The Law of the Lid


In John C. Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the first law is “The Law of the Lid”. It says that our effectiveness is determined by our leadership abilities.

This doesn’t mean only our ability to lead others. It means our ability to lead ourselves.

It’s about personal growth. If we want our business or practice to grow, we must grow. We are “the lid” in our practice or business, or life. To achieve more, we have to raise our lid.

I was thinking about this the other day as I thought about a friend of mine who, for lack of a better word, is a know-it-all.

He has an answer for everything and doesn’t listen to anyone.

Including me.

I’m a lot older, more experienced and successful. I know he trusts me. He may even look up to me. But he doesn’t listen to me.

He doesn’t ask my opinion about anything, argues with me when I offer it, and makes it clear that there’s nothing I can tell him.

Because he already knows everything.

He has a lot of good qualities but hasn’t achieved the level of professional and personal success I know he wants, because of his “lid”–his unwillingness to seek out and listen to the advice of people who can help him.

Do you have any friends like this? Any clients?

I tell you about my friend not because I have suggestions about how to deal with a person like this. We can be there for them when they want our counsel, but they have to decide to do that on their own.

No, the reason I tell you about my friend is that you may want to ask yourself, as I often ask myself, “Am I like that?”

Do I listen to the advice of others? Or do I think I don’t need to do that because I already have all the answers?

Listening doesn’t necessarily mean following. It means considering and weighing that advice in the context of our own experience.

Something we can’t do if we’re a know-it-all.

We may not be a know-it all. We might be nothing of the sort. But we all have a lid. A limit to what we can achieve because of what we know, what we believe, and what we do.

No matter what our lid might consist of, we can raise our lid by working on ourselves.

By reading and learning, by practicing, by taking action and measuring our results.

And by listening to the advice of others who know things we need to know.

If you need more clients, take my advice: this is a good place to start