Personal Growth

If you’re the biggest fish in the pond… you need a new pond

As I coach, I constantly meet people who think that personal growth just happens. In a way, it makes sense; we are conditioned through life to think that as we grow, new stages of our life will open up and we will step into our new wiser, smarter self. After all, as babies, we learn to sit, crawl and walk. There seems to be a natural progression to growth. We attend school, we hit benchmarks along the way, and collectively grow in knowledge and ability.

That changes when we leave home and attend college. All of the sudden we are responsible for our personal growth. College is the time when we start identifying the people we want to include in our inner circle. This is a time in our life when we either sink or swim. Most of the swimmers go on to experience a successful enriched life. The sinkers often floating along in life never knowing there is more to life than work and sleep.

As we mature and gain standing in our respective careers or vocations, we can flatline our growth path by giving in to complacency. If we aren’t mindful, we can buy into the lie that being the big fish in a small pond is the place to be. You don’t have to work hard to impress anyone, you’ve positioned yourself in a safe place with underlings that don’t pose a threat to your position. Life is challenge-free.

The feeling that you have arrived at your destination can be confused with success. You can do your job in your sleep. You don’t have to work hard to get a good review from your boss. You become accustomed to the daily grind and accept that is enough for you.

I’d like to pose an alternate course of action. If you desire to live a life that’s significant and leave an impact on the world you must abandon the big fish in the little pond analogy. The outcome of embracing that mindset can be devastating if you let life pass you by.

As a young woman, a mentor of mine encouraged me to always have three people in my life, a mentor, a mentee and an encourager. Allow me to elaborate…

A mentor is a person who breathes life and wisdom into your life. This person has lived long enough to overcome major challenges. They have achieved a high level of success in their career and family life. They have experienced failures and learned how to rebound from them. They have fallen and picked themselves up multiple times, and they understand that endurance is required to build a life that matters.

Mentors are vulnerable and transparent.  They openly share their wealth of experience. Mentors can also coach you by asking probing questions to help you discover the answers that reside inside of you. Having a mentor can accelerate growth in all aspects of your life. They can see the big picture and help you chart a course that leads to success.

A mentee is a person you actively mentor. Just as your mentor has opened up and shared their life experience; you follow the same model to build into someone younger and less experienced. This could be a junior level team member, a new mom or a child from a single parent home. There are many opportunities to help someone grow into a better version of themselves.

By actively interacting with your mentee, you model what their future self might look like. The mentor/mentee relationship can have a powerful effect on shaping the life of a young person. When faced with adversity, a mentee will have confidence that they have a reliable source to go to for brainstorming solutions.

When you’re actively growing, it is essential to have an encourager or a cheerleader on your team. Growth often entails getting your knees skinned and facing self-limiting fears or beliefs. When you are experiencing uncertain footing, having a person who believes in you and cheers you on will prevent you from giving up and settling for less than you deserve.

Encouragers have a natural intuition that allows them to read between the lines. They can almost sense your insecurities or fears without words. They push you to follow your big scary dreams and applaud you when you fail forward. They understand that growth takes courage and community.

We can always achieve more by being a part of a community then we can alone. Including these three people in your inner circle will ignite your desire to keep learning and growing. Being accountable to someone spurs you to take action. Being responsible for someone’s growth creates a desire to stay one step ahead of where you are guiding them. Encouraging others to reach their goals and dreams inspires you to stay the course.

Growth doesn’t happen on its own. It requires that you take intentional actions on a consistent basis. Investing in relationships that equip you to achieve your potential is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.  Don’t allow yourself to stall out and coast through life. Surround yourself with likeminded people who are excited to reach for the stars and join you on your journey.

What impact have you made because someone took the time to invest in your growth?

Anza Goodbar

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