Personal Growth

Bradley Leger, PhD

In learning to know other things, and other minds, we become more intimately acquainted with ourselves, and are to ourselves better worth knowing.

Philip Gilbert Hamilton

I frequently refer to myself as a “sponge” – for knowledge and learning, that is.  Since the days of my youth, I have loved reading and buying books (I haven’t dipped my toe into the Kindle pond yet) and I have indeed amassed quite a collection. (I suppose that I should begin cataloging them.)  Online purchasing is a great invention!  Almost humorously, I often tell myself and others that I can look at particular books on my shelves that I have obtained over the years and pretty much pinpoint where I was personally, professionally, and spiritually at the time of acquisition (although you really cannot compartmentalize these facets of ourselves – they actually form concentric circles).  As professionals, we are usually encouraged (and, at times, required) to gain more types of advanced degrees, certifications or specializations. In all of our busy-ness, we may look at these achievements as just something to “check off of our list” and move on, rather than looking at these often challenging experiences as vehicles for growth.  It may take a number of years of experience and maturity to look back and have some “a-ha” moments when considering the bits of wisdom which actually proved to be of great benefit to us.      

 But, to what end is all of this learning?  What is happening amidst all of this often frenetically-paced activity in our lives? Speaking for myself, it is easy to lose myself within this whirlwind without seeking some type of balance, which includes personal growth.  We may agree that the three circles referenced in the above paragraph (personal, professional and spiritual) are really arranged in a concentric pattern, but are any of them “flat”?  I would dare say that we busy professionals and those of us who are tending to family obligations often end up neglecting the personal growth circle. So, what shall we do?  Although I certainly cannot claim that all of my circles are of equal size and composition, I recommend several things that work for me (sometimes easier said than done):

 Find some quiet time for yourself and nurture your spiritual side (not necessarily the same as “religious” – that’s another topic) – Depending on your life situation, try to schedule a routine for some “me” time on a regular basis.  It may be five minutes or one hour daily.  Find a special place in your home which can serve as sort of a sanctuary.  Try not to be productive – just be.

  • For those of your who like to read, try to obtain some quality reading material which is of an motivational or challenging nature, such as scripture or inspirational stories. Strive for quality, not quantity of reading.  How does it speak to you?
  • Support groups – what about joining up with some kindred spirits to reflect on what you have read and/or just to share your life experiences.  Perhaps do it over coffee or lunch.
  • Use the computer, even at work!  There is an increasing number of sources, such as eXtension and AgCenter, which offer free webinars/Live Meetings on a variety of topics.  Missed the live presentation?  Most groups will archive them for your future use.

We could certainly extend this list to a large degree.  Any ideas?

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