8 Growth Myths – Debunked
Our goals demand that we grow.
No matter what our goal looks like, we must grow to achieve it. If we were already living – believing, speaking, acting – in the way that the goal required us to, we would have achieved it already. Having a desire implies a need to make up distance between who we are and who we can be.
But most people just continue to claim their goal without changing toward it. They have the knowledge of better, but maintain average. Why?
Are Your Beliefs Holding You Back?
“You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now.”
In just these few words, American businessman Fred Smith shines a light on what holds back most aspiring goal-achievers. No lack of any resource can prevent us from growing – only we can do that. Our perspectives, our beliefs, our attitudes – these are the only true roadblocks to personal growth and development.
In John Maxwell’s growth guidebook The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, he outlines 8 “growth gaps” – misconceptions about growth that most “stuck” people find at the core of their frustration. And the most common result of these growth gaps? Waiting to take action. Delaying progress. Failure to make up any distance toward our desire.
Consider these 8 false beliefs about growth, and how you can move past them.
1. THE ASSUMPTION GAP – “I WILL GROW AUTOMATICALLY.”
In the first 20 years of our live, our bodies do more growing than they will in the 70 years that follow. We grow mentally as we learn to walk and talk, and then continue to expand our minds in school. We grow socially and emotionally as we form our first tight bonds with family and friends. This sets the expectation that growth is just a natural part of life.
Change is a natural part of life. But growth is not a given.
Our bodies stop growing. Our relationship models become solid. And then, once we finish our schooling, no one is directing our development. It is no longer an automatic process.
We must take responsibility for our growing – become an active participant in our own lives.
2. THE KNOWLEDGE GAP – “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GROW.”
Go back to a time before you knew how to scramble eggs, or do laundry, or drive a car. Not knowing how to do those things wasn’t a roadblock to getting started learning.
You might think that was because you had your parents to teach you – and that’s part of it. But more than that, you learned those things because you were expecting a time when you would need to do them.
You expected – you learned – you achieved.
Once we have made up our mind to do a thing, we learn how to do the thing. Have you made up your mind to grow?
3. THE TIMING GAP – “IT’S NOT THE RIGHT TIME TO BEGIN.”
If not now, when? When will growth be convenient? When will change come naturally?
People resist change, even when the object of their desire is on the other side of it. Many of us would rather deal with a familiar frustration than an unfamiliar belief.
Influential thought leader Jim Rohn’s noticed this innate reluctance to change. In response, he outlined the Law of Diminishing Intent – “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”
The best way to ensure that you are getting closer to your goal, not farther from it, is to start today.
4. THE MISTAKE GAP – “I’M AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES.”
Robert H. Schuller’s famous question is repeated all throughout personal growth and development communities:
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?”
It floods our minds with possibilities. It fills us with conviction. It orients us toward our full potential. But then, we get caught up in our day-to-day again – when presented with opportunities to grow, we shy away for fear of failure.
We forget the marvelous thing about failure: it works in our benefit as long as we continue to pursue possibility (as the title of John Maxwell’s Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn reminds us).
Mistakes are a necessary part of the growth process. When we realize that we can use them to our advantage, we find that an entire world of options opens itself to us.
5. THE PERFECTION GAP – “I HAVE TO FIND THE BEST WAY BEFORE I START.”
The perfection gap is almost a paradox: “Even though I have to get started before I can ‘be great,’ I have to ‘be great’ before I can get started.” Whether we’re tripped up by a fear of wasting time, or good old-fashioned option overload, this belief keeps us paralyzed by telling us “there must be a better way” before we can even get going.
In 15 Invaluable Laws, John Maxwell likens effective growth to driving down an unfamiliar road at night: “Ideally, you’d like to be able to see your whole route before you begin. But you see it progressively. As you move forward, a little more of the road is revealed to you. If you want to see more of the way, then get moving.”
6. THE INSPIRATION GAP – “I DON’T FEEL LIKE DOING IT.”
How honest this gap is! How freeing it can be to acknowledge that sometimes, we just don’t feel like doing something. And how much more efficiently, productively, and fully we begin to live when we stop not doing things because we don’t feel like doing them.
Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner observed, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” We have to start to feel like continuing – but once we do, momentum makes growth that much easier.
7. THE COMPARISON GAP – “OTHERS ARE BETTER THAN I AM.”
Many dreams have gone unrealized because someone has done the thing before, or better, or differently.
You may have heard it say that comparison is the thief of joy. But that is only true if we feel the need to be the “most grown” person in the room.
In fact, growth requires that we surround ourselves with others who are farther along on the journey than we are. The fact that there are others who have done what we want to do can stand as a testament to the fact that it can be done, and their experiences can inform our own growth journey.
8. THE EXPECTATION GAP – “I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE EASIER THAN THIS.”
Growth is automatic for the first 20 years of our lives. It may be difficult, but we’ve got little choice.
After that, we must choose growth – we must choose “hard.” Many of us are hesitant to choose the hard thing.
But there is little worth pursuing in this life that is easily won, if anything. We can minimize how difficult our growth journey is by becoming consistent about preparing for it.
All the more reason to start today!
What are you doing today to grow tomorrow?
Time is going to pass whether you act or not, but growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will be better than today. And in order to grow, you must be able to lead yourself. John C. Maxwell’s updated, refreshed, and renewed 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – 25th Anniversary Edition is available now as an insight-driven, power-packed course, available here.
John C. Maxwell has taken this leadership classic and made it even better. While teaching the laws for more than two decades in countries around the world, Maxwell has fielded thousands of questions about the laws. That process advanced his thinking beyond what it was when he first wrote the book. Now in this 25th Anniversary Edition, he has sharpened and updated every law, replaced old stories with new ones, and added new insights.
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