mindset to grow

A Mindset to Grow

Mindset is defined as a fixed attitude, disposition or mood; an intention or inclination. When we think about that in the context of our own personal growth and development it is simply deciding to intentionally pursue growth through each and every season of our life. We live with intention…in both hard seasons and victorious ones. So what are some practical ways we can adopt this type of mindset?

1 – Get outside help

Whether this is a life coach or counselor or even a mentor, having an outside view looking in is invaluable for your growth and development. You can’t see what you can’t see, but guess who can – your life coach whom you pay to see what you can’t. You don’t know what you don’t know, but guess who can inform you – your counselor whom you pay to teach you what you don’t know. If you don’t have someone on the outside informing your personal growth, go and find someone!

2 – Feed your Body, Heart and Mind

When we think about personal growth and development, we often think about improving communication skills or increasing our self-knowledge. But, we often forget that we are a whole person with a body, heart and mind.

  • Take care of your body with movement and nutrition. I’m not saying to lose a specific amount of weight. I am saying to be kind to your body and fuel it with food that will also be kind to it. I am not saying to go to the gym for 2 hours everyday. I am saying to get up and move your body frequently to stay active and reduce your stress.
  • Find tools and resources that fuel your personal growth and development. This could be audiobooks, podcasts, courses or workshops – the medium doesn’t matter, and even the content isn’t as important…it’s the consistency. Find what will feed your mind in this current season and commit to feasting on it.
  • Be aware of your heart and learn what nourishes it. This could be morning meditation or an evening walk. This could be a gratitude journal or a weekly coffee date with a friend. Whether you like it or not, we are all emotional beings and our hearts have needs.

3 – Surround Yourself with a Grower Community

There is some growth and development that can only be achieved in community. Get around other people committed to their own personal growth and development. There is a level of momentum that we can only reach in community and when we surround ourselves with like-minded people, it fuels our own growth. So ask yourself, who am I surrounded by? How are they pursuing personal growth and development? How can I learn from them?

not to do Enneagram

What NOT to do: the Enneagram

As with any tool, we can use the Enneagram well or not. How well we use any tool will determine how it shapes our growth and development. There is massive opportunity for deep growth from the Enneagram, but it’s complexity and depth can also create confusion. Add to that how popular it has become in recent years and how many people are claiming to be “experts” or “teachers”, and we have a recipe for potential disaster…ok, disaster may be a strong word choice, but I am a type 6. I talk about this in my previous post on how to grow with the Enneagram, but correctly typing yourself is a critical first step in using this tool. I still stand by the fact that a typing interview with someone knowledgeable is the best way to uncover your dominant type, so if you are interested in this, click the “book an appointment” button at the top of the page. But in this post, I want to hit on a few key ways people misuse this tool.

1 – The Wrong Focus

It’s easy to get distracted with the many facets of the Enneagram. The beauty of the tool is it’s depth and variety, but our biggest growth opportunity lies in the passion and fixation of our dominant type. I’ve seen people get wrapped up in discussing and analyzing wings and arrows; they actually start using those as a way to distract from the growth opportunities associated with their dominant type. For example, I most associate with type 6 on the Enneagram, but my 5 wing is very strong. I can easily get distracted from potential growth by explaining away my behavior as my 5 wing showing up, when in reality, it’s just another coping mechanism I have developed to avoid facing my fear. We can do the same thing with the arrows. I can run to structure (type 3) to avoid my fear or I can run to harmony (type 9) to avoid my fear, but the point is that I’m still avoiding my fear and embracing my ego structure instead of allowing awareness of that ego structure to fuel my growth. For a 6, that looks like moving away from fear and into courage.

2 – The Wrong Identity

The other thing I have seen people do is embrace their ego structure as their identity, instead of understanding that the ego structure of their type is not their true self. I’ll use type 6 as an example again. Type 6 ego structure says, “I will always be afraid, I will always doubt myself, I will always look brave on the outside by following the rules or doing brave looking behaviors, but on the inside I’m really afraid.” When in essence, type 6 are the most courageous and most confidant of the 9 types. If I embrace fear as my identity, then I cut myself off to the growth and development that the Enneagram provides.

grow Enneagram

How to Grow: the Enneagram

The Enneagram has exploded in popularity over the last few years as a tool for personal growth and development. You may be asking…what is the Enneagram? While that is a simple question, it does not have as simple of an answer. Many writings around it are deep and complex (with lots of potential rabbit holes) whereas other writings have oversimplified it to where it loses some of its transformative capacity.

