I was just at SXSW, and while I gleaned tons of info from all the innovators and ideators, my biggest insight came from my own daughter.
So, Olive is four-years-old, but she’s dying to be seven-years-old. She was inspired by her cousin Javin, who we visited with down in Texas. He just turned seven and he was able to do all these amazing things that Olive couldn’t, like jump in the big kids section at the trampoline park; stay up past 8pm; and swim without floaties.
Almost every day since we got back home, Olive reminds me that one day she’ll be seven, too. She raises both her arms in the air like a referee announcing a touchdown and says “See I’m big! I’m growing big right now!”
I reply, “That’s right, darling, you’re growing bigger every day.”
It’s true for Olive, and for us.
It’s super easy to feel stuck sometimes,: creatively, with our jobs, in our relationships. But the truth is that we all have the potential to grow, at any point in our lives.
Studies show that humans can build not only new muscles well into their 90’s, but our cognitive abilities (like empathy and problem solving) actually improve with age.
So how can we keep evolving when when we feel like we’re stuck in a rut?
1. Be awkward.
Doing anything new feels really weird and uncomfortable at first, but the stretching of yourself is what allows you to grow. When a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, there’s a point when it breaks out of it’s chrysalis and struggles like crazy. It’s a little wet, pathetic thing that is no longer a worm-like thing, but it doesn’t know how to use it’s wings yet. That is exactly what change feels like. You’re not who you used to be, but you’re not quite yet who you wanna be. That is ok, stick with it. You’ll soon get the hang of it and will start flying free in no time.
2. Be Fearless
Most stagnation is caused by fear: Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change. Remember that most of the scary thoughts we tell ourselves aren’t true. Fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Debunk the junk in your head and take the advice of Eleanor Roosevelt and “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
3. Be Gentle.
Many times we are growing when we don’t even think we are. Challenging times, difficult people, all-around adversity; these things grow us more than anything. So take heart, a bad situation you might be facing right now is undoubtedly your greatest accelerator.