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New Growth

Blooming Where You’re Planted

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: tps125

If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.

— John Maxwell

Sometimes, I send myself a “message in a bottle.”  I go to the local bookstore and I browse what’s new.  I grab a stack of books off the shelves, buy a cup of coffee at their café and rent the table while I go through the stack to see if there’s something I want.  Usually, I find that I want most of what I’ve found, so I make a list to read over time.  Then, sometime in the future, one at a time, I get the books I listed.  By the time I get back to the book I often don’t remember why I wanted to read it.  But, I’ve learned to trust my former self and take some time with the book.  It usually pays off.

When I trust my former self I find that there are things I’ve already learned that could be surprisingly useful to me now.  For example, recently I’ve “remembered” that being too tired results in me losing several IQ points.  I actually didn’t remember so much as I relearned what I had once known.

Why Do I Feel this Way?

I’ve written before about how, as I was working in Corporate America, I would do what I felt was right and yet feel really crummy.  Until recently, I’ve believed that the reason I felt so crummy was because I had acted outside what society considers acceptable gender behaviors.  Now, I wonder.  Was I feeling badly just because I was too tired?

In my new job, the week is very long.  Almost everything I do is new to me.  In addition, I’ve earned the right to take on a major project.  On the one hand, this is good news – they respect my abilities.  On the other hand, everything is a growth experience. (You know what a growth experience is… having to do something new whether you want to or not.)  Growth is good AND it requires a lot of energy.

Why Bother?

The good news is that I believe that growth is possible.  You may say, “Of course growth is possible!” but not everyone thinks that way.  And this is where that message from my former self comes in.  A long time ago, I ran across a book at the library.  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – How We Can Learn to Fulfill our Potential is based on research which supports the idea of continual growth.  If you agree with this idea, it seems self-evident.

If you don’t agree, you may believe that you were born with a certain amount of talent and that’s it.  With that belief, you’ve either always been able to do something or you’ll never be able to do it.  The key issue here is ability.  From the perspective of people who believe that you’re born with everything you’ll ever have, if you have the ability, it’ll come naturally.  If you have to work at it, you don’t have the ability and there’s no point in working at it.

Over the years, I’ve learned that if I work at something, I can often learn the basics of how to do it.  Ellie taught me this.  She took up art.  She’s learned to draw, paint, use chalk, charcoal and pencils.  I believed that it was just a talent that she’d never exploited before… and maybe it was.  But then, I attended a session on cartooning at a professional conference.  The presenter absolutely convinced me that I could draw – maybe not seriously but well enough to be recognizable in the world of cartooning.  For me, that was a huge leap – I’m auditory, not visual.  I can’t do that stuff… at least I couldn’t do it before I took this class.

A Growth Spurt – At My Age?!!

This belief that we’re born with certain abilities often stops us.  Studies show that children who are raised with the belief that there are some things that they “can do” and others that they can’t do often fulfill the prediction.  Children who are raised with the idea that they must work harder to learn what doesn’t come naturally fulfill that prediction.  They learn the more difficult subjects along with the easier ones.

The belief that we really can’t grow from here can also age us.  Change doesn’t slow down for those that are getting older.  It just keeps going.  If we subscribe to the belief that we can’t learn much more, then we get left behind and more isolated.  If we use those things that we don’t know yet to drive our involvement with new ideas and new people, we expand our network.  We become more linked in.  We can contribute.  We can stay relevant.

And we increase our energy level.  When we’re involved in something that interests and excites us, we find the time and energy to pursue it.  For me, investing in the stock market is that way.  I truly enjoy it!

My weeks may be long, but each Friday I’m a little less worn out and a little more excited about what I’ve managed to accomplish.  I’m growing AND I’m feeling the growing pains.  That’s OK.  It’s a new adventure – I just need to rest up for it.

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