I have been writing a lot of leadership lately for Vital Vision, a leadership development business I started several years ago. I am about to teach this in South Carolina next week and as I was putting the finishing touches on it, thought it would be a great blog to share with others as we embark upon 2012. Personal growth is one of those things that I have an insatiable appetite for and discuss a lot everywhere I go. It’s important to understand that you can never really learn how to grow, you can really only learn how to learn how to grow. I know that sounds confusing but let me explain. You cannot make a plant grow, that is an exclusive right that God retains only for himself. All you can do is create the environment, cultivate the climate and set the conditions. And when the conditions are right..GROWTH HAPPENS NATURALLY.
In the same manner we cannot force growth in our own lives, all we can really do is stay curious, maintain a constant open mind and seek new experiences and encounters. And when we create the right climate, we begin to grow.
With that in mind here are 6 characteristics of a high growth environment.
1. SPEND TIME WITH LEADERS AND PEOPLE THAT ARE WAY AHEAD OF YOU
If you ever discover that you are the biggest fish in the pond…find a new pond. Bigger fish know things about open water that small ponds will never reveal. The reason some people never explore bigger ponds is because being the biggest fish strokes their ego. The tragedy is that they have grown all they will ever grow even though their potential was much larger. Find people who stretch your spirit and your mind and hang out with them as much as you can, you will see the fruit of it immediately.
2. CONSTANTLY SEARCH FOR NEW CHALLENGES
Bored people never grow. Seek for new experiences and challenges that place a new demand on your talent and ability. This goes against our human nature big time. We crave familiar places, predictable experiences and things we know we can easily accomplish. We naturally think less effort is better when in reality it lulls us to sleep and robs us of our full potential. Get in something over your head and leave the familiar shallows, it’s deep and difficult waters that make the strongest sailors.
3. KEEP YOUR FOCUS FORWARD
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with glancing back from time to time especially if it increases your confidence or helps you avoid repeating costly mistakes. But my point is simply this, growth is impossible if you think and believe that your best days are behind you. Stay convinced that there is more horsepower, more untapped potential and that the best is yet to come. It is necessary if you are to keep growing.
4. SEARCH OUT ENVIRONMENTS WHERE OTHERS ARE CONSTANTLY GROWING
Growth can be a group activity. It is inspiring to be around other people and peers that are moving forward and pressing ahead. Many times seeing others move precipitates movement in us as well. Our environments make or break us. Choose them carefully because they will eventually determine the quality and direction of your own life. You will become what you continually embrace.
5. FACE YOUR FEAR OF FAILURE
Most people have thousands of game changing ideas in their lifetime and, unfortunately, most never act on them. Why? One word, Fear. Here’s the scenario. We get a great idea and before that idea has time to even settle it’s feet good we immediately make an air tight list of why we can’t do it. We aren’t smart enough, good enough, strong enough or educated enough. And before we know it, we have completely dismissed that it’s even a possibility…..that is, until we see someone doing it. And here’s the cold truth, they had the same fear as you the only difference was, while they had fear they didn’t let fear have them. Defang your fear and you will go farther than you ever imagined.
6. HAVE CONSTANT EXPOSURE TO NEW INFORMATION
Leaders are readers, plain and simple. Your judgement will only be as good as your level of information. If you have never been a big reader, it’s ok…trust me, your love for reading will grow over time especially when you start recognizing the new infusion of wisdom flowing out of your life. If you will be willing to FORCE IT AT FIRST….you will surely LEARN TO LOVE IT AT LAST.
My prayer for you is that in 2012 you would GROW TO LIVE STRONG, LOVE DEEP AND LEAD WELL.