You Can’t Grow Yourself Unless You Know Yourself

“You can’t grow yourself unless you know yourself.”

—John Maxwell, American Author on Leadership

Last year was my Big “60.”  I read Daniel Pink’s new book, WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing recently. Pink points to certain dates, times, and even years in which people tend to embark on the more tectonic shifts in their lives.

My journey and exploration includes books, blogs, podcasts, and a year-long practice of daily meditation. With over 100 hours of quiet reflection, I am seeing more and more opportunities for growth in the hopeful years ahead.

EXERCISE:

What activities and efforts can and will you engage in today and in the years ahead to better “know yourself to grow yourself”?

Six Honest Serving Men

“I had six honest serving men: (They taught me all I knew) Their names were Where and What and When and Why and How and Who.”

—Rudyard Kipling, 20th Century English Journalist & Poet

Begin a conversation with any of the Six Honest Serving Men from Kipling’s quote and you’re off to a great start in learning something new. You may even develop or nurture a new or existing relationship.

Powerful open-ended questions beginning with one of the Six Honest Serving Men open doors to new knowledge. They also demonstrate a genuine interest in others, which we all relish.

For today, I suggest you direct these probing and door-opening words toward yourself, to see what new worlds of discovery lie within.

EXERCISE:

Ask and answer some of your most important and pressing questions of the day. Then consider asking “What Else?” to see what you can learn by probing deeper than your surface answers.

Unmapped Country Within Us

“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us.”

—George Elliot, pen name of Mary Anne Evans, Victorian-era British author

Image of an ancient map

ancient map for crossing the ocean, from Pinterest

Have you ever met a map-maker?

It’s a profession not likely to be in the top-ten career tracks at our universities!

If you were to meet one today, they would most likely be mapping the unchartered parts of our world, including the depths of the seas, or the planets and moons of our solar system and beyond.

What if all of us were actually map-makers at heart, somewhat untrained, but still able to explore and discover worlds within us?

What possible adventures and new or interesting territories might lie ahead if you put on your “explorer” hat?

EXERCISE:

What actions and efforts can you take to become your own Magellan, Columbus, or Captain Kirk to better map out your inner world?

The Most Neglected Friend

“Probably the most neglected friend you have is you.”

—L. Ron Hubbard, Founder of the Church of Scientology

Image of a man photographing himself in a mirror

Image from Flickr by joelleen

Who are your very closest and best friends? Take a moment to list them by name. You may even choose to look back to your school years, and the different cities or towns in which you have lived throughout your life.

Did you put yourself on the list?

If you didn’t, you are not alone.

For some reason, the majority of people who take on this exercise rarely include themselves.
What are the reasons for the omission?
Why do so many of us neglect, ignore, or simply not consider our relationship with ourselves of paramount importance?

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you befriend yourself far more, from this point forward?
Consider reversing the Golden Rule and do for yourself what you do for others, as a starting point.

Everyone is a moon

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

—Mark Twain, in Following the Equator

Image of a full moon in a volatile sky

Image from Unsplash by Brooke Lark

Did you know that when you look up at the night sky and view a full moon you are seeing exactly what every other human – and for that matter, every other creature on Earth – has viewed for millennium?

Based on the rotational speed of the moon and the position of the Earth and Sun, we only get to see one-half of the moon’s surface.

People are like the moon, in that they often only present the sunny side of themselves. We sometimes tend to keep our dark side – including our weaknesses, fears, and perceived imperfections – hidden from view.

EXERCISE:

How might an exploration of your dark side, and perhaps revealing it to those you trust, create new opportunities and possibilities for you over (at least) the next lunar cycle?

The Head of the Table

“Wherever I sit is the head of the table.”

—Henry Louis Mencken, 20th Century American Journalist

Image of a formal table

Image from Unsplash by rawpixel.com

Typically, the position at the head of a table is one of respect and honor. Where have the guests of honor or those with highest authority been seated at personal and professional events you have attended?

Today’s quote is about honoring oneself. Not out of arrogance, but to say that each of us is the key leader in our own lives. We each get to articulate our own visions for the future, and charge forth to realize our unique destiny.  We don’t need to be given permission by anyone else, or wait to be chosen.

We get to choose ourselves always, every day.

EXERCISE:

How can you dignify and honor yourself more today, and in the future, to assume your rightful place at the head of your table?

Believe in Yourself

“Believe in yourself a little more.”

—Author Unknown

Image from The Odyssey Online

A few weeks ago I began working with an exciting new coaching client with boundless energy and great potential.

As part of our kick-off Personal Excellence workday, we reviewed his 360° Leadership Survey, which examines his current style as a leader and manager, as well as his effectiveness in a variety of activities.

Although his perception of self was quite good, he was surprised, even a bit embarrassed, when his colleagues rated him significantly higher in virtually every area, including strengths and weaknesses.

Not surprisingly, he shared a bit of his upbringing. His parents were somewhat negative in their parenting strategies, leaving him feeling he was never good enough, and could never meet their expectations.

EXERCISE:

How would a far greater belief in yourself and your potential make a significant difference in living a happier and more successful life?

Where would a greater belief in those around you make a world of difference for the people you care about and love?

Take Care of the Moments

“If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”

—Maria Edgeworth, 19th Century Anglo-Irish Writer

Image of a Zen Pond

Image from Flickr by gillyan9

A few months ago, I reintroduced daily meditation into my life for many reasons, including stress reduction, greater self-awareness, enhanced patience, and an overall increase in mindfulness.

I have a strong desire to be more present to the people and events in my life.

Although my mind experiences many “trips down memory lane,” and adventures into the day ahead, I am making progress in being in the moment. One significant benefit I’ve experienced is a far greater capacity to choose my thoughts, perceptions, and reactions to events around me.

I also find myself being far more intentional and more productive and fulfilled.

EXERCISE:

What strategies might you employ to be more present to the moments of your life so the years ahead are even more rewarding?

Be what you are

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.”

– St Francis de Sales, Roman Catholic Saint

Envy and jealousy rob us of our power. When we focus on the qualities and characteristics of others, we often pine for what we feel may be missing or lacking in ourselves. Personal appearance, physical abilities, and intellectual capacities are just a few examples.

Instead of wishing to be someone else, what if we fan the flames of our own passions and unique abilities to become our best self?

Exercise:

What if it were all about the journey within – a perfect-fitting life which was intended all along?

What would be possible if you were perfectly yourself?