Here’s a simple model for understanding personal and professional growth: 1) Feed Your Mind; 2) Engage Your Thoughts; 3) Establish Your Purpose. Here’s a short description of each part.
What We Know
Intentional or not, our minds constantly take in new information and increase what we know. So, people everywhere should be asking: “Am I living a low-information or a high information life?” This is not a question about quantity. It’s about quality. Maybe a better question would be: “Do I stuff my mind with the junk food of pop culture, gossip, salacious novels, and the babbling of talking heads OR do I strategically feed my mind with high-nutrition information from sources that matter?” If you want to grow, don’t just feed your mind. Nourish it!
“You are what you are and where you are because of what has
gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are
by changing what goes into your mind.” -Zig Ziglar
Some information scratches an itch or tickles a funny bone. Some plays around with our moral compasses and plants seeds of negativity that influence the stories we tell our selves about who we are or should become. Even if we believe we can manage the negative impact, we reduce the available time and energy we have to take in beneficial information that prepares us for growth.
“You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day
by reading and listening to positive, life-changing content, and
by associating with encouraging and hope-building people.”
The first part of the growth equation is this: “Growth begins with better management of your mental diet.”
What We Do With What We Know
“Information’s pretty thin stuff unless mixed with experience.”
The value a person gains from collecting and sorting information is barely a scratch on the crystal of potential. Why? Because gathering and organizing information is done faster and more efficiently by computers. Information is what it is and nothing more until people get involved. It’s real value is released when a person, not a machine, connects with its innate qualities, conceives a use for it, and creates context that places the information and its users into a leveraged position. Whenever this occurs a person grows professionally and in market value.
Growth is the understanding that comes from engaging in real-life activities. The potential value of what we know becomes more real as we put it to use. Everything we do to understand more broadly and more deeply paves the way to wisdom.
“There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot
be realized until personal experience has brought it home.”
–John Stuart Mill
Action has a way of forcing us to think, evaluate, rethink, and try again. When the brain is fully engaged, more than simply gathering and sorting, new wisdom is born. This uniquely human phenomenon cannot be automated.
A one-and-done experience has some value, albeit limited. The greater value is released when we add two more elements to the experience: Commitment and Repetition. Commitment is the attitude of integrity. It says, “I insist on doing this right and I will do whatever to takes.” Repetition is the consistent practice that honors the promise you made to yourself. “Committed, repeated action” is what we mean when we say, “Prepare to Win!”
“I’m not gonna give up, shut up, or let up…
as a matter of fact, I’m just getting warmed up.”
The second part of the growth equation is this: “If you want to grow, do something useful with what you know.”
Why? The Question That Seeks Purpose
Many coaches and mentors teach the importance of identifying the why in life when choosing a career or making some other major life decision. This advice is invaluable. It’s equally important to periodically ask, “Why?” as a gut check and motivator. Why am I doing this? Why is this task or rehearsal important? A periodic revisiting of your purpose is every bit as important as discovering it on the front end of forming your mission. Most why’s in life center around people. Therefore, we must remember that people need us and we need to reconnect with our purpose if we are to remember them.
The third part of this basic growth equation is this: “Growth is sustained by serving a purpose bigger than you.”