At times when I am having a conversation with people who are interested in knowing how I work with people, ask me this. What do you mean by identifying and working on areas of growth?
Let us recall,
Growing up, in school, you are great at science, but in illustrating and naming diagrams you struggle. You are always well prepared for exams and have a super memory, but on the day of the exam, you feel so nervous that you are unable to complete writing your paper.
Similarly, you love hanging out with certain friends but hesitate to, join them because you feel you are perceived as not cool enough.
You are part of a school project, and have lots of ideas, but are perennially frustrated with the group as you feel they are not as sincere about the project as you want them to be.
These and many more such minor daily hiccups or hurdles can take away our wholesomeness and ability to live freely and playfully in what we are doing.
What would you call these, challenges or our areas of growth?
Ramesh is an excellent communicator, clarity reflects in his words and voice, also his narrative holds the attention of people.
Did you know Ramesh, faces a struggle while communicating?
He feels irritated and uneasy when questions are asked, specifically those that he feels are challenging or evaluating his point of view. When asked, his upset is visible and it takes a toll on his entire day. So he has come up with a strategy to deal with it. He does not encourage questions at all, and in the way he speaks and closes his talk, he makes it evident. But the strategy does not work successfully each time.
Ravi feels low and defocused with routine work, and feels supercharged only when there are challenges to crack at work and that affects his effective contribution as a team player.
Avinash does not like to network at all, and sees himself as a non-networking, introverted person, but his role at work needs him to.
Geeta is excellent at delegating and gives sufficient freedom to her team to take decisions, has their back while staying informed on the details too. She is however just not able to listen to her family members completely, constantly interrupts and that leads to agitated conversations.
We usually would refer to these experiences as challenges or struggles, isn’t it?
But what if we viewed them as our areas of growth? A place for us to get better at?
Because I feel when we view it only as a challenge, we mostly keep talking about the experience or problem we are facing. We can sometimes we can get stuck there, or start searching for a solution on the outside. Maybe even come up with coping strategies like Ramesh.
But what if we viewed that same challenge from another frame? Looked at it as life asking us to grow, an opportunity to expand and fulfill our potential. Thought of it as an area of growth in ourselves?
Like if my child and I seem to be arguing a lot and that’s affecting our well-being at home, I can keep referring to it as a challenge and that’s okay. Also refer to it as an area of growth in me and ask myself, how do I need to grow here, to transform this?
What if Ravi, Geeta, and Avinash asked themselves in that same situation “Who is this situation asking me to be, what’s my area of growth?”
Avinash may say, “My growth lies in being able to step out of the introvert identity and discover how to network in a way that aligns with me”.
Geeta may say “My growth is in being patient, and genuinely interested in what my family members have to say”
Rama may discover his growth lies in him being able to welcome each question with curiosity and answer in a way he knows best.
And when they do work on it and grow, what value would that bring to their life and those around them? How will they feel?
They will start accessing more of their brilliance, their potential won’t they?
Because by spotting them as our areas of growth, the focus shifts on us. You are in the spotlight. We can now view the same situation with a lens where we begin to see possibilities with what we have the most control on, that is the self. And build ourselves.
Maybe the pain or discomfort of these challenges is not much, and you could live with it, but they do limit us. How?
I will share my perspective in the next write-up.