Personal growth that's not about being taller than your grandfather
I remember trying to do a handstand as a child. I was at boarding school and over night the trend moved from sticker books to hanging upside down. There was nothing I could do to fight it, if I wanted friends I had to join the handstand club. So, sadder than I showed at the time (I had bargained hard for my impressive selection of furry stickers) I surrendered my sticker books with the purple dinosaur on the front cover to make way for my new identity: champion gym-nest.
Turns out I wasn’t a natural gym-nest despite my height, which apparently gave me an added advantage as falling is easier when you are closer to the ground. This new skill took persistence. And time. And young Fran didn’t like that; she liked being good at everything immediately.
One Saturday, after numerous locust legs handstands I remember sitting exhausted in a heap, tears of rage running down my dirt lined face (I can be dramatic). I couldn't do a handstand and WANTED to. I hated the handstand club. I hated life. I did what every good child of 7 does: I found someone kind to yell at- my Mum. Then, I gave up on handstands, and lost all the status my sticker books had gained.
The other day at gym something similar happened. I was trying to get my form right for some dumb squat and guess what, I didn’t get it first time. Uh-huh. That same grab my Nike air shoes and stalk out feeling rose up inside me. I was a 7 year old again. I suddenly realised, I had held onto this poor attitude and habit for way way too long.
Working at things and growing as a person is hard. It’s way easier to stay the same and never change the things you are bad at. But, as individuals, if we want to get better we have to think about where we want to go and how we are going to get there. We have to change some of the things about ourselves that we may not want to change and put our pretty heads down and work hard. More often that not it's those things you don't want to let go of that hold your potential captive.
As the Irish say, “you have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.”
I’m not entirely sure that makes a lot of sense but I’ll pour myself a Guinness and get back to you on it. Irish aside, essentially, it's every human's responsibility to grow. If we learn and grow we make the world better. The sooner we get rid of our bad stuff the quicker we can move forward. If we can develop great attitudes, our children are much more likely to develop great attitudes. You and all you are affect your great great great great great grandchildren. That’s correct, you get to share all your issues and all your awesomeness. Welcome to the power of legacy, friend.
To think I got all this insight from one bad squat!
So before I hit the gym and try again because I refuse to let that habit linger, here are three points on how to grow taller than your grandfather, own life, kick bad habits and always get better.
1. Growth is different for everyone. Sure we all gotta grow in a whole lot of things but we also get to focus. Someone who values career can ace that corporate ladder while someone into relationships can be be friends with all the people on the planet . As long as your mindset is to keep getting better, then it doesn’t have to look like anyone else's.
2. You never get to stop. That’s correct, this kind of growing isn’t “oh wait my feet have now been a 13 for 2 years running, adios”. It’s a life attitude. When we are in school we are in an environment where we are forced to learn. Then, in University, we fail if we sleep our way through all our lectures (80 percent and you’ll probably be fine). But when you leave these structures you’ve got to develop your own learning attitude and keep at it.
3. It’s a choice. We’re all programmed with a lazy human option which means we get to choose to keep growing or else lazy human takes over. In fact, almost every day you wake up you will find that overnight your lazy human button got reset. Switch it back I say, nobody changes the world in lazy human mode.
And lazy human mode won’t get you into the handstand club or perfect your squat, or much else that resembles success.