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an orientation towards growth

Among the list of important words that I choose as the mantra to my life, I would deem the word growth as one of the closest to the top. Living in a state of constant growth keeps me with my eyes on the horizon. It teaches me to be thankful for today, but also excited that tomorrow can bring something completely new and unexpected into my life. If I’m not making a conscious decision to grow in my relationships, spirituality, work and skills, I’m making a conscious decision to atrophy. Here are just a few things I try to stay fixed on when pursuing a life of growth:

Constantly remind myself to step outside my comfort zone

Stepping up to the plate when I have the chance to do something out of my comfort zone is what I repeatedly strive for. When I start to get those butterflies is when I have to stop and examine my head. Do I take the risk and gain a growing experience? Or do I sit on the sidelines, retreat into my place of comfort and always wonder whether going the road less traveled would have gotten me to some place better? Upward progress is something that only happens effectively when I’m stepping out into the void. Like a tree stretching its branches upwards, I have to keep reaching into new sky. Falling back onto things I’m comortable with may feel safe and secure, but it’s no way for me to explore the mysterious unknowns. I don’t ever want to be a person who ‘settles’ for what’s easy.

Surround myself with other growth-oriented people

We are products of our environment. If we surround ourselves with people who share the same attitudes as we do, it can only help lead to great things. This is why I make a conscious effort to always surround myself with people who have the same paramount beliefs in growth as I do. Not only do other people’s passions inspire me, but having other people around who are growing themselves and encouraging me to grow will not let me get complacent. There are more projects to get involved in, more ideas to be shared, and a better relational community to build if I experience growth with others.

Admit that I don’t know everything

The first step to acheiving higher levels of personal growth is to admit that I lack strength in a certain area. How can I ever hope to get better at something if I don’t first admit I have a defficiency in said area? I can’t continue to run with blinders on. If I am willing to take my ego down a few notches and admit that I’m not the master of everything, then I will be ready to grow to higher levels. I must approach each new problem as a beginning student, ready to learn something new. As soon as I become rigid in my humility is when it becomes harder and harder to glean new tidbits of information from experience. I always try to approach new areas in my life with an empty cup.

Get excited about where I can go

It’s really easy to look at a tough problem I don’t understand and get discouraged about not having the ability to see the solution right away. Perhaps I don’t have the skills to solve it right now, or I can’t immediately visualize all the steps that are needed to achieve success. Instead of being discouraged, I have to be excited. I have to be excited that after I do manage to climb this mountain, I will know so much more than when I started. Instead of looking at myself and thinking, “I’m just not talented enough to solve this problem.” I must think to myself, “After I put in the time and effort to figure this problem out, think of all the new skills I will have acquired!”. Every chance for growth must be seen as a chance for expansion. It will take work, effort and time - but maintaining this attitude will help me to continue to reach higher.

Be intentional about rest

Being a person who is intentional about growth can be exhausting. The world throws so many oppurtunities at you to become a better person. There’s so much to bite off and chew, but I have to know when it’s time to let digestion run its course. I have to make sure that I give my body and mind ample time to recharge. If I’m going to maintain sustainable growth throughout my entire life, I need to pace myself. For all the new knowledge and experience I will be undertaking, my body needs time to offset the absorbtion of everything new. Mental and physical rest are vital to remaining enthusiastic to growth in the future and keeping healthy growth on track.

Patience

When I get really excited about lots of oppurtunities for growth, excitement can lead to being spread too thin. Having patience towards growth progress allows me to see sewn seeds come to full fruitation rather than mere germination. Growth means being able to spot new oppurtunities, plant them in healthy soil, and give them the appropriate water, sunlight and time to blossom into something grand. It is a multi-step process that doesn’t reward shortcuts. I try to keep this idea central to my understanding of growth, and practice it often. If you consider journeying down this same path I have discovered (and am still navigating), life will become a whole new land of quest and enthusiasm. You will continue to be a healthy growth-oriented person for the rest of your life.



about the author

Blake Smith is a Principal Software Engineer and leads the Infrastructure group at at Sprout Social.

Blake Smith

create. code. learn.