«One can choose to return to safety or move towards growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome over and over again.»
Also called Personal Development, Self-Development or Self-Help it is a concept that can be interpreted in many ways and, as in every case when it comes to nominalizations, all interpretations are inaccurate and at the same time useful.
But whatever we interpret it, personal growth is the source of happiness of any life or, better expressed, in this concept lies the essence of the happiness of a human life. And there are powerful reasons to affirm what I have just said and, if you allow me, I´ll share them with you.
A life without «growth» is a wasted life. This assertion, debatable like any other, implies that you can grow or not, and it is a choice of your own. It is part of the free will that is supposed to be in turn part of the human condition.
And despite the inaccuracy and indefinition of the concept there are, however, experts who have achieved more or less understandable expressions, but certainly much more measurable and with much more practical content. That is, these experts have turned the concept into something that you can work on with a certain specificity and this way being able to achieve more tangible results.
I myself have devoted much of my professional time to studying the phenomenon of personal growth and I have come to certain conclusions that, if you allow me, I will share with you in this article briefly (if you know me something or have already read another article of mine,you will know that being brief is, if I achieve it, an undoubted sample of my personal growth).
First let’s look at the absolute principles of Personal Growth (to be brief, henceforth personal growth will be expressed with the acronym PG).
Principle 1: PG is a personal value. No one but yourself can measure whether you have grown or not. You may hear other people say, «how you’ve grown lately» and, unless they relate to your height or waist size, it’s something no one else can measure but you.
Principle 2: The PG is non-transferable. If by some strange circumstance you consider that you have grown personally, it is something that you will not be able to transfer to anyone else. You will be able to inspire others and benefit them from the way you treat or influence people, but you will not make them grow.
Principle 3: what does not grow dies. I don’t know if this phrase is biblical, I haven’t really been able to find where it came from or who was the first to pronounce it, but it represents an evidence truth. Both science and empirical observation of nature or life show us that nothing remains the same over the relative time and demonstrate that the above sentence is as true as the fact that you are reading these words right now (are you? Good question)
Principle 4: The PG can always be measured in some respect in a tangible way. Searching for a goal, a result, an objective, it is not inappropriate in any way, but more than that, it is noble and desirable. This goal is what will drive us to grow in some respect if we want something and are committed to achieve it. And always remember not to forget to remember that what is important is not the goal but who we become at the end of the way.
«Seek not treasures on this earth but in heaven», is a phrase that Jesus said and that may contain a great truth and that is that, without pretending now to speak of the afterlife, heaven can represent all those things that we have learned in the process of achieving something and that even if that something achieved is lost, what we learned will remain with us until death.
Principle 5: The PG does not look for a result, it represents a path. If you’re not enjoying the road, you’re not growing up. Although pain can be, and often is,a path of enlightenment, what Eckhart Tollé calls the way of the cross, there will always be alternatives of growth that do not involve pain, that respond to the personal decision to grow always and at all times, as if it were the purpose of life.
And due to the way our life is, frugal and perishable by nature, whether or not you like it, any goal can be out of our hands. So, as a sign that you’re growing up, you’ll find that the journey, the way, is what gives meaning to life and never the achievements. Which does not mean that the latter cannot and should not be enjoyed.
And since I believe that for today it was enough of concepts, we can give a little more specificity to what the PG represents. I propose you to do the next exercise right now. No later, not another time, right now. Why is that? It’s very obvious, if you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it. And you know it. Don´t you?
In a little oversimplified way , that is, not very precise but useful, we can understand the life of a human being in several categories. I have read and worked many versions of this categoriation and the one that convinces me the most is the one I learned from Tony Robbins.
I’m going to share it in one more moment, but first I’ll explain what we’re going to do. For each category think of your ideal world, the one that for you is the ideal (not the one you settle for but the one you really and deeply desire) and put an imaginary 10 on it. We’re going to do like doctors when they measure the pain «If 10 is the maximum pain you can take, what number would you be in now? «. I don’t know how people do it, but we are always able to give a number. It is fantastic and amazing at the same time.
Know we will do the same in each category, let’s compare our current situation with the ideal and put a number to the current one. For example, let’s say a category I am evaluating is money. Let’s say now that my ideal is to have a certain lifestyle financially speaking. Then I look for a mirror, I look sincerely to the image reflected and compare my current situation with the one I call 10 and put a number on it, let’s say 9. That’s it, this is the whole exercise.
The following are the categories to be analyzed, and again I recognize that all of them are not, and can not be, very specific:
- Friends and Family. How close and constructive is the relationship with your nearest beings?
- Intimate relationships. Relationships with the couple are based on necessity and built thanks to everyday treatment while with friends and family relations are based on treatment and are edified with mutual need. The former are voluntary while the latter are more perceived as mandatory. Ask yourself: How constructive and encouraging of PG is my relationship? How would I like it to be?
- Time use and personal performance. How well do I use my time in the things that really matter to me? How much do I perform as much as I would like or in relation to my true faculties? Do I see my faculties reflected in my performance? These are the kind of questions you should make yourself.
- Health and energy. How energetic and healthy do I feel every day? How would I like to feel?
- Achievements and contribution to others. What are the achievements I crave most? What do I seek to make as a contribution to society or others?
- Career and finance. Do I do what I like professionally? If not, have I managed to get me to like what I do? Do I make the money, or do I have the lifestyle I want?
- Learning and growth in skills. What do I want to master as a personal skill and still fail to achieve it? What would I like to learn? A new language, for example? Playing the piano?
- Sense of purpose and significance. How often do I feel with a sense of purpose in the world? It may happen to you same thing that happened to Jack Nicholson in the film The Confessions of Mr. Schmidt, that only at the end of the movie he finds that the meaning of life exists even though he was unable to understand it or find it. Similarly, do you think deep in your soul that life must make sense, even if you are not aware of this meaning?
And now, try to find the numerical difference between your current and your ideal state in everyone of the categories, without judging whether this is possible or not. Then you can make a diagram that would show your «PG net, for example. Like the one in the chart below.
I’ll try to briefly describe how to get your personal growth net development map. Draw on an octagon and join the center and each of the eight corners with a line. In the center draw the number zero and at each vertex the ten. In each corner put the initials of each category and mark on their corresponding line, of course approximately, the point corresponding to the value of your estimate on the current situation. Once all the current points are marked on the lines, join them with an additional line. That’s your personal growth net.
Of course, your actions should be aimed at working the weakest categories first. The purpose of a job well done in personal development is to make progress in all areas until there is a balance in which there are no sacrifices, that is, that some areas are no longer developed or sacrificed because of others.
If you think you don’t have time to do these things, I don’t know, but maybe you don’t have time not to do them. If you’re being presented with this self-assessment now, in front of you, I don’t know, but maybe it means something. Or nothing. It’s up to you. But if once you have done the exercise I propose you, you just leave it as an interesting exercise and do nothing to change your chart then you have just made the decision that the PG is not for you.
Finally, doing this analysis would put you in the 1% of humanity that goes from simply complaining to making decisions and taking concrete actions to change life.
You see, the PG requires a certain degree of ego, to feel personal satisfaction for our achievements. And well understood, when the EGO seeks recognition from others that means that what we are probably seeing is a sign of selfishness, but when the EGO seeks self-recognition, it is probably a sign of self-esteem.
As Maslow said at the beginning of this article, fear must be overcome over and over again, growth must be chosen over and over again. You will lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.