Many people realize the concept of personal growth and learning is an important component of fulfillment and living an exceptional life.
Yet, time and time again, I meet with individuals who admit they have no clear path or concept of what it means to be learning and growing.
Now, of course, we all know what learning and growing mean. We take classes, we engage in professional development opportunities…heck, we even download apps on our phone to teach us new life concepts like how to meditate, “train our brain,” or learn a new language.
But are these learning opportunities enough? Is this really bringing us the personal growth and fulfilling life we’re seeking?
The Wright Way of Learning and Growing
One of the biggest challenges we face is helping people maximize their quality of life. This may mean helping them learn ways to reduce stress. It could mean helping them discover the path to moving forward with their career. It may also mean helping them navigate their connection with their partner and figuring out how to grow in their relationship. For many, it’s simply becoming all they could become.
No matter what the ultimate objective, it comes down to helping people learn and grow. We define learning as discovering new concepts and increasing your knowledge. In short, it’s knowing what you didn’t know before.
Growing is the change you make from what you’ve learned; learning is gaining knowledge to facilitate growth.
For many of us though, we grew up and passed through a school system focused on simply regurgitating facts and “correct” answers. Schools often view students as empty receptacles for knowledge to be poured into. Unfortunately, this system was originally designed on the conveyer belt model of factories: producing students, not developing their human potential.
So, when faced with a new student at the Wright Foundation, our first job is to help them overcome the various and sundry traumas of their upbringing, whether they’ve succeeded in their education or not. In fact, it’s often those who succeeded in school who are more difficult to help. Those who fit into the school system, receive high marks, great board scores, and understand the metrics of test-taking, often have a harder time with the creativity and freedom of exploration that comes with lifelong learning. They’ve become hypnotized by a system that’s turned them into perfect test-takers, not experiential learners.
I’m reminded of a recent meeting we had with a fabulously successful entrepreneur and business leader. This gentleman also serves on our board and had the opportunity to address our graduate students. He was so moved and inspired by the methodologies we use in our University, to engage our students.
At the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential, we focus on inspiring and teaching people to continue learning and growing during every minute of their lives.
We call this the assignment way of living.
In the meeting, our friend was watching our students with great awe. In our teamwork, we use a great deal of feedback. There’s often a lot of excitement and animation going on within our teams: resolving arguments, using the rules of engagement, coming up with creative solutions to problems. Our teams often vote between different resolutions. There’s no tenure. Students don’t get a job they can rest on; they’re constantly moving, shifting responsibility, and facing new opportunities.
We teach our students that conflict shouldn’t be avoided but embraced. When discussing hot-button topics, there is often argument but it’s constructive. Students learn when conflict is approached with good faith, it often evolves into a greater solution.
Growth is an Ongoing Process
Learning and growing isn’t an activity that takes place through your college years and then ends. No! It’s a lifelong process each of us should embrace each and every day.
One of our brightest and most excited students was a fellow in his 80s. He came to a weekend with his daughter and was so enthralled with the program he brought his wife back and they both signed up for our year of transformation classes.
Each day, he was delighted to stay after class and discuss his discoveries with me. His wife broke patterns she’d been living since her childhood. In fact, she started standing up to him and going for what she wanted! Their marriage grew stronger and their connection grew deeper. They discovered new connections with their children and families as well.
This gentleman ended up passing away a short time after completing the program, but his family reported thanks to the discoveries made during the year of transformation, he experienced more fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction in his final year than he had ever before. It is never too late to learn new lessons and discover our potential.
Understanding the Assignment Way of Living
When you’re on a transformational path you achieve more, you feel more, you experience more. No one is bored on this path. So much novelty and challenge exists when you transform that every day feels like an adventure. And while great, traditionally celebrated events happen because you’re on this path—job promotions, marriage, kids, travel—you are also on a journey of inner discovery.
Be aware, too, that this is an ongoing process. What we mean is that you don’t just benefit when you reach a goal, but you benefit over and over again. Too often people make significant changes, in their lives, feel good about their accomplishments, and then unthinkingly slide back into pre-change behaviors. They aren’t vigilant about change and thus can’t sustain the gains they’ve made. The Transformed! process doesn’t allow that to happen. It requires transformation to become a way of life.
The benefits of transformation, then, are large and small, external and internal, focused and multifaceted, daily and for the rest of your life. And then there’s the benefit of taking action. At Wright, a personal and professional development organization and graduate institute, we refer to the “assignment way of living,” and by that we mean that our students are expected to act on what they learn, to practice new behaviors, to try new things, to be willing to take risks. The most common complaint about traditional seminars is that they end and the results are neither sustainable nor cumulative. Still, others complain that traditional therapy is all talk, though, and no action. As much as we believe in the value of reflection, meditation, and dialogue, we know that you have to take what you reflect meditate, and dialogue on into the world.
Sean, the Chief Information Officer for a global financial firm and one of our students in his first quarter of study, best expressed the benefit of making consistent small changes at a high velocity:
“I’m finding myself flowing with life and not holding so much anxiety. I’m not spending as much time worrying about the thing I need to do, I’m just doing it. I feel I am starting to get better at changing my behavior on the fly. The little changes make such a huge difference, and the more I can make these changes, the more powerful I become. I am feeling joy in this.”
–Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living
Using the assignment way of living means seeking challenges. We encourage students to do assignments to stretch and help them grow. Remember, growth isn’t easy. In fact, there are times when growth is even painful, but with the pain comes transformation. It’s not comfortable and actually, the discomfort indicates it’s working!
If you’re shy, for example, you may want to pick a simple assignment to speak up. If you’re afraid of making mistakes and veer toward perfectionist tendencies, allow yourself to mess up. If you’re a lone ranger, ask people for help. Of course, these may all be daunting prospects! Staying in your comfort zone often feels easier. Unfortunately, it also leads to stagnation.
But when you take on the assignment you experiment with a new pattern. You begin to recognize the feelings arising when you break out of your comfort zone. Do you feel fear? Do you find yourself offering up explanations or making excuses? Do you go into the situation assuming people don’t want to give you what you want? In these reactions is the profound field of data. If this data is used correctly, it becomes the tool of transformation.
Each day and in each situation, embrace a new assignment to challenge your limiting beliefs and mistaken perceptions. Explore the possibilities and celebrate each new success.
We’re all living our own life project. It’s important we take each opportunity to grow, discover more meaning, and seek greater fulfillment. It’s never too late to grow and transform our life into the life we want to live!
For more ways to push past your limiting beliefs, visit the Wright Foundation website. Join us for an upcoming Foundations weekend, where we’ll explore these topics in-depth and help you build connections with others who are seeking to maximize their potential. We also want to announce the availability of many of our courses for download. Don’t miss out on the special introductory price for many of our courses and lectures.
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.