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Growth Rings

Every human being is also a human π’ƒπ’†π’„π’π’Žπ’Šπ’π’ˆ.
A careful study of the growth rings of a tree, always tell an interesting story.
Look carefully, it requires some close inspection.
Discovering whether any particular year provided a favourable or unfavourable period of growth, is easy to identify.
Some years, there is quite a bit of new wood added.
In other years when growth was unfavourable, only a small fraction of that amount was added.
Similarly – stop for a moment, reflect back and consider how your own life, is like the history of a tree.
There may have been years of great spurts of new growth where favourable conditions allowed you to flourish and develop.
In other years, unfavourable conditions, and experiences, may have reduced the amount of development and growth.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could see our personal growth records as we are making them in our own lives, just like trees do?!
If we could see that record, perhaps we’d be much more motivated in our daily choices and decision making to make our growing conditions more favourable year on year, thus producing a fair amount of new wood.
I may be prone to say, β€œYep, 1983 I was at my best” or β€œ1992 was a challenging year.”
How can we keep our lives under better control?
For me, keeping a regular journal, maintaining regular study habits & routines, plus setting stretching goals, really helps to maintain a growth trajectory.
As a human π’ƒπ’†π’„π’π’Žπ’Šπ’π’ˆ, what do your yearly growth rings look like?

What lies within us….

I love quotes! They are insightful, oftentimes intriguing and on many occasions inspiring! I found one such quote a few weeks ago now and posted it on my personal Facebook page. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

The words have rung in my ears for weeks now. I’ve searched to identify who the quote was attributed to and have found some evidence that it was possibly originated by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

An extended version appeared in the 1990’s attributed to Henry David Thoreau, who statesΒ “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.”

No matter who it is attributed to, it is a powerful, insightful and thought provoking statement about the power that lies within each of us, to rise above the various storms of life and succeed in whatever we choose to do with our time upon the earth.

A Pearl

As I reflected upon the quote, I was reminded of the story of a pearl. A pearl develops from an irritant that gets inside the shell of an oyster, such as a grain of sand. The oyster then produces a special substance, that surrounds the foreign matter and over several years it forms a beautiful pearl. Every oyster produces a different form of pearl and similarly I believe that every irritation within each of us, can produce different results in our own lives –Β all of which have the capacity, over time to become beautiful pearls. We simply have to recognise those irritants, act upon them, desire to change and watch as they emerge as powerful strengths.

I love this old parable told by J. Thomas Fyans: “There’s an ancient oriental legend that tells the story of a jeweller who had a precious pearl he wanted to sell. In order to place this pearl in the proper setting, he conceived the idea of building a special box of the finest woods to contain the pearl. He sought these woods and had them brought to him, and they were polished to a high brilliance. He then reinforced the corners of this box with elegant brass hinges and added a red velvet interior. As a final step, he scented that red velvet with perfume, then placed in that setting this precious pearl.

The pearl was then placed in the store window of the jeweller, and after a short period of time, a rich man came by. He was attracted by what he saw and sat down with the jeweller to negotiate a purchase. The jeweller soon realised that the man was negotiating for the box rather than the pearl. You see, the man was so overcome by the beauty of the exterior that he failed to see the pearl of great price”

Lesson Learned

And so it is with each of us. Lets not be deceived by the beauty that lies around us, but take a long, long, hard look at what lies within us. We all need to slow down, pause in our busy lives and take much more time to reflect upon those things that really do matter most. Self reflection and its reward of self awareness are critical elements of personal development and leadership in homes, in our communities and in our business organisations.

My invitation is toΒ stop today! Now even! Even if its just for 5 minutes. Reflect upon those things that matter most and bring what is within you, out into the world…. today! Write them down too! You may well be truly surprised and inspired by the pearls you have been blessed with. *Henry B. Eyring stated “Someday, when you know who you really are, you will be sorry that you didn’t use your time better”.

Baby Steps

𝑨 π’‹π’π’–π’“π’π’†π’š 𝒐𝒇 𝒂 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒅 π’Žπ’Šπ’π’†π’” π’ƒπ’†π’ˆπ’Šπ’π’” π’˜π’Šπ’•π’‰ 𝒂 π’”π’Šπ’π’ˆπ’π’† 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒑 – Chinese Proverb.
Arriving in a different country, understanding a new culture and an unfamiliar language can be overwhelming at times – it certainly isn’t an instant process!
It has been over 26 years since Monic and I have lived in the Netherlands and we are already noticing how so many things have changed.
That said, one big thing that I have already learned is the value and importance of taking 𝒐𝒏𝒆 π’”π’Žπ’‚π’π’ π’ƒπ’‚π’ƒπ’š 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒑 𝒂𝒕 𝒂 π’•π’Šπ’Žπ’†.

The first few steps

Tentatively, we have taken our first few steps of exploration in and around our local area. It is so beautiful, with lovely scenic walks and the people are so friendly.
Meeting with each of our missionaries one by one, has been an absolute joy.
For the first time yesterday, I was able to travel from one destination to another in the car with only a little help from the GPS. Driving can be especially challenging, especially due to the high volume of traffic and the proliferation of cyclists, everywhere!
Sitting in meetings where the language is completely Dutch no longer feels quite so painful or complete gobbledygook.
Slow, but sure, steady progress.
I have found that many of the happiest and most successful people I have encountered in life have achieved their level of life and work success by taking small baby steps, and then making one positive choice after another.
Positive new habits and routines are created incrementally, one baby step at a time. Indeed, it is through the process of change, that we discover who we really are. Patiently and carefully I am learning to lengthen my stride, one little baby step at a time!
What is a small, first step you can take and implement now in the changes you are facing in life?

Mind the Gap

In a podcast interview yesterday I was asked, “Why is personal development so important?” I shared a few ideas at the time, however….
On further reflection post interview this morning, I recalled a regular pre-lockdown experience during my travels taking me through the London Underground. The phrase “π’Žπ’Šπ’π’… 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’ˆπ’‚π’‘” is both seen and heard every time you board the tube. It’s a simple a safety announcement, a caution to remind every traveller of the small gap between the platform and the tube. That small gap varies from station to station and in turn it helps us to be much more observant and self-aware of the challenges all around.
In a similar manner, personal development is all about being prompted to “mind the gap” in our own learning in life between who/where/what we are and who we really want to become.
Personal development helps to build our self-awareness by bridging the gaps in our learning. It gives you the opportunity to take a long hard honest look at the areas of your life that may be in need of some improvement. It also enables you to get to know who you really are, what motivates you, what you are passionate about, where you would like to go in life and what your true values are.
What gaps do you need to bridge in your personal development?

Becoming a somebody

Have you reached that point in life where you can afford to allow yourself to stop growing or to stop improving?

Do you remember the old adage β€œIf you consider yourself a nobody and do nothing to improve yourself to become a somebody, you truly will end up being a nobody.”

Every single one of us can choose to improve ourselves daily.

Self improvement begins with self-awareness and the ability to transform our personal habits. There is no one size fits all in our unique and individual journey through life. Yet, I believe that there is a need for constant improvement in all of our lives if we are to become a somebody.

β€œNone of us will become perfect in a day or a month or a year. We will not accomplish it in a lifetime, but we can begin now, starting with our more obvious weaknesses and gradually converting them into strengths.” – Gordon B. Hinckley.

Over time, as we choose to make small adjustments in our life routines, they can bring greater balance, direction and peace to each of our lives. Remember, one step at a time.

Every leader can be a better leader than he or she is today.

Every father, mother, daughter or son can be a better father, mother, daughter or son than he or she is today.

Are you a somebody?