This is part one of Embrace the Rain - A Compendium for Life. For the preamble to this work please see the full length article. In this part we focus on what I've learned on personal growth and understanding the process of it.
Get to know and understand yourself.
Above all else, respect yourself. This is a pretty simple idea. If you don't respect yourself nobody else will. While you shouldn't always concern yourself with what others think of you, you should always aim to present the best possible version of yourself. This truly opens doors.
You must have a foundation of self or an understanding of who you are. This is critical to finding happiness. Know what activities make you lose time. If you don’t understand what I mean, then the next point is especially for you. Find something that is so enjoyable that you can lose several hours at a time. This is a clue to what your path should be. If you follow that, you can’t go wrong. This doesn't mean this is should be your vocation or what business you seek to build. It's just context. It's a way to better understand yourself.
Self-awareness is paramount in today’s world. As much as it’s talked about online, I don’t know that many people actually know what it means. Self-awareness defined is conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires. Everything discussed to this point is working towards this goal of becoming self-aware. I don’t use quotes to impart lessons much but I will here. Lao Tzu once said,
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” - Lao Tzu
Taste everything. Just as you were told as you grew up - “How do you know you don’t like broccoli if you don’t try it?” This applies to all aspects of life. How do you know that you don’t enjoy an activity without undertaking it? This goes for anything experiential in life, not just food. While you may know yourself well, it's impossible to know yourself too much. You may learn that you love cooking at 28. You may learn that you enjoy marathons at 33. Without trying it you actually won't know.
Your truth will more than likely evolve. One day you will wake up and begin questioning all that you thought to be true. Whether it be religion, relationships, or most anything else. Don’t despair. This is all part of the growth process. Your beliefs could evolve. But, then you could circle back to believing what you originally believed. I, for one, question my beliefs often it is the only way I stay grounded in them.
Identify your weaknesses and strengths, then focus on the latter. While we have discuss and will continue to discuss growth, the one thing that people get wrong in terms of growth is attempting to learn things they're just not going to. If you don't enjoy math, while it's important to have a fundamental understanding, you can't force yourself to be good at math. Find other's that enjoy it. Focus on what you're best at (and hopefully enjoy) and double down on it and attempt to become world class at that.
Take responsibility, be accountable and give credit. These are the true hallmarks of a leader. If you ever find yourself in a position of leadership in life, understand that everything is your fault and you work for your people and not the other way around. Be grateful that someone embraces you enough to work for you if you're a business leader.
Have a growth mindset.
Become incredibly patient. If you’re an impatient person you’re going to struggle in any facet of life. This is one of my personal struggles. Over the course of time, I’ve learned to embrace the process of growth. I’ve learned to enjoy when I get the smallest thing done. As long as it is keeping me on the right path towards my end goals.
Understand you are a work in progress. You're not ever going to be perfect, but especially at this young age. You will probably also regress at some point in your life. It's all part of the varied situations life presents as well as the time of life you're in. You must consitently work on yourself. You can't be the best you without understanding that doesn't mean the perfect you.
You might not find your passion. Learn to find passion in what you're doing. You've heard find your passion so much this probably seems like terrible advice. When I first heard this notion I thought the same myself. As time has passed, it is has proven itself true. I have witnessed friends feeling completely unfulfilled by heeding this advice. Some of these friends even became depressed, or worse. They couldn't either find their passion or if they had found their passion, they realized it wasn't sustainable financially. Go out and find meaning in what you're doing and progress from there. Sometimes your passion is better as a hobby.
At some point in life you will look back and not recognize who you used to be. This is a good sign as this is a sign of growth and emotional maturation. You should be more alarmed if you haven’t felt this at some point. If you haven’t and feel you should have it’s easy to enough to examine. A good thought exercise would be: “If I were to spend time with myself from five to ten years ago, could I relate to this person? Could I stand being in this person’s company?” If you answer yes to that question, you may want to examine things a little more closely. It could mean nothing, but it could be a sign.
There's no room for growth when anger and/or cynicism is present. If you live every moment thinking I'm going to make the best of it. You can't grow emotionally if you hold a grudge. You can't grow professionally or personally if you romanticize the pass and harbor a cynical viewpoint for the current times. Times will change. Nothing is better or worse it is merely different. You must adapt.
Understand that ego is always the enemy. If you're ever making any decision to prove to yourself or others that you're the smartest person in the room - stop now. Even if you do succeed, it won't be for the right reason and it won't serve you in
Knowing that we have some control over life makes us feel happy, not material items. The only way to truly have agency over our life is to understand it and be able to take action. Thus, the only way to be happy is by embracing the growth mindset as we must learn and mature in order to find happiness.
Make the most of your time.
Be more selfish with your time. You must do this so that you can grow and pursue opportunity. There will always be someone, some critical event, or some fire to put out. You have to learn to ignore this for your own needs, for the sake of your own sanity and growth. Set aside time in your day each day to at least do one small thing for yourself.
Be a person of action. So many people over-analyze decisions in life. This is natural. Never fear failure, for failure is a chance to learn. It's not about the amount of year's in your life, but the amount of life in your years. Nobody has built anything worthwhile without action.
Always pay attention to your critical self. To underscore our previous thought. I want you to life through a different lens. Let's say there are two versions of yourself. One being your critical self that knows what you need to do or should do and your experiential self that basically wants to "live it's best life". People keep drinking because they think they'll tomorrow they'll quit and many live for today like this. They never consider that tomorrow they will be anything short of their perfect self. The problem is humans are creatures of habit. If you live for today today, you are most likely to do that tomorrow. This eventually leads to doing it most days and then all of the time. While there is a plea to be more selfish with your time and to live in the moment as you're not guaranteed the next, that doesn't mean go be irresponsible.
If you aren’t mindful of the moment it will pass you by and you will never get it back. If you feel you need to, consider meditation to learn how to become mindful again in our noisy world. We only have one life. If you fill it with constant distraction or always looking ahead, it’s going to be difficult to progress.
Be content. Right now. You’re not guaranteed the next moment. To underscore previous points, if you yearn for the future, you disregard the now. Embracing the process of life is liberating in the fact that you learn to accept the small wins.
Save time. Go with your gut more often than not. Learn to listen to your inner voice. It can save you not only time but a lot of pain as well. Speaking personal experience, my inner voice seems to always knows the direction I should go. Every time in my life that I listen, great things happen. When I disregard my intuition and use logic alone to make my decision it backfires. It's fine to weigh the pro's and con's of any situation, that's being responsible, but try to avoid disregarding intuition.
Understand that life is a marathon and not a sprint. We have a tendency to overestimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can achieve in 10 years. If you tend to take advantage of most of the hours in the day, you'd be surprised how far you will progress and just how fast that will be.