Are You Ripening or Rotting?
Today, let's talk about personal development. I want to confront the notion that we're perfect just the way we are. This belief that we are perfect just the way we are might sound comforting, but is it truly empowering? I challenge you to consider this: If we aren't actively working towards becoming better every day, are we inadvertently allowing ourselves to rot?
Embracing imperfection doesn't mean settling for mediocrity. It means acknowledging that growth is a perpetual journey, not a final destination.
What happens when we don't use our muscles? Muscle atrophy sets in and the muscles simply waste away. Take that idea and apply it to your mind, your emotions, your intellectual skills. If you aren't working to consistently improve and develop these skills, you're allowing them to simply waste away.
A little over a decade ago, while playing softball, I dove through the outfield fence. As I went through the chain link fence my left leg whipped the pole. The doctors believed I had a compression fracture as the swelling was too high to tell. My leg didn't need to be set and I was told to go home and rest. It just needed time to heal.
By laying on a couch for 10 days and not being able to move my leg, my muscles had atrophied. Muscle can atrophy alarmingly fast. For example, bedrest can cause a 12% loss of muscle strength per week. To gain use of my leg again, I forced myself to go on a 3-mile walk to stretch my leg out and endure the pain.
I had to make the decision, knowing that I was either ripening or rotting, to get up and get moving. If you think you're perfect just the way you are, what motivation do you have to develop skills and improve yourself day after day?
The Pursuit of Betterment
While self-acceptance is crucial, there's a fine line between contentment and complacency. The pursuit of betterment is not a sign of inadequacy but a testament to our commitment to continuous improvement. The pursuit of excellence is, in fact, a celebration of our inherent potential.
Life is a constant process of evolution. Either we are ripening, embracing growth, and adapting to change, or we risk stagnation, akin to the slow process of rotting. It's important to navigate the delicate balance between comfort and challenge, urging ourselves to lean into growth rather than recoil from it. You have to face head on that it's through discomfort that we often find our true potential.
The keys to pursuing betterment are consistency, self-reflection, and a willingness to embrace change. Below are a few ways individuals can pursue personal development. Tailor these suggestions to align with your personal goals and values.
- Continuous Learning: Read or listen to books on a diverse range of subjects. Enroll in courses, workshops, or webinars to acquire new skills. Attend conferences or events to stay updated on industry trends. (Check out this book recommendation and this online course.)
- Physical Well-Being: While you focus attention on developing your mind, you should also work to improve your physical well-being. Prioritize regular exercise and maintain a balanced diet. Get adequate sleep to support overall health. Practice mindfulness through activities like yoga or meditation.
- Financial Literacy: Set financial goals and work towards building a secure future. Create and follow a budget for personal finances. Invest in financial education to make informed decisions.
- Goal Setting: Create short- and long-term goals. Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks. Regularly review and adjust goals based on progress and changing priorities.
- Networking: Cultivate meaningful connections both personally and professionally. Seek mentorship or coaching to gain insights from experienced individuals. Attend networking events or join online communities relevant to your interests.
Leaders are Lifelong Learners
Leaders you know and admire have worked to develop themselves over the course of their lives. Warren Buffett was once terrified of speaking in public. So, he enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course to improve his abilities. He's now become of the most frequently quoted speakers in the world.
Former Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, values feedback as a tool for personal development. She actively seeks input from colleagues, mentors, and friends, to understand her strengths and areas for improvement.
If you're looking for a good place to start in the realm of self development books, I have a previous newsletter with a few recommendations. I luckily had a mentor thrust a stack of books into my hands that turned me into a lifelong reader. Check out those recommendations here.
Though the belief that we are perfect just the way we are might sound empowering, let's challenge this belief. True empowerment lies in acknowledging that our potential is boundless and that growth is an ongoing journey.
Do you have New Year's Resolutions that you are continuing to work towards involving self improvement? What tools are you engaging to help with these pursuits?
If you're interested in reading more, I recommend these blog posts:
- All Leaders Are Readers
- Unlocking the Power of Introverts
- The Benefits of Failure: How to Embrace Risk and Learn from Setbacks