The art of growth.
On knowledge, learning, and staying sane through it all.
The art of growth is really the art of applied learning, with applied being the most important word in this sentence.
But in today’s hyper-connected world, that connection adds an incredible amount of noise to our lives. In many ways it muddies the water of our own growth, because we’re constantly bombarded by the status symbols and highlight reels of thousands of people.
Do we want to be fit? Or do we just want to ease the tension of seeing everyone else’s fitness on display?
Do we want to be a great leader? Or do we just want the title and recognition that our peers are receiving?
Do we want to be an early riser? Or are we just feeling bad about those perfect morning routines in our feed?
We’re swayed, more than any other point in history, by the incessant drumbeat of everyone else’s successes, to the detriment of gaining clarity in our own lives.
But there’s a better way to approach learning and growth. Here’s how.
Forget about what everyone else is doing.
Seriously. The highlight reels are harmful, not helpful.
Someone else’s accomplishments have nothing to do with you. Zero. When we give our energy to envy, jealousy, and guilt, we’re taking that energy away from ourselves, not other people.
There’s a great saying about anger - it’s like holding onto a hot potato and hoping it burns the other person.
That’s how envy works. Giving too many shits about everyone else’s success does nothing for them, but does a lot to you (and it’s all bad).
Focus on inputs, not outputs.
Remember when I said growth is the art of applied learning?
This is the application part.
The only thing in any of our control is the next action we’re going to take. We can’t control our quota. Or our boss. Or our colleagues. Or our partner.
We can’t snap our fingers and have a business in place. We can’t read a book and suddenly be some different version of ourselves. We can’t take a walk or eat a healthy meal and wake up to a new body.
Outputs (results) are lagging indicators. We don’t know what they will be until some point in the future.
The problems arise when all of our attention goes to some future that has yet to be determined instead of focusing on the here and now and what our best next action is with the information we have.
Reverse engineer what people do, not what they say.
I told you to ignore what everyone else is doing. But that’s not entirely true.
When you find someone who is fundamentally at a different level than you in any aspect of life, swap the envy with curiosity.
Let that curiosity lead to wanting to understand how they got to where they are. Be curious about the actual habits and actions that they make and take. I’ll give you an example.
I have subscribed to the newsletters of no less than 100 objectively successful people over the years. I do this not because I want the content, but because I want to reverse engineer what the person is doing with their newsletter.
What’s the tone. What’s the cadence. What’s the frequency. What’s the call to action. What happens after the call to action. What’s the conversion mechanism. What’s the end goal.
I don’t necessarily care what this influential person has to say (no offense to you, dear influential person), but I want to understand their approach to building their business.
We can learn a lot from others.
But it takes discretion to move past the desire of simply mimicking what someone else has done, and wisdom to apply the parts that are useful for you specifically.
You already have enough information.
You probably don’t need another book. I know I don’t.
Yet it is so so so damn easy for me to slip into the mode of continuous absorption of ideas at the expense of applying the few that are helpful.
Why is that?
I don’t know what the answer is for you, but I’ll tell you what it is for me.
Consuming more information feels like we’re doing the right thing.
We’re supposed to have that growth mindset after all, right? Maybe.
But if you’re like me and can find yourself using books as a distraction for doing the actual work, then the books are the problem (and our mindset is more fixed than we realize).
And alas, to drive a point home that is woven throughout the above text, detach from the outcomes.
The outcomes you think you want will probably change anyway. So don’t hold onto them. They aren’t precious. They’re replaceable.
If you can crack the code of detachment, on the other side is the joy of the work and progress itself.
✌️ and ❤️,
Certified High Performance Coach™
👉 Forward Coaching