How to Get Where You Want to Grow
Growth is a function of engaging in new activities. “New” is the difficult thing. Everyone wants to grow but not everyone wants to step from the known into the unknown.
The edge and beyond:
Growth happens on the fringes of leadership where comfort and discomfort meet.
You can’t grow if you can’t be uncomfortable.
Growth moments occur with one foot on solid ground and one foot firmly in midair. Growth happens “where the sidewalk ends.” (Where the Sidewalk Ends, is a children’s book by Shel Silversein)
If you want to grow:
- Hang with people out of your league.
- Say yes and I’ll try.
- Evaluate after, not during, stretch experiences.
Today’s growth moment:
I’m learning how to deliver content on camera. I’ll be surrounded by people who know things I don’t know, asking me to try things I haven’t tried. My producer, for example, has a graduate degree from Harvard in Educational Technology.
I plan to trust their expertise, try what they suggest, and basically keep my mouth shut. We’ll evaluate later.
Concept or reality:
The concept of growth is easier than the reality. Be willing to:
- Be incompetent.
- Make mistakes.
- Look foolish.
We never grow until we do something
we haven’t done before.
Growth happens in community not isolation. Books and thinking help, but people are always central to your growth.
What are you doing for your growth?
How can leaders help others grow?
This is so true. I recently jumped into twitter and the blogosphere head first on the advice of new smart friends I met, and it has opened a whole new intellectual and social world for me. It also is expanding my business and experiential horizons. To your point, hanging and listening to people “out of my league” or comfort zone is key. It was and continues to be for me. Great article…. It encourages me to keep stepping off the sidewalk. Thank you.
Congrats on stepping off your sidewalk. Great example. Best wishes for continued success.
How fun Dan! Learning to be on camera is a skill and an art. Working in our studio in Nashville it is often my privilege to help great speakers, authors, and others learn that experience. In my own learning I seek who is doing what I seek to do, and I know that they were typically trained by someone else…aren’t we all? Awareness is such a powerful tool. To be aware that our experience may mean the newness isn’t comfortable yet is half the battle. Our enjoyment of the engagement comes with each process learned. What delight as something new is accomplished…first hesitantly, then with experience and practice competently. A series of successes and victories lead to confidence as new skills are learned! Competence creates confidence is my belief!
Seize the day my friend, look so very forward to your outcomes!
Love your inclusion of a series of small wins. For me, that’s essential. Making a little progress – getting better – fuels courage to keep trying. On the other hand, what’s worse than trying and not improving..ugh!
Ahh! That is a great post! I am so uncomfortable I can taste it! On one hand, it’s painful and on the other hand, it’s fantastic because I know that I am expanding and broadening my thinking, what I can do more than I thought possible. I really like what you said too, “Evaluate after, not during, stretch experiences.” It’s true, thinking too much about it takes the momentum away.
It’s hard not to evaluate too soon…but when we do, I think the negative dominates and we are less likely to move forward… thanks
Thank goodness I am a semi-retired teacher with many young people (former students) in my life who are willing to help me grow with technology. It’s humbling to have the tables turned. But I never would have had my own blog site without them. Bless them.
Now I need to have them to teach me how to imbed videos.
I’m also trying something new currently. I usually write for teachers however, I’ve written a book with a co-author about caring for elderly parents. This is a new field/market for me. It makes me s-t-r-e-t-c-h.
Many times I feel uncomfortable, but I know about the dangers of the comfort zone. Thanks for reminding me.
Ding Ding.. thanks for your comment. Love the word, “Humbling.” Great addition to these ideas. Best in your new endeavors.
I am from a small rural town located in south east Georgia (Douglas, Coffee County, Georgia). The population of the community is around 12,000 people. This is an agriculture town that produces tobacco, cotton, watermelons, manufacture mobile homes, and process poultry (chickens). I have grown from selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, re-hanging poultry for processing for Purdue, cropping tobacco for RJ Reynolds for auction, throwing and loading watermelons as they are cut fresh from the vines, building mobile homes, joining United States Air Force, selling vacation and meat packages, marketing leasing services to heavy equipment dealers, telemarketing credit cards on behalf of American Express, went back to school to complete my MBA degree, and the list goes on. Somewhere, several of you have selected a road traveled similar to the one I selected. Some of you have not because of various reasons. Some of your careers are successful and some are not. Yes, Dan is correct about growth in this article. I must say, I did not want to do any of the jobs I mentioned above; however, I learned something from each. I had to do them in order to survive and provide for my family. I grew! The point is this…I continue to grow by choice whether my career is successful or not.
Mothers side of the family from Montezuma!
Love those red, yellow peaches!
Thanks for sharing your encouraging story…keep on rockin
Well what I have done is realize I am more afraid of not trying, being a lazy fat worthless lazy no account slob than I am of hearing no!
