I’ve quoted Daniel Pink a few times in my writings. He’s the one who wrote Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He identifies three intrinsic motivators, three things that motivate us from the inside because they are their own reward. One of those is something he calls “mastery,” the desire to get better at stuff. He points out that people will buy equipment, take lessons, and practice golf or a musical instrument even though they will never earn a dime doing it. The motivation is simply to get better at it.
Both of those examples, golf and a musical instrument, as well as the word motivation signal the point of this post. Growth, personal development, getting better at stuff, doesn’t happen automatically. We get older automatically but we don’t get better automatically. We have to grow on purpose. Think about this, if experience were the best teacher, if time on the job meant someone gets better, then everyone who is older would be better than anyone who is younger. Is that reality? Or, do we all know people with far less “experience” who excel at what they do even over some who’ve been doing it longer? Sure we do. So getting better isn’t automatic. Growth has to be on purpose.
What Part of Your Life?
One way of understanding the question in my title, “Where Are You Growing,” is in what part of your life are you intentionally growing?
Three years ago I took some time to reflect on what I came to call “connecting points” in my life. A connecting point is where my life connects to the world in some way. I identified these:
- Follower – My connection to Jesus
- Husband – My connection to Suzi
- Father – My connection to My Children and Children-in-law
- Son – My connection to Dad and Mom
- Brother – My connection to My Siblings and Siblings-in-Law
- Friend – My connection to (List)
- Steward – My connection to Wealth
- Colleague – My connection to Workmates
- Neighbor – My connection to Community (larger or smaller)
Each point of connection also has a description of what I want the nature of that connection to be. For example, one part of the nature of my connection to wealth is “as a conduit” with a brief description of what that looks like. I then went on In this exercise to list several actions I want to take to be intentional about growing in each point. One example is “initiate contact.” That one showed up under several of my connection points. Most of my friends and all of my extended family live more than a day’s drive away. I think about them all quite often. But I’m really bad at picking up the phone and giving one of them a call to catch up and let them know I’m thinking about them.
This is just an example from my life. As I look at it, I’ve still got work to do! What areas of your life could use some intentional attention?
In What Direction?
If I were to ask you, “Where are you going,” you would answer with a destination or at least a direction. That’s another way of looking at my question, “Where are you growing?” What direction is your growth taking you, to what destination?
We’re talking about intentionality. Let’s switch the metaphor for a minute. Have you ever planted a garden? What happens if you leave it alone for any length of time? You get weeds. Weeds will grow and crowd out your plants, take their nutrients from the soil, block the sun, and consume the water intended for your plants. That’s what happens when you do nothing intentional about your garden. Stuff is always growing but it’s not always the stuff you want.
If you’re an athlete and your technique is wrong on a certain skill, you will continue to reinforce the wrong technique unless you do something intentional to change it and develop the muscle memory in the right direction. So, in a sense, you’re growing in the wrong direction if you do nothing. The same is true of personal growth in any area. If we do nothing, we’re growing in the wrong direction.
Set The Course
So, let’s get intentional about growing in the right direction. Pick an area where you want to see yourself get better. Find a way to measure it. If you can’t measure it you won’t know if you’re getting any better. Determine your destination. When will you arrive at “improved?” What’s the goal? Then decide what steps you’ll take to improve. Finally, begin. That’s the most important step!
Next week I’ll give a few examples.