George S. Clason’s 1926 success classic, The Richest Man in Babylon, opens with an interesting exchange between two friends, a chariot builder and a musician.
As they reflect on where their lives have taken them, the conversation turns to a man they grew up with. His name is Arkad and, though he was born into poverty, he has become the richest man in all of Babylon.
The two friends resolve to pay a visit to their old friend Arkad to see how ‘fate’ has dealt with him and ask his advice. Arkad’s response sets the tone for the rest of the story.
Arkad summarily rebukes his old friends for assuming that fate has anything to do with his success. Instead, he tells them that their circumstances exist because they either failed to learn the laws of success or decided not to observe them.
Like Arkad’s two friends, many people still give fate too much credit for the success they see around them.
In reality, choice is a far more significant factor and nowhere is this more evident than in the area of personal growth.
Personal growth is not automatic!
“When someone misses opportunities for growth and improvement, he may feel regret. If he goes long enough without growing, he begins to feel he’s had an unused life. And that’s not unlike an early death.”
– John Maxwell
It’s very easy to seek out the path of least resistance and move through life with as little challenge or change as possible. Nobody will force you to read good books, find mentors, or get professional counseling. What’s more, exposure to information doesn’t necessarily lead to insight, nor experience to wisdom.
But when we don’t grow, we stagnate personally and professionally, waste our unique talents, and fail to reach our potential. If we want to become the best that we’re capable of becoming, we need to take responsibility for our personal growth.
There are four basic steps:
First, recognize your potential. No matter who you are, you have tremendous capacity for self-improvement – but that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically live up to it. Doing so will require engagement on your part, as well.
Start by accepting the fact that greatness has been knit into the fabric of your life, and it’s your job to call it out. Don’t allow yourself to be stereotyped or warped by your surroundings, or to be poured into another person’s mold.
Second, determine areas you’d like to grow in so you can develop your potential to the best of your ability. Consider your current experience in three key areas: Relationships, Work, and Personal Life.
- Where are you now?
- What’s your ideal in each area?
- What needs to change to bring your current experience and your ideal experience more in line?
- What’s your role in making that change?
Third, make a commitment to change and do it. Without change there is no growth. Perfection is not a requirement, just a sincere, sustained effort in the areas you’re responsible for changing.
Finally, learn to enjoy the journey. Work it right, and you’ll have few regrets at the end of your life – you’ll know that you gave it your all.
Taking responsibility for our personal growth ensures that we do our part in living up to our full potential. In addition, the more we grow, the more value we can add to other people. As a result, meaningful relationships will proliferate and our ability to make a positive impact on our world will increase, as well.
So take time to develop a plan for personal growth. Start with the considerations above and then marshal the tools necessary to support your journey. Subscribe to good blogs and read good books; Develop a ‘Personal Board of Directors,’ and get professional counseling where necessary. Doing so will ensure that you become the best that you’re capable of becoming!
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