Growth is Optional

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional."

~ John C. Maxwell

As I hike along Bukit Timah Hill in Singapore this morning, something struck me: Almost all living organisms in this universe strive to grow in order to maximize their potential as a species. Built into their DNA is the reality that without growth there is no survival.

As such, trees do not say: "I would like to grow only 50% today" and then grow some more some other day. They know that what is lost today in terms of growth potential is lost forever. It cannot be compensated the next day. Therefore they stretch themselves to the maximum and reach out towards the sun to get the most of the day, everyday. It seems as if they have no choice.

Human beings, on the other hand, are a little more special. We have the freedom of choice. We can choose. And here lies the blessing and the curse. We can choose to either stay in our comfort zone and do the same things we have been doing to get the usual results we are used to, or we can choose to jump out of our shells and into what I like to call our Courage Zone. There, we challenge ourselves to stretch, learn, grow, and expand our capacity to maximize our potential.  

Because it’s a choice, our development has to be intentional. We have to be aware of what we want to grow, and why. My coach asked me recently what my growth plan for the coming year. I tried to give him a half-baked answer, but he saw through me immediately. Without getting into the particulars of our conversation, I knew that if I tried to fool him I would only be fooling myself. With very little being said, I had arrived to face this difficult reality.  

The fact is, I didn’t have a plan... yet. When it came to goal-setting for the past few years, I had just picked up some random books or went to the occasional seminar. Slowly, I came to a difficult realization: I have left my personal growth journey to chance. I have not been intentional and, unlikes trees or flowers or buds, have not maximized my reach towards the sun; have not actualized my potential. (This realization did not come without some level of shame, but part of what I discovered was that this shame could evolve into inspiration and expose me to a world possibilities!).


Let's take a moment to ask ourselves what it is that we want to grow this year: Growth in terms of skills, mindsets, and experiences. Why is this progress important to us? How do we want to achieve this growth? Do your team members a favor and ask them these same questions.

There is no question that we will change, but if we want growth, we need to be prepared to see and do things in a different way. If we are deliberate about our growth and access appropriate tools and tap into adequate support, not only do our mindsets shift, but the pattern of actions that follow. Just as butterflies break out of their chrysalis in order to take flight, so can we! Do we change only when we have to, or because we want to be intentional about our growth? Change is a constant, but growth is an option.

Will this be a year of growth for you? What will you choose?

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