The title of this article comes from a quote/statement I’ve seen circulate on social media a few times:
“If you know me based on who I was a year ago, you don’t know me at all. My growth game is strong. Allow me to reintroduce myself.”
I like how it indicates that humans do change, and indicates this in a positive way. I get frustrated how many people, particularly in leadership roles, (and even in the field of Change Management) ascribe to beliefs like: People don’t change; and People don’t like change. This is just fundamentally untrue, and incredibly unhelpful and belittling of human capacity for growth.
I’ve been reminded a few times recently about how much I’ve changed. It’s a great exercise to look back over your lifetime, pick a moment and compare yourself Now to Then.
This article focuses on personal stories, because I only have access to knowledge of my growth, and can provide the details and contexts. I’m sure you have your own stories and I invite you to reflect on what gets triggered by the stories I tell.
🍃 When I was 11 I Loved (yes, with a capital L), Trixie Belden books. (They were a big deal in the early 80s!) I saved my money and purchased 34 in the series over a two year period. I devoured each book, eager to find out what new adventure Trixie and her family and friends found themselves in, and how they got through it. Reading those books were many of the joyful moments in a time when external turbulence was going on in my family life. I kept that collection of books until recently – for 40 years, they had travelled countries and survived decluttering in at least 12 house moves. Before I gave them away, I picked one up to savour it again. And it wasn’t a good experience. My adult mind had a very different frame of reference for parsing the story content. I stopped reading, so as not to ruin my childhood memories. I realised that the stories, characters and settings had a season in my life, and that the changes I’d made since, meant I was in a very different season.
🍃 I recently picked up a professional book I purchased in 2003, published in 2002. I was re-reading it, because it was the topic of a book club session I was attending. There are a couple of ideas from the book that I still value in my present, and have repeatedly shared with others. There were other ideas, that at the time of first reading must have been important to me because I highlighted, underlined and dog-eared pages with my focused attention when they resonated. And that resonance did not always remain today as I read them again in 2021. Some of the ideas seemed basic rather than dramatic, so maybe I’d absorbed them into my sense of ‘normal’. Some ideas seemed outdated in comparison with more sophisticated and popular notions from other thought leaders now operating in a world of prolific social media.
🍃 I’ve been decluttering this year. And that included revisiting a box of work product artefacts I’d kept because of my pride in the work, and as a portfolio of that which I am capable of doing. It was both fascinating, a kind of archaeological dig to see what I kept having chosen as important, the currency of the knowledge it contained, and the state of technology and skill that had produced it. One item was an assignment from a Business Computing Certificate I undertook in 1989. I got an A+. And I cringed as I looked at the artefact. It was done on a dot matrix printer, with a combination of hand drawn images to fill gaps where I couldn’t source a relevant clip art image, on paper with perforated edges – and it all seemed every crude with my 2021 eyes. Yet, I took a moment to remember that it was all cutting edge stuff, when I produced it in 1989. (And was evidence of creativity as I had to literally cut and paste text and images onto a single sheet of paper to photocopy a more finished version of a title page.) While there was a cringe factor in how my 2021 self saw the work, I’m proud that my ability has changed dramatically since then.
🍃 I read a humourous post in social media today, about how a parent couldn’t get their child to believe that they were older than Google. (Founded/created in 1998). And it got me thinking about how much ubiquitous technology we have adopted as a society in the past 30 years, with multiple increments of change. Take for example the telephone: From phones at home that involved an operator, to phones where I could dial for an automatic connection anywhere. To phones that had push buttons rather than dials, then went cordless. All the while, phones going mobile outside the home with keypads, then to touch screens and then to video conferencing facilities. That’s a lot of change, much imposed (arguably) and much embraced for the convenience it brought about. It is very humourous to watch one of those video clips of a person born in 21st century, trying to figure out how to work the phone of my childhood. And to think that at one time in my youth I had to learn how to do that, for which I felt very grown-up, and it’s a skill that now gathers proverbial dust.
Humans can, and do, embrace change … and grow as a result. There’s a whole Other conversation about What growth is desirable for individuals, as well as society. Maybe that conversation is a better use of our energies, will and intellect. And let’s just assume people will adapt, if there are sensible, meaningful relevant approaches to making change.
So how is your growth game – what’s your re-introduction to the world?
Helen Palmer is Founder and Team Development Facilitator at Questo. Like Winnie the Pooh, she ‘sits and thinks’ … and imagines how people – especially those in teams – can make a better life for others and themselves. She likes to share those thoughts with the possibility that they inspire and initiate meaningful change.
Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash
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