At its core though, the Enneagram is a framework of nine interconnected personality archetypes. The framework describes three different centers of intelligence (the body, the heart and the head) with each of the nine types fitting into one of the centers. It goes on to describe how each type is connected to four other types through wings and paths of growth (more on those in later blog posts). Oh and then there are the subtypes or instinctual variants…but this is one of those deep holes I mentioned. I like Beatrice Chestnut’s description in her book, The Complete Enneagram.

“The Enneagram offers an accurate and objective view of the archetypal patterns that structure the human personality. As such, it provides a much-needed map for those of us who seek to understand ourselves on a deeper level…The main idea is that your personality – all of what you think, feel and do – is made up of patterns…the Enneagram helps you see these patterns in yourself.”

If you are unfamiliar with the Enneagram, hold tight…I’ll be talking more about it in the coming weeks, but if you know the tool well, I wanted to highlight a few ways you can effectively use the tool for personal growth and development.

First, you can grow with the Enneagram without even knowing your dominant type. Start with the centers of intelligence – the body, the heart and the head. Evaluate which one you most rely on and which one you’ve forgotten. Try different ways to wake up the center you most forget…for example, if you have forgotten your heart center, set a reminder on your phone twice a day to pause and ask yourself what you are currently feeling. It’s a way of bringing that forgotten center back online.

Next, you want to stay focused on your dominant type. I think it’s easy to get distracted by wings, whether you are “healthy” or “unhealthy”, and even subtypes can be a distracting conversation. Understand the patterns of your dominant type and become aware of the ways you are participating in those patterns. We can’t change or grow if we aren’t aware.

Finally, make sure you have correctly typed yourself. Because the Enneagram deals with non-conscious motivations behind our personality, it can be tricky to correctly identify ourselves. As Ginger Lapid-Bogda says, “one day your type will just hit you in the face.” The typing process can’t be rushed…some people simply read the descriptions of the nine types and know exactly which type they are…easy peasy. Others need time, the help of a trained coach or a deep dive into the subtypes to accurately find their type. One journey isn’t better than another, but it’s important that you don’t stop.

I think the best way for going through the typing journey is with a trained coach. Do a typing interview to help you identify your type because a coach can ask you curated questions to differentiate between the nine types and help you see patterns that you might not easily see yourself. Want to start your Enneagram journey today? Sign up for a typing session with me and we can uncover your map for personal growth and development.

Growing in pain

Growing in the midst of pain

Let’s be honest, no one likes pain. Grieving loss isn’t fun and when people cause us pain it hurts. I have yet to meet a person that says, “Yes! I love pain!” Here’s the kicker though, pain is a part of life. We will all face it at some point, through loss, disappointment, betrayal, miscommunication or even misplaced intentions. Yet, pain is never an excuse to stop your growth. There is a way to grow even in seasons of pain and it starts with knowing what to do when we experience pain in life.

When I talk about pain, I am referring to a broad spectrum…everything from losing a loved one, delay or setbacks in your dreams, opportunities falling apart or disappointment in daily life. Pain can go very deep, shaking the core of who we are or it can stay shallow; something we just simply brush off. No matter how large or small, pain must be grieved, processed and mourned. Even simple disappointments can become larger sources of bitterness when left unattended, so learning how to grieve in a healthy way is an essential life skill.

Pain has a purpose and it’s probably different from what you think. The purpose of pain is not for it to stop…even as much as we would like that. The purpose is to alert you that something is wrong. Our bodies have pain sensors that activate when something goes wrong. It’s why bumping into a table hurts or cutting yourself while cooking stings. Your body’s pain sensors are telling your brain, “HEY! We have a problem! Go check it out!” Our body isn’t being mean; it’s trying to make sure we address a potential issue before it becomes something bigger.

How do you address pain? You grieve. And in your grief, you mourn the loss and receive comfort. That is the ultimate goal from the start of the pain is that you would receive comfort. Personal growth in these seasons looks like grieving and receiving comfort in healthy ways. People, behaviors or products that simply numb your pain are not true comfort. When you mask the pain you receive relief, but not comfort. If the pain comes back as soon as the relief wears off then it’s not comfort. Numbing pain does not face it and it does not allow for mourning that moves you into healing. We know this, yet we are still drawn to things that numb us because it takes the pain away…even if only for a few moments and like I said at the beginning, no one likes pain.

