How Do We Grow?
Each of us is designed with a certain capacity to grow. Some growth occurs naturally, while other forms have their origins in deliberate practice and repetition. This pattern is somewhat progressive in nature. Naturally growing as a result of the laws of human anatomy, until it reaches a point in time when our inaction will not promote any significant growth. At this time, when growth seems to halt, it becomes our responsibility to put forth effort in that specific area if we want to see future growth.
Physically, growth is recognized when our bodies transform as a result of our activity (or inactivity). Mentally, our ability to learn, understand, and retain knowledge is the result of taking on new information. In a spiritual sense (for those that are spiritual), faith grows and develops as the result of being an active participant. Professionally, we grow when we acquire and implement new skill sets that contribute to greater good of a ‘team’.
For example, our DNA suggests that our cells increase our body mass bodies to a certain size. In another example, it’s possible to learn the basics of a new skill, however, in order to master the skill, it’s going to require us to practice and perform that skill thousands of times. That is thousands of chances to fail, and thousands of opportunities to give up before growth occurs.
The common denominator in each of these areas is that they require action. Sitting idle and ‘letting things happen as they will’ does not evoke growth and development; rather, it breeds complacency, and the more complacent we become, the more comfortable we will be with mediocrity. And so it is, that in order to grow we must put forth some sort of deliberate effort with the purpose and intention of getting better.
The Continual Commitment
When I think about various people, all of whom have reached an elite level of what they do, they have all worked with the underlying principle that each day is another opportunity to become better at what they do, and they dedicate a certain amount of time to focusing on that skill or talent. Even when many others believe they have reached the peak of their performance, the elite commit themselves to another repetition, another hour, and another day – time and time again.
Michael Jordan didn’t become one of the best all time professional basketball players without committing himself to dedicated practice. Albert Einstein didn’t create inventions by giving up on trial number two or ten. These attitudes and personalities are ones we often try to mimic, but ones we find ourselves falling short in achieving.
So, we asking the questions: “What happens to the people who commit themselves to a life of growth and development? What is the payback?”
The answers are simply that it positions ourselves in the minority, and we have the opportunity to remove ourselves from the status quo. It’s the difference between people whom accomplish good things, and people whom do great things – people whom make their family, friends, and professional organizations better by raising the bar of what truly can be accomplished.
What are You Committing To?
For the past 2 ½ years, I have committed myself to publishing a new post every Sunday. It’s something that hasn’t always been easy to fulfill, however, I enjoy the thought process that begins early in the week as I develop the content for the week. It’s exciting when someone comments on a post, or sends me an email thanking me for writing. It’s those one-liners that prompt me to continue writing and sharing new material.
I want to grow in other areas of my life also, and so, my intent in the following lines is not to share what I am committing myself to in order to put me at a different step on the ladder. My intent is to share my journey in order to challenge each of my readers to commit themselves to something in their own life for personal or professional growth. In all honesty, I want people on my team and in my life who think similarly. As a result, it holds one another accountable.
And so, in the past couple of weeks, I have committed myself to a few different things that I believe are important for my growth as an individual. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally (and any other word that ends in ‘-ally’) I will undoubtedly be challenged.
- Physically – Ever since my wife and I watched athletes compete in the Boulder, Colorado Ironman, we were enthralled. As avid runners, this competition would also require a lengthy bike ride, as well as a couple mile swim. For us, it’s the ultimate test of a human being, and we want that test, and we will get that test, because we are registered to compete in the 2016 Boulder Ironman on Sunday, August 7th. It will be a training program like none other, and one that is going to challenge my physical endurance in ways which I’m not accustomed.
- Mentally/Professionally – Knowledge is power in all that we do. For the last two years I have been kicking around the idea of earning a graduate degree (Master’s of Business Administration – MBA). If this was going to be something I am going to, then I needed to commit myself to the first step – registering to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). So, on Tuesday morning, December 22nd, I will take this exam. I have been out of the classroom (and an environment which required extensive studying) for six years. Learning is not easy, however it is essential. There’s no more talking about it.
- Spiritually – Anytime you move to a new city or state, it can be challenging to find a faith community. This was a top priority when I moved out West. Through a new community, I am meeting regularly with a group of married couples, as we share and discuss our thoughts and experiences about our faith. The power of community is that it builds into one another in ways that you can’t build into yourself.
While these are only three examples, there are others that are also in process. For each of these items, they weren’t irrational decisions that were made without thinking through the process. Each is going to require a system of change management, and I had to take into consideration the five components of complex systems change. After deciding that I had a vision, I considered my skills, resources, incentives, and whether or not I had an action plan.
Once I was able to check the ‘yes’ box for each of these areas, then it was time to put the action plan in place. Step one was doing something to commit myself to the point that there is no turning back. I now have a financial and time investment at stake that I will not let go to waste.
But, you know what?
The return on investment (ROI) for me is going to far outweigh the challenges that I am going to face the next several months.
Therefore, I’m asking all of my readers: “What are you committing to over the next several months that is going to contribute to your personal and professional growth? It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be something.”
Why am I asking and challenging you?
Because, as I previously mentioned, I want a team of like-minded and driven individuals to be on this journey with me. I want to share the struggles with each other, and provide support when the journey is hard. I want to be a part of a community of people who think similarly – people who want to be a part of something bigger – people who want to live with intention and purpose.
Personally, I’ve never been someone whom wanted to blend in with the majority. Are you? Would you rather blend in with the majority, or stand out in the crowd?
So, I’ll leave you with this statement:
“No one ever said it would be easy. They said it would be worth it.” -Unknown