The Six Steps of Growth That Lead to the One Thing Most People Miss: Change
In my last article, I shared the table I use for my growth plan. The worksheet is designed to track what I expose my mind to for personal development. However, growth results from much more than mere exposure to knowledge.
Personal growth happens when there is a change in who we are. For change to take place, I believe we must intentionally practice the following Six Steps of Growth.
Step One: Expose
Exposure is the foundational step. At this basic level we immerse ourselves into ideas and thoughts. We listen to new people. We read about concepts we’ve never heard before, or ones that we need to hear again. We talk to mentors, hire coaches, and seek out consultants. We go to seminars, listen to podcasts, and attend classes.
While many do not even take this first step, those of us who do are not always consistent about it. Life gets busy, and growth activities begin to slip to a lesser and lesser priority. That’s why I recommend using a tool that keeps track of what we learn.
Step Two: Capture
We expose our minds to a stirring lecture, sermon, or book. But exposure is not enough. When I see people listening and nodding their heads in a lecture, but not writing down key principles or lessons, I know their growth is most likely random and unpredictable. We must capture what we are learning.
I was in school until I was thirty, so I grew used to taking notes. But it can’t stop there. When it comes to personal development, notes do not result in growth. They get lost. They end up in a pile somewhere. So how can we truly apply what we’ve learned?
Step Three: File
I was recently explaining these steps to a leader in our organization and I asked her, “What do you do when you hear a good sermon at church? Do you take notes?” She was excited to relay that their pastor gives them notes.
“That’s great. Where do these notes end up?” She knows me well, and was very pleased to show off what she does with them. “I file them here,” and she showed me a binder she places them in. I was impressed. Most people don’t even do that.
So I gently inquired, “From the notes you’ve collected, what are you working on in your personal life?” She just smiled. This is where she was stuck. She wanted to know more about how I applied growth in my life. So, I went on.
“If you were to give a talk or write a blog (she has a blog) on one particular topic, would you have to search through all these pamphlets to find notes on that one idea?” “I guess. I would have to,” she sighed. To remedy this, when we are exposed to new ideas and we are diligent to capture them, we must file them. There are two places to systematically file our notes (and I describe this system in detail in a previous post).
The first place is in a file that is organized topically. This is the file you would refer to if you want to speak or write, or to think about a specific topic. Mine is in a Word document I call the “Principles of Life.” The second place is only for those things you want to apply in your life right now. For this, I have another Word document called “Intentional Personal Growth.” I spend fifteen minutes every night filing all the notes I take each day, whether it be from mentors, meetings, or elsewhere.
Step Four: Marinate
Every night I spend an additional fifteen minutes reading my Intentional Personal Growth file. I marinate on the areas I want to improve upon. I keep them at the forefront of my thinking. And this leads us to the place where many fall short in their personal growth. For growth to take effect in our lives, all of our learning and thinking must result in change.
Step Five: Apply
Application is the step where tangible change occurs. Sometimes this happens easily: you hear an idea and you are ready to apply it. But most of time, it takes months or years of thinking about an idea, building upon the idea, and refining the idea before it can effectively be applied in your life.
Step Six: Measure
To really know if we have experienced change, we must be able to accurately assess our growth. Documenting what we are learning, and how far we’ve come will give us the assurance that we are actually changing—or not.
Actionable Step: Download my growth worksheet. Begin filling in the things you would like to expose your thinking to this year. Select one, and begin your journey toward growth and change.
What I Am Reading Now: The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman and Paul White.
For Further Reading: