How Grows It?

So tell me how your personal growth journey is going.
Or more to the point…is it going?
Do you have a definitive plan?  Is it written down on paper (or computer)?  That alone is a great start.

Get Out of Your Head

Ask most people and they will tell you they have a plan but it’s all in their head.  If you manage to get it out of them, you will find the plans vague at first.  Not good enough.
Get out of your head and into your greatness. –Les Brown
Your personal growth plan has to be written down and it has to be specific.  Not just what you want to do but by when and how.  You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
But even that is not enough.  You have to actually act upon that plan.  This part can seem very overwhelming to most people because they see all that they have to do to reach their goal and it seems like so much that they get discouraged and just give up.  Is that where you are?  I know I have been there many times.

Bit by Bit

To overcome this, it helps to break it down.  As they old saying goes you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  Focus on what you can do right now to get a little closer to your goal.  To become a better leader, connect better with people, build better relationships, learn to increase your influence; whatever your personal growth goals are they can be broken down into daily activities.

Become a 1%er

So think 1%.  
growth by 1% a dayFocus on growing yourself just 1% a day.  
That’s a fairly easy thing to do.  If you grow yourself by just one percent a day, then think about this:  over one year you will have grown yourself 365 percent.  Actually even more than that because it is exponential; one percent on one percent on one percent and so on.  So if you focus on that one percent and do that on a daily basis, then you are going to get much closer to your goal.
Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. -Doug Fireball

Pick It and Plan It

Start with WHAT you are going to do daily to grow.  Read a book, attend an online seminar, practice a particular skill.  You need to have a specific activity.  Random doesn’t work.  When we are specific, we choose activities that actually lead us where we want to go.  Random leads us anywhere.
I’m a big fan of what Zig Ziglar called “Automobile University“.  Buy CD’s ( or use your MP3 player) and listen to learn.  Motivational recordings, instructional programs, books on audio; there is a never ending supply.  You can even borrow some from the public library.
Did you know that if you subscribe to Success Magazine (and you should) that there is a CD in every issue with tips and guidance from thought leaders?
Whatever you choose, stick with it until you finish it.  And most importantly, schedule it.  Your commute to work is ideal for this.

Become a 1%er today and move closer to achieving your goals.

Find the Unique Sweet Spot

Stand out by being uniqueHow do you get to the point where you can truly embrace the weirdness, or uniqueness if you prefer, that is you?  This is a real solid challenge.  We know it is because you and I can look around us and see people who have no clue even that they are unique, let alone what that uniqueness is.  It is demonstrated in the way they jump on the latest fad as if they were missing the bus.  They line up for hours to buy the very latest iPhone or gadget, gotta wear the latest fashion, toss down the most recent popular drink, or try the latest adventure.

When I was in college I applied for a job as a bartender at a local bar.  When I told the manager I had no formal training, he waved aside with his hand in the air, and simply told me

read Playboy every month and learn the featured drinks.  That’s what these guys are gonna come in and ask for if they don’t want a beer!

That’s a great example of how the majority of people simply will allow themselves to be led around, told what to like, what to drink, what to feel, and what to do.  But you and I don’t desire to be that way; if you did you would have quit reading this several minutes ago.  So how do we escape the trap of being like everyone else and be who we really are?  Even more to the point, how do we do it in such a way that we add value to others and make a living and a life doing it?

Unique Awareness

Being unique, being weird, requires a special awareness of yourself that most others don’t have.  It means you need to spend time identifying and understanding your gifts, unlocking your passion behind them, and reflecting how to best use those gifts to add value to others.  See, we are all born with gifts that were bestowed upon us to be used to provide something unique in this world; something that only we can do.  That gift is designed to be used for a special purpose.  There is at least one someone waiting for us to come along and share that gift with them to make a difference in the world.  Some of us will directly influence a small number of people, maybe even one.  Some, like Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, or Tony Robbins may affect thousands or millions.  The point isn’t how many but how you will influence them.  So, identifying those gifts and learning to maximize them is the first step in preparing yourself to make that impact.  That’s your purpose.

Applying Your Purpose

Find your unique youOnce you have identified your gifts, it is imperative that you learn more about them and how to optimize them.  You also need to learn the various ways in which your gifts can be used.  The emphasis here needs to be on ways to use your gifts that benefit others.  God did not give you a gift to use only on yourself; he blessed you so you can be a blessing to others.  You must find that one way to use your gifts that allows you to provide maximum benefit.  It will based, at least partially, on background and life experiences.  We do not go through life randomly, even if we did not navigate it.  Every job, every experience, no matter how unrelated, prepared us for that one way that we will have the most influence.  Don’t de-value what you have done in the past just because it does not relate directly to what you want to do now.  It was preparation.  It was shaping you and molding you into what you are to become.

Now the real hard work begins.  You have to do the work of actually applying it.  You have to spend time EVERY DAY developing and honing those gifts. This is the start of a perpetual journey of growth.  It never stops until you have reached the point of not being able to learn anything anymore.  I mentioned in a previous post about Teddy Roosevelt that when he died they found under his pillow a self-improvement book he had been reading.  Teddy knew that your entire life is a growth journey to challenge yourself to become more than you were yesterday.

Be a 1%er

That sounds overwhelming, but you can break it down into an easily manageable system.  Focus simply on growing yourself by 1% a day.  Committing yourself to being a 1%er means that over time you grow exponentially one day building on the next and at the end one year you have grown yourself OVER 365%!  Remember that: become a 1%er.

No Weaknesses

And let’s make this a little easier:  STOP WORKING ON YOUR WEAKNESSES.  Conventional wisdom has always told us to identify our strengths and weaknesses and then work to improve our weaknesses.  It is non-productive to focus on our weaknesses because if we work hard we can at best become mediocre at them; while at the same time we neglect our strengths and won’t prepared to get the most out of them.  Focus instead on your strengths and your gifts.  Overcome your weaknesses by finding others whose have strength where you are weak and team up with them to meet your goals.

The I in Team

That leads to the last point of this, which is what John Maxwell always reminds us of

One is too small a number to accomplish anything!

We are meant to be dependent upon others and work together to achieve great things.  None of us is as smart as all of us.  So while building upon your gifts you should also be building your team.  Find people who have character you desire and are ready to buy into the vision of what you want to accomplish.  Walk the path together and share the journey and share the treasures.  Start it by being truly unique.

And remember, UNIQUE and UNITE both begin with UNI, meaning one.  By developing your uniqueness and finding unique others, you can UNITE together to have a singular impact on this world.

A journey like that is worth starting today!

Follow your passion, not your pension – Denis Waitley

Action Plan

  1. Start identifying your unique gifts.  There are lots of tools to help you here.  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and DISC are a good start, but look to other less scientific tools as well, such as Stand-Out by Marcus Buckingham and StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  I am also a big fan of the Fascination Advantage Test by Sally Hogshead. I have tried them all and find these three to highly accurate and consistent.  You may have to purchase a book for the access code to some of these, but it is well worth it.
  2. Think back to ways you have used those gifts in the past.  Which times did you find yourself getting the greatest results?  The greatest joy?  When did you get lost in the moment while using your gifts?  This will help you identify how you should use them.
  3. Plan and schedule your daily growth of those gifts.  Remember the 1%.