For twenty years, I had consumed self-development and human potential products, like workshops, retreats, memberships in executive peer groups, coaching certification programs, countless non-fiction books, and an array of coaching and consulting.
I wasn’t a run-of-the-mill seminar junkie; I was obsessed with getting unimaginable results.
One day when it was time to renew an executive group membership, I chose to take an indefinite break from trying to grow as a person. I had the idea that I’d arrived- and if not, I was never going to get there anyway.
Next, I got complacent and habituated… stuck in the quicksand of predictability. I realized how many things there are to pacify us into a stultified comfort zone. Things like social media, take-out/delivery, TV, video games, and chores that practically do themselves (like clothes that magically come out clean after throwing it into a machine with soap, as compared to how Great Grandma did it). We go to the store and a mind-blowing variety of foods are available.
So little is physically required of us, and emerging technology is only going to make it worse. I started to see how it was affecting not only me but millions of others.
Let’s be honest. In spite of the current global pandemic, being alive during the 2020s is unrecognizable from the ‘roaring 1920s’ in terms of convenience, prosperity, and technology. Though we’re able to entertain our minds using a device in the palm of our hands to access terabytes of information, we’re at risk of being scattered, restless and bored.
Is all this information- combined with increasing convenience- weakening our creative & constructive abilities?
Many people I knew seemed to be restless and bored, dramatizing their problems from a place of relative privilege. They bitched about what they’d heard on our highly propagandized news channels, how their sports team played, or even the weather. They criticized people on social media. In their minds- it’s the Democrats, the Republicans, the corporations, welfare recipients, the wealthy, illegal immigrants, or whatever.
I referred to them as lounge lizards because I witnessed them lounging around, putting their attention on whatever the media puts in front of them.
Living a life of total predictability and/or judging all these false realities keeps people from putting valuable attention and energy into real, tangible endeavors that bring forth our creative spirit. Not everyone can find their creative spark and many people don’t like to generate their own projects. Most people actually would rather not spend time or money on seminars or reading non-fiction books.
So, how do we engage in the kind of personal growth that keeps our spirit alive?
I believe this is where the game of business comes in.
I find that companies fostering the right kind of workplace can be the antidote to what mainstream social consciousness pulls for in our culture, which is separation-based isolation and division into made-up tribes. (With the exception of great organizations outside of business, whether community, faith-based or other.)
A well-designed work environment allows people to focus attention (and intention) on something else besides what’s wrong with people or the world. In my company, people don’t tend to go home and engage in drama because what they have going on during the day is intense enough – and way more interesting- than drama.
When you solve issues, serve people, and help a team, it causes you to authentically ‘wake up’. On a high-performance team, you have no choice but to do a bunch of shadow work on yourself because you get constant reflections and feedback from clients, teammates, and your results.
In playing an intensely challenging business game, life is more vivid than the one being fed to you on a TV screen or device.
Good leaders know how to manufacture a great cause for people to follow and design layers of reward and celebration systems around achieving the results. Being involved in a game that values constant growth (and the vitality that comes from it) is a way for you and your team to stay ‘woke’ in ways that most religion, education, and entertainment methods simply cannot.
People have to put food on the table somehow. If they’re not surviving on savings or public funds, they’re participating in a business- directly or indirectly. So, you as a leader might as well make it a game of self-development for them. Anything else is boring and dull.
Nurturing your business means nurturing the ones who make it run.
Employees who feel unappreciated and unrecognized for their achievements will turn toward resentment, which consumes the vitality of a space like a fire consumes oxygen, ultimately affecting the viability of the business.
The thing about personal growth for leaders is that it never ever stops.
By being the beacon of continuous personal development, you motivate, intrigue, and inspire those around you. They see in you a reflection of their own purpose & value, by virtue of observing you in full alignment with your own.