Zig Ziglar, a renowned American author and motivational speaker, once said, “People are designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.” How true. While we may all agree with Ziglar’s sentiments, majority of us do not reach their potential. In fact, very few people die totally satisfied with the fact that they did everything, and were everything they could have been. One of the biggest tragedy of life is that majority of us are complacent with just getting by, being comfortable with minimising the pains in life and developing a maintenance mentality that does not strive for mastery. The result? Mediocrity. The remedy? Continuous personal growth.
We all desire to live a life of excellence as God had intended, but very few are willing to pay the price. The highfliers in life are those who are continually committed to learn and grow in every aspect of their lives. Those that have chosen to push boundaries and move out of their comfort zone in order to realise their potential. They have understood that greatness does not come from genetics or parental modelling, but through discipline, diligence and a deep willingness to constantly improve oneself. Truth is, to grow on the outside, you must grow on the inside. There are no two ways about it, for external growth devoid of internal growth is a sure recipe for destruction.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of America, understood this concept only too well. He practiced what he called the 13-week programme. He jotted down 13 virtues that he wanted to practice in his life. He then assigned one of these virtues to each week and he would concentrate on that virtue the entire week. By doing so, he was able to devote at least four weeks of concentrated self-improvement on each of the virtues per year. He later in life declared that this custom was likely the key that steered him to achieve everything he did. Simply put, Franklin had committed himself to personal growth.
Personal growth is multifaceted and it revolves around understanding what is important to you, recognising your weaknesses, striving for balance and the realisation that your perspectives and ideas are only a small percentage of who you really are. Indeed, Thomas Edison once put it, “If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
Personal growth has everything to do with success and not just in the financial perspective. Genuine success is success that reverberates in our relationships, career, family life and health. The outcome is a balanced and fulfilled life. Personal growth ensures that we do not live a robotic life, repeating the same patterns of behaviour day in day out. It also ensures that you become in charge of your own life; what Richard Swenson, author of Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, calls the margin.
He writes, “Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late to getting out of the hairdresser’s because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station – and you forgot your purse. Margin on the other hand is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month and sanity left at the end of adolescence.”
Let personal development be your numero uno priority.
I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.
Og Mandino (1923-1996), American Author
The important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870), English writer and social critic
Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
Brian Tracy, Canadian self-help author
If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.
Nora Roberts, American bestselling author
Someone told me that human beings find themselves in a sewer, sort of. Many remain in the sewer cursing and blaming everything and everyone. But the people who make it in life are those who struggle out of the sewer and embark on a journey of self-awareness. These people realise that what happens to them is just part of the story. The bigger part is how they respond to what happens to them. You get out of the sewer by choosing to deal with your problems; you get out and seek the training you need to get started in a career; you get the emotional development you need to handle life stresses and so on. It is only when one is sufficiently self-aware that self-development is realised.
Martin Mwangi, Journalist
Published in April 2015