Personal growth is one of my favorite topics to discuss as well as see people professionally for. Anytime I speak or meet with people who want to focus their energy on personal growth and development I am normally speaking with someone who already has a great deal of insight and forward-thinking.The act of stepping into a direction of growth and change is symbolic of a person who invested in the idea that there is a better version of themself and is willing to journey to that place. The process of growth and development is going to be the consequences of a choice. The choice to step into change.
So why should you grow? What is the purpose of development? Is there a point in life at which you will reach the mountain top and can bask in the glory of actualization? Imagine reaching the mountain top within yourself, clawing and stretching your way through the inner terrain of heartbreak, handicaps, and self-induced strongholds.
Reaching a place deep within you where you can see the totality of choices made and ones undone. A place where the potential that sits dormant inside you has a stage to be shared. A place where your talents are fully realized.
The idea of self-actualization is the purpose of personal development and growth. This is the place where all your God-given gifts, abilities (both learned and innate), and potential are materialized in the real world. This is not a destination but a place that can be reached for maybe a fleeting moment or a short period of time.
It is normally experienced in moments that feel like a lightning bolt, and a small voice is whispering you are right where you are supposed to be. People describe the moment as magical, amazing, and profound. It is in these moments that God shines on a little extra light on your life.
In past articles, I have written on the positive effects of personal growth and development, but in this article, I want to focus on another side of the process. One in which we are responsible and victim to the expectations of others and the limits of capacity to understand change.
Whenever I think about personal growth and development, I often think of a friend I grew up with as a child. This friend grew up in a family with extreme traditional beliefs, prejudices towards minorities, and fierce contempt for what they called “Snowflakes.”
My friend and I were never quite sure what a snowflake was, but my friend knew what they weren’t. They were not going to be people he hung out with according to his dad. As my friend grew older, so did his thoughts on culture, values, and society.
As he made his way through adulthood he began to adopt and reform old into new. He began to grow. He grew and grew to the point that his family did not recognize him and when they would sit down and talk it would end in disappointment and confusion. His growth came at a cost.
It is difficult to comprehend and conceptualize the cost of growth as it is happening. For my friends’ parents, they were preaching the cost of change long before he ever set foot on a college campus… “If you go to college you will come back as a snowflake, just watch and see”.
My friend certainly did change, grow, and develop. At what cost though? Was the cost of personal development and growth worth losing his family’s affection, respect, and closeness? For him it certainly was. He had grown a new direction. A direction that led him into an uncertain place beyond the safe haven of his childhood home.
This topic of the “cost” of growth and development is a conversation worth having. The ideas of growth and development are almost always associated with positive thoughts and feelings. We are proud of people who journey towards bettering themselves, but we also resent and begrudge them when they aren’t the same person we once knew.
Change is difficult for people. It is difficult for us to do, and it is difficult for us to watch. We talk a lot about change, but when it happens, we are often left with more questions than words of affirmation and encouragement. We as humans are embarrassingly predictable. We follow the same patterns and cycles in our private lives like puppets.
And yet we are normally blind to recognize the pattern. However, we are readily adept to say minuscule and minute changes in the people around us. Hence, the regularity in which we give or receive unwanted or unsolicited advice to help edify or guide our/their feet back the straight and narrow. We can see change, but more often we see the negative change. The change that unsettles us and lights the fire of “sound the alarm”.
So, how does all this tie together in the idea of “cost” in the growth and development of a person? It comes together when we take the focus off ourselves and pay attention to the ones around us who are on the journey as well.
The cost is normally the most negatively significant to the person whose loved ones are disappointed, upset, or unsettled by the growth and development. While the one experiencing the most positive consequences have a team/family that is encouraging, supporting, and reassuring the person. On its face, it sounds simple and self-explanatory. But here is where it gets complicated.
Imagine that you have a family of engineers. A family line of four generations all doing the same job under the same family name for the past eighty years. There is a great deal of honor and pride amongst the fathers and sons who have sought to keep the lineage alive. Now we get to the fifth generation and this son wants to be a painter.
Now imagine another young child, a girl living a secluded farm that yields little year to year. A little girl with a big dream to leave the country, become a lawyer and live in the city. Finally, I want you to imagine an adopted child who grew up vastly different from the place where they were born – a child whose heritage is fragments of memories.
Each of these children will grow and develop. Each of them will have choices they make for themselves that will directly influence and shape their lives. The families will also have choices, and these choices too will have a significant impact.
There may be a conversation between a father and son about the family business and what it means to the fifth man in line, start a new path, or end a journey. How the paths of development and growth intercede will be the revelatory impasse. The child who decides to leave the farm may have eyes of abandonment watching them drive away. The child who sets his mind towards exploring his roots may break his mother’s heart in the process.
These are all dramatic and colorful examples of something that happens subtly during everyone’s lives. We slowly begin to adapt, develop, and change through many slow and tedious processes. We decide to vote differently than our parents or we decide to attend a different church. We begin to find our voices and we eventually want to gauge the harmonics.
The real story here is that God did not call us to live our lives in mediocracy, he wants us to grow and develop in ways that challenge and strengthen our knowledge and resolve. He also called us to encourage and support one another.
The cost of growth and development is almost always related to how we responded to the person growing and changing. How have you reassured people growing in your life? Do you view yourself as the one developing beyond the people around you? Have you been too busy to notice the growth and development around you?
“Plant in Lightbulb”, Courtesy of Singkham, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Superhero”, Courtesy of Porapak Apichodilok, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Mother and Daughter”, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “The Other Side of the Fence”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License