When I was in 7th grade, I took a shop class where we built tiny towers out of balsa wood. We spent all spring designing and building them, then at the end of the semester we competed to see whose tower could hold the most weight.
Where everybody else threw their towers together quickly and moved on to other projects, I spent hours on mine, completely absorbed in making the best possible design.
When it came time to compete, I was last in line. As I walked up to the front, the teacher told me she had “saved the best design for last, but go slowly”.
I methodically added each weight, but the class quickly got bored with the slow progress.
They started yelling and chanting at me to put more on, to speed up.
With all this peer pressure on the outside and my 7th grade insecurities on the inside, I caved. I hurriedly threw on all the rest of the weight at once. It was too much too soon and my balsa wood tower crumpled.
My design was built to handle all the weight, and could have-- if I had kept going at a steady pace.
But I let the wants of others trump my own progress because their voices were louder than mine, and all the hours I'd put in went to waste.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this site, it’s that only you can define what your success looks like. And only by keeping your own goal top of mind and shutting out the other voices can you achieve it.
We fall into these rabbit holes of what looks normal and what we should want to achieve. Then we wonder why we’re so stressed and anxious, unfulfilled, and why we never seem to have time to do anything we actually want to do.
People get caught up in the hustle without thinking through what they're really hustling towards. They sacrifice family, friends, and time to achieve milestones they don't even want, simply because that's what the world tells them to do.
In order to grow in both our personal and professional lives, we need to stop blindly hustling and think about what we want for our futures.
When we stop letting outside influences define our lives, we create space for our own growth and stop stealing time from our family, friends, and ourselves.
The Grow Code is a framework with which you can pursue goals and personal growth without burning out.
There are four fundamental steps:
1. Develop a “Growth Mindset”.
Everything else comes from this. You must be willing to constantly ask questions, no matter how insecure you feel about looking stupid. Get hungry for knowledge.
On the flip side, when you don't know the answer to a question, don't pretend you know it. Own the moment and say “Actually, I don’t know, but I can find out.” And then go find out.
2. Know yourself.
If you don’t know yourself, you can’t know what you want in life. Lack of self-awareness allows other, potentially dangerous, things influence you. A great place to start if you're overwhelmed with the concept is these two powerful things:
- What stresses you out, and
- What you act like when you’re stressed.
These two things alone can reveal what makes you tick, what you should avoid, and even provide insight into past behavior. For example, when I’m stressed, I hole up in my apartment and don’t want to see or talk to anybody. Before I knew my own stress behavior, I assumed isolation was unhealthy. Now I recognize that I just need alone time!
3. Set practical goals.
This concept in particular I struggle with every day. There is so much information in the world about goal setting and productivity, but it all seems impossible to implement in my daily life.
So far I've found this to be the most effective process:
- Define a specific goal. Don't let it be ambiguous.
- Set a reasonable time frame.
- Break it down into small pieces you can achieve in a day or a week.
Don’t be afraid to shoot for the moon in your overall goal, but when it comes to the weekly/daily tasks you set for yourself be practical. Every time you check off one smaller task, you're closer to winning. You don't have to put needless pressure on yourself.
4. Intentionally Create white space.
Do you ever wonder why there’s been such a surge in media about minimalism? My theory is that it’s backlash from consumerism and constant busy-ness. People are burning out from buying more stuff and working constantly to afford it, yet still feeling unfulfilled.
“White Space” is an art term that means the empty area in a piece. It is used strategically to draw focus to the subject, and create balance in the frame. We need white space in our lives, too. We need rest, and space to breathe. Only then can we draw focus to what really matters and achieve balance in our lives.
Once you decide your own agenda, you'll find freedom in saying "no" to things that would take you off your path.
Every step is a choice made: Are we going to listen to everybody else today? Or are we going to move steadily towards our own success?