A Reflection On: Expansive Growth

Here’s an almost word-for-word conversation that my wife and I had this week. For me, it encapsulates what personal growth feels like.

“I just didn’t think we’d be grappling with how to buy a house at this stage of our lives”.

“… no, we aren’t grappling with how to buy a house, we’re grappling with how to buy acreage – and that’s a very different thing”.

You see, growth is a funny thing. It’s insidious. It happens without us realising it while we’ve got our head down in our work.

When you’re actively growing – you’re looking forward. You’re seeing what’s limiting you today, not the limits you’ve already broken through. You’re reaching for something that’s still not in reach, not what you’ve already conquered. There’s simply no motivation in what’s already done (at least for me…), the excitement is in what’s not yet done.

The excitement is in what could be.

Thanks to the endless stream of inspirational social media posts, we know what personal growth looks like. It’s messy, not linear. (This viral video of Yoann Bourgeois trying to climb a flight of stairs demonstrates it well.)

And thanks to Carol Dweck’s popularisation of the ‘growth mindset’, we know how those that are growing think. (Here’s a 10min crash course on it from Carol Dweck herself.) In short – rather than viewing failure as an absolute (‘I failed’), it’s more useful to view it as part of a longer journey (‘I’m not there yet’).

Maybe its time we add to those insights an understanding of what personal growth feels like. It’s hard, uncomfortable, confronting and often overwhelming.

Throughout my career there have been many times where I’d lay in bed and it’s like someone has taken an egg beater to my brain. I can almost feel the neural pathways being made.

Understanding this discomfort is crucial for us as change leaders – because growth is what we live and breathe every day. Forward. Onwards. Into discomfort.

Just make sure you do so with compassion for both yourself and others in your stead.