Growth is an important part of leadership, but, as we get older, the world begins to tell us that we no longer need to focus on growth. Is that really true?
Uncovering a Buried Truth
I heard a song the other day performed by well-known singer and songwriter Katy Perry. The song was titled “Daisies,” and it made me think about my growth as a leader. There’s so much I still have to learn. What is stopping me from continuing to grow in my life? As I listened to the lyrics, I asked myself, “Am I listening to the people who tell me I can’t accomplish the things I want to accomplish?” Even more impactfully, I started to wonder whether I am waiting ’til they cover me in daisies?
These questions are important, because there are certain areas of my life and leadership where I still need to build my understanding and skills. I need to get out there, lead, and look for the places I can continually grow.
So do you.
Why Dive Through the Challenges?
I work as a board member of a youth center and, in that capacity, I had an opportunity to mentor a young intern. For the sake of this post, I will call him Steve. The first time I met with Steve, we grew in trust very quickly. The second time we met, he shared stories of his challenging life journey. I sat back and listened as he explained that his dad was in jail for most of his life. His mom had multiple boyfriends who would stay at the house, drinking and doing drugs throughout Steve’s middle and high school years.
Amazingly, both Steve and his brother made it out of that life. Somehow, they were able to see a way past it. Steve got through high school, joined the U.S. Army, and now was attending college with aspirations of becoming an officer.
Not only did he accomplish all of that, but he was also trying to help other teens at the youth center overcome the same challenges he had faced. He grew, continued to grow, and is still growing from a foundation that was about as rocky as you can imagine. Acting as his mentor, I was supposed to be an inspiration to him, but he inspired me, teaching me to see beyond the challenges and keep pushing myself to grow.
Searching for Insight
I recently finished reading a book written by John C. Maxwell, a bestselling author with a special focus on leadership. The book is titled Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 and it’s a great resource for anyone who is determined to continue growing as a leader.
Near the end, there’s a chapter titled “Personal Growth.” In it, Maxwell writes, “Your capacity to grow will determine your capacity to lead.” Those words stuck with me. They still keep coming back to me from time to time. Why did they stick with me? Because the message carries so much depth.
A Call to Change
What does it mean to grow? What does it take to be a true, growing leader? I believe we need to:
- First come to the realization that we do not have all the answers, while also possessing the capacity to grow.
- Be willing to dig for the truth in every situation. Dig for the truth about life, work, our relationships, our organization’s culture, and our team.
- Search for and learn from the most valuable sources. If there are leaders you admire or people in your life that you trust, read their works, listen to their thoughts, and ask them questions when possible. Gain what you can from their experiences and knowledge.
- Take action! Implement the things you’ve discovered by setting goals for yourself.
Do you hear those voices whispering in your head, telling you that you’ve already learned as much as you can and you don’t have any remaining capacity to grow? Have they ever insinuated that you don’t need to learn anything new?
We all hear those voices, but you and I both have so much more to learn. We need to be humble leaders who continue learning as much as possible from those around us. Perhaps from our bosses, executive coaches, or from the people we mentor and/or lead. Anyone can be a teacher, whether they are 16 or 76.
Each of us has the capacity to grow. We need to get out there and start learning before someone shows up to cover us in daisies.
Does your team need assistance growing its leaders? The Fired Up! Culture team is composed of experienced leaders with hearts to help others grow. Connect with us today!
Paul is part of a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.