“I shall grow.”
I’m a massive fan of growth. I like the feeling and the knowing that I’m moving forward. It’s not that I’m afraid to be still, instead I refuse to become stagnant.
It’s the year 2007. My wardrobe is minimal and most of my clothes are sewn together by me. I’m a full-time student in my final year of design. I’m in this incredible fishbowl of creativity and studying with some very talented 2-D and 3-D designers. We are full of hope and we are growing in our skill daily; as if we swallowed a cocktail of creative steroids. I’m midway through a studio class when I notice a simple tattoo inscribed on my classmates’ arm, ‘I shall grow’. These three words read like a permission slip, a gentle reminder and almost a given- that growth will happen.
Years later and I still think about this tattoo. You see, it’s not “I will”, or “I must”, but instead- “I shall ”. Commitment to the cause; etched in ink on the skin forever!
This notion is easier said then done and begs the question, how do you grow? Sometimes I want to grow, but have no idea how to grow.
“Natures Rule: If it’s dying, it’s not growing. So, cut it off and start growing again.” – L.M.
All year long this quote has echoed across my days. I have subedited my life and pruned back things that are not working well. It has felt harsh, yet liberating all at the same time. I know it’s part of life, making the tough calls. Pulling the pin on toxic relationships, quitting the job that’s not going anywhere and cutting the habit that’s not producing any fruit.
Right now, I’m making a tough call. I’ve had a long term dream that has existed in my heart for years. The pursuit of this dream has been exciting and taken me to many parts of the globe. Along the journey I have met fabulous humans and grown in so much knowledge and experience. However, over the past six months I have felt that my growth has become stunted and in return, I have become frustrated.
I’ve tried to ignore the lack of growth and just hoped it would work out all by itself. I kept saying, “just a little more time”. But the truth is my dream has changed, and so to have I.
In a recent conversation with a close friend I fleshed out my fear of letting go of this dream. How I felt challenged to cut down this massive tree that wasn’t growing in my life anymore.
We talked about life and it being like a story. His words to me were this, “we can’t know the full story of our life, but we can set the tone that creates the story of our life”.
In the process of pruning your life and resetting the tone, can I propose a few practical options for taking down those dead trees:
Ask yourself some basic questions.
What does this bring to my life?
Is it growing me?
What else can I do?
Is this what I want in my life in 10 years time?
What are the things that bring clarity and understanding?
Lastly, what environment do I need to create to make these things grow?
Please note, that for me, this was not an overnight conversation.
I have pages and pages in my journals where I talk about avoiding the big chop. I tried multiple ways to not pull down that dead tree, but eventually I realised it had to happen.
Good news though. Once the tree is gone, I’m confident I will get back some space. It will make way for something new, something better and something that shall grow.
Some of the greatest people I know and have read about have needed to make big calls and start all over from scratch. My hope is that all I have to do is prune some hedges and cut back some dead branches. However, if I do have to rip down the big old oak, I know I’ve got this. My capacity to handle such a challenge is bigger then I once realised and so is yours!
In setting the tone of your life and making some changes, it makes for a better and far more interesting story.
In the words of my old friend Ruthee, “Just put your brave undies on”.