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  • Writer's pictureKim Catania

Designed For Growth

Growth is a part of nature, and everything in nature is designed to grow. Think of it. A newborn baby is the most adorable creation we’ve ever seen, but, if after a few years, that baby hasn’t changed at all since the day she was born, we would all agree something was terribly wrong. The same holds true for our children. We expect them to advance through the grade levels at school because we know that their academic growth is important to their overall success. The most successful people understand that growth is far more than physical and doesn’t end with formal education. So let’s take a look at three principles of growth.

Transformative NOT Transactional

Growth is synonymous with expansion, enlargement, and increase. When something has grown it is clearly observable to others, not unlike when you see your nephew for the first time in 10 years and you astonishingly exclaim how big he has gotten. When something grows, it changes shape and doesn’t look the same as it used so. An apple tree looks very different from the seed that was first planted in the ground. The same is true of people.

When people set themselves on a path of growth, their expectation is that they will undergo a transformation, not continuing to behave the same as when they began, rather anticipating the taking on of new qualities, characteristics, and actions. True growth that results in lasting change rarely happens in a single transaction or even in disconnected and disparate transactions. The transaction, however, such as a training session or self-paced learning event, can be an effective component to a well-designed strategy for personal or professional growth.

Focused and Intentional

Considering the case of the parent of a newborn baby, they and their pediatricians are looking for specific milestones of early childhood development, therefore, they nurture the baby accordingly to have the best chance of achieving them. Applying this to the subject of professional growth, we see that it is imperative to set goals for areas in which to grow in order to optimize time and resources into improving in those areas. Personal and professional growth in a desired area doesn’t happen automatically, focus is required. Antoine de Saint Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Without a focused plan of growth, we simply will not arrive at our desired destination.

Traveling side by side to focus is intentionality. A plan is great, but only in as much as one follows through on it. Students don’t advance to the next grade level simply by showing up to class. They must do the work assigned to them and they must do it to the satisfaction of the teacher. If we want to experience transformative growth in our personal lives and our careers, then we need to carve out the time, dedicate the resources, and make the trade-offs necessary to see our goals come to fruition.

Meant to be Shared

Lastly, growth is meant to be shared. Think of the apple tree. Started with just one seed, that tree produces dozens of apples year after year, each apple shepherding a dozen seeds designed to be planted. Why? Reproducibility. This is a key principle of transformation. John Maxwell says, “Be a river, not a reservoir.” meaning that transformation should never stop with you. We should always be learning from someone who is investing in us, and we simultaneously should always be sharing what we are learning with someone in whom we are investing.

So where do you need to grow? Choose one area, and then develop a plan that will allow you to focus time and energy wisely in that area. Talk with mentors and leaders you respect to gain knowledge in this area and identify specific individuals that you plan to pour into as you learn and grow.

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