When You Stop Growing You Start Plateauing

I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of BodyBuilding.com yesterday. It’s right here in the Treasure Valley (Meridian, Idaho). BodyBuilding.com wants to do some filming on our campus for a series of videos aimed at college students. When I arrived at their building, I was given a tour. The most inspiring part of the tour wasn’t the expansive cubicle-filled offices or the wonderful fitness products they offer or even the overwhelming number of extremely good-looking and muscular people who worked there. It was Ryan DeLuca’s office.

Ryan is the CEO of BodyBuilding.com. He started the company in his garage in 1999. His office isn’t very big or ornate. It has a desk and a couple of chairs in it. One wall is covered with all of Ryan’s goals, values, and leadership reminders. But my eyes were immediately drawn to one side of his desk. There sat a towering stack of books and audio books. Brandon, my tour guide, pointed at the stack and said, “This is what Ryan is currently reading.” Wow!

Even though I didn’t get to meet Ryan personally I was inspired by his office. I was challenged by the way he challenged himself to keep growing and learning. Brandon explained how Ryan’s appetite for learning and growing was built into the culture of the company. Employees were rewarded for taking the time to continue to grow mentally, as well as physically. In some ways, Ryan’s appetite and discipline for growth on a personal level is being played out in the explosive growth of the company he founded.

I walked away from my tour and meeting reminded of this challenge: As soon as you stop growing, you start plateauing.

When you stop investing in your own growth and development, you’ll lose the ability to invest in anyone else’s. Growth is not automatic in your life. You must determine to daily do the things that will put you on the right kind of growth track in order to develop your leadership skills. There are specific ways and intentional ways we can invest in our personal growth. Here are some for you to consider:

Listening to CDs and podcasts that will help you grow.
I listen to CDs and podcasts from various leaders and professional speakers while I’m driving. Since I have a 40 minute commute to work, I use that time to feed my mind with what I listen to. I call it “Car University.” I’ll order CDs from conferences that I can’t attend. I’ll download talks from motivational speakers off of the internet. There is an enormous amount of free learning on iTunesU (you can thank me later!). What you feed your mind will find it’s way out into the way you speak and live your life.

Visiting places that will help you grow.
A few weeks back I took a group of students to a leadership conference in Boston. There is so much history there. When you visit places like this, you find yourself wondering what it must have been like. You learn about other people’s experiences. You feel connected to something bigger than yourself. It expands your worldview. You contemplate a lot of questions worth asking. I think most places that resonate with history can teach you some important things.

Attending events that will help you grow.
Conferences are important. Seminars as well. While you may not come away with an overwhelming amount of new information, it is important to get in that kind of environment. One great idea is worth it to me. Plus, these types of events can affirm or encourage your own growth in the right direction.

Hanging around people that will help you grow.
If I want to grow in a certain direction or certain aspect of character, I will look for someone else who is a lot better at it than I am. Some people aren’t confident enough to be with people who display a greater aptitude than them. Unfortunately, that’s an ego issue a leader needs to get over real quick. If I want to be a better tennis player, I don’t keep playing people that are easy to beat. I only learn when I have to push myself farther than I have in the past. There are people out there that help me do that.

Reading books that will help you grow.
Ryan DeLuca understands the value in reading. Most of my learning and growth comes from good books. I think the habit and practice of reading also helps you keep your mind sharp and open to new information. I want my world to to expand, not diminish. Books have a way of widening one’s perspective.

Invest your time in those efforts that will move you forward. I don’t want to face the disappointment years from now that I hadn’t done the work necessary to reach my fullest potential. Hyrum Smith, President of Franklin-Covey said, “Life’s too short to choose any path that ends in regret.”

What are you going to do today to invest in personal growing so you don’t end up plateauing?

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