Nearly everyone wants to be a role model or a good example for others—especially their kids and loved ones. But that massive pool of people who desire to become strong leaders shrinks down to a puddle-size group of people who are actually willing to put in the work it takes to be effective.
Leadership requires personal growth and development, and just like muscular growth and development, it hurts!
If you are willing to start your training, here are the key character-building exercises we all need for personal development.
What do we do with tight muscles? We stretch them. When we stretch a muscle, we move that muscle beyond what is comfortable in order to become more flexible, healthy, and mobile. Just like stretching a muscle, we need to stretch ourselves in life if we want to expand our reach. Like stretching, this will be uncomfortable—and even painful at times.
If we stay exactly where we are, avoiding ever going past our comfortable reach, we will actually shrink back even more—just like muscles respond when they're no longer being stretched. The more we stay in our safe little box the more we will tend to hide out there, venturing out less and less. I know this because this is so me! I hate getting out of my box! But I know I need to do it. We all do.
If you want to make a bigger impact on this world, improve your reach and expand your horizons, you will have to purposefully stretch yourself regularly. This means going past your comfort zone and just showing up, ready and willing to be pulled, bent, moved, and twisted beyond what is pleasant or easy.
I personally have never been as stretched as I was when I decided to do the Mrs. Florida pageant. I would have rather sung the national anthem, led a workout, or given a speech (all within my comfortable range of motion). I fought every second of it, but continued going out of my box daily despite how uncomfortable it was.
2) Resistance Training
Personal growth requires heaving lifting, but are you staying in the same old routine? Or maybe you prefer a lighter load and avoiding heavy lifting altogether. If you want to grow, you will have to do some intense resistance training, which means you will have to lift more than you can bear right now.
Some of this will be by choice and some of this will not be welcome at all. When my husband and I went through marital struggles, I had burdens so heavy I thought I was going to fall flat. I was weighed down with so much that I was forced to use all the spiritual muscles I had in order to stand strong. Through this heavy lifting, I grew way beyond what I could have experienced if life had gone smoothly.
We all like to feel strong. So, what do we do? We tend to hang out in our strengths. In the world of fitness, that means we lift the weights we can lift and avoid the workouts we are weak in. It's completely natural. You would think if we lifted heavier we'd feel stronger, but we don't—not right away at least. At first, we feel even weaker.
Lifting heavier makes us struggle, strain, hurt, and leave feeling like a failure. It is only with repetitive heavy lifting that we begin to experience growth and start feeling stronger. Our growth depends on it. This is where the next step to personal growth comes in.
3) Endurance Training
We have to stretch ourselves. We have to lift heavier loads and now we have to push ourselves to persevere. This is called endurance training. As you know, you don't get more flexible with one stretch or get stronger with one heavy lift. Getting stronger requires a continual work and going the distance.
In fitness, pushing yourself may be entering a marathon or contest. It could mean dieting longer than you have ever stuck to a diet plan before. In the gym, it could simply mean committing to a long-lasting fitness program and sticking with your routine way past when you normally would quit.
Growth requires perseverance. We can't expect to be overnight successes with anything in life, whether it's a dream, a job, a marriage, or just becoming a better you. Growth will require continual work, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep—because at any given time you could be faced with the temptation to quit, cheat, or give in.
What does this mean for personal growth? It means you will only grow when you are pushed beyond the point where you would normally quit.
Get to Work
So, if you want to improve your personal development, you will need to start your training today! Now is the time to think about all the things you have wanted to do—or think about the person you have always wanted to be—and start doing all the things that are necessary to get there. It will require a commitment to stretching yourself, pushing against heavy resistance, and persevering even when you want to quit—but it will be worth it. Stretch, lift, endure, and grow.