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When I was a teenager I started taking piano lessons. Because I had a terrific teacher (a big shout out to Mike Herron! – @MikeHerronMusic) and I loved to play, I improved fairly rapidly … but it took time. I still remember the leader of a church youth group I was a part of asking me to play the piano at a youth meeting. I had the music sheets in front of me and I was glued to every note. God help the meeting if the wind blew those music sheets away! I did that for quite a while then eventually learned to just look at the chord symbols and improvise a little. One day, I had memorised the songs and I was able to look around while playing and note, “Hey there are people in the room!” This progress didn’t happen overnight. It took time and effort.
Pat Riley, a well-known American basketball coach, once said, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” The key word there is “gradual”. Often we see people excel in some endeavour or activity and think that we could never do that. But we don’t see the journey they have taken to arrive at that level of excellence.
Personal growth doesn’t just happen. It’s not about hanging around for one more year. After all, some people grow old but never grow up! Personal growth needs to be intentional.
I remember hearing a helpful illustration from leadership expert John Maxwell. Take 5 areas of your life right now – your people skills, your organisational abilities, your financial management, your motivations, and your vision for your life or career.
Let’s say right now you are below average in each of these areas – so we will give you a score of 3 out of 10 in each area. Of course, in life things act on each other and there is an overall synergy that develops. So if we multiple your scores like this – 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 we get an overall score of 243.
When you are a 3 out of 10 it’s easy to look at others who are much better than you and become discouraged and even depressed. But could you lift each of these areas from a 3 to a 4 in the next 3 months? Of course, you could.
Look what happens. When you multiple your scores like this – 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 we get a score of 1024. That’s an overall increase of 400%! A few small improvements in a number of areas results in incredible overall progress.
As we said, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.”
As we think about personal growth, it is important to remember that success in life is not about competing with or being better than other people. It’s about developing your own potential – being the best that YOU can be.
As we keep growing, we keep fresh and relevant in our career and in our life in general. When we are learning, we are growing and when we are growing we tend to enjoy life much more. It’s all about personal growth.
What steps could you take today to become the person you want to be? Set a goal, plan some ‘baby steps’, and then as Nike says, “Just do it!”
Let’s recap our main points:
- Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.
- Personal growth needs to be intentional.
- Success is not being better than others; its about reaching your potential.
That’s all for today. This has been Episode 9 of Soul Food with Mark Conner. See you next week!