“You don’t need to change the world; you need to change yourself.” ― Miguel Ruiz
Here’s a piece of wisdom I discovered many years ago: The world doesn’t need changing. We must first become the change to affect the world in a better way.
Moreover, the world cannot be changed when you focus on what is wrong with it. Change begins closer to home by supporting your personal growth which impacts not only your life but the lives of those around you due to its ripple effect.
It is akin to nurturing a seed that blossoms into an exquisite flower. If the nurturing process is cut short, it will not reach its full potential.
This is the issue faced by many people when they invest in their personal growth. Within months or years, they stop making real progress or resort to reading inspirational quotes or books hoping this will feed their soul.
Jeff Olson echoes this sentiment when he writes in The Slight Edge: “The greatest gift you could ever give yourself is also the wisest business investment you could ever make. It is also the most critical step in accomplishing any challenging task, and is the one step without which all other success strategies, no matter how brilliant or time-tested, are doomed to fail. What is this mysterious gift? It is your own personal development. Investing in your own improvement, your own personal growth and betterment, is all these things and more.”
Personal growth requires persistent action and diligence to transform your former self.
It involves self-examination and taking the long road instead of the quick path. Personal growth may not bear fruit for a long time, yet almost overnight you will see the harvest of your labour before your very eyes.
As testament to this, I have been working on my personal growth for the last decade and a half. Whilst it needn’t take people this long to change their life, I have seen many changes in this period that I wouldn’t have experienced had I taken shortcuts.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” — Chinese Proverb
I realise growth and transformation is difficult since there will be little to show other than disappointment, especially when the thing you are working to improve leads to the contrary.
For example, you might focus on improving your communication with work colleagues, however you notice things do not change but get worse.
This is because in the initial period your limiting beliefs still take centre stage as you try to replace them with new beliefs. This temporary period is where old beliefs come to the surface so the new beliefs can be integrated into your life.
What you’re experiencing is the wake of your former life trailing you. In the ensuing months and years, the old beliefs and habits will eventually recede to give way to the person that you become.
Founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani argues why personal growth must happen earlier in our lives in The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms: “Personal growth can and should happen throughout life, not just when we’re children.”
Personal growth shapes your mind and character. For example, I was a boisterous teenager, a pattern that followed me throughout my adult life until my 20’s.
I thought I had all the answers and encountered many problems relating to people. My relationships were transient and skimmed the surface. I didn’t know how to form close connections with friends, work colleagues or even intimate relationships.
Every time I tried, within months, the relationship would fall apart and I blamed others, instead of seeing how I contributed to the collapse of the relationship.
However, in the decade that followed I experienced richer and deeper relationships with my family, friends, colleagues and those I meet. I attribute it to having cultivated my personal growth at a deeper level instead of dismissing it as unimportant.
Even now, I take a magnifying glass to a behaviour, belief or characteristic and examine it to see whether it is serving me. If it doesn’t, I form a new belief or behaviour and integrate it into my life, so it becomes the person I intend to be.
This has brought many advantages, least of which was I liked the person I was becoming. My relationships with others were less complicated, and I found what triggered me earlier now had little effect.
The point is, taking the time to enrich your personal growth not only pays dividends, it changes your life in a multitude of ways. It is the person you become, the people you meet, the experiences and the opportunities that are of greater importance.
“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have travelled from the point where they started.” ― Henry Ward Beecher
I’ve had the pleasure of having three world-acclaimed authors write the foreword on my books, because I reached out to them and developed friendships, since I believed in my self-worth.
I mention this not to impress you, but to impress upon you that anything is possible when you work on yourself instead of believing your character is fixed.
Character is malleable.
What we know of neuroplasticity applies to character, where it can be moulded to the person you wish to become.
Personal growth is a long and arduous journey that many do not embark upon given the little sign of progress, initially. However, a turning point occurs where everything falls into place and all the work and effort suddenly takes shape.
Retired United States Navy admiral William H. McRaven writes in Make Your Bed: Small Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe The World: “Life is a struggle and the potential for failure is ever present, but those who live in fear of failure, or hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential. Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.”
Personal growth is an enriching experience because it leads you to the person you are destined to become. It is a continuous journey where every day differs, so you experience a greater version of yourself.
There were times I revisited earlier experiences because I had not assimilated them deeply enough. It was frustrating because I assumed I had overcome this lesson. However, by repeating the experience, I went deeper into it and assimilated the lessons into my new life.
The fact you’re reading this now shows you value your personal growth, whether you are inquisitive about it or it has been something you have been nurturing for a while.
Your personal growth never stops and will lead you in a different direction with greater lessons contained within those experiences.
You will never reach your personal growth potential whilst you’re alive, even if you are awakened, since there is always something to learn and integrate into your human experience.
For now, savour the journey and nurture your growth as best you can. Be inquisitive about the experiences buried within your lessons and take nothing for granted.
You may revisit old lessons from time to time to learn something new or the journey may take you in a different direction.
Embrace these experiences and trust you are being guided to become a greater version of yourself, so you may come to experience the wholeness of who you really are.
Originally published at medium.com