The capacity to grow and change is a gift. A gift to our current and future selves. When we expand our minds, we expand our horizons and therefore our possibilities. With the ability to change comes the potential that what appeared impossible before may suddenly become possible.
The gift of growth and change can come from three places in our lives: internal (ourselves), external (others), or circumstantial (events). We will explore how to recognize and get the most out of the gifts provided from each of these areas.
The gift of growth can come from ourselves, in a compelling urge to learn something new or overcome a hurdle. It may appear as a fascination with something, or unbridled excitement, where the feeling drives us forward sometimes without even knowing why we need to learn more about the topic. Or it may be frustration with something we are not good at or can’t master; a determination to overcome the challenge and accomplish something new.
In either case, when we feel that inner drive to make something different happen in our lives, we would be wise to listen. Those feelings of excitement, frustration, determination, or fascination are our very human way of telling ourselves that we are ready, willing, and able to grow and expand ourselves.
The impetus for growth and change can also come from someone else with benevolent intentions, such as a mentor who freely shares knowledge, a parent who pays for an education, or an organization awarding a scholarship. These are all examples of others who value learning and development to the degree that they will help someone achieve greater knowledge and experience. Are you someone who can freely accept help when it is given?
Sometimes the gift of growth from someone else does not feel quite as benevolent, such as when we receive constructive criticism or a difficult performance review. But when others are taking the time to point out areas where we can improve, instead of becoming defensive and angry, it may be in our best interest to instead thank them for a different perspective on how we are doing. Despite the initial feeling of defeat, feedback from others is a gift to be taken advantage of to become the best version of ourselves we can be.
When someone offers to help, or provides constructive criticism, try to listen in the context of your own growth and the person you want to become. Will the assistance or taking on board the feedback help you to achieve what you want to accomplish in your life or career, or become a better version of yourself? Will it ultimately help you move forward? If so, accept it like the gift it is.
Finally, events and circumstances can provide us with the means to grow, whether or not we want to. A re-organization at work, a relocation, a new person showing up in our lives – these can all be catalysts of change and growth.
Even the darkest times in our lives force us to move forward with a strength we may not have known we had. A death, a fire, abuse, loss of income, or a crisis can all seem confusing and wrong. But they often show us parts of ourselves we never knew we existed, change our perspectives, and help us re-evaluate our priorities for the future. Even if the events that change us are the type that we would change if we could, we can look for ways to grow through them and come out stronger and better people on the other side.
Some gifts in our life are obvious, while others are obscured from view unless we are looking for them. Keep your eyes open for the gifts yourself, others, and circumstances are putting before you, and then embrace them as ways to grow more fully and more quickly than you might otherwise have done. Your future self will thank you.