Learn. Grow. Change. All of us who are committed to lifelong learning continue to add to and subtract from our repertoire and our portfolios. We jettison a lot of what we don’t need and invent something new for that which we discard. A current “Leadership and Design” newsletter (www.leadershipanddesign.org) is dedicated to “Do A Lot Less of _________ and A Lot More of _________.” The thoughtful and well written articles should help you stop and think how you might fill in that stimulating prompt. What’s worth keeping, revising, updating and what needs to be replaced with something better? That exercise can help us pare down to more of what’s essential and less of what is non-essential. So, I would say to my colleagues at L+D, “Do A Lot Less of what is non-essential and A Lot More of what is essential.” That, my friends will get you closer to your essence. Here are my 12 essential life lessons for learning, growing and changing.
Commit to becoming a life-long learner and whether or not you are an early adopter, consider how the world has changed and you along with it. If you are not growing and changing you are falling behind because to stand still is to lose ground. You can participate in learning challenges whether through webinars and courses offered online or actual, real time group learning by topic, subject and issue. Find the fuel for your passion and exercise mind, body and spirit to stay on the growing edge
Step out of your comfort zone whether in learning something new, understanding and appreciating the opposing point of view, or becoming more facile with technology, just do it. Try an area outside of your expertise, something totally different from how you spend the majority of your time. If you’re an engineer, consider something in the social sciences and if you’re in the world of business, have a look at art and science, unless that is your business. Venture outside the confines of your profession.
Know yourself to the extent that it is about who you are not simply being identified by what you do. Your passion is your work, your job allows you to do your best work. Ideally, who you are and what you are about will help to define what you do, not the other way around by what you do defining who you are. Being authentic means that to the degree there is congruence between your ideal and real self will determine your degree of satisfaction with your work
Practice this until it is ingrained in the fabric of every day. “Tell the truth, be kind and remember to say thank you.” It is a simple, straightforward reminder and a litmus test to determine if you are on or off course with regard to your moral compass. How you treat other people will help determine how they will respond to you. You get what you give and sometimes you receive even more than you offer. Courtesy is contagious.
Celebrate special days, special seasons and special people. It is easy to find them, hold them up for recognition and appreciation. What many people need in families, in the workplace, on the street, is to be recognized and appreciated for who they are and what they do every day. You can also make note of those special days and seasons in the calendar and use them as an occasion for a gathering and for sharing whether around a table or at an event. Or treat someone else to an occasion with a surprise, an unsolicited, unexpected gift, regardless of size.
Set realistic goals and empower others to help achieve them. Success is achieved when people share a common vision, a common purpose and common goals. There is strength in numbers and Margaret Mead had it right when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world, for it is the only thing that ever has.”
Attend to matters of your spirit, your soul, your psyche and make frequent deposits in your savings account. If you haven’t needed to draw on those inner resources in a significant way, you will. Because change is inevitable, and because there will be occasions of unwelcome and uncomfortable change, it’s best to be prepared with the mental, emotional and spiritual resources to deal with the change.
Consider each new day as a gift, to make of it what you will. Neither you nor anyone else has walked in this new day and made any tracks. The question is what kind of tracks would you like to make today? How do you want to interact with others? What will you say and what will you do to make a difference in their work or their lives?
Design and plan the change you want. A clear and detailed action plan provides a strong foundation for moving forward. A plan can be adapted to changing needs and desires and very often the results are no better than the plan that helped achieve them. If you are not satisfied with an outcome, go back and look at where you might have gotten off track and recalibrate. Pay attention to active verbs such as create, collaborate and communicate.
Take care of yourself often so you are better able to care for others. Give yourself time to reflect on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and recharge your energy, commitment and resolve. Rest, breathe and learn from nature by getting closer to those seasons of growth and renewal. One word that sums it up well, recreate!
Review, reflect, reconsider what you want to pursue further, what you want to hold close and protect and what you can comfortably and confidently turn over to others. That can lighten your load. When you delegate more mundane tasks to others and you will have more time to do that which is most important to you.
Appreciate and be grateful for time that you have been given and the freedom to choose how you will spend it. Whether or not you sense this now, time will run out and one day for every one of us, our conscious awareness of the passage of time will stop in its tracks. If there’s something you have dreamed of doing and that you have always wanted to do, best to get on with it, not delay or postpone.
“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Etienne de Grellet