Growth That Matters!

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.”

-Zig Ziglar

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.”
Clarence Day

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.Prepare to Win !

“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.”
-Zig Ziglar

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.”

Human Comparison

People will compare you with others.  However, when it comes to performance, the only comparison that matters to you is “you versus your potential.”  When you do so, you are assessing how committed you are to your God-given purpose and how grateful you are for your God-given talents.  Regardless of who is involved, a “you versus someone else” comparison is irrelevant, unproductive and potentially harmful.

“The greatest barrier to someone achieving their potential
is their denial of it.”
— Simon Travaglia

“There is so much potential out there in young people
and they aren’t getting the right information
or being encouraged in the right ways.
This is our duty as a society.”
— Benjamin Carson

Building Community

You don’t have to be a Christian to learn and benefit from the wisdom contained in the Bible.  However, its fair to say that it can be challenging to find the specific wisdom you are looking for and correctly interpret its meaning.  This is true when reading any ancient writing whether its the words of Aristotle or the Word of God.  That’s why I appreciate books like Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life.”

In Day 19 (i.e. Chapter 19) Warren writes about building community, a practice that is important to our organization’s teaching and coaching models.  On page 146, he says, “Cultivating community takes honesty.”  A page later he goes on to say, “Real fellowship, whether in a marriage, a friendship, or church, depends on frankness.”   (I would add “at work” to his list.)  “In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship.  Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.  When conflict is handled correctly, we grow closer to each other by facing and resolving our differences.”

Warren continues building his case for honesty in relationships by paraphrasing Proverbs 28:23, “In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.”  The actual words from the New King James translation are these …

“He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward
Than he who flatters with the tongue.”

Next, Warren provides instructions using the following similes from 1 Timothy 5:1-2.

“Never use harsh words when you correct an older man,
but talk to him as if he were your father.
Talk to younger men as if they were your brothers,
older women as if they were your mothers,
and younger women as if they were your sisters.”

This lesson about building community through honesty and love concludes as Warren once again paraphrases the Bible.  This time he refers to an occasion when the Apostle Paul was compelled to rebuke the church in the ancient city of Corinth for their “passive code of silence in allowing immorality in their fellowship.”  Paul said, “You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own.  Bring it out in the open and deal with it…. Better devastation and embarrassment than damnation…. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that…. you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory.  You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior.  I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers?”    — 1 Corinthians 5:3-12 (Msg)

The Bible was written to tell the story of God’s relationship with His people.  With a skilled teacher like Rick Warren leading the way, it can also be your user’s manual for living a purpose-driven life.