You hold a lot of power- perhaps far more than you have been utilizing. You have the power to set the standard of growth in your environment. This includes your work environment, your home environment, your social environment, etc. You determine the growth you want to see in yourself. No one else can make you grow but you, and often times, when others see you take strides toward growth, they will be inspired to follow in your steps.
It's easy to think-especially in the work environment- that your boss, owner, or manager determines the standard of growth. This is true in respect to the growth of the business and how that growth will happen, but you don’t need permission from anyone in setting your personal standard for growth. You get to keep raising that bar, keep challenging yourself, and keep growing in character as much as you set your mind to. Sure, growth in a trade or skill may require the right resources or connections, but growth in character depends only on you.
You decide if you are going to get up when that first alarm rings.
You decide how you are going to spend your morning.
You decide what you are going to fill your mind with.
You decide who you will spend time with.
You decide if you are going to actively pursue growth or just hope that it happens to you.
You decide between laziness and intentionality.
These decisions are yours.
Sometimes I wish that others could make decisions for me- personal decisions that I clearly can only make myself. For example, I wish someone could decide that I was going to exercise today and that their resolve for me to do so would make me do it. Or I wish that someone would decide that I was going to work on writing my book every day until it was finished, but that’s also not realistic. No one can make these decisions for me. I can have encouragers who cheer me on, but I’m the one who has to pick my feet up and take action.
Nothing happens without a plan for growth, but even when you have a plan, it’s not the plan itself that will change things. Rather, it’s your implementation of said plan that makes the difference. I’m a list person. Nearly every day, except for Sundays, I will make a list of all the tasks I want/need to accomplish that day. (And let’s be honest- sometimes I add things to the list after I’ve done them just so I can cross it off and feel productive. Like, “Spend time outside” or “Take a shower.”) There are days when everything isn’t crossed off my list though; I’m good at not placing unrealistic expectations on my list, so it's typically either because I got lazy or didn’t prioritize like I needed to. My list doesn’t guarantee I’ll accomplish everything-it’s just a tool to encourage me.
Growing up I was always taught, “character is what you do when no one else is looking.” I agree with that, but there is so much more depth to that. Character is more than what I do in private. I believe that character looks like doing the hard thing when taking the easy way out would produce similar results. I believe character is keeping a commitment even when I really don’t want to or a better offer has popped up. It’s keeping promises and having integrity even when I know it’s going to hurt. A man or woman of character is reliable and consistent. They aren’t flakey. You aren’t left wondering if they are going to follow through and stay true to their word. Personal growth and character growth are two peas in a pod. You can’t have one without the other.
I’m watching a TV show right now called Suits, and in this show, one of the characters has an illegal hustle making money. The problem is, he hasn’t taken care of his personal life. He doesn’t have an ounce of good character. He’s lying to everyone and always getting into trouble. Life keeps falling apart on him. He’ll make money, then lose it all. He has to be bailed out of jail, and he is even kidnapped because of the exorbitant amount of money he owes people from his illegal activity. This character expresses that he is going to change, but then he falls right back into his own mess. He hasn’t taken the initiative to clean up his personal life and to build his character.
That’s where it all begins.
We probably all know of someone who has “made it” in their career who is slimy and not upstanding in character (*cough* politics *cough*). That happens, but it doesn’t mean they are living a full life. A person who prioritizes their character and doesn’t allow anything to compromise it, they are the ones who will go the farthest in life. Their “far” just might look different from the ladder-climbing person who will say and do anything to get to the top.
Personal growth starts with small little decisions each and every day. You’ll get thrown massive situations that require solid character, but unless you’ve practiced with the little things, you won’t be prepared when faced with a major situation. It reminds me of the verse in Scripture, Luke 16:10, that says, “Whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
What is one thing you can do differently today to start actively building up your character and pursue further personal growth? Pick something, write it down, and don’t let your head hit the pillow tonight until you’ve accomplished that one thing. Maybe you’ll set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier. Maybe you’ll thank someone in your life who has really made an impact. Maybe you’ll choose to pick up a book and read. The options are limitless, and the decision is entirely yours. Remember, absolutely no one can stand in the way of your growth. People may try, but growth doesn’t have to be a physical action. It happens in the mind too, and you are the keeper of that door.
So, here’s to growth. Our growth.