Do you remember the thrill of getting a new pair of shoes? As I was growing up, my mother, much like your mother probably did for you, would take me to the shoe store to buy a pair of shoes. After trying on a few different pairs of shoes and walking around the store with them we would find a pair that we liked. Then, and only then, our mothers would give the ultimate test, the Thumb Test. Using their thumb, they would push down on the end of the toe to make sure that the shoe had plenty of what? Growing room. Why? Because they wanted to make sure that the shoes allowed for our feet to grow, rather than only being comfortable for a short time. Does this sound familiar?
Now that I am full grown I no longer use this thumb test. No longer am I growing, no longer do I need the extra room. For the rest of my life I will wear the same shoe size. It is one of those limitations that God placed on these bodies of ours. I will never be any taller then I am now, I might grow a little around the middle as some of us have a tendency to do in later years, but as a general rule we are done growing-or are we? Perhaps we should look beyond the physical to our minds, our character, even our personalities. All of these were meant to keep on growing indefinitely! The great thing about life is that there are no limitations on how much we can grow and develop. Unfortunately most people don't tap into their growth potential. Benjamin Franklin's thoughts captured on this gravestone inscription are very true:
Died - age 25
Buried - age 70
Here lies the average person
Most of us complete our education and we stop learning and growing. What a tragedy, what an utter waste of a great life! Don't let this be you! Don't ever stop learning; always keep growing. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner. No matter what level your abilities are, you have more potential then you could ever realize in your lifetime!
So why do people stop growing? Is it a conscious choice-or more a lack of a making a choice? You see, upon reaching adulthood, most people find an "environment" that they feel comfortable in, much like a worn pair of comfortable shoes. The choice that has to be made is that of stepping out of our comfortable environment into one that is bigger than we currently are in, the same way we used to get a pair of shoes that we could grow into. Figuratively, find a pair of shoes for your mind that gives you room to grow. Step out and step up to a responsibility that is "too big" for you right now and that requires your growth in order to fulfill it. Find an environment where you are forced to grow just to keep up. Keep stepping out and stepping up for as long as you want to grow. Because you will never find a shoe for your mind so big that you cannot grow into it.
Give your life the Thumb Test; step out of your comfort zones, take on new challenges, and stretch yourself. Do things that you never thought you could do. Take on a responsibility that is more than you feel like you can handle so that you will be challenged to live up to it. Don't ever get a pair of shoes for your life that fit you perfectly; always provide some growing room. If the shoe fits, don't wear it Experience once again, or maybe for the first time, the thrill of learning, of conquering! The thrill of growing into a new pair of shoes.
Seth Getz is a small business consultant and a coach for people who want to grow their business. Learn more at www.sethgetz.com.