5. The Law of Addition

The Law of Addition: Leaders Add Value by Serving Others

To start out, I’m just going to say that God works in mysterious ways. Literally, the day after I create my daily checklist, I get sick and am bedridden for the next 2 days and then go on vacation to South Carolina. Maybe I needed a res(e)t. Just goes to show that everything happens in God’s time.

We start today’s reading with the story of Costco’s CEO who we learn treats his employees well, pays them well, provides good benefits, and thus has “the lowest employee turnover rate in all of retailing.” He visits every store at least once a year.

If you can’t give credit (and take blame), you will drown in your inability to inspire. p. 49

I actually really appreciate this sentiment. I’ve had to work on admitting my faults and becoming more transparent because it helps build trust and connectedness.

It’s improper for one person to take credit when it takes so many people to build a successful organization. p. 49

Many people view leadership the same way they view success, hoping to go as far as they can, to climb the ladder, to achieve the highest position possible for their talent. But contrary to conventional thinking, I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others. That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives. The interaction between every leader and follower is a relationship, and all relationships either add to or subtract from a person’s life. p. 51

Bottom line, if you help people with similar goals reach their goals, you’ll reach yours as well in the process.

In contrast, 90 percent of all people who add value to others do so intentionally. Why do I say that? Because human beings are naturally selfish. I’m selfish. Being an adder requires me to get out of my comfort zone every day and think about adding value to others.. But that’s what it takes to be a leader whom others want to follow. Do that long enough, and you not only add value to others- you begin to multiply it. p. 52

When you add value to people, you lift them up, help them advance, make them a part of something bigger than themselves, and assist them in becoming who they were made to be. Often their leader is the only person able to help them to do those things. p. 53

The whole idea of adding value to other people depends on the idea that you have something of value to add. You can’t give what you do not possess. What do you have to give others? Can you teach skills? Can you give opportunities? Can you give insight and perspective gained through experience? None of these things comes without a price. If you have skills, you gained them through study and practice. If you have opportunities to give, you acquired them through hard work. If you possess wisdom, you gained it by intentionally evaluating the experiences you’ve had. The more intentional you have been in growing personally, the more you have to offer. The more you continue to pursue personal growth, the more you will continue to have to offer. p. 54

Inexperienced leaders are quick to lead before knowing anything about the people they intend to lead. But mature leaders listen, learn, and then lead. They listen to their people’s stories. They find out about their hopes and dreams. They become acquainted with their aspirations. And they pay attention to their emotions. From those things, they learn about their people. They discover what is valuable to them. And then they lead based upon what they’ve learned. When they do that, everybody wins- the organization, the leader, and the followers. p. 55

If you desire to add value by serving others, you will become a better leader. And your people will achieve more, develop more loyalty, and have a better time getting things done than you ever thought possible. p. 59

This book just explodes with wisdom every time I open it. It’s weird. I want to be a better person like YESTERDAY! But it takes time and application. You can be the best person in the world but you have to figure out how to add value.


  1. I’m actually not sure if I feel resentful or bitter whenever I am asked to perform small acts of service for people. I think it has to do with the motives. I have no problem helping people. And I don’t think I need anything in return, but it doesn’t hurt to be appreciated, right?
  2. Mr. Maxwell challenges readers to assess how well we know the values of those closest to us. I don’t think I have a problem listing at least a few priority values of friends and family. I guess the most challenging aspect of this activity is determining how well I identify with the values of others.
  3. The last thing I need to do for today is to figure out how I can add value to other people’s lives. I asked a friend of mine how I can add value to his life and we couldn’t really come up with an answer. I’m sure an opportunity will arise in the near future. In the mean time, I took it upon myself to do the dishes at the beach house that I and a few friends rented for the week. It was kind of cool that I was acknowledged in the next room and several of my housemates thanked me for my service. But hey, we reap what we sow! And I put out what I put in. We are all different and ideally so!

Cheers to addition, one of the most important skills we could ever learn.


About Ernest Levert Jr.

Aspiring Servant-Leader studying engineering principles, financial stewardship, business management, and psychology fundamentals in order to cultivate passionate leadership, disseminate positive energy, uplift the community and ultimately create a brighter future for generations to come.
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