It’s a freezing Saturday afternoon, and I’m nestled up on my couch noticing how absolutely deceiving the shining sun and blue skies are right now. If you were to step out my front door, you’d be slapped in the face with an icy breeze and met with an onset of shivering. Isn’t it interesting how life can be the same way at times? From a distance, on the other side of the window, something looks new, better, and exciting. It seems like everything you’ve been looking for. But then you walk through the door into that reality and quickly discover that the grass isn’t greener on the other side and what you thought was so perfect actually has a lot of its own flaws.
I think for me, I tend to expect perfection. I begin to think, “If I only do this, then __________” or “If I only had that, then ______________.” But looks are deceiving, and if I’m truly honest with myself, I don’t think perfection actually exists.
This past week, Mike shared on the topic of awareness. Toward the beginning of the Leadershift lesson, he asked his students a question: “What does it mean to be personally aware?” Several different responses were shared, all with similar themes:
“Knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.”
“Knowing your thoughts and actions; looking at things with an open mind.”
“When something happens, knowing what my normal reaction will be.”
“Watching your surroundings.”
“You’re typically able to know your own faults and be aware of the faults of others.”
“To know where you fit in the fabric of society; to know what your passion is.”
I would add that being personally aware requires being in tune with your emotions. I need to recognize when I am getting stressed, because there are steps I can actively take to deescalate the growing feeling of panic I know is quick to follow my stress. If I’m aware of my frustration, my anger, my sadness or loneliness, I can better identify what I need in those moments, rather than acting rashly out of emotion. In short, we can conclude that being personally aware requires knowing yourself. As Mike says, “Any person that wants to grow but doesn’t know himself is like a person with no short-term memory.” You can’t just pay attention to your good or bad qualities. Rather, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and different opportunities.
Growth will be impossible if you haven’t pinpointed the areas you need and want to actually grow in. Identifying these things will require intentional and consistent times of reflection, and while we are using the term “personally aware”, that doesn’t imply you have to go at this alone. Au contraire! You need other people to help you see clearly. Inviting other trusted people into your circle is necessary because at times, they might see something in you that really needs to be worked on, that you never would have noticed on your own. Or maybe they will notice something you excel at that you had never given much thought to. Allow others to see both the good and the bad, and to hold you accountable to your commitment to growth- especially in the moments when it ceases to seem worth it.
A collision needs to happen. A collision of your skills and your passions. When you identify what you're good at, and then find a way to connect your passion to that skill, a creative collision will occur and it will change your trajectory. Whatever puts the bounce in your step and the light in your eyes is vitally important. Mike asked students on the call this week, “How does passion help you reach your potential?” The consensus was that passion is like a fuel that gets you going and keeps you going.
“If it’s your passion, you’ll do it for free.”
“You’re willing to suffer for it.”
“If you’re passionate about something, it’s an internal motivator, and it makes what you’re doing feel less like work.”
“Having passion [about] something gives you the drive to make you want to be better at it. You put your whole focus and heart into it. You do whatever you can to do and be better.”
I think we have to be careful to not solely rely on our passion to sustain us though. Passion is important, but when the going gets tough and you’ve had a terrible week and everything is going the opposite direction of how it should be, passion may be placed on a back burner. That’s when self-discipline, commitment, and determination are essential. You have to know what your “Why’s” are. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why is it worth it? Readily have these answers available so that when those questions arise in your mind, you will have answers prepared.
Just like the view out my window right now is deceiving, it can be easy to assume that once you begin pursuing your passion and doing what you feel you were made to do, everything will be as it should. Don’t be deceived. Be passionate about what you do, but don’t expect it to be the answer to all of your problems. The growth happens in the hardships. The growth happens when things don’t go our way, and we have to adjust. As lifelong learners, let’s welcome the obstacles that arise as opportunities to become better than we were yesterday.
So here’s to growth. Our growth.