My entire career has been centred around growth – growth of embryos into live foals, live foals into yearlings for sale, young stud workers into managers, undergraduates into graduates with a purpose, small business owners growing their business, growth of authenticity, growth of confidence, growth of skills, growth of qualities, behaviours, knowledge and so on and so on.
So, what have I learnt from all this growth? Well I believe it’s ALL about the conditions we provide for ourselves and others that will enable growth; and that includes both the external and internal environment. As all good blogs seem to do I have whittled this environment down to a number of key points – they are not the only key points – I do not attest to have THE SECRET or THE FORMULA but they are my take on things at this moment in time so take what works, ignore what doesn’t and add your own thoughts to it!
People and Connections
1. The people we surround ourselves with.
We all need different things from our connections in order to grow – working this out is the first step! Some people need gentle challenge or, put another way, a ‘loving boot’ up their backside! Others respond positively to harder challenge. Some need reassurance, some need recognition, some need guidance, some need freedom. We all need a good dose of positivity!
Once you have worked out what you need you can then start to look at who can provide that support. You will more than likely have heard the quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” most commonly attributed to Jim Rohn the motivational speaker. Whilst this is not an evidence-based quote the fact that we are influenced by our friends does have legitimacy. In a 2017 study by Christakis & Fowler it was found that people are 45% more likely to gain weight over the next 2-4 years if their friend has gained weight. If a friend smokes you are 61% more likely to smoke.
There is also a wealth of evidence regarding the impact of our mood on others and vice versa – in effect, as a species, humans are innately programmed to “catch” other people’s emotions. So, it is vital to be aware of this and potentially think about how to combat negative impacts if we cannot avoid the source!!! Working in teams is a great example – what can you do to lessen the impact of the ‘mood hoover’ in the team? What can you do to positively affect that person?
A quick and easy audit of your connections could be as simple as asking yourself:
2. What we feed our mind.
Our thoughts create our reality. Do they really? It all sounds a bit fluffy doesn’t it! However, a deeper understanding of the brain through advances in neuroscience is now backing the fluffy up! Put simply we have a filter in our brains which has several functions, one of which is to scan our environment for the evidence that will back up our beliefs and assumptions. The brain likes certainty! An example would be if you tell yourself you are no good at maths then every time you are unable to do a sum or you get something wrong you focus on that – almost saying to yourself and others “see, I told you so”. If you get a sum right, you probably won’t even acknowledge it at the time so not even giving yourself an opportunity to question your self-talk.
So, regarding our growth we can start to be aware of how we talk to ourselves and what impact that has on our lives. We can then start looking at the evidence that backs up our limiting beliefs, potentially rejecting or reframing those beliefs into more positive ones & therefore starting to create a different rhetoric in our heads. This may sound simple, but it does take consistency & repetition to change beliefs and therefore behaviours – it is well worth the effort though!
We also need to be mindful what external information we feed our minds. What material do we consume? We are surrounded by negative stories in the media, catastrophes, or at least what the media would like us to think are catastrophes! Social media can be a positive influence, or it can be full of salacious gossip and fake news. Again, it’s about raising our awareness as to how these channels of information affect us and our ability to grow. What information and channels of information supports your growth and which hinders it?
3. How you look after your body.
This is the nuts and bolts and often the forgotten factor when looking at personal & professional growth. I am not a PT or a nutritionist or a sleep expert BUT I do know the importance of physical activity, nutrition and sleep to both our mental and physical health and therefore ability to grow. There are a number of fabulous books/websites out there if you are wanting more information –
one of my favourite books of recent years is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.
or watch his Ted talk
Keeping an energy diary is an effective way to find out exactly what suits you and what doesn’t. By tracking sleep, food & fluid intake, activity and putting them against energy levels, mood & productivity over a week you can start to see patterns.
4. Your physical environment.
What physical environment do you do your best thinking in? Like the above everyone has different needs; some of my clients need peace and quiet. Others work best listening to music. Some need to be outside, some in a small room, some need to bounce ideas off team members, some need solitude. It really is up to the individual but do not underestimate the impact it can have on growth.
Think of it like this: you’ve been given a new plant for your garden – what steps would you take to ensure it thrived? Firstly you would find out what conditions it needs to grow – sunny/shady spot, lots of water/not much water, acid/alkaline based soil, close proximity to other plants/plenty of space around it etc and then you would provide the plant with those conditions. Same theory applies for you as an individual. If you are a manager, a parent or a business owner – what conditions provide the best environment for growth for those that you are responsible for?
I invite you to take some time to reflect on the following: What are your needs and how can you provide yourself with them to create the best environment for you to not just grow but THRIVE?
Get in contact if you would like to chat through how coaching could help you, your team or your business THRIVE!