Updated: Feb 11
You Must Know Yourself to Grow Yourself
"No one can produce great things who is not thoroughly sincere in dealing with himself." -- James Russell Lowell
Envision yourself planning a vacation.
Are you going to fly or are you going to drive?
Where is your starting location?
Where is your destination?
Is anyone going with you?
Have you been there before?
Why do you want to go there?
What do you need to pack?
Are there additional plans or reservations you need to make to ensure the success of the vacation?
Growing yourself is kind of like planning that vacation; to reach your potential, you need to know where you’ve been, where you are now, where you want to go, and what you need to get there. Without having awareness of who you are and what you want, you are liable to get lost on your way.
Do you have a sense of direction?
According to John Maxwell, there are three kinds of people when it comes to having a direction in life:
People who don’t know what they would like to do. These people are characterized by the word “confused”. They cannot reach their potential because they don’t know which direction to head.
People who know what they would like to do, but don’t do it. These people are characterized by the word “frustrated” because there is a canyon between where they are and where they want to be, but for whatever reason — fear, bad advice, lack of passion — they won’t cross the bridge.
People who know what they would like to do and they do it! These people are characterized by the word “fulfilled”. They know themselves, possess a strong sense of passion, are focused in their purpose, grow in the areas that move them closer to their purpose, and do what they were created to do.
Which of these three kinds of people most accurately represents you?
"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance." -- Nathaniel Branden
If you want to change and grow, you must know yourself and accept who you are before you can start to build. Ask yourself the following questions to start developing your self-awareness and write down your honest answers.
1) Do you like what you’re doing now?
I’ve held plenty of jobs that I didn’t necessarily enjoy and we can all appreciate the need just to make living, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay there long-term. If you’re not enjoying what you do for a living, you need to take some time to examine why.
What reasons do you have for staying?
What reasons do you have for leaving?
If you stayed, what could you do to find more enjoyment and fulfillment in your work?
If you left, what would you move towards instead?
Where does the greatest risk lie?
2) What would you like to do differently?
Even if you love your job, there is likely something in your life that you would like to do differently or something else you would like to pursue in addition to or outside of your career. There is a direct connection between finding your passion and reaching your potential.
What are you passionate about?
What gives you energy?
What gets you excited?
3) Do your talents, skills, opportunities, and values align with and support what you would like to do?
Not every dream or desire is actually a good fit for who we are as people. I always thought it would be really cool to be a ballet dancer, but my personality, interests, values, and strengths never aligned with that. You need to have some kind of measure for knowing if the desire you have matches the abilities and traits you possess.
Do you know the difference between what you want and what you’re good at?
Do you know what drives you and what gives you satisfaction?
Do you know what your values and priorities are?
4) What are your motives for wanting to do it?
I believe that “why” we live and work is so very important. The why is what motivates us and a good “why” always involves other people because we are relational creatures, designed to love and serve the people around us. Take time to reflect on why you truly want to do what it is you would like to do.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
How can someone else's life be better because they crossed paths with you?
"You cannot win if you don’t begin! The people who get ahead in the world are the ones who look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them." --John C. Maxwell
5) Whose advice or counsel can you get to help you along the way?
Who do you know that does what you want to do with excellence?
Who do you know that you are willing to be honest and accountable to?
Who do you know that you can learn from?
Always remember that you cannot get where you want to go on your own. You need the help of others to guide you, whether you meet with them in person, listen to their podcasts, read their books, etc.
6) What are the areas that may keep you from success? How can you be intentional about growing in these areas starting today?
What talents could you be intentional about practicing to make them into strengths?
What blindspots do you need to be aware of so you can find ways to work through them?
What skills are you lacking or need to develop further?
What growth gaps from last week do you still need to address?
Remember, if you want to reach your potential and become the person you were created to be, you have to be intentional about your growth.
7) What will it cost you to go after what you want (time, resources, sacrifices)?
Robert H Goddard once said, “the reason many people fail is not for lack of vision but for lack of resolve and resolve is born out of counting the cost.” Taking the steps necessary to live your dreams, achieve your goals, and fulfill your purpose will cost you. There is no sugar-coating this — you will have to work hard, be uncomfortable, make sacrifices, say “no” to things you want in the moment, and continue to learn and grow and change.
What choices do you need to change to push you toward your desired destination?
What actions do you need to take that will bring you closer to what you want?
What do you need to say "no" to in order to say "yes" to your success?
What price are you truly willing to pay in order to stay resolved in your growth?
Most people aren’t willing to make the choices and sacrifices it takes to achieve success. They remain, trapped on the wrong side of the canyon, frustrated that they can’t get to the other side, but unwilling to pay the toll. But I believe in you. I believe that you can experience the kind of satisfaction and success that comes from doing the things that you enjoy in your natural strengths and for the right reasons. Love your future self enough to count the cost and jump in with both feet.