Anyone working in a business big or small can benefit from one universally powerful thing: personal growth. Entrepreneurs are some of the hungriest for it because there’s so much to learn when you set out to start your own thing and often there’s so little feedback given to you. Personal growth includes, and leads to, growth as a leader and business person because it means you’re expanding your overall capacity for learning, adapting, and fostering change (all vital for business success).
Not all personal growth has to be grounded in lengthy, involved processes, however. Sometimes, quick strike efforts suffice. I reconnected with personal growth once I left my corporate job and dove into my own entrepreneurial venture. I was forced to get “unstuck”, get off my plateau and quickly learn a bevy of new things.
Combining this personal experience with experience coaching people like me who left corporate to become an entrepreneur (and reignite their learning), I can share six quick, powerful hacks for enabling little doses of personal growth. Take 60 seconds to do any of these and get that growing going.
1. Pause to ask what good and great looks like.
Before engaging in an important project or task, take 60 seconds to ask a mentor, customer, or boss (if you have one) to clarify the difference between what good and great looks like relative to completion of the work.
Often times, we don’t do our best work because we simply don’t understand the difference between good and great. If the definition of great (or even good) is such that it requires you learning new things, you just built yourself a mini-learning plan. Growth will follow.
2. Emphasize assets not deficits.
The next time you find yourself in a moment where you’re about to face a daunting challenge, take 60 seconds to remind yourself of all the assets you have working in your favor, like your strengths, your experience, or the support you have from others. Resist the temptation to focus on all the things you don’t have or that are working against you.
Growth happens when we build up from a place of possibility, not tear down from a place of pessimism.
3. Remind yourself that how you feel is not how things are.
Growth stalls when you’re not in the mood to invest in it; when you think you’ve got problems to work through and bigger fish to fry. I recently started this 60-second hack and found it to be quite powerful. I tell myself when I’m in a bad mood that it’s just that, a bad mood, and it immediately reminds me that I don’t actually have bigger problems in life to deal with that would deprioritize getting into a learning and growth mindset. I just have to power through my sour disposition in the moment and stay open to opportunities to learn something new.
4. Focus on being interested not interesting.
You learn when you listen. Not when you’re talking. Before engaging in your next conversation with someone, pause for a moment and remind yourself to be interested in what the other person has to say, not focused on what fascinating thing you could say next.
5. Listen to understand, not to convince.
This one’s related to the above but worthy of its own mention. When we’re arguing for our point of view, we’re often listening the least. We focus on trying to find flaws in the other’s argument and statements to refute rather than keeping an open mind and trying to learn something from the other’s perspective.
One coaching student told me that every time she’s engaged in a professional argument, she takes a moment to imagine she’s a judge at a debate team event and must assign points to each side. This forces her to be more objective and see what’s fair in the other person’s argument, which helps her learn more about the opposing perspective. She’s also better able to commend, versus condemn, the opposing point of view and learn from the way the point was argued. Set, game, and match go to personal growth.
6. Start your week with three “What’s.”
Before you start work on Monday, when you get to your desk (or wherever it is that you work), ask yourself three “What” questions and quickly answer them accordingly. I’ve found you can do this in 60 seconds. Here are the self-inquiries: “What do I need to learn this week to advance my business/professional goals?”, “What do I want to learn to advance my cause?” (your higher order purpose), “What am I interested to learn to feed my curiosity?” In one minute you’ve prioritized your learning goals for the week.
A moment is all it takes to spur on doses of personal growth. Fair tradeoff, no?