Personal growth is a journey that’s never complete. It’s easily sidelined by the day’s urgent tasks, yet it’s essential for long-term job satisfaction and advancement. In The Path of Amateurs Robert Greene explains that “by nature, humans shrink from anything that seems possibly painful or overtly difficult. We bring this natural tendency to our practice of any skill. Once we grow adept at some aspect of this skill, generally one that comes more easily to us, we prefer to practice this element over and over. Our skill becomes lopsided as we avoid our weaknesses. We generally follow what others have done, performing the accepted exercises”.
To grow quickly, you need a job with the following criteria:
1. You’re surrounded by people who are smarter than you
2. You have an opportunity to fail
3. The company has a history of giving massive responsibility to people that look like you.
These are 12 of the best ways to accelerate your personal growth.
1. You can start by asking better questions. Successful people don’t ask themselves: “How can I develop many skills?” They’re too busy developing them. They identify their weaknesses, they remind themselves of what aspects of life they’re deficient in, and then they fix those things without wasting time on what doesn’t work and why it doesn’t work.
2. Be choosy in your pursuits. Pick something having bigger impact, greater responsibility and steep learning curve.
3. Read. A lot. When asked how to get smarter, Buffett once held up stacks of paper and said “read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.” Warren Buffett says, “I just sit in my office and read all day.” He estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking.
4. Never stay still. Unbelievable number of people make this mistake. They are not sure what to do or how to get what they want, so they wait. Never ever stay still. The least you can do is to keeping moving. The best way to grow is through action. In any moment ask yourself: “What step can I take right at this moment (however small) to get closer to my goal?”. Then do it, learn and repeat it.
5. Manage personal psychology. Be optimistic. Keep your decision making friction free while moving in and out from contexts (Fox vs hedgehog, opportunistic vis strategic, short term goals vis long term milestones, individual vis systems).
6. To borrow a quote from Eric Schmidt to Sheryl Sandberg, “Get on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. And when companies aren’t growing quickly or their missions don’t matter as much, that’s when stagnation and politics come in. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.”
7. Stretch. Don’t get comfortable. Magic does not happen in your comfort zone, let alone personal growth. Use your discipline to avoid short cuts and other temptations.
8. Listen. Don’t speak. When you speak you will only repeat what you already know. Learning is in listening. Even when you disagree with what others are saying or doing, there will be plenty learning.
9. Fail forward. How much have you learned from your successes that you could do again and reap more success from? You could be the exception, but most people learn quickly that, success sprouts from their past failure(s). Fail forward. And fail fast is you do.
10. Put yourself in situations where success isn’t guaranteed. Take some risks and accept failure when it happens… and yes, failure will most likely happen, and it has happened to even the best of us, but the difference between those who are successful and those who are mediocre is how they handle failure and what they choose to get out of it. These are often the times we learn the most.
11.Put in the work. Regardless of what you’re trying to learn it won’t all be fun and games. Keep pushing through whatever it is you’re trying to learn and eventually you’ll get to a point where you can decide to if it’s worth continuing.
12.Reflect on life on a regular basis. This could mean keeping a journal. Ask yourself what you’re doing today that’s getting you closer to your ultimate goal. Ask yourself what you’ll do in the future. Sometimes we lose sight of our goals because life happens, and you’ll have to determine if you want to keep going down a certain path or if you want to reconstruct what “success” means to you.