Ray Kroc who opened the first franchised McDonald's and built the company into what it is today, is known for asking the question: "Are you green and growing or ripe and rotting?”
Most of us think we are growing, without really identifying the signs that indicate growth versus decay. Here are seven signs that you are still growing.
1. Your beliefs are still evolving
We all grow up with certain beliefs about religion, money, relationships and how the world works. In order to grow you have to be willing to challenge and even change some of your long-held beliefs. For example, think about the beliefs that must change for a front-line worker to elevate to supervision, or how the beliefs of a front-line supervisor must shift in order to become a senior leader. As you grow and consider other possibilities, your foundation of belief also starts to change.
2. You can see different points of view
The more your desire to learn, the more curious you will be. The more curious you are, the more likely you are to consider other points of view. When you can see different viewpoints, you begin to understand that every person’s experience is unique because of their background, experience and circumstances. You don’t necessarily have to buy into other points of view, but where your opinions were once more black and white, you come to understand the diverse ways people experience life and process information.
3. You are willing to stop unproductive habits
Growth requires you to elevate your self-awareness so that you can identify your shortcomings and change your unproductive habits. Changing a bad habit is like going through rehab. You have to want your growth more than you want your addiction. The habit may be interrupting, using sarcasm as a defense mechanism, or the habit could be staying up too late or something more dangerous like drinking or gambling. A sign of growth is the willingness to stop habits (even the enjoyable ones) that stunt your growth.
4. You consciously build productive habits
Building a new habit requires you to do something uncomfortable enough times until the act becomes part of your routine. You know the habit has stuck when you no longer have to consciously think about it -- sort of like brushing your teeth. For example you might struggle to get up an hour earlier, but once you train yourself to wind down at a certain time, and you put routines into place, you no longer have to “decide” what time to go to bed or how many times to hit the snooze button.
5. You grow thicker skin
A great sign you have grown is when you are no longer so sensitive. The brash boss no longer intimidates you. You stand your ground. Instead of letting anger get the best of you, you take a breath, check perceptions and ask more questions. Instead of dreading difficult conversations you approach the as a necessary tool for authentic relationships.
6. You achieve more than you though possible
If you’ve achieved something that only a few years ago seemed impossible, you’ve grown. Maybe you wrote a book, reached the C-suite or you took your business to the next level. Looking back you can see that, a decade ago, you never dreamed you would have accomplished so much. Achievement is a sign of personal and professional growth.
7. Your definition of success changes
Your definition of success changes dramatically with each elevation. Remember when you thought success was keeping up with the Joneses? You needed possessions to feel successful. Or maybe you got your feelings of success from your education or your position. Eventually success is more about a state of being or about the kind of relationships you have built, or how many people you have mentored along the way. As you grow the way you define success changes.
There are obviously more than seven ways to grow. Growth happens through life experience, education and through our connections to other people. Perhaps the greatest avenue for growth is through the conscious decision to learn more and be more.
Marlene Chism is a consultant, international speaker and the author of "Stop Workplace Drama" (Wiley 2011) and "No-Drama Leadership" (Bibliomotion 2015). Visit her at MarleneChism.com and StopWorkplaceDrama.com, and connect via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
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