Make excuses, make something happen, the choice.
I am not overweight by the way just could be if I wasn’t passionately creating my perfect day, when that is done, duplicate it over and over and over !!!
Pretty simple really I highly recommend it
Working for me, not saying it will work for you but if what u are doing is not working you might want to listen up!!!!!!
Love … make excuse / make something happen… boy that sure summarizes things.
I agree that “Uncomfort and growth go together”. Leaders look for uncertainty and that is why they prefer to follow path less traveled. Those who look for certain and predictable life, find it difficult at later stage. I have seen people who are good thinker but fail to understand the change. They plan well, think well but somewhere they take the time guaranteed. We should believe that plan, belief and assumption is not absolute, it is dependent factor. And time is the crucial factor to execute our plans. That is where leaders are smarter than normal people. They see the time and accordingly harmonize their comfort level. On the other hand, people generally assume time to be favorable as per their assumption.
I believe in making effort to achieve normally challenging goals. I love to engage in the activities that make me feel proud and happy. And similarly, leaders can make others feel happy by making them feel that they can do whatever they think. Leaders make people believe that they have more energy and will to achieve their goals.
Time! One can never get past time back; unless they are a time traveler. I really dislike people wasting my time, due to selfish reasons. Do something constructive with your time and the time of others, if in your power. This is also growth and a lesson to be taught to many. Yes, assist others with achieving their goals in a positive way. Always remember to do to others as you would have them do to you. In most cases, someone did it to them first. Ajay, I also love to engage in activities that make me and others feel proud and happy.
Here’s the thought you gave me… thinking is good, doing is better. 🙂
I’ve had Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” in my collection for a long time and never actually thought about the title that way. I love it! This is very enlightening. It’s definitely true that real growth happens when we try things we are not comfortable with. When we are willing to take risks is when learning and growth take place. The lack of comfort and fear of change impedes growth and prevents new learning. Great post!
We love Silversten. We bought the books for our kids but I think we enjoyed them more. 🙂
I have learned that I never grow inside of my comfort zone. I can become better at something, but I don’t consider that growth as a person.
To truly grow, as you said, is to do something on the “fringes of leadership where comfort and discomfort meet.”
The hard part, I have found, is consistently finding those opportunities, such as hanging out with people out of your league. It can be difficult, to say the least, to find those willing.
I agree Colby… the other think I notice in myself is a tendency to back away from discomfort.. when I see that happen I ask, “Are you content with your world right now?” We have to realize that stepping out is the path to finding a new future…
I hear you on the “out of our league” I’ve found social media such a great opportunity to make connections. Sure, we can’t hang out face to face but I’ve had the chance to learn from some of the world’s greats…
Nice post! I would agree wholeheartedly, but add that the discomfort comes from taking a risk. One foot in the air, being willing to be incompetent, and many other thoughts in this post pertain to risk. If we agree on that, then learning skills helpful to think rightly about risk would also be useful skills to foster growth. Ignoring risk, nor being paralyzed by risk constitute right thinking about risk.
Cool add… so growth management is risk management. I wonder if our tolerance for risk predicts our capacity for growth.
I find that growth happens most elegantly for me when I am not “going for growth,” but am growing on the way to accomplishing something that I really want to accomplish.
When a goal is connected to something we’re really emotionally invested in, we are going to find ways of going through or around obstacles to get there, and in the process, growth is going to happen—and we even learn stuff if we don’t achieve what we are going for.
My recommendations for growth:
1. Find something that makes you feel alive and excited and full of positive anticipation and expectation, and GO FOR IT. You will grow on the journey towards it.
2. Find a way to make every contrast and adversity your friend. Turn it into growth. Turn into new awareness. Turn it into a new direction. Don’t waste it. Allow it to lead you to item #1 above.
Love the idea of keeping the goal in mind. A great goal informs discomfort… powerful add.
So so true! Those feelings of fear and uncertainty when trying something new can be overwhelming. It takes courage to go back to incompetence but so worth it once the progress and the learning starts. Now … I have to go hang out with some authors who are way out of my league and get a book started!
KaChing!!! Keep growing.
Sometimes I think about courage to be incompetent. Other times the whole thing is a fun game to me… a lot depends on the environment.
For much of my career — despite having great fortune in having held several leadership roles — I could NEVER see the point of or the value in being willing to 1.Be incompetent; 2.Make mistakes; 3.Look foolish. Then about 10 years ago, I suffered a humiliating business setback. Lost the business. Lost lots of money. Had to fact lots of people with my tail between my legs. But it was my family’s enduring support that made me realize that even undergoing a huge demonstration of my inadequacies (incompentency, foolishness, etc.), the only things that mattered were that people still trusted me and that it was totally within my power to brush myself off and take another go at it.
