This piece is part of our Manifesto about 7 areas of our personal life: (1) Education (2) Physical Health, (3) Mental Health & Mindset, (4) Relations, (5) Work & Career, (6) Personal Finance, and (7) Personal Development. In the midst of this COVID-19 global pandemic, where our society and our lives have come to a halt, we were inspired to write this Manifesto. For every area of our personal lives, we will challenge the way we viewed it “back then” and articulate a vision on “how we should go about it in the future”. Our Manifesto is meant to open up discussions. We don’t intend to stereotype anyone or anything, but just want to give a generic perception of our lives and society as a whole and the systems behind it.
When we were young, our development came from schooling and our parents and caretakers. Our parents did what they could to teach and develop our skills, but relied mainly on school after our primary years. School, however, is a one-size-fits-all program, often providing outdated knowledge, and lacking attention for so many key elements of life (check our previous Manifesto on Education).
After going through an inadequate education system, we had a hard time finding joy in learning and self-development. “I'm so glad that I graduated and never have to open a book again,” is something we have all thought at one point or the other. But with insufficient schooling, wasn’t additional learning and growing a necessity for all of us?
Lifelong learning was something we heard about, but it sounded boring and – honestly – dreadful. Most entrepreneurs were too caught up in the growth of their businesses and not in the growth of their minds, and most employees relied on their employer for additional development. Employers obliged employees to complete specific courses or gave them a development budget for the role they were in. Usually, these acted as boundaries to our self-development after graduation.
Why didn’t we take charge of our own personal growth? The 2008/2009 financial crisis showed us that jobs were no longer secure and owning a business was risky. The COVID-19 crisis taught us again that jobs and business ventures are only temporary and that, in our lifetime, we will have to reinvent ourselves over and over again. And that we can make ourselves resilient to any situation by improving our mindset, skills, and self-knowledge.
Instead, just as in pre-COVID times, we continue to lack the internal motivation to grow and learn outside our jobs and ventures. We are so busy with our social obligations and screen addiction that we ”don’t have time” to read insightful books, follow courses, and apply the knowledge to our lives. Why is it socially acceptable to binge-watch Netflix and spend all our money on vacations, luxury products, and eating out, but not to invest relentlessly in our biggest asset: ourselves?
The self-development market is growing. People have started spending more money on courses, books, and seminars, but how much of the knowledge is actually used? Very often, books and courses purchased remain untouched. Is it just another reason to procrastinate on doing the necessary work to become the person we want to become?
Most people didn’t set goals for their lives. They went through the motions – believing that their skills, economic position, beliefs, and mindset were determined. “Greatness was something for extra-ordinary and famous people, not for someone from our family or community.” Those famous actors, stars, and leaders have talent for sure, but behind that is a lot of consistent hard work. What they did to reach their potential, everybody can do: years of right habits, training, sacrifices, and deliberate choices.
In many countries, it was not part of the culture to strive for excellence, but to stay in your lane. And in countries where excellence was encouraged, it was usually stereotyped with holding a high position or owning a successful business. Excellence was not defined in terms of ‘truly being yourself and becoming everything you can be’. Everywhere, we let fear and complacency win. We would rather act normal than be bold and fail.
As described in our Manifesto on Education, the ideal school system of the future will facilitate our development on an individual level. Education will be centered around us and our individual values and interests, so our connotation with learning will be more positive and uplifting. Holistic personal growth will be ingrained in us because we developed ourselves in so many aspects from an early age.
Equipped with strong self-knowledge, every child will find their element. Moving in this direction, they could start tasting occupations and environments. Over time, these experiments would provide them clarity on their desired career direction. With this clarity, they will easily pick the right studies and enter jobs or start businesses that fit like a glove. Lowering the chances of feeling overwhelmed and experiencing painful detours and burnout.
Yet, personal growth will not be limited to our work life. Our career vision will be part of an overall vision for our entire life, including our ideal mental & physical health, personal finance, and relationships - achieving holistic self-actualization in all areas of life.
We will decide who we wanna be, check where we stand now, and improve on what we need to, to become a better version of ourselves. Improvement is done by learning just enough to do something better, doing it, then evaluating if you need more ‘doing’ or some specific knowledge. It’s the cycle of learning, taking action, and reflecting.
This is the growth mindset in action. Believing that we can improve our minds, character, soft skills, strengths, and bodies, and reinforcing that belief by perceiving the change. This is building yourself up, molding yourself and your life in a way that you want. This is extremely rewarding because growth provides a feeling of happiness and deploying your improved self to something meaningful provides fulfillment.
It doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The path of personal growth is full of setbacks, obstacles, and failures. But they are there to help you become a better human being. They are catalysts and instruments for growth. What was once an obstacle won’t be an obstacle in the future because you then will have the ability to handle it in an instant.
Friends and family will encourage you to work on yourself constantly and will support you in reaching your potential. To have you talk to people that can open doors. To be part of the experiences that give enormous insights. What if the people around you would know your plan and see you in the light of your future self?
It would be cool to speak out about your ambitions and goals - everybody will know what you're aiming for. As your potential acts as a good force for society and the world, you’ll be supported by others that may have more resources and experience. The value they add to you will ultimately be your added value to them.
We will understand the holisticness of life, we won't celebrate excellence in one field - rather we will celebrate examples of people that grow and succeed in all areas of life, winning across the board. Excellence would be seen as available for everyone who is willing to put in consistent effort. It wouldn’t be seen as an event – such as being rich, healthy, successful all of a sudden – but as a result of a process. That process can and will be yours. With so many people getting better at life, improving their unique skills and talents, and using them to make a contribution, we will be able to improve our society’s conditions greatly.
Check out our (video) podcast on Personal Development, including personal experiences here.
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Growtribute is an international community and platform for personal growth and professional contribution. Behind it are Lennart van der Ziel and Rachelle Leerling. They are entrepreneurs, speakers, and coaches.