In less than 30 days some of us will be fearfully entering into the year 2017, some of us will be sprinting into it and away from 2016 as fast as we can, others will enter in much like they did the several years before, indifferent. Beyond the excitement of a New Year’s party many assume that a new year will be exactly like the ones before, nothing will change and any effort to create a change is in their mind pointless. It’s that latter group that I really wanted to create this short series for.
The New Year brings with it an idea that we can start anew. It brings with it a feeling that we can close the gap between where we are and where we would like to be. The reality is that the calendar is very arbitrary, the feeling and excitement that a new year brings with it is always available to us if we choose to act on it.
What I’m really hoping to create is a piece that will take a vast amount of information that is available to us and condense it down to a more digestible piece.
So where does the process begin? Where do we start when we are attempting to be, do, create, or have something that we have never had or something that we have lost?
The first step of the million mile journey comes with the understanding that no one gets better by accident. Our own growth and development toward the things that interest us must be by design. We must be willing to and have a strong desire to reach our own potential. The abilities between successful individuals, relationships, teams, and organizations is actually pretty narrow. The difference between those that achieve at great levels and those that are always just hoping to do so is that the former is actually committed to reaching their potential and that is only obtained with a commitment to the growth process.
When pursuing the ceiling of our potential I believe that there are a few pillars of improvement that should be considered. They are:
Choose a Life Philosophy of Growth – One of the first examples and things that have stuck with me throughout my life is something my high school football coach Billy Butler used to tell us. Regularly he would say “You are either getting better, or you are getting worse. You can’t stay the same.”
I don’t know who originally said it but it seems to be claimed by countless others that the secret to improving the situations of your life come with first improving yourself. In short, to have better you must get better. Or as Warren Buffet says, “the more you learn the more you earn.”
Start the Process RIGHT NOW- I want to kick myself at times for only recently in the last few years discovering how much better and more fulfilling life can be when you are growing on a plan. It’s for this reason why when possible I allow for opportunities to speak to youth and young adults.
It’s true that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago but the second best time is today (please don’t email me and say the second best time would actually be 19 years ago – just try and connect to the point I’m trying to make.) Napolean Hill said in one of the best development books of all-time Think and Grow Rich (If you don’t own this book, click on the link and spend the 5 bucks to get it – YOU WILL NOT REGRET) “it’s not what you are going to do but what you are doing now that matters.”
Starting right now is important because growth today creates a better tomorrow. In addition and likely more important it’s your responsibility and ONLY your responsibility. If you don’t accept the responsibility for becoming who you must be to attract into your life the job, spouse, objects, and even the behavior of your children then no one will.
Understand that Self-Development is the Goal, Not Self-Fulfillment- When you pursue development what you discover is that you ultimately find your way onto the path of your purpose in this world. While I don’t want to make this a theological discussion I do believe that we were all placed on this rock for a very specific purpose and it’s only through developing ourselves do we begin to discover that purpose. Where self-fulfillment can be joyous but fleeting, development is not only engaging but steady as well.
Resist the Status Quo – Rick Warren the pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the mega bestseller Purpose Driven Life says “the enemy of tomorrow’s success is today’s success.” We should recognize that the path that got us to where we are will almost never get us to where we want to be. One of my favorite business and development authors Marshal Goldsmith wrote an entire book on this idea for leaders called What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.
Be a Continual Learner- To combat the status quo a great strategy is to stay in a constant pursuit of knowledge. I’ll repeat this again that growth must be intentional. You have to be constantly looking for new information in the areas that you wish to grow. Carry books, magazines, articles, etc with you at all times. At the time of this writing I have a book on spirituality, relationships, public speaking, and leadership in my bag. Another great option is to get an audible.com account and listen to books in your car or at the gym. In short, learn something new EVERY day!
Develop a Gameplan- It’s been said that if someone will dedicate one hour a day for 5 years in a chosen subject/topic that at the end of that 5 years they would be a subject matter expert. I have found that when developing your initial growth plan that it is usually best to focus on only 1-3 areas. I won’t go into all of the many benefits of reading but one should be attempting to read a minimum of 1 book a month on the area(s) that you chose, 1-2 audiobooks a month, and 4-6 articles a month on those areas.
I would be doing you an injustice if I didn’t tell you that if you choose to go down this path that you should expect to experience a few”growing-pains” along the way. The process comes with varying degrees of discomfort. To do, be, and have more you must make room for it. It’s a guarantee that you must be willing to sacrifice some of your free-time, you are likely to need to readjust your budget to make room for purchasing the resources that help you develop in your desired areas – DO IT ANYWAY!
In closing I want to extend a challenge and I hope that you will accept. It is my desire that you will consider adapting not only these pieces into your life but also the remaining pieces we will discuss still to come and that you will share your thoughts with us all.
Where have your grown lately? Where have you grown in the last week, month, or year? Where will you grow?
Sean Z. Callahan