When it comes to talking about the concept of ‘Personal Growth’, something we hear about in many spheres from businesses to personal practice, do you feel like me, slightly empty and hollow? I know I do. So one thing I like to do is to flesh out the theme with additional ballast in the form of phrases like like;
“I see personal development as part of the process that leads to personal growth”
“Self-awareness is the key tool that leads to change that in turn leads towards personal growth”
“Inquisitive Consciousness leads to deeper and lasting personal growth”
Why, do I not just focus on the phrase ‘personal growth’ and be happy with that? Well, because it is not complete. The key part of any form of growth, be it in nature, in the mind of an individual or in a theory (as in economics) is the concept that there needs to be the right conditions for it to occur and it needs to emerge from the nurturing of the initially planted ‘seed’. Our first actions and subsequent behaviours are part of the growth process.
With a basic and broad brush approach to personal growth (as seen in many self-development ‘teachers’ today), there is a focus on the end result and not the process. We all want to be is happy and “smell the roses” but are we actually happy to cultivate the ground, nurture and prune during the growth process? Are we also prepared to discard if it becomes unruly and lacking in shape and form or do we just accept what is?
I like to overlay personal growth with the notion of engaged acceptance and that much of what we do is unknown; the only real way we can integrate self-development into our daily lives is to accept that nothing is fixed and certain. Personal growth, awareness and consciousness is, in reality mindful present awareness of what is happening on a daily, hourly, minute by minute, basis and it is certainly uncertain.
We could compare human development especially the achievement of high skills in a particular activity (for example making music, sport, handcrafts etc.), as being achievement, but ‘growth’ in a deeper sense is much more that that. For many of us our existence can be socially led, e.g. money and social status, and these can drive us in a way where we automatically act according to these goals without thinking about them too much. We refer to personal growth as merely ‘needs and wants’ and these desires can often leave us deeply unsatisfied. We can be left feeling hungry for more and left with a feeling of empty satiation.
Personal growth for me has a different feeling tone and one that needs to be recognised. If we develop an ability to follow things with awareness and lasting consciousness, then growth will lead to us developing a need for the simple things in life and these things will lead us to be more satisfied.
Let’s use a ‘wordy and typical Jonathan-esk’ example:
See yourself as an acorn. The nut representing your innate awareness or consciousness, your deepest potentiality. Your bodily presence, your behaviour and actions is the space in which your consciousness dances and takes shape. The space, the air and soil is infinite and if you are able to avoid containment, it can allow you to take what ever shape you wish. The problem is that without pruning, stepping back and taking stock, without looking at what is emerging you may miss the opportunity to create something beautiful. It is through mindful awareness that we are able to see the emerging potential and cultivate it.
Our ‘seed of potentiality’ takes shape in real time and space, which means that we are at the centre of this opportunity, right here, right now! However, we may not always see what is happening because we are so self focused and obsessed with the peripheral things in life or the mundane. Even more we may simply not realise that we have the chance to take control. This is where our ‘head (logic) and heart (emotion)’ are brought together and form an objective and holistic perspective that can be used to prune the potentiality of our personal growth. We should aim to do this in all walks of life; personal, professional, socially, individually and collectively.
We often fail to perceive that our lives are more than a pre-determined set of inevitabilities and everything within the sphere of our immediate world is fixed and rigid. Through using emotion and logic as well as deep emotional intuition we should be able to see that we can take what is in everyone (our potential) and nurture it.
Personal growth therefore is the opportunity to develop, to enlarge the diameter of out possibility. It just needs some nurturing and careful tendering. That’s a wonderful thing for us to have available to us and could turn us into master gardeners, ones who produce some wonderful fruit.