The only guarantee that you will be ready for future opportunities is by preparing for them today. Your level of readiness will determine your level of success in any endeavor. I have observed far too many people wishing for success but not realizing that unpreparedness is their greatest liability. Personal growth, the process of intentionally improving yourself, is the surest way to be ready for tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges. You will only be better tomorrow by growing today. The golden opportunities you are seeking are all contained within you. They are not in the external environment. iPhone and Apple Mac were in Steve Jobs before Apple became a name brand. Before Microsoft became the excellent computer interphase, we all use, it existed in Bill Gates. And before Amazon became the leading online store, enjoying the largest market share, it was in Jeff Bezos. Personal growth is the process that allows you to bring forth the greatness that God hid in you. Therefore, the greatest return on investment of your commitment to personal growth is a better future.
Power of Systems
If anything that 2020 historians will remember for 2020, it will be a year when systems were examined, questioned, and changed. In the wake of the death of George Floyd, the whole world was taken by a storm of civil unrest in demand for a change of systems. People from all corners of the world seem to have a collective acknowledgment that the many years of suffering caused by injustices could only be stopped by a change in systems that run our societies. For decades, systems that have facilitated racism, and the oppression of minorities cannot be allowed to continue if we want a better society. The millennials and Gen-Zs, who were the majority of the demonstrators filling the streets, seem to have comprehended one fundamental truth; for society to get better in the future, effective systems must be in place. This truth that a better future is dependent on a robust system is also applicable at a personal level. For us as individuals, we must set in place systems that will allow us to grow. Since growth is not an automatic process, and we should be intentional about it, we must arm ourselves with tools that will make growth easier. My goal with today’s post is to share three tools that successful people use for personal growth.
1. Design Thinking
I once read this quote by Jim Rohn that changed how I approach life, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” I realized that my lack of planning for my future would lead me to coast through life being a victim of other people’s plans. I began to think like a designer, knowing that I have the power to shape my life and create a future; however, I desired.
Successful people have a designer’s mentality; they approach life as builders always keeping their blueprints at the forefront of their minds and consulting them often. People who live a significant life don’t drift through life; they grow through life, enabled by design thinking.
This thinking style enables us to continually evaluate our day to day life (decisions, actions, and experiences) in reference to these questions; What do I want my life to look like? What do I have and need to build a life that I want? And what am I doing today that will get me to where I want to go in life? When we have this mindset, we tie our core beliefs and values to our goals and aspirations. Our life is marked by creativity, productivity, and positive change. It’s when we practice design thinking that we can unlock the next tool for personal growth, comprehensive questioning.
2. Comprehensive Questioning
I love to ask questions. If there is one thing that I am glad I didn’t lose from childhood is the boldness to ask a lot of questions. The only difference is that the quality of my questions has become better as I grow older. In his book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, John Maxwell says, “Asking questions is a great way of preventing mental laziness and moving ourselves out of ruts.” To that, we can add that questions unleash our mental strength that shows up as creativity. I have observed that people who are successful in any field have the ability or skill to ask questions with a deep desire to understand something (situation or a person) fully. I refer to this skill of asking questions as comprehensive questioning. They ask questions that lead to a deeper understanding of the situation they face.
Great questions that are comprehensive have four qualities. They are clear, concise, relevant, and purposeful. I abbreviate them in the acronym C.C.R.P. Growth questions must be clear. A clear question begets a clear answer. Breaking down complex questions into single-dimensional questions enables us to focus on a single idea or piece of the bigger equation. Second, great questions are concise. To achieve conciseness in asking questions, you must be intentional with words. Omit unnecessary words. The third thing you want with your questioning is to make them as relevant as possible. I have found that when I ask relevant questions; I get relevant applicable results in the area I want answers. Finally, a comprehensive question must be purposeful; which gives it value. You must achieve something meaningful with each question you ask. I believe that all purposeful questions in the area of personal growth must at least seek both innate and specific knowledge and stimulate thinking.
Questions are essential to experiencing a change in life. For maximum growth, we must develop the skill of asking great questions. The quality of your question determines the quality of your solutions. Tony Robbins stated, “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” I believe that comprehensive questions activate the next tool for personal growth, systematic learning.
3. Systematic Learning
Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” How do you keep moving in life? By learning. You learn when you are willing to open up to new ideas and to expose yourself to new experiences. I believe that if you are optimistic about the future and expectant of a long life, you will desire to grow through life and not to drift through life. One person who was super optimistic about the future was Mahatma Gandhi, who advised, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” The greatest advantage of applying yourself to learning is that you will always remain relevant in the times you live. This is supported by Henry Ford’s observation, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” So, do you want to stay young? You must be intentional about systematic learning, which is having a system or method of learning key areas/things in life that will significantly impact your life.
I have devoted myself to learning in these four areas; self-awareness, relationships, life-experiences. What are you learning that will help you grow so that you are ready for tomorrow? Remember, never stop learning, for when we stop learning, we stop growing.
One statement about Oprah Winfrey that encourages me to keep making adjustments to be who I need to be so at to get what I want out of life is, “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” I believe that personal growth is how we move from where we are to where we want to be; It makes us be who we desire to be. Next, I will share how to use the one thing we all have to pivot our life’s experiences for exponential growth.