This is the first place growth occurs, in realizing that this cycle of numbing will never result in healing and comfort. Embracing a healthy grief process requires courage and commitment to face uncomfortable feelings, but it’s the only way to receive comfort. The second place growth occurs is in trust. Learning to trust in the process and timing of grief…growing to trust the One who is the source of true comfort…trusting yourself to be brave enough to go through grief…and when hope begins to rise again, trusting that good things still await you. Everyone can grow in even the hardest seasons, as long as we know what to define growth as in that season. So if you are in a painful season, don’t give up, comfort awaits you.

growing in success

Growing in the midst of success

Anytime we are pursuing a goal…such as starting our own business, going back to school, adopting a new health habit…we get very excited once we achieve the goal. The process it takes to get there isn’t always exciting, but once we arrive, that feeling of accomplishment and victory can’t really be compared to anything else. It’s exhilarating and encouraging…you did it…you achieved what you set out to…you succeeded!

We don’t always think of paying attention to our personal growth when we are in the midst of success. Why should I be focused on growing or developing myself? See what I have achieved? My business I started two years ago is doing well. I’ve lost 20 pounds and hit a new PR time running a 5K. Why should I be focused on growing if I am doing so well?

The danger of success is when complacency starts to sneak in. When we stop intentionally growing or developing ourselves, we begin to lose track of the things that actually made us successful. We begin to coast on what we have already done in order to keep moving forward and sometimes it works, but often it doesn’t. Personal growth in a successful season looks like channeling your victory into momentum that will carry you to the next goal…the next level of achievement. Your new business is doing well? Awesome, what goal could you next set that would challenge you to go even farther? Maintaining a growth mindset even in the midst of success is a key to not only accomplishing your dreams, but making them even greater than you imagined.

Here are three easy steps for growth in the midst of success:

1 – Stop and celebrate your achievement

It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the victories in our lives. It doesn’t matter what the celebration is, just pause and reflect on what you accomplished and celebrate in a way that is meaningful to you.

2 – Reflect on what made you achieve your goal

Maybe it was a change in your daily routine? Maybe it was persistence in facing an obstacle? Maybe it was providential opportunity? Whatever it is, take a moment and do some personal reflection on what led you to this achievement.

3 – Dream into the next step

This is where you capitalize on the momentum your achievement has established and set your next dream or goal. I’ve achieved this level of success in my business, where do I want to go next? What other areas of my life could use the same intentionality I applied to my health habits?

Strengths Finder assessment

What NOT to do: Strengths Finder assessment

We’ve talked about how valuable Strengths Finder can be as a tool for personal growth and development, but it can also hinder what we are trying to accomplish when it is incorrectly used. I’ve taught on Strengths Finder both to individuals and groups, and here are some of the most common misuses or misunderstandings of this tool.

Every strength is a strength

We tend to criticize some of the 34 themes, especially if they were not considered desirable traits in either our families or childhood experiences. Competition is a great example. Many associate Competition as something negative…equating being competitive with being a sore loser, but that’s not actually what Competition is as a strength. Competition watches other’s success and in turn is driven to do something even greater. It’s kinda like, oh, you figured out 2+2, now I’m going to go figure out 4+4. When you have someone who can use this as a strength on your team, your whole team will benefit by going farther than any of you thought you could.

Every strength can be a weakness

While each of the 34 themes is a strength, each can also act as a weakness. I’ve heard other coaches describe this as the balcony and the basement. Our goal is to operate in our strengths from a place of maturity, self-awareness and health…we want to live from the balcony. But we have to be aware of the basement as well. If you have Ideation, you need to know when to turn it off and start executing. If you have Futuristic, you can’t ignore present needs or emergencies in favor of visualizing the future. If you have Achiever, you can’t overlook people just to get the task checked off the list. Understanding your strengths actually helps you to create a plan for facing your weaknesses.

Your strengths are NOT meant to be excuses

This is probably my biggest pet peeve when it comes to the Strengths Finder assessment. I’ve watched people learn about their strengths and respond with…oh, now I don’t have to do (fill in the blank), whew what a relief. Not quite…our strengths do not excuse us from our responsibilities; they should instead inform us as to how we will respond to those responsibilities. Adaptability is a great example. If you have Adaptability as a strength, that doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t have to make plans…that’s called laziness. Instead, it means that when the plans change or something unexpected occurs, you are not thrown off and you can show up with your strength for your team to be calm and peaceful in the chaos of plans gone awry.

