Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Ascent to Growth

I genuinely believe that most people want to get better in their professional role and they find comfort in growth. Who doesn’t want to make a difference while moving up the career ladder?  However, I say most because complacency, lack of motivation, or not being passionate about the work or the job can inhibit a drive to seek ways to improve.  Since the minority falls in this category, let’s focus on the majority.  For many of us, we are continually seeking out ways to grow and improve professional practice.  Even though the desire is there, and efforts are made, challenges arise.  These come in two primary forms: excuses and people. Let me elaborate on both.

People are our greatest asset, and when we invest in them, success likely follows.  There is no “I” in team, and to achieve goals as a system, the support of many is crucial.  Sometimes though people can play a role that works counter to what we set out to accomplish either at the individual or organizational level.  As much as they are essential in any culture, there are times when they can also impede growth. For reasons that vary, some people are not happy where they are or with the success of others.  What results are concerted efforts to undermine and derail the pursuit of improvement.  

It is essential to recognize both subtle and not so subtle behaviors exhibited by others as you strive to grow. These might be masked by platitudes that get you to rethink putting in the needed time and effort to improve your craft or to move a culture forward. Be confident in who you are and where you want to go. Don’t fall victim to the insecurities, fears, and unhappiness that other people might be grappling with as you work to get better. Even as you strive to learn and improve, a true leader also helps others do the same.  It is okay to focus on yourself when the situation calls, but in the end, helping the people we work with grow is just as important as what we do for ourselves. The process of achieving goals is much more fulfilling when it is a collaborative effort. 

In the words of Jim Rohn, “Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” Now this quote might seem a bit harsh at first read, but if you view it with an open mind, you will see that it is quite accurate. In many cases, we believe we can’t accomplish a task or implement an idea because of the perception that a challenge is too difficult to overcome, or the idea might have failed in the past.  In either case, our mind starts to develop a myriad of excuses as to why something won’t or can’t work.  Common impediments include not enough time, lack of money, or too many mandates and directives. Guess what…these are never going away. Growth will never occur if the will to tackle these, and many other impediments aren’t there. If it’s important to you, then you will find a way. If not, then you will make an excuse. The key here is to focus on solutions, even in the face of some difficult challenges.  

Change is hard at both the individual and organizational level. The ascent to growth will not always be easy.  Maybe it’s not people or excuses that get in your way. Perhaps it is your own mind, which can be the fiercest adversary you face on the path to getting better. Confidence and belief are two of the most powerful forces that help to keep us focused on achieving goals.  Just remember this.  You are only limited by the barriers you develop for yourself. 

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