The Journey Towards Growth 

When my oldest two children were about 6 and 8, my wife and I decided to surprise them. We had booked to go to Copenhagen for a long weekend and the two were coming with us. Our flight was an early one and the drive to Dublin would take a couple of hours, so we put them to bed as normal the night before, but then at around 2am we woke them again to let them know that we were all going away for a few days. It’s amazing how quickly kids can get themselves out of bed and dressed when they want to! It’s funny, but while the weekend in Copenhagen was great, I think it was that surprise element of the trip to the airport and going somewhere new and unexpected that mattered more.

Psychologist Carol Dweck once said that becoming is better than being. Isn’t there something interesting in that idea? It suggests that we often get more out of the journey towards somewhere than we get out of the destination. It is not the destination that really matters, it is more about how we get there, what we put in and what we overcome. These are the things that allow us to grow, and growth is the tangible evidence of how we are getting better.

I used to wonder why growth was important. Why not just stay as we are if we are happy in the now? I think the reason is that staying as we are is not a real option. The Universe has no real interest in our welfare – if we don’t take steps to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves and cure illness, then the Universe will allow us to fade away. A scientist might refer to this as entropy – systems inevitably become weaker and eventually break apart unless new energy is added.  We need to keep on adding energy to our lives. We need to keep on striving for growth so that we can keep on surviving.

Sadly, history is too full of instances where growth has been at the expense of others. I think that for a long time this has been almost an accepted fact of life. That the strong survive and that the powerless must accept their fate. But we are living in a changing World. The signs are all around us that people will not accept a situation where one person’s growth requires that another person is kept down. Each of us needs to take responsibility for our own growth but at the same time allow others to grow also. Growth requires stress and effort. It requires us being uncomfortable. It requires that we take what we have and work on it, to make it stronger and bigger. Growth cannot be given to us or done by someone else for us. While we can lean on others and learn from others, our growth is uniquely ours.

And while we are looking to grow, we need to remember to enjoy the trip.

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