The concept of personal growth and development has gathered momentum recently. Besides the obvious potential benefits to developing oneself, there are several challenges and pitfalls that come with the urge to improve. This article is written to highlight some truths that I have discovered on my personal development journey. These insights, I hope, will prove valuable to anyone wishing to step into growth.
I use growth, in this context, as it is important to stress that changes happen over time through a continuous commitment to focused and deliberate practice. That is; repeated daily activities which you have defined will move you towards who it is you wish to become. It’s a long-term commitment to yourself, requiring a soul pledge to stay committed indefinitely and to strive to only do that which serves you. This growth should include all aspects of your being; specifically, your capacity for love and connection.
Growth hurts. The path to growth and the life of your dreams is by no means easy. It truly takes a warrior’s approach; which is to say yes to life (taking full responsibility). You will have to come face to face with your own daemons and dragons- all your fears, limiting beliefs, stories and negative self-talk.
The warrior mentality is about voluntarily stepping into the arena and confronting the dragons (both real and metaphorical) in one’s life. This all sounds dramatic but what’s to gain from all this striving and dragon slaying?
The answer? Dragons hoard gold. The ‘gold’ I am alluding to here is our infinite potential, which we all have a sense of. This is the person who you feel that you could be but often seems so elusive.
“As human beings, we are given access to the infinite, but we have to work for it; it doesn’t come for free.” — Phil Stutz & Barry Michels, The Tools
The fulfillment and peace we all crave will not be found without consistently and deliberately stretching ourselves. Our infinite potential exists on the other side of our comfort zone. Taking this warrior’s path is commonly referred to as the Hero’s Journey i.e. the process of psychological expansion and growth. The epistemology of the word ‘Hero’ provides a clue as how to approach one’s personal development.
Hero comes from the Greek term Hērōs which translates as protector (someone with the strength for two). A hero’s secret weapon is Love. The goal is to become our best selves so that we can be of greatest service to others. Cultivating GENUINE compassion and love for all is fundamental to long-term success.
Former Harvard Psychologist Robert Kegan discusses adult development in 3 stages. We move from a state of dependency (the “socialising” self). At this stage, we avoid fear and anxiety at all costs; our actions are based upon what we believe others think we should do. The next level of development, often encouraged by the self-help movement, is the self-authoring individual. This is a state of independence in which you act based upon your own goals and plans.
“Self-authoring individuals believe they are incredible. Better than others. They are on a quest to write their own narrative. And without question, that is a much better and more empowering proposition than living in a reactive and unconscious state” — Ben Hardy, Willpower doesn’t work.
Ben Hardy discusses how the problem with “self-authoring” individuals are that they cannot see past their own mental filter; they believe that their filter is objective reality. Becoming engrossed in such a narcissistic cocoon of self-absorption is detrimental to relationships and one’s ability to connect with others. To fully utilize their secret weapon, that is love, the modern hero must, therefore, take their evolution a step further.
The final stage of development, according to Kegan, is the self-transforming mind. The transforming individual is a master of embracing paradoxes; placing value in their own worldview but also equally wary of it. They are always looking to update their view based upon what they learn from others and their experiences. They are highly effective: exhibiting both independent and interdependent traits (see image below).
The world needs those committed to true transformation. We need leaders; those who can demonstrate how to utilize the many opportunities and overcome the challenges we face in 2019. We have an abundance of potential available to us both in terms of individual psychological resources but also in terms of collective natural resources.
Globally we have the technology and human potential to meet everyone’s needs and more. We have everything available to us to create a paradise on earth. But we are collectively (and perhaps more importantly individually) locked in a mindset of scarcity; the way our economy is set up reflects this mindset. We are powered by finite, inefficient and unsustainable natural resource. The endangered list of organisms grows daily, biodiversity is depleting. If you stand back and look at the whole objectively, it makes no sense!
“Earth is abundant with plentiful resources. Our practice of rationing resources through monetary control is no longer relevant and is counter-productive to our survival.” — Jacque Fresco
It’s clear to me it will take courageous Hero’s who are willing to do the work it takes to grow and develop so that they may be of service to the whole. Focusing on our own circle of influence will eventually cause one’s influence to expand outwards. Truly transformative leaders, with their interdependent capacity for synergy (see habit 6), will help shift the global paradigm from scarcity to abundance.
In conclusion, sustainable growth comes down to why is it you do what you do. This ‘why’ must be compelling and greater than yourself. Love, compassion, and fun are all excellent frames in which to think about your why. I have intentionally left out all the optimization and lifestyle tips I planned to include in this article. This is because I would like to impart to you, the reader, with the message that positive change and growth is within your gift. We all meet minimum possible requirements to succeed wildly in our endeavors. Unlimited gold and abundance are found within. Accessing this is key to collective positive change and betterment. Regardless of your beliefs, it is empowering to consider that your current life situation and external environment reflects the internal.
Ultimately, in the immortal words of the Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl…
“We are all questioned by life; and can only answer to life by answering for our own life; to life we can only respond by being responsible.”
Consider the result, what is it you want and create a compelling why.