“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
The pathway to personal growth follows the course of uncharted lands. In is when we get out of our familiar surroundings that we expand and grow. Learning may prepare us for growth but experiencing is the catalyst essential to personal expansion and self-actualization.
Learning prepares the soil and plants the seed but it is through active implication that the germination and growth takes place. A person may read volumes on public speaking but the growth will only occur when that person actually stands in front of a crowd and speaks.
Personal growth is mostly an interactive process. We grow by responding to unfamiliar situations or new conditions. Actual experiencing is essential to meaningful growth.
Most of the time, the rate of growth is directly proportional to the distance that separates us from our comfort zone. Some growth might be experienced by traveling through a foreign land as an ordinary tourist but much more growth would be acquired by traveling over that same land as a backpacking explorer.
Personal growth is a matter of finding, stimulating and developing unsuspected personal resources or extending the scope of already known resources. That can best be done by challenging the mind in ways that it has never been challenged before.
The brain is like a muscle. It gets stronger, more flexible and more polyvalent by submitting it to different exercises and by forcing it to overcome new challenges or meet new experiences.
We grow by pushing our limits, by going farther than we’ve never been before. We grow by acting as if we already had skills and knowledge that we don’t already possess. A good analogy for that is found in a person who is learning to swim. The person tries to act as if he knew how to swim and the first thing he knows… he’s actually swimming.
Our rate of personal growth is also very much influenced by the company that we keep. It is an accepted fact that we tend to become like those that we hang with. If we surround ourselves with people who value self-improvement, chances are that the group dynamic will have a positive influence on the way that we evolve and grow.
In some cases, the influence of a role model, teacher or guru can perform miracles. Positive guidance is priceless. That guidance can be found in the works of one of those Masters as it can be found by attending lectures or seminars.
Personal growth is also a question of trial and error. All that needs to be done to acquire a new skill or develop one of our talents is to succeed one more time than we failed. That’s how we learned to walk, to ride a bicycle or drive a car. It also how we get to climb the ladder of effectiveness, versatility and overall mastery.
Scientists have found that man’s sameness accounts for ninety nine point five percent regardless of race, creed or color while what separates us account for roughly one half of a percent. What this actually means is the fact that if someone can do something that we can’t, it simply means that that person has had experiences that we have not had.
The journey toward personal growth starts with an intense desire to continually improve ourselves and a thirst to become all that we can be. Once the desire is firmly established the path becomes fully illuminated and easy to find. To quote the Buddhist proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”