Self-assessment and feedback help us determine in what ways it would be desirable for us to change, to grow. Growth requires courage; it is a continuous process of exposing our vulnerable areas, areas where we have not developed mastery. Growth also requires exploring what the Jungians call our “dark” side. This is uncomfortable to do. Yet the courage to assume responsibility includes responsibility for the parts of us that we’d rather not have the world look at too closely. If we are to contain or transform our leader’s dark side, we had better become familiar with our own. We must learn to support our urge toward growth in its contest with the equally powerful urge to protect our self-image.
Personal growth often involves emotional struggle. We should be prepared for that struggle and not try to shut it down at the first signs of discomfort. The knowledge that we may feel worse before we feel better is important and enables us to stick with the lessons we need to learn. Supportive relationships or groups help us get through periods of emotional trial. Structured development programs, counseling, and mentor relationships all provide vehicles and support systems for internal growth.
We also need external growth opportunities. There is often ample room for growth within our current position if we assertively seek it. Working closely with a competent leader is itself a primary growth opportunity. At some point, however, it may be desirable to move away from the comfort of our current role to test ourselves in a new, unproven role. In an age when organizations no longer make lifelong commitments to employees, we must chart our own career growth.
If we shy away from discomfort, we will never grow.
If we seek challenge, we will continuously grow, often in unexpected ways.
Once again, we are responsible. We must be self-advocates for both our internal and external growth.