How Much Do You Care? - A Lesson in Excellence - Clear and Open

The Hunger for Personal Growth

The business is a reflection of you.
Your life is the sum of your choices.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Change and personal growth begins within.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
When you point a finger, there are three others pointing back at you.

Yadda yadda yadda.

You’ve heard this all before. If you’ve read more than fifty pages about leadership or management written in the last thirty years, you’ve come across the idea that if you want your outsides to change, then your insides must change first to some degree.

Do You Want Growth and Change?

Many people know they need to change—they say they want personal growth. At the same time, most put more energy into defending what they think they already know, rather than courageously facing what they don’t. For many people, the excitement of change and growth is not bigger than the desire to avoid the pain that is so often the associated price.

It’s hard, I know.

It can be downright humiliating. But it’s real.

It is a simple fact that the most significant limitations in your life are always inside you.

The only question is: What do you want to do about it?

How much complaining about your outer life will you indulge in yourself, before you look at the other three fingers and ask yourself some hard questions about what needs to change in you?

This is not a call for beating yourself up. It’s the opposite.

Love Yourself First

Do you love yourself enough to face the painful issues inside you that cause you to needlessly suffer?

Whatever is not working in your life or business is a direct reflection of what is not working in you. This means that while you look outside of you more than inside, you are not only distracting yourself, but you are in victimhood and denial. You’re actively choosing for nothing to change. This is the exact opposite of personal growth. Intentionally or not, consciously or not. This is what’s happening.

Most people waste time and energy blaming everyone except for themselves for significant problems in their life, as if they’re powerless to do anything about those problems. The vast majority of people have already made up their mind that things cannot be different. If you are reading this, you are probably not in that group.

Congratulations, and thank you!

A small portion of people will attempt to change what’s on the outside. An even smaller portion will be willing to superficially look at their own issues as they attempt to create outer change. One in ten thousand will deeply look into their own psyche to see how and why they have created the frustrations in their life and business in the first place. This is the ultimate in self-responsibility.

This is why success is so rare, because in many cases, it’s this kind of deep introspection and transformation that is required for true personal growth.

Lasting Change Doesn’t Come from Finger Pointing

This is not to say that change cannot be affected via finger pointing. It can, and this is part of the problem. Change can happen on the outside without having to change your inside, and this is seductive for the part of us that is committed to staying the same. However, too many have used up their outer-change capacity and are now trying to squeeze more change-liquid from a dry sponge.

Simply put, if you’re not vividly clear about what inner issues are creating undesirable circumstances in your life and/or business, and not actively pursuing the truth of your own shadow to discover it, you are leaving possibilities on the table. You are either resigned to “that’s just how things are” (in the world or yourself), or you are looking at what is at the end of your index finger and ignoring the other three. You may be able to create change that way for a while, but one day that sponge will dry up and the change will grind to a halt.

It’s Harder for Leaders

This is why leadership requires personal growth. The challenges that leaders face are immense—and so require the most powerful change efforts.

This is not about making anyone wrong. It is a call for hunger.

  • Do you want to know yourself?
  • Are you curious about what makes you tick?
  • Do you want to be knee deep in your own gunk so you can experience directly why taking new steps is so hard for you?
  • Do you want to face the pain of being the creator of your life content, and take responsibility for everything in it, good and bad, so you can finally do something about it from the inside out?

That’s personal growth.

Or would you rather use your energy to defend what you think you know, deny the incoherence of your values and the contradictions in your behaviors, allow your fears to run your life, pretend that you have your act together in every domain of your life, and complain about elements outside of you as being the cause of your suffering?

Courage Isn’t What You Think

Every moment of every day, you have the choice. Cowardice and courage are not attainments, they are choices available to you in each moment. Courage is not just about doing what is right, it comes from the Latin word for heart and so suggests that it comes from being with our innermost emotions.

Courage is commonly understood as fearlessness, but the truth is no human being is without fear. Fearlessness is only sought by those unable and/or unwilling to be with their fear. Authentic courage is about not being stopped by fear, but proactively embracing it as a way to get to know oneself. Only someone deeply hungry for self-knowledge and realization is brave enough to choose and accept pain as the price for their journey.

We live in a cowardly world where fear is used as a reason to avoid things. Courage means you actively choose to do something because you are afraid, out of your own self-love, because you are hungry to know yourself, and you know the fear has something to teach you.

Pain Comes Before Growth

Personal growth hurts. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s the governing dynamic of creating fundamental, long-lasting change in yourself—and so in the world. What else is worth doing?

Whether you choose to face your fears in pursuit of growth, or ignore them and look for external fixes, the amount of work is the same, and both produce pain. Repression takes energy that is impossible to consciously track, but takes a serious toll and creates suffering in yourself and others. It inevitably draws to you negative life content as a reflection of your unconscious. Facing your shadow takes energy and causes productive, real pain that gets to the source of the frustrations in your life.

It’s all hard, it’s all work, and it’s always your choice. Which one will you choose today? You’ve heard a thousand times that your business is a reflection of you. Now, who are you going to be? How hungry are you?

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