A gentleman asked me this question at the end of 2008. Not only did I not have an answer, I was slightly agitated by the challenging nature of the question. At 43 years old, I was feeling like I was in middle school stumped by a math question in front of my classmates.

After all, I was the Social Studies Department Chair of a high school. My duties included teaching Advanced Placement U.S. history, government, geography, and economics. I had a master’s degree and had walked through undergraduate and graduate classes at the University of Kentucky, Harvard, and Clemson. I was a veteran of the US Navy and had attended church most of my life, including various camps and leadership events. In all those experiences, no one had ever challenged me this way!

The question really meant, “How are you personally developing?” After thinking about it for a couple of days, I reached out to this gentleman and asked him what he suggested I do. He told me to start reading a few pages each day for myself (the first book he recommended was The Slight Edge). He also told me to go on YouTube and get to know Jim Rohn.

Six years later, it’s hard to believe the personal growth I have gone through from that simple question. After seeing the impact it has had on my life, I often wonder why high schools or even universities don’t offer personal development as part of the curriculum. So far, this journey has been worth a fortune to me in all areas of my life.

Who was this mystery man and how did he happen to appear with that life-changing question? In the summer of 2008, one of my former students (a chiropractor in Atlanta, Georgia) shared a nutritional whole food with me. He told me if I researched it, I would want my family to use it. This was a network marketing product so I joined, but I had zero interest in building a business. After six months of using this product and seeing its impact in my community, I reluctantly decided to attend a local opportunity meeting. The presenter had several years of network marketing experience and was very successful. He was also several years younger than I was.

After the event, we were introduced. My mindset was out of whack: I actually thought he would be impressed with meeting me. Why not? I was a family man and a pretty successful guy, or at least that was my perception. This gentleman sized me up and with a few people standing around listening, he smacked me with that question. My life has never been the same.

Once I made the decision to share this product and effectively become a network marketer, I was taught that personal development was important. The more I grew myself, the more other people would want to be in business with me. Not sure I really bought into that philosophy, I applied it anyway.

With no prior experience in the business and working it part time, I have been able to earn a significant income. I was confident in my ability to build a business and I loved the product, but what I could not have imagined was the impact this experience would have on all aspects of my life. By being around positive, driven people, it has raised the bar for me personally. I am challenged daily to become better and the only way to do this is through consistent personal growth.

Before network marketing I was not growing myself. Many people think they get wiser and better with age. I beg to differ! We need to be on a personal growth path our entire lives. As John Maxwell says, “If you are not growing, you are dying.” I challenge you today: What are you reading for yourself?

DEE HUTCHINS Jr. is a part-time professor of history and one of the top income earners in his company. He lives in Hodgenville, Kentucky with his wife Sharon and their two teenage children. Dee enjoys challenging adults, but especially young students to have a personal growth plan.

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