Every birthday my sister and I stood in the doorway. Dad measured us, marked it on the door frame, and we beamed with pride at our incredible growth. Growth was expected, measured, celebrated. You would think we both grew to be the height of basketball players. I’m the tallest at a looming five foot, 3 inches. (Don’t forget the 3 inches, I’m very proud of that.)

Our growth chart was a visible reminder that we were growing. My parents weren’t expecting our height to be a measure of anything but they tracked it to help us understand that growth is non-negotiable. Growth IS the expectation at all times, no matter what.

While the door frame measuring stopped at sixth grade (along with the growth in our height — yes, I was 5’3” in the 6th grade), the expectation of growth continues into my fifth decade. The belief that we are who we are — our character, intelligence, creativity is static and can’t be changed is a farce. There is always opportunity for growth. When we look for and expect growth it pushes us to embrace challenges; persist in the face of setbacks; see effort, repeat effort, and a little more effort as a path to mastery; learn from criticism; and find lessons, even inspiration in the success of others. The consequence of expecting growth are remarkable. Rather than hungering for other’s approval, we run hard after learning.

One of my mentors loves saying, “If you are not growing, you are dying.” The first time I heard her say that I thought she was mistaken. It seems like there are moments of fallow-ness. But then I experienced someone who never grew. He was not fallow, he was dying.

Where am I learning new strategies?

Who do I have in my word that is contributing to my growth?

What habits am I developing that are bringing growth?

Brace for bad news: there is no status-quo! If status quo doesn’t exist and we are maintaining what we think is “status-quo,” we are dying — slowly, maybe, but definitely dying.  Our experience in 2020 with COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders from our national, state and local officials, felt overwhelming, anxiety producing, fear fostering, and yet, it has turned out to be a remarkable, unparalleled, and unrivaled opportunity for growth.

How is my behavior adding value to my life and the lives of others?

How am I using the pain, setbacks, loss and grief of COVID-19 to propel my growth?

If I am going to grow past the 6th grade doorway growth chart, it will only be because I purposefully chose growth. Growth comes when you intentionally put yourself in challenging places. Take your current challenge and grow.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash