Okay, that is not the correct Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption but it is close. I also thought about using the title “Stay Curious, Pony Boy” but I figured I would create mass confusion among the older readers so I stuck with a classic movie (you’re welcome). Whichever one I went with, this message is still the same – If you are not growing or being stretched in any area that you are choosing to invest YOUR TIME, then what is the point? Why spend time doing anything if you are not growing and getting better in that area?
When you are not growing, complacency settles in. If you are complacent, you might as well be compost in that place aka (dead). Alright, that was a stretch (maybe too much) but you get my point. This is growing more and more important in today’s world because it seems like no one’s mind is actively powered on. We just go through life trudging along, without any type of passion or purpose, waiting for our turn to die. When talking to people, you can tell almost immediately, if their lights are on or not. When they are not, you quickly determine that it would be just as riveting to talk to a doorknob then continue a conversation with Complacent Carl (check out my alliteration, look at me go). Now, I know you’re like, “yes, I get it…move on man! Give me practical crap here!” so here you go.
Stay Curious and Stay Focused: One of the best ways to continue growing in any area is to stay curious about that particular subject. Once you give up that quest for searching and finding answers, quickly you will find yourself stuck, complacent, and reveling in the glory of how things once were. An easy example/comparison would be to the high school football player that is out of shape now that still wears his semi-final state championship ring. He always tells the story of the catch he almost caught, his infamous touchdown he assisted, and how in-shape he was to anyone who has the misfortune of being in his vicinity. Asking WHY is such a phenomenal way to stay curious. Asking why things are the way they are, why things work the way they do, and asking others why they are doing things the way they are doing them. Stay curious!
Ask for Criticism / Feedback: This is going to be tough for some people because the natural tendency is to seek out praise and compliments but growth comes through the fiery truth of criticism. By default, most people don’t give helpful feedback, which looks a lot like criticism, because they see it as mean. We either don’t say anything at all, out of fear of hurting the other person’s feelings, or we feed you a one-liner about something that is positive and not necessarily related. Seek out criticism by asking people for honest feedback and constantly reassuring them that you have the thick skin of a well, maybe, a rhino (you see what I did there?!)
Critique Yourself: Another area of struggle is the area of personal critique. More often than not, we like to think that we are doing great in all areas. We believe that there is very little need for improvement in our lives – it’s safer, less stressful, and the easy way out. But, this is key to your personal development. You need to be honest with yourself and provide a clear assessment of anything and everything you decide to invest your time. I do this daily for every area of life. “How could I have handled that situation better? What response was that person really wanting when they asked their question? Why did I respond in that way?” etc.
Anything you invest your time into, you are either growing stronger in that area or getting worse. There is no stagnation in life, there is no coasting. You’re either improving or you might as well be dying.
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