It would appear that change in some form or other is inevitable. Nothing stays the same. Whatever you focus on is either growing, stagnating or decaying. All healthy organisms and organisations grow. The same can be said about us as human beings.
We see growth most obviously in the physical world when we observe healthy babies physically grow into children, adolescents and eventually adults. However, other forms of growth are no where near as predictable. Intellectual, emotional, psychological and spiritual growth are much harder to predict. To put it bluntly it would seem many people do not grow much in their lives. Yes they grow physically, but they stay at a juvenile emotional, psychological or spiritual level. Even so, there are notable exceptions. It is those exceptions who provide inspiration and a vision to the rest of us for what is possible. (For examples see the life of Nick Vujicic or Lessons on Happiness From a 108 year old).
Its for this reason I have always been curious about personal growth, and why it is that some individuals and teams can dramatically excel in their performance and well being, while others in broadly similar circumstances will stagnate, plateau or even decline. The same opportunities and the same environment yet two people can go in radically different directions.
A helpful definition of growth I have come across is from Dan Sullivan when he says, "growth is about making your future bigger than your past." In many ways the desire to grow is a manifestation of the love of existence, or just being. In other words growth is a passion for existing in this world and a deep desire to fully explore life. It is about letting go of one's fears, insecurities, perfectionism and what other's think to live towards the God given potential we have all been given. Stepping out into the unknown is always an uphill and at times painful process - but it is also more fulfilling than the status quo.
The Greek writer Plutarch said, "What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality." So growth is fundamentally first an inside job. It is about inside-out transformation - what this blog is all about! The world around us tends to encourage us to focus on external growth, assuming that what is internal and unseen will eventually catch up. That is invariably never the case. You can't run a company like that nor a life - eventually reality has to catch up with potentially disastrous consequences if there is too much of a mismatch between the outside and the inside.
Indeed you are more secure if you are greater on the inside than the outside, because eventually what is unseen will be revealed. When you are better than others give you credit for you can pleasantly surprise them. But when you are worse than others give you credit for there is the potential for disappointment, cynicism or much worse.
Meaningful growth begins at the level of thinking and mindset. Because change can happen at the speed of thought, the mindset we have becomes critical. Especially in our current age where our world is changing faster than ever, offering an abundance of challenges and opportunities. (Also see Never Or Not Yet - On Having The Right Learning Mindset).
Over the years I have become more and more convinced that growth comes from the mindset that you have. What is central to that mindset is seeing your future as greater than your past. What do I mean?
In the next blog post we will explore this further and look at some questions you can ask yourself to lead you in a growth direction, but for now how do you ensure you are growing and not decaying or stagnating inside?