If you haven’t taken the Strengths Finder assessment, I hope you try it out and then get some individual coaching with your results. I think you will find it incredibly valuable for your personal growth and development.

How to Grow: Strengths Finder assessment

Strengths Finder is a great assessment tool for your personal growth and development, but it is important that you know how to use it. When they developed this tool and assessment, they wanted to focus on what was right with people and so they looked at people’s talent or raw potential and created language around 34 talent themes.

It is important to recognize that this is not an aptitude test like one you might have taken in high school. Strengths Finder will not tell you what your college major should be or what career path to pursue. It will help you see and identify areas where you have a natural talent or raw potential. These are most likely areas where you do something effortlessly. Your strengths are energy giving instead of energy draining and the more we arrange our work environments, responsibilities and relationships around those strengths, the more energetic and fulfilled we will be.

So how do I use this tool and assessment for growth?

First, this tool can give you a general sense of who you are…are you more relational or task oriented? Are you a detailed strategic thinker or more of a big picture person? Are you a problem solver or do you prefer maximizing something that is already successful? Understanding where your top strengths lie can help you narrow in on work environments and even roles that will be more energy giving or fulfilling.

Second, this tool can put words to some needs you have as a unique individual…do you require time to process internally before you communicate externally? Do you need a supportive team environment to achieve your best work? Do you perform better with a detailed list of tasks or do you need to know where you stand on the sales chart in order to bring your best? Using the language of Strengths Finder can help to articulate needs you have both in the workplace and in other relationships.

Finally, this tool can help create a plan for dealing with your weaknesses. The goal here is not to make our weaknesses a strength, but to use the power of our strength to leverage strategies that help bolster us in our weaknesses. Let me give a brief personal example. My top theme is Relator and Relators love going deep in just a few relationships, so large gatherings where I have to be social and connect with lots of new people can be very energy draining for me. Many of the jobs I have had required me to participate and lead sessions at retreats where I often only knew about 20% of the attendees. I would turn on my WOO for the weekend, but I knew this would be draining for me. To combat that, I always arranged to drive to and from the retreats either alone or with just one or two very close friends. This was my strategy to fill up my Relator tank on the drive because I knew the retreat itself would drain every last drop. Since I know this about myself, I could create a plan instead of spending the week after a retreat exhausted without really understanding why. This is why these personality assessments are helpful for our personal growth and development…they help us to know ourselves better, understand why we work, think or behave the way we do and then position ourselves for intentional growth and development.

what is growth

What is growth?

You can see how Dictionary.com defines growth, but growth is something that is very familiar to us. It is a natural process we have been experiencing since we were born physically, mentally and socially. At one point in time, you couldn’t feed yourself, you couldn’t read or write your name and you couldn’t even speak. You had to grow and develop in all of those areas.

Growth is something that is wired into our make up as human beings and thus, it is a process that will happen regardless of the intentionality we give you it. Your hair is growing right now without you thinking about it. You didn’t have to intentionally think about your arms or legs growing longer when you were five years old, it just happened because it was wired within your DNA. And so if growth is going to occur no matter what, wouldn’t it be great if we intentionally channeled that energy to areas in which we want to grow? What would you like to focus that growth energy on? You can grow in anger or bitterness by not addressing hurts and wounds or you can grow in forgiveness and reconciliation by facing those hurts. You can grow in laziness by continuing to binge watch Netflix shows or you can grow in your personal development goals by using your time differently.

We are going to explore over the next few posts how you grow and ways to shift towards a growth based mindset, but I want to emphasize this important point today. One of the above definitions of growth is “gradual increase”. Growth is a rhythm we have to find and it’s more about the consistent steps and process in the journey than the destination. The goal is the destination…the ending point…how you get there is by embracing the process and rhythm of growth in your life and applying the energy and intentionality of your will to that process. This is a journey that will take time. You didn’t grow from a toddler to an adult overnight. It took many years and the steady physical growth journey was paired with an equally steady mental and even social growth journey. They all went hand in hand. Every aspect of your growth and development depended on each other to work together towards your overall growth. As you embrace growth and development in your own life, also embrace a patient and holistic outlook on the journey ahead of you. It will take time and it will have many parts to it, but allowing both of those truths their space in your growth is vitally important to your success.

