It’s a strange thing — the path of personal growth. Before I started my journey, I was a firm believer it was only for those who “needed help”. I had lived a great life without it, so I didn’t see the value of putting in the work. Plus, deep down I knew I would be judged for it, as I had previously judged others.

Then one day, a close friend of mine started raving about this Tony Robbins event he had just returned from. As he went on about the experience, I couldn’t help but judge — “You mean the crazy guy from the infomercials?”

Although he couldn’t tell me too many specifics (words don’t do it justice), I could see something was different about him. He had a light, a passion, an energy. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I knew I wanted a piece of whatever “it” was, so I agreed to attend the next event.

Overcoming Judgement

As I told my co-workers about my upcoming trip, my worst fears we’re realized and judgement was passed. I could see the wheels turning as they tried to figure out what “problem” I needed to fix. But honestly, I can’t blame them — I was asking myself the same question.

Even as I stood in line, waiting for the doors to open on Day 1 of the event, I found myself judging those around me (ironic as it may seem). But over the course of a few days, the pettiness vanished as a profound transformation took place. I felt as if I had finally come into awareness.

The Epiphany Moment

Now I know what you’re thinking, and no, this isn’t a plug for Tony Robbins. That event just happened to be my epiphany moment. It really doesn’t matter how the moment comes about, what does matter is how you receive it. If you accept it and allow yourself to truly surrender to it, it’s a deeply spiritual experience.

The world around you seems to change — you see the same sights and hear the same sounds, but they hold new meaning. A deeper, more profound meaning. As your awareness heightens, you finally see things clearly. You feel an amazing sense of vitality and passion for life.

The Choice Is Yours

But that excitement quickly fades into confusion which soon becomes frustration, leading to inaction. It can be hard to know where to start, or what sources to trust. Full disclosure, I struggled with this phase, but as I dug deeper into the topic of personal growth, I started to notice a trend. While everyone says things in a slightly different way, there’s an overwhelming theme — it’s your choice.

It’s up to you to figure out what this thing called life looks like for you. It’s up to you to shape, to create, to own. Its equal parts scary and exciting, but that’s what makes you feel truly alive. That’s how you know you’re doing it right.

I’ve learned, through both failure and success, that the decision of taking responsibility is the subtle yet dramatic difference between ordinary and extraordinary results.

Return to the Heart

So why don’t we take responsibility more often? Over time, we learn to play it safe— to set limits and manage our expectations. We learn to protect ourselves from harm by not getting emotionally invested. Worse yet, this is reinforced on a cultural level as a necessary part of “growing up”. Unfortunately, the result is a numbing effect — we no longer feel much of anything, good or bad.

As we disassociate from our feelings, we disassociate from truly living. We become passive observers, when we should be active participants. We rely on the logic of our minds while ignoring the wisdom of our hearts.

Luckily, this is not a new problem, and we can look to ancient wisdom for the solution. Meditation, prayer and mindfulness are all techniques to quiet the mind and listen to the heart. Whether you call it your inner voice, intuition, spirit, soul or conscious — it all refers to the same thing. It’s the energy within that guides and inspires.

When you the take time to process thoughts and notice feelings, you’ll be amazed at the overwhelming sense of clarity. Decisions come easy, and frankly, life is more enjoyable. All too often our minds are cluttered with the struggles of life (or Idea Debt) so it’s essential to find time to declutter.

Embrace Every Phase

It’s a wild ride from epiphany to self-doubt and back to inspiration, but it’s all part of the experience. And while it may not feel like it, it’s an upward spiral — each cycle between self-doubt and inspiration leads to growth and greater awareness. This is part of Leveling Up.

And remember — there is no time or effort wasted, only lessons learned.

At the end of the day, life is a series of choices — big or small — and the results shape our reality. I’ve found the road of comfort (avoiding fears) actually leads to more struggle while the road of challenge (facing fears) actually leads to less. Embracing even the smallest challenge allows you to positively leverage Inertia, setting off a chain reaction of growth.

Share Your Light

As I continue down the path of personal growth, I find myself more satisfied with life and less concerned with the opinions of others. I find myself comparing less, and appreciating more. My motivation has switched from extrinsic to intrinsic, resulting in greater confidence and overall happiness. I know I’m creating my path, living my truth and sharing my light with the world.