The miracle of life starts with a single cell that multiplies into a complex organism of hyper-learning, along with the potential to accomplish amazing tasks.  So having a growth plan that is intentional is the most natural thing in the world. It is imprinted in our DNA.  Yet it’s not automatic.  It needs to be developed.

But here’s the kicker. Change is inevitable since it is natural.  Growth is optional because it’s a choice. It happens when we embrace change and incorporate it into our lives.  It’s not always comfortable.  The pain of pruning, probing, and pressing scares many well-intentioned folks away.

Here’s what I know is essential to growth:

  • A personal audit so you can identify what needs pruning and probing.
  • Pinpointing where you will be most fruitful.
  • Embracing pruning as your loyal partner and ally

So today make your pledge. “I will invest in my growth—physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.  I will share my knowledge with others.” Why? Because when you share your knowledge with others, it goes deeper in you.

Where is the best place to start? It’s in the area of your strengths.  It’s what the late Stephen Covey referred to as sharpening the saw. Know your strengths.  Sharpen them by using them.  The more you sharpen them, the more effectively they cut.

The majority of people focus on what they don’t have, rather than what they do have.

Now that we know this, how do we grow them? Here are the three best ways.

1. Discover them. Since you have them it would be a good idea to know what they are.  There are a lot of tools to help you do this. Ask those you are around what they think your strengths are.  You’ll be surprised by how much they know.

2. Develop them. Laziness is an enemy, along with its cousin, procrastination.  Fear is another one; fear of failure or embarrassment.  Fear of immobility ought to be a greater concern.  You stumble only if you are moving, and that’s where your strengths are truly developed. Playing it safe is the enemy of growth.

A few years ago Sergio Zyman resigned in disgrace from Coca Cola.  He was the one that engineered the New Coke strategy, one of the biggest flops in marketing history.  He kicked around for seven years as a consultant before he got another job. “Who in the world would hire him?  Coca Cola!!  His former employer!  The CEO, Roberto Goizueta, upon establishing him to his former position,ended the press conference by saying…,

We’ve become uncompetitive by not being tolerant of mistakes.  The moment you let avoiding failure become your motivator, you are down the path of inactivity.  You stumble only if you are moving.”

“We learn things in our failures that successes can’t teach us.”

3. Deploy them. Even though it might be a strength, it takes work, and sometimes a little pain, to develop them.

 Opportunities to use them will drop in your lap, only if you place your lap where opportunities drop.

Life offers no stagnate state.  Abraham Maslow said,

You will either step forward into growth, or step backward into safety.”

Intentional growth is a deliberate decision to step out of our comfort zone.  All forward movement and momentum assumes crossing the comfort line.  It also impacts the responses we get from others.  Again, Maslow said,

Are you behaving the way you are because of the way I treat you, or am I treating you the way I do because of the way you behave? What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

Growth is natural, but not automatic.  It must be intentional.  It begins with what you want your life to represent.  It’s not stagnate or always comfortable.  It sometimes is a battle.  There are opposing forces that will include fatigue, frustration, and occasional failure.  Yet encouragement is all around you and within you.  Draw on it.  The question we must all answer is…

Who are you becoming, and how far will that person take you?

You were created to grow.  You were created to be fruitful.  And in the process you will be setting others up to succeed.  That’s leadership.  That’s leveraging your life.

Snowmen fall from heaven…unassembled.