Life’s Lenses

I have believed for a long time that the best educators in this world are reading and travel.  Generally inexpensive (well, depending on where you travel I guess) and mostly accessible to all, both will challenge the normal to which we have become accustomed and broaden our view of life and the world around us.  Don’t believe me?  Then go visit another country and watch the way they do life.  Pick up a book and learn about another culture.

A healthy pursuit of purpose and destiny often requires us to challenge thoughts and “normals” that we hold to be true.  I’m talking about the normal in which we were raised or better yet, the perspective or lens through which we view life.  This encompasses everything from healthy communication to family culture and norms to social behaviors and thought patterns.  It is easy to consider the way in which you were raised or the values you hold in life to be considered normal…true…the way things are done.  Yet, all of us believe that and when you see how unique we all are, then we must question how is it that our normal is the only way?

An easy example proving how aware yet unaware we are of our “normal” in life is to watch what happens when two people get married.  They are in love, devoted to each other, excited to begin a new life together until one person’s “normal” gets in the way of the other’s “normal”.  You budget your finances this way?  Oh, you actually don’t budget at all?!? Why are you cleaning again?!?  Why have you not cleaned anything?!?  I fold laundry this way…oh I just leave it in the basket and never fold it.  You want to spank our children?  You don’t want to spank our children?  It goes on and on, until fights erupt and lines get drawn in the sand or they decide to communicate and grow together.

As you pursue your purpose in life and really, as you pursue health in general (meaning emotional, spiritual, mental, even physical), then you must stop and look at your life’s lenses.  How are you viewing life and why?  What makes you think doing life this way is “normal”?  Ask yourself some of the following questions…

  • How do I view people who disagree with me?
  • Are my life’s lenses born from health and truth or are they born from wounds and lies?
  • What fruit are my life’s lenses bearing in my life and in those around me?

When we are willing to examine our normal and challenge our lenses, then we are primed and ready to put our mind, will and emotions behind the intention of becoming the healthiest version of ourselves.  And in doing so, we are ready to fulfill the purpose and destiny on our life in the healthiest way.

The Reward of Serving

Service often gets a bad wrap, especially in the church.  It is taught as a requirement for worth or value…that people who are good, humble, kind and holy are the ones who serve without reservation.  The quantity and quality of your service is what proves your commitment and establishes your identity and value.

But the life of Jesus paints a very different picture.  His life was marked by one goal… to serve His Father’s mission by demonstrating His nature.  His service wasn’t done as a should or have to…it was done in the context of His position in a family.  He was a son…and so He served His Father.  He served from His identity not for it.

If you come over to my house as a guest, most likely I have painstakingly prepared my home for you.  I have tidied the maze of puzzles, crayons and dolls that generally decorate my living room floor.  I have scrubbed my downstairs bathroom and vacuumed my floor. Instead of frozen chicken fingers and canned green beans, I have prepared something scratch made and served it family style on my best dishes around my dining room table.  And I have done it all with joy because I love making guests feel welcome in my home.

But after dinner, I have zero expectation of you washing the dishes.  I don’t expect you to help me clean the kitchen or wash a load of laundry before you leave.  Those things are my job because this is my home and you are my guest.  Now, my four-year-olds have a different set of expectations.  Nightly, I expect them to take their plate and cup to the sink.  They are expected to clean up their toys before bed and help me put away their clean laundry (let me emphasize the word help here for if you have ever watched a four-year-old attempt to fold clothes you understand what I mean).

At first glance it might look like I love my guests more than my children because I made their dinner experience easier and more enjoyable since I required nothing of them.  But quite the opposite is true.  My children aren’t expected to serve me to earn my love…they already have it.  They are expected to serve because they have a different position in my home…they are not guests…they are my daughters.  And it’s not just my home; it’s their home as well so I entrust them with responsibilities that take care of our home.

At the end of my life, it is my children who will receive an inheritance from me, not my guests.  You could come over for dinner every Friday night I’m alive and if your last name isn’t Armour and you don’t share 50% of my DNA, I’m probably not leaving you a penny in my will.  Inheritance…this is the reward of serving.  If you want to see your dreams fulfilled, start with serving someone else’s vision and eagerly anticipate the inheritance that gets deposited into your life.  It won’t come easily…Jesus gave His life to receive His inheritance…but the most valuable things in life come through a lot of hard work (an easy example being labor…ask any mother you know) and they are worth every moment.

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