Personally, though, I find it hard to get that message through to other leaders and aspiring leaders — that in order to grow, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. Maybe that’s because, for me, I had to have the bottom fall out before I realized that failure results in as much positive change as success does — maybe more.
Wow! I relate…times of humiliation change us if we let them. Love your story and your message… cheers
To morph Stephen King’s Shawshank quote, “get busy growing or get busy dying.”
Or Matrix, ‘red pill to stay in Wonderland or blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in bed.’
Two choices, every day, every moment, which do you choose?
Mark’s point that growth happens when you least expect it is golden.
Feels like we are also venturing into the world of risking. Risking with wisdom and risking with skill can/should lead to growth. Risk in realms you would not naturally risk in and do it with wisdom and skill to be still be safe. It could be as simple as doing a crossword puzzle with a pen (try Monday’s NY Times first, not Saturday’s-that is the hardest) or share something with your significant other that you haven’t shared but wanted to or take up snowboarding (take a lesson and stay on the green slopes-just sayin’). Or go to a spiritual meeting of a different faith that you are curious about.
To fixate on the twos a bit more…wonder if it is a two step process…one where you read, study, or research in solitude and two apply it, put it on, drive it around the block and see if fits.
Love your illustrations.. I love the matrix.
Thanks for articulating the two step idea. It’s important to this discussion.
Gotta say Shawshank is awesome too
I think we can learn much from Nature.
For example, the Giant Sequoia starts out as a seed, so small that hundreds fit on a teaspoon. The wisdom is found in that these trees grow to their full potential.
As tall and as wide as they are, that’s only what’s observable. Down deep, their roots are several times larger. Even a forest fire won’t stop them from returning to glory.
They continue to reach out as they grow in maturity.
The questions I ask are…
Who are we deep down?
Are we digging deep into our potential?
Are we reaching out making connections as we grow?
As to your question… How can leaders help others grow?
I think the answer lies in always looking for the best in others and drawing it out of them. One question I like to ask is…
“How could this be done better?”
Love your questions..they made me also wonder, who am I deep with.
Couldn’t agree more on helping others grow…How could this be better? Are you proud of your performance, might be another question…
I am reading “Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents & Inspire Your Community” by Albert L. Winseman D.Min., Ph.D. Donald O. Clifton, and Curt Liesveld M. Div. The book contains an access code to take an on-line version of the Clifton Strengths Finder (Gallup) which identifies your top five talents/strengths. It also lists the characteristics of people with each of the 30+ talents that are noted in the book.
The authors suggest that we waste a lot of talent by focusing on what we are not gifted to accomplish instead of honing the abilities that come naturally to us. The idea is that we share our strengths with others and utilize others to glean from their expertise in the areas where we are not strong. That is a win-win situation where everyone shines in his/her own right and everyone benefits by learning from others with strengths in their own weak areas. (Steel sharpens steel.)
The book is written by Christians but the principles apply to everyone. It is worth a read.
@ William Butler: “…even a forest fire won’t stop them from returning to glory.” is so powerful. That image motivates me to try the impossible. Thank you.
I’m a huge fan of the strength based movement. Thanks for adding your story and this resource.
I definately agree that stepping out of your comfort zone and working with people out of your league is a great learning experience. I definately have made mistakes and looked incompetent, but I don’t think I’ll be making those same mistakes again.
Another great post, thank you. Change is not easy, however
those who embrace it ( knowing well they are making mistakes, being incompetent, feeling foolish..) reap the most rewards.
Having a clear purpose can make this journey of change
easier and more fulfilling.
“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”
~ Barbara Sher,
Author of “it’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now”
You’ve encapsulated the experience most have to endlessly struggle with when learning a new language… Mistakes, of the public and visible/audible variety, are the only way to learn and get better. And, they’re the one thing our guts tell us to avoid. As leaders and learners we are always having to push back against our more base instincts to find the true path. Thanks Dan for another case-in-point reminder of this, and good luck on camera! Suspecting you’ll be great, foibles and all.
“Hang out with people who are out of your league” – what a great reminder, we only get better by playing with people who are better than we are. They can inspire us to aim higher.
very great ideas! thanks for sharing 🙂
I’m heading to France in June for an intensive language program and I’m taking those last three points with me! Looking foolish is key to growth, and especially important for language-learning. Thanks for the timely reminder!
I totally agree with your post. Life is all about growth which is simply making progress in every key areas of our life. If we are not making progress we’re simply getting older and would soon get out of form. I’m new to blogging though, but just had to start to get my message across faster http://www.stepplatform.wordpress.com and i’m still open to new opportunities to grow. Thanks for your post Dan