In my last article, I talked about the pitfalls of the growth-mindset trend. Like “growth at all costs” capitalism, everyone seems to be fixated on growth itself with no real consideration of what kind of growth and why. We need to find the right balance between fixed mindset (stuck in our ways) versus promiscuous growth that leads us down paths that aren’t ours to walk.
“No, I can’t be anyone I want to be — I am who I am, with all my quirks, and proud of it. I choose to be strategic about where I spend my time, saying no to lots of learning opportunities that would stimulate growth in the wrong direction. AND I still have a growth mindset. It’s simply focused within the scope of who I am, how I’m wired, and what lights me up.”
I wrote that growth should feel easy, like a rose naturally reaching for the sun… which applies to both human beings and organizations. Yet perhaps I needed to clarify that growth should feel easy relative to striving against your nature.
Growth is never an easy-peasy walk in the park. We love our nice, warm, cozy comfort zones; it’s really hard to push our way out. A more effective (and easier) approach is to lure ourselves out.
I thought about this distinction this weekend as I stood on the steep edge of the natural emerald-green pool that’s tucked away in the Sinai desert. It’s quite an adventure to get there, following our Bedouin guide through the rocky landscape, climbing up and down rickety ladders, and crawling through narrow passages between massive boulders.
Among my friends, I was the last one to jump.
See, jumping was pretty much the only way in. Yes, there was an awkward, slippery ladder hanging down from the rocks, but it was only useful for coming back up.
I hate jumping. While I’m a jumper in nearly every area of my life, the process of getting into anything cold is a slow, deliberate process.
My friends reassured me that the water was perfect — cool and refreshing, yet not too cold — but I still eyed that steep drop. I worried that I’d slip and bash my head on a rock. I felt every single one of my 52 years as the young ‘uns galavanted all around me.
I stood there until I remembered what I really want in life and what fuels me: freedom. Freedom to explore, discover, play, roam. The freedom I used to have as a kid, jumping off the diving board with reckless abandon. And in that moment, I knew that the only real limitations to being more of who I already am — a freedom-loving Rebel with a cause — were within me. And I could let them go…
…with a jump.
We aren’t called to stay stagnant, safe and unchanging. We are expressions of life itself: pure energy, flowing, evolving.
Mind you, we are not free to be anything we want — a mountain goat cannot simply choose to be a lion — but we are free to become the best versions of ourselves.
Finding our growth edge is about knowing the difference between a natural boundary versus an artificial barrier that keeps us from flowing freely.
We each have boundaries that define the limits of who we are — the natural boundaries between where my identity ends and yours begins. These boundaries are what enable deep collaboration, each of us playing in our zones of genius, creating exponential magic together.
When we deeply understand ourselves, we can say no to whatever falls outside our boundaries and unapologetically move in the direction of our YES — that which lights us up and brings us joy. Like the banks of a river, our boundaries keep us moving and dancing in a direction that feels right, no longer dazzled by infinite possibilities.
We use our YES to lure ourselves out beyond that growth edge… beyond the drop that’s marked by an imaginary barrier.
Unlike boundaries, barriers aren’t (usually*) real; often just fear that we learned long ago. When we find that edge, it’s time to say, “thank you fear… you served me well and kept me safe. But now it’s time for me to jump.”
Where’s your growth edge right now? What does a jump look like?
PS. If your growth edge is to jump into entrepreneurship. talk with me about the Rebel Founders 1:1 coaching program. I will have two spots opening up at the end of this month.
PPS. I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the very real barriers that exist in our culture: barriers against women, people of color, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse. It’s up to us collectively to look for those barriers and dismantle them for everyone else. Often, those who are maintaining barriers for others are also maintaining fear-based barriers within themselves. Somewhere along the line they learned that different was bad… and so they erected barriers to keep their own differences hidden in secret shame. The outer world always mirrors the inner world. None of us will be free until we are all free… truly free.