Does Your Personal Growth Plan Include Wrecking Balls?

Living in Nashville right now means cranes are within sight at every turn. There is rapid growth happening and people that have lived here for more than 10 years can be overheard grumbling about how ‘our town is unrecognizable these days’.

Progress does that – it takes the familiar and makes it unfamiliar. Sometimes that’s uncomfortable or confusing. It can also be troubling because while everything around you is changing, it reminds you that maybe you haven’t changed all that much.

Personal growth can be like walking down a street that you used to know so well but today you feel unsure of where the sidewalk leads or if you’ve taken a wrong turn. Whether it’s a career change, a big move, a new relationship or new commitment to yourself that others don’t understand, growing into your next iteration takes work, planning and occasionally giving people a map to make them more comfortable with how to get around.

Like a growing city, personal growth requires development in stages…

Knocking things down

The hardest part of growth is letting go of the old.

What if I am making the wrong choice? What if I destroy my reputation or close the door forever on this life I know so well? What if I make an irreversible decision and regret it?

The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.

– Seth Godin

To grow, you have to make way for a new version. Whether it’s a new building or a new career, you have to let go of the old one. Get out the sledgehammer and the wrecking ball. Until you knock it down and stop hanging on or trying to remodel it, you won’t realize true growth.

Assess your foundation

When you release yourself from the comfort of the old and you no longer have the shelter of the familiar, you can finally stand on your foundation and test its strength. And here’s the newsflash… any foundation more than a minute old will have weaknesses. There is a reason we don’t look under the surface or go into the crawl space – sometimes the not knowing is easier than facing the truth.

But the truth – as painful and expensive as it can be – will set you free. This may be the hardest part of growth for some because it forces us to see the glorious and the flawed all at the same time. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves but the reality show of life will never let us forget that we are all imperfect. Our middles may sag or we lean a bit left or our windows are leaky. It doesn’t mean we can’t fetch top dollar. Our worth is not tied to perfection but rather architectural integrity. Buildings can be built into the sides of mountains or along sandy beaches. Bridges can span massive distances. Beauty can grow in harsh conditions. If you don’t know what you’re working with, you could actually slide off that cliff someday.

Strong foundations – not necessarily perfect ones – can withstand all the iterations of growth to come.

Fight through the red tape

If you are going to embark on growth, you must accept that the inspectors are coming…

They are coming from the Department of Well-Meaning Family Member’s Advice.

Code violations will be handed down from the Committee of Those Who Went Before You & Failed, citing dangers you haven’t addressed.

The most active will likely be the Council For The Way It’s Always Been. These members may actually care deeply about you but their own fear of you leaving the neighborhood will force them to stamp ‘denied’ all over your plans.

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

– George Bernard Shaw

Know that the bureaucracy is coming. Know that it will likely impact your timeline. Know that you will power on.

Find the best collaborators

Don’t go it alone. If you have avoided investigating that leak because you were afraid of what was behind the drywall, call an expert. Or three.

Do your homework and don’t apologize for looking for the best.

Take your time and surround yourself with great masons, carpenters, and engineers.

Invest in good people and they will invest in you.

The noise of the red-tape brigade can be deafening but follow your gut and build a community that sees your vision. Don’t assume they get it – check and double check and don’t be afraid to fire a few people. 

Stand out in the skyline

Author Tim Ferris put the traditionalists into a tailspin with his blockbuster, “The 4-Hour Workweek” (which was turned down by 26 of 27 publishers). Instead of telling his readers how to get ahead in the workplace, he told them how to reject group think and push past the status quo of the traditional definitions of success.

Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time-and-energy-consuming. It is easier to raise $1,000,000 than it is $100,000. It is easier to pick up the one perfect 10 at the bar than the five 8s.

-Tim Ferris, The 4-Hour Workweek (p. 50)

Too often we are afraid to define who we want to be and then go become that spectacular person.

It can feel selfish to say that we want to work less because we don’t want people to view us as lazy or incompetent. We don’t want to admit that we aspire to big things for ourselves like being an artist or an author or an entrepreneur. We don’t want to let toxic acquaintances (or even long-time friends) go because we don’t want to hurt others. Our dreams are dampened to the point we can no longer pick them out of the line-up of options.

Standing up for our growth means standing out. Don’t be afraid to stand taller than the rest. The most recognizable skylines are defined by the buildings that stand out.

Growth is a journey of different streets and bridges to cross. It’s walked in the rain and the sunshine. Progress does not halt when conditions are unfavorable but perseveres to reach the next – but never final – destination.

Find a crane and make your skyline beautiful and exactly as you planned. Don’t settle for the heights you can reach – go higher, go bigger, go be grand.

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