You’re not entitled to professional growth or even personal prosperity. If your career is to reach its full potential — and yours — you must make your own success.
As a growth-minded leader, you may understand this all too well. But understanding that you’re responsible for your own growth and implementing a sound strategy to achieve that growth are not the same. Many leaders never adopt the mindset that makes personal and professional development possible.
Don’t be like them. Start seeing the world through a “growth lens” and use it to reach your true potential as a leader. Here’s how:
When you practice radical generosity, you give without expecting to receive anything in return. This practice is at the core of many religious traditions and secular moral philosophies. Radical generosity has self-evident benefits for your personal well-being. It feels good to give back. But for better or worse, it also has practical benefits for your professional development and material prosperity. These benefits accrue in two different but equally important ways.
The first is downstream of the mindset change required to adopt a radically generous posture in public life. Some call it a growth mindset, others an abundance mindset, but the idea is to resist the jealous impulse that leads many of us to guard resources and opportunities in zero-sum competition with others.
That impulse often delivers short-term benefits at the expense of far greater long-term opportunity costs. As the old saying goes, “Money flows better through an open hand than a closed fist.” By definition, a closed fist can’t receive.
The second professional benefit of radical generosity is more pragmatic. It’s best summed up by another old saying: “What goes around, comes around.”
Esther Kestenbaum Prozan, Chief Commercial Officer at Renewal Logistics, speaks to this in her book Bigger and Better, “There is nothing cynical about this—it is genuine relationship-building of the highest order. You provide value… while expecting nothing specific in return, and when the moment of need comes, you will be the one who has always been there.” Whether you know it or not, you need a solid support network to grow personally and professionally. Understanding and implementing the concept of radical generosity is essential to building this network.
Setting challenging goals is a lot like setting off on a thrilling adventure. Without it, we lack the compass that guides us toward new, uncharted territory for professional and personal growth. Start by thinking hard about what gets you excited and what challenges you. Think both short and long-term when developing your goals. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars. Challenging yourself in areas that feel out of your depth is critical to setting the stage for growth.
Marissa Mayer, Co-Founder and CEO of Sunshine said, “I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. I think that is how you grow. When there’s a moment of ‘Wow, I’m not so sure that I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, it’s then that you have a breakthrough. Sometimes, that’s a sign that something really great is about to happen. You’re about to grow and learn a lot more about yourself.”
Once you’ve set your ambitious goals, it’s time to break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. Remember that each step forward should be celebrated as a victory — no matter how small. You’ll need that supportive network you’ve worked hard to develop during this time. Mentors, peers, or other like-minded people will help encourage and inspire you throughout your journey.
Remember, setting challenging goals is more about evolving into the best version of yourself than reaching an endpoint. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith and embrace the uncomfortable times. Doing so will bring forth a wealth of learning and lessons in resilience.
To grow personally and professionally, you must be willing to reflect on your journey and admit there is always room for improvement. Seeking feedback is one of the most uncomfortable but necessary parts of growth. It takes courage to be vulnerable for the sake of gain. And it takes humility to hit the pause button on the hustle of life and take a breath to truly analyze the feedback you receive.
This practice isn’t just about identifying what went well and what didn’t; it’s about understanding why. Elon Musk identified it well when he said, “It’s important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing better.”
Seeking feedback and reflecting on it is vital to becoming the best version of yourself. Those who prioritize this step make better decisions, have improved relationships, are more adaptable, and experience continuous growth.
If asking for feedback has you feeling weak in the knees, start with a close friend or trusted coworker. Let them know you want to grow personally and professionally, and ask if they have any feedback that might help you. Make a point of listening closely to what they have to say. Set aside time to reflect on their answers and visualize how their feedback could help you grow.
Sometimes, being honest with yourself is the most challenging part of receiving feedback. Taking the time to ask for input and assess where you are (and where you want to be) will help you grow into the person you want to be.
Growth, whether personally or professionally, is a continuous process. If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel quite uncomfortable at times along the way. By embracing radical generosity, setting challenging goals, seeking feedback, and reflecting, you can begin to set yourself up to become the best version of yourself. Embrace the discomfort, celebrate the victories, and never stop learning. The journey will teach you a lot about yourself, so be sure to enjoy the ride.