Blog entry by Alan Chapman
How We Grow
How do we grow?
How do you grow?
Do you know?
Our growth is our learning and development as a person.
Learning and development - what does this mean?
These are huge concepts, beyond 'L&D' as we typically think of it, as if L&D is simply 'training' or 'education' or 'professional development'.
We must imagine growth much deeper than this.
Understanding how we grow - how you grow - is hugely significant.
Imagine you are suddenly lost in the countryside, in the fog, at night, or you are marooned on an island... or you witness a serious traffic accident, or you have the opportunity to listen to a friend who has just been bereaved, or is in crisis.
What growth would be helpful to you in situations like this?
Learning and development - as human growth
Growth is physical, emotional and spiritual.
Internally and externally.
In ourselves - mind body and soul.
And outside ourselves, in our relationships...
Our relationships with:
- other people and life,
- and where we are in time and space.
People and life refers to all living things.
Time is moments, hours, days, weeks, months, years... and life-stages.
Time does not always conform to man-made measurements.
For example imagination, sleep, dreams and memories are not subject to man-made rules and measures of time.
Space refers to our position in the world - where in a room, or a building or open air, and where in a country, or region, continent...
Or on a hill or in a cave, or in a lake or on sea. On a chair, or up a ladder.
Where we are deeply affects how we are in ourselves.
Our physical position and bodily state, our spirituality and connectedness to whatever is spiritually meaningful to us - these are all hugely significant in our feelings and attitudes and moods.
This is all changing constantly. We are mostly unaware of it. Often in a sort of waking trance. And generally not taught how to make sense of it all.
And all of this and more, are part of growth and how we grow.
Our genetics and upbringing and personality
How we grow is greatly influenced by our personality.
Our personality is formed and continually being shaped by:
- our genetic inheritance
- and by our environment
- and by our own reactions to our own growth and responses
This last point is unusual and rarely considered or discussed.
And yet it's crucial.
It's about our levels of self-awareness.
Do you consider a mistake you've made as:
- something to regret (that you wish had not happened)
- or something that cannot now be changed, and so something that we can learn from?
- or something else?
Do you think about yourself, as a person:
- whom you love
- or hold other feelings towards
- or something else?
If something goes 'wrong', or becomes very challenging or seems unfair, do you:
- blame something or someone else?
- or blame yourself,
- or blame no-one, because 'it is what it is'?
And how do your answers to these questions change depending on the situation and your mood?
Do you understand the extent of this and the reasons for this?
How much time do you give yourself to think about your own mind, and body and soul?
And where and how you might do this?
Do you find that walking helps your thinking? Or something else? And do you wonder why and how this is?
Do you find that you can imagine differently or be more creative if you change your physical situation, or change your environment?
Do you realise that these questions are extremely relevant to how we all grow?
Do you wonder how words and language can convey complicated ideas and feelings and thoughts, when words and language - and all other human inventions (inc. maths and science) - are open to so much interpretation as to what is actually true?
Does the phrase, " I love you," mean the same to any two people?
Or how useful is maths and science if 2 cannot be divided by 3, or 10 cannot be divided by 3?
Or we cannot actually prove that we all agree that the sky is the same hue of blue, or actually blue at all?
And do you feel most grown 'in your comfort zone' or 'out of your comfort zone'?
And are there any right or wrong answers for the above?
We are not taught to understand how we grow
Rather like our own national history, we are not actually reliably taught how we grow.
English school children are not generally taught that the English - not Hitler's Nazi regime - invented concentration camps.
English education ignores much shameful past, as does education in many other parts of the world.
Education also does much to suppress people's growth, rather than promoting and enabling it.
Our 'received' or 'taught' or 'conditioned' ideas about human growth - education, learning and development - and especially our own growth are probably not very accurate.
We tend to believe what we are taught by schools and parents and people of apparent authority and expertise.
Our parents and grandparents were subject to similar state-controlled education as exists today.
And so education, mostly and usually, is not reliable. It's deeply systemic.
And so it's not surprising that school generally fails to teach us that our own personality and reactions are significant in our growth (education, learning and development).
And modern schooling, in many parts of the world, seeks mainly to 'teach' people the knowledge they need for university, rather than help and enable us how to cultivate and cook food, how to parent, how to save someone's life, or listen with compassion, or how we can understand ourselves, and grow and learn as people.
And after school does college or university, or workplace training, or parenting ever teach us about understanding ourselves, as being hugely significant in our own growth?
I have written elsewhere in these blogs about developing the confidence to think independently, and to choose how we can each explore facts and truth in our own ways - rather than accept what is given to us.
This begins with exploring ourselves.
Who we really are.
How we grow.
What and who we might be and do.
What meaning and purpose do we want? For ourselves.
Not a version of ourselves that is given to us, (often by very well-intentioned parents, and a less well-intentioned state and schooling etc.), but what is in our hearts and heads and souls.
Think about it.
By thinking about this you will very quickly open doors that lead to surprisingly good powerful things, for yourself, and for others too.
Think about it for yourself.