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I’m passionate about growth … it struck me as I was reflecting just the other day. Even if I wanted to, I’m not sure I could stop learning and growing ‒ as it seems to be woven into the fabric of my personality and life. I told a friend a couple of weeks ago, “I’m not only learning from you right now in this conversation, but next week I’ll remember my take-aways from you and apply them in various situations. It’s already becoming part of who I am as a person.”
But my passion for growth isn’t just related to me. I love seeing other people grow. It inspires me. I get emotional when I see people make breakthroughs in areas where they had been stuck. I am moved by the humility it takes for people to change their ways. Watching the process of growth fills me with hope. In contrast, very few things discourage me more than seeing stubbornness and resistance to change and growth ‒ in myself and in others.
Why is this? I’m not completely sure, but I’m starting to think that it’s because we as humans were designed to function most optimally when we’re growing. Maybe it’s because we were designed and intended for so much more than we can see and understand … and when we grow, it’s like a sweet taste of the future.
Maybe we were never meant to be stagnant, or to have “arrived.” Sometimes I feel the temptation to act like I’ve arrived, or to measure my progress by how far I think I should be in my maturity as a leader. Do you ever feel that temptation?
Increasingly, I’m focusing less on where I am or “how far along” I am on my leadership journey … and I’m more motivated by just being consistently on the path of growth. I’m sure I’m way behind in some areas developmentally, and ahead in other areas … but what really matters is that I am learning and growing. That’s where I believe God wants me to be.
So how am I growing? First of all, let me give a quick update on the state of our vegetable garden as a follow-up to my last personal growth update.
As you can see, our vegetables are growing! If you look to the left along the fence, our snow peas are doing great. Our zucchini (to the right of that) are also starting to bloom, and our tomatoes too (in the tomato cages). Our Swiss chard (middle) are in bad need of a trim. And in general, we need to do some cultivating and fertilizing … but it’s really fun seeing the vegetables come along. We’re really looking forward to the upcoming summer harvest!
As for my personal growth list, I think I’m making progress in most areas I had mentioned. I still need to work on the process of giving more regular constructive feedback to people ‒ especially in a prompt manner before too much time passes. Please check in with me about this one … I think I’ll need some help and it’ll take some time to grow in this area.
Speaking of feedback, I recently got my annual work review (we call them 360s for personal and professional development). Here are some take-aways:
The biggest growth step I want to explore is how to better handle when I am hurt or disappointed by leadership and people. How do I respond to that maturely, with honesty and graciousness? How do I stay connected to leaders with patience, without feeling the need to try to change them? This is an area where I want and need to grow, and I expect to learn a lot in the coming years.
The most meaningful positive feedback I received was that people saw me as “genuine and heartfelt” and that I could be analytical without “shutting people or emotions down.” It reminded me of a note I got from a high school teacher saying that he appreciated not that I was hard-working or competent, but that I was “sincere.” And he encouraged me to hang onto that. I’ll always remember and cherish that note.
Do you know what really stood out to me about my work review, though? My co-worker who delivered my feedback told me how much she enjoyed our conversation. She said she was encouraged to see the growth process of how God was teaching and shaping me.
My take on this? Maybe she felt hope … the hope I feel as I grow through the input and influence of other people, through the humbling challenges of leadership that expose my flaws and vulnerabilities, and through the hand of God who loves me enough to not leave me as I am.
Growth is hope … and I thank God for it. I thank Him for these sweet tastes of a future hope that I get to experience today.