A threat of getting fired? Given a task we don’t know how to do? Given a deadline we don’t see as possible? Getting the rejection slip from the publisher? You may add your own here.
The question is, how did you handle it? Did you CHOOSE to GROW?
You quit the job, faced an uncertain future, and began to assess possibilities you never thought of before. You heard the task, took a deep breath and began to break it down into bites you could figure out. You even asked some questions and elicited other’s opinions, then dug in and accomplished it. You looked at the deadline, then looked for the best sequence to follow to move the task toward it. You read the comments of the publisher, pulled out the positive elements and shrugged at the rejection—then sat down and started writing again, being more critical of yourself at every step than that @%&!! publisher could ever hope to be. The point is, you chose to rise to the experience and chose to learn from it and grow a bit more.
Growth can come to us, or we can come to it. But however we get to that point, what do we feel? It’s important to understand what we feel because feelings drive our life. Not facts. But how we feel about the facts is the magic. So this growth opportunity jumps up in front of us. Do we feel exhilaration? Fear? Anticipation? Joy? Uptight? Discomfort? The answer (you tell me) is yes to all of the above—at any given time, in any given shape.
The common denominator to experiences of growth is discomfort—aka Growing Pains. So now I’ve given you two growth themes--Choice and Discomfort. If we can get a handle on those two, we can rescue the idea of growth from the clutches of generalization and make it into something we can understand and use.
When you looked at my first question about your first reaction to an unwelcome growth choice how did you feel. The all-too-common initial reaction to a growth opportunity is the urge to say, “No.” Even, “Hell No!” And to run away to a place more comfortable and recognizable. But whenever we give in to our urges, we tend to deny our ability to choose. It’s as if we had no ability to choose. Self-imposed helplessness.
Okay, school is in. Here is your assignment: Sit down in front of a mirror, hands in your lap. Control your giggling. Now recite to yourself, out loud, a list of things you know you can’t do. Keep at it for about thirty seconds or more:
“I can’t get up early in the morning …” “I can’t spell …” “I can’t cook …” “I can’t lose weight …” “I can’t quit smoking …” “I can’t save money …” “I can’t—you fill it in …”
You may take a breath here. Long list? My question for you is, while you were doing this, was there a realization nagging at you with every? A realization that what I should be saying is not, “I can’t …” but rather, “I choose not to …”
“I choose not to get up early in the morning …” “I choose not to learn to spell …” “I choose not to learn to cook …” “I choose not to lose weight …” “I choose not to quit smoking …” “I choose not to save money …” “I choose not to —you fill it in …”
Obviously there is a lot more to learn about turning our experiences into growth. But for now, keep exploring how you feel each time you say “I can’t”—usually feeling the victim. And how you feel if you say, “I choose to”—usually feeling empowered and responsible for the next step to my personal growth.