I know growth is good for me, but I don't always make time for it. Why? Because I live in a time and place where coasting through life is a bona fide option. Unlike my ancestors, I no longer have to forage for food; I can have it delivered to my door. I no longer have to protect myself from the dangers of the wild. I just have to call 911.
With the innumerable conveniences modern civilization affords, growth no longer feels necessary. I can eek out a pretty decent existence as long as I can pay the rent and my Netflix bill.
But there’s so much more to life and I know it. The more I've grown over the years, the more I've understood what life is really about. And the more I've made an effort to grow daily, the more full my life has become.
If you’re feeling stuck, or just unsatisfied with where you're at, then intentional growth may be what you’re missing. Here are 10 of my favorite reasons to get growing:
1. We Have So much to Learn
Michelangelo was recognized as the greatest living artist of his day. 500 years later his art still touches the heart and staggers the mind. Many become breathless at first brush with his works. Who wouldn’t? The paintings blanketing the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling span 6,100 square feet. His famous statue of King David stands at a towering 17ft tall.
This Renaissance Man died at a ripe old age of 88. Do you know what his last words were?
“I’m still learning.”
Michelangelo—considered one of the greatest artists of all time—reveals, in his final words a powerful truth: We have so much to learn.
If this consummate artist was still learning, still studying, still discovering, then so too should we. There is always something more. Learning is for a lifetime.
2. Growth Gets You Ready When Your Time Comes
Every young man and woman should take Benjamin Disraeli’s sage wisdom to heart: “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes." Here’s a sad fact: You can be at the right place, at the right time and be the wrong person. In other words, you're not ready for your moment. Focus, instead, on becoming the right kind of person, then - in the right place and at the right time - you'll be ready.
This, of course, is exactly what growth does; it gets you ready. It prepares you for your unique opportunity that’s coming your way as sure as the dawn. The only question is will you be ready?
3. Growth = Health
I bought a ton of flowers the other day and did something dumb. I never planted them. I guess I got busy, and just let them sit on my patio. I never got around to getting them into the soil. It didn’t take long for them to wither away.
We’re not much different than flowers. The same thing can happen to us. If we aren’t intentional about digging our roots into good soil we can slowly waste away. Growing is how we maintain health.
It’s so simple, yet so easy to miss: Healthy things grow. If something isn’t growing, then it’s withering, fading, dying. There is no middle-ground, especially when it comes to flesh and blood people. There is no homeostasis of the human soul.
4. Growth is its Own Reward
Do you remember the moment you figured out how to ride a bike? I’m talking no training wheels, no hand-holding from Dad; just you, two wheels, and the open road.
There was a point in time when we couldn’t. Every time we tried, we fell over and failed. But with a little encouragement from Dad, we kept at it. We kept learning, practicing, failing until eventually, we succeeded.
That first solo run was pure joy. We pedaled down the street in triumph. Victory was ours! Before long we were cruising to a friends house and racing our buddies to school.
That inaugural sense of joy is a direct result of growth. It’s a reward hard-wired in by God for all our hard work. And you can count on experiencing it every time you grow.
5. Growth Gets You that Much Closer to Your Goals
I’ve committed to memory this quote from Zig Ziglar, “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” Each stair, I believe, is a stage of growth that can’t be skipped. Okay… perhaps you can take a couple stairs at a time—but the stairs are your only option.
Overnight success stories are a myth. Talent is overrated. And nincompoops rely on luck alone. The self-aware and sober-minded, instead, understand that the only way to reach a goal is to steadily work toward it. Piece-by-piece, chunk-by-chunk, step-by-step. Steady growth, day in day out, ensures that you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Just bear in mind the words of Henry David Thoreau, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving them.”
6. Growth is Contagious
There is a saying in the real estate business that, “Activity breeds activity.” The idea is that others will become interested in a given piece of property or neighborhood if someone else becomes interested first. The initial act of interest is a sign to others; it piques curiosity and instills confidence. This same kind of thing happens in the area of personal development. In short, growth is contagious.
Changes we make for the better never go unnoticed by family and friends. And it’s mostly motivational to the others that witness them. Get ready; your activity will breed activity. Your growth will beget growth.
7. Growth is a Never-Ending Adventure
Adventures of the heart, mind, and soul await those who set their sights on growth. Books, for example, can take you into uncharted territory. You can travel back in time. You can acquire knowledge and wisdom. You can learn a new skill. You can meet with the Divine.
You don’t have to quit your day job and trek around the world to find adventure. You don’t have to be living out your dream career to feel fully alive. Growth can do that for you. And you can experience growth every day.
Grab a map. Pick a trail. Your pilgrimage awaits. You can begin as soon as you decide to.
8. Growth Combats the Flesh
Here the words of the 15th-century devotional master, Thomas a Kempis: “The greatest hindrance to our spiritual development is that we allow our passions and desires to control us…” When we choose to intentionally develop ourselves in mind and spirit, however, we do the opposite; we check those unhealthy passions and desires that keep us from living out the divine life.
Dallas Willard has said that “while the flesh isn’t necessarily bad, it isn’t safe.” Acting on every impulse is a mistake. When we make commitments to grow and stick to those commitments we beat back those passions and desires that are toxic to our soul.
9. Growth Shapes Character
Traits trump skills. While developing solid skills is an important life pursuit, we should—with greater vigor—devote time to shaping our character.
Your character, as it stands, is the product of your choices. Each decision you’ve made, both large and small, have shaped the person you’ve become.
So when we make growth a priority in our lives, we’re saying yes to character traits like courage, perseverance, discipline, self-denial, self-awareness, and more. In order to be successful (in anything!) these character traits must be present.
10. Growth Honors the One Who Made You
In Tim Keller’s, Every Good Endeavor, he states, “Though all God had made was good, it was still to a great degree undeveloped.” While Keller was primarily referring to the earth itself, his statement certainly holds true for humanity as well.
We human beings, in large part, enter time and space shockingly undeveloped. We are little bundles of potential, and in order to unlock that potential, we must grow. When we do, we honor the one who made us.
The God-Man, Jesus Christ, says that he came so that we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). That fullness is not something we passively receive, rather it’s something we actively grow into under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God.
But this life that He speaks of isn’t merely spiritual. This fullness extends to our relationships, our experiences, our character, our career, and so on. It touches every aspect of our humanity.
Simply put, we honor the Creator’s wishes for us when we get off our backside and get growing.
Waking up every morning and dedicating part of your day to growth isn’t always easy, but it is always rewarding. If you don’t currently devote a chunk of time to it, why not give it a shot? I say start with 30 minutes and see where it takes you.
About Joshua Bailey
Serial Entrepreneur, Writer, Husband, Father of Three.
Encouraging others to grow each and every day.