“Fortune favors the bold.”
Do you remember having conversations with parents or grandparents about how cheap things used to be? Did you marvel at gas costing 25¢? This is due to a phenomenon known as inflation.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about the inflation rate or any other economic concepts on a blog that’s supposed to be about making you grow to your fullest potential. The truth is, inflation can serve to be a useful metaphor (I love using metaphors to explain concepts) to explain why growing as a person is so important.
Many times, we find ourselves content in where we are, especially when things are going well. If we have a good job, good relationships, and everything is going as planned in life, we feel complacent and are uninspired to push ourselves to go farther.
Since we have arrived at a place we are happy with, we stop taking risks and pushing ourselves to reach higher heights. In essence,
Feelings of contentment are the enemy of growth.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that every person should be happy in the moment they are in. There is no more perfect moment in your life than the one you are living right now. However, in my opinion, happiness and contentment are not the same thing. Although I can’t pretend to offer you a definition of happiness that is universal to everyone, I recently read an article over at bigthink that references the Greek definition of happiness. Happiness is “The joy that we feel striving after our potential.” Whereas contentment breeds complacency. Complacency breeds atrophy. And atrophy breeds dissatisfaction.
Just like the dollar cannot buy as many things as it could 50 years ago, the exact person you are today will not be as valuable in 50 years. If you are the same person you are today in 20 years, time will have passed you by, and you will lack relevant skills and wisdom. Think about it. 20 years ago, only 23% of households had a computer in them, and it’s unknown how many of those computers had dial-up internet access, because it wasn’t relevant enough to ask on the census survey!
How does one grow?
The same way you would grow money: Investing. However, instead of money, you are investing your time and effort while measuring risk and reward. The more risk you take, theoretically, the more reward should be waiting if you succeed.”
When investing money, financial goals are taken into consideration when deciding how much risk you need to take on. For instance, if you’re 55 and approaching retirement, you’d probably take on less risk in your portfolio than a 25 year old who has forty or more potential years left to work. The risk that the 25 year old takes on might earn them more returns, but they are more likely to lose money than the 55 year old retiree. However, the 55 year old does not stop taking on SOME risk. Even at that point, it makes sense to take on some risk and battle inflation.
The same concept translates to life.
At 20, we should be taking on more risk when working to grow. We should be willing to try, fail, and embarrass ourselves to grow, learn, and find out what we like and dislike. Starting a business and failing at 25 has much less consequences than doing the same thing at age 45 with a wife and children to support.
When you are trying to grow as a person and take risks, you will inevitably fail. That’s the definition of risk. Embrace failure.
Failure is another form of feedback. It lets you know that the way you’ve gone about your task was not the correct path.
Edison is famously quoted, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” Failure should be not be feared, it should be understood as a teaching tool.
Think about what you want in life, and then take calculated risks when the time arises. Want to own your own company? Take a risk and invest a few thousand dollars and an ungodly amount of time and effort to make it happen. Do you crave a relationship? Approach that random stranger in the coffee shop and ask them if they’d like to chat. Want to be fit? Invest your time learning effective workout routines and work your butt off in the gym.
Go after what you want. Take risks to get there. Fail. Get up, brush yourself off, learn and try it again in a different way. This is the only way you can come close to reaching the potential that is within you.
In a sense, inflation is a beautiful thing. It applies pressure to us to make us grow. However, it’s cruel and unforgiving. If you stay stagnant and refuse to struggle and grow, then it will render you irrelevant before you can blink your eyes.
The moral of the story is: Don’t stop growing. Be happy, but don’t be content. Strive to become a better person than you were yesterday, and complete your obligation and reach as close to your potential that is humanly possible.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Spark Your Growth
Take a moment and decide what areas you want to grow. Think about what the ideal version of yourself would look like in 6 months. Would you know another language? Would you know how to play the guitar? Once you have figured out what areas you want to grow, map out a plan to apply consistent effort and invest your time to tirelessly work towards that goal.