reading?  Where will you go this weekend?  What events will you attend that can stimulate your creativity and enrich your life. What amazing sites will you visit?

I do not know about you, but I am off this weekend to our nation’s capital to explore some history. I cannot wait to see what great learnings are waiting for me.