In last week’s post, we talked about how the excitement of change and growth is not bigger than the desire to avoid the pain that is so often the price associated with it. Now, we will discuss how to get clear and move forward. Ready? Let’s go. Simply put, if you’re not vividly clear about what issues are in you that are creating undesirable circumstances in your life and/or business, and not assiduously pursuing the truth of your own shadow to discover it, you leave 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. 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 taking 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? 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 and this is part of the problem. 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 and 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 know the fear has something to teach you. 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? The amount of work is the same and both vectors produce pain. Repression takes energy that is impossible to consciously track, but takes a serious toll and creates suffering in yourself and others as it inevitably draws to you symmetrical 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 make today? You’ve heard a thousand times that your business is a reflection of you. Now, who are you going to be about that? How hungry are you? Come back next week when we discuss self-based accountability and how it affects your hunger for self-change